Thursday, July 7, 2016

Home in the USA

We are back home in the USA! I have to say that its been full speed since leaving our home in Papua New Guinea. With our eldest daughter graduated now and preparing to help her through life without mom and dad to planning Travis' mom funeral days after returning home it been non stop.  Life rarely plays out how we plan it but we are so grateful that life's unexpected hiccups never catches the one who created each day for us off guard. To be honest I don't know if it gets easier to go through these times, but I do know that at the end of the day and I reflect on Him that is what gives me the strength and joy to keep going. The things we were concerned about with leaving our daughter and traveling back to PNG, God has given me such peace since arriving in our hometown.  We have had numerous friends come up to us telling us if she needs anything at all, including a place to just get away, she is more than welcome.  The love that we have felt coming home is just incredible. Our girls are doing good with the normal reverse culture shock coming in waves. It is a weird feeling to belong to both worlds but not belong at all. Please pray for us all as we feel the waves at different times and trust the Lord with the emotions that go along with that. Do to the unexpected expenses to get home earlier for Travis' mom, and college setup cost for Sierra we have changed our plans a bit.  We feel it is best for Travis to stay back and work to provide for our airline tickets to return. Brooke and I will leave next month and Travis will return the following month. We are so thankful to those of you who have invested in us and helped us in many ways through prayer and support!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Recent PNG pics!

Avacado tree in the village

Travis with the Wantakia guys
Nikki with her friend Kaula
Mama Eye with her goat

Mama Eye with Nikki and goat


We met this woman and her grandkids while on a walk to a nearby village

Hike to Roja

Hike to Roja

My Katagu friends

The weeds got a little high. Bush ples tru

Mama Arla, Roda and Nikki

Sure do miss this guy Momore



I find myself more and more often thinking about my situation and longing to go home.  I find it frustrating as I am never content with where I am at.  It was 2007 when I wanted out of my present life and condition and wanted to go to bible school.  Once in bible school all I could focus on was getting to the missions training center.  Once at the training centre all I wanted was to get to the field. Once I got to the field I wanted to be in a valued ministry position.  Now that I have more work than I could possibly do all I want is to go back to my life in Nebraska.  It amazes me how I can see the Lord work in so many ways but always longing for the green grass on the other side of the fence or in my case on the other side of the world!

Recently, while watching a movie I found the simplest things stirring up emotions and feelings in me.  I have to be honest as I miss those familiar things.  Such as dry wall dust, the smell of joint compound.  I miss having hobbies or something other than work to do.  I miss owning a home and mowing the grass.  So many little things that grab my attention and distract me from being content.

I find it very easy to take what I once called "ministry" and turn it into work.  How is that when I have followed the Great Commission and the Lords command?  How can one fall into depression, sin, or just a funk while being on the mission field?   The same way anyone can do it from their home culture.  Lack of being Content! Which is always a result of Lack of time in Gods Word.

I have found myself being tied up with wanting to meet every need.  Wanting to answer every email, return every call, and complete every house drawing.  I have allowed the "work" to replace the God! So easy and so fast.  Even in a culture that is not time driven I have allowed the JOY of Ministry to slip away.  It's because I have put reading my iPhone msgs before reading Gods word.  It's because I have allowed the emails of today to become the focus for tomorrow.  Basically, I have allowed the lies of Satan which has told me I am valuable, I am important, that only I can keep this thing going, to replace the Truth of the matter.  I am only a man created to know the Creator.

I have allowed the Joy of my life to slip away and be replaced with the heaviness of the world.

In Philippians 3:10-13 Paul writes "But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at least you have revived your concern for me, indeed you were concerned before but you lacked opportunity.  Not that I speak from want for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstance I am.  I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry both of having abundance and suffering need.  I can do all things through Him who strengthens me."

In this writing Paul brings to the clear that he knows what it is like to live with and without.  God has given him the opportunity to experience abundance and suffering.  Through this Paul says though, He has learned to be content in whatever cirucmstance he finds himself in.  I am thrilled that he used the word LEARNED as it gives me hope.  Hope in the fact that God is at work in my life.  Hope in the fact that I to can learn contentment.  Paul confirms in VS 13 that it can be accomplished through HIM "Christ".

Well, I stand now at the fork in the road.  I have recognized my problem, I am filling my life with anything and everything but Gods truth, and making work my God instead of God my life.
I have the power and truth of Gods scripture which confirms that I can Learn to be content and that will come through Christ who gives me the strength.  Now the hard part, application!  How do I take the truth and apply it to my life in a way that does not make it another check list to my already busy day?

For me it comes down to the choice to acknowledge when I am experiencing discontentment, choosing to look to God and His written truth.  Remembering that temporal happiness or pleasure  never ends up in lasting Joy.  I choose Joy,  I  choose contentment, I choose Christ!

As you read this you need to know that I am not a preacher, or a biblical scholar, but just a man wanting to live my life in a way that can encourage others.  I don't have everything all figured out but I trust God to teach me and during that process I want others to see what God can do.  I take absolutely no credit in my life or the things accomplished.  It is through Christ Alone who strengthens me!

