Thursday, July 11, 2019

Update on Geoff's surgery

Hey everyone I just wanted to update you on how my surgery went. The surgery took about 3 hours and was a great success according to the surgeon. He told me that basically all the best case scenarios are what he saw when he got in there to remove the cholesteatoma from my right ear. Normally this kind of procedure would be a two-step surgery, and so we were starting to think about plans for just me to come back for another, more minor surgery in 6-12 months. But the doc said that things went so well that he was able to take care of everything in just the one sitting. He's comfortable with waiting until we come back home on our next furlough which is planned for 2021. He also found one of my old tubes which had fallen out behind my eardrum and had been lodged there for God knows how many decades! The doc is confident that with all he was able to do, and with how well the surgery went, that I should notice a huge difference in my ear health! Part of the procedure he did was also using a cartilage graft to rebuild my eardrum. He was telling me this afternoon that he was happy to have also been able to shore things up in such a way as to ensure longevity and good workability of this new eardrum. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that the doc did NOT have to do the more destructive surgery as we were hoping! So that means healing will be quicker and I can continue to live and work in PNG!
The doc literally had to cut my ear off to get access to the good stuff. That's gonna leave a scar!
Post-op, I have a mild amount of pain behind my ear where they opened me up and where he removed part of the mastoid bone. Down the right side of my neck is also fairly sore with movement, so I'm having to be careful how I move around since the neck muscles are involved in everything. But apparently I'm on track for good healing. I'm looking forward to my final appointment on July 29, just two days before we're scheduled to leave, to get the final OK to board that plane and head back to PNG. The doc's expectations at this point are that healing will go well, and that over time I'll notice my hearing is either the same as before, or even just a little bit better!

I know there were so many people praying for this procedure. Thank you all so much! It's such an encouragement that my fellow brothers and sisters were lifting this up before the Lord.

We'll keep you posted as things progress!

And for just a bit of sick humor… those of you who have spent any significant time with me can probably remember at one point or another my joking about how I wish I could just take a drill to this problematic ear. Well, as it turns out, that's basically what was needed after all!

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Our time in AZ so far, and a prayer request

Since we arrived back in Arizona it's been a flurry of medical appointments and gathering with friends and family. We're realizing how difficult it is going to be to see everyone we're wanting to see. Eight weeks is not a very long time at all and seems to be flying by! We are at a different church just about every Sunday we're back!

One of our highest priorities has been getting some answers and hopefully a solution for a potentially serious issue with my (Geoff's) ears. We've seen the Lord's undeserved extra mercies through the whole process, from getting me connected with just the right ENT, their office being appreciative of what we do and going the extra mile to accelerate the process with insurance and scheduling, and to finally having an answer after all these years. The culprit behind my years of persistent ear infections and worsening symptoms over the last 6 months is now confirmed to be a cholesteatoma in my right ear. Judging by how extensive it is, the doc says it's been there many years now, perhaps even going back to my childhood. It's been missed by many an ENT over the years because typical visual indicators are lacking. The solution is that I need surgery to remove it. Again, the doc and his office have been so good to me by accelerating the process and making sure to get the procedure approved by insurance and surgery scheduled all in good time to have me healed and checked out again before our Jul 31 return to PNG. Unchecked cholesteatoma will kill you. You just don't hear about it much because for people living in the US it's usually caught and dealt with, and the solution for such a potentially serious affliction is a fairly straightforward outpatient surgery. Again I find myself grateful that despite having been missed all these years due to atypical symptoms, that our mission doctors were discerning enough to call attention to the possibility TWICE in the last 3 years. The first time they raised the flag just before we came home on furlough, where an ENT evaluated and said it was inconclusive, but not likely. This time more recently the docs raised the flag again and I got in touch with another ENT who was able to conclude solidly that there is indeed a cholesteatoma and that it's been there a long time!

