PNG TIME

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4/11/2019

Where You At?

It has come to my attention that various web pages and Facebook groups
have picked up my blog without consulting me, and/or without giving me
credit as the original source or a courtesy link to my blog.

Would you please help me find out who is doing this?  I've had a few
friends shut down their blogs because of this lack of internet etiquette
and it is the primarily reason I have not posted recently.

If you read this.. please email chad@gimpel.tv and with the subject:
YOURBLOG and include the URL or the GROUP name where you found this blog
entry.

Thank you.

-Chad

3/03/2019

12 Year Anniversary

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3/01/2019

Blog Ending

It's time to end this blog.

When it started, gng2png stood for "gimpel and gumby to Papua New
Guinea.'  because those were my wife and my college nicknames. Over the
years it morphed into 'going 2 png' because that's what people called it.

This blog has been going for over 12 years. We get about 500 page views
a month. Most of that is because of facebook links that I didn't setup. 
At this point I have no idea who is following this blog because it's
auto-posted to multiple Facebook pages.

It sounds odd, because you write a blog for people to read, but yet, I
don't necessarily like that I can't see my own stats or know who on
facebook is auto-loading my blog.

Plus blogs are sort of... going out of style.

I remember when I used to think everyone should have a blog.. that was
before Facebook.  Being able to keep in touch with a lot of people is
great! and works two ways.


Anyway.  Our time in PNG is coming to a close.  It being March, it is
our anniversary of when we came to PNG.

So it's time the blog went away.  We'll still post on facebook and send
out email newsletters.


This blog's final post will be coming up soon.  After that time I'll
take it down and all the auto-links will not be able to reach it.

Thank you for your many years of faithful readership. I apologize that
it's been a boring blog for a few years now.  Part of that is simply my
station in life.  I have learned over the years it is much better to be
careful with your words, when and how you spend them.  I have learned it
is actually much more satisfying to say the right words, given from God,
at the right moment.  When that happens it's makes all your other words
seem like filthy rags.


So I've become more quiet over the years, waiting and listening trying
to find that time when God wants me to say something.  It leads to a
pretty unpredictable and dull blog.


It's time to shut 'er down.


Love you all,

thank you

1 more post coming then lights out.

-Chad

2/28/2019

Worried about Returning: Internet Shaming

Our environment is being carefully manipulated and fostered by the enemy
to reduce human connection because that connection is the conduit for us
to express Christ's love.

So earlier in February there was a rash of politicians and celebrities
who had in some time in their past dressed up in 'black face'. Black
face is considered racist because and I quote 'it dehumanizes African
Americans.'

I don't want to debate whether or not black face is racist. I have
always been concerned about the terms 'racist' and 'sexist'. Mostly
because they are very powerful words, that when used accusationally are
really hard to defend against, regardless of what is true.  If you
accuse me of being a sexist, it is hard to defend myself without
reinforcing existing ideas that I'm a sexist.

For example "Hey, You're a sexist!"

me: "no I'm not, I love women, I mean, women are equal in the workplace,
I mean, also at home if that's what they want. Women are great! Some of
my favorite people are women!"

The accusation can easily turn you into a stammering idiot who looks
more guilty than innocent.  Those words as accusations have power, and
always have.  We shouldn't bandy them around as easily as we do.

So in the news early February 2019, several politicians in the SAME WEEK
had to apologize for their youthful experiments with black face.

3 in 1 week!  But it doesn't end there.  The next on the list was a
sweater by Gucci. It resembled black face when worn and so the company
had to remove it from their shelves and apologize.

https://www.pedestrian.tv/style/gucci-blackface-sweater/

That wasn't all.  Katie Perry had a shoe she had to recall because it
resembled black face.

https://edition.cnn.com/2019/02/11/entertainment/katy-perry-blackface-shoes/index.html

February was definitely the month of 'black face in the news'. It seems
like each month there is a new 'reason to be disgraced'. Right or wrong,
I'm not debating that. If people do the crime, they should do the time.

But the issue here isn't actually a legal one. It's a 'court of popular
opinion one.'

Internet Shaming is a very powerful thing.  We teach anti-cyber bullying
in school and yet we engage in it as a nation and a people.

