The word resilient carries a bit of history for our family in our journey with MAF.  A couple months back a friend/co-worker made this post on social media.

How do you spell resilient? I spell it DOLE. This family has faced multiple medical evacuations, a deadly earthquake, and now flooding and landslides here in Sentani…and that’s just in the last 12 months. And yet they remain on mission here in Papua- homeschooling their kids, and flying our amphibious Caravan into isolated areas only reachable by river. My hat goes off to you Greg and Julie…thank-you for your sacrificial service!

Allow me the opportunity to give credit where credit is due.  During the application process specifically in our psychological check.  It was noted that I (Greg) lacked resiliency and was not recommended by the psychologist for overseas service.  Thankfully those that were making the decision on whether our family would be a good fit for MAF, were able to see pass this weakness in my personality and still allowed us to join MAF.  This resiliency is still a weakness I believe for me however it has also become one of my strengths.  God has provided the resiliency for us as we would not have been able to say to you after these past couple years, that we are excited and looking forward to getting back to Merauke.  This is due to words of 2 Corinthians 12:9 being very true in our lives.  2 Corinthians 12:9 “but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”  I think this verse speaks well of how God has been and will be glorified in our (my) weakness.  I’m so thankful for Christ’s resiliency that has been given to us as He has walked with us through these past challenging times.  With this we can confidently look to the future that His grace will continue to be sufficient to sustain us in our weaknesses, and troubling times.



Greg, Julie

Franklin, Isaac, & Jaclynn



A Life Worth Celebrating

The evening of April 22, 2019, a dear friend and coworker was suddenly called home.  Pak Hammi Djaga, our Merauke Office Manager, collapsed while cutting his grass at home Easter Sunday.  His neighbor saw him and rushed him to the hospital and about 30hrs later he breathed his last and entered into the presences of our Heavenly Father.  He left behind his wife and 2 grown children.

He begin with MAF in 1994 serving in the operations department in Sentani.  2001 he moved to Merauke to help open this base as the Office Manager.  He faithfully served in this role up until his calling home.  He had an incredible servant’s heart.  Often I would find him cutting the grass, cleaning the cars and other such things.  He wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty while carrying the title and role of the office manager.  He was seldom found without a smile on his face as well, his positive and happy countenance made it a joy to be around him. We will miss him very much, we however enjoy the peace and hope that someday we will meet again at the foot of our Heavenly Father’s Throne.



Speaking Schedule

Speaking Schedule 2019

We’ll try and keep this up to date as much as possible.  Other days of the week are also available I’ve just included Sundays for now.  If you have an event or gathering during a different day of the week and would like us to join and share and update please contact us.  We are also hoping to connect with as many as we can personally.  Please don’t hesitate contacting us about setting up a time when we could connect over a cup of coffee, meal, or in small group setting, etc.


June 9th – Bethel Evangelical Missionary Church – Carstairs, AB

June 16th – Hawkwood Baptist Church – NW Calgary, AB

June 23rd – Innisfail Baptist Church – Innisfail, AB

June 30th -Bergen Missionary Church – Bergen, AB

July 7th – Sayward Christian Fellowship Church – Sayward, BC

July 14th – Open, (Vancouver Island area)

July 21st – Open, (Nampa Idaho area)

July 28th – Unavailable

Aug 4th – Mirror Alliance Church – Mirror, AB

Aug 11th – Rocky Mountain Alliance Church – Rocky Mountain House, AB

Aug 18th – Main Avenue Fellowship – Sundre, AB

Aug 25th – Cornerstone Bible Church – Steinbach, MB

Sept 1st – Open (SE Manitoba)

Sept 8th – Open (SE Manitoba)




Home Assignment Here We Come


This summer we will be returning to Canada and possibly dipping down below the 49th parallel to visit and share in person the life molding experiences we’ve been privileged to live through these past couple years.  Below is a rough outline and is very subject to change at this point but its a start.

June 1 Depart Merauke

June 3-4 Arrive in Alberta

June 5-11 Recovering from Jet-leg

June 12-30 Available to connect and share Alberta.

July 1-15 Travel to Vancouver Island BC

July 16-22 Potential trip to Nampa Idaho

July 23-30 Marriage Retreat (Sorry not available but our kids are:-) ).

July 31-Aug 19 Alberta

Aug 19-Sept 12 Transition to and visit Steinbach MB,

Sept 13 Depart Winnipeg for Indonesia.  Yes this is Julie’s 40th as well!!  Good place to spend your 40th in an airport right ;-).


