UNREACHED

Pioneering in Papua New Guinea: The Rimestads' Journey to the Maliyali Tribe

February 21, 2024 UNREACHED Season 2 Episode 4
UNREACHED
Pioneering in Papua New Guinea: The Rimestads' Journey to the Maliyali Tribe
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

When David Rimestad encountered a spiritual revelation at summer camp, little did he know it would steer him toward the remote villages of Papua New Guinea. Alongside his wife Emily, whose heart for missions was kindled during a youth group trip, this episode takes you through their extraordinary journey of faith and the challenges of bringing the Gospel to the Maliyali people. Our conversation with the Rimestads is a deep dive into the sacrifices and unwavering determination that define true missionary work.

Have you ever pondered what it takes to leave everything familiar behind and start anew in a land unknown? The Rimestads did just that, embracing frugality and overcoming personal fears—like David's dyslexia and Emily's fear of the dark—to prepare for their life's mission. Their narrative is not just about the logistics of missionary work but the profound impact of translating languages and spreading teachings in a culture vastly different from their own. This episode is a testament to the couple's dedication and the transformative power of shared love and faith.

Imagine the anticipation of first contact with an isolated tribe, the Mali Ali, who have never encountered outsiders. The Rimestads recount the initial hurdles in communication, the physicality of reaching the village, and the cultural nuances that emerged as they strived to build rapport with the people. As we trace their steps from the first tentative interactions to the community's eagerness to learn and grow, their story unfolds into a tapestry of human connection, cultural exchange, and the shared desire for knowledge that transcends borders. Join us as we explore the beauty and complexity of forging bonds with the Maliyali tribe.

Come back next week for PART 2 of our incredible conversation with the Rimestads!

Follow @unreachedpodcast on Instagram for more!

Speaker 1:

In Revelation 7, john shares his vision of heaven with members from every tribe, tongue, people and language standing in the throne room before the Lamb. Yet today there are still over 7,000 unreached people groups around the world. For the last six years my family and friends have been on a journey to find, vet and fund the task remaining. Come journey with us to the ends of the earth as we share the supernatural stories of God at work through the men and women he has called to reach the unreached. Hello friends, welcome back to the Unreached podcast.

Speaker 1:

Dustin Elliott here today, your host, with my co-host, producer, editor extraordinaire, mr Clint Hudson. Clint, thanks for being with us. Today we have a couple, david and Emily Remstad, who have been serving with the Maliali people group in Papua New Guinea. So if you've listened to Jack Crabtree's episode from season one kind of our first episode they serve with the Wantakea people group on the same island You're going to notice a few similarities and some really cool key differences in this story today. David and Emily came to Austin, texas, in December and were our keynote speakers at Light the World, our big annual Christmas concert and storytelling benefit for the Bless Foundation. They knocked it down. Clint, what was your experience like listening to their story.

Speaker 2:

I think I was just blown away by the faithfulness that they have to go with their family and travel and live out in the jungle. I've never experienced jungle, or not only. It's not just poverty, it's just like different than walking in a front door of my house. I was just blown away and the fact that they were some of the first missionaries there. They had to teach them a language and we're going to cover all that in this episode, but I mean just blown away. So guys like strap in, like one of the best episodes on deck right now, here we go.

Speaker 1:

Let's go, let's go, let's get the table set first. So, david and Emily, take us back in time. How'd you meet? How'd you get mobilized? Kind of get us to the point of going to the nations.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, that's a great question. I think specifically how that started for me. I mean, I was thankful to grow up into a Christian home. My dad was a pastor and so early on, just hearing the gospel over and over and over again I was about the time, nine years of age I really heard the gospel clearly that my sins needed to be forgiven and Jesus lived the life that I couldn't, that he died the death that I deserved and he rose again to give me the eternal life that I could have never earned on my own. And seeing that for the first time, I knew that, yeah, he was going to be my savior. I needed that and I needed my sins forgiven and that kind of led me into growing in my walk with the Lord.

