Ongs in Malawi



Leaving behind familiarity

Posted on November 9, 2011 at 4:45 AM Comments comments (1)


Ok... so reality is starting to sink in...

We're moving to Africa.
We're MOVING to Africa!
We're moving to AFRICA!!
WE'RE moving to Africa!!!!

There's a million things going thru my head right now. Excitement. Fear. Apprehension. Anticipation.

The whiteboard we moved from Pete's study upstairs. It is now our Malawi board with a mere 9 blocks on it, one for each month left in Australia... :(

It turns out that we won't be able to ship a cargo container over as we'd previously thought. It is way out of our budget.  All we can take are what we can fit into our suitcases onto the plane...

It took me a while to digest this and I had a cry over things I would love to bring. Mainly it's the kids stuff, stuff that I was counting on to make it home for them when we arrive in a foreign country, stuff like their bunkbeds (Teaghan just loves her top bunk, everything that is special to her goes up there!), cot, 'treasure chests' (each child has a trunk to fill with their special things to take to Africa), and the train table and picnic table I made for them.... Then there are all my cake tools, mixer (its super heavy), sewing machine, etc...All that represents familiarity in the midst of change.

Since then, we've learnt that there is something called 'unaccompanied baggage' that you can buy. It is baggage that doesn't go on your plane but gets there all the same... YAY!! The cost of doing this is much more affordable. We still won't be taking the beds but we can at least take the treasure chests and my mixer!

Working all that out in my head was a rather emotional experience.

First there was the beginning of grieving this familiar life that we'll be leaving behind. Then there was the “am I being materialistic?” – though I know in my heart that idolising 'things' is very different to the grief associated with the huge move we're about to make. It’s MASSIVE! We’re leaving behind the life we have built over the past decade – friends, things, places - to move to a 3rd world country we’ve never been to! Madness! 

I was much encouraged by a fellow Australian missionary currently serving in Malawi who reassured me via Facebook that it's ok to feel like this and that it would actually be wise to bring a lot of the things you either cannot buy there or would be too expensive. YAY! I'm so thankful for missionaries who understand the emotions we're going thru :)

Thankfully, we serve a God who loves and cares for us. 
God has blessed us tremendously with good things here and we will miss them, but he will no doubt continue to provide us with good things in Malawi beyond our imagination. I’m looking forward to what surprises he has in stored for us! But it is still hard to say goodbye to the familiar and be faced with the unknown. Much like losing someone you love. It is painful, but God provides. He will give us what we need, including strength when times are hard and we miss home along with its familiar comforts.

Funnily, once I'd gotten used to the fact that we can't bring much, now when I look around the house, I actually can't see much that we need to bring! and I'm very much looking forward to seeing what awaits us in Malawi!

Stay tuned for an almighty garage sale closer to July!! :)


Launching the Kids Website!

Posted on November 3, 2011 at 5:00 AM Comments comments (1)

So now that we've been 'appointed', we can finally launch our kids website!!

Been busting to launch it :)

We want the kids to be able to stay in touch with their friends and be excited about living in Africa, so we thought we'd make a blog for them. This way their friends can learn about why we've moved to Africa, stay in touch with our kids, and learn more about God and mission thru it.

If you have kids, one way to support us would be to get your kids involved in praying and keeping in touch with Teaghan, Lucas, and Micaiah :)

So here it is, check it out!

Officially Appointed!!

Posted on October 31, 2011 at 7:55 AM Comments comments (1)

Hooray!!! We've been officially appointed!!

We received The Official Letter today stating that we are now appointed as members of SIM to serve in Malawi in the role of Youth Ministry.
The end to a 2-year long process... and the beginning of our next 10 years!

When we first came across the  'Youth Ministry Coordinator' role, I thought it would be perfect for Pete, and perfect for us as a couple once our little family is settled and I can get involved. Pete has had years of experience working with youth at our old church, serving as the 'youth convenor' for a number of years.


However, Humble Pie Pete on the other hand was not so sure... with reasons like: "I'm not a great speaker" or "I'm not very 'youthy'"...

A reassuring word from God #1

Soon after we started consideirng the youth role, I was at my OT lecture at college and the lecturer was speaking on the book of Jeremiah. Jeremiah felt underequipped to do what God was calling him to do and was basically told by God that "hey it's not about your abilities but mine!"

So I texted Pete a picture of that passage in the Bible :)

Pete is now really excited by the idea of working with the African youth.

But after we came out of the final SIM interview where they asked Pete why he thought he would be good for the role... and I was questioned on all manner of my flaws, we were back to feeling not so confident... While it was a great interview and we both shared honestly about ourselves, we did kinda come out feeling a bit doubtful as to whether we'll make 'good' missionaries.