Trusting No Matter What

Once more I find myself sitting at the feet of Jesus asking for His wisdom and strength for I am weary after these past weeks. I have mass destruction all around my family once again and wonder when it will end at times.  After the past year and a half both Greg and I are finding ourselves being stretch in many different directions that sometimes make no sense to us.  We have been learning to adapt to constant challenges and moments when our human nature wants to throw our hands up and say enough is enough.  BUT our GOD is forever faithful and has filled us with the strength to carry on and trust in ways we never knew possible.

One of the challenges actually began over a month ago when our son Isaac got a cut on the inside of his ankle while in Sentani playing on the playground.  We noticed it looking a little red and with the help of one of our teammate who is a nurse we thought we had it looking good.  However, two days after returning to Merauke it was starting to look funny so we went to a local doctor who started him on a antibiotic.  By Wednesday I am talking with the nurse again and she begins talking to different people about it as well.  We were advised to take him to the hospital as they did not like what it looked like at all.  By this time the sore had risen up and we had a purple/red color all around it.  At the local hospital he was seen by a surgeon who said he had an abscess under the sore but was not sure if any of the infection had reached to bone yet.

The nurses put some iodine around the sore and while I am trying to distract Isaac (assuming they were going to give him something to numb it) they just slice open the wound.  Once they opened him up they took tweezers and dig around for the abscess and pull it out.  After making sure they got it all they throw bandages over it without cleaning it out. Then send us to get and x-ray to make sure there is nothing on the bone which thankfully looked fine.  After that they sent him home with three different types of drugs.  By Thursday night I noticed he had a fever in his ankle and when he got ready for bed he bumped it and opened the wound.  While changing the bandage I noticed that there was still some pus in the area. However, it was getting late at this point so I sent out emails to everyone who has been involved so far asking them what the next step was.  By mid-morning the following day everyone was in agreement that he needed out as soon as possible to seek medical help in Jakarta.

While I am in the middle of this Greg has been working with different people as one of the villages we serve interior had a fire run through it and over fifty percent of the town was gone.  Amazingly though there was not one death through that but we had over half a town with literally nothing but the clothes on there backs. Our Merauke team was able to gather clothes and other supplies to be given out to families in need.  And on the morning that we decided that Isaac needed out for medical assistance Greg was busy flying in government officials to Eci so that they could look at the damage first hand.  Thankfully, I was able communicate with Greg about what was going on and reassure him that I was good and he could still focus on what he was doing.

Since Greg was flying those officials around our national staff jumped into action helping us purchase flights out the next day for Jakarta. This can sometimes be tricky as we only have three planes that leave in the morning from our area.  Thankfully, we were able to find two seats on a plane that did not require too many island stops.  So on Saturday morning I began the trip to Jakarta with Isaac while Greg stayed behind with our other two children in Merauke.  Once in Jakarta we went straight to the hospital where I had surgery the year before.  He was taken to their wound care area, where they did a wonderful job of cleaning it and digging inside the holes to make sure all the dead skin and dried blood was removed along with any pus.  Once again Isaac did a wonderful job as there was no way to really numb the area.  After having it cleaned out properly they stuffed the area with a special antibiotic gauze and other bandages.  Our stay in Jakarta lasted 10 days as they continued his wound care treatments.  For the healing needs to be from the inside out without letting the wound scab over! Once we reached a certain place Isaac and I were able to journey back to Papua but needed to be close to a nurse who had wound care experience. Thankfully, one of the nurses in Sentani agreed to help us out and this allowed us to be able to reconnect as a family once more at the Sentani guesthouse on the MAF base.  A few days after landing back in Papua Isaac saw the nurse and she was happy with how his wound looked. She thought it would be a couple more weeks before we could make the finally leg of the journey home to Merauke.  After this appointment I finally felt like I could breath a little easier and that life would finally start to get back to normal soon.

Little did I know that God was about to ask us to once again completely trust Him as he placed another natural disaster in front of our family.  For within 24 hours of Isaac seeing the nurse the skies let loose there hold of rain on the city of Sentani with intense amounts of tropical rain starting a little after seven that evening. Within a few hours there was massive flooding and life ending mudslides in different parts of the city.  Papuan people began to pour into the international school property and other places seeking safety and higher ground. Children were tragically pulled out of parents arms and whole families gone expect a few who some how survived.  The Seven Day Adventist compound that lies just outside of Sentani had a massive mudslide that torn right through there base. They lost 8 out of 11 national homes in an instant. The mudslide went right through there older hanger were a plane was stored and pushed the airplane almost to the middle of the road that was down the hill.  Many expats through the area found flood water running into their homes and could hear the mudslides going on all around them throughout the night.

