December has swept into the land here in PNG bringing not snow, but some much prayed for rain!!! And although my heart is yearning for the delicate white flakes of joy drifting to the ground, I am content in the gifts that the rain brings us. We are still considered to be in a drought, and we have yet to see the more long term effects of so little rain this last year, but things are green again and we have full tanks of drinking water! So thankful to be in relationship with a God who is bigger than anything, even dire weather predictions.
This week has been a full one for us. We had 3 sets of hellos and two sets of goodbyes happening in a 5 day period. We are reuniting with two families and a single gal who just finished up their POC training (we met all these folks at various trainings back in the US last year). So excited to be welcoming them to the ranks here in Ukarumpa! And we had two families leave this week–some of our closest friends. The constant and unexpected hellos and goodbyes are probably one of the hardest parts of this life we now live. Please pray for our hearts as we navigate this, and pray that we continue to love well in spite of the chance of getting hurt.
As a result of one of our recent good-byes, we have decided to move this month (not far, actually just next door). It all came about as the Lord moved us to help some friends out, but now we couldn't be more excited for this next chapter. I believe that God is actually using our move to ease the loss of our friends. There won't be a day that we don't wake up, make coffee, and pray for them as we sit in their house! As with any move though, there's a lot of work and stress involved. Please pray for God's grace in this transition and that it doesn't consume us as ministry opportunities abound without a pause button.
Speaking of ministry opportunities... regarding some of the side projects we asked for prayer for last month, it seems that we are pursuing all of them. So at this point, please pray for wisdom with time management, and that we don't wear too thin.
- We had our first Glasses for Missions event at a Tok Pisin literacy class where we made 12 pairs of reading glasses for some of the students (and family members that heard and came!). They were all asking about glasses for other friends and family members. There are 2 other venues (another PNG class and the clinic) that have also asked us to come. Please pray that we can recruit some help as GFM has the potential to get big fast here!
- John is still working out the design, materials, and logistics around the new church project in Kwina. The Kwina community has been great to get on board with donating trees and time, but there are still plenty of hurdles while the roof continues to look dire. We sit in church with one eye on the pastor and one eye on the ceiling, just in case we have to make a mad dash if it starts to cave. Hurdles to pray for: Materials - even the "free trees" are costly when you have to get them to a sawmill and back; in fact material transport is probably going to be the hardest part of this project. Driving a truck up to the church just isn't possible. Buying the materials is another challenge. I know that some of you would love to help with this (I've estimated that we can do the whole church for less than $3,500!), but so far I've found that it's not as easy as saying "yeah, just donate to our account, or send us a check." I want it to be 100% for this project, which is proving to be complicated, so pray for that.
- We are investing more deeply in the translation work with Steven. John has lunch with him now every Wednesday and we have started helping his family out with some food too. Please pray that God continues to bless this relationship. We don't want Steven to see us as benefactors but as brothers and sisters in Christ. This seems to be a tight rope walk here, but Steven continues to show generosity in kind to us and to those in his community. Please pray that he can trust fully in the Lord's provision as he works on the Gadsup Bible full-time. His work will be life-changing for his language community of 35,000 (not to mention the generations to come!).
John will be getting a two week break this month as well. The whole center shuts down for the two weeks surrounding Christmas giving all the staff here a much needed moment to pause and rejuvenate before another year of hard work. This is a sweet gift to us because we have been so spoiled from the decade of John working at Guthmann Construction, where they always generously gave him two weeks off at Christmas. We really treasured that time we got to peacefully end each year together, and somehow God moved us to the other side of the world to work with another organization and He is still blessing us with this rest!
Also Christmas is a wonderful opportunity to share the whole gospel story with others! Please pray that we will see those opportunities and seize them, and that the true meaning of Christmas rings clear and bright in the lives here.
Thanks for praying! Wishing you the Merriest of Christmases!
John and Kristi Craig
PS… next month we will be spending three weeks in Lae running the regional center there… more news to come on that soon:)