Please pray

25 February 2013

Once again I have an urgent prayer request for you all. This afternoon the former church leader who has caused us so much trouble over the past year and a half came to talk to Jeff. He started making a lot of accusations and telling lies, but when Jeff went and got our voice recorder he got angry and refused to talk. They sat for a long time and finally when it was pretty much dark (around 6:30 or 7 pm) Jeff left him to go and see some people who had come to our gate. (On his way up he stuck his head in the house where I was and asked me to lock the door.) When he got back the man had come up onto the porch. Jeff asked him if he had anything to say, and he said he did but he wanted Jeff to turn off the voice recorder first. When Jeff wouldn’t he got mad and struck Jeff, trying to get the voice recorder out of his hand. He grabbed Jeff and hit him at least twice-Jeff had to wrestle out of his grip. Jeff told him he needed to leave and went and got our dog. The dog wiggled out of Jeff’s grip and chased the man a little, which made him really mad. He got a big stick and started threatening Jeff, saying he was going to kill the dog, break in the house, etc. He was beating on the door and everything. Jeff put the dog up so he wouldn’t hurt the man, but the man was furious and wouldn’t leave or let Jeff into the house. So Jeff called some men from the neighborhood. Of course when they got here the man was just as nice as could be, but still persisted in his accusations that Jeff had never paid him for the work he did helping to build our house. Meanwhile I had called our parents and pastor as well as some other missionaries in PNG, asking them to pray. One of those missionaries who knows this man actually called him as he was talking to Jeff and the other men and he immediately became all smiley, assuring the missionary that he hadn’t done anything and that he only had a little problem with Jeff. Jeff says that the other men cracked up when they heard him say that! (I’m glad they could see at least a little incongruity there!) Anyway, they all left but we really need you all to pray that this man will not come back or cause trouble otherwise, and that the Lord will give us wisdom as to what to do next. Pray also for our coworker’s safety-she lives alone close to this man, though thankfully right next door/ very close to our faithful church leader-but we have no way to let her know what’s going on because she doesn’t have cell signal and Jeff is afraid to leave me alone to make the 30-45 min. hike to go and tell her.

We are scheduled to leave Kiari the day after tomorrow, but need wisdom to know whether or not we should try to leave sooner, etc. And. please pray that we’ll somehow be able to calm down enough to eat our supper (it’s past 11 pm) and sleep tonight, trusting in the Lord to take care of us.

He’s home safe!

18 February 2013

Quick update to my earlier prayer request: Jeff made it safely across the graun bruk and got home a few minutes ago. Thanks to all who prayed for his safety. He said that one of the older men (a real woodsman type of guy) pointed out another crack to him. It looks like that whole corner of the mountain is likely to go down. Apparently a spring down below is already starting to crumble away. Praise the Lord for His goodness in taking my Jeff safely across and for the blessing of having the car and all the stuff, even the majority of our luggage for when we leave next week, all safely up to the mission station.

Jeff said that around 40 guys showed up to help clear away the graun bruk. This was a huge blessing-the last several times he’s had little or no help.

Thanks for your continued prayers as we wrap things up over the next few days!

Elizabeth Owens

Last days before furlough

18 February 2013

Dear praying friends,

I just wanted to write quickly with a special prayer request and also to ask your prayers for our last few days in Kiari before we leave for furlough and the birth of our baby. Lord willing we will be getting on the chopper in only 10 days-Wednesday, Feb. 27th. Much remains to be done-Jeff will be preaching 3 more times and I will be teaching Sunday School once more; Jeff has made grates that still need to be installed over our windows; we need to finish packing up our house and getting all of our belongings in order; and most time-consuming of all are the goodbyes-people constantly coming to our gate to give or sell us souveneirs and food but really most of all just to “story”. Please pray that the Lord will help us to maintain a balance and right priorities through these last days, and that He will help us to be looking for and take advantage of opportunities to share the gospel with our many unsaved friends here in Kensa.