One of our MAF national staff was in his home with his wife and two children when there house was ripped open by the water and mud coming off the side of the mountain.  They found themselves pinned by furniture and doors that were jammed stuck due to the force of the water and mud.  After breaking out of their door they found themselves pinned against one part of their house from the rushing water.  They began to scream and one of the expats that lived closed by heard their cries and came to help them.  They final made it to the other house and spent the rest of the night with this expat family.

By mornings light the town began to see what the damage was really like after an entire night of rain and mudslides. Roads were gone, massive boulders laid everywhere after being carried down the mountain, homes gone, lives taking, many loved ones missing, and mass confusion.  Thankfully, our expat doctor was back in town and they quickly opened the small medical clinic at the international school in the middle of the night to handle the massive amount of injuries.  All of us that could started preparing food to take up for the people, donating extra clothes, bedding, buying diapers and formula for the babies.

That first morning I was able to take food up but found myself reacting to what I was seeing after being in the earthquake months ago.  For I could look right into those blank faces that were still in so much shock and I could relate to there pain on a very personal level. Since I was having a reaction to this and at that moment all needs were met I headed back down the hill with tears running down my face.  I wanted so much sit and help them but was just not emotionally able to yet.  After struggling with this fact for a few hours back at base I decided to get back into helping once more as a notice came out for the need of more cleaning supplies and baby supplies.  This time I felt a little more prepared for what I would find and Franklin wanted to help out as well.  After buying the things at the store we tried to make it to the school and ended up just parking the car and hiking it in.

And sadly this has now being going on for six days straight in this area as rains continue to come during the nights. Which means that all the work that was done the day before had to be redone once again.  Greg has been busy these past days by delivery supplies, driving a group of doctors so they can buy more medicine, and then delivering clean water to our national staff homes that survived the flood but now are without city water.  And I have found myself working with the ladies here on base as we cleaned an empty house on Monday so some of our national families had a safe place to stay since their homes were not safe to live in.  I was able to hold our national staff member’s wife that I mentioned earlier when they were brought down to the base.  I remember looking into her eyes and being instantly taking back to those moments months ago when we did not know if Franklin was alive or not.  Then later on that night I was able to assist our teammate who is a nurse here on base with wound care for our national staff as I have been learning a lot about it over these past weeks.

Thankfully, the rain last night was not as bad but most people are still not sleeping for we can still hear the mudslides going on.  So every morning I find myself having my devotions and just trying to allow the Lord to prepare me for what He will place in front of me through out the day.  We are still seeing improvements on Isaac’s wound but he still needs to be near the nurses here.  And almost at the same time as it started raining here in Sentani it began to rain back home in Merauke that has led to flooding as well.

Even though the journey has been exhausting these past weeks and filled with a lot of uncertainty God is still showing his mighty hand in all of this.  So as my family literally sits at the base of a mountain I will chose to trust in the creator of that mountain and allow Him to provide me with His peace and joy for this new day.  For I know without a doubt that God has a master plan for all that is going on even if I do not understand it at all.




Quick Look at the Start of 2019

Greetings Dear Friends and Family.


Yes we are still alive and well enjoying the first month of 2019.  We’ve had some special guests with us for a couple weeks at the beginning for the year.  This visit was a tremendous blessing and encouragement for all of us.  Here are some photos taken during their visit.


Who needs a pickup truck when you have a bebek motorcycle

Was able to take our guests for a day of flight ops.

Checking out some termite mounds.

Beautiful Beach Sunset

Beautiful Beach Sunset

Our friends getting a tour of Kotiak

Boarder with PNG

Boarder with PNG

Our teammates have departed for their home assignment just before Christmas so we’ve been navigating a new normal.  This new normal is more effecting me (Greg) as I learn to say “No, Sorry I can’t”  There is only some much one can do without overdoing it and becoming a safety hazard to myself and those that ride with me.

Julie and the Kids have been doing well again with the homeschooling.  It seems to continue to go well this year, which is a huge answer to prayer and gives us confidence that we can continue here in Merauke in a sustainable manner.

This year we are also looking ahead to an upcoming Home Assignment during the summer months.  We’re not quite ready for a winter visit :), our blood has thinned out a bit these past 5 years living in the tropics.


Special Flights from Last Summer


This Video I just found again on YouTube from last year.  This conference/retreat was held last year shortly before our Earthquake experience which inadvertently overshadowed this special opportunity we had with the float plane to serve the Church in the Paniai area.  I had the privilege of being the drop off pilot and my teammate Eric did the pick up at the end of the conference.  Both of us were supported by our MAF base staff located in Timika for this particular group of flights,I think we each did 4 flights.  This is not an MAF video but it illustrates well the work we have the privilege to support with the use of an airplane.  I even managed a respectable landing that made the final cut (honestly I can’t tell if its Eric or me at the controls but I’ll gladly claim that one, and besides its during the arrival portion which was when I was at the wheel ;-).


