Photo Friday: Sports Day 2015

Yesterday was the annual Sports Day at the primary campus. It’s a big community event, and school is canceled at the high school to allow teens and teachers to come and cheer or help.

Once you have a child at the primary campus, your family is assigned to Team Yellow or Team Red, and all your children will always be that color. We are Team Yellow!

DSC_8919Talia represents for her siblings.

DSC_8915Isaiah rounding the curve in one of the races. He’s in yellow with the hat.

DSC_9013Nehemiah had fun watching, but this year he refused to wear his yellow shirt. The yellow truck counts I guess?

DSC_9009Proof that we were winning at one point.

DSC_8996Isaiah in the sack race.

DSC_8931This picture is a little dark, but it was one of my favorite moments of Sports Day, and shows one of the things I love about Ukarumpa. Sports Day has some challenging moments for kids who aren’t athletic, and there is one event that is really hard for Makaylah. Several friends finished the event with her, and then everyone in her age group, even girls that aren’t close friends, surrounded Makaylah to encourage her.

DSC_8922DSC_8977Sophia (top) and Makaylah (bottom) running the distance races.

IMG_1405Sports Day ends with a big tug-of-war. Go yellow!!

IMG_1410It was Team Red’s turn to win this year.

IMG_1411Sophia with her friend Evie.

IMG_1414Isaiah and Shay. We have a picture like this from last year that I love.

At the end of the day, whether we are red or yellow, “winners” or “losers” we are Community!

Photo Friday: 9 October

Unlike last week, this week I had the opportunity to take lots of pictures! Because there were too many good ones to narrow it down, I’m just sharing from one unusual experience I had last weekend.

Saturday morning, bright and early, I headed out for my first “Lae in a Day” trip. Lae is a city a 3-4 hour drive from here, on the coast of PNG. Since we needed time to drive to Lae, shop, eat lunch, and get back before dark, we left early.

IMG_1259Yes. That’s what time I left my house. The moon was still up, people. I am not a morning person. If I hadn’t been going with several other ladies, and if one of them wasn’t a wonderful planner, this would never have happened 😉

IMG_1262The drive is an experience in itself. Windy mountain roads down the Kassam Pass, with spectacular views that are hard to capture, since there are very few pull-offs.

IMG_1271After a year spent in Ukarumpa, which has a population of around 1,000, Lae feels like a gigantic city. The traffic, sites, and people really overwhelmed me. Not to mention the stores!  But I loved these murals, found on a lot of the walls around Lae.

The selection in the stores was really impressive. It was a lot to process, after shopping at our store here on center. I couldn’t get any pictures because I was to busy not crying deciding what to buy. Turns out the stories I’ve heard about missionaries breaking down in the cheese aisle at Wal-Mart because there are so many choices are not. made. up.

I was very thankful that we squeezed in a calming lunch at the Lae Yacht Club between stores.

IMG_1266Cappuccino?! A real, beautiful, delicious, cappuccino. It’s true, I miss gourmet coffee….


The closest I’ve gotten to the ocean since we arrived on this island. I confess to being more of a mountain girl, but it was amazing to see the ocean here.

IMG_1274 IMG_1277Speaking of mountains 🙂 These were taken on the trip home. The country side of Papua New Guinea is as diverse as her people. These pictures were taken in Markham Valley. I’m amazed at the flat ground, walled in by mountains. Ukarumpa is located in Aiyura Valley. Here, it’s almost impossible to find a flat stretch of ground. Instead the ground rises and falls and flows up and down towards our mountains.

My shopping was successful. You never know what you will find in “The Land of the Unexpected.” But I brought home lots and lots of cheese at a great price, olive oil, and some fun novelties we don’t normally find here.

IMG_1279 IMG_1285Talia loved the sultanes (raisins) and dried applies.

IMG_1288Nehemiah thinks saltine crackers go great with mom’s chili!

IMG_1296 IMG_1297Balloons. Because… obviously.

