Not an easy road

Because of Artenis and Mel Islamaj’s tight schedule, the days are always very busy and time flies. However they would like to take the time to thank you for prayers and to share a little of what they have been experiencing since their arrival in Papua New Guinea (PNG) in January.

It has not been an easy road for them as a family, but God opened the doors and provided all that was needed and continues to do so faithfully every day. They spent the first five months in PNG on the north coast, in the province called Madang, learning Tok Pisin and exploring the culture of the country. Since there are over 800 tribal languages spoken in Papua New Guinea, they need Tok Pisin as a kind of bridge or trade language that will enable them to be able to learn a tribal language at a later stage. They have already reached the second level out of the three levels of language proficiency. Artenis and Mel were able to make some good acquaintances, who allowed them to join them during their day-to-day activities. Relationships play an incredibly important role, so that people will often drop everything to honour a friend. Time is often relative, which can be challenging for westerners who value punctuality. So there are a lot of things that are very different from what they are used to.

In May they moved to Goroka and stayed at the NTM mission centre. They were instructed in many practical matters such as house building, homeschooling, medical tips and much more that is necessary for life in the “bush”. They then flew to the northern mountains, to a remote village called Pal, for a six-week “bush orientation.” It was a good test to see how theywould be coping with the “bush” life as a family. About seven years ago, three missionary families preached the Gospel there, many people believed, and a church was born. We were able to learn a great deal from the missionaries and were very encouraged by all the testimonies.

Artenis and Mel try to involve their children in everything, – taking them with them when they go out to learn language, they help when they move, etc. In the last three years they have moved fourteen times. The adjustments have been challenging for them all, but children often cannot express sadness and frustration like adults can. This is often expressed as anger, weariness, crying and exhaustion. They thank the Lord for keeping the children safe and for good conversations with them and for how well the children cope with everything. They are so grateful that they can lay everything before God in prayer together with them. Pray for them as parents to make wise decisions, be patient and loving towards them and lead them by example.

Encouraged by everything they have experienced in “bush orientation” they returned to Goroka where their focus remains on making progress in language and culture acquisition. Pray for wisdom as Artenis and Mel move onto building a team, which is crucial for any task, how much more for Church planting.

Prayer requests:

  • Praise the Lord for His faithfulness, goodness and grace!
  • Give thanks for the health He gives them, they have had no accidents or serious illnesses so far.
  • For protection from poisonous or dangerous creatures, and earthquakes.
  • For church planting, and Bible translation among people groups who live utterly isolated. Many tribes do not know the privilege to have the Bible in their language, have never heard the Gospel, or never understood it.
  • That they may be good learners of the culture and language and will soon reach the required language level to start thinking about church planting.
  • For Artenis and Mel to always keep their eyes on the Lord Jesus Christ.