Under The Wings of His Protection



I have been blessed with knowing the Lord most of my life and am always amazed at how He has developed my faith along the journey. For it is a continual process of growing and shaping that needs to happen for me to be more Christ like.  Through these precious moments and eye opening experiences my faith in Him has deepened. Sometimes those moments will test my abilities beyond what I could have imagined possible but I know that He is with me.  One such moment that my family and I just walked through happened while on vacation on the island of Lombok on August 5, 2018.

In the begin of our vacation it all seemed pretty normal with time spent packing, waiting for our flights, walking through airports, and then landing on another island. This time though we were going to get to explore a new island for the first time and celebrate with our oldest son Franklin as he would be turning 16 halfway through the vacation week. After landing on the island of Lombok on the 4th of August our family enjoyed the one and a half hour taxi ride north of the airport as we heading to our villa. The kids and I enjoyed looking at the landscape and comparing it to what we had on our island while Greg visited with the taxi driver. Who by the way learned that we lived in Papua and that we liked trying out new foods!  Especially when it is something from that island as each island had different food and spices. About an hour into the drive he actually did a detour for us and took us to a local restaurant that he thought we would enjoy some local dishes. Which we did very much enjoy the new tasty food! After finishing our supper we continued along some beautiful coastal areas were locals were busy selling things to the tourist as they sat upon cliffs watching the sunset. Once we arrived the kids fell in love with the beautiful two story home we had rented and began looking around the place and picking bedrooms out. It was fun to watch as they had not wanted to see pictures ahead of time!  After rooms were picked and a movie was watched we headed to bed with plans for the next day to start exploring some and hopeful finding the beach.

The next day dawn beautifully with a nice refreshing breeze and not a cloud in the sky. Little did we know that we were about to start the day that would forever change us in some way. After a great breakfast served by the villa’s two house helpers we decided to head out by foot to see what we could find. I remember greeting the people in the neighborhood and feeling excited about the week ahead of us as we walked down the street. About thirty minutes later two of my children and I had our feet in the sand at the beach while waiting for my husband Greg and my oldest son to bring the motorbikes down. For part way through our walk we discovered that it was longer then we realized and did not want to hike all the way back to the villa. The kids laughed and played on the beach for about three hours that morning. While I enjoyed siting on a mat placed under a nice umbrella eating cut up pineapples and mangos as I laughed at my children. Towards the end the boys thought it would be great fun burying themselves in the sand which their sister was all too happy to comply with. Once they grew tired of the beach and got changed we decided to eat at one of the restaurants that served food right there on the beach. This was followed by some down time back at the villa that led to more swimming for the guys in the small villa pool. However, Jaclynn and I wanted to explore some more and possibly do a little shopping for those rare treasures to take home with us. And not only were we blessed to find some great treasures but God blessed us with finding a few birthday presents for Franklin’s big day later on in the week. By the time we arrived back at the villa after finishing our shopping it was supper time. We had noticed earlier that day that there was a spa and restaurant just down the road from us. As we sat and waited for our food everyone seemed to be just enjoying spending time as a family and trying to make a plan for what we all wanted to try through the rest of the week. Little did we know that in less than two hours God was going to allow our family to be literally shaken to the core and witness His amazing power through it all!

We arrived back to the villa around 7:30 that night and both Jaclynn and I headed to have showers while the guys played their electronic devices. Jaclynn finished her shower first and came knocking on my door looking for me to help her with a small sliver that she got in her hand early that day. I remember yelling to her that I would be out soon and that I would come looking for her once I was finished.  So I quickly finished, threw my clothes on, tossed a towel around my head, and walked out of my room and confirmed with Greg that Jaclynn was still needing me. At the same time my son Isaac came down stairs complaining that he couldn’t get the upstairs tv working again and was needing help. So I head upstairs with Isaac close behind me in the hopes of getting the tv working for him as well. For in this house there was a small family area and tv which was right on the top landing of the stairs.  Once we arrived upstairs I began changing batteries in the remote control and Jaclynn came out of her bedroom so that I could look at her hand. After getting the tv fixed Isaac quickly tells his brother, who was lying on his bed, that the tv was now working if he wanted to come watch something with us. While Isaac did that Jaclynn and I talked for a minute until he rejoined us at the top of the stairs. As soon as I turned to lay down the remote I was holding the whole house began to shake violently. Isaac reacted the fastest of the three of us and descended the stairs two at a time yelling earthquake. While Jaclynn and I pause a moment or two (for it is a normal thing to pause for us as none of the earthquakes we have felt in Papua have required us to leave our house before) before quickly heading down the stairs. I can remember being half way down the stairs and hearing this deep, hard, banging noise that was coming from the ground and Jaclynn yelling for Franklin. Thankfully, the stairs lead right to the front door of the villa! As I ran through the door I could see parts of our house flying down all around us and I remember briefly thinking about what this would do to our vacation.