Currently my surgery is scheduled for July 8 with my final follow up appointment (where I'll hopefully be given a clean bill of health) just 2 days before we're scheduled to head back! There are some risks that I'd ask you to be in prayer about. Of course there are the obvious risks of general anesthesia, and risk of infection and what not. But the ones that concern me more are the risk of partial or total loss of hearing in that ear. Another one is that the doc will be making a determination during surgery whether or not he'll have to do a more destructive version of the procedure which would leave me with a high probability of an ear that would be intolerant to ANY moisture, including humidity. If he determines to go that route (he's going to try not to) it carries the risk of rendering me unable to live in PNG where humidity is high. That's a risk he's pointed out to me, and so we're trying to do whatever is needed to avoid that. The doc is anticipating a good outcome and ability to return and continue to work in PNG. But the possibility has me wanting to ask you all for your prayers leading up to and during my surgery, and for my recovery afterward. We desire to continue ministering to the Mibu church. There is still much translation and lesson development and working with the leaders to do there. We'd be foolish to think that somehow God 'needs' our family specifically to accomplish his work. But we've also had every indication that he has graciously brought us into his work in Mibu, and we've not sensed his leading us away from that yet. So our hope is to return and continue to serve in PNG. God is good no matter our circumstances. We trust the outcome to him, and would ask that you join us in praying about this.

On a lighter note, we've been enjoying being able to see our family and friends and to catch up with our brothers and sisters in Christ in the various churches in the valley. Since our time is so short, we've scheduled weekly evenings with Shannon's family and evenings with my family. It's been good to be together for this short time! 

We're also reminded as we interact with folks, and have been blessed in so many ways with financial help and other resources (like a house and 2 vehicles) that we totally don't deserve such good treatment from you all! Yet, God shows the abundance of his grace through these many kind and generous acts. Thank you so very much for everyone who partners with us in this ministry, who in any way, helps prop us up, encourage us along, and lift us up before the Father!

We managed to get the whole Husa clan together one more time, even including great grandma!
When the Husas get together things get a little bit weird. If you see him, make sure to ask my dad about his leg!
When you're 93, family shenanigans around the dinner table are easily handled by plugging your ears!

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Please read - Answered Prayer!

Great news! God has answered your prayers in a surprising way! If you remember a couple weeks ago we reported about a group of 11 guys that came to Mibu with knives and bows and arrows making serious threats against the community there. Thankfully they did not hurt anyone, but they said they'd be back, demanding that they be paid on their return.

We asked you to pray for this situation among a few others.

Well just a couple days ago we got a report from Sesi who wrote that two of the men returned in the dark of night this last Saturday… and apologized!!! This is completely unexpected. In fact, this situation was deemed desperate enough that everyone agreed it was time to get the police involved. But for some reason, before the police ever got involved, these two men came to apologize on behalf of everyone else who was involved. They brought a cash payment and a whole 'rope' of betelnut to seal the deal (a standard cultural practice to appease someone you've wronged).

Their explanation was that one of the group, a known troublemaker, while from the area in general, is a vagrant who drifts around different places drawing in other potential troublemakers, like a little gang, and causing all kinds of trouble. In this case, he convinced them to attack Mibu, and has since run off himself. Meanwhile, it seems his comrades have come to their senses and realized just how serious their actions were. Serious tribal warfare has been started on less!

We're blown away as it is so counter-cultural for people in these situations to do an about face without some kind of serious external prompting, either through court, the police, or pressure from leaders… if ever! And even more so among those who have yet to know and share the common bond of the saving mercy and grace of Jesus. So it's easy to recognize in this situation that God, the one who knows man's heart, and who grants favor, has answered your prayers in an amazing way! The Mibu people seem a bit shocked too. They indicated the unexpectedness of this outcome given they've not really had a chance to initiate talks or anything like that yet! Thank you for praying.

In addition, we had asked you to pray for some false teaching that was going on in one of the outreach areas. One of the elders and a few other church leaders went over to the area where the false teaching was happening. They met with and asked the ones behind it all to explain themselves. After being shown how their thinking doesn't line up with what God reveals in his word, or with the fact that they've been saved by his grace alone, and being told the church doesn't associate with that kind of teaching, they acknowledged publicly that they were in the wrong and would not continue with the practices they'd been promoting. Please continue to pray for this situation because we want to see it worked out over time here, especially with the people they've already mislead. We're not sure where these guys' hearts are really at, but are thankful for the gracious handling of the situation by the church, and for their initial response to correction.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Please Pray

If you can remember, please pray for several things going on in Mibu at the moment. Our co-workers wrote it well in their latest update, so I'll just copy their words here...