Speaker 3:

But getting into junior high I started to kind of make smaller compromises which turned into bigger problems and by high school those kind of turned into some fleshly habits. And I remember my parents had forced me to go to summer camp that year and I remember it was a Tuesday night and I was on my bunk, no one else was there, and it felt like for the very first time, a thousand seeds had blossomed in my heart and I realized if Jesus really is who he says he is, then my life should look different. And eventually I had this kind of Ezra moment of reading the word and beginning to study it and loving it, and all I could do was share it with others. I started to pave my own road in regards to what I wanted to do. I knew that I wanted to be a pastor, and so I knew the college I was going to go to. I knew the seminary that I would go to, I knew the masters that I would get and the PhD. I knew that I had the title of my dissertation already picked out by junior year of high school and I was ready to go.

Speaker 3:

And it really was an intel, my junior year of college, that for the very first time, someone by the name of Brian Zuniga, a guy that really invested in my life at the time, he, was the first one to not just clap in regards to what I had in front of me, but he poked and for the first time in my life he said David, like there are thousands of people, groups that will never hear the gospel unless someone goes to them, learns their language and, for the first time in their history, shares the good news of what Jesus Christ has done for them and I would say, for me. At that moment my heart was lit ablaze and I saw the nations for the very first time. But I learned something kind of sad. I remember him saying hey, David, can you finish this verse? Be still and know. I said that I am God.

Speaker 3:

And he said Can you finish it? And I said I did. And he said no man. It says be still, Know that I'm God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be proclaimed among the world. And for the first time I realized something and I realized that, man, I knew a lot of truth, but I had missed a part of the verse. But I just didn't miss one verse. I missed a lot of verses and in missing all those verses I didn't see the story of God and the nations clearly and ultimately, I didn't see my own purpose in what God had called us to through Christ, about reaching the nations for him.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, and I too grew up in a Christian home and, ironically enough, at the age of nine Jesus became Lord of my life and I was in church, you know, every Sunday, every Wednesday, anytime that the doors were open. I was there in youth group. And, yeah, continue to grow in my walk with the Lord. And I think I was 16. Junior year I went on my first little short term mission trip with my, with my church. It was there that the Lord began putting this desire in my heart to share the gospel with the lost. But I didn't. I didn't really understand all of it. You know, I had never heard the Great Commission in Matthew 28. There was so many gaps that I was missing. But I just knew that the Lord was placing this desire in my heart.

Speaker 4:

And it was so strange to me because, well, at the time David and I were dating. So we met in high school and, like he said, he kind of had that path that was paved. He knew that he was going off to Bible school and then he wanted to go to seminary and he wanted to become a pastor. And so we were driving in his car and after I'd come back from mission trip I told him, dave. It's the like, strangest thing. But I really feel like God is putting a desire in my heart to be a missionary. But don't worry, I'm not going to be a missionary. Like I already know three reasons why I would never be a missionary. Number one I'm afraid of the dark. Number two I hate bugs. And number three I'll never leave my mom and dad. But isn't it kind of funny that he's putting this desire in my heart and he just kind of looks at me and he's like, oh, emily, god's going to use you as a missionary. And we kind of laughed in that moment, you know. But I'm like, no, there's no way, not me. And so fast forward, dave and I. We end up getting married. We go off to CBU.

Speaker 4:

Brian Zuniga invests heavily in David's life. His wife Jennifer invests in my life and through being discipled and having them just walk through scripture with us, really understanding the Bible and God's heart for missions from beginning to end of the Bible, it changed my whole perspective of missions and I began to realize that it it's not about me and what I can or can't do, but it's about God and how he wants to use us to be a part of sharing the gospel with the unreached, that he has invited us along despite our weaknesses or fears, and that his word says that he will fill in and he will be enough in order to complete the task, which is to share the gospel at the farthest reach places of the earth. And so, once, once I realized that, and then once David realized what he you know, what he shared earlier, then we were ready to go. Yeah.

Speaker 3:

And then our church really came alongside of us and I would say they fueled and just fanned into flame the need for more people to go. Like we could have stayed and I could have maintained the path that I was on and eventually my ambition was to come back to the state of California and plant a church. But, man, our church really helped just get us overseas, not just recognizing us as vital parts of the overall structure of the church, but that we were recommended, that they said yes, these are quality individuals that we've spent time helping grow and got us to a point where we could go off to extended training for more specialized, intensive training in order to go overseas.