Greg was the first one out of the house since he was on the ground floor and he was already holding Isaac in his arms by the time I come out the door with Jaclynn. I run to them and turn to grab Jaclynn when I am hit with the sickening realization that my oldest son is not behind us. At this point Greg gathers us in his arms and tries to hold us as the earthquake continues to violently shake us.  At this moment all of our hearts are breaking as we stand and watch the house we just ran out of continue to shake and pieces fall around us. I remember just screaming my sons name and listening to my other children do the same thing while my husband held us in his arms.  Finally, the earthquake stops and Greg very quickly gets us to quiet down so he can call out Franklins name in the hopes of having him answer us. At the same time Greg pulls out his small flash light and starts shining it towards the boy’s upstairs room in the hopes of helping Franklin.  Seconds after having only Greg call out his name we heard the sweet sound of him answering back to us letting us know that he was still in his room upstairs and that he was okay. Greg told him to try to get out of his room and downstairs as safely and quickly as possible.  We could tell that most of the large windows in the house were gone and that his ceiling (gyprock) had all come down with one even covering were the large window pane use to be. Even though it felt like forever until we saw him on the stairs he was actually able to get out and down most of the stairs within seconds. He had barely stepped off the stairs, while we are having an aftershock, when we saw the ceiling up above the stairs come down.

Having him walk out of the house and be able to hug him in my arms is one of those rare moments as a parent that I will not forget. Once Greg and I finished hugging Franklin he quickly makes his way to his brother and sister for hugs as they ride out that aftershock. Now that Franklin is safe both Greg and I jump into survival mode!  The first thing that Greg and I realize is that we were all walking over glass and other things completely barefoot.  Thankfully, since our family had been living in Indonesia for a while all of our shoes were outside the front door which is custom to life here when you are a guest somewhere. Greg quickly runs to the porch as another aftershock begins while I quickly tell the kids to not move too much. And he just starts throwing everyone’s shoes towards me. As we ride out another aftershock together as a family and the dust settles it is starting to sink in just how much God was with our family as we finally starting looking around. God allowed the four of us to run out of a shaking house with glass, bricks, and other things being thrown all over the place barefoot and not one of us had cuts on us. Our oldest son was alive and at the moment we could not find one mark on him as well.  Plus he walked through the destroyed house barefoot without cuts on his feet and the ceiling held until he finished walking underneath it.

Even though I was shaking inside and my children were crying (especially Isaac who just wanted his special blanket) I knew that God and his angels had been in that house with us which is the only reason my entire family was alive without a mark on them. After confirming that everyone was physically okay and riding out another aftershock Greg started running into the ground level rooms to start rescuing things. Since most of the huge front windows had shattered it made it easier for him to run in and out faster and the kids would start yelling at him when they felt another aftershock start up. His computer was sitting on the kitchen table as he had just left it a moment before the earthquake started so that was the first thing out of the house. He uses that for work and if we could not get to any on our documents we had digital copies on his computer. When he had left his computer, he had left the computer screen lid up and it was running.  So you can imagine our surprise when he found it covered with dust but it seemed totally fine. Next, Greg went into our bedroom and found cell phones, purses, passports, and anything that he could easily and quickly grab that was thrown all over the floor in between the aftershocks that kept coming one upon another. Once he handed me my purse I quickly called our program manager from Papua to fill them in what had just happen and that we were all alive. At the same time Greg was on the phone with our teammates here in Merauke to also let them know what had just happen and that we were all alive and to be on stand-by if we needed help getting off the island. As soon as we got off the phone with them we started getting messages from different friends and teammates asking if we were okay as the news of the earthquake was making the news across Indonesia. This is also when our teammates in Merauke text us the news that our family had just experienced a 7.0 earthquake! Once those first few calls were made Greg went back into our room to try and find more belongs and all of a sudden it dawns on me that I was not wearing my glasses and for him to keep an eye out for them. To be honest with you as I looked at what was left of our room, I felt that there was no way he would find them as I had just laid them on top of the dresser. And I could see that the dresser tipped over with part of a wall on top of it.  Not more than one minute later Greg calls my name and hands me my glasses. As I looked at them I realized that there is not one scratch on them and quickly put them on my head and continued helping Greg.  Next came the small room where we kept our suitcase which Greg could see was completely buried by parts of different walls that had collapsed. Both of us were thinking that we could at least find our clothes but did not expect the suitcase to have withstood the weight as they were light weight Indonesia made suitcases. So it was with more shear amazement that Greg handed me the first suitcase and I carried it over to the one security light that was solar powered and quickly pulled the larger bricks and glass out of the clothes and threw in any of our lose belongs that he had found moments earlier. This same process happened with all three big bags in the exact same fashion however there were breaks between finding things as the aftershocks kept him out of the house. Through all of this we could also hear the neighbors screaming, people going from house to house (ours included) checking for people, and then everyone had been gathering in the soccer field across from our villa.  Then all of a sudden the people who had lived along the coast line came rushing up screaming and causing a lot of panic due to the fact that a tsunami warning had been issued and could happen at any moment. However, both Greg and I felt that we were a safe distance away from the beach and we were also on an incline that we were safe. Add to that was the fact that all of the people in the neighborhood who had taken shelter in the soccer field after the initial earthquake stayed right where they were gave us peace. That being said, it did set our kids off again and really scarred them into thinking that they should join the people and run up the road. We had to pause from our work to explain to them that they were okay and I started singing Jesus Loves Me to them a couple times before they once again calmed down. Well, as much as one could calm down after living through that and riding out the aftershocks that kept coming. Through it all Greg and I kept pointing out to the kids how much God loved us and was right there with us as we continued to pull cameras, tablets, and backpacks out of our bedroom. And through that first hour or two Greg was able to locate all of our belongings from the master bedroom with nothing broken or destroyed including my bag of treasures I had just purchased hours earlier with Jaclynn. Even though the kids agreed with us about how God was with us it was still very hard on them as at that moment they had not one extra pair of clothing with them. And two of our children had prized blankets and stuff animals that they had from birth still up stairs.