The special prayer request is one you can pray for right this minute. We have saved up a large load of things to take up to the mission station at the last minute in order to impress on folks’ minds that there’s nothing left in our house to make it worth breaking in while we’re gone. J However, this past week there was a decent-sized “graun bruk” (landslide) that covered part of the road between here and the mission station. Clearing the graun bruk is a lot of work, but when he went to check it out Jeff also noticed that just beyond it there are large cracks along 20-25 feet of the road right up next to the mountain wall, a telltale sign that the whole road is about to go down in that spot. Yesterday our coworker Karen also told me that when she walked by that place in the rain, all the water was pouring down into a big hole and disappearing (evidently running under the road). Today Jeff has gone to hopefully clear the graun bruk and get the carload of stuff, plus our luggage, up to the station before the road goes down. Would you please join us in praying for wisdom for him, and even that if the road is already too weak to hold the car, the Lord will just have it go on down before Jeff tries to drive across, and preferably even before he and many other men go through all the work to clear the graun bruk? We would obviously like to get the car and its load up to the station; if the road went out first it would be a good bit of work to carry everything even just from that point, and then the car would have to be left for at least a couple of weeks in a rather insecure location; but I feel so strongly and think you would agree that Jeff’s life and health-any driver’s, for that matter-is infinitely more important and valuable than that car (especially if you know anything about the poor old car I’m talking about!) and any amount of extra work that might be involved.

As I lay awake last night worrying about the whole thing I had to counsel myself-“I believe that God is good. He is infinitely wise and powerful and loving. I believe that His plan for my life is the very best and most loving that could be. I believe that He hears my prayers and that He will providentially have people read the blog post I am going to send out-even on a Sunday night-and that He will prompt some to actually pray about this and will hear those prayers too. I believe that He will even sometimes change His mind about what will happen based on His children’s prayers, but regardless of His answer, I believe whatever happens will be His good and perfect will.” Then I had to ask myself, “Do I REALLY believe that?” My heart’s immediate response was a confident “Yes”, but remembering the Bible’s teaching on the deceitfulness of our hearts (even as believers) I had to change it to a more realistic, “I believe; help Thou mine unbelief” (because is not my worry the very surest sign of unbelief?). So. you can pray for me too, that I will trust the Lord as I work today and listen for the car coming back either to stay or to get the load of stuff!

And as I finished that paragraph, sure enough there came the car. Jeff had only been gone a couple of hours but said there was a whole army of guys digging and they would probably be done clearing the graun bruk by the time he got back with the stuff. So, he loaded everything up and is at this moment tying down the load and getting ready to go. So right now, please pray that he’ll make it safely across!!! I’ll hopefully let you know in a couple of hours that he did! But. whatever happens, remember (and remind me). God is good!

Elizabeth Owens

attempt to catch you up on all the news :-)

19 January 2013

Dear praying friends,

I hardly know how to apologize for my long silence. I can hardly remember the last time I wrote… maybe when the hauslains were fighting? That has long since been settled, by the way, in case I neglected to tell you, and Matyu and Keti seem to be as friendly as ever (and spiritually seeking– continue to pray for their salvation)! Our computer died, and then we’ve been limping along using another one whose cord had to be jimmy-rigged by my amazing husband, though it could not be used while charging and only had a battery life of about half an hour which we tried to spread out over a couple of days each time to avoid running the generator every day… so though we could check email and write really fast replies to a very few, I’m afraid hardly anyone has heard from us for a long time. Sori tru! But now the Lord has provided a lovely new computer for us, and it will be good to catch up on all that correspondence and hear from some of you again.