Imagine a small business owner. Trying his best to keep his business
afloat, has a few employees.  He's so busy he isn't paying attention to
the news and doesn't realize that if he wears a certain color shirt to
work that day he's supporting some cause he's unaware of.  As he walks
into his 4 employee building, someone takes a photo of him with their
phone and posts it on Instagram.

"CEO of Small Business wears Homophobic Shirt!"

It is totally feasible that he loses customers over that if it goes wide
enough.  The only real hope that man has is that he's not popular enough
to warrant the pic going viral.

But if he one day ever is popular enough, that photo will resurface. 
So, he strives to build his business, and one day it becomes national,
affluent, he's at the top of the headlines, and then boom here comes
that photo from 15 years prior.  And he's shamed, and asked to step down
from the board of directors.... because really, how many of us believe
him when he says

"it was 15 years ago, and I didn't know what I was doing?"

Am I defending these black facers?  No. I don't even know their story
and I have no reason to defend or promote anyone involved.

I'm simply saying, right now with the way that the U.S. is spiraling out
of control, I feel as if I'm returning to a different country. One that
does not value free speech any longer.  One that could ruin me with the
smallest accidental misstep.  One where the best strategy for survival,
is to remain silent, and fly under the radar, never strive to be too
successful, or to take any form of public office.

It seems to me we've begun to foster and very negative environment.

And it's hard because yeah, we should be ferreting out corruption and
lies and bigotry and racism and sexism.... but in some ways right now
our country feels like it did under the time of McCarthyism.  People are
scared.

In June, I get on a plane to return to the U.S.  The land of the free. 
And yet in many ways I feel more free where I live now.

I've said that to myself before and I thought 'it sounds like you're
saying 'I'm more free to be racist and sexist here.' '  I'm not a racist
and I'm not a sexist, so I don' t go around saying such things. But I
know that if I said something innocent that could be misconstrued, I'd
be given the benefit of the doubt here. Why? Because I have deeply
authentic relationships with people who know my heart and would
instantly see something innocently misspoken as just that.

Here's the hope part.  I trust God enough, to love people.  In this
environment in the U.S. I think it would be natural to be suspicious of
people. We'd be less likely to simply say 'hi' to a stranger in the U.S.
because we know it could lead to all kinds of trouble we don't want to
deal with.

The enemy wins the moment we're no longer willing to reach out to
someone new.

We're told to love with the love of Christ.  How many of us apply that
to the people we 'ALREADY KNOW.' ? AS time moves on, the list of people
we know only shrinks if we're unwilling to meet new people, make new
relationships.

Our environment is being carefully manipulated and fostered by the enemy
to reduce human connection because that connection is the conduit for us
to express Christ's love.

We have to fight against the shaping of that environment by the enemy. 
There are so many things against the fostering of authentic human
connection these days, nearly everything is shaping up this way.  Talk
to a real human stranger? NO WAY! Don't you realize how dangerous that is?

For me, returning to the U.S. I have very real plans and ideas about how
I will foster human connections and relationships. But I'm also very
aware that there are risks in reaching out to people.  I am sad those
risks are greater today than I remember them being in my lifetime.
Thankfully I follow a God who is strong enough to hold me through those
risks.

2/09/2019

Through my mind...




We depart PNG in 4 and a half months.  We're coming up on 12 years here (in a few weeks).  I have always wondered what goes on in the minds of people as they prepare to do what we here call 'going finish.'
For me, a lot of things.  But I realize everyone's situation is different.

-There's a constant cycle of having a new worry or a new thought and then giving it to God in prayer. They just pop in there like 'what about this?"  Then you remind yourself God is faithful, God is in control, Dear Lord take this one from me, I can't do anything about it anyway.  All yours.  (rinse and repeat the next time it pops up).
-There's the logistics of booking air travel, packing your house, etc.  Different people handle this differently. I love watching how people handle it.  Some folks don't pack until the last few days, some the night before they leave, others dont' get a chance to pack because their 'finish' surprised them as they had to leave in an emergency.  For us, that's not a big deal. We have most all the big logistics covered because we wanted our final days to be spent saying goodbyes.
-There's the mumu's. Traditional goodbye meals with local friendships.  Many tears, stories told, etc.
-There's the real concern about whether or not you're doing the right thing.  Though God put going 'finish' on our hearts for certain, and though He sends us encouragement, there is always the little doubts and jokes about 'you know if you stayed...' and you think 'yeah I could stay here and do a lot of really good work still.'  and then the subtle reminder 'true.. but that's not where I'm calling you next.'
-There's real concern about money and the future.  As we make decisions about where we're going to live, what we're going to do, what we'll drive.  Basically, like starting fresh right out of school again.  Have to get our license, get new credit cards, get new... everything.  We're 45 and starting over with zero assets, no home ownership, nothing.  But at the same time.... it's exhilarating because of the next one:

