Our Road to PNG

He’s more impulsive than I am.

He’s emotional and gets excited about things quickly, and frankly it drives me crazy.

It was early 2000 when my husband first came home all aflutter about this organisation.  We had one toddler daughter and were seminary students in Texas.  He had visited with some recruiters at a mission fair booth at the campus student center.  He walked in the door on a high and I was determined to shoot him down.

Understand, I was never against missions.  In fact, I had been an appointed missionary when we’d met in 1993 and my heart was still bent toward the mission field.  But I came from a tradition where our missionaries were paid, thank you very much.  I would only join a faith-based mission kicking and screaming.  I basically told him as much, and then chose to ignore it and hope it would all go away. 

Over the next few years, he continued to make contact with the organisation – going to conferences, having lunch with local reps - while I continued to smile placatingly and stick my fingers firmly in my ears.  Na, na, na, na, na …

In the meantime I graduated and our son was born.

When my husband walked across the stage to get his diploma in December of ‘03, he was graduating into a Dallas/Fort Worth market supersaturated with counseling interns.  After a few weeks with no substantial job leads he asked me one more time.  “Will you just go with me and talk to them?” 

I heaved a dramatic sigh and tried not to roll my eyes.

Fine.  If it will get you off my back …

And so, in January of 2004, we made an appointment and went to talk to some of his contacts at “the mission.”

An hour and a half later as we emerged into the sunlit parking lot, I only had one thing to say.

“Okay, that’s it,” I conceded with a sigh of resignation, and maybe a smidgeon of relief.  “That’s what we’re supposed to be doing.”

He only smiled.

Like it or not, there was no question in my stubborn mind that this was what God wanted us to do.  By the end of the week we were beginning to fill out the tedious and comprehensive application paperwork.   But over the next several months, as we walked through references, inventories, assessments, and interviews, I became more and more unsettled.

I had not changed my mind – I still felt strongly that this was the path God was directing us down.  But I was scared.  Scared because I knew we were doomed to failure.  Destined to come home from the field with our tails tucked between our legs.  Destined to self-destruct as a family.

You see, I struggled with depression, and I knew we were on a slippery slope.

My depression and our journey to the mission field are intricately intertwined, but because I am posting them as different angles on the story, I will try not to duplicate too much between the two.

Short story is that we were accepted into the mission in June of 2004.  I had prayed repeatedly that if this were not the path God wanted us on, that he would stop the process.  But once we had the acceptance letter in hand, I saw it as God’s green light to move forward.  I saw us on the field in two years, somehow miraculously “fixed” by God.  

But of course He wasn’t showing me the whole picture.

In late July we flew to Orlando to attend an orientation to the mission.  While there we met many people who had been to, and others that were headed to, Papua New Guinea.  “Where is that?” I asked.  When I got the full answer, I thought to myself, Well, if that is where “everyone” in the organisation goes, I don’t want to go there.  I want to go somewhere where they need people. 


My heart was in Africa.

During the two weeks we were there, our (my) dysfunction did not escape the keen observation of the leadership. No matter how hard I tried to dress it up.  After meeting with the counseling team, we were told we had a choice – resign or go on a leave of absence and get the help we needed.

There really was no choice to make … I may be stubborn and I may be thick-headed, but years ago I realised that to willingly step away from the path God wants you on only leads to misery.  I was convinced this was what God wanted us to be doing, so resignation was out of the question.  Three days later, after surviving Hurricane Charlie, we flew home with the knowledge that we could reapply in a year.

I was desperate, exhausted, at the end of myself.  

I sought the help I had so long avoided, including medication and counseling.  About ten months later the counselor said she was ready to sign off on us, and so we started the process to be reactivated.  Nine very long months after that (yes, that was all waiting time), in the spring of 2006, we were called into the local organisation office and told that they did not believe we were ready.  

After all of that, they wanted us to resign.

It was a stab through the heart.  They did not know us.  They had not walked with us through this journey, and besides, we had checked all the mandatory boxes.  What in the world could they be basing this on?  But, it seemed our only other option was to wait for them to fire us … from a job we had never even done.

We submitted a letter of resignation that expressed our disagreement with their decision and the reasons behind it.  We tried to word it graciously and respectfully, for we didn’t want to burn any bridges.

I cried.  I felt guilty.  I bemoaned the fact that I was going to be “forty before we ever get to the mission field … IF we ever get there!”  But we tried to plod on, trusting that God was somehow orchestrating all of this, too; remembering how he had most definitely orchestrated the last uncomfortable juncture in the journey in a way that brought about healing.

Over the next eighteen months, even as we continued to receive counseling, Paul’s passion to practice counseling was fading.  He explored several other options, even taking some master’s level courses in linguistics to see if that might be right for him.  No, he decided, he was too old for that.  Finally one evening he came home with a new spring in his step.  Someone at the organisation had told him about something called “Member Care” – pastoral care, peer counseling, practical help, and administration all rolled into one.  Nothing clinical about it.

A perfect fit.

And, they said, they desperately needed a Member Care coordinator in Papua New Guinea, at one of the largest mission centers in the world.

Sensing God’s leadership here, I was able to release my hold on Africa and began to entertain the idea of going to this island nation in the South Pacific.  Home to some 830 distinct language groups.  The most linguistically diverse country in the world.  An ideal setting for those dedicated to the challenge of Bible translation.

With a new perspective, we reapplied to the organisation.  Within a few short weeks we were accepted again and began our partnership development.  God supplied churches, families, and individuals to partner with us, to pray for us, to support us financially so we could serve him in PNG.  Eighteen months later, in August of 2009, we waved goodbye to North America and found our way out of our comfort zone, over the international date line and across two hemisphere boundaries to the beautiful nation of Papua New Guinea.

I was forty years old.

God has proven himself Faithful, Supplier, Provider, Sustainer, and it is our plan to continue serving Him here in this venue until such a time as He calls us somewhere else.

For the Bibleless peoples of PNG,


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you, Martha. It's God's story. :) Thanks for stopping by and for your email!

    2. Yes, an amazing story - thanks for being so honest and open.


We are missionaries serving God and the task of Bible translation by serving the missionary community in Papua New Guinea through Personnel Administration and MK Education. We thank you for your prayers!

For the Bibleless Peoples of the World ...

(Updated 13 April 2013)