Category Archives: Transitions

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

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 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!

May He Grant: May 11th

Happy Mother’s Day! We pray you have a blessed day. Our prayers are with those for whom this is a hard day that reminds them of loss.

Our May He Grant prayer focus is below. Please also pray for my mom, Cheryl, and David’s mom, Marie, as they send us (and their grandchildren!) to Papua New Guinea. Pray for peace and comfort and many sweet opportunities to spend time together in the next few months.

Mom a few years ago with our oldest four. Photo credit: Faith Riley Photography

Mom a few years ago with our oldest four. Photo credit: Faith Riley Photography

Marie with all her grandkids a few years ago.  Photo credit: Faith Riley Photography

Marie with all her grandkids a few years ago. Photo credit: Faith Riley Photography

May 11: Ask the Lord for wisdom as we pack and make decisions about what to bring and what to leave behind. May we store up for ourselves treasures in heaven, not on this earth! 

It’s Day 11 of our month of prayer focus, May He Grant. You can read more about our heart for this month, and print out a complete prayer guide for the month here.

Stuff. We all have a lot of it. Our family got rid of a huge amount of possessions before we left for ICC. Everything we own now fits in a 10×10 storage unit, with plenty of room left over. There were things we put in storage that seemed very important before ICC. Months later, we are able to look at those same things and realize that they are just things.

We will be sending a shipment of household goods to Papua New Guinea. This shipment needs to be in JAARS, NC, by early July. From JAARS, it will be shipped via freight to PNG, and arrive in Ukarumpa in a few months. Please pray for us and our children as we finalize this process. May we keep our eyes focused where they need to be.

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21

May He Grant: May 10th

May 10: Pray for healthy transitions for Makaylah as she 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.

It’s Day 10 of our month of prayer focus, May He Grant. You can read more about our heart for this month, and print out a complete prayer guide for the month here.

May 10th, Day 10, is about our 10-year-old Makaylah – and I didn’t even do that on purpose 🙂

Makaylah (far right) with sweet church friends

Makaylah (far right) with sweet church friends

We’ve been going to The Church at Trace Crossing for almost seven of Makaylah’s ten years. During that time she has made several great friends, and she struggles a lot with the thought of leaving them. She also understands more fully than our younger children do how far away PNG is, and how long four years will be.

We invite you in praying Psalm 100:1-5 over Makaylah:

Lord, help Makaylah to make a joyful noise to You, along with all the earth! May she serve You with gladness and come into your presence with singing. May she know that you, Lord, are God. It is You who made her, and she is yours. She is Your child, and one of the sheep of Your pasture. Help Makaylah to enter Your gates with thanksgiving, and enter Your courts with praise! May she give thanks to You and bless Your name. For You, Lord, are good. Your steadfast love endures forever! Your faithfulness endures to all generations. May Your presence give Makaylah peace and joy as she says goodbye to friends, family, and things familiar. May she know that Your presence is with her as she goes to Papua New Guinea, and that you will give her every good thing. We thank You in advance for the friendships and relationships You are going to provide her. Thank You that You love Makaylah even more than we do, Lord. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Home Sweet Home

March was an interesting month! We finished up our time at JAARS on March 8th. From there, we went to Tullahoma, TN and spent a few days with David’s parents. We arrived back in Tupelo on March 13th. It’s been wonderful to be back at our home church, and to catch up with friends and family. We’ve also been working on tolerating ambiguity, as David mentioned, while we looked for a viable temporary housing option for our family. We will be in Tupelo until the beginning of June at least. Long enough to need a space of our own, but not long enough to sign a 6 month or 1 year lease. Some precious friends allowed us to stay in their home while we looked for something, which was a tremendous blessing.

Mimi & Girls at Fall Cree Falls

After several ups and downs, God led us to just the right house. We are thankful to have a place to call home for this season, and we appreciate your prayers as we settle into a new routine. Transition is going to be our “normal” for quite awhile.

Our new house - thankful for the Lord's provision.

Our new house – thankful for the Lord’s provision.

Headed out for our first walk around the neighborhood

Headed out for our first walk around the neighborhood


Fun at the park that is in walking distance.



ICC: Until Next Time

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Our ICC class

Our ICC class

Friday was the last of our Intercultural Communications Course. We knew we would learn and grow during our time here, and we did…. So, so much! But we couldn’t prepare ourselves for the way God would provide us with so many amazing relationships, and bless us through them.

Our ICC class included people from all over the United States, Canada, from multiple different organizations, heading to many different countries. It is hard to explain the way our hearts feel as we say goodbye to friends that we may not see for years, or ever, this side of heaven. The Body of Christ is beautiful!

We loved MK Station and all our wonderful teachers there!

We loved MK Station and all our wonderful teachers there!

Sweet friendships for our munchkins

Sweet friendships for our munchkins


IT Guys bound for August POC!

Love these ladies!



Enough said. Woah.

I don’t like good-bye’s. I think I’m sticking with, “Until next time.”