IMG_1323Shhh. I didn’t share these with the kids 😮

There are even more great pictures (and a video) from this week, but this post is long enough. Look for them on our facebook page soon!

Photo Friday: Village Living Throwback

After the busyness of last weekend’s women’s retreat, this week has been spent resting, recovering, and playing with friends. Unfortunately, I didn’t think to pull my camera out much.

So this week I thought it would be fun to go back a bit, to our village living. There are lots of great pictures from the village that we haven’t had the chance to share yet, and this seemed like a good time to share them with you all!

IMG_0770One of the ways the boys entertained themselves in the village was running the chickens, or any other poultry they could find. Sophia was often in on the fun, too. On this particular day they may managed to capture the duck they were chasing, and were extremely proud of themselves.


Loom bands were another popular activity. Makaylah and Sophia gave a few bracelets as gifts. Soon all the girls in our wasfamily wanted to learn how to make them. In this picture, Makaylah is making bracelets with several friends before church. We were thankful to have brought plenty to share.


This little spot is where we spent most of our village living time, getting to know our wasfamily and learning Tok Pisin.


This drum oven was amazing. A friend of our wasfamily brought it to our village for our birthday. Racks had been built into the inside. A fire would be built underneath the racks. We made brownies and cakes in here, and they turned out just as good as anything baked in my gas or electric ovens.

IMG_0873I’ll leave you today with Boss. Boss belongs to our waspapa and wasmama. Boss em i traipela pik! (Boss is a huge pig!)

Photo Friday: September 25

The kids are on a two-week break from school. We have been enjoying a different pace, with a bit more time together and freedom to our schedule.

IMG_1174Sophia was invited to a wacky birthday party, which concluded with a fashion show. I’d say she definitely got into the spirit of things!

IMG_1209 IMG_1213

We love our market! We are thankful that even in the midst of drought, for now, we have fruits and vegetables.


The little kids have been enjoying the movie, “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.” Talia and Isaiah enjoyed dancing along!


Thankful beyond words for these ladies and other sweet friendships here!

Thankful beyond words for these ladies and other sweet friendships here!

This weekend I (Melissa) was able to attend a women’s conference. The “She Is…” team came in from Australia to lead it for our community. It was a tremendous blessing, and a great time to strengthen friendships and hear from the Lord. I appreciate your prayers as I continue to process and seek Him in the lessons He taught me during this sweet time with Him.

Photo Friday: 18 September

This has been a full, busy, fun week!

Celebrating our one-year-in-PNG anniversary.datenightSunday we set aside some family time. David and Sophia spent time putting together one of the puzzles my mom shipped us. Sophia was a bit proud of their hard work.

IMG_1092Tuesday was Sophia’s TENTH birthday! Absolutely mind-blowing for this mom and dad. She is wild, intense, and amazing 🙂

10 years old. Be still my heart.


Her new favorite way to swing

IMG_1118She loved these earrings from Mimi (David’s mom).

A package!!! Boxes always make us smile. Thanks, AFA ladies!!


IMG_1125 IMG_1131This school year Makaylah started choir. She has really been enjoying it, and Thursday night she had her first performance. Another one of our girls that is growing up too fast! We are thankful for the amazing community we live in that allows our kids so many options, even while living in another country.

IMG_1134It was a late night for the little siblings, but we had a great time, sleepy and in pjs!IMG_1140IMG_1146See you next week! Check out our facebook page for a video from Makaylah’s concert.

Photo Friday

Today marks ONE YEAR in Papua New Guinea! We are overjoyed and overwhelmed. Our poor blog has been a bit neglected as we’ve worked to learn a new culture and settle into a routine. We hope to remedy that over the coming months. To that end, we plan to post at least once a week with “Photo Friday.”

We hope you enjoy these glimpses into our lives!

As we've mentioned on our facebook page, Papua New Guinea is in the middle of a drought. Some Papua New Guineans believe that burning can bring rain - the smoke rises and brings clouds. Whatever the reason, many Papua New Guineans aroun us are burning the grass. This week one of the fires was close to the portion of the perimeter fence near our house.