Trouble last November

First of all let me say that this is not an email we have been planning or even looking forward to sending out, but rather on behalf of the Mibu church we feel compelled to send this out as they (and we on their behalf) are asking for prayer in this regard.  While we didn't have a lot of information until very recently, it has now been confirmed by several independent eye witnesses that a group of twenty+ armed men learned that there was missionary plane that had had an accident in the remote village of Mibu.  They devised a plan to hike to Mibu and loot the plane.  As they approached the mountains to the South of Mibuland a large contingent of the group found the hiking to be too strenuous and so they turned back, and only 6 of the individuals continued on from there.  Before their arrival, a crew of missionary aviation mechanics arrived and worked on repairing the plane which took them about 4 days.  (It took many months to secure a new engine and other parts which delayed this repair far longer than anyone was expecting.)  The morning the plane was scheduled to fly out of Mibu a group of men from other villages arrived in Mibu with ample supplies of alcohol.  Early in the morning they began sharing this with some of the young men in Mibu and got severely drunk.  As the plane was getting ready to leave they all went up to Mibu and began to cause quite a stir, even threatening to damage the plane and helicopter.   Many of the drunk men and boys (around a dozen) had to be restrained before the plane and the helicopter were able to take off, which they finally were able to do.  Meanwhile, as the group of armed men hiked towards Mibu, they passed through some neighboring villages in another language group bordering Mibuland.  There they shared their intentions with some eyewitnesses, and showed them some of their guns and hand grenades (no doubt procured on the black market in Lae).  A couple of days after the plane left Mibu they arrived and learned that they had just missed their opportunity.  From there they traveled north towards the coast, several Mibu people saw them as they traveled via side trails rather than take the main trails through the area.  They made their way to Da.  village where they sold a couple guns in order to raise money for their boat ride out of the area.   From there we've then heard a rumor that one of this group in December was killed in a shoot out with police during a failed break-in attempt in Madang...
Outside church building on a typical Sunday.

Trouble near Mibu

Some of you may have seen been following my travelogues of my journeys in and out of Mibu.  During my trip out of Mibu in November there was some postings I made regarding the people in a village outside of Mibuland that were furious over the recent deaths of two prominent people.  They were cutting down trees blocking all the roads leading out of their villages to determine who had worked sorcery that resulted in these deaths... (more on this in a bit)

Trouble Last Week

Last week one of the elders of the church in Mibu sought our help in contacting the police in the area.  Recently a believer in Da.. village (same village as referenced above) was being disciplined by the church there for unrepentant, unfaithfulness to his wife.  Often times when individuals are confronted they react very differently.  This individual decided to act violently.  He began lashing out against others and damaging houses and other property and threatening to hurt others.   We haven't gotten a lot of details of what has happened since then, other than that he hasn't stopped being belligerent but instead continues to cause trouble. 
One of the gardens after the attack

Trouble this Sunday

During church services this last Sunday, 11 men came into Mibu with faces painted black and armed with machetes and bows & arrows.  They forced the believers out of the church and rounded them up away from the building down to the basketball court area of the village.  There they expressed their anger that one of the Mibu men had insulted his wife who was from one of their villages.  They also proceeded to blame the Mibu people for being the ones who had worked sorcery on the two men who had died in one of their villages back in November.  For this they were ready to execute some Mibu people! Additionally they were demanding K5,000.00 and a payment of 5 pigs.  Some community leaders seeking to calm the situation invited the men into one of the houses.  During the discussion when they thought the situation warranted it, they told the men that the insult they heard about wasn't true (both the husband and wife in question agree it was blown both out of context and proportion), and that the accusation of sorcery was also completely untrue, because Mibu--unlike many other places in the area--hasn't been practicing sorcery since the Gospel came and was accepted in 2006.  Still, one of their comments struck a nerve and the group snapped.  In an attempt to kill, they nearly succeeded in injuring two Mibu men who thankfully were able to run to safety.   At this point everyone in the village fled, leaving the assailants free reign.  They then proceeded to attack vanilla & food gardens claiming that they would be back as they left.  Later in a report, Mibu people were able to identify 6 of the 11 assailants, one of whom is a known murderer.  The church has now sent this report to the authorities regarding these six names along other details of the incident. 