The most exciting news, in case some of you haven’t heard, is that we’re expecting a baby!!! I’m just now finishing up my second trimester, and our little “Wiggly” is due in May! We’re thankful that it has gone very smoothly so far. This has bumped up our furlough plans… we leave Kiari in less than 6 weeks and fly out of Goroka on March 8, arriving in the States on the 12th, Lord willing. Please pray for us as we wrap things up, pack our house, etc. We feel so excited to see our families and leave behind the many ministry pressures here, but at the same time we are sad to leave our home and friends in Kiari. We are praying that the Lord would quickly provide our lacking support (still catching up from getting married, and now adding another family member!) so that we can return in a year or less.

In other news… late September/early October we enjoyed helping host a team of 3 men who came to build a house for our coworker Karen Hall. In only 9 days they had the entire structure up, though the inside is still being finished bit by bit. Later in October we got to spend a few days with the Ritschard family, fellow GFA missionaries in another part of PNG. That was a huge encouragement. November we were here in Kiari all month, just busy with day-to-day projects, dealing with the plethora of issues that come up every day, and much studying for teaching/preaching. December was a supply trip and then all of the Christmas activities with the church here… three “bungs” (all-day gatherings) in a week was fun but tiring. Then came a very special treat for me… my very first visitor in my 2 1/2 years in PNG! Beth was with us in Kiari for a little over a week and helped me with the huge (and sad) task of packing up the school. She was quite the trooper, as the rats had enjoyed quite a holiday in some places! We were able to get everything boxed up though, and hopefully if the Lord provides for the school to open again, whoever unpacks everything will have a much less revolting task. We went to town and spent the weekend with her there before her flight out Monday. True to form, the plane was 4 hours late leaving and she missed her other flights back to Australia, but thankfully made it home the next day. After Beth left we were able to travel to another place in PNG where we were able to see the dentist before heading back to Kiari. Jeff caught the flu and had a fever for 4 days but seems to be feeling better today. Please pray for the Lord to strengthen him as he preaches twice tomorrow.

The challenges of the ministry continue, and though we are very burdened for the Lord to work in the hearts of the men who are causing trouble and for the Lord to grant discernment to the other believers, we have come to see that the main issue is us– will we trust the Lord and endure? Thanks for your continued prayers. I’d especially appreciate your prayers for a lady who came to sit with me during prayer time the evening before we left for town. She said, “You go ahead and pray, but I can’t pray because I’m not saved.” What an open door and great opportunity to share with her about my devotions in 1 Corinthians– the marvel of how unbelievers can’t understand spiritual things, but when the Lord gives His Holy Spirit we are able to discern and understand. She seems to be hungry and seeking; please join me in praying that the Lord will grant her His miraculous light– the very mind of Christ– so that she will come to comprehend the things of God as she sits under the preaching of His Word.

As I read over what I’ve written I’m sorry it’s so scattered– I think I’m out of practice writing for one thing, plus definitely more scatterbrained than usual since I’ve been expecting! Hopefully it’s basically intelligible anyway, and I didn’t leave out anything too important. Thanks for your patience and prayers.

Elizabeth Owens

attempt to catch you up on all the news :-)

19 January 2013

Dear praying friends,

I hardly know how to apologize for my long silence. I can hardly remember the last time I wrote… maybe when the hauslains were fighting? That has long since been settled, by the way, in case I neglected to tell you, and Matyu and Keti seem to be as friendly as ever (and spiritually seeking– continue to pray for their salvation)! Our computer died, and then we’ve been limping along using another one whose cord had to be jimmy-rigged by my amazing husband, though it could not be used while charging and only had a battery life of about half an hour which we tried to spread out over a couple of days each time to avoid running the generator every day… so though we could check email and write really fast replies to a very few, I’m afraid hardly anyone has heard from us for a long time. Sori tru! But now the Lord has provided a lovely new computer for us, and it will be good to catch up on all that correspondence and hear from some of you again.