-There's the concern that we will no longer need God.  Moving to PNG we had to discipline ourselves into a daily habit of total reliance upon God. For provision, safety, finances, guard against spiritual attack, for the grace to get through a day.  moving back to a first world country, I'm truly concerned we'll let those habits decay.  Which is why, having so much uncertainty is actually comfortable for me.  Once you develop habits to cope with an unknown future, a daily 'anything can happen' routine... without it, life seems a little less than. 

-The temptation to speak your mind more freely.  I've seen a some people lose their cool when going finish.  For years you learn how to live together in community and get along. You daily apply grace to those who tend to irk you more than others, because you need to live in Christian community.  But when you're about to leave that community, suddenly the temptation to stop speaking the truth in love and start speaking the truth to EVERYONE as harshly as you can.... gets stronger.  I am one of those people who have bitten my tongue so often in 12 years that it's down to the nub.  The temptation to unload it all and ruin those 12 years of patience and grace is strong.  I keep going back to Christ's model though, and I think about how much restraint He had. I can hold on just a little longer.  But, like anything under pressure, sometimes venting that pressure helps avoid an explosion.
-I have lost most all of my American skills.  I no longer follow NFL or MLB, so I'll have to catch up on that, just to have things in common.  I don't know current terminologies, or events. I'm not heavily invested in politics, I don't know a lot about living in the U.S. I'm sure it'll all come back to me. But it'll be awkward, because the American has been largely stripped out of my Christianity, and I no longer feel the way I once did about a great many things.

-In some ways, I'm more concerned about security in the U.S.  I know what to expect here, I've become used to it. But in the U.S. there are expectations that go unmet. When I sit in people's homes in the U.S. I think 'wow this place is so insecure! How can you sleep at night!'  It's part of the acclimation process, though there are certain habits I've learned here that I'll never unlearn.
-Complexity and cost. Living in the U.S. has a lot of costs I'm unfamiliar with and complexities that I've gotten used to not having to deal with.

-True fellowship. I won't have a mechanic I know and trust, I won't have a doctor I pray with, I won't have a pilot who I talk to when I'm flying places, or a post office worker whose family I know.  I'm not sure I remember how to do small talk, I'm used to long hours of in depth conversation and making life long deep friendships.  Can I survive living on the surface again? Will I have to?

-Time and traffic - this list could just keep going on and on and on... but I remember a huge chunk of my day was taken up by traffic and little things.  The Pace of life will be so much faster in California.


This and so many other things race through my mind, and my wife has her own list.
Along with it are all the good things that race through my mind as well. But I tend to segment emotional processes.
Right now, I'm all about finishing well here, doing my work, leaving no loose ends, and getting my son graduated, then leaving.
As soon as I'm on the plane my mind will turn to the stuff about the U.S.


-Chad









1/20/2019

Python and Millenials

So I have been teaching myself the programming language of Python for some time now. I'm still very much a beginner.  The other night as I slept I had this image in my head.  If you took all the sources of information in your average day, and named them, you would have probably around 14 possibilities:

TV/movies, music, news, friends, parents, extended family, books, radio/podcasts, webpages you read, facebook(social media), teachers, coworkers, and the rules of your groups/organizations.

So I imagined this up.



So many sources of information.  I wondered how much time I spent letting each source of information speak into my life each day.  How much of my story did I allow them to become?

Then I imagined a line... a line of TRUTH.  I mean, it really doesn't matter what you think about truth.  You either believe there is absolute truth or not, but for this exercise it didn't matter what you believed there, because inevitably you decide which of those items spoke more truth to you.  So... I imagined this:


I decided which items were more lies than truth in my life.