Speaker 2:

Okay, so you guys obviously have a heart for the nations and God has impressed that upon you. He used someone to disciple and develop you to get you there. Why pop in a guinea? How in the world did you get to that part of the world?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I think at the point where we found ourselves I mean this was like pre-iPhone we had the internet but it was super spotty and it would take forever to upload in our little tiny apartment and I remember just sitting down and we had a state of the family address and we just said, okay, if we want to go overseas, like, what do we want? What do we want this to look like? Like, do we want to be committed to a time or a task? And I think, in regards to some discipleship principles and things that we were learning, we came up with five non-negotiables. So number one we said, okay, this is the filtering process by which we'll go overseas. Number one we wanted to go to an unengaged people group and what that meant was a people group who has no access to the gospel and they will never hear the gospel unless someone goes and learns their language for the very first time and shares the good news of what Jesus Christ has done with him. So we wanted to go to an unengaged people group and we saw, kind of, if we would go to an unengaged people group, share the gospel and then leave, well, essentially that leaves them on a deserted island. So we saw the overall task that Bible translation would be necessary. So we saw Bible translation as the overall piece to the puzzle of completing a task among one of those unengaged people groups.

Speaker 3:

Third, we wanted to continue to raise our support. At that time, graduating from college, we took some years and did college ministry and we were raising our support at the time for that ministry and we just fell in love with raising support. We genuinely loved it and wanted to continue to raise our support. And then, fourth, we wanted to go for a task, not a time. So we wanted to see a mature church planted in wherever we went, that there would be elders and deacons, they would be functioning and thriving and reaching the people around them. And then, fifth, we wanted to be a catalyst for more people to go it just. We didn't want it to just end with us. We wanted more people to come behind us as we walked forward. And so we had these non-negotiables and we said, okay, what do we do?

Speaker 1:

now. This happened in one sit down, one family state of the union meeting. You came up with those five things.

Speaker 2:

We can't even figure out what to order for dinner.

Speaker 4:

Man. But at that time, you know, we were so on fire just wanting to get overseas. And as soon as David graduated, we're like, okay, is this our time to get ready and start planning on going. You know, I had like a year and a half left of college and Brian, who invested in us, feels like a pay. Guys, I have an idea, I think you should do college ministry. And I mean, we were like ready to just get our passports and get out of the country. And he says I think you should do college ministry and just get a few more years of training under your belt. He always told us that 20s are for your training and definitely those three years of doing college ministry were great training for us and so, yeah, so we had time to sit down and come up with those five.

Speaker 4:

You know non-negotiables. But we would, even during this time, as we were writing those out, you know, we would put tape over our light switches so that we wouldn't use our electricity and we'd have to try to cook everything before the sun went down. And you know just little things that we were trying to do in our mind to keep ourselves focused, because we had heard so many stories of people with good intentions of wanting to get overseas but, man, so easily they get sucked back into the American life. You know, you get debt, you get a car, you get a house payment and then you're unable to go. And so in our minds, we just wanted to do everything that we could to keep our minds constantly focused on going, even though at that time the Lord had us waiting in a season of training and developing our walk with him more, developing our relationship with our church all four, so that we could go and be sent well and serve well overseas.

Speaker 4:

So then, after we kind of had these non-negotiables for David and I that really filtered it down with what organization we would go with, where we would go in the world, and so we had a few places lined up that we wanted to take a vision trip to and just kind of see what the need was there. We had about three different places. Two of them fell off, and then the one that was left open was Papua New Guinea. And so in 2012, the summer of 2012, david and I headed off to Papua New Guinea and we spent three weeks there. We went to a tribe called Yembi Yembi and lived for a week with some missionaries that were there in one of the bases with our organization.

Speaker 4:

They have this huge map of Papua New Guinea. There's dots on the board of works that are open at the moment with missionaries in it, and then other dots where there's no missionaries. And then they had this filing cabinet that they pulled out and the filing cabinet had lists of tribes that were waiting for missionaries to come. And so David and I see these lists of tribes that have already been marked. They want someone to come. They're asking for the gospel to be brought to their language and we just kind of looked at ourselves and, seeing the tasks that remain there, that there was a need for us, that there could be a need for us to serve there.