ICC: “Let me hear what God the Lord will speak…”

Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for He will speak peace to His people…” Ps. 85:8a

This week has definitely been the hardest of ICC so far. Talia was sick Monday and Tuesday, so we had to switch out classes, while one of us stayed home with her. She was diagnosed with strep, but we praise God that we caught it early, and that so far no one else has shown any signs of strep.

Wednesday we were both back at class, where the major topic was Counting the Cost. We heard testimonies from missionaries who have encountered incredibly painful and difficult circumstances for the sake of the Gospel. One of the quotes that stood out to me was this, “I guarantee God will ask you to die a bit every day.”

Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them,“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace.So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. – Luke 14:25-33

David praying for our friends after they shared the ways God has been teaching them about His sovereignty.

David praying for our friends after they shared the ways God has been teaching them about His sovereignty.

Some of the other topics covered this week include:

Field-proofing our marriage. Over the coming weeks will be working through some of the Sacred Marriage materials.

Our marriage study group

Our marriage study group

Our unique strengths and weaknesses, and how to use those as we go into a cross-cultural ministry situation.

Different worldviews and sharing the Gospel.

Biblical absolutes.

God’s sovereignty.

Tools for language learning. We not only learned some great tools, we had the opportunity to practice them, as we both began weekly language lessons with a Tok Pisin speaker here! We will certainly not be fluent by the end of our time here, but it is great to get our feet wet before we go to POC in August.

Friday night we were all beat, but we had a Family Fun Night, including games and a talent show. Makaylah and Sophia performed “Let it Go” with one of their new friends, who is also heading to PNG in August (the Lord is so good!).

Waiting for the show to start

Waiting for the show to start


In the midst of all the mental, spiritual and physical exhaustion of this week, we can have peace, because we know that the One we serve is supremely worthy of anything He will ask us to sacrifice. Beyond that, He loves us with a deep, surpassing love. This weekend we each took time for a personal retreat with God. This was an “assignment,” and honestly, with everything else we’ve had going on, pulling away for 3 hours seemed daunting.

Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.- Isaiah 55:1-3

Our Lord loves us with a covenant, steadfast, sure love, and He knows what we need – HIM. It really is that simple.

Please continue to pray for us as we head into another busy week. Pray that we will continue to “eat what is good”!

ICC Week 1

Our ICC classes began last Thursday. The pace isn’t frantic, but is definitely challenging. Our usual schedule is –

  • Morning routine, leave house by 7:45
  • Drop Talia, Nehemiah, and Isaiah off at MK Station
  • Drop Makaylah and Sophia off at a home nearby where they join another JAARS family for their school work
  • Get ourselves to class by 8:10
  • Classes until 11:45
  • Pick Talia, Nehemiah, and Isaiah up from MK Station before 12pm
  • Pick up Makaylah and Sophia
  • Come home, fix lunch, debrief with the kids on their days
  • Homework (for us!), laundry, dishes, cooking, grocery shopping
  • Try to get the kids outside for a bit
  • Dinner
  • Kids to bed
  • Prep for next day
  • More homework

It’s a very different flow from our days then what we’ve been used to in the past, but we are starting to find our rhythm. The kids are all enjoying their mornings, even Talia! Both Talia and I fought some sinus stuff this weekend, but we are both feeling much better today. We continue to appreciate your prayers for health!

Highlights of the week:

  • Talia started crawling! She is fully mobile, and loves crawling all over the house trying to find trouble. She’s also started saying, “Hiiiii” while waving, and babbling “buh buh buh”
  • Ephesians study: We began this before ICC, and are continuing to delve into it deeper with our other classmates. My favorite part of our study so far has been going through chapters 1-3 and listing who God says we are. As we head into cross-cultural ministry, many of the things that we can find our identity in are stripped away – we need a deep awareness of who we are in Christ, which can never be taken away from us!
  • Ethnic church: Each Sunday of ICC we will attend an assigned ethnic church. We joined a Latino church this Sunday in worship. Even though we did not understand the majority of the service we could tell that Christ was lifted up. It was super obvious that these folks are indeed our brothers and sisters in Christ even though our understanding of what was said was vague. We did at least pick up on the main point of the message. La alegria es el producto la savacion! Joy is a product of salvation! Makaylah stayed with us in service even though she was very hesitant to do so. She even told us she was sad when service was finished!
  • We set up appointments at the JAARS clinic for us to get needed blood work and physicals done before we go to PNG. The appointments will happen after our ICC training is finished.
  • We are learning about our own unique strengths, and how to use them well in a team setting. We are each assigned to a table group of 5-6 other people. These are the people we sit with, learn with, work with and pray with over the coming weeks.
  • We began memorizing Phil. 2:1-11.
  • We met with staff and talked about the individual goals we have for this course, and the areas we are praying and asking God to grow in us.
  • Health issues on the field: We learned about how to safely prepare food and water, and how to collect symptoms for doctor consultations over the radio or phone.