But then I wondered,... how much time in each day do I let the lies in?   Now... Facebook isn't all lies, and not all books are truth.  So that made things more difficult.

Which is where my program idea came in.

So I wrote a program, and I got the help of my son to do the math on it... that basically asked 28 questions.

Question 1:

On a scale of 1-5 (5 being very frequent) how much time in an average day do you spend enjoying_____(music/facebook/etc) :?

Question 2:

Rate (this item : Facebook/Books/music, etc)  on the following scale:

-1           -2       -3       0       +1       +2             +3 

full of lies    neither lying nor truthful      full of truth


And once you answered those questions, the program would tell you exactly how many lies you were allowing into your head each day, and what percentage of truth you were engaging with each day.

At the same time, I began watching a video explaining the difference in culture between Millenials and Gen X (me).

When we got to the point of the idea that there is no absolute truth, that your experience is what dictates decisions... I thought about that.

See.... it's really not that far from what Gen X believes, though our generation likes to pretend we're very very different.  The truth is, if you're a Gen X'er, and you believe in absolute truth, and your personal experience contradicts that absolute truth, you're perfectly okay believing contradictory things.  It's a hallmark of our generation.  So... in that respect our experience does in fact have a lot of weight.

Regardless, I realized asking the question 'how much truth do you feel Facebook has to offer you?' while allowing you to respond with whatever your views on the relativitity of truth is... and therefore allow for multiple cultural perspectives... maybe much harder for a millenial to answer.

Why oh WHY did I have to get education in the middle of writing  this program?

I mean, wouldn't you answer 'DEPENDS?'  to that question?  But then answer it yourself based on what it depended on?


The bottom line is... I wanted to create a visual representation to make people aware of this.

1 - The Devil seeks to kill you, steal from you and destroy you.

2 - His chief tactics involve lieing to you so completely you begin to think it is true.

3 - You can most easily detect a lie when you spend a lot of time in the truth.

4 - Therefore you should determine what your sources of truth are, and enhance your time with those, while decreasing your time surrounded by lies.


For me, my profound source of truth is reading the Bible. But not just reading it.  Reading it, understanding it, thinking about it all day, and applying what I read that day to at least 1 moment of my day... making it real, applying it.  Not just theory but doing it.  That is the most profound source of truth.

Other sources of truth are good, wise, godly people, who speak truth to me in love and hold me accountable. (this includes friends, co-workers, family, teachers, etc).

But I don't blindly trust all books, nor do I blindly trust all people.  Only people who all agree on the basics.

So what are the basics?

Well, the last few books of the Bible really boils it down for us.  1,2,3 John and Jude ALL warn us heavily against false teachings.  HRM... why do you think that was some of the final words in the Bible?  Maybe because God knew that we'd be surrounded by lies everywhere we turn?

LIES EVERYWHERE!  Layers of lies upon lies such that if you see through the first layer, you may still believe the lie of the second layer, because the enemy has been building this onion of lies for so long it's so hard to see truth.   It's exhausting to fight constantly, but we have to.  Because he is.

The Basics:

-anyone who does not profess that Jesus Christ is the son of God is a false teacher.

The current rule of our culture is:

-tolerance always unless you come across someone intolerant, and then you do not need to tolerate them.

It's a very similar rule to what Peter and John taught us with a few changes:

-love everyone, but do not allow false teachers to be among you, cast them out of your churches and homes.

I tend to feel love is better than tolerance.  I'd rather you give me a hug than cast me a glance that said 'I can tolerate you.'

Well now I'm blabbering.

The point is....

We need to diminish the lies we allow into our lives... and enhance the amount of truth.. Change your personal formula.





1/04/2019

Unchurched

So I just read a scary statistic.  The Bay Area is considered 97% unchurched.  That means that people are not affiliated with, nor consider themselves to be a part of, a church.  Some are saying it is the largest unchurched area in the U.S.

So I decided to look up why a place becomes 'unchurched'.  In missions the terms 'unreached vs unchurched' come up a lot.  But I've always considered the Bay Area either 'churched' or 'post churched' in that, they've been given the opportunities, and have just passed them up.

