Hey there from Hoskins! We are now on the island of New Britain, the area of Papua New Guinea that we hope to live and work in long-term. We officially completed our PNG culture and Pidgin study in Madang (on the mainland of PNG), so now we’ve moved out here to New Britain, where we’ll soon start taking the next steps in preparing for one day doing church planting in an unreached people group. So here’s what’s next: we’ll have a 6-12 week “bush orientation” (more on that in a minute), and then __????????__, and then later, we’ll team up with tribal believers to go into an unreached people group, learn their language, and translate God’s Word (while our tribal coworkers teach the Bible chronologically and plant a church). What we don’t know is what all is going to take place in that “gap” between finishing bush orientation and one day moving into a tribe to work long-term. The next few months of bush orientation, and then meeting with New Tribes area leadership after that, should start to clarify what all those steps in between “here” and “there” might look like. There are a lot of options to consider, logistics to consider, people to have discussions with, etc as we begin this whole big process of “allocation” into a tribe.
First, though, we have this last part of our orientation to finish. Our time in Madang was our orientation to general PNG culture and the national trade language (Tok Pisin, aka Pidgin), along with a number of classes to help us contextualize and apply things we learned in the missionary training in the US to church planting work here in Papua New Guinea. Then, we spent 10 days at the New Tribes headquarters here in PNG where we got an orientation to all the different departments that keep missionaries in tribal locations going. These “behind the scenes” people are vital to the missionary work here in PNG — they do things like buy supplies, fly airplanes and helicopters, teach missionary kids, take care of medical needs, keep our computers running, manage finances, etc.
This last part of our orientation is called “bush orientation.” Since we plan to serve as tribal missionaries, that means that most of our life will be spent living out in the jungle – which in PNG is called the “bush.” Living in the “bush” is different from living at a mission center, because out in the bush we have to provide our own electricity (using solar panels and batteries, as well as a generator), and our own water (from rain water collected in the gutters on our roof), and we usually don’t have easy access to a town with stores to buy groceries and other supplies. So “bush orientation” is an opportunity for us to learn the ropes of living out in the jungle, while also getting to live alongside and learn from some tribal believers — because we’ll be doing our bush orientation in a place that already has a thriving church.
The tribe that we’ll be doing bush orientation in is about 2 1/2 hours by truck from the New Tribes center we’re on right now (Hoskins). We don’t know at this point how long exactly we’ll be in there for bush orientation since it is up to the church in that tribe. Missionaries came to this tribe years ago, presented the Gospel, saw God build up a maturing church, and now the missionaries have moved out and the church is growing on its own. We get to go in there, live in the missionary’s old house, and spend the next 6-12 weeks rubbing shoulders with, and learning from, these solid tribal believers. We’re excited to have the opportunity to get a front-row seat to watch the daily ins and outs of “body life” among these believers.
We don’t really know what all our bush orientation will be like, since it is in the hands of the leaders of this tribal church. They are in charge of looking out for us while we live out there. At this point, we don’t even really know what kind of shape the missionary’s old house is in, but we’re thinking we’ll probably have some electricity (from solar panels) and water (though we’ll have to get the rain water tank connected to the house), and maybe even a gas stove to cook on once in a while. We’ll see what we discover when we get into the tribe tomorrow! 🙂
If you want to stay up to date on what our bush orientation is like, or if in general you just want to follow our journey more closely, sign up to get our weekly prayer updates! We send out a short paragraph or two about what we’re up to that week, and then share a few current prayer requests and praises. It’s a great way to stay connected with what’s going on in our lives and to learn specific ways to pray for us.