Ongs in Malawi



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

So close we can smell the mandasi's

Posted on September 11, 2011 at 7:45 AM Comments comments (2)

It's been a month since we did our last post...

We're going to try to post an update at least once a month now that preparations are hotting up...

What's been happening?

On the SIM application front, we're thanking God that we've moved a few more steps closer to our destination.

  • We've answered 640+ questions each for our psychometric assessments.
  • All 5 of us have been to our GP for our medical assessments.
  • Pete and I have had our mantoux tests to test for exposure to TB.
  • We've decided on pursuing a Youth Ministry Coordinator role for Pete which he's excited about. This role is also somewhat linked to the children's ministry which I can get involved in once our little family has settled into life in our new home.
  • We've enrolled the kids into international schools there. Even though we're not officially appointed yet, we went ahead with enrolments so as not to miss out on a place. We've got their names down at two schools at the moment (the only two British international schools in the town we'll be going to) and will make a final decision a bit later. Teaghan will be going into the British Year 1 (kindy equivalent), and Lucas into Nursery.
What's next?
  • Blood tests for me and all three kids.
  • Psychometric interview (29th September)

... after that we hope to be officially appointed by Nov 2011 so we can start raising support to go! How exciting!!

Teaghan and Lucas will also need Mantoux tests done (which involves a needle and injecting a substance under the skin which they're not allowed to scratch or cover with a bandaid), but they can get this done after we're appointed. Not looking forward to that one!!

Our plans are to leave beginning of July 2012 to give ourselves a couple of months to find a house and car, etc, and then another month to settle in before the kids start school in Sept.

Preparing the kids

Everything seemed so straight forward when we made our initial commitments to God as two singles for Him to use us wherever and whenever. Everything seemed to much more straight forward without kids.

On this side of things, a lot of our preparation are centered around the kids. Preparing the kids (especially Teaghan who does not like change) emotionally to go. Preparing them to move away from people, places, and things that are close to their little hearts. We know that God will look after them and that they will have an amazing time there, but nonetheless there are things we can do now to help make this transition as smooth as possible for them.

We have begun a 'program' to prepare Teaghan and Lucas, which includes lessons on:
  • Our God who loves us and who made us and our family (to help them feel secure in knowing that God and our little family will not change).
  • Parts of our world (moving the another 'country' is a hard concept to explain to under 5s when they hardly know what a country is!)
  • Our emotions (to equip them with words to express their feelings when they go thru all the changes in 2012)
  • God' blessings of friends (that he has given us friends here who we'll miss terribly, but he will also give us new friends in our new home)
  • Moving to another country
  • What is Malawi like?
We're also working on a website/blog for the kids (much like this one), where they can get excited about keeping in touch with their friends and where their friends can learn about what missions is all about as well as about the Malawian culture. We'll be launching this website once we're appointed so watch this space!

Micaiah will still be too young to be affected much, but could you please join us in praying for Teaghan and Lucas that they'll adjust well to the changes ahead? Especially for Teaghan who has already started saying that she'll miss her friends and still gets teary over missing our cat Moonbie who we had to give away 8 months ago to move to college. 

~ Jo

PS. Mandasi's are African doughnuts :)

Where will we be in 2011?

Posted on August 24, 2010 at 11:25 AM Comments comments (0)

It's been a little while since our last post by Pete. So what's been happening?


We are now at the medical/dental/psych part of the application process. Then comes the big D. The doctrinal assessment, which unfortunately does not allow wives to cheat off knowledgeable husbands :)

So my teeth are cleared, after a filling, a root canal treatment and three wisdom tooth extractions!

Teaghan's 20 little teeth are all good.

The boys have yet to get their teeth checked... we thought we'd wait a while before getting Lucas' checked, since he only has a grand total of 8 teeth at present.


Since breaking the news to Pete's parents, we have received two letters from his Dad, basically voicing his concerns about our decision which is totally consistent with a Chinese parent who does not understand the impact of the Cross on theirs and our lives. Pete received a letter when we went to Ethiopia in 2001. So we'd appreciate continual prayers for that.


Well, after putting in the application to study at SMBC next year, we just found out that there are NO accomodation available for next year. Not even the teeny 2 bedroom unit we thought we'd get at least. Sooo that's thrown a spanner in the works... We'd like to live close to college so I can undertake some part-time studies.

We will not be able to afford to pay for the mortgage of our current place without renting it out. So staying put is out. SIM recommends that we do not sell up, so that we have a place to come back to in the future.

Places to rent around the Croydon area (where SMBC is) are too expensive. So that's out.

Staying at Mum's in Bexley is too cramped (we'll all have to squish into my old bedroom/granny flat), so that's out too. 

So now we are considering Morling College - a reputable Baptist Bible college in Ryde. I am still coming round to the idea of Morling... it's a little like the difference between UNSW and USyd, as some of you would understand!

The advantages of Morling:

- Close to church in Dural

- Close to other activities the kids are currently involved in (swimming, playgroup, etc)

- Close to PHCS which means Teaghan might get to go to Prep.

- Close to Pete's parents, which might make them happy and soften the blow of missions.

- Morling has 3 bedroom townhouses, which we have a better chance of getting than at SMBC. Or else, they are pretty sure they can get us a 2 bedroom place. There are currently 10 families who have applied for 6 available 3 bedroom places, but some of these families have only 1 child so we might stand a chance with an extra couple of Onglets.

Sooo... we are considering.

Despite some unhelpful and discouraging rumours we have heard about the teaching at Morling. Pete has looked into it and has found their subjects and lecturers to be comparable to ones at SMBC, so we are happy for Pete to learn more about the Bible there.

Pete plans to lodge his application with Morling soon and see how it goes from there. 


I'm feeling a little sad about giving up my business, which I have worked so hard to get to where it is now. It's been particularly hard seeing friends also start up similar businesses. I wish I had the years ahead of me in Australia to develop the business like they can. The Cupcake Gallery is just at a very good place now, with a good reputation, regular customers, and increasing media exposure. We have decided not to take any orders for next year so we can concentrate of getting ready to leave, but will still be running workshops as that would help us financially. This has gotten me thinking a lot about surrendering. I prefer the term 'surrender' to 'sacrifice'. 'Sacrifice' to me seems to focus more on the giver than the one the sacrifice is being made for. Surrendering to me is more about giving back to God what he gave you, entrusting it into his hands for him to look after until further notice. He may put it on a shelf forever like a proud father displays the trophies of his children, or he may get it down for me again when He sees that the time is right to continue to bless the business as he has over the past 2.5 years. So God *sigh*, here it is. Please take very good care of it for me!

~ Jo

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