The most exciting news, in case some of you haven’t heard, is that we’re expecting a baby!!! I’m just now finishing up my second trimester, and our little “Wiggly” is due in May! We’re thankful that it has gone very smoothly so far. This has bumped up our furlough plans… we leave Kiari in less than 6 weeks and fly out of Goroka on March 8, arriving in the States on the 12th, Lord willing. Please pray for us as we wrap things up, pack our house, etc. We feel so excited to see our families and leave behind the many ministry pressures here, but at the same time we are sad to leave our home and friends in Kiari. We are praying that the Lord would quickly provide our lacking support (still catching up from getting married, and now adding another family member!) so that we can return in a year or less.

In other news… late September/early October we enjoyed helping host a team of 3 men who came to build a house for our coworker Karen Hall. In only 9 days they had the entire structure up, though the inside is still being finished bit by bit. Later in October we got to spend a few days with the Ritschard family, fellow GFA missionaries in another part of PNG. That was a huge encouragement. November we were here in Kiari all month, just busy with day-to-day projects, dealing with the plethora of issues that come up every day, and much studying for teaching/preaching. December was a supply trip and then all of the Christmas activities with the church here… three “bungs” (all-day gatherings) in a week was fun but tiring. Then came a very special treat for me… my very first visitor in my 2 1/2 years in PNG! Beth was with us in Kiari for a little over a week and helped me with the huge (and sad) task of packing up the school. She was quite the trooper, as the rats had enjoyed quite a holiday in some places! We were able to get everything boxed up though, and hopefully if the Lord provides for the school to open again, whoever unpacks everything will have a much less revolting task. We went to town and spent the weekend with her there before her flight out Monday. True to form, the plane was 4 hours late leaving and she missed her other flights back to Australia, but thankfully made it home the next day. After Beth left we were able to travel to another place in PNG where we were able to see the dentist before heading back to Kiari. Jeff caught the flu and had a fever for 4 days but seems to be feeling better today. Please pray for the Lord to strengthen him as he preaches twice tomorrow.

The challenges of the ministry continue, and though we are very burdened for the Lord to work in the hearts of the men who are causing trouble and for the Lord to grant discernment to the other believers, we have come to see that the main issue is us– will we trust the Lord and endure? Thanks for your continued prayers. I’d especially appreciate your prayers for a lady who came to sit with me during prayer time the evening before we left for town. She said, “You go ahead and pray, but I can’t pray because I’m not saved.” What an open door and great opportunity to share with her about my devotions in 1 Corinthians– the marvel of how unbelievers can’t understand spiritual things, but when the Lord gives His Holy Spirit we are able to discern and understand. She seems to be hungry and seeking; please join me in praying that the Lord will grant her His miraculous light– the very mind of Christ– so that she will come to comprehend the things of God as she sits under the preaching of His Word.

As I read over what I’ve written I’m sorry it’s so scattered– I think I’m out of practice writing for one thing, plus definitely more scatterbrained than usual since I’ve been expecting! Hopefully it’s basically intelligible anyway, and I didn’t leave out anything too important. Thanks for your patience and prayers.

Elizabeth Owens

Fight over!!!?

29 August 2012

Just wanted to pass along an update that yesterday on his way home Jeff passed the magistrates at their meeting place on the road between the two hauslains, and they asked him to stop and witness their peacemaking ceremony (because they didn’t trust each other!). He said it was very interesting to watch. Two magistrates from each hauslain faced each other and held hands like they were shaking hands, and two men from each hauslain stood next to them, across from each other, and passed the settlement money underneath the magistrates’ clasped hands. Then they split a pack of cigarettes and each side lit theirs, smoked them a little, and traded with the other line to smoke theirs! Apparently that fixes everything… unless, of course, someone stirs it up again (which, here, is almost as likely to happen 10 years from now as tomorrow!).