Speaker 3:

The leadership team at the time kind of just saddiced down and said listen, you can go back and maybe you had a good time or maybe you had a not so good time, but you can go back and you can go on with the rest of your life. But maybe you should really critically think like, should we come back here, like make a decision now, while you guys are here, to either come back or not? But I don't even think we needed that push or that prodding, because I think ultimately we saw multiple things, but I think some of the highlights were number one man, these Bush missionaries were normal, like they are normal people, and I just, you know, emily tells the story like it's the pray of the dark. Well, I'm like the most dyslexic person ever, and so it's like man, somebody who's afraid of the dark and somebody who is highly dyslexic. How could we ever do this? Like we have to be some crazy folks to do this.

Speaker 3:

But after going there and seeing the missionaries that were there, they were simply just obedient, willing to take risks and joyfully serving the Lord because he's called them to mission, and so we just thought, if they can do it by the power of the Holy Spirit, then the same spirit is at work within us and we can as well. So we made the decision to go back to Papua New Guinea, being on the ground of Papua New Guinea, but knowing that we needed some intense training in order to come back to Papua New Guinea.

Speaker 1:

Whoa faithfulness, right? I mean, you had been prayed up and preparing for a lifetime for this. Then God was just taking you, in his perfect timing, through the motions to get you where he wanted you to be planted. And he takes a radically dyslexic guy who needs to, by the way, create a language and an alphabet and teach somebody else to read and write, and someone that's afraid of the dark.

Speaker 2:

Whoa, I'm 100% positive that somebody is going to be mobilized to the unreached because of this podcast, like this episode already, because you guys have hit on every feasible excuse that somebody is driving in their car running on the treadmill right now. They're like I'm afraid of the dark, I don't like bugs, I can't read good.

Speaker 1:

Like I mean it's.

Speaker 2:

It's like all of the excuses are there and you guys are like no, that's all of us. For you guys to say that these Bush missionaries are just normal people that have been called by God and they're just obedient servants of the Lord, that's incredible and I'm just so confident that somebody's listening and they're like that's me, I'm that.

Speaker 1:

For that somebody. Let's rewind into the context of unreached people groups and unengaged people groups for a second here. So if there's roughly 7,000 unreached people groups left on earth of 17,000, what we call identified people groups, of that 7,000, I think we talked last week 7,400 roughly right. Of that 7,400, what we call unreached is less than 2% Christians. So it doesn't mean there's not any in a lot of those. It means there's some Christians there, some workers there, maybe a church, maybe a Bible in a language close to their language, maybe not yet in their heart language, but there's a chance at least in some of those they could run into somebody unengaged. There's 700 roughly unengaged people groups. So when you set out and whiteboard the future and your first non-negotiable is we're taking one of the 700 down, come on. Our first non-negotiable is we're gonna do the hardest thing possible and that's gonna go get one of the ones that nobody has got to yet. I love that.

Speaker 3:

I don't think we thought of it like that though.

Speaker 4:

Think that we thought, man, if we're gonna do this, well, then we're gonna do it 100%, all of it. We look back at all of it and it's just the Lord.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, cause it doesn't make sense. It doesn't make sense.

Speaker 4:

None of it makes sense. I remember when we got to Papua New Guinea, when we finally got to Papua New Guinea and Dave and I were driving to one of these little hardware stores to buy something that we were gonna use to build our house in the bush, and we kind of looked at each other and we're like how did we get here? What are we doing? What happened? Like, did the Lord? He, literally which we asked, we prayed, lord put blinders on our eyes. You know all those years back in our apartment when we're putting tape over our lights and trying to cook in the dark, we said Lord put blinders on our eyes so we can be a part of this. And we get to the fields years later and we're on the field buying supplies and we're like, would you put those blinders on, because we have absolutely no idea how you took us and are using us here. It just doesn't make sense. It is 100% the Lord and His goodness to us to allow us the privilege of being a part of ringing Amen.

