Category Archives: Family

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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

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!ย  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….

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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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

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: 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!

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

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

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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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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!!

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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.

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 โ€œstuff,โ€ 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,

โ€œFor 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.โ€
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 –

โ€œI 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.โ€
Psalm 130:5-7

โ€œI 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.โ€
Psalm 52:9

โ€œI have thrown myself blindly into His almighty hands.โ€ – 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.

โ€œIn all the setbacks of our lives as believers, God is plotting for our joy.โ€ – John Piper

โ€œYou 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.โ€
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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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!

This Season of Transition

Sometimes it’s hard to put into words what this season of preparation and transition is like for us. Getting rid of things, packing, paperwork, saying good-bye to our church, friends, places, and comfort foods. This video does a much better job of communicating than our words can.

“There’s a cost to everything. I guess sometimes you don’t think about some of the things that it will cost you…”

May He Grant: May 29th

May 29: Pray that Makaylah will continue to grow in her relationship with Christ. Ask that she would long for the pure milk of the Word, that she may grow up into her salvation. (1 Peter 2:2).

We prayed earlier this month for the salvation of our youngest four children. We are so thankful that God has already drawn Makaylah to Himself! We appreciate your prayers for her as she continues to grow in her faith.

Makaylah, photo credit: Star Noir Studios

Makaylah, photo credit: Star Noir Studios

Lord, we thank You for saving Makaylah. We know that without Your power at work in her, she would still be lost in her sins and separated from You. We ask that she would never be content to just know about You, but would pursue You passionately and grow in You day by day. May Makaylah put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Help her to long for pure spiritual milk, like a newborn infant, that she may grow up into salvation. May she remember and know that she has tasted that the Lord is good! As she comes to Christ, a living stone rejected by men, but in Your sight chosen and precious, we know she will be built up as a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices accepted to You through Christ. Your Word declares that whoever believes in Christ, the cornerstone, will not be put to shame! (I Peter 2:1-6)

May He Grant: May 23rd

May 23: Pray for healthy transitions for Isaiah as he says goodbye to friends, family, familiar places and ways of doing things. Ask for healthy grieving, and an excitement for what is to come in PNG.

Today is Day 23 of our May He Grant prayer focus. We are incredibly grateful to each one of you praying alongside of us!

We continue to have unreliable internet access during our time in the mountains.

Isaiah loved adventure, nature, and all things “boy.” He can’t wait to get to Papua New Guinea, and already has two friends that he met during ICC that he is excited to have movie nights with in Ukarumpa. Pray that he will maintain that excitement, and that as he says good-bye to friends, family, Tupelo, and our home church, that God will be with Him and give Him peace.

Checking out a "mud lizard" at Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Photo credit: Star Noir Studios

Checking out a “mud lizard” at Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Photo credit: Star Noir Studios

May He Grant: May 20th

May 20: Pray for healthy transitions for Talia as she says goodbye to friends, family, familiar places and ways of doing things. Ask the Lord to give her peace and a sense of safety despite many changes.

It’s Day 20 of our May He Grant prayer focus! Thank you so much for joining with us.

We celebrated Talia Anne’s first birthday yesterday!! So incredibly blessed by this sweet girl and all the evidence of grace she is to us!

Talia’s life so far has already been one of almost constant transition, and that will continue for at least the next year. Please pray that as we go from place to place, even in her limited understanding, she will feel safety and security. Although her environment may be constantly changing, pray that she will know that she is incredibly loved and precious, and pray for wisdom as we parent our first child who will only know life as an MK (missionary kid).

Ready to travel - again!

Ready to travel – again!