The following is an excerpt from a report we sent last summer to one of our supporting churches. We hope this encapsulates some of the work we do.
Mike is the band director at Hillcrest School. He also teaches other subjects to cover a deficiency of available teachers. This year he is teaching eighth-grade language arts and American history. In other years he has taught Bible and world history. He also helps lead Middle School Chapel. Currently, he is doing this every night (because he is working on a Papuan time schedule), Sunday night through Thursday night, via the internet. All his creative juices are being challenged as he attempts to teach a band class with students on three continents.
Mary is still the webmaster at Hillcrest School. She also assists, as needed, translators when they need extra assistance.
We are both discouraged by being in the US and continuing the work via the internet. In April 2020, as the Covid blight gained publicity, the powers that be decided we fit the demographic which was at highest risk and it was decided that we must evacuate. We complied with the leadership and returned to our home in Auburn, AL. We prepared to return in August 2020. We have prepared to return in January. Finally, in July we were graciously granted permission to return. At that time, however, two things were happening. Papua was seeing a resurgence of covid and therefore had stopped processing work visas, and our passports were being processed by the US State Department. We now have our passports in hand. At present, all documents have been sent to Papua for processing as soon as they begin granting work visas again. That takes about four to eight weeks. Then, we will leave. We expect, and hope, to complete a four-year term there. UPDATE: After having to change our leave dates and itinerary about five times, we finally left the US on Dec. 30. We quarantined in Jakarta until finally ending the journey in Papua on January 8. It felt great to be home!
We have been encouraged by the ongoing progress of Bible Translation. Specifically, in August, a translation that was in its infancy when we arrived in Sentani in 1995 was dedicated and another people have God’s Word in their language. We rejoiced as we read reports of translation progress even during the covid restrictions. That is the reason we went to Papua in the first place. Our supporters had a part in that translation because we taught all of the children of those translators. Thank you.
What are the MAIN goals/ministry objectives of your organization/mission? Said otherwise, why do you exist as a ministry/organization?
We are part of a larger Wycliffe Team of perhaps 100 ex-pats and their families who make up the Bible translation teams here. The goal is to have an on-going language project in all the +250 languages here in Papua by 2025. We enable those workers by ministering to their children.
What is your general strategy in accomplishing your organization’s goals (e.g. street corner evangelism, church planting, native pastors, mercy ministry, etc.)?
Our specific role in aiding Bible Translation is by teaching the children of Bible Translators and jungle pilots and mechanics. By coming along the side of these families and teaching their children enables them to focus their talents in areas of their specific training. By providing a Christian worldview as a foundation to education, we also are helping to train the next generation of Christian workers. A large percentage of our students return to a full-time ministry when they enter the work force.
What SPECIFIC "tactics” are used to implement this strategy? (In other words, HOW are you going about evangelizing, church planting, Mercy Ministry, etc?) Isn’t this question fulfilled in the previous question.? We interact with our students, formally and informally. We work with them through the school, we interact with them at school activities, we encounter them informally at the beach, parties, and at church. At times, we’ve hosted them overnight in our home. We go with them to the hospital when requested. Mary has taken a student on the back of her motorcycle to a nearby hospital. His parents were out of town and no other vehicle was available. Yes, he did have a broken bone in his hand. Other times, we’ve counseled with students over concerns about an earthquake, or their upcoming tonsillectomy (a very routine matter to adults, but terrifying to the student). Basically, we live with and work, with and thereby disciple, our students.
Are you currently at full support for your fiscal year? If not, what percentage/dollar amount remains unfunded? Formally, yes. Informally, as it is, we are trusting the Lord to provide finances for medical travel as the need arises. We are stretched to our limit.
Assuming you are a non-profit, 501(c)3, entity, how many board members presently oversee your ministry? To what extent are they involved financially, operationally, and/or strategically in furthering your mission? Both Wycliffe Bible Translators and Mission To the World are such entities. Our support level is determined through WBT. Monies are handled by both organizations.
Other than financial, are there other material needs? While in the US, our house was broken into twice. We do not have a complete inventory of what may have been taken. Gas was siphoned out of our motorcycles. Our air conditioners were stolen. Further, our motorcycles are quite old. If the Lord provides, we would like to replace them.
Does your mission agency belong to ECFA (Evangelical Council of Financial Accountability)? If not, what arrangements does it have for outside financial accountability? Yes, both Wycliffe and MTW are members.
What are your goals/plans for the coming year? We both are continuing in our stated jobs of teaching and website maintenance. After that, our goal is TO GET BACK TO PAPUA! UPDATE: We are back and are busy full-time.
To what degree did you meet your stated goal(s) from the previous year? Since our goal was to get back to Papua, we totally failed at that. However, in the meantime, we have continued in the assigned teaching roles. We have been trusting God that although our goals weren’t met, He is totally sovereign in this affair. We have done what He has enabled us to do.
Thinking ahead, where (how does it look different, etc.) is the ministry in the next 5 years? How might you intend to measure such? We expect to see one New Testament or complete Bible translation project completed every year. There are several which are nearing the finish line!
Struggles and Challenges
We have struggled with not seeing our students face-to-face. [UPDATE: that has now changed. We are with them and hug them and teach them and pray with them face-to-face.] While in the US, Mary experienced some medical challenges related to her cold agglutinin disorder which would not have occurred in the tropical environment.
Please share other significant things about your work that you would like for us to know. We are carrying on correspondence with former students. Pray that we can have insight into their needs and ministry accordingly.
What is the legacy of your efforts if you left the field this year? Would the ministry continue and, if so, how? On-going Bible translation will continue. The translation teams partner with churches and they are invested in continuing. Hillcrest School will continue. The music program will die for a time. It has been very hard to recruit instrumental teachers.
 A little information about Cold Agglutinin Disorder. It is a relatively newly recognized disorder and is considered “rare.” A layman’s description of it is that when Mary is exposed to cold weather, temps in the low 60s and below, her red blood cells clump together and then they dissolve. That leads to chronic anemia and makes her quite tired. Again, it is not something experienced in a warm, tropical environment.