As Far from Rural Minnesota As You Can Get

June 24, 2024

{Pictured is Yvonne, on the left, with a woman in Papua New Guinea, circa 1992}

My husband Kim and I left America in 1992 for Papua New Guinea, a country about as far away as one can get from rural Minnesota, where we grew up and were living. We went so that Kim could serve as the dentist on the largest mission station in the world, a community of more than 1000 men, women, and children. We were there with Wycliffe Bible Translators, a parachurch organization whose goal is to provide mother-tongue Scripture to people groups in the language they understand best. PNG is a California-sized country of 860+ distinct languages, most of them unwritten. Can you imagine the task of learning a language, writing it down letter by letter, sound by sound, word by word, creating an alphabet, figuring out the grammar and then finally beginning to translate God’s Word into that language? And then teaching the people to read this language that they’ve only been speaking? What a privilege it was to support this amazing work.

My initial assignment was to work in education, teaching flute lessons and also substitute teaching in the elementary school. My life changed dramatically in September of 1993 when I went from being healthy to being flat in bed. We had been through a stressful time and my body gave out. I was eventually diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, which still plagues me today. 

My world became very small at that point. I was sidelined in many ways, but God provided work for me to do. I retained one very special flute student, and I was able to encourage and pray for many of my colleagues. My rest times in the afternoon were mostly spent praying, as I never could seem to sleep. God provided energy enough for me to care for and feed my family. It wasn’t what I expected my life to be like, but with God’s help, I accepted that this was his plan for me. And over time I was able to contribute in other small, but helpful ways.

During this time we saw God’s continual provision: God gave Kim the strength and ability to care for hundreds of missionary patients from all over the country, our financial needs were generously met, our children thrived in school, and we had dear friends who cared for and encouraged us. Through God’s faithfulness in my weakness, we were able to continue to be a part of seeing God’s Word transform people as they received it in their heart language.

Bringing God’s Word to an undeveloped and remote country is an enormous effort. It takes a large and dedicated team to get the job done. All kinds of workers are needed to support this great work. Of course Bible translators are needed. But also literacy workers, pilots, teachers, mechanics, carpenters, nurses, doctors and yes, dentists. How blessed we were to be a part of this amazing team of people and how grateful I am to be able to share this with you. 

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