It’s been about three months since the Craig and Kayla Gilley arrived in the Asia-Pacific region. And yes, there are a lot of adjustments for their family to make. But they are already settling in and feeling excited to begin their ministry.
“We are amazed at how we have grown to love this country and these people in such a short amount of time,” Kayla shares. “The more we get to know the people, the more our hearts break for them.”
As they experience the expected cultural changes and absorb the beginning of language challenges, there is an underlying reality pressing on their hearts. “The people are blinded because of ritual and tradition. It is hard to know that, at this point, we have no way to clearly communicate the truth to them.”
This heavy awareness drives Craig and Kayla to spend as much time as they possibly can “getting their feet wet” by immersing themselves in culture and language studies and working to build relationships in their community.
“We are getting out there, going to town, eating where they eat, going to their homes. We are experiencing life as they live it. We discover culture by hanging out with them and we learn language by being with them,” Craig says.
One thing that the Gilleys have noted, as they have walked through neighbourhoods, is that many people own birds. “Song birds are very important to the people. They actually hold singing competitions for the birds,” Kayla explains.
So the Gilleys decided to buy a small yellow canary, a canary who has already opened the door for conversations with their neighbour, who is eager to help them learn the ways of birds.
“It has been fun for our kids to visit his house and feed his birds.” Holding worms and crickets in their hands, the children delight in feeding the birds and learning to care for them.
The Gilley family has found joy in learning new things. “We are excited to learn more and to continue to build relationships,” writes Craig.
What are some of the challenges of being new to this ministry?
The days are full and demanding. “They fill up fast and there is no sign of the pace slowing down!” says Kayla. It’s a challenge to set priorities and cover all the bases. Craig and Kayla are asking God for good health and for wisdom in parenting.
The language barriers are difficult and discouraging at times. It’s especially hard right now to connect with children living nearby. They often run away when the Gilley children go out to try to play with them. “Oh man! Heart-breaking! Can’t wait to be able to communicate more,” Kayla adds.
In these days of adjustment, the Gilleys miss their family and friends back home. “It is hard that one of my best friends just had a baby and I am so far away. … My heart breaks when I think that this precious baby could be about 4 years old the first time I meet her. … It’s just hard sometimes,” Kayla explains.
So what is it that makes these sacrifices and challenges worthwhile?
It is a shining and sustaining hope for the future. A hope in what God’s grace will do.
The Gilley family is firmly hopeful He will continue to open up opportunities to invest their time and care in the lives of people. They trust His strength and timing to later open doors to be able to share with them the wonderful news of Jesus and His love.