Thankfully, we were able to pull our king size mattress out the front window after removing large pieces of glass that had been driven into the ground from the boys upstairs window. We found the safest place that we could think of in our courtyard and laid the mattress down after banging it to clear the rubble off of it along with the three pillows and two blankets from our bedroom. The kids gladly left the wicker chairs for the bed but found it took a while to get use to laying on it due to the fact that the springs in the bed felt like the earth moving when people rolled over. However, a few hours into it they could tell the difference between someone rolling over and an aftershock. Also, by this time I had started to time the aftershocks to see how long we had between them to see if it would be possible to get upstairs. We noticed that it seemed like they were only ten to twenty minutes apart but then we would have a stretch with only five minutes apart sometimes as well. At that point both Greg and I knew that it was not enough time to try to get upstairs, find things, and get back down before it started again. That led Greg to thinking about how to get us all off the island in the safest but also fastest way possible. He noticed that his 3G was still working on his phone at that point and decided it was time to try and buy tickets. However, we still did not know what the roads were like and if we could even get out of our neighborhood at that point. So we decided to book a late afternoon flight for Monday which we thought would hopefully be enough time to try and get to the airport that was an hour and a half south of us.

After that was completed there was nothing to do but wait till the dawn and try to get off the island. Which seems easy but it was a very long night without really any sleep! Words could not express how thankful I felt as I laid on the bed with our children and we look up into the perfect night sky. I started remembering a bible verse in Psalms that talked about even if the earth gives way and the mountains shake I shall not fear for God was still there and in complete control. Then I could not stop my mind from replaying the past few hours in total shock of what had just happened.  But every time fear came I would remember different ways God showed us his love and great power. Not only with sparing our family (especially our son who was stuck in the house standing in his bathroom doorframe) but handing back at least all of Greg’s and my possessions back to us. They may be covered in dust and glass particles but we had them. And to top that off God just threw in shooting stars all throughout the night for us to enjoy!!!! I was just blown away by all the things we had seen God do in such a mighty way.

As dawn finally came I think that all of us breathed a little better at least for a few minutes until we started to get our first real glimpse of the house in the daylight. Even though it looked bad Greg decide that since the house had held all night long through all the aftershocks that it was time to try to get to the second floor.  First he had to remove the ceiling off from the stairs but thankfully the stairs still felt secure to him. He then began the process in the boy’s room first and threw down to us through the window anything he could so he did not have to make as many trips up and down the stairs. Isaac was one happy camper to hold his blanket again and relieved when he knew that his dad had found all of his things. This allowed Isaac to finally let go of the beach towel that he had rolled up and clung to all night long in place of his blanket. Next came Jaclynn’s room which was by far the worst and with the light of day it became clear to us that God had spared another one of our children through the use of a simple sliver in her hand.  That simple sliver not only had her out of her room standing at the top of the stairs but was the reason I had taken a shorter shower as well and was standing with those two at the top of the stairs.  It took Greg a lot longer in her room and more trips that required digging through more rubble to find things through the next couple hours. The last two things he unburied were her two electronic devices (cases have holes but devices themselves not a mark and they work fine) and her bathing suit. All in all God allowed us to recover all but some bathroom stuff for the kids and Jaclynn’s craft stuff that were left somewhere on her floor.

