Just over 3 weeks ago, we moved into our new home in Tigak!
The big move involved a Kodiak flight, followed by a truck, and finally a boat! When we arrived, those that were standing (or sitting down.. or sleeping) on the beach helped us carry our gear to our house. Over the next couple days, we were filled with joy to see the believers again.
So, at long last, we are HERE, in our permanent place of ministry. Praise the Lord! It’s exciting and settling to our hearts to no longer have to say (as we have for over a decade) “we don’t know yet where we will serve”. And so now, here we are at the beginning of the ministry God has chosen for us. Can I hear a “hallelujah!”?
When a baby is born (I know, startling transition! Sorry.), he does not yet know how to understand or speak the language around him. First he listens, for days and weeks on end. After several weeks, he begins uttering what seem like unintelligible sounds, attempting to imitate some of the common expressions he hears each day. As he grows, he begins to speak, first simple words, then phrases, until his understanding grows and he is finally free to speak well!
This is exactly how it is for us now. We’ve become like infants, essentially. We do not speak much of the tribal language yet. We are doing a LOT of listening, and when we do practice speaking some of the common basic expressions such as “How are you?” or “What are you doing?” or “I’m going home now”, the tribal people giggle. Sometimes they giggle because they’re so excited to hear us speak their language! Other times they giggle because we sound much like that little baby, trying miserably to piece together sounds and words that they are used to rattling off their tongues without a thought. Fortunately they aren’t yet giggling because we are saying the wrong thing… but don’t think for a moment that those days aren’t near! We’re braced for them, and gearing up to be able to laugh at ourselves.
By the way, this same principle rings true as we learn the culture alongside the language. Just a couple days ago, as we walked around the village, we came across some ladies preparing dozens of a certain leaf for making roof ‘panels’ for their “haus kuk” (cook house). I’d hazard a guess that none of you have made this kind of roof… Anyway, this ‘event’ that fascinates us is an ordinary way of life for the people here.
We are also anticipating the spiritual birth of some new believers into the church here… NEXT WEEK! As you will recall, in late January, the two teachers in the church began teaching through the Bible chronologically. This is the 3rd or 4th time that this teaching has taken place in this village. At the beginning, there were 20+ people (unbelievers) coming. As the weeks went by, the numbers have dwindled a bit, but we are all very excited that several young men have faithfully continued coming and seem very intrigued. This teaching from God’s Word is so very different than the teaching that many of them have heard in their “lotu’s” (LOW-TOOs - places of worship/religious groups). This teaching starts at the beginning with God’s creation, establishing Him as the Creator and Owner of every man and everything. It continues through God’s Word (His story! Remember, the Bible is one big, connected story!), clearly showing man’s sin and inability to bring Himself back to God, and his need for a Deliverer. And of course- God’s promise, from Genesis all the way through the prophets, that He Himself would send the Deliverer. The teaching continues into the birth of Jesus, His life, His teaching, and His ministry.
Next week, the teaching will culminate in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus… and what that means for us! Almost every other “lotu” here teaches that in order to be saved, one must do many good works to please God since He sacrificed His Son for us. If you think about it, that matches the culture here in PNG, where nothing is given for free. There is a perpetual system in place here, where something given must be paid back. Always. But as you and I know, God's gift is not like that. (!)
Please join us in praying that those who are still coming to the teaching will choose to place their faith wholly and completely in Christ Jesus, in His finished work on our behalf, and so be saved. Pray that they will understand clearly that His salvation comes by faith in Him alone, and not by works. Pray that they will find joy in this freeing truth!
Please also pray for the current believers in the church, that they will be emboldened by the Holy Spirit to come alongside the new believers in intentional and loving discipleship. Pray for us and our co-workers as we disciple the believers as well. Our family is in a unique situation- normally when a family or team enters a tribal location, they are full-time invested in CLA. However, stepping in to an existing work which has a handful of believers that need discipleship now means that we are doing discipleship as well as CLA. Pray that we will find balance in all these things as a family, and be effective in ministry, even in these early days.
Speaking of growth… our own girls are growing as well. Naya is now 7, and Jocie is 5. Naya is close to finishing 1st grade, and Jocie will be starting Kindergarten this year! We’re having a good experience with homeschooling, and are excited for this coming year. With this year being exceptionally busy with language learning, we are THRILLED to announce that our first homeschool teacher is planning to come out here in August! She will be doing most of the homeschooling during her 2-month stay so that I (Lisa) can focus more time on learning the Tigak language. So without further ado, meet Mackenzie! PLEASE take a moment to look at her GoFundMe page. We’d all be delighted if you would pray for her and consider helping her financially to get to PNG in August.
Mackenzie's GoFundMe page :
Thank you for all of your love and support for us.
~the Martinez family