Lisa Kappeler finally made it out to the Uriay friends she’s worked with for so long.
She has planned several times to go out and tell the people that her missionary co-workers are not coming back.
Even as the trip got planned and on the schedule for a flight and canoe trip, it had to be delayed.
The purpose in going was more than just bearing this news; Lisa was looking forward to seeing her friends.
When the day finally came for her to go, the plane picked her up to head to where she would meet up with the six others, including two Abau church leaders. They all climbed into the canoe with her and headed toward the village, stopping only at a bush camp in order to eat some lunch and pray together.
There was a sense of anticipation that God would glorify Himself through this visit. She knew that her heart’s rest would only be found in trusting God for His perfect plan and timing.
Upon arrival they learned that Wobre, a dear friend and brother, and his wife had lost their baby who wasn’t even 2 years old yet. This man had been a blessing so she was very thankful to be able to encourage him.
As the group gathered slowly, Lisa and one of the men who accompanied her shared the difficult news about the missionaries not returning at this time, which meant Lisa could not return because that would mean she was the only missionary in the village. There were a few questions and sadness, but no expressions of anger and frustration.
Talking with the ladies afterward, Lisa heard some of the reactions from the women.
“I’m really sad but I’m not going to quit reading my Bible – Jesus is still with me. Some may leave but God is with me,” Dakruma said loudly and with passion. Her commitment even in loss and trial are expected to strengthen the other ladies.
Wekot stated that, “If the missionaries are leaving then I’m leaving.” Lisa was able to encourage her in front of the others with the reminder to trust only in the Lord, not in men. And if she left, how would she hear God’s Word taught or be an encouragement to the other believers?
“I could sense their trust in Him in spite of the loss,” Lisa shares.
It was clear that everyone moved to planning how to deal well with the situation. The Uriay believers clearly communicated a desire to continue to learn and a hunger for God’s Word.
They asked that Abau men come from their church to help in the teaching to the Uriay “so they wouldn’t lead people into the weeds.”
Lisa says watching some of the most confident and often arrogant teachers admit their need for help was amazing. Another lady, Imi, shared even in front of the men, “While it would be great for the Abau guys to come help in Pidgin, the trade language, most of us ladies, older folks and younger would only understand it in ours.”
So while there are plenty of obstacles and questions that still don’t have answers, there is a peace and confidence in the One who started this work in the hearts of these dear people.
“Pray for His plan for the days ahead — in how to best help the church grow and mature in this new reality,” is Lisa’s heart in all of this change.