Solomon Islands

The Island Ordination

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After six months of intense preparation, Bio village welcomed over three thousand guests to celebrate my ordination to the priesthood on October 16. Two weeks before the feast, Tess and I were sitting down with the ordination committee, wondering how we were going to feed so many. How richly God provided! Within days we witnessed several minor miracles. Far-flung communities from different tribal groups and languages sent assistance in the form of pigs and rice. One village even volunteered to do all the catering for our special guests. Our dedicated feasting account suddenly had an unexpected (and unexplained) surplus of $2000.

The day itself was an immense celebration of God’s calling. We were led by panpipes into the church where dancers sang the ‘Gloria’ to open the service. Our Bishop, Sam Sahu, sounded a clarion call to the Church of Melanesia to revive the practices of prayer, fasting and the reading of Scripture as part of her response to God’s calling to be his people. Many heard and celebrated the commission. We’re grateful that this event not only embodied for us the lavish hospitality of the Kingdom of God (and we thank our Melanesian brothers and sisters for teaching us a thing or two about this), but also for arriving when it did, on St Luke’s Day: “Pray to the Lord of the harvest, to send out more labourers into his harvest.”

An Island Ordination

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Jonathan will be ordained to the priesthood on October 16 at Bio Village, Malaita. This is a very special ordination because Jon’s father, Douglas, designed and built the church and will be coming from the US to celebrate with us.

This is the first ordination for the village and they have used this opportunity for community development. They are completing a beautiful rest house for incoming guests, making permanent lavatories and planting trees and flowers. For the past five months, the villagers have been planting root crops and raising pigs and chickens for the feast that will follow the ordination. Different groups of men, women, and children are rehearsing dances and songs to entertain the guests.  We pray that this day will be a joyous celebration of God’s faithfulness in the past and his continuing work into the future.

Tess has begun a Tuesday night Women’s Bible Study with women in the village. They gather in the dining room around the table and on the floor. Tess is leading them through the Gospel of Matthew, reading from the Pidgin Bible. Many of the women are illiterate, and those who can read don’t always have access to a Bible.  They sing together in English, Pidgin, and Kwara’ae, the local language. After the study, they break up into small groups to pray for various needs in the village.

Many women are too shy to pray aloud. Please pray that the Holy Spirit will enable them to have boldness to come before the Lord with their burdens and praises.

A New Arrival

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We’re delighted by the news of the birth of Immanuel John Hicks at the start of the month. Here’s a short update from Tess about Immanuel’s arrival.

The time around Immanuel’s birth was a mixture of trials and grace. We all sailed to Honiara on May 10 to wait for the baby to arrive. As soon as we got there… we all came down with pink eye. Then Jon got malaria and was bedridden for a week! To top it off, I got a nasty sore on my foot which required a course of antibiotics. I was feeling very pregnant and uncomfortable as well. Through it all, we were convicted to ask God for strength and grace to suffer graciously, as well as to ask for protection from spiritual attack through physical set backs.

Our lovely American midwife, Rebekah, arrived on May 19. We got to do some fun things as a family that we can’t usually do in the village: go out for ice creams, eat at cafes, swim in a pool, watch dances at the national museum, and watch a few movies with the internet working well.

On the night of June 1, my contractions began at 9 pm. We filled up the inflatable birth pool and a few friends came to boil water to make the temperature right. Jon was a great support and at 5:35 am, Immanuel John swam into the world! He was alert and caught onto breastfeeding on the first go. We woke up the kids to see him still attached to me in the water. They were tired but very happy.

Jon and the kids went back first to the village a week after the birth while Immanuel and I stayed a week more to get him vaccinated and gaining weight. Our housegirl, Josephine, looked after us well so I could just rest and eat. On June 20 we flew back home which only took 30 minutes compared to 3-7 hours by boat. We are happy to be reunited.

Yesterday I came down with a fever and body aches, so today we went in for a malaria test. Thank God it was negative, so I may just be fighting off some kind of infection. I feel quite a bit better after sleeping a lot of the day. Please pray that I can get strong to be able to keep up with looking after the kids and house. Pray also for Jon as he preaches tomorrow and Sunday at two different churches.

We are grateful to you all at NZCMS. What a blessing to be a part of your team to serve the Lord.

We’re in the Solomons!

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We’re happy to report that we’ve arrived safe and sound (including all 19 checked bags, and 12 carry-ons) to Honiara, Guadalcanal! We left New York on Saturday, October 31 at 5pm. Our baggage was checked through straight to our final destination, which was such an answer to prayer. After 3 flights, with a combined air-time of 23 hours and over 30 in total travel time, we arrived in Honiara at 3:45 pm on November 2. It was Judah’s 3rd birthday that day as well, so we celebrated with a chocolate chip muffin in the Brisbane airport, a lego toy gift and birthday card from his grandparents.

