Here is the speech I gave at Grace Church on March 11th, 2009. I hope that you will enjoy reading my story of growing up on the mission field.
My name is Jessica Bradshaw and I am a missionary kid from Papua New Guinea. My parents, Robert and Betsy Bradshaw, have worked in Papua New Guinea as missionaries with for over 20 years, and I have had the privilege of growing up there. PNG is located just north of Australia, in the southern hemisphere. It is on the eastern half ofthe island of New Guinea, the second largest island in the world after Greenland.
My dad’s job as a linguist and translator is translating the Bible into two different languages, Doromu-Koki and Uare. My mom is a librarian in the primary school library and coordinates Sunday school at Ukarumpa, Wycliffe’s mission centre where we live. I have two brothers, Jon, 13, and Christopher, 10.
I was born in Kokopo, East New Britain, and first rode in a plane when I was one week old to return to Ukarumpa. In my early years, I travelled with my family out to our village in by a small plane several times a year, staying there for a few months at a time. While in the village, our only communication with the rest of the world was by two-way radio. My parents would have to plan months in advance, buying all of the food for our stay and packing up our house for renters.
My mom taught me in the village while my dad worked with a group of Fuyug men from the language group who had chosen to devote a portion of their time to translating the Bible and helping him to learn the language. Upon returning to Ukarumpa, I attended , formissionary kids and national children whose parents work on the centre. Approximately 170 kids attend the high school and 170 attend the primary school. We travelled back and forth to and from the village until July 2000 when we found that our village house had been robbed and everything taken or destroyed.
My parents were devastated and wanted to continue helping the people there, but our mission directors told them that they couldn’t return to the village unless the people invited them back.
Unfortunately, they never did. However, in less than a year, my dad had been asked to help the Doromu-Koki people of Central Province to translate the Bible into their language.
My dad is also helping with another translation project, Uare, after the translator died of a heart attack in 2005. He is working to oversee the national translators in both language groups and is planning to continue until the New Testament has been completely translated into both languages. My dad is doing this because God changed his life through reading the Bible, and he wants others to be able to experience that, too, by hearing from God in their own language.
Why is my family here now?
Every four or five years, my family returns to the US for approximately one year to visit friends, family, and supporters and to serve here at Grace Church. We have lived in Berea every furlough, but I don’t consider this my home. I have lived in the US for a total of three and a half years, but every birthday I have had has been in Papua New Guinea. We are going to fly to California two days after school lets out, , to spend time with my dad’s family. Then we will return to PNG in mid July if we have 100% of our support. I am trusting and praying that God will provide for my family!
There are approximately 1,000 people from over fifty countries living in Ukarumpa, from the US, Canada, England, Australia, Germany, Korea, and Sweden. One of my best friends who is also my next-door-neighbor, is Australian. I consider myself very privileged to have grown up with people from many different countries with different cultures. I have also travelled through Hawaii, Singapore, London, and Sydney, and had great experiences there!
Ukarumpa is located in the mountains of Papua New Guinea, in the Eastern Highlands Province at 5000 feet. It is relatively small town, containing only one store, a clinic, post office, library, meeting house, teen centre, print shop, a high school, and a primary school. To walk around the perimeter takes approximately 35 minutes. The houses there are for the most part, fairly nice. We don’t live in bush houses, but rather, in well-constructed wooden frame houses. Many of the houses are built on posts, mainly to ensure flexibility for the frequent earthquakes that occur there.
My family doesn’t own a car, but most of our neighbors there do. Although we don’t have movie theatres, malls, or restaurants, my friends and I have great times together. Often we simply hang out and walk around the center in small groups, but there are many other things we do to entertain ourselves, including movie nights, bonfires, lock-ins, owning horses (and other pets), riding motorbikes, making movies, playing computer games, participating in sports, and attending youth group as well as Bible studies. Besides all of those things, students participate in plays, concerts, mission trips, fundraisers, and helping to host for the younger kids. I raise guinea pigs, and have had 49 over the past four years! Now I only have two, still in PNG, and I really miss them!!!
One of my favorite memories is spending many with my neighbor, Melanie, creating scenes and taking photos for ourguinea pig calendars. Other extra curricular things that I participated in were track, volleyball and babysitting. I have loved being a part of the band as a flautist and the choir, and taking trips with them.
Growing up in Papua New Guinea has been a blessing, experiencing different cultures and learning to see past differences. I am thankful for the wonderful privileges that God has blessed me with. I also love PNG because of its beauty and warmth – it usually is around 78 degrees every day, year-round! I don’t like the frequent downpours we get there, but it does make the grass look vibrant!
Papua New Guinea has some problems, too, that can make it a challenge to live there – earthquakes, rascal (criminal) problems, very few roads, (and blockage of those roads from landslides), lots of rain – we get over 80 inches a year, and some parts of the country get 400 inches yearly, and also the fact that there are over 860 languages packed into a small land mass! In fact, PNG has more languages than any other country in the world! However, the blessings of living there far outweigh the hardships. Papua New Guinea is a tropical paradise and a great place to call home!
I really hope that my family will be able to return to PNG in July. I want to be able to spend one more year there, having grown up there. However, my family is low on support right now. It has been hard trusting God, but I know that he is challenging me to have more patience and to wait on his perfect timing. Wycliffe requires us to have 100% support in order to return to the mission field, and we have 78%. Would you please pray that God will provide the money we need so that we can return to Papua New Guinea? That would mean so much to me!