Have you every packed up your house and kids and moved to a foreign place away from all family and friends? Boy we sure did! Twice!
I remember the first time I moved away from “home”. My husband got a job three hours north of our parents and we loaded up the U-haul and our two year old daughter and headed off on a grand adventure. We already had friends in the area and a church to attend so despite it being my first time so far from family it wasn’t a lonely experience by any means.
Fast forward five years and we left on another adventure. This time we moved from Michigan to Virginia for my husband to attend Liberty University. We didn’t know anyone except for one first year college student who actually started at the college the same time we did. This proved to be a more difficult transition. Pretty lonely. Financially strapped. Mountains. No snow. Cancelling school if you had to scrape frost off your car windows. Very foreign!
On both of my life changing adventures I was still only a few minutes away from a McDonalds, K-Mart, Wal-mart, mall, etc. The people in the communities all spoke English and had the same culture I was used to.
Think for a moment of leaving home and going where you weren’t separated from family by miles of land connected by highways but by miles of ocean. A distance marked by a 47 hour flight consisting of 5 layovers. Now think about doing this for the sole purpose of telling others about Jesus and meeting their medical needs. Oh yeah, and the fact that there’s no money involved – you’re going to be living on a tremendously tight budget of funds you have to raise yourself. So…. Are ya packing yet?
Meet the Cooke Family! Chris is an RN and Sarah is a stay-at-home mom with four beautiful girls (Riley, McKenna, Amelia and Lucy) between the ages of 11 and 6. This summer they packed up their belongings and moved to Papua New Guinea; an island just above Australia. They are there serving the people of PNG along with 300 missionary families in the medical clinic. Their first term with the Mission will be for four years.
A few years ago the Cookes began to feel God was leading them to international missions. Chris heard about the need for an RN at the clinic in PNG. Their medical care is very limited and most of the tribal people still believe in using witchcraft as a method of healing. Believing God had led them to hear about this position the couple started searching for a mission organization to work with. It took 2 ½ years of planning and preparation before they were able to get on a plane. Chris needed to obtain his PNG nursing license (which took a year itself) and everyone needed passports and immunizations. They had to sell their house and they also sold most of their belongings.
Chris doesn’t receive a pay check at the clinic; like a lot of missionaries they had to raise their own support. Once all the preparations were completed they purchased their airline tickets and were ready to go. Even though they were only at 45% of their needed support they were heading out on faith.
The Cooke girls catching a nap during their 47 hour trip!
When they finally landed in PNG they were off on an adventure of their own. Simple things like hot water we take so much for granted here in the states; in the Cooke’s new surroundings they have solar hot water heaters which means a shower taken in the morning or on a cloudy day are going to be quite chilly! What about learning the cultural differences – over there raising your eyebrows at someone is similar to us whistling at someone with a bit more connotation. Can you imagine gestures you’ve grown up with now mean entirely different things due to the cultural changes? Not only getting use to new foods and having to cook entirely from scratch, but also spending your mornings trying to learn new languages so you can function in this new culture that has 850 languages. The cost of living differences are huge as well; their produce is really cheap since the climate is great for agriculture however their prepackaged foods are horrible expensive since it all has to be flown in. A single box of cereal cost $12 U.S. dollars!
Chris has been able to help meet the needs of the clinic as he serves as the RN. Outside of routine illnesses he helps prepare medical supplies daily to be sent out to missionaries living out among the tribes. Since there are no road systems the medical supplies are often delivered via airplane.
The family has also been able to minister to a mother and her newborn that are staying with them who arrived with a serious life threatening virus. Sarah has been teaching the mother about infant care and hygiene and the baby is finally gaining weight!
Currently they are looking into purchasing a home so they don’t have to move around from rental to rental for four years and also it will help lower their taxable income. They will need to raise $10,000 for a down payment in order to purchase.
If you’d like to learn more about the Cookes or support their ministry to the people of PNG you can check out their blog page through New Tribes Mission.
This post is part of the Nester’s 31 Day Challenge; Writing on the same topic each day of the month of October. Click on over to the Challenge to find a number of topics and authors ranging from Simplicity & Organizing to Personal Endeavors. You can head back here and scroll to the bottom of this post for a listing of all 31 days of Good News & Good People Doing Good Things.