Speaker 1:

Well, let's, let's continue the story, because Clint said you know, up until that point in your life you had gone through all the reasons why not to go and yet, with your blinders on, faithfully went. But then some things change. Your family grew. So tell us about going, getting there, having a family. Walk us through some of the next challenges and steps and include, by all means, some some stories for us as well.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, so in 2013, we left a training with our organization, organization as an S360, and at that time, we had our one-year-old son, calvin, meet two-year-old son. He was two at that time. We headed off to training and then, during training, I got pregnant with our daughter, louise, and so, yeah, our training was so vital for what we were about to do. We learned how to learn an undocumented language. You're learning phonetics and phonemates, and then you're learning how to create an alphabet while I'm trying to learn how to spill Phonetics and I don't even heard the word Phoenix.

Speaker 2:

I've spoken this language my entire life and I'm trying to figure out how to spell this right now. It's a pH.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, phonetics, phonemates, just the overall infrastructure for an undocumented Language. But then that goes deep into not just learning language but how to properly learn a culture, something that you, like you have to observe. You can't necessarily ask questions initially, but how do you become a good intaker of what you're seeing and Eventually be able to springboard questions when you get the language to Help understand what actually happened in that scenario? But not just you know language and culture, but doing deep dives and working on your own character, personally and then as a as a couple, as a family, as teammates, co-workers Training is absolutely Necessary.

Speaker 3:

I think when we ultimately made the non-negotiables and then we saw Papua New Guinea for what it was like Papua New Guinea has 850 distinct languages, like it's a. It's an incredible amount of languages and just a small piece of landmass when we saw that, we knew we needed training but I don't think we Saw our desperation for training and then, getting into training, we realized, oh, we are desperate to be trained and we're being trained by individuals who had done it themselves. And that's where man training was just such an amazing Experience. It was a privilege and it was necessary in order to get us on the field during training, we ended up having Louise. Louise was born during training and that gave us to, and then, when we graduated training, which was 2014, would be raised the rest of our support in order to get to the country of Papua New Guinea.

Speaker 4:

July of 2015, we landed in Papua New Guinea and we began learning that first language, the trade language of Papua New Guinea, which is Melanesian top pigeon.

Speaker 4:

And so when you're going to bring the gospel to a people group who have never heard it before and most likely you are going to be learning two languages, so you're going to be learning the trade language of that country and then you're you're going to be going more interior and learning that undocumented language.

Speaker 4:

And so, before we got to that step, we just began learning a Melanesian top pigeon and about a year after language and culture learning, we tested out of language and then, along with our co-workers, we began looking for a tribe to move into.

Speaker 4:

We very quickly heard about a people group called the Molly Ali people group, and they have been asking for missionaries to come for around seven years, and so what they would do is there was a village that had missionaries there for about 20 years and it was a week's hike away, but it was a different language group and so they would hike that week's journey and they saw the change that had happened in these other believers lives and they saw what the missionaries had done there and they wanted missionaries to come and bring godstock to their tribe, and so they would make that hike often and for seven years they would ask for missionaries to come to their tribe and so these missionaries that were in there they told us about the Molly Ali people and, you know, told us how, every time they would fly out to base, they would just pray for the Molly Ali and pray for missionaries to be sent there.

Speaker 4:

After we had heard about the Molly Ali people, then my husband David, along with our co-worker, and they kind of knew about a roundabout area of where the Molly Ali people were, because previously a couple men from our organization they're called the people group assessment and what they do is they go in before the missionaries go in and they document when these people exactly are, giving a GPS location and giving us more information as a missionary, as to where these people are specifically.

Speaker 3:

So our organization has a group called PGA it's people group assessment and they hike through the valleys, the swamps, the rivers and the mountains. They're hiking everywhere, not necessarily to make relationships and establish a presence, but just to see are there people Hidden in the jungles of the places that we have not yet Contacted? And if they find one of those people, then they establish contact, they write down those GPS locations and they continue to move on. So when we kind of graduated or gotten to fluency of the first language Melanesian talk pigeon, our leadership handed us a paper with GPS locations on it for Multiple groups that had been asking for a long time and it just so happened that Molly Ali was one of the people groups on that page.