During the morning hours all the people in our neighborhood started grabbing things from their homes if they could and began making up campsites outside what was left of homes or out in the soccer field. The people there seem to understand the importance of staying out of their homes and that they are not built to handle this kind of force especially with us still having aftershocks. Greg was able to help one person whose home crumbled into our yard by helping carry out his little cooking stove and propane bottle that was not buried to badly. People began walking the neighborhood looking at all the damage and helping when they could. However, I remember most of the people just walking around in a fog, shaking their heads in disbelief that this had just happened. While this was going on I was once again empty our bags, shaking out clothes in the attempt of removing glass, and repacking our bags again. During this process our two house helpers arrive at our house. It was such a relief to see them as we knew they lived in our neighborhood but had not seen nor heard from them all night long. They we very happy to see us but were also amazed that we were still alive, unhurt, and had recovered most of our belongings once they saw what remained of the villa. Greg was also able to share the leftover fruit we had with a couple of people and gave the rest of our good water to them after filling up our water bottles.

While doing these things we all began taking pictures outside while Greg went inside the house and took photos of the upstairs. I remember him coming down and almost being afraid of showing me the pictures as he was not sure if I was ready to see what it really looked like.  For when I came to the picture of my daughters room I started shaking inside as I see what is left of her room and I have never been more thankful for a small sliver in my life. For if she did not have that in her hand she would have been on her bed just like Franklin was instead of standing at the top of the stairs with Isaac and I. Once Greg finished showing me the pictures he had taken and we talked about God’s amazing protection he called Jaclynn over to ask her if we still needed to get the sliver out of her hand. She looks down at that hand and just smiled at us and then turns her hand towards us and shows us it was completely gone. Talk about a moment of silence as we still try to grasp the amazing ways God was taking care of us.

At nine that morning we are putting things into our taxi and saying good-bye to our two house helpers and few neighbors we had met. I will admit it was hard to leave these people who had lost so much but the need to get my children to safety came first. And in reality there was nothing we could do as things were still shaking and they would have tried to take care of us with what little they had left. As we drove down the road we saw houses just lying in heaps, while those still standing had so many holes I could have pushed it over, and some homes that looked just fine. Most people had their belongings in piles outside their homes while tarps were being set up as make shift homes. It was such a different view then the morning we had before as our family walked down that same road heading to the beach. As we drove away my heart was divided in so many different ways. I was grieving our lost vacation, I was thankful and in awe that we were all alive and together, I was heartbroken for the people that we were leaving, and relieved along with guilt that we had the ability to leave and go home while they had nothing left. While driving away our kids just looked out the windows at all the damage. While we kept looking outside Greg was busy talking with people back in Papua who were still working on getting us all the one home as we had only been able to get off Lombok and to another island. Other teammates kept texting for information and also give us updates of the things they were reading about from the news they were hearing on line. We learned that by the time we reached the airport our family had gone through one 7.0 earthquake and 132 aftershocks at that point.

It was a moment of relief that hit me when we pulled into the airport that morning as the first leg of our journey home was done. So we joined the growing crowds outside the airport as all the other tourist that could get out were all trying to get off island. The lines were outside the door and people we sitting and laying everywhere at the airport. After a while we decided to find a place inside so we could try to get some food. However, I was not very comfortable being inside a building again at all. Thankfully, on the other side of the restaurants there was a small courtyard that made me feel like I was not trapped inside and that is where we sat for many hours. The kids and I found some food while Greg stayed with all the bags as we had hours to wait until we could check in. After eating the kids played their devices or rested while I made my first call home to parents to talk for the first time. Then we just sat and watched the crowds of people as we were all in shock and trying to come to grips with what really did just happen. We saw a couple of people wearing their pjs and bathrobes without anything else besides the ladies wallet. Some only had bathing suits on with beach towels around them. Some were tourist who had just arrived as they had already been in route already and were trying to decide what to do. Some people had tickets like us but most did not and we heard from some people that it could take days to get flights out. It did not help that flights kept getting delayed or cancel as well. Crazy as it sounds though for a packed airport there was a complete calm through the entire building probably due to the fact that we were probably all still in shock. Along with the shock and due to that fact that we had so many aftershocks our bodies and senses were on high alert to feeling the ground move. We felt the planes land and take off and when the huge ac’s turned on we all jumped, along with any other loud noises.