Then I read this, and it really has me thinking, because so many of the points seem to be very true to me.  And if true, that makes the Silicon Valley, a mission field, and our next stop.

---------------
I am often amused when I hear myself identified as an expert in any area. If I am a perceived expert, it is because I have had the wonderful opportunity to listen to thousands of people over the past few decades. They are the experts; I am little more than an interested reporter.

Though much of this information could be regarded as dismal, my ultimate assessment is not that pessimistic. I believe in the God of miracles. If my conclusions focused on human ability and goodness, I would have little hope. But my conclusions presume the God of creation is on His throne.

For now, let us focus on what is wrong. Let us look with stark honesty and candor at the ineffectiveness of most American believers when it comes to sharing their faith. And let us look at reversing the trend through God's power.

1. Spiritual Lethargy - One of the main reasons many Christians do not share their faith is simply explained by the word disobedience. Spiritual lethargy takes place when we fail to obey Him. The problem for many Christians is that they are not growing spiritually, and lack of spiritual growth inevitably leads to a diminished desire to share Christ with others.

2. Growing Inclusivism - One of the faster-growing belief systems today is pluralism (all religions lead to God). A variation of pluralism called inclusivism is a dangerous doctrine that is gaining momentum in many American seminaries, Christian colleges, and churches. This view affirms that Jesus is the only way of salvation, but he can be found in other "good" religions. There is a subtle but growing belief among many Christians that somehow "good" followers will make it to heaven outside of a true Christian conversion. Our message will fall on deaf ears if this belief persists and grows.

3. Growing Disbelief in Hell - At one time, this was a view held almost entirely by unbelievers. However recent books by those claiming to be evangelicals have brought this discussion front and center. Those who truly have a desire to reach the unchurched have a burden to see people in the eternity of heaven, but they also desire to see them escape the wrath of an eternal hell. Denying the existence of hell undermines the urgency of placing one's faith in Christ.

4. Busyness - Perhaps one of Satan's most effective strategies is to get us so busy that we fail to do that which is such a high biblical priority. We can be deluded into complacency about the lostness of humanity around us. The unchurched are waiting for you to tell them about Jesus. They need to be on your to-do list. What priority do you give to reaching the lost?

5. Fear of Rejection - In research on this subject, I found that only one in four unchurched persons we be resistant to faith discussions. But nearly four out of ten of the unchurched will be receptive to your concern for their eternity, and more than one out three will simply be neutral to your attempts. Simply stated, fear of rejection is unfounded. The few with an antagonistic attitude are not rejecting your personally; their anger is merely a reflection of something in their past. Fear of rejection is an often-used excuse by Christians for their failure to witness. And it is just that: an excuse.

6. A Desire to Be Tolerant - The message of the gospel, in some senses, is intolerant. The one true God insists there can be no other gods. He is a jealous God and leaves no room for other gods. In the post-modern culture of 21st century America, Christians should know the criticisms of intolerance will come. The great concern is that many Christians are unwilling to take a narrow view because they do not want to be labeled as intolerant. But Jesus never waivered in His insistence that He is the only way to the one and only true God.

7. Losing the Habit of Witnessing - Some Christians have been very active in sharing their faith with the lost and the unchurched. But, for a myriad of reasons, they get out of the habit, and it no longer becomes a priority. Witnessing, like prayer and Bible study, is a discipine. It is a habit to learn, to retain, and, if lost, to regain.

8. Lack of Accountability - Programmatic evangelism in local churches is sometimes denigrated because it is seen as a "canned" approach to witnessing. But one of the strengths of many of these programs is that some inherent system of accountability is built into the program itself. Accountability is likely to engender more witnessing attempts to the unchurched. Attempting more evangelistic encounters creates a habit of witnessing that then increases our zeal for evangelism.

9. Failure to Invite - When is the last time you invited an unchurched person to church? When is the last time you offered to take a person to church, or, at the very least, meet him or her at church? It's a simple gesture, yet so few Christians do it.

10. We Go to Churches That Do Not Reach the Unchurched - We only reach one person for Christ each year for every 85 church members in the United States. That is a frightening and terrible ratio. One of the key reasons we do not reach the unchurched is that most Christians in America are members of churches that do not reach the unchurched.

