Missionary family sells all Pine Mountain possessions before heading to New Guinea

lgierer@ledger-enquirer.comJune 7, 2014 

LARRY GIERER/lgierer@ledger-enquirer.comThe Romito family stands in front of the waterfall at Cascade Hills Baptist Church. They will leave on a mission trip to New Guinea in July. From left, Caleb, Tara, Bailey, Tony and Austin.

LARRY GIERER — lgierer@ledger-enquirer.com Buy Photo

Most of their belongings have been sold or given away, including their beloved hound dog Jethro. They are seeking a buyer for their house in Pine Mountain, Ga., and are praying for a quick sale.

This July, Tony Romito, his wife, Tara, and their three children Bailey, 11, Austin, 5, and Caleb, 3, are leaving for New Guinea, where they plan to be for at least two years.

There, the couple will be teaching the children of missionaries who are translating scripture into the native languages.

"We are going as support staff," Tara said.

Both Tony, 38, and Tara, 33, have previously done mission work in Africa, but those trips lasted a couple of weeks. He has also been to the Dominican Republican.

"This is much bigger," she said.

Tony said God placed a passion in him for missionary work, and that both he and his wife felt God pushing them in this direction once they found out about the program,

They will be working with Wy-cliffe, a nonprofit organization, but the family is responsible for all of its expenses. It could cost more than $12,000 just to get the family to the island located in the Pacific Ocean off the northern tip of Australia.

Their home church, Cascade Hills, is lending some support, as are individual church members. They have spoken to groups at other churches seeking financial aid.

"We will live off donations of friends and family," Tony said.

Both Tony and Tara are graduates of Columbus State University. He has a master's in divinity from Luther Rice Seminary in Lithonia, Ga.

He is originally from Saltillo, Miss., near Tupelo, and she was raised in Pine Mountain.

Recently, he has been doing cable installation but has taught at private schools including LaFayette Christian in LaGrange, Ga. A former teacher at Fort Middle School, Tara has been a stay-at-home mom.

The family will live in Papua, New Guinea, an independent nation. They will live in Ukarumpa located in the Eastern Highlands. The Bible translation center there is set up like a small town with a medical clinic, post office and grocery store, in addition to the schools.

She said that in New Guinea there are 800 living languages, with more than 400 not having a single line of scripture, and that some of the tribes with which the translators work don't even have a written language. What they have has been passed down verbally. The translators go in using phonics and create an alphabet.

Tara said some of the missionaries would have to leave New Guinea if their children could not get a good education there.

"We will be teaching children from 14 countries," Tara said. Included in that will be her children, whom she feels will gain by being among such a diverse group of children.

She will be teaching physical education in the primary school and health science in the secondary school. He will be teaching the Bible.

"We are just trying to do our part" she said. "That's what the body of Christ is all about."

Tony said it will be a real step back in time for them. There are very few modern conveniences. Rain water that runs off the roof into tanks is used for drinking. Though the family will have use of a computer, there will be no cell phones.

"I will miss texting my friends and family," Tara said.

There will be no television. "That is okay because we don't have one now," Tony said.

Tara said as long as there is softball and horses, Bailey will be happy.

The couple has been told about the dangers of tribal warfare but feel God will watch out for them.

They feel their children will gain by observing and learning about other cultures. "They are so limited at what they see here," Tara said.

"I am excited for them," Tony added.

Both find it amusing that they are going to work with translators. "Neither of us speak a second language," Tara said.

Asked about the culture shock of traveling to such a primitive place, Tony laughed and replied, "It will probably be more of a culture shock when we come back."

Donations for the Romito family may be made at https://www.wycliffe.org/partner.

For more information, email tara_romito@wycliffe.org.

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