As we’ve mentioned on our facebook page, Papua New Guinea is in the middle of a drought. Some Papua New Guineans believe that burning can bring rain – the smoke rises and brings clouds. Whatever the reason, many Papua New Guineans around us are burning the grass. This week one of the fires was close to the portion of the perimeter fence near our house. It was hard to get a good picture of the scope of the fire!


PuddlesAfter over a month with no rain, and asking many of you to pray with us for rain, we were overjoyed to see raindrops on roses and puddles on the road! We’ve had some sprinkles since then, but please keep praying.

DonutsOur market is full of lots of healthy produce, which we enjoy often. A few local ladies also sell donuts, and occasionally David will bring some home for the kids. It’s a well received treat!

Talia and our new puppy, Isia’, both enjoy when the “big kids” get home from school!

IMG_1068Isaiah and his buddy Shay love the high tech toys…. Sticks and rocks.

truckSince we arrived in Papua New Guinea, we’ve enjoyed walking to and from anywhere we needed to go. But recently, someone has been letting us borrow a vehicle. We still use our feet often, but it has been a blessing with all the trips to and from the school we do!

2014: A Year of Changes, Challenges, and Answered Prayer!

With the new year here, we’ve been reflecting on all that has happened in our family and our Wycliffe ministry over 2014. It’s amazing seeing how the Lord has worked!

January 2014:

We got rid of most of our “stuff,” loaded the rest up to put in a storage unit, and moved out of our home of three years. Then we packed up our van and headed to JAARS in Waxhaw, NC, for our Intercultural Communications Course.

February 2014:

Our time was consumed with the Intercultural Communications Course, where we were stretched, challenged, and prepared for life in a cross-cultural environment. We also got to know many people headed to PNG too, and this has continued to be a source of blessing to us!

During this time, the Lord led me to Isaiah 55, and reassured me with these words,

“For you shall go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall break forth into singing,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall make a name for the LORD;
an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”
Isaiah 55:12-13

March 2014:

We returned to Tupelo, MS, to finish preparations for Papua New Guinea and continue building our partnership team. We were at about 60% of our Wycliffe monthly ministry budget, and we were learning (slowly) to walk by faith, not by sight as we waited for 100%. God gave us immediate opportunities to walk out some of what we learned at our Intercultural Communications Course.

April 2014:

Tupelo, MS, was hit by a tornado, and our neighborhood was one of the hardest hit. We praised the Lord for sparing our lives. home and vehicle, and grieved with our neighbors for all that they had lost. We were incredibly grateful for every person on our prayer team!

May 2014:

We celebrated Talia’s first birthday and went to the mountains with my family. We spent the month in prayer, alongside many of you. We prayed over our children, our marriage, our Wycliffe ministry, those that would eventually join our partnership team, and Papua New Guinea. The Lord brought us to 75% of our Wycliffe monthly ministry budget during this month. We also accepted the PNG branch’s invitation to come straight to Ukarumpa once we reached 100%.

June 2014:

We continued to prepare for Papua New Guinea and ask God to complete our partnership team. We continued to share with people about the work of Bible translation and the needs of Bibleless people groups.

July 2014:

God brought us to 80% of our Wycliffe monthly ministry budget! We also traveled back to Waxhaw, NC, to drop off our household goods shipment. This shipment would later be transported by sea to PNG, and then on to Ukarumpa.

August 2014:

We were so close to 100% that we started praying earnestly for the Lord to provide it by August 15th. God moved in amazing ways, and by August 12th we were at 100% of our Wycliffe monthly ministry budget! The full weight of leaving our home, friends, and family started to hit us, even as we rejoiced at the Lord’s provision. We packed up a few more boxes to send to PNG, a few boxes to store with family in the States, and got rid of everything else! We said good-bye to our church family during our official commissioning service, and shed lots of tears.

September 2014:

We spent a few days with each of our families, and then on September 9th, we boarded the first of 6 flights on our journey to PNG! We arrived in Ukarumpa on September 12th, jetlagged, worn out, but overjoyed to be here.