I've now covered ten of the most common reasons Christians fail to obey the Great Commission. This list is not exhaustive though. In God's power, however, we can reverse this trend and reach the unchurched in America.

Dr. Thom Rainer is president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.
(https://www.christianpost.com/news/10-reasons-we-have-not-reached-the-unchurched.html)
---------------

the ones that really stand out to me, (Chad) for the Silicon Valley is #4,  #5, and #6.
So if I were a resolution making man, I'd resolve to make sure #4 #5 and #6 were not true of me next year.
I can tell you this, being a support staff for missions means I work with believers a lot of the time. I have really missed the opportunity to talk to people who do not know my Savior about Him.  I'm excited about the fact that I'll have that chance a lot.  I know 'freedom of speech' is limited these days, and that I can't proselytize in the work place, etc.

-chad


11/18/2018

Discouraging Smile


This is Iri. She's been our friend since we arrived in PNG. Her family and our family have been closely intertwined for 12 years. She became a grandmother not quite two years ago, but she still plays soccer.  Look at her smile!

Iri and her family are Papua New Guineans with a strong faith in 'Papa God'. When they suffer hardships, we share in those with them, and to hear them declare their prayer lives, and how God will care for them, encourages us.

So why did I title this blog entry 'discouraging smile?'.

At times in our lives we all suffer discouragement. Don't read anything into that, we're not suffering any 'more than usual' discouragement right now, so maybe it's a good time to post this?

My personal life credo about discouragement has always been this:

-When in your head you're feeling discouraged, and down. The best cure, is to do something for someone else. This gives you a chance to step outside of your own head and apply God's Word by showing love and caring for someone else.

That's my cure, it's as simple as that.  I've found that 100% of the time, doing an action to serve someone else, to help them, always brings me out of a funk. Why?  I theorize its because I stop thinking about my own woes for a time.  But maybe it's more, maybe it's because we're behaving as God intended? Maybe we get blessed more than we bless? 

So I woke up this morning thinking 'hrm, coming up on 12 years in PNG. Some things have changed, some things haven't. Some cultural traditions haven't broken, others have.  My heart wants so badly for certain things for the people of this country, and yet, 12 years isn't long enough to see those things happen yet.'

This morning I stopped, and I thought  'did coming here accomplish anything?  And if so, was it enough?'.  Yeah I know, a totally Western thought. That question kept resonating in my head as we celebrated Bible Sunday and saw all the work our community has done in the past year.  'Was it enough?'  Like the end of Schindler's list.

As we're coming up on our 12th anniversary that question resonates in my head.

But then, I think about Iri. About her family. About where they'd be if we weren't here. About their kids and the impact we've had on their lives. Would that one family be enough? Would 1 person be enough?  Would seeing God sustain, transform, support and otherwise simply... you know without doubt that God put you in a place in a life, to be His outreaching hand of love to them... even for an instant, be worth everything?  Yeah it would.

And so I think of Iri's smile when I'm discouraged, and the encouragement it brings me. It doesn't remove the things about life here that discourage me, but it does help me see things with a little bit of how God must see this world.  Shining bits among the dark.  New shiny bits arriving daily.  Shiny bits shining brightly in the dark, is sort of what it's all about.  So today, I plan to be a shiny bit.  Filling my heart with the love of Christ so that others may know His love.

Galatians 6

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

-------------Chad

p.s. Here's the reality of ministry work. You may never know the impact you had on someone's life. You could drive yourself nutty trying to answer 'what is the best thing I've done?'  God works in ways we don't see or understand. We have no real way of knowing the impact we've had on people's lives. I think that's why God tells us not to tire of doing good. Because if you expect results, you may not get to see them.  But those rare times when you do see something, they are precious, and they keep you going.




10/30/2018

life seems crazy

A turbulent life, can be a matter of perspective.

Proverbs 18:10 The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and are safe.

Nehemiah 8:10 Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.

Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Control is an illusion.  I learned this the day my daughter was born.  See, I used to be a tad of a control freak.  I mean, okay maybe not freak, but if I didn't have control of something, a project, whatever, I could relinquish control, but it always caused me stress.

Letting someone else drive for a while, is hard.  Most of us strive for comfort, for stability.

Lately a few things seem so much 'in the air' that we're wondering 'okay God, what are you doing?'  We're in our mid 40's, shouldn't life be pretty much settled?

