Once a year (or 3 if Covid) all the missionaries in our Central Area of Papua New Guinea (Highlands and Madang provinces) gather together for our central area conference. It’s a time of food, friendship, reports and Bible teaching and we’ve really been looking forward to it.
We were particularly looking forward to all 3 of our kids being in childcare so we could have some undisturbed time for reflection, grown up conversation (that mentions poo a little less frequently) and time to see friends.
It wasn’t to be for us though as we had one child after another sick and vomitting, starting with Oscar, then on to his sisters and finally to me. The childcare program doesn’t let vomitting children attend of course, so we had the entire weekend with one of us home and the hoped-for time of adult conversations and catching up with friends never really happened.
It was a tiring weekend of trying to keep up with laundry (from all the vomitting), while trying to attend what sessions we could. I feel particularly sorry that Oscar missed out on the water slide ☹️
Nevertheless we got to listen to some of the Bible teaching and it was good to hear. Over 6 sessions we were challenged to live within our limits, walking with the Lord, to be able to say no to the urgent and pressing and to give time and energy to the important.
“Always being stretched isn’t a badge of honour in the Lord’s work” is one of the quotes that captures the theme of the messages. We’re quick to pour ourselves into language learning, lesson preparation, literacy and Bible translation – but it’s easy to take on too much, to take on more than the Lord wants us to.
After all if we’re getting burnt out and irritable and we’re lacking in the fruits of the Spirit what are we doing exactly? There’s so much to do in Kovol it could easily be a rock we break ourselves on, but is that the Lord’s idea, or is it ours? If we truly believe that this is God’s work; not ours and that he actually doesn’t need us – that frees us up to stay within our limits:
limits that allow us to give time and energy to cultivating character in our lives and investing in our team and children. At the end of our second 3-month stint in the tribe with 3 small children we notice that we’re once again limping to our break, brittle and over-tired.
We’re doing ok. We take the time for breaks and we’re trying to go at a sustainable pace in our daily routine but we need to dial it back just a bit more again. The person we become at the end of this process is more important than the results of the ministry. Love, joy, peace, gentleness and kindness are more important to God than completed grammar write ups, or even translated scripture.
With these thoughts mulling around in our minds we have another week or so of break to try to carve out time for rest, relaxation and self-reflection while keeping up with our 3 little blessings.
As far as they go they’re enjoying things here. Alice and Millie are loving the security doggies and shuffling around the trampoline. Oscar is running around with the other kids and continuing his Lego creations. We took a trip to a hotel with a pool with the Stous family which was a treat.
Next week already we’ll have to take stock of supplies once more and go supply buying for Kovol. We’ll be looking for stocking fillers for Christmas, but how we miss proper shops like there are back home 😂 It’d be so nice if we could find a book shop somewhere in Goroka that sold kids books!