Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Children of Hope... Part 2

NAME: Max (short for Makau, 'ma-cow') AGE: ~10-12

This morning my father and I woke up in our temporary lean-to out in the bush. My mom and dad and myself and my three younger brothers usually stay in one of our houses, either close by our pigs or in the village. But dad is splitting wood for planking on the side of a new house he's making. It's a big job so we're camping out near the work site pretty regularly lately. This morning we woke up with the sun and started our fire to keep warm. Looking forward to our special treat of leftover pig meat from yesterday, we put it (stuffed in bamboo) on the fire and heated it up. After eating I left my dad there. He would later go to another village about a day's hike away. He's the elected local level councilman who is expected to be at a big court meeting. As for myself, I headed down to Mibu for school. Since it was still early, I thought it would be a good time to take the long route and hunt for birds and check our traps along the way.

NAME: Longge (loang-gay) AGE: ~17-18

I left my husband and 3 month old baby girl at home this morning so I could get some food and supplies for the day. We needed some bamboo for water and for cooking and food storage. We also needed some taro and sweet potato as well as some greens to cook with our meals. Our garden is about 1/2 mile away up the mountain so I had to leave early this morning so I could get back before everyone got too hungry. Sometimes we live with my dad and my two moms, as well as 10 of my 11 younger siblings, so it's a lot of food I have to get. After we eat, I'll be joining many of the other women who go up to the water. There, us ladies will wash the pots and pans, the clothes, and also to fill up the water jugs for our families. I'll probably take one, or even a few, of my younger siblings to help me out.

NAMES: from left to right, Lakwan, Kwobe, Sama AGES: ~7-8, ~4-5, ~8-10

We're just coming back from getting some pit-pit from Sama's mom and dad's garden this morning. Her mom asked her to go get some food and we three friends decided to all go together to bring back a bit of food for each of our respective families. Some time after we eat we'll probably play outside with our other young friends where we'll spend the morning kicking and throwing little balls around that we've made out of various materials we've found. We were doing that yesterday and it was so much fun!

NAME: Nines (nee-nace) AGE: 4

Me and my mom live with my maternal grandmother as well as my mom's brother and his wife and my two cousins. My dad died when I was very young, so it's just me and my mom and our family. This morning my mom is leaving me at home with grandma so that she can pick coffee with the rest of the family. She says that's how they get money to second-hand clothes and other things each year. Since it's time for harvesting coffee right now, lots of other parents are leaving their kids in Mibu as well, so I'll bet a lot of my other friends will be here in the village and we can play. Yesterday, my mom had a bunch of other women over at our house to pray for our families and for the community. My mommy asked me to go outside because I was being too loud. Lately, she's been telling me a lot that she's changing the way she raises me. She says that she wants to start training me the way that God wants her to. She says she wants me to learn to think about and follow God's talk.

NAME: Pos (short for Posilongge 'pos-i-loang-gay') AGE: ~9-10

My two brothers and one sister are all younger than me. I'm old enough now that I go with my dad, when I'm not in school, to help him with jobs in the garden, collecting firewood, or other things. Sometimes, when mom or dad can't take me with them, they give me the task of keeping my younger siblings out of trouble. Most of the time though, when it's not time for school, I enjoy playing with my friends. My dad made me a bow and arrow set out of bamboo. My friends all have theirs too, so we go around and shoot at things with them. Every now and then we actually get a bird! We also like to play games when we have marbles, or sometimes we'll play a game where we fling a spinning top made from a coconut shell and see how many seeds we can knock over. Today while I was playing, the tall-white-skin came down and asked if he could take my picture. I said it was alright and then tried to look like I should for a picture. He told me I always look angry and then asked if I know how to smile. I think he got what he wanted eventually though, because he teased me a little bit in front of my friends and I just couldn't help but crack a little smile as we all started to laugh.They're the ones next in line to hear and hopefully respond to the word of God here in Mibu. Investment in their training is where it's at if one wants to leave a Godly legacy behind. With the fairly recent arrival of God's word and teaching in their language, it's power, manifest through changed lives has the potential to powerfully effect these younger ones. As you join us in prayer for both the believing parents here in Mibu and for their children, we thought we'd try to provide a window through which you could take a quick glimpse into the lives of this upcoming generation. Small as this window may be, we hope that these little snap-shots of life might help you connect more with the people you're praying for.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Children of Hope... Part 1

Children of Mibu
One thing that often gets overlooked in our updates is the children of Mibu. Yet, more and more, the focus of the church here is on the youngsters. These young ones are where it's at when considering the long term continuation of the gospel message and thus, the survival of the church here in Mibu. I've heard it well said that, "If we don't learn how to train our children up to know and honor God then all this (the Mibu Church) will fall down someday."

So true. But this is no small hurdle to overcome. As you may or may not remember, a couple of years ago Shannon and I worked on developing and teaching some parenting 'basic training' type lessons. The idea was to plant the seeds of basic biblical parenting principles. The lessons covered topics such as God's design and his view of parenting, God given parental authority, His expectation of parents, our need and expectation (even having the goal) of obedience, basic disciplinary principles, and more. These lessons have been taught through one time (with the need for much review in the future) and printed as booklets. These printed booklets have been distributed to every family.

But as many of us parents have learned (and are still learning), changing patterns of parenting is a long, often very difficult journey. Adding to that difficulty is the fact that many of the old patterns here had arisen from a near zero hope of the parental capacity to shape and direct children, as well as a lack of understanding and/or willingness to exercise parental authority. The beginning of this journey here in Mibu has a sharp learning curve. At the moment, we would estimate that we're somewhere pretty early on in that curve with a ways to go.

With the current shortage of manpower present here the continuation of lessons and discipleship in this area is slowed tremendously. We're encouraged that Shannon has been able to get out with the ladies each week and spend time reviewing some of the topics in the parenting lessons, adding depth through more practical examples and discussion. Yes, we are indeed seeing growth as parents begin to take hold of the biblical truths that have been taught.

More useful than the book though is the idea of seeing these principles lived out before them; an example they can follow. Our family dynamics aren't perfect by any means. At the heart of things we share all the same struggles that our friends in Mibu do; Anger, frustration, feelings of hopelessness, apathy and more... All these are our natural bent. It is here that the one thing that can truly shine forth and make a difference is God's loving grace. His grace provides us with the foundation needed for forgiveness and understanding and unity as well as the ability to continue forward with our eyes on Him. When family life begins to be characterized by an understanding of his grace then that family is onto something. We hope and pray that our family and the families in Mibu would only continue to grow in their understanding and experience of the outworkings of God's loving grace in their lives.

In order to help you, our prayerful and financial supporters, 'connect' with this area of life in Mibu we'd like to take the next few updates and try to open up for you a window into the world of the children here in Mibu. If you feel the burden as we do, would you take some time to be in prayer on a regular basis for the future of these young torch bearers and for the parents, who by divine appointment have been given the task of passing the torch.

FYI... Translation check postponed
We were ramping up the excitement for our upcoming translation check. But unfortunately as our translation consultant was traveling from the US, he was informed that his wife had had a heart attack. We're glad to hear that she's OK now and ought to recover nicely. But this means that our translation check will have to happen another time. Till then, we'll just keep plugging away on this huge job of translating the New Testament.