Category Archives: Missions

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

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




Build Your Kingdom Here

Your kingdom come, your will be done,on earth as it is in heaven. – Matthew 6:10

Jesus spoke these words to teach His disciples how to pray. God invites us to pray for His Kingdom to come, and His will to be done… here, as it is there. In heaven, God is surrounded by praise, angels calling out, “Holy, holy, holy”, constantly.

We long to see that happen, here. May our own hearts cry out to Him, passionately, constantly, ceaselessly, “Holy, holy, holy!”

May His Church be ignited to cry out together, “Holy, holy, holy!” as they are built up together in love into a dwelling place for the Most High God.

May the nations, people from every tribe, and people, and language, cry out to Him, “Holy, holy, holy!”

I love the way this song from Rend Collective captures this passion…

We seek Your kingdom first
We hunger and we thirst
Refuse to waste our lives
For You’re our joy and prize
To see the captive hearts released
The hurt; the sick; the poor at peace
We lay down our lives for Heaven’s cause
We are Your church
We pray revive
This Earth

Build Your kingdom here
Let the darkness fear
Show Your mighty hand
Heal our streets and land
Set Your church on fire
Win this nation back
Change the atmosphere
Build Your kingdom here
We pray

We hope you received our e-mail with the exciting update of how God is moving in bringing us to Papua New Guinea. He has provided several new partners over the last month, and brought us down to only $878/month needed to bring us to 100% of our monthly budget and release us for our assignment!

Join us in praying that His will would be done, here, now. That He would build His kingdom, and use us to do so. If He is leading you to join us, please notify us immediately so can let our our supervisors know that the gap is being closed. Your gift of whatever amount the Lord leads you to give – monthly, quarterly, or annually, will help us meet this goal! You can reach us by e-mail at melissas _ smith @ wycliffe. org (no spaces).

The Spirit himself intercedes for the saints

As mentioned before I am doing an in depth study of Romans. This includes reading multiple commentaries, using Greek tools, and studying the Old Testament references that Paul makes. So I have just now after nearly three months made it to near the end of chapter 8. This morning I was reading Romans 8:26-30 and verses 26 through 28 really stuck out to me.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:26-28

The first thing to note is that we are weak! In fact the very next sentence says, “we do not know what to pray for as we ought.” Now I want to examine this morning. You see some translations actually translate this as “we do not know how to pray as we ought.” The NASB is the chief among these. The NASB happens to be one of my other favorite translations. This led to me doing some research. Why?

What I learned was that this word in Greek τίς and it is a “an interrogative pronoun, who, which or what (in direct or indirect questions)”. Further research showed that it could be translated as either how or what! Meaning either one is is valid. We do not know how or what we ought to pray for us.

This leads to the good news! “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness”! Dwell on that today. Not only does the “Spirit himself intercedes for us”, but he does so with “groanings too deep for words”! This chapter by and far does not end here. It goes on to show how God foreknew us -> predestined us -> called us -> justified us -> gloried us!

Paul does not stop there! Read the rest of Romans 8 today!





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…”

10 of Our Favorite Questions

With our family preparing to go to PNG we thought it would be fun to give you 10 of our favorite questions. Now of course we added in some of the lighthearted ways we wanted to answer along with the ways in which we actually answered the question. So without further ado our favorite questions.

#1 Where is Papua New Guinea? Is it in Africa? 

God created Australia just perfectly to point to the most amazing island nation in the world. Papua New Guinea. It is in the Pacific just north of Australia and to the east of Indonesia. No where near Africa. You could be thinking of Guinea.

World Map with PNG Highlighted

#2 Are you taking all of your kids with you?

Um… no. You wanna keep one? Hold on a second. Oh Melissa just told me that yes we are taking them all.

#3 There are 830+ languages in PNG!? How many languages do you speak?

Computer or human? Human: 1 Computer: 6. Yeah I know I’m ashamed that I don’t speak more computer languages.

PNG Language Map

#4 How do the grandparents feel about you taking the grandkids all that way to PNG?

They are very supportive! Happy about their grandkids being around the world, well that is a little harder.

#5 Computer programming… Can’t you do that here in the states?

The answer is both yes and no. Yes I can, however like other organizations the needs of having a programmer on the ground is important. For example Microsoft has its main office in Redmond, WA. However, they have offices in several locations including Charlotte, NC. They hire programmers mostly in Redmond, but they also have programmers in Charlotte.

#6 How long is your missionary trip?

We are what is known as career missionaries. Meaning that we hope to be in PNG for as long as God allows us to stay!

Computers are being used to speed Bible translation.

#7 Why are you still here?

Oh believe me we are ready to be there! Wycliffe is a faith based organization and each of its members raises their own budget. We have to be at 100% of our budget in order to go to PNG. As of this post we are at 81%! If God is leading you check out how you can be a part of our team.

Momentum 81%

#8 Will you be writing translation software? 

Perhaps in the future, but at this point the software I will be writing will handle more day to day operations. Ukarumpa has anywhere from 500 to 1500 missionaries and Papua New Guineans in it at any given time. Not all of these missionaries are from the United States, so that creates many different and challenging software needs. Also there are training facilities in PNG. An airport. A general store. Auto mechanics. The list goes on. Some of these of course can use off the shelf software, but not all of them.

#9 So you will not be doing a translation. You do realize that means your name will never be on it right?

This is very true. It is something that Melissa and I realized very early. Our names more then likely will not be remembered for any one translation. Instead we will be a part of many many translations by supporting translators in their work!


#10 Will you come home during your term?

No. Unless there is some type of family emergency we will be there for our whole term of four years.