2015: A Special Year

As 2015 came to a close, I realized that God had been answering some really specific prayers for Kevin, me and and our ministry with Wycliffe. While in the USA, I re-learned the art of diligent study in order to succeed academically. I was reminded of 2 Peter 3:14 (NASV) —”Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless.” I found myself experiencing God while taking Research Methods and Statistics courses! I was reminded that just as I must study diligently to succeed in these, I must be diligent to to live in peace, spotless and blameless in my spiritual walk. I gained a renewed sense of dependence on God in the learning process.

Niagara Falls
Gertrude viewing Niagara Falls
When the courses were done Kevin and I changed gears and began travel through parts of the northeastern USA and southeastern Canada. It was late Spring and seing God’s handiwork in the beauty and power of Niagara Falls and resting in Him. We simply enjoyed the love and fellowship of family and friends. We met new friends as we went about telling of our mission experiences and experiencing the Love of God among supporting churches.

As we returned to Papua New Guinea I began a new role at the SIL PNG headquarters, so we were separated again only to experience God’s sustaining grace as we lived apart for the sake of the Gospel. I think the most painful experience was losing my pastor and friend of a lifetime in October. Dr. Eddie B. Lane showed so many how to live for Christ and now he has shown us how to finish well. We rejoice to have his wife continuing to serve the Lord with Bibleway Church in Dallas.

Reuniting with the Notsi in November was a definite highlight and especially so, after I suffered an infection in December. Even in that we experienced to love of the Notsi toward us and we witnessed the grace of God in medical care. I was especially blessed by exceptional TLC Kevin provided to speed my recovery! We closed 2015 with firm assurance that God is in control of all things. Of course, these few lines could not express the great love we experienced as we walked with the Lord through 2015 but we hope they give you a glimpse of God’s goodness.

Gertrude

Reflecting on a Season of Grief

In 2014 we found ourselves grieving yet rejoicing with Notsi families as well as our own. Although our work kept us in town managing the missionary Guest House much of the time, we drove down to the village for short visits when we could.

On one occasion we arrived to find that Angela, a young woman we knew, had succumbed to cancer. I first met her when she came to our house to ask for pain medicine. In our discussions I found out that she was a seamstress. I gave her fabric to sew a ‘meri blaus’ for me but she would accept no pay for her labor. She seemed perfectly healthy at the time but months later we heard that her female relatives/friends danced around her coffin to celebrate her life.

Karen & John
Karen & John

In June, we received sad news that Kevin’s brother-in-law, John, had died suddenly. We grieve with Karen, Kevin’s sister, and family in their loss.

We continued to receive news of other dear ones who had died. I stayed in touch with my family in the USA regarding my aging mother who lived with different siblings in their homes. It seemed that she was thriving earlier in the year but in the spring her health began to wane. I recall feeling desperately far away in Papua New Guinea but as I prayed I asked the Lord for His will to be done, to ease her suffering, and for the grace to let her go.

Murilyne Garrett
Murilyne Garrett

When I received the sad news that she had passed, we grieved but not without hope. He had answered my prayer. Yes, people die every day but in 2014 it seems death came for our loved ones.

Emily Dickinson wrote,

Because I could not stop for death
He kindly stopped for me
The carriage held but just ourselves
And immortality.

Mrs. Yvonne Chase
Mrs. Yvonne Chase

And so it was with Angela and three loved ones in our families. John, Kevin’s brother-in-law, passed in June; Gertrude’s Mother passed in early September and a dear friend to Kevin, Mrs. Chase, passed a few weeks later. We grieve but not as ones without hope. God has put in us the love of life and activity but He has also numbered our days on this earth. In Christ, we have hope of eternal life.

In times like these, friends and family ask us, “When are you coming home from the mission field for good?” My prayer is that God will show us when our work in PNG is done. Then, we will come home for good!

—Gertrude

Prayer Update

Dear Prayer Partners,

Thank you again and again for praying for us. As you know we decided to come home earlier because of my mother’s failing health. The doctor suspected that she might last a few more weeks. By God’s grace Kevin was able to get airline tickets changed with no real change in original plus fee. There is a two-day layover between the PNG leg of the flight and the United Airlines flight to the USA.

For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Cor. 4:17-27, NASB)

I grieved when I heard that my mother’s kidneys were failing. Our Notsi friends who are well-acquainted with death observed this and sought to comfort me. If it were not so far they would have even come home with us to share grief. On our last day in the village, people came to sit with us to say farewell. The small congregation gave us a monetary gift to help us on our way. Others sent their condolences and prayers. I am thankful for the simple love and kindness they showed us. We are thankful for other friends at home who were led to help us in our financial expenses to get home. In June the expense was too great and we were not able to come but prices came down as the summer waned.TheGarretts

We began our journey home to Texas today, Friday, September 5th and when we arrived in Cairns, Australia, got to our hotel, Kevin informed me of the email from my sister stating that my mother had passed away at 4:50 a.m. Thursday (7:50 a.m. on Friday in PNG). We can only trust God’s timing; my sister says she slipped away peacefully in her sleep. I am thankful for having such a wonderful woman as my mother. She was a woman who loved much—her family as well as others. She embraced and advocated for the mission work at home and for the work that we doing in Papua New Guinea as long as she had health and strength. Her mortal fight for life in her later years reminds me of the path that we all must travel in Christ, the Lord. Her journey is now complete and each of us must complete what God has given us to do on this earth.