Speaker 3:

So my co-worker and I, we flew into a nearby airstrip, close to the Molly Ali people or what we thought was close. Oh boy, we should have looked at the map topographically, but instead we thought it was going to be a hop, skip and a jump away from the airstrip and it definitely wasn't. We got out of the plane, got some guides with us to take us to the location of the Molly Ali people and we began our hike. And it was Tractors. I remember puking the entire way the guides. We still have relationships with those guys we've seen quite often. They laugh every time they see me because they can recount every single place.

Speaker 1:

I puked.

Speaker 3:

It was brutal man. We hiked about halfway the first day, stayed overnight, it started, it got really dark, it rained really hard. Finally made it to Mali Ali and established contact for the very first time. Up until this point of getting to see the Mali Ali people, this is the first time we're hearing their language and this is the first time they're seeing us. Ultimately, what we understand is that we were probably the fifth and sixth men of a different pigmentation of skin that they had seen. They were not just like unaware of what was outside of them, they literally had no clue what existed out of their tribe. So, seeing us for the first time, a lot of the children were absolutely petrified, but a lot of the men and the women were extremely curious.

Speaker 1:

Did several people in the tribe speak the trade language? Could you communicate through the trade language with some of them?

Speaker 3:

Yeah. So our guides that took us from the airstrip to the Mali Ali people, they knew a little bit of pigeon but ultimately, like our tribe, mali Ali, they know bits and pieces. So if we're talking about like a phrase level, sentence level, paragraph level, there's a few individuals who can speak with us at a paragraph level, okay. But once you get into the nuance of grammatical structure and discourse features, man, it's like nails on a chalkboard. You just can't hear each other well. And so even in those initial contacts, or contacts that we made in the very beginning, those conversations were rough, simply because they were shocked by our arrival, but they were perplexed at man, what does that mean? And you know, are they really meaning what they say they're meaning, or how should we respond correctly? And sometimes it would be hit and miss and we're like, wait, no, we're asking you to come. I mean we're, we're asking to come and build our houses, and so, yeah, it was definitely rough.

Speaker 2:

Can you guys describe to us what's it look like? You just walked in this village for the very first time. Give us like a mental image of what the Mali Ali's village looks like.

Speaker 3:

I think, when we initially started to walk on the trail. So we went up a mountain on a mountain, we went over a vine bridge, we crossed through a raging river. I don't even know how we made it, but we did. We hiked up this cliff that we thought we were going to completely fall off and die. Like we. We made it on the top of this other mountain where a little tiny house was.

Speaker 3:

We're walking through thick jungle and we finally make it to the Mali Ali people and I was thinking we would see this large, developed, open field, but what we saw was a little tiny house in the middle of a dense, dark jungle and we thought where is everybody? Because we didn't understand the culture and the significance of how they live and why they live the way they live and that's ultimately completely cut off from one another. So when we came up to Mali Ali, it was dark, it was dense jungle, there was one house and then, all of a sudden, once that first Mali Ali man saw us, he began to sing out as loud as he could and that drew crowds from neighboring villages, neighboring hamlets, and they were coming all to congregate to see us.

Speaker 1:

So wait, you said that. You said that they live separate, disconnected from one another Disconnected.

Speaker 2:

Okay.

Speaker 1:

Okay, but within earshot, yes, within earshot. What would that? What would that? What would? What would he yell, what do you say?

Speaker 3:

Probably while my meabanoil, while my meabanoil that's like the white man has arrived. Everyone come tonight.

Speaker 1:

So then what happened? You know you're there and they're all showing up and they're looking at you and you're wide out.

Speaker 3:

I don't know whose eyes are wider yeah so we, we just established our names and we shook everyone's hands. We tried as much small talk as possible. They were extremely excited to see us, but we didn't make any promises. We didn't tell them why they, why we were there. We didn't tell them that we would eventually come and build our houses, because at this point we weren't sure if that was the tribe that we would eventually end up in.