So, it was wonderful to hear that last night. Jeff had to leave again soon after getting home to climb the ridge next to our house for an evangelistic fellowship in another hauslain. Nobody was there, so he came home and I was so happy to have him to myself! We enjoyed watching a video made by another missions organization about their work in a certain area. There was something about it that kind of bothered me, and when it finished I was talking to Jeff about it and trying to put my finger on what it was. I think the gist of it is that organization’s practice of giving out food, money, etc. to “open doors for the gospel”. Our experience has shown that such methods, except perhaps in time of a disaster or emergency, are very counterproductive. Just yesterday I was SO grieved by the greediness of a church leader’s wife who had come to work in our garden. She just kept asking for more and more things! That really gets under my skin. It is so obvious that she is controlled by covetousness. Lately she regularly misses church (as does her husband) to “take care of sick children” and rarely makes it to Ladies’ Bible Study at our house, which is, to be honest, a 20-min. walk from hers (church is only a 5-min. walk), but as soon as it’s something she can do to make money (or in this case, get paid in oil/salt/etc.) there is absolutely no problem and she’s very free and anxious to come! And that’s only one example– this is a huge problem amongst the believers here. Or should I say “believers”? Some I’m sure just come to church/try to please us or get close to us just for what we might give them or help them with! It is a huge mistake to let ANYTHING, however kind it may be, get ahead of the gospel or in its way. (And yes, we’re constantly having to reevaluate our own practices in this light– even how we pay people for work they do for us.)

I was thinking about Jesus in this respect. Surely He was in contact with many very needy people. Did He ever give anybody anything? Yes, He had compassion on and healed the sick– but that was just to prove that He is God (and He didn’t need any expensive medicines either). He fed the 5,000 and the 4,000… but they needed food only because they had stayed a long time, probably longer than planned since they finished all of their own food and were hungry– so hungry that they might not make it back to town to get food. And, at least the first time, they appear to have done so for the sole reason of HEARING HIS TEACHING! (And later– maybe it was the 2nd time– He rebuked people who were following Him after that just to get more free food!) Anyway, I may be forgetting something– I haven’t studied this out at all– so if you disagree I am interested in your scripturally-informed thoughts on this subject. But it seems to me that Jesus’ focus was very pointedly on people’s spiritual rather than physical needs, and ours should probably be too!

I guess my uneasiness about the film we watched and my ensuing thoughts about the question of giving in missions boils down to this: Do we really believe that God is good? Good not only to those of us who have cleanliness and health and plenty to eat and pretty much everything else imaginable, but even good to the poorest beggar who is really and truly starving and lives in rags and filth? (The things in the video described as filthy and poor were pretty nice to some things I’ve seen in Kiari!) Is He good even to those people– even BEFORE the nice white missionary “fixes” all of those problems? We have to say yes. We HAVE to. It is true; the Bible says that He is good to ALL. And that’s what I was commenting to Jeff last night. After the video talked about all of the poor girls deceived into going to another country for a good-paying job only to find out that it was a job that sold their bodies nightly, it was easy to lie in my loving husband’s embrace and think, “God is so good to me”. And He is. But HE IS– CURRENTLY!– JUST AS GOOD TO THOSE POOR PROSTITUTES! And all the other people suffering in the many ways people can suffer in this world.

So I fell asleep thinking about that and woke up thinking about it this morning. And while we were sitting at the table having our devotions I heard pounding and crying coming from our next-door neighbor’s house. He was beating his wife. Now I’ve known that this goes on regularly in Kiari, but this was the first time I heard such a thing with my own ears and saw it with my own eyes. And it was horrible. When the man finally stopped I cried and cried for the longest time– a lot longer than the beaten wife!– and got Jeff’s sweatshirt really gross. And I had to tell myself that God is very good even to this poor lady. Then I went down to our neighbor’s house. He was very smiling and friendly, as always (except for earlier this morning). I shook his hand and hugged his wife and cried with her and gave her pain medicine and cleaned her cuts and put triple antibiotic ointment and band-aids on them. And I told her that we pray so much that they will get saved, because the Bible teaches Christian wives to submit to their husbands and Christian husbands to love their wives like they love their own bodies, but they just can’t do that without getting saved first. Their old nature will prevent them and bring about horrible things like today. And I tried to explain the gospel as simply and clearly as I could and prayed with her– thanking God for His goodness to her, asking Him to use this “heavy” to show her and her husband their need for Him and save them, and asking Him to heal her body and open her eyes to His goodness and power in that healing so that she would praise His name for it. Then I came home. So please pray for the Lord to use this whole thing in both of these folks’ hearts and save them. Please pray that they will not continue to run away from His goodness, falling deeper into destructive sin.