A reassuring word from God #2

So the following Sunday at church, the above mentioned OT lecturer Marc Rader happened to be the guest speaker at our church Dural Baps, and lo and behold what did he preach on?? The SAME Jeremiah passage!!! You can listen to the sermon here.

He spoke about how we can often make excuses not to or feel a lack of confidence to do what God has called us to do, when all God is after is not our abilities but our OBEDIENCE. In fact, when confronted with our inabilities/excuses, in a nutshell, God says "I don't care" because it is about HIM and not US. All he wants is our obedience.

WOW. What a timely message for us!

And so it was with much encouraged hearts that we received the letter of appointment in the mail today.

We are ready, Lord, to serve you in Malawi! Use us. Equip us. Shape us.

Very close to the starting line

Posted on October 18, 2011 at 7:45 AM Comments comments (2)

We're almost there!!


So as Pete mentioned in his prayer points in the last post, we've just had our psychometric tests.

If you're not familiar, a psychometric test islike personality test. We had to complete 3 separate tests (a total of 630+ questions) plus an interview with a psychologist to discuss the results of the tests.

So what's the verdict? We're sane!!! :)

No, seriously... apparently I don't handle changes very well and stress easily. Hm... not good when moving to a new culture! Under the recommendation of the psychologist who reviewed our results, I've headed back to the Christian counsellor I saw years ago to talk thru these isses and learn strategies to cope. Better to know now than later!


The kids and I have had our blood tests and we're all good. Teaghan and Lucas did brilliantly whilst poor Micaiah had to be sent to another centre because they failed to find the vein in her arm. They ended up doing a heel prick test.


Next up is the meeting/interview with the SIM state council on 25th Oct. Then a recommendation will be made as to whether we're appointed or not. From there, God willing, we'll be appointed and start support raising in Nov!!

It's so exciting!!!!!

October Update

Posted on October 1, 2011 at 9:50 AM Comments comments (0)

Pete here writing a quick update for the Ongs. You know its me when I give my blog entries boring titles unlike my other better creative half! :)


We are over the half-way mark in Semester 2! Enjoying abit of college holidays at the moment after completing my Intensive Subject on 'Organic Leadership Development' last week. And thanks to my awesome wife who looked after the kids during this crazy week (especially with a cranky Lucas who was recovering from hand-foot-and-mouth) and now herself is recovering from mastitis! Jo's selflessness gave me a good week to reflect on what God has been doing in my life and how He has been shaping me to serve Him. I was reminded through Terry Walling that 'personal transformation precedes any corporate transformation,'   and that we 'minister out of who we are' (Robert Clinton). Allowing God to break and shape us is so crucial for effective ministry, not flashy forms and methods. This has tied in really nicely with what I have been learning in my 2 Corinthians subject about how the Apostle Paul ministered through his suffering and weakness, for God's power was made perfect in them, and His grace shown all sufficient through them. A great reminder that my life and ministry must also be 'cross-shaped'.


Some prayer points below:

  • Give thanks for the ongoing prayer and financial support from friends and family as we continue to study at Morling College in preparation for long-term cross-cultural mission. We continue to marvel at God’s gracious generosity through the lives of His people. Praise God that we can partner with Him and with one another in His work of bringing the nations back to Himself.
  • Give thanks for the successful completion of the SIM Doctrinal assessment in August, and the psychometric assessment in Sept. Please pray as we undergo a few suggested counselling sessions to work through some areas of growth to enable us to minister effectively when we are in Malawi. This leaves the Health assessment as the final assessment to be completed, which will be followed by an Interview with the SIM NSW Leadership Team. Please pray especially for the kids as they get their blood tests done as part of the health assessment, that it would not be too traumatic for them!
  • Please pray for God’s leading as we hope to be appointed by SIM by end of November, which will leave us about 8 months for support raising. If in God’s will, we plan to leave for Malawi at the beginning of July 2012. Pete has been in discussions with the field about the Youth Ministry Coordinator role that he is pursuing there, which involves serving the African Evangelical Church in discipleship and leadership development.
  • Give thanks for Pete’s completion of his Graduate Diploma in Christian Studies last semester (after studying 3yrs part-time and 1 full semester this year!). Please pray that as he commences his Masters of Arts in Christian Studies in semester 2 that it would serve to prepare him and Jo for life and ministry in Malawi. He is currently planning an ethnographic study on Malawi Youth Culture as part of his final year project. Please pray for a smooth approvals process.
  • Continue to be in prayer for Jo as she looks after the kids in the midst of busy college life and running cake decorating workshops in the upcoming months.

~ Pete

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