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On the Tracks of Joy and Suffering

This week marks one year that our family has lived in Papua, serving at the MAF base in Sentani … 365 days, every single one of them spent in this far-flung province of Indonesia.

I look back on the year, and it’s easy to focus on the struggles. The bout of malaria, the terrifying flash flood we experienced, the distance from family, the dusty city, the drunks, parenting struggles, finding my way in the ex-pat community, the challenge of learning a new culture.

It’s easy to want to point to those struggles, the ones that made me cry out to the Lord, and say, that was 2012. I easily forget the bright spots of the year. My husband safely flying hundreds of hours in rugged terrain, serving missionaries and national churches while also training new pilots. My children, loving their new environment and friends. New friendships with co-workers and nationals.

ILovePapuaI received a letter from a friend the other day. She described how she used to think we went through times of joy, and times of suffering, but a friend told her it’s more like two rails of a railroad track; joy and suffering experienced simultaneously.

Her words challenged me to look for the joy in the midst of hard times, especially in regards to how I feel about our current home.

Recently I purchased a t-shirt for myself that says “I Love Papua” in bold letters across the front. The first time I put it on, my husband said, “Can you truly say that?”

And honestly, not yet. I bought the shirt hoping that if I wear it, if I think it and decide it and act on it, the feelings will come.

Will 2013 be the year I come to truly love Papua, the way I learned to love where we served in Kalimantan? I can’t say. But I am committed to looking for joy in the midst of struggles, and serving the people here with all I’ve got.


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