Thank you for your faithfulness and prayers for my mother and my family during this time.

In His service,

Gertrude (and Kevin) Nicholas

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.(Jn 5:24)

Farewell to Lossu

Our Friends in Lossu as gather to say good-bye
Our Friends in Lossu as gather to say good-bye

It was Friday, August 29, 2014, that we received word that Gertrude’s mother was not doing well. The doctor said that she might last only a few weeks. We dropped everything and began to make plans to return to the U.S. as quickly as we could. I spent most of Saturday trying to rebook our tickets at the best price that I could. I was thankful that I was able to do so without too great a cost.

We then began to pack and close up our village house. As our friends in the village learned of Gertrude’s mother many came by to comfort and encourage Gertrude. Pictured above are our friends who were there to say good-bye as we were leaving. They were such a blessing to us. We really felt that they shared our grief with us. If they were able to they would have come with us to provide comfort.

After we finished all of our packing and was driving to Kaveing, we made a number of stops along the way. The first stop was to see Wesley, one of the Notsi translators. He was unaware of our sudden change in plans to return to the U.S. As he and his wife learned this they insisted that we stay and have lunch with them. She with some help from Gertrude she spent the next hour or so preparing a meal for us. It was a good time of fellowship as we shared the meal with them. I was able to collect the work that Wesley had completed. Here he is making some last minute edits before he gave them to me. They hated to see us go.

Wesley making some last minute edits to the work.
Wesley making some last minute edits to the work.

We arrived in Kaveing about 6:00 PM. Little did we realize a meal was prepared for us. We were most thankful for all the help and the encouragement we received along the way.

Hurrying back to US

Dear Praying Friends

Thank you for your faithful prayers.

Praise Points

  • Kevin and I are re-united and now residing in Lossu Village. We are grateful for opportunities to serve both the church and nation in Bible translation and literacy and education.
  • The Notsi people continue to buy the Scripture booklets (containing John, Galatians, and 1 Timothy).
  • Local translators Wesley Kurang and Shirley Taupis continue to work with the Notsi Village Checking Committee on editing Luke’s Gospel. It seems that people are more excited than ever about getting the New Testament finished.
  • We finished editing 70 Notsi hymns and look forward to printing a small hymnbook. People are eager to have the hymn book, too.
  • The Lord is faithful about sending rain after recent dry spells and people are finding relief from stomach pains related to poor water supply.
  • Katuben, (Shirley’s brother) who had withdrawn from the work and church seems to be back and engaging in Bible translation again. We praise God for these things.

Prayer points

Gertrude's mother, Murilyne Garrett
Gertrude’s mother, Murilyne Garrett
  • Our plans were to stay until the New Ireland Translation Institute courses start in mid September but we received word this morning that my mother’s health is declining. Her kidneys are failing, she finds it hard to eat or drink. The doctor says she has a matter of weeks. The time has come sooner than we planned and we are trying get home as soon as possible. Please pray that we can get tickets changed for a more immediate date and without extra costs.
  • Pray that we can get our village house shut up and things stored well and that we’ll have safe travel home to the USA
  • Similar heavies are being faced here in the village with Malis Lako, suffering with mouth cancer. Malis is a medical worker at a nearby clinic but has not worked in months. He is trusting the Lord for healing and we stand with him in prayer. He hopes to get to Port Moresby for surgery as soon as possible. In the meantime he is in constant pain.
  • Matthew Lako, Malis brother, seems to be estranged from his siblings in a family dispute and is no longer working with Bible translation. We are praying for resolution of his personal issues, true reconciliation, mutual forgiveness and a return to the work.

Furlough 2012

Our Travels

July we just finished a very full and busy eight months in the U.S.A. It seems that when ever possible we were traveling one place or another. November we arrived in Dallas from our short vacation in Australia. After just three days we were on our way to Orlando to visit at the Wycliffe USA office. It was so good to see friends that after so many years. We rented a car to visit Gertrude’s sister in Tampa.

We then flew up to Virginia to visit my family for Thanksgiving. During our time there we rented a car to visit supports driving from Virginia Beach up to Philadelphia. This was just a little taste of what our time home would be like.

While we were back to Dallas nearly every weekend we were on the road to visit different churches. As you look at the map you get an idea of all the places we went: Kansas City, MO (B), Baton Rouge, LA (D), Birmingham, AL (F), Austin, TX (H). On Easter Weekend we went from Longview, TX (J) to Houston, TX (K) then San Antonio, TX (L) then back to Dallas, TX. At each of the churches we visited we were given a warm welcome and opportunity to share what the Lord is doing in our ministry here in PNG.