I think God was very good to allow all the things I’ve told you about in this post to come up not in my own life as well, to help me understand so much more clearly His goodness. He knows that our hearts and their condition are so much more important than our circumstances, and so He arranges our circumstances absolutely perfectly to help motivate us to get our hearts right. Unfortunately for some of us, who have very hard heads, He has to use harsher methods than He needs for others! But the end result will be well worth the pain.

Rejoicing in that amazing goodness,
Elizabeth Owens

PS– Oh yes, this morning the bow-and-arrows man wanted to go hunting so came to get them. Jeff took them up and told him thanks for letting him use them and that he had killed 5 wild pigs and 2 kabuls (something like the PNG version of a possum with soft, thick fur) (teasing, of course)! The man just laughed and said, “Yu winim mi nau” (That’s better than me/ You’ve got me beat now!) I am SO GLAD that little drama seems to be over and actually didn’t end up to be too dramatic! Yesterday the man’s wife storied with me at our gate for the longest time, and she and a neighbor girl are going to come Friday morning and teach me THEIR way to make tapiok (manioc/cassava) bread. So I think all is well. Whew! 🙂

Quick update

27 August 2012

Just wanted to let everyone know that Jeff spent most of the day mediating between the two fighting lains, and when he came home he said the magistrates had agreed on the fines and each lain was working on gathering it to settle up late this afternoon. Jeff came home and later asked a boy at the gate if it had gotten all settled, and he said that the Kensa lain had gathered their money but the other lain hadn’t yet, so they were still waiting. So… we’ll see! Please keep praying… there wasn’t any fighting today but everybody was still tense and had their weapons in hand ready for action.

Please pray

26 August 2012

Please forgive my long silence– will try to catch you up soon on what’s been going on. For now, one very important thing for which we’d really appreciate your prayers…

This morning while walking to church we passed some people on the road who told us that there had been a fight yesterday involving a believer in our neighborhood. Apparently his adopted son (now married and on his own) had lost in a card game and gotten knocked out while trying to beat up the guy who won his money. The believer then lost his temper and tried to beat up the other guy, and from there it’s escalated into a full-blown village fight–the lain (extended family) of each guy taking his side (dividing Kiari into its two basic families). As we were leaving church this afternoon men from the lain settled on the ridge behind the church were running past us with bushknives (machetes), bows and arrows, and even a gun (illegal in PNG). Someone was calling from the far corner where the road goes around the mountain for them to bring sheets of metal roofing to use as shields. As we walked home we had the opportunity to stop and try and persuade these guys to go home; that lives are way more important than the little bit of money lost in a card game. Another guy was also encouraging the men to go home– though his reasoning was more along the lines that it was starting to get dark and tomorrow would be a better time for this! But at least they seemed to be turning back for now. When we came to Kensa (the location of our house and area where the other lain is settled) we called for everyone to follow us to the hausman (communal house) and Jeff told them all the same thing and also was able to briefly share the gospel. Afterwards some “big men” replied to him that it was the other lain who wanted to fight, not the Kensa lain, and that they were eager for peace. (We’re somewhat doubtful that that’s the complete truth since they all had their bushknives and bows and arrows out too, not to mention having shot warning gunshots back when an arrow was shot onto one of their roofs!) After that we walked back toward our end of the hauslain and were followed by the believer and his wife who had started it all. They sat down with us outside of their house and we were able to pray and talk with them for some time. They seem repentant and willing to take the first steps to try and make amends. This is a huge opportunity for this man to humble himself and be a good testimony before the whole village. PLEASE PRAY FOR HIM. Also pray for Jeff as he goes back to the hauslain behind the church tomorrow to try and persuade them to settle the matter peaceably in court.