Please PRAY!

D We have encouraged the Mibus with the words of Jesus in John 15.  We are promised in scripture that we will have trouble in this life, especially if we choose to live godly lives.  The Mibu church has weathered difficult times before, but it certainly feels like the enemy is ramping things up many more notches.  We imagine there are those in the church who are scared, rattled, and possibly looking for the easy out.  PRAY they will stand firm in what they know to be true.  PRAY that they will not cave to the cultural norms, but instead rely on they power God to show himself strong on their behalf.  PRAY that the police are able to come quickly and help address the matters in a helpful way and restore some order to the area.  PRAY through it all that the Mibu church will be a shining example to their neighboring communities, and that these accusations and troubles that are coming their way don't affect the peace that has come to be associated with them.  Pray for our friends, our brothers and sisters, that they will seek the face of God, and walk humbly in his ways.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Exciting New Mibu Ministry Video

As we head into the closing season of 2018 I’m reflecting on the phenomenal things that happened this last year. This video sums up how these years of language learning, bible translation, teaching, and discipleship came together in a huge ministry milestone; the appointment of the Mibu church’s first elders! Check out our vimeo page for the longer versions (18 min and  46 min) if you’re looking for more of the details.

Thank you all for partnering with us in this ministry! It’s been so encouraging to see the fruit of this ministry over the years!

If you'd like to know how to contribute to the ongoing expenses of Mibu Ministry please check out our Ethnos3
0 page here.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Translation (and other) Progress

Wow! The last couple months have been quite a whirlwind! In early September I was able to spend a couple weeks back in Mibu to work on the translation of Revelation with Sesi and a few others. My time in Mibu was wonderful. I am loving seeing how Revelation is shaping up and communicating to those I've tested with for comprehension! I missed having my family there with me. They were unable to join me because my visit couldn't be made to happen over a school break. So Shannon and the kids remained out in town.

For the last few days in Mibu, one of our church development consultants paid a visit to talk with the church leaders about an outreach to the neighboring Jerung area that they've been asking about. NTM has been looking for a couple families to allocate there to initiate a church planting ministry in partnership with the Mibu church. The meetings we had were to get some specifics regarding the nature of the partnership. For example, what ways do the Mibu church see themselves able to partner in the outreach to Jerung. It was fun having Nate come in and spend time with the leaders. I enjoyed hearing their thoughtful discussions with someone other than myself. Sometimes the different situation of being an observer can help me look at things from a slightly different perspective, and also open my eyes to some of their thinking that I perhaps wasn't perceiving from within my normal bubble of life.

The elders of Mibu had the chance to record a message to another church (the Mesi church, where Nate works) on Nate's phone. So great to see them passing on little nuggets of encouragement and wisdom to a younger church.

Since coming back to my family in town, I've been in an all out battle to keep the momentum going forward with Revelation, and am now ready to work with my translation helper again on the next couple chapters. To that end, Sesi is planning to fly out here today (Wed, our time) and spend twelve or so days with our family while he and I work together. If all goes well, he'll be flying back to Mibu on the 19th. We're really looking forward to hosting him for a bit. When I told the kids, they got all excited and said they couldn't wait to see 'Mr. Sesi!' Hopefully he'll be joining us by lunchtime!

The kids did eventually have a two week school break after their very first term. It was a much needed breather before jumping full into their next term. I was just telling someone recently that they seem to be doing much better and that we're seeing improvement in their schooling abilities. Turns out that while they're definitely improving, I realized I spoke too soon after receiving a couple emails from teachers informing us of missing assignments and some failing grades. So we continue to plod on, helping the kids learn good study habits, and keeping track of assignments, and actually turning them in!

In my last post, I mentioned some social difficulties our oldest has been having. Those difficulties continue but we're seeing her growing in her maturity in it. At the same time, a few of those relationships have also changed for the better… just a little bit. So it's progress, but please keep praying.

While you're at it, please keep praying for that plane that is STILL on the ground there in Mibu. There is still a 24 hour security detail watching that thing to be sure no harm comes to it. It's a task that was getting old a month or more ago. But as things tend to go here in PNG ("the land of the unexpected") it's just one holdup after another. As soon as one thing gets sorted, something else falls out of place.