October 2014:

Makaylah, Sophia, and Isaiah began attending Ukarumpa International School and we all began to settle into our roles here.

November 2014:

David began Tok Pisin lessons and we celebrated our first Ukarumpa Thanksgiving!

December 2014:

We attended the Melanesian Institute mentioned in our newsletter. We had a wonderful first Christmas in Ukarumpa and enjoyed some much needed family time.

Final thoughts:

It’s really hard to put into words just how difficult 2014 was. We wrestled with our faith in God’s provision. We waited and waited. And waited some more. Reading back through my journal this week I cried. I cried remembering how hard it was, and seeing how incredibly good God is, and how He did do everything He promised.

My journal is full of verses and quotes like these –

“I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.

Oh Israel, hope in the Lord!
For with the LORD there is steadfast love,
and with him is plentiful redemption.”
Psalm 130:5-7

“I will thank You forever,
because You have done it.
I will wait for Your name, for it is good,
in the presence of the godly.”
Psalm 52:9

“I have thrown myself blindly into His almighty hands.” – George Whitfield

If you are reading this today, I hope you are encouraged to remember that even when it feels the most hopeless, we can hope in the Lord. We can throw ourselves blindly into His hands, because He is trustworthy.

As we enter 2015, we pray the Lord will continue to teach us to cling to Him and that we will remember all that He did to bring us here.

“In all the setbacks of our lives as believers, God is plotting for our joy.” – John Piper

“You have multiplied, O LORD my God,
your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;
none can compare with you!
I will proclaim and tell of them,
yet they are more than can be told.”
Psalm 40:5

6 flights, 7 people, 50+ hours: one big opportunity to pray!

It is really happening! We have our plane tickets. Our bags are packed. And re-packed. Weighed and packed a different way. Okay, maybe we won’t be fully packed until we leave, but you get the idea! We will be getting on our first flight towards Papua New Guinea THIS Tuesday!

A sweet board a friend of ours made showing our route!

A sweet board a friend of ours made showing our route!

You have all been amazing during our journey up to now, and we are counting on you to keep holding the rope for us! Our itinerary is a little daunting, and we are desperate for your prayers over us. I’ve listed it below, with local time for where we will be listed first, followed by central standard time.

  • Depart Memphis at 1:47 PM, September 9th.
  • Arrive in Denver at 3:22 PM (4:22 PM CST).
  • Depart Denver at 6:10 PM (7:10 PM CST).
  • Arrive in LA at 7:36 PM (9:36 PM CST).
  • Depart LA at 10:30 PM (12:30 AM CST, September 10th).
  • Arrive in Auckland, NZ at 6:30 AM September 11th (1:30 PM CST September 10th).
  • Depart Auckland, NZ at 9:30AM September 11th (4:30 PM CST September 10th).
  • Arrive in Brisbane, Australia at 11:10 AM September 11th (8:10 PM CST September 10th).
  • Depart Brisbane, Australia at 7:05 PM September 11th (4:05 AM CST September 11th).
  • Arrive in Port Morseby, PNG at 10:10 PM September 11th (7:10AM CST September 11th).
  • Depart Port Morseby at 2:25 PM September 12th (11:25 PM September 11th).
  • Arrive in Ukarumpa at approximately 4:00 PM (1:00 AM September 12th)

That’s over 50 hours of travel time!

We would love to be covered in prayer during every moment possible of this trip. If you are willing to commit to pray specifically for us during one or more 15 minute windows of time, and view specific prayer requests for different stops, you can do so here. You can even set up e-mail reminders, if you want too!

Several friends of ours traveled to PNG recently. They said the trip went better than they could have imagined it going, and they also said they had people at home praying faithfully for them 🙂

We will be keeping social media up-to-date as much as possible during our trip, and we will update as soon as we can from Ukarumpa. This may take a few days, but we plan to at least call family, who will be able to spread the word that we have arrived safely. Thank you for sending us, and standing with us as we go!