Thank you! We see this as an opportunity for the Lord as much as (if not more than) for the devil, and we believe that He will be glorified through our prayers and whatever outcome He allows.

Elizabeth Owens

P.S. On the way back to our house Jeff was flabbergasted when I took a bow and arrows from a man who was very drugged and I know to have quite a temper; I told the man that I’ll keep them for him and when he wants to go hunting he can come and get them, I just don’t want him to fight with them! I don’t know how wise that was; please (seriously) pray that the Lord will overrule my foolishness and help what I did to work for the good instead of only causing additional problems! I have really been praying for this man’s wife, whose heart seems to be soft towards me, and hoping for opportunities to share the gospel with her… and also this man would really not be a very good person to be hated by!

Peace and Praise

23 June 2012

Dear praying friends,

I know it’s been forever since I’ve posted, and I apologize for that. There have been so many things that have happened, and we really could have used your prayers, but I have to admit that I was so disheartened I just didn’t feel like writing about it all. Thank you so much to those of you who were faithfully praying, even though I wasn’t faithfully “updating”.

That seems like a funny way to start a post entitled “Peace and Praise”, but maybe it will make more sense when I explain. “Peace” is definitely not what I felt like when there were clashes with two of the four
preachers-in-training as a result of problems in their lives that lead Jeff, not only of his own accord but also in accordance with the counsel of our team leader and his furlough replacement, to remove them from preaching and other leadership responsibilities. Those of you who know Jeff know that he is not a confrontational person, and this has all been very difficult for him. Two Sundays in a row there was a confrontation with one or the other of those men after services (one of them even “taking his case” before the others and asking them to judge between him and the missionaries), and Jeff and I both came home each time just feeling like someone was wringing our insides out like wet rags. BUT then comes the inexpressibly wonderful– in each of those situations, the Lord gave us His indescribable peace. Not necessarily without a struggle, and of course we still had to think about the situations and figure out what to do which easily drug us down into anxiety again, but overall we can really honestly say that God has given us His peace.

Some of you who receive our prayer letter have also heard that our airstrip, after its grand opening on May 8, was closed again less than a week later after a plane nearly crashed trying to land during fitful winds. The explanation did not come until weeks later… the pilots had reevaluated our airstrip and decided that it is too short. We are unsure whether or not anything can be done on the current site, but at least for the time being we’re back to the chopper.

A similar disappointment came when a promising teacher for Joy Christian School was unable to come. It breaks our hearts to see our former students being sent off to government schools far away, living with unsaved families and basically “on their own” spiritually. Thankfully some are near good churches and allowed to attend, but sadly some are not. Please continue to pray that the Lord would send teachers.

It is so disappointing to deal with all of this; further so when we are crazily busy– especially Jeff, juggling the confrontations, increased preaching (since 2 preachers are “out” and one is too busy with a new baby, sick wife, and lots of company to preach much, leaving Jeff and the one remaining preacher to cover the 7 sermons a week), and also working on cutting trees and milling timber that needs to dry for a coworker’s house to be built this fall. I am not necessarily as busy as Jeff but feel I’m barely keeping my head above water trying to do all of the correspondence, business, etc. that I can and keep up with housework and a ladies’ Bible study. My health has been much better, though we and the doctor have no idea what the root of the problem was, but a couple of days ago I caught the flu and have had some return of the same problems, though thankfully not as severe.

Then add to all of that our huge burden to learn the heart language of these people– which we simply don’t have time to do at present– and the way it hurts me, especially, when, for instance, yesterday 9 ladies come for Bible study (4 arriving 1/2 hour late, 5 arriving after we finished– because they don’t have clocks and didn’t know what time it was) and they all sit around “storying” animatedly in a language I completely don’t understand aside from a word every once in a long while… then they sit stoically during the Bible study time, very unresponsive and slow to answer even direct questions… then after it’s all over and we’re drinking tea they story again so excitedly and I am sitting there in my own house, completely left out and feeling like the plywood floor between us is miles wide. And Jeff comes home and I tell him, “We really, REALLY need to learn tok ples.” And he reminds me, “Right now we just can’t.” And it’s true.