Thank you so very much to the many of you who pray and support us in the Mibu Ministry! Your time and financial sacrifice continue to be an encouragement to us to keep laboring here until the work is done! We hope that you are equally blessed to be a part of this ministry with us!

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Long overdue update

With all the changes in the last couple months it's been difficult to sit and write an update. Yet there's so much to write about! Our new circumstances after moving to town still make for the daily exercise of being flexible, and figuring out what it's going to take to make things work out here while still serving the church in Mibu effectively.

I've been finding my 'flow' more and more as I continue the fight to maintain priorities of bible translation and lesson development among the many other things that vie for our attention. Currently I'm making progress in Revelation, as well as lessons for elder training. I spent the last year and a half in Mibu putting together weekly lessons based on scripture that would challenge and grow potential elders. After seeing how God has worked through those lessons, I'd like to see them move out of outline form (which was really just meant for me to teach from) to a form that can be printed in a book for the current elders and other leaders to use to both remind themselves, and also continue their training of other leaders. So that project is off the ground now as well.

Beyond juggling the two priorities of translation and lesson writing, there are quite a few other things that have kept us busy. The biggest thing has to do with transitioning the kids from a homeschool setting (which is pretty much all they know) to a more traditional school setting. Longer days, with homework after, keeping track of assignments and other tasks, turning in assignments, and all the rest of it is all new for them… and for us. We've found that most evenings we're needed for helping the kids stay on track and learn how to manage their time, work and play.
We're also being faced with the reality of what it means to have raised our kids in the jungle for so many years with little interaction with other expat kids. There is a big difference between how our kids think, and play, and what they value, and how they process life than many of their western peers. That's not to say it's better or worse. Just saying it's clearly different. Kids pick up on that difference and just don't feel as comfortable around each other. It's a new challenge for us as parents to figure out how to teach and coach them (especially the older two) on how to navigate these waters where they have the ever conflicting sense of being foreigners even in the company of their own. Their ethnicity, language, and their passports give an expectation of belonging. Unfortunately those expectations are dashed on the rocks of daily interaction with those who have been more thoroughly enculturated in their US culture. Our eldest especially is having the hardest time making friends out here. She really wants to make friends, but most are just ignoring her for some reason. Her age-mates exclude her from activities. Some don't even respond when she says a cheerful hi to them. It's hard (depressing actually) to watch her struggle with it and not have answers for her. It seems a crucial time to remind her where her true identity is, and where it is not. We also tell her that hopefully with the passing of time and growth in maturity these difficulties will diminish. Sorry if that's kind of bummer paragraph, but that's been one of our biggest struggles these last couple months. Perhaps if you have the time you could pray for her regarding that, and for wisdom for us, as we struggle to help her be encouraged.
On another note, I'm sure you remember that the Mibu airstrip was finally completed, inspected, and opened! Unfortunately the first plane to land there had an incident resulting in a prop strike. Thankfully nobody was hurt. But the prop and the engine were destroyed. The mechanics went in and removed the damaged parts, and are now awaiting the arrival of their replacements. Meanwhile, the folks in Mibu have been maintaining a 24 hour per day security detail to be sure that the more curious, and especially outsiders whose intentions cannot be known, do not go near it. This long-term security detail has been maintained by 10 men on rotating shifts each day and night. It's turned into a long job and has required quite a bit of communication back and forth with encouragement, solutions, and trying to take care of their needs as they protect the plane. The job is quite out of the ordinary for them, and I can sense they feel it's become a bit of a drag. They keep going though. I'm sure that as the end of this longer-than-expected job nears they're looking forward to being paid for their work. This too is something that, for a few initial weeks, has kept us busy writing emails and other communication. Hopefully the plane can be restored and flown back out sometime soon here.
A late development (as of today, Sunday) is that I'm going to be going into Mibu on Tuesday morning. I'm looking forward to this time when I can work on translation recording with Sesi and have some time to sit with the leaders and see how we can encourage them!

Thank you so very much to all of you who give and pray for us to be here doing this work! We appreciate your monthly generosity! We couldn't do it without you!