Oh, Tupelo…

On the morning of September 1st, our loaded down minivan will pull out of Tupelo, MS. We will not be back before we leave for Papua New Guinea. I’ve known for a long time that I would miss our church. Our friends. Our family.

But today, as I drove home from running some errands, down streets I have driven countless times, tears began to fall. They weren’t tears for our friends, church, or family. They were tears for this place. These familiar streets. And they surprised me.

When we moved to Tupelo seven years ago, I was heartbroken and a bit angry. There was absolutely no. part. of. me that wanted to live in Tupelo, MS. I had a few grown-up temper tantrums, and often dreamed of being able to move. Anywhere else.

But despite my pleas, God kept us here in Tupelo. I was 24 when we moved here. I’m now 31. I’ve carried and birthed three babies. I’ve watched my older girls grow from toddler and preschooler to so old I can’t believe it most days. Birthdays and Christmases have been celebrated. David and I have done 7 of our 11 years of marriage right here – more than half of our married life. We’ve made friends. Struggled. Grieved. Laughed. Worked. Years of mundane, beautiful, crazy, day-to-day life moments have happened here, in this city.

It crept on me, this home-ness of Tupelo. But it happened. Tupelo has become home. And Tupelo, I will miss you.

“Impossible” dreams and the history of Wycliffe

Right now, we are asking God to do something big – to bring us to 100% of our Wycliffe monthly ministry budget by August 15th so we can purchase plane tickets and be in PNG by September 15th. When we sent out our first e-mail on July 31st, we needed $878. Today, our need is down to just $403. God is a big God, and with Him nothing is impossible.

Really, our whole journey with Wycliffe has seemed a bit “impossible.” A computer guy. A stay-at-home mom. Four kids (and then five!). Going to, literally, the other side of the world. But God gave us this dream – and we are thankful to know our impossible dreams are in good company!

In 1945, the very early days of Wycliffe Bible Translators, our founder, William Cameron Townsend, went to a meeting with Jose Jimenez Borja, assistant to the Peruvian Minister of Education at that time. Townsend presented his “impossible” dream – he would go into the jungle with a group of linguists to learn the languages of remote people groups. They would create alphabets for these unwritten languages, teach the people to read them, and translate the Bible. Townsend was there to seek Mr. Borja’s blessing. Their conversation went something like this:

Borja: Mr. Townsend, who is going to do all this work?
Townsend: It will be done by trained linguists – young men and women with college degrees who are willing to spend their lives among the indigenous peoples.

Borja: This is a difficult task. How many are willing to go?
None yet. But when I go back to the U.S. and challenge them, many will volunteer.

Borja: The jungle is impossible. How will you get those people out to the villages?
I plan to use airplanes to land on the rivers and airstrips that can be cleared in the jungle.

Borja: How many planes do you have?
None, but when I share the need, God will give us enough planes.

Borja: Who will fly these planes?
Hundreds of young people, seasoned pilots and mechanics will volunteer.

Borja: How many pilots and mechanics do you now have?
None, but God will send them along.

Borja: There is much disease in the jungle. How will you stay healthy?
We’ll have clinics staffed by doctors and nurses.

Borja: How many doctors and nurses do you have?
None, but God will supply them.

Borja: Who will finance all this, the U.S. government, a wealthy foundation?
Townsend: No, I’ll go home and tell the people of the United States about this plan. God will supply. All the workers will raise their own support.

Mr. Borja was taken aback at this strange man, and finally said, “When all that comes to pass, come back to me and I will bless you.” At this Townsend got up, gave him a big hug and said, “’ll be back soon.”

Mr. Borja recounted that when William Cameron Townsend walked out of his office door, he turned to his secretary and said,  “Alla va el gringo mas loco que jamas he visto.” (There goes the craziest gringo I’ve ever seen in my life.)

A few months later, Townsend was back. He was ready to start! Over the next 25 years, all that he dreamed of came to pass.

Only God could do such a mighty thing.” – Jose Jimenez Borja