Once we arrived, we cleared customs easily, got our bags and waited on the curb for our friend Jerry. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to us, he was in the village and could not read our last email detailing our arrival time. So we ended up waiting for over an hour, and were the last people waiting for pick-up. God provided, however, because Jerry’s cousin, Rosa, works at the airport and was able to call around and talk to some men to help take us to our accommodation for the night with the Wycliffe Bible Translators.

As we had no dinner plans and were all pretty tired and hungry, our friends the Ashleys graciously cooked us spaghetti and beans and even gave us food for the next morning. Jerry’s wife, Ruth, also came by bearing gifts of fruits, juices, cookies and crackers for the kids. Since arriving on Monday, we have slowly gotten over jet-lag and gotten a bit used to being sweaty all day. We have made family excursions to the downtown to shop at the market, visit the diocesan office, eat fresh hot buns from the Honiara Hot Bread Kitchen (let me tell you: it is HOT in there!) and we even bought ourselves a smartphone… something we thought we would never do.

It turns out we may not easily be able to get access to internet on our computer in the village, so the next best thing is getting it through the phone so we can at least email and Facebook.

The children have made some friends on the Wycliffe compound and enjoy jumping on the trampoline, playing with the pets and trying our Pidgin English. One of their favorite Pidgin games consists in trying to imitate the cash collectors from the city buses. We came out after nap one day to sounds of them shouting: “Foafala S-D-A” (i.e. “Four spaces left for the bus going by the Seventh Day Adventist Church”) Their favorite part of going out is cramming onto the small buses that weave in and out of traffic in Honiara!

Tomorrow night is our last night in Wycliffe housing before moving over to Jerry and Ruth’s home on the other side of town while we wait for word from Malaita for our guest house to be ready.

Please keep us in our prayers as we continue to adjust, learn Pidgin English and communicate with people in the village about our arrival. May God bless each and everyone of you! Your prayers have been felt over here!

Almost there!

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Jon’s work permit has been granted. Now we’re waiting for the visas to be approved.

We have moved out of Tess’ parents’ home in Boston, and are now in Stony Brook, New York with Jon’s parents while we wait for our visas to be approved by Immigration in the Solomon Islands. Thanks be to God, we have 98% of our funding raised.  Next Monday we will begin homeschooling Avalyn (4th grade), Cohen (2nd grade) and Caeli (Kindergarten). We bought Ava and Cohen ukuleles for music this year, and Tess will be learning guitar along with them. Judah is quite taken with the uke, so we may have to get him one of his own.

Please pray over the next few days for a quick approval of our visas so that we can buy tickets for mid-September. We are so excited to arrive in our new tropical home and to be able to worship with our Christian brothers and sisters in Malaita.

Our training in Toronto was wonderful. Thanks for your prayers. The children were encouraged by their age-appropriate lessons and field trips. They learned about paradox, or “pair-o-ducks,” while moving to a new culture. They were given two ducks, a “yay” duck and a “yuck” duck, to illustrate that there will be “yay” moments and “yuck” moments during our transition. There are good things and hard things about saying goodbye to friends and family here, and hello to new family and friends. Pray that all our kids will know how much they are loved and be secure in Christ while they experience transition.

Jon and I were encouraged to lean on Christ’s strength and let his power be made perfect in our weaknesses. A sentence that kept coming into my mind was a petition to God to “expand the borders of my heart.” I truly feel God breaking down existing boundaries and letting me receive grace and love from an ever-increasing community of believers. I also feel like he is leading me to go where I have not gone and trust him to give me the words to share his good news with those who need to hear them. God give us grace!

If you wish to receive monthly email updates from the Hicks, please email

Who are the Hicks?

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Jonathan and Tess Hicks are American Third Culture Kids, both coming from ‘mission families.’ Jon was raised in the Solomon Islands and Tess in Germany, Kazakhstan and China. Not surprisingly, they both grew up with hearts for mission. For a long time they’ve felt God calling them to the Solomon Islands, and in 2010 Jon received an invitation from the Bishop of Malaita to teach at a Bible College there. To prepare for this the family moved to New Zealand so he could pursue a PhD in Theology at Otago University which was completed in 2014. They returned to USA later that year and were accepted as SAMS USA Mission Partners in November. Because of the Hicks’ prior connection to New Zealand and our strategic placement within the Pacific, NZCMS is partnering with SAMS USA in sending the Hicks to the Solomons.

One of Tess’s primary roles will be to home school their kids – Avalyn (9), Cohen (7), Caeli (4) and Judah (3) – while Jon is teaching, though she also sees herself getting involved with leading women’s Bible studies, doing one-on-one mentoring and having an open house as she loves offering hospitality.

The Hicks are currently in the States, fundraising as they prepare to arrive in the Solomons around August.