During these strange times that we live in at the moment it is very easy to get discouraged and overwhelmed. So our family has been looking for ways to bring encouragement to others and to make sure that our own family finds encouragement these past couple of months. And God has allowed us to be able to do this in a couple of different ways.
One special way was having two MAF families come down together for a weekend in October allowing us to have a kind of mini conference here in Merauke. They flew in on a Friday afternoon and were able to stay until Monday morning. Each family had three kids which meant we tripled the number of MAF children down here for a few days. One of the things we all wanted to do was be able to sit with one another and spend time encouraging each other with conversation. And for us wives it was a time of stepping out of the kitchen and allowing ourselves a break and trying some of our local restaurants that we have in our city. While the adults sat visiting all the children enjoyed playing with nerf guns, cars, and light sabers that our kids had in our house. The guys also took charge of all the kids one morning allowing the wives to go check out some of the fun stores that we have available down here as they are different from Sentani. And we were able to walk along our beaches here in Merauke which meant the kids enjoyed finding some mud, looking at all the small animals that scurry across the sand, and making it out to the water that was a way’s out. On Sunday everyone took time as a family to have a quiet time at home before gathering to go out for a drive to the countryside and have a picnic near the termite mounds. I think that one of the highlights for our children though was where we stopped for a picnic the local lady who took care of the place had a baby tree kangaroo that she was trying to sell. We did not buy it but she let all the kids hold it and love on it for a while which they all greatly enjoyed as it was our first time seeing one besides in pictures. And on the way home from our drive we all had to stop and try some BBQ corn before heading back to the city. On Monday when it was time for them to leave they ended up going home a bit differently then they came. For one of our missionaries needed to have supplies dropped off so the guys worked it out for the families to take the float plane (which none of them had previously flown in) to take the first part of their journey out to this missionary and drop her supplies off along the river. It was great watching them load up that morning as one of the little boys has always loved the float planes and has always want to fly in one had a huge grin on his face as he actually climb up into the float plane.
Then just a month ago our family had the opportunity to take a very special trip as a family into one of the tribes that one of our missionary family is serving in. This awesome family has being serving by themselves for the last year and a half due to the other family furloughing and trying to get new visa’s during covid which has delayed them. Greg has always wanted to take our family in but this is one of the rivers that really fluctuates with the tide since it is so close to the ocean. Thankfully, one of our staff came with us and stayed with the plane to keep it from getting stuck in the mud as the tide went down. This allowed our family to stay in the village for around four hours which we all greatly enjoyed. This missionary family has six kids of their own ranging from 10 months old up to 16 years of age so our kids fit right in. The kids all stood around chatting for about 15 minutes around the house just getting to know each other and then they disappeared for a tour of the village which is all up on stilts and boardwalks. I happened to look at the window at just the right moment to watch my daughter pop out of the trees with a group of local kids as they headed to the volleyball court. Which happens to be the local hang out for all the teens and the ladies of the village. As the kids enjoyed hanging out with the kids and experiencing village life both Greg and I just enjoyed sitting down with the couple and talked most of the time. All our friend kept saying was how awesome it was to be able to talk with someone in English again!
Before leaving we all enjoyed eating lunch together as they were craving some KFC which we just happen to have in town. So we were able to all enjoy some fast food (even thought it was heated up in the microwave), French fries, and pop while playing different games with our kids. Before leaving both Greg and I got an official tour of the village and got to meet a few of the locals but since it was the hot part of the day most of them were resting. However, we seemed to be a drawl for the kids and by the time we got to the plane we had a decent crowd of them following Greg. And then when we arrived home all the kids got involved with helping wash the plane down before putting it into the hangar.
We are so thankful for how God allowed our family both of these blessings of getting to spend time with different families in very different ways. Both were such an encouragement to us and allowed us to be able to refill our tanks so that we could feel like we could continue on down here by ourselves.