Speaker 3:

Okay, so we need to go and just establish a presence like hey, we are here, we know you guys are here, we want to stay the night, we want to get to know you. And eventually, the next day, after spending probably a night with them, they ended up killing a pig. More people ended up coming and we told them hey, we are actually going to come back one more time and we said be prepared on this day of this month and we will be coming back again. And so we left. We walked back to the airstrip, got back on that small plane, came back to our regional base, sat down with our wives and said we think this is it. We think this is where we're going to go back.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, not not needing to go look at another tribe, but that this was it. This was the tribe that we could see ourselves living in and and that they did want us. I think that was received, that was understood while they were there in that first initial meeting, and so then, I think it was probably a few weeks later, you guys headed back in with leadership, made that same ruling hike again. This time you were a little bit more prepared that you were going to be sick the entire time.

Speaker 3:

I was so sick and I had huge, huge blisters on the back of my feet. I mean, literally from the beginning of the hike to the end of the hike the back of my feet were just bloody, man, it was each time I made that hike in those beginning days. It was not easy, dude.

Speaker 1:

And for those of you that can't see David Remstad David Remstad looks like a college athlete, so he is in shape. Okay, you, if anybody was ready for this hike, I have a feeling you've put a few miles on some running shoes, my man.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it was brutal. It was brutal.

Speaker 3:

But we eventually got back to the tribe. Everybody this time was congregated right when we got there and we said, okay, we are here to tell you that we are coming back this time. We're gonna come back and this is what we wanna do. So, in broken Melanesian top pigeon with some translators, we're doing our absolute best to tell them these four things. Number one, we wanna learn your language and culture. Number two, we wanna teach you how to read and write in your language. Number three, we wanna take God's talk and turn it into your language. And number four, we wanna teach you all that talk has to say.

Speaker 3:

So ultimately, when we gave those four things that we wanted to do, and we told them we would like to build our houses here on this ground to do that work, one of the head men stood up and said David, for the longest time our ancestors have been giving us talk, and this talk is like the leaves of a pineapple. It's been cutting the inside of our mouth and our mouths are bleeding. All we desire is to eat the fruit of the pineapple. Come and give us this fruit, whoa. We were received willingly with open hands and they began to construct two houses made out of their materials and we cut a patch of land so that a helicopter could fall with our wives and kids and we could live among them for a short period of time before we built our houses.

Speaker 1:

Wow that, wow the pineapple story. Oh my gosh.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, I kinda laughed because he said so a helicopter could fall and I'm like no, we don't want the helicopter to fall, we want the helicopter to land.

Speaker 3:

That is the bad English. That's not my dyslexia, that's knowing multiple languages.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, got it, got it. So, yeah, our husbands came back to us and told us. They told us the stories of what Maso said and how eager they were for us to come and live among them, and so the first plan was to move in and start living among them as quickly as we could. So eventually we wanted to build houses, but we were eager to get in there and start working on just building those relationships, understanding a little bit better how the Mali Ali lives, work, how their culture works and things like that. And so, like David said, the Mali Ali built us two houses for our two families, just like their houses. So with, you know, built out of bush materials and leaf thatch roost and a fire pit in the middle, everything that was ready for us. I mean, this is the top of the line house that we got, top of the line Mali Ali house for myself and my coworker and our kids. This was the first time we had ever seen Mali Ali.

Speaker 4:

And so the helicopter leaves and man, we're just going for a long time and there's nothing but bush. You know, you're just seeing green mountains and green trees and rivers. There's no stores, there's no roads, there's nothing. It's just mountains, mountains and mountains, and every once in a while you'll see a little house, a little hamlet, a couple houses. We're getting closer and closer and then all of a sudden it kind of opened up and you see this clearing of trees, and it was where the Mali Ali had cut down a patch for the helicopter to land, and so the men went on the first shuttle and then us women and children came behind and they opened the doors and we saw the Mali Ali people for the first time. And I remember thinking, man, I wonder what the Mali Ali are gonna do when they see us. Are they gonna be afraid? Is it gonna be a hug word or what's it gonna be like? And they literally ran to us, arms open and just embraced us and my first thought was they're huggers just like me, like just that. They embraced us all with hugs and picking up our kids. I mean it was just all smiles all around. I'm really grateful to be there for us. I'm really grateful to finally see these people that we have prayed for for years, before we even got to the field, and so to see them and for them, I mean, they had wanted missionaries to come for years, so it was a really sweet, sweet time of finally meeting them.

