My name is Kara Swanson. I am Seventeen (almost eighteen) and love pets, music, reading, writing and seeing the world.
Also, I grew up in a jungle. Literally.
When I was two years old, my family became missionaries with New Tribes Mission. We moved to a small village in the middle of the Jungle. The Village was called Siawi, and it was my home for the past fifteen years.
Siawi is located on the island of Papua New Guinea, right above Australia. The country is small, but due to the vast majority of it being covered in a tropical rainforest, it holds over eight hundred different tribes and language groups.
Siawi was so far remote, that the only way in or out was by flight. We had a grass airstrip in our front yard and most of our supplies were brought in through the small Cessna 206 Airplane that landed on it. Our house was built of mostly bush supplies, so on the outside it resembled the tribal huts. Only, much larger.
The tribal village (Several huts that held around 300 people) was located only a short walk away; past the end of the airstrip and through a small river.
Growing up, I spent lots of time playing with little tribal children, hiking and just spending time in their world.
Throughout my life-time, I have had the incredible experience of interacting with a remote tribe of people who neither speak English nor have any idea of our culture.
In the jungle, there was no MacDonalds, no mall, no cars, no school-not even a paved road! It was very primitive.
But, that is why we were there.
My family moved into the Siawi tribe for one purpose: to save lives.
Not to introduce them to western culture (although that has inadvertently happened somewhat), not to teach them the finer side of life, not to build them roads and give them cars. No, we came to tell them about the one thing that matters most. The one thing that won’t change, and the one thing that can save them from burning in hell for their sins. We came to tell them that God sent his only son, Jesus, to earth to die for them. He took their punishment, and now they can live in the light of his love, instead of cowering in the darkness of their fearful animistic beliefs.
And, while it was an amazing experience, watching God’s grace transform lives, there were also many difficulties too.
One of which, for me, was loneliness.
Being the only English-speaking girl, in a tribe with six boys (my brothers and the sons of our co-workers), was a very interesting thing. I loved spending time with all of them, and for most of my youth I never really was bothered by the lack of female companionship. I had two brothers, one who was two years younger than me (Blake) and one who was four years younger than him (Wesley).
Then, I reached my teen years. And our co-workers were forced to return to the United States due to health problems, leaving my family as the only people in the tribe. By that time, I had a little sister, but at three Kylie wasn’t able to interact very much on a deeper level. Don’t get me wrong. I love my siblings so much, but it could still be quite solitary when it was just us.
So, I began to read. A lot.
My love of reading eventually led into my love of writing.
I wrote off-and-on for years, but it wasn’t till I met Charis that I really began to fall in love with it.
After having worked in our tribe for thirteen years, my father had managed to teach the gospel to the Siawi people. A church had been established, and in due time Elders and deacons had risen up and begun to lead the church that the “white men” had started.
Also, our other co-worker, a single woman who had been in Siawi the longest, was very nearly done translating the Bible into the tribal language.
It was time for us to move out; time to let the Siawi people function as a Church on their own, with my father traveling into the tribe several times a year to encourage and help the church.
So, in May of 2011 we moved out of the tribe that I had grown up in, to a town in the mountains of Papua New Guinea.
It was a whole lot of “new” for me. New place (the chilly woodlands that were so different than the humid tropics of our tribe), new friends, new home.
But, not all the change was bad. In fact, most of it was great. And, it was at this new place that I met Charis.
We were both attending a week-end camp that was done every year for Missionary kids. Charis and I happened to be in the same cabin.
And, almost immediately, we became fast friends. We had so much in common that it was almost uncanny. We both loved Christian music (Britt Nicole, Tobymac, Jamie Grace…), reading a variety of books, writing songs and even the same color: purple.
And, of course, writing.
When I heard that Charis enjoyed writing, and was actually in the middle of a Starwars FanFiction, it encouraged me to start writing as well. Soon, we decided to collaborate and co-author a story.
We both loved fantasy, and so decided that was what we wanted to write. With fantasy, we could be as creative as we wanted, and our imaginations did not have to stay within the bounds of reality.
But, there was one other reason we decided to write a Fantasy novel. We wanted to make it an Allegory; that way, we could weave the threads of our faith into the story.
I learned a lot while co-authoring with Charis; everything from teamwork and determination, to how to become a better author. Her encouragement and honesty kept me going.
It was incredible, seeing how God orchestrated everything from our cover illustration to our publisher. And, even now as I continue to write novels (although, by myself this time), I am still seeing Him work.
But, you still may be wondering, where am I now? Well, a few months ago we moved back to the US. I am a going into my senior year, and after so much time on the field, we felt like God was leading us back to the States.
After I finish my last year of High School, I am planning on going to Bible School- with Charis, most likely. And from then on, I want to pursue a career as a Novelist. How that will exactly work out, and where I will end up living, I have no idea. But, I do know that God will continue to guide my steps. And, whatever may come, I will continue to try and live my life in a way that glorifies Him and encourages others.
Life as a child of God is an adventure, and I look forward to living it.