Putting Down Roots in Papua New Guinea

Can you imagine what a family goes through when they settle into a new country and ministry? Jodi shares amazing photos and a bit of their journey in Papua New Guinea.

In January, Fred and I and our four children moved to Papua New Guinea (PNG). Before settling into life at Ukarumpa, we completed a month of training followed by a month of village living.

Village Living

We lived in this village hut for three weeks. It’s made of woven bamboo walls, sago leaf roof, and a rough-cut board floor.

In this haus kuk/haus win (house cook/house wind) we cooked over a fire, rested in the heat of the day, did dishes, read books, did schoolwork … and much more!!

Village living gives newcomers to PNG a chance to spend time in a remote location in the rainforest. Being immersed in the language and culture of PNG gave us a better understanding of what our language/translation teams experience on a regular basis.

Was it worth it? I answer “yes” and “no.” No, because Fred and I have support roles and are based in Ukarumpa. We will never have to experience living in a remote area on a regular basis. But then I remember my was brota’s (watch brother) face when he heard the Bible in his heart language. And with that picture in my mind I can say YES God was there; he is at work! Even if I never see the end result I believe it was all still worth it.

What was challenging? Everything! Never-ending hot and humid temperatures. Cooking over a fire in that heat. Washing clothes, dishes, bodies, and hair in river or rain water for three weeks. Not knowing the language or culture. Having four children to parent in said culture. These are just a few.

The kids loved it! They loved the swimming! They loved the people! They loved the adventure! They loved the toys that were made with materials from the jungle around us!

What did God teach us? That we needed consistency even when everything else around us was completely foreign. We needed God and daily devotion with him even when it could only be for a few minutes at a time. We needed to be consistent in our parenting even though parenting was completely different in the culture where we were living. Our children needed consistency in our family time together even if it meant sitting on a wood floor in the dark with two solar lanterns as our only source of light and bugs flying all around.

Was Famili: Watch Family

Our family with Rudy, her husband, Benard, and his aunt and uncle.

Although they were our age, Rudy and Benard were technically considered our was mama (watch mama) and was papa (watch papa). They removed all of their belongings from their home and allowed us to stay there while they slept in a small 5×8 outbuilding.


Our was femili

Shem, our was brota (watch brother), and Bilu, our was susa (watch sister), were around all the time to help us with anything we needed or anything we wanted to learn. In addition to the oldest son Gendly, they also have twins named Jovita and Radin.

They are Christians and friends with the translator who is currently working in their language. They truly acted as our was femili. If I asked to go somewhere Bilu made it happen! Shem built us an awesome cookstove up off the ground so we wouldn’t have to bend down anymore! Ivy loved Gendly as you can see from the picture! And their son Radin was always around to play Uno with the kids!

In summary we are thankful for the experience. It stretched us in ways we never knew we could stretch. We truly felt God’s presence with us every step of the way! We could see his hand all around us! Our Tok Pisin skills improved—now that we are back in Ukarumpa I find myself missing having opportunities to use it more.

“May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 15:5–6).



Jodi Leman

Jodi Leman

Fred and Jodi, who joined Wycliffe in 2017, serve translators and the Bibleless people of PNG. Roughly 300 of PNG’s 800 languages still need Bible translation. As a helicopter pilot, Fred supports the translators with transportation, delivery of supplies and equipment, and medical evacuation. Jodi cares for their family and assists in various staff care roles.