Wednesday, January 8, 2014

One Word

“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” –Mark Twain

The other Sunday, we were challenged to encapsulate 2013 in one or two words. At the time I said unexpected. Certainly this entire past year never seemed to follow any of my expectations, from my goals in Papua New Guinea (PNG) to my involvement in activities like the Pony Club to random workshops to what awaited me when I returned home to the United States.

I mean, just take a look at my one-word synopsis of the months below!

2013 was kicked off deep in the Markham valley where we held the first Scripture conference aimed at 9 languages and over a dozen church denominations. Eyes were opened, visions were cast, and we were soaked with lots and lots of rain.

Not only was I creating illustrations for several literacy primers, but I also was ripping apart 20+ thrift store shirts and sticks to decorate my room, developing lesson plans for my horseback riding students, and attempting to instill healthier self-care patterns for life.


Missionaries generally represent a narrow subsection of their culture, requiring a remarkable blend of independence, determination, stubbornness against great odds, and a firm grip on their ideals in order to succeed. Fill up an entire conference room for several weeks with several hundred of these individuals from 20+ different countries and cultures and ask them to make decisions; when they end in unity, well, that’s remarkable too.
You know what is also unexpected? Coffin shops. They are everywhere in PNG, and many of the coffins have windows, surrounded by sparkly boas.

In our Oral Bible Storytelling workshop, I heard stories and edited stories and sang stories and dramatized stories and even told stories about making lots of banana bread and how it was 95 degrees in my bedroom. At 10 pm.

In between preparing for my next workshop, I spent this month enjoying being a part of the precious missionary community in PNG (and the horses!), as well as saying several goodbyes.  This was also the month that my friend and I kept trying to get our motorbike to work and only received lots of bruises down our leg for our efforts.

Another workshop, this one for both a hymnbook revision and Sunday School Book production—and since Hanna and I only had a tentative grasp on what we were doing, we spent the month in eager anticipation—what would happen next? What new plans did the Lord have for us? We also had much mouthwatering anticipation as we attempted to cook our first mammoth ocean crab.

I love checklists. I even add completed things to my checklist so I can cross them off. And this month certainly had its fill of checklists—moving from one country to another is no simple task!

Another unexpected PNG photo: entire store aisles dedicated to oil. They might not have lots of variety, but you won't ever run out of oil!

This month was filled with embraces—embraces of goodbye as I left PNG, embraces of heartfelt welcome as I returned to the US, and even embraces that were rather unexpectedly full of reverse culture shock!

During this month, I began to realize that I was going to need to surrender many of my desires for this home assignment and allow myself a greater measure of grace as I attacked a very busy speaking schedule in the midst of unexpected health and emotional challenges.


My theme song this month was “Stayin’ Alive” as I fought against my gluten-induced exhaustion to finish up my intense speaking schedule and attempted to enjoy life in the US with friends and family. Also, this song has the perfect tempo for regulating CPR compressions (thanks to my wilderness first aid class).

November —Awakening
Healing was the focus of this month, from kicking it off with a prayer retreat to the many doctor appointments each week to being reintroduced to the joy of music. I started down the road of recovery and was grateful for the many people who graciously walked beside me.

This month celebrated a roller coaster of deep joy and painful challenges, expectations that were both surpassed and never met, and always filled with the intense glorious beauty of relationships with family and friends. It was a month to be human and rejoice in the continuous excitement of redemption by a coming Savior.


Yes, unexpected is a good summary of what happened.

But confidence is what I had and grasp is what I did.

Because daughter is who I am

And Yahweh is who He is.