Speaker 4:

After that we just kind of jumped in to Mali Ali life and getting firewood and finding water and cooking meals. My coworker, rachel and I went straight into one of the huts with all the ladies that he just brought us in and we're cutting up sweet potatoes and greens. They had greens. We had no idea what we're doing and we can't hear a word. I mean it's just complete gibberish. We have no idea what anyone's saying. And for the ladies, there's probably a small handful of ladies that can actually speak some Melanesian talk vision, but for the most part they don't. And if they do know any of it, they're too shy to speak it and so they won't. So yeah, it was a lot of sign language at the beginning.

Speaker 1:

I'm noticing a theme here, Clint. There's a lot of sweet potatoes, A lot of sweet potatoes going on in Papua New Guinea, because that's the same thing that the Wantakeean tribe that was. I think that's about all the only thing that they grow and eat there, but it sounds like y'all had some grains and some pigs and some other things as well.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, so when you're high up in the mountains, that's the main staple food groups sweet potatoes, bananas, greens, things like that, so yeah. So we just started living life with the Mali-Ali people and I remember very early on, so we had probably been there actually a week, one night. So we had mosquito nets in our little hut and I'm starting to think, okay, I think I'm gonna be sick. Man, I'm not feeling good.

Speaker 4:

Dave gets in with the kids and he's under the mosquito net sleeping, and I'm in another mosquito net and I'm just sitting there and there's rats running all around the house, cockroaches, and I'm just getting sicker and sicker. I'm thinking, oh, my word, where am I? What am I doing? Just all of the worst fears, right, coming into play here. And so I get up and I start, I grab a lantern and I start walking to this little hut where a hole is dug, where our bathroom is, and as I'm walking there, I'm kind of feeling like something's flying past me. I'm like, okay, it must be nothing. So I get to the little hut and I'm just sick as a dog and after a few minutes I start walking back and I realize that this second time, walking back with the lantern, that there's bats flying all around the cactus line.

Speaker 1:

There's another variable.

Speaker 4:

Yeah. So I ditch the lie and I take off running to our hut and I'm just sitting on the front porch. It's just like they just have some wood laid down. It's muddy, it's been raining, it's filthy, it's dark, it's cold and I am sick. And I look over and there's some of our head, mali Ali leaders, and they kind of built a little lean to and they're just sitting there staring at me and it was almost like welcome Welcome to the Mali Ali life, because that is Mali Ali life. Their life is hard. They are hungry most of the time, they are constantly sick, constantly uncomfortable and they just live really, really difficult lives. And I'm so thankful that the Lord allowed me in our time that we were living in those Mali Ali houses, to be that sick, because the empathy that came from that and just respect for them and how much they go through it was a very good learning experience.

Speaker 1:

So there you are, front porch, muddy, cold bats, bugs, guys with a lean to, and they're looking at you. And as much as I wanna say, emily, tell me what happened next. I gotta cut it off right here, clint, cause we gotta push this to a second week. We gotta go to another episode. So we're gonna hold the story for two weeks for the listeners. You're gonna have to come back, but before we go, emily, would you pray for the listeners, invite them back in two weeks, but do it in the Mali Ali language.

Speaker 4:

I took a seeker to a not to quen my, my. I'm one with an fall among you nine. God, I don't know. God, I don't know, I don't know. I'm fall among you nine. God to a. I'm open off. I'm no God to a, I'm gonna be keeping my own quake, my own life. I'm not the deep. I'm in a, my house, in my Mali, anna, I'm not the dead, I'm a no see. Go God, no, no.

Speaker 1:

Amen, amen. We'll see y'all in a couple weeks. Thank you for listening to Unreached. Our sincere desire is that what you've heard today will cause you to see the mission of God differently and you're rolling it more clearly. If this adds value for you and we hope it does would you please rate and review the podcast wherever you listen. Also, share with your family, your friends, your church, your life group, small group, degroup, wherever you do life, and if you want to connect with us, find us on Instagram at unreached podcast, or email us at unreachedpodcast emailcom.

Reaching the Unreached
Missionary Determination and Commitment
The Journey to Papua New Guinea
Exploring Remote Mali Ali Village
Building Relationships in Mali-Ali Tribe