From our last post you’ll know that our conference experience was a little dampened by our all getting sick. Unfortunately the rest of our break continued in the same vein 🙂

I think over our break we had only 3 or 4 days where we weren’t dealing with some kind of sickness. Alice got an infected sore under her arm and had to go on antibiotics, so Alice got her own special bath times for a while as pus drained out of the wound. Oscar got another fever and spent a few more days under the weather and we spent a few days feeling jet-lagged and tired.

Millie learns to drive

We gave some serious consideration to extending our break in Goroka in order to get some rest as we finished our break feeling… tired. In the end though we decided to head back into Kovol anyway, to avoid playing havoc on the helicopter schedule for one and also because Oscar has been super looking forward to going back. There are added pressures in the bush, but then there’s also having our own house with all the toys our kids remember and the Stous kids right next door for playing with.
It’s actually pretty cool to think about the fact that our family feels at home in Kovol and we get have that “looking forward to going home” at the end of a break.

An unexpected Madang trip was very refreshing

We also decided that we didn’t need to hit the ground running. We could take a day for Gerdine to do home school prep, and gradually ramp up our working time to our new schedule. We’re going to take things down a notch – I’m now aiming for 6 working hours a day rather than 7 giving me time to get in quiet times in the morning, time to do the washing up at lunchtime and “buffer” time to get a little rest in so that when it’s my time to look after the kids I can be a little more rested.
While still getting a big chunk of language time in each day we’re hoping we can take the tempo down just a notch so that in 3 months when it’s time for another break we still have fuel in the tank.

Alice and Millie’s 1st tropical beach

The journey back in was exciting (for us, not for our pilot) with clouds denying us access to Kovol, meaning we had to fly out and stay that night in Madang. We got a quick beach trip in and Oscar discovered the joys of digging a hole on the beach and trying to build a wall to protect it from the oncoming waves. It was a really refreshing time and makes us think a break in Madang would be really nice next time. The following the day the weather cleared and we landed in Kovol finding that the big crowd had already gone home 🙂

On approach to our village

After a few days back in I think we’re finding that it wasn’t a bad decision to come in. We feel relaxed, we’re sleeping better (we bought another 3″ foam mattress and flew it in, so now we sleep on the glorious luxury of 6″ of cheap PNG foam), Oscar is off playing with his friends more than he could on break (gives us a break!) and Alice and Millie are delighted to be carried around for little tours of the area by our Kovol friends.

The weight seems to have gone. I remember feeling like our house was a rotting death trap ready to fall down on our heads, but now it feels safe, comfortable and well maintained (even when I’m still aware that a post needs changing under the stairs). The break has certainly reset our attitudes and helped us lose our brittleness. Reminds me of Psalm 23 a bit: our break wasn’t great, but the Lord is our shepherd, and he’s the one that restores our soul – not a “perfect” holiday.

Language-wise it’s taking a little bit for it to come back. I can’t tell the stories I could before we left and I’m not chomping at the bit, super motivated to get my language time in. I’m sure that’ll come back as I keep working at it though.

Gerdine chatting away

Next week is going to be a big week for us. We have a language evaluation. Language consultants (tribal missinionaries who have learned their language already and have studied up on language learning technique) will put us through our paces to see how well we understand and can communicate. At the end they’ll give us a rating out of 9, with level 9 meaning we’re officially signed off to start other ministry (the literacy program). The last check I had was in April 2020! I was at level 2/9 then; this time I’m hoping for a 6/9.

Expect a post next week with the results 🙂


Wonita Werley · 29/10/2022 at 3:16 am

Thanks, Steven, for your honesty. You are in a tough job! Praying.

Lois S. · 30/10/2022 at 4:25 am

Praying that you will be able to get back up to speed quickly in language learning, so that your evaluation will reflect your true progress!

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