May 01, 2006

Our December 2005 newsletter

December 2005
Dearest Friends,

It is with hopeful confidence that we write this letter to you all. We have seen our loving heavenly Father use a series of events to guide us to the point of writing this. We must admit that it is with a bit of sadness but not without excitement as we share with you our hearts so that you may see and understand clearly where we are at before the Lord in this whole situation.

As you know, in May 2005, we partnered with two wonderful families here in Madang and were headed to a tribal location. We went on one survey to the Rao tokples and sensed a burden to see the Rao people have the Gospel in their own language. However, in the beginning of November one of the families shared with us that they truly felt the Lord leading them to step out of the team. At the time, we were shocked, upset and hurt but in the end we told them that if they had peace about that decision then there was nothing we should or could say differently to them. It was a very difficult time for us and the other family but God continued to work in our hearts and was drawing us to Himself! By God’s grace, we remain friends and are so thankful for the relationship that we have with both of these dear families!

After this team split, in our minds we were then a team of two families and made plans accordingly for our next survey. However, the leadership of Madang met with us November 24th and shared their thoughts and concerns with us regarding this situation. They were supportive of us going as a three unit team however as just two families we were not complete as a team to proceed further. We agreed with them in this aspect and we were ready to look for a third partner. Leadership expressed their concerns for us, they thought it would be a big struggle for us to learn a tribal language. Some of these concerns have come up before in our Pidgin language study and we realize now that these are still their thoughts concerning us. They desired us to step back, take a look and reevaluate our working in the tribe and see if that was still what God had for us. They asked us to consider going into a support role temporarily at Lapilo (New Tribes Mission’s PNG headquarters) and perhaps down the road see what happens. The leadership expressed that despite their concerns they were still willing to get behind us in pursuing tribal work.

We came to PNG because we felt strongly a burden that God gave us to work in a tribal location. However after weighing, considering and praying about our leadership’s concerns about our language learning abilities, we have come to see clearly that the Lord is leading us in a different direction. Because it was not our desire to ignore these concerns we took them to heart and asked the Lord for discernment to see if He would have something else for us. This has been a very difficult decision for us but the Lord has given us peace about not pursuing tribal work at this time. It would break our hearts to think that one day in the tribe there may be the slight possibility that we might struggle to the point of giving up, leaving our partners and disrupting a tribal group of people. After much prayer and thought we have no leading or peace to pursue support work at Lapilo (New Tribes Mission headquarters in PNG). At this time, we are at peace and confident that the Lord is leading us to go back to the States (it is not our intention to resign from NTM at this point). We know that this is exactly as the Lord planned for us. Our families and our church are 100% behind us and are supporting us all the way.

We would so appreciate your prayers for us during this time. Our tickets home are purchased; we will leave December 16th and arrive in Maryland the 17th. Right now we are going through the giant task of going through all our possessions and giving things away, selling them, packing them to take home or packing them to ship home. It is an overwhelming job and we must admit that we are so very tired, emotionally and physically. As far as future plans go, after spending Christmas with our family we are planning on heading up to Durham, Ontario to the NTMC headquarters and sitting down and meeting with the Canadian Management Committee. We will together be talking through all that has happened and seeking the Lord concerning what He has for us as our next step! Because of our time spent in Durham for the training, the men in leadership there are dear friends and we look forward to our time together!

As we think about leaving PNG, our second home and the friends we’ve made here, our hearts ache within us. All of this feels like some kind of strange dream that we will wake up from and think—what was that about?? For years we have prepared for this and planned for this and waited for this. In a sense it is a death of a vision, a vision that God gave us. And right now He is asking us, “do you TRUST Me”? Despite how crazy it all seems and despite the fact that things just don’t make any sense right now…God has given us overwhelming peace and confidence to take it step by step as He leads. You see, it’s ALL about HIM…not about us or anything else! All He asks is that we walk with Him moment by moment, enjoying Him and glorifying Him and that is what we intend to do. We believe that He alone is the blessed controller of all things and we place our trust in Him alone! He has directed all these circumstances for our good and to work our His perfect will in our lives. We have prayed and sought the Lord as to His will for our lives and our hearts and minds are at perfect peace that this is the next step God has for our family to take. We can’t explain the wonderful calmness we are experiencing from the Lord. We know without a doubt that this is what He has for us. Tribal missions will always be a part of our hearts and we look forward with great anticipation to see how God will direct us in our future! We are so excited to see how God will have us be a part of the work because our journey is not finished!

We are sure that all of this will come as quite a shock to you all and we know that many of you will have questions and comments. Please feel free to write us only be patient as we might not be able to write you back until we get back home. We love you guys and are abundantly thankful for the bond that we have with you!

This has been quite the year and a half for us. When we think back we realize that much has happened in this short amount of time…we spent our first Christmas in the bush with friends, made new wonderful National friends, Kari’s grandfather passed away, we moved to a different house on base, Joel had a gallbladder attack, we flew to the States for a month, partnered with two families, finished our Pidgin language study, enjoyed a visit from Kari’s parents, went on a tribal survey, went through a team split…all of these things lead us to the present decision of going home. We KNOW that we KNOW all of this would not have been remotely possible without YOU guys loving us, supporting us and fully behind us!! Nothing is incidental, accidental or wasted with God and He never makes mistakes! This is the truth of our God that we cling to in this “storm” of life. We know that God is about doing great things and that He is not finished with any of us yet! We pray that this letter is an encouragement to you all and not a discouragement. You guys have been with us some since the beginning of our training, some for years and some have joined us recently…but ALL of you have been a vital part in the ministry that God has allowed us to be a small part. He has something else for us, we don’t know what it is right now…but hang tight because we know that He will reveal it to us in His perfect timing! It is our prayer that the Father may use us to reveal the grace-filled Life of Christ to those around us. May HE receive all the glory and honor for the amazing things that He has done, is doing, and will do!! We love you so much and our hearts are filled and overflowing with thankfulness to our Father for the blessing of YOU in our lives!!

In Christ alone we place our trust,
Joel, Kari, Alex and Chloe

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