Travis Ray

Tuesday, April 29, 2014


Sometimes life seems like one giant storm. For us this has been the best way to describe the reality of where we are at.  The beginning of this year I (Nikki) was in a stronghold not wanting to be in this culture anymore. I was tired of having so many of my freedoms gone and just wanted my comforts of living back in the states.  I was a miserable person to be around and Travis was constantly reminding me of the good things here and what we are blessed to be doing but I was done trying and fearful of so many things, one being what our future looked like. It was during this storm that I would pray and pray for God to just make things better for me.  I didn't like what was going on inside of me and I knew my feelings and behavior was wrong but I fought everyday in my own strength hoping it would all change.  Well, God did see me through that time but it didn't come without a fight from me. I have learned a lot about God and his love for me.  I would have given up on me but he saw me through, and waited until I was willing to die to myself again. Now, I feel stronger and more on fire with our ministry here and I see the focus clearer through Gods eyes not my own. So, as I say this these last few months have been another storm of emotions.  Travis has been busy with house builds, etc. and I have been busy training Carol in the Business Office and then a few weeks ago I was playing volleyball with our co-workers when I broke and dislocated my finger.  It's times like these here that you don't take lightly because it could mean a medivac away to Australia. And, that is exactly what happened. This of course happened shortly after we purchased tickets to return home this summer so we were tapped. After thinking we were over one storm another hit.  Also during this time Travis got news that his dad was going to be having back surgery that was a minor thing. While we were in Australia we were first told that I would probably need bone graphing done and possibly they would put a plate in.  After waking up from surgery I was surprised to hear that I only needed a pin put in and it would be removed in 6 weeks. During our stay in Australia we had our flight rescheduled because a cyclone was expected to hit the area. We did make it back and Travis got plugged into work right away and then more news on his dad.  Within a few days of his surgery he was taken back to the hospital with other health complications. His brother had his mom come stay with him during this time and as I write his dad is still in the hospital. We have been informed of where his parents are health wise and its not easy to hear this and feel the pressure to be home taking care of them and yet pulled in the other direction because of all the good things that are going on with our ministry here. So, here we are in another storm yet seeing the support of so many of our co-workers as they themselves are in their own storm.  God has blessed us with such a great team here and we are so encouraged to have the freedom to share where we are at and what God is doing in our lives and how these storms have strengthened us in ways we never thought we could withstand.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

March Madness 2014

 We are now into a new year and as time ticks by the work keeps going.  BUSY would explain our lives here in PNG.  WE have been blessed to be a part of so many new families moving into the bush and setting up their future homes!  This means that Travis is not only drawing up blueprints but figuring up material lists, running back and forth from town purchasing materials, assembling work teams, flights, and lodging to make all this happen. As I write he is on his way to a volcanic island meeting the first work team there to build a home for a family of 5.  There is a lot of pressure for the man who is responsible to make this all happen- as once you fly/boat into your location you can't just hop into your car and drive to the nearest hardware house to exchange or purchase something you forgot.  My busy looks a little different as I don't often go with Travis on his building trips but assist him before, during, and after with office work.  Earlier this year I was praying about taking a day off to get caught up at home. After looking at schedules I decided to take Thursdays as my day off.  This has been such a blessing and much needed time for me to recoup. It was during this time that one day I noticed out my kitchen window one of my neighbors kids sitting on her porch watching me do dishes.  I was thinking to myself why she is not in school, so I walked over to her house and asked her.  She was a little hesitant to tell me but the story I found out is that my neighbors are looking after her right now (her parents died) and they don't have the funds to pay for her schooling.  I felt bad for her as the rest of the kids every morning go to school and she stays all day long at the house with no one to play with.  I do see her doing her chores outside like washing dishes, clothes, cleaning weeds out of the garden, etc.  I prayed about using my Thursdays to teach her literacy.  I went over and asked her if she would like that and with a Big smile she said yes.  So for about 30mins. Thursday mornings I go over and teach her how to make letters and then we story a little.  Her name is Ipi (sounds like EP) so you can pray for us in this adventure!  The other busy that is going on is a literacy class here at Sobega that our co-workers decided to take on for our national believers who work for us.  I was so excited to hear this because we have these believers, but they don't know how to read or write. Once they complete this course they can get encouraged and guided in Gods word!  The class started up this week and they meet every Monday-Friday for an hour.  It was so unreal to me to sit in on the class and see grown men and women learning how to hold a pencil and try and make a circle or a letter for the first time.  Many of them were complaining how their hands were cramping and they needed a break from holding the pencil, so they did some hand exercises ha!  Can you remember back when you first learned how to hold a pencil and your hand cramped from gripping it too hard? Many things are happening here and around us and we are grateful to play a part in it.  I will end with the last Busy I am involved in here at Sobega.  As we look to go home this summer I needed to find someone to train in my work here.  This was not looking good as many of our co-workers were leaving around the same time for graduation or furlough.  After talking with a few people here I mentioned that I was thinking of a national worker of ours that I thought could learn fast as she speaks good English and has learned some things on the computer.  We talked about this with her and she was very excited to learn more as it will help her in the future if she ever looks for an office job. So, I have been busy in the office training her 2-3 days a week on all the duties and she tells me at the end of the day that she has head pain (meaning headache).  This is more critical thinking for her but she is learning fast and I have confidence she will be ready when its time for us to leave. I have taken a few pics of the things we have been involved in below.

Nikki in the office training Carol

Nikki and Carol
Ipi learning to write


Co-workers teaching the believers literacy

This is a page in the primer book

Jenny pointing to the picture that doesn't belong
Abale and Panguwa holding their pencils
Jenny, Kamaru, Kaula making letters

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Yembi Yembi

We were blessed recently with the chance of a lifetime, to go witness the Yembi Yembis very own Bible dedication. With much hard work poured into this tribe, it has paid off.  They can now see Gods word translated into their very own words!  Could you imagine speaking but never learning how to write those words down? Not only did missionaries come to live with the Yembi Yembis to learn their culture and language but they also taught them how to read and write. Now for the first time ever they have Gods Word in their "tok ples" language! I hope you enjoy all the pics we took while we were there. Truly Amazing!

Nikki, Angie, Lashawn

Missionary Brooks to the Yembi Yembi

Missionary Tim to the Yembi Yembi

Gods Word in Yembi tok ples