Hello to all who are reading. My name is Charis Smith and I am seventeen years old. I have been writing since I was twelve years old. I love reading, listening to music, holding my cat and her kittens, crocheting, talking with friends and writing. I’ve written about fairies, princesses, dragons and mermaids, pretty much anything to do with fantasy. I’ve also written some about my life.
See, I grew up in Papua New Guinea. My parents are missionaries in the mountains of PNG. They work with New Tribes Mission. We moved away from America when I was four years old. We have lived in PNG for twelve years now. Every four years, we travel around the globe back to America. Papua New Guinea is my home. I grew up in a tribe called Dinangat. Our tribe is completely isolated. There are no roads, no cars, no Wal-Marts or shopping. There are huts made of wood and bamboo, dogs running on twelve-inch wide paths that the people call “roads.” There is the most amazing view of mountains that I have ever seen. We live in a valley of un-developed beauty.
And in a little bowl-like valley, there is a grass airstrip that was carved out of a hill (and is still very much a hill.) That airstrip is our only way in and out of our tribe. The planes we fly in can hold seven passengers only. That fits our family perfectly. We fill six of the seats (one left for the pilot.) I have three younger brothers, Caleb, Nathan and Zachary. I love those guys, and although they can get on my nerves every once in a while, they are some of my best friends. It was amazing growing up with them in the tribe.
We had two other families who worked with us in the tribe for all those years. They became like family. And we missed our family back in America, so it was great having them there. Our three families worked side by side, teaching the Dinangat people about the one true God and translating the bible into the Dinangat language. The work is still going in Dinangat. If you are interested in reading my family’s story go to www.ntm.org/gary_smith .
I met Kara two years ago at a Spiritual Emphasis Weekend that the mission school was hosting. We were both being homeschooled at the time. My mom homeschooled the four of us kids all the years we were in Dinangat. Kara and I hit it off immediately. We both loved the same things, Britt Nicole’s music, reading fantasy, singing, superhero movies, Star Wars and writing. And though we became such good friends, we had to split up once SEW was over. I returned to Dinangat and Kara went to her home.
We began planning our novel Pearl of Merlydia in March of the following year. We hadn’t seen each other in months and our imaginations were flying. Having mermaids and pirates made the book so exciting to write and act out with Kara. We sang our songs from that story again and again. We acted out certain scenes to make sure we were imagining them correctly. We planned and plotted for that whole week before we went home. We wrote out an entire outline that was the backbone of our story.
Once we went our separate ways, it was back to emails. Writing was a slow process, but we wrote each other emails containing chapters of the book. I learned a lot about writing from Kara. I didn’t realize how lacking in details my writing could be. And there were the times I was ready to give up. But Kara was able to keep me going.
Seeing God work through this book has been amazing. He provided an illustrator, an editor, a publishing site and amazing help all along the way. There is no way Pearl of Merlydia (or POM as Kara and I lovingly refer to it) would have gotten this far without our God.
Now my family and I are back in America. My brothers and I will be attending a Christian school this year. I’ll be graduating high school next May. After I graduate, my parents and brothers will be flying back to Papua New Guinea. I, however, will stay in America and attend college. I’m nervous but definitely excited to be able to start my own life that I can live for my God.
I have seen God work all my life. I watched Him change the people of Dinangat from animistic spirit worshipers living in fear to strong Christians living in His light. I watched God keep my family healthy and allow us to continue living in Dinangat. I’ve watched God work through my parents and our co-workers to teach the people of Dinangat about Him. I got to be a part of an incredibly amazing work in that tribe.
As I move into life on my own, I am absolutely thrilled to be able to offer my life to the God who gave His life for me. It may be intimidating, but it is worth it. Someday I plan to return to the mission field. It may not be Papua New Guinea, but it will be wherever God needs me most. (I am determined to visit my beloved home at least once more.) I am ready to watch God do even more miracles in the lives of people once lost in darkness.