The flight only last one hour which was not enough time to sleep for Isaac was next to me and I had become his pillow. When we landed it felt nice to know that we had finally gotten our family off the island safely along with all of our bags.  Even though we were all excited to be off island our bodies were reacting to everything around us still and making it hard to relax at all. There was one time when Greg almost ran for the door when the machine that put plastic wrap around the bags started up. And we could still feel any kind of vibration that was around like the planes and ac’s. We boarded our last flight a little after two in the morning on Tuesday morning. By that time I was done in with not having really slept since Saturday night and was blessed with three glorious hours of deep sleep (almost wished that the flight was longer). I woke up just a few minutes before landing in Sentani and tried to start waking up the kids. When the planes wheels touched down my tears started to flow as I finally felt like I was safe along with my family.

We were met at the baggage claim area by our Papua program manager who helped us get to base where his wife was making breakfast for us. We enjoyed some pancakes and shared with them all that had happened to us since Sunday night. Then we headed to the guest house where I started opening suitcases to see if I could fine clean clothes for everyone as we had not changed clothes since the night of the earthquake. Now, when I say clean clothes I meant something that looked less dirty and that I could shake out pretty easy since all our clothes came out of the rubble. We all hit the showers and found ourselves in beds by eleven that morning again for another few hours of sleep. Then after sleeping we started our journey as a family to process all that God had walked us through. Throughout the week our kids were loved on by other kids on base, teammates listen to us, cried with us, and praised God for all He had done for us that night. On Wednesday our house helper in Lombok (who we were still talking with) texted us to inform us that they had just had another 6.2 earthquake and that this time the epicenter was in our neighborhood. They sent us videos of stores just crumbling which was hard to see as the people had hardly anything left before that point as well.

Our family finally reach our house in Merauke the following week and still continue to heal and adjust to the new normal of our lives.  For most people it takes weeks, months, or years to heal from something like this. Even though I am still struggling at times, I am thankfully for God showing His great power and faithfulness in such a powerful way that night and through the next couple of days. A couple of days later I read that scientist have discovered that the two plates that run on each side of the island have completely change position. The plate on the bottom is now pushing its way on top of the other plate through a hole it found. Which means that the people of Lombok these last few weeks have experienced over 30 different earthquakes and aftershocks. My prayer is that the people will seek out the Lord (as most are not believers) and that God will place aid workers there that can reach out to these people in a special way during this time as that is where they will find true peace.


Initial Summary of our Lombok Earthquake Experience

We just want to start out by saying thanks to our Lord for His amazing protection over our family.  We are safe in Sentani to decompress and rest after being a part of a pretty incredible story of God blessing the socks off us almost literally through a somewhat traumatic experience.  The timing of the earthquake in Lombok for our family was such that we were able to evacuate the house almost immediately all expect for Franklin.  There was some tense moments of not knowing if we had just lost our oldest son as the rest of us huddled outside in the small courtyard.  He did finally respond and was able to get out between the initial shakers not sure if it was between #1 and #2 or #2 and #3 after it all started. I don’t know if this is my imagination creating this or not, but I have a mental picture of him exiting the building as the ceiling fell on the stairs behind him.  In all of this we all had managed to get out of the house barefoot with broken glass everywhere with only some possible glass slivers in the feet.

After the dust settled from the first main round I started to make quick trips into the first floor area to retrieve our belongings.  We spent the rest of the night on the mattress we pulled out of the master bedroom on the main floor.  In the morning I was able to do work similar on the second floor with quick trips gathering the children’s belongings.  The end result was we were able to recover almost everything with only a few minor things that were not located or in a location not accessible in a reasonable safe manner.  The family did well watching my back while I was inside and would very quickly let me know when things would start shaking again with the aftershocks.  Just when we got the timing down of the aftershocks or so we thought their frequency would change. They seemed to hit every ten to twenty minutes all night long with a short hour window in the early morning were we had only minor movement. And when we left the area at nine that morning we were still have pretty strong aftershocks happening.

Please continue to pray for the locals. As we were able to connect in a small way with them through this.  It was hard to leave knowing what struggles and destruction they have in front of them.  We also recognized that we were not able to help in our position there and would create more of a burden being 5 more mouths that would need food, water and shelter.  Thankfully, we were able to share with them some extra food and water that we had left. With heavy hearts we departed praying that God would be glorified through this.  I don’t know the extent of the testimony we left behind only knowing that the local neighbors took note that God had protected us as we left with most all our stuff and no significate injuries.  Initially before we left we were told that there were injuries but no deaths in the neighborhood however this afternoon I did receive word from the local manager for the villa that a 7 month old in the community had perished and the aftershocks are still continuing to shake things.

I see this as a clear display of God’s loving protection for our family.  I pray that by no action of ours but just simple display of His protection for our family will bring Glory to Christ’s name.