Saturday, January 18, 2014


Hold on to me as we go.  
As we roll down this unfamiliar road.  
Although this wave is stringing us along, 
just know you're not alone - 
'cause I'm gonna make this place your home.

On October 1st, 2013 Esther and I moved away from our home in West Tulsa.  In the 97 days that followed, our family of four changed houses five times!  At long last, we are home in Kudjip, Papua New Guinea.


The first six days of our new lives in PNG we spent in a nearby village called Ambang.  The Lenzs working with New Tribes Mission looked out for us and helped us to learn the local language and customs.  During our six days, three of the local villagers died from various causes. 
What follows a death in this culture is the "house-cry" - a multiple day event in which people from the community express their grief by wailing and crying out loud multiple hours at a time.  A couple years ago I treated a young woman at the hospital for profound dehydration from a "house-cry".  Unfortunately, the wailing for some serves as a way of expressing enough remorse to convince the deceased's family that they didn't practice any sorcery to cause their death, or to keep the ghost of the dead from haunting them.

 Looking out from our house in Ambang at the sunrise.

I worked with a man called Gabriel on learning the language.  In the shade of our patio, looking out over the mountains covered in mist, I stumbled through narrating Anna's picture book Bible to him.  It felt agonizing, but as Levi Lenz pointed out, this is how our children learn language and it was easier than just writing / copying / parroting phrases.  I now command maybe 5% of Tok Pijin.

 Gabriel, my language helper.  He wasn't sure if the Canada shirt had a marijuana leaf on it.  We straightened that right out.

We've had very generous hosts at Kudjip thus far and have enjoyed home-made meals from neighbors the past couple days.  This allowed Esther and I to unpack some as well as make grocery / supply lists for our trips to town this week.  While we need a few things to make our home, the house here is everything that we need and then some!

Anna has struggled a little while here.  She does well during the day, but she frequently wakes up in the nights crying, without any real specific reason or complaint.  I think that she realizes now that we have moved away from cousins and friends she cares for.  There are plenty of play-mates around though and she is getting close to a girl named Reegan.

 Anna in Ambang

Levi seems content as long as he can run around in the mud outside and occasionally play with an airplane or "choo-choo".

 Levi gets a ride with the boys

This Thursday I start orientation to the hospital and will begin work next week.  I take call on the 30th with another physician as well.  Please pray for my medical skills to return!  I worked an urgent care office for the past year but haven't done much medicine the past couple months as we transitioned.  I know there will be trying times and difficult days ahead, but trust that God will provide the reserves of strength, skills and knowledge I will need as I need them.

Thank you for thinking of us, praying for us, caring for us and supporting us!

Settle down, it'll all be clear.
Don't pay no mind to the demons, they fill you with fear.
The trouble it might drag you down,
If you are lost you can always be found.
Just know you're not alone,
'cause I'm gonna make this place your home.

-Phil Phillips, "Home"

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