By Beverly Keller
Imagine living in a country far from home doing the work of God with your family that includes four children. That is where the story of Nick and Ashlie Hershberger begins.
You see the family has been in Papua New Guinea for two years and nine months at this point working with Wycliffe Bible Translators. The family originally came to the country in August 2014 and returned back to the United States in August 2015 for the birth of their fourth child. The family returned to PNG in January 2017 and plans are in the works for them to come back to Ohio in January 2019.
What the family needs is a home, hopefully near Sugarcreek and their home church, Walnut Creek Mennonite where they can live while here before starting their next stretch of mission work. “We will be coming back to the US in January 2019 and would love to be able to live in the Sugarcreek area,” Ashlie Hershberger explained. “This would be close to our home church and just about in the middle of the grandparents. It is also where we lived before we moved to PNG and is the place that feels the most like home to us.”
You see both Nick and Ashlie are graduates of Garaway High School. “Nick grew up in Baltic and I grew up in Sugarcreek,” Ashlie shared. “Nick attended Mount Vernon Nazarene University and I attended Malone College. After we were married, we lived in Sugarcreek for almost nine years before moving overseas.”
Nick and Ashlie along with children Hannah (11), Gabe (9), Leah (6) and Sam (2), live in a missions center in a town known as Ukaraumpa which is located in the Eastern Highlands Province of PNG. Their work is centered around the support of Bible translation in the country. Nick has worked within Communications and Technical Services for most of the family’s time there in positions ranging from the help desk to the networking department. Currently, he is the manager of the CTS Department as well as Telephone Services Manager.
On Ashlie’s side of life, her primary roles are that of wife and mom which means cook, housekeeper, “laundry-doer,” etc. She has also worked in part-time capacity within the primary school within the First Grade and recruitment for the school itself while also helping out with staff care.
Ashlie noted that the kids are typical in every way. “They love being outside, climbing trees and being with friends, just like normal kids do,” she shared.
To that end, a typical day for Ashlie begins at 5 a.m. “I get up at 5 and have my quiet time and eat breakfast and then spend time working on school recruiting before the kids get up,” she shared. “I usually throw a load of wash in the washer and try to get it up on the line before we head out the door to school.”
Hannah and Leah attend the Ukarumpa International School. Gabe attends the same school on a part-time basis for specials as Ashlie homeschools him in other subjects. “After I take kids to the school I might run to our on-center store for the week’s groceries and swing by the Post Office before I head home,” Ashlie shared. “I get Gabe started on school and try to keep Sam, our 2-year-old, busy while Gabe is doing school.”
During the day at home, Ashlie is diligent about bleaching and cleaning any veggies or fruit that were purchased at the local open-air market. Depending on the day she works on laundry, general cleaning, etc. “I often work on school recruiting things again during Sam’s nap time while Gabe is doing his reading and typing practice,” Ashlie shared.
Children are home from school and straight to homework before going to play with friends while Ashlie gets started on dinner. “We have no restaurants here,” she shared. “So we cook all of our meals.”
There are special nights like Tuesdays when Nick and Ashlie host a Bible study in their home.
For Nick, a typical day is based on providing a network backbone that allows the Ukarumpa to function when it comes to phones and technical services. The majority of the staff at CTS are local Papua New Guinean people. “Since becoming manager of CTS in June, much of Nick’s day is spent overseeing the daily operations of the department, working with other departments on their IT needs and scheduling work for the help desk, repair shop and telephone staff,” Nick explained. “As much as possible, I try to help out with the help desk tickets or networking tasks to keep involved in technical work.”
Looking forward, after the family has been in the United States for about seven months, depending on how things fall into place, the Hershberger’s will be off to Germany. “We will head to Germany to work at a school for missionary kids known as Black Forest Academy,” Ashlie explained. “BFA is a school for missionary kids in the Eurasia area.”
When settled in Nick will be working in the IT Department while Ashlie will be serving as one of the school’s nurses. Hannah, the family’s oldest will attend school there while Gabe and Leah will attend a local Christian School that offers classes in a bilingual setting using both German and English. “And Sam will just keep working on being cute,” Ashlie said with a smile.
The family will be working with OC International to get up and established in Germany. “We are really excited about the opportunity to pour into the lives of missionary kids and to help support them and their families in the work that they are doing,” Ashlie explained. “We consider it an amazing privilege to have the opportunity to serve at BFA and are excited about the ministry that God has called us to there.”
Anyone who has a lead on a place the Hershberger family can call home while here in 2019 is urged to email them directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Nick’s mother, Malinda Hershberger at 330-204-8594.
This story originally appeared in the September 5, 2018 edition of The Budget. For more news, pick up a copy of this week’s edition available Wednesdays at area retailers. Better yet, subscribe and the news will be delivered to you each week. For more information, call us at 330-852-4634.