So, to be quite honest, things would be so overwhelming now (and sometimes are), except for the gift of God’s sweet, sweet peace underneath it all. I wonder how many of you have prayed that for us, and this blessing is a gift not only from our loving Heavenly Father but also from you, our faithful prayer warriors.

And now for the “Praise” part. While resting the past few days, trying to convince the flu to move on, I have been reading “Shadow of the Almighty”, the biography of Jim Elliot. The day before yesterday one part really spoke to me. Jim wrote in a letter to his parents, “The Lord is a hard taskmaster, telling me to rejoice and sing a praise-psalm when things oppress. Naturally, I rebel and quote Proverbs 25:20, ‘As he that taketh away a garment in cold weather…so is he that singeth songs to an heavy heart.’ ‘Sympathize,’ I cry, and He peels off my overcoat of self-pity by saying, ‘Praise, child, and be warmed within!’ Ever notice that? Whenever I want comfort He tells me to ‘count it all joy,’ and then, queerly, I heed, and it all becomes sweet.”

So, in the midst of our pressures, we too need to praise. I want to praise the Lord for the inexpressibly sweet blessing of being married to a wonderful man for 11 months today. I’ve thought before how good it is of the Lord to mix the hard and the sweet… the hardest year of my life because of ministry challenges, but the very sweetest at the same time, because of our marriage, which is so remarkably blessed and happy. I want to praise the Lord for the blessing of one preacher-in-training who has been an unspeakable blessing as he faithfully proclaims God’s truth with all his heart. I want to praise the Lord for His simple faithfulness and patience as I wade through “Trusting God 101”, and for the way He’s brought into my life at just the very right moments the encouragements and challenges I need– good books, godly friends and family, even bringing to mind scripture I memorized long ago, such as, “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken,” and, “I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord, be strong, and let your heart take courage; Wait for the Lord!” And also the blessing of sacred music that ministers to my heart and uplifts my spirits. Nor can I fail to mention even a little thing, like all of our flowers finally growing and blooming so profusely, which is cheering to me as well.

So, please continue to pray fervently for us, but do also thank the Lord for His peace and for all of these good things that He has done for us, and praise Him for all that He is– which is what we’re banking on (all of our eggs in one basket!) as we serve Him. He is truly above all, in control of everything– all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-loving. How glad we will be on the day when He finally appears that we are His servants and not on the other side.

Elizabeth Owens

P.S. Jeff just returned from prayer meeting. The two preacher boys he’s removed from preaching both made public prayer requests that were really just gripes against the missionaries– we aren’t being faithful (referencing previous missionaries who “did more”), we are removing them from the ministry for no reason, etc. To this point we’ve not talked publicly about these two men’s problems, but we may have to if things continue as they are. Please pray for much godly wisdom, patience, and love. And for the believers to discern the truth and embrace it, even though it means siding with the missionaries against some of their own people. And don’t forget peace and praise.

Woohoo!!!

8 May 2012

Our airstrip was officially opened today when the New Tribes airplane landed just after 1:00!!! (see attached photo) There was great excitement… Even this morning it had seemed as though it would be put off again since they had some catchup flights due to yesterday’s weather, but the Lord allowed those flights to go quickly and kept the weather just right for us! I was thinking today that this was just the exact day the Lord wanted this to happen. So many other days didn’t work due to circumstances outside of our control (yet completely within His!), but today was the day and He worked it out just exactly as He had planned from the beginning. We are confident that He will work out the other things we are praying about in the same way.

Thank you so much to those of you who were praying!!

Elizabeth Owens