But as my wife and I were discussing how turbulent life seems these days, I stopped to think 'um, it's been turbulent for over 12 years.'  We just had a nice calm 2 year stretch there, so we forgot.

If life were settled and safe and all planned out, I think I'd one day be sitting on my recliner thinking 'so, no more surprises in life? hrm.... seems dull.'   Right now I could do with a little more 'dull'.

But I get it.  I understand that the most interesting, safe, exciting, turbulent place to be, is right where God wants me.

Anyone who thinks they know what the next 2 years will bring them, may be in for a surprise.  We can never truly know, but we can draw near to Him who does know.

I often say 'I just want to know what's going to happen!' but then I think that the cost of knowing may be too steep, and choose to be okay not knowing.  Still, it's a daily discipline to remember to let God drive.




10/26/2018

One of those days

It was one of those days where so many little things went wrong, that I
can't even remember them all to make note of it.

Every single thing that could go wrong today did. But none of it was
huge, just annoying. I want to rant about it but I can't because I just
spent an hour trying to unblock my Credit Card via skype at 1am, and
kept calling the wrong number because my eyes are weary.

If you got an illegible text from me today, it's because my cell phone
is stupid.

10/02/2018

Running Silent

My daughter texted me the other day and said "Dad your blog has been
silent lately. I like reading your thoughts."  Well there's two reasons
for that.

1 - I am responsible for maintaining a blog called the PNG Experience
which catalogs stories of ministry in PNG.  And until recently I thought
IFTTT was linking it to my blog.

and

2 - For nearly 4 years now I've been in a leadership position of some
type and most of the things I spend my time on, are not for public
consumption.  Usually they are sensitive issues that require a modicum
of confidentiality and respect.

My major role is being responsible for communication and as such, my own
communication should be responsible and well thought out. Which is sort
of the antithesis of my blog.  My blog was always me just sharing what
was on my heart at the time, and not always well thought out.

Each time I've come to write something I have these thoughts:

-Should I be sharing this?

-Does anyone read my blog anymore?  Maybe I should just put it on Facebook?

-But I don't really like Facebook.

-Meh, it's probably better to just say nothing at this juncture and see
how it pans out.

So while my blog may be more boring than it once was, maybe mark it as a
sign of maturity?  Some people used to say 'you have too much time on
your hands.'  I mean, I wrote a book, only people who have a ton of time
can afford to write a book!

The truth is, yeah I've been busy doing things I can't really publicize
until it's time to publicize them, but even then, I choose not to
because it's not about me, it's about God through me.

I'm afraid, I have in fact, become, dull.  I mean my life isn't dull,
but what I can share about each of my days is limited and thus, dull.

I'm okay with that.

So for those of you who wondered why my blog got quiet, this is the main
reason.  I take my job very seriously, I take confidentiality seriously,
and I haven't really found the time to parse through the parts of my day
I can share.  I think, maybe, my blog is dying if it isn't already dead.

I would highly recommend reading the PNG Experience, though I'm rarely
an author there.

https://thepngexperience.wordpress.com/

7/23/2018

Contentment

When I was a youth I felt the word 'contentment' was a bad word. One of the nonsensical things I would spout to anyone who might listen was 'contentment breeds apathy, satisfaction breeds complacency.' I listened to my pastor give a sermon on being 'content' when I was 15 and thought the man was way off base.

I have never felt God calls us to be content. Sure I read I Tim 6 ..godliness with contentment is great gain, Philippians, being content in all your circumstances. Sure I read that, but for the most part I assumed those were comfort verses for people who had fallen on bad times in life and were unable to 'strive for more.'

I never wanted my life to be...boring.

Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy rest and relaxation. I just don't enjoy undue laziness. I don't enjoy looking at a job I've done and saying 'there, that's good enough, no one will notice.'

But I'm not a perfectionist either. I look at a job and say 'that is my best right now, and I'm done. But next time, I will do better here, and here and here.' So I try to always be improving.

So here I sit. I am overseas, overlooking a green pasture, sitting next to a fire. I am comfortable in a place that most people would not be comfortable in. A loud crack rings out as I sit here and I think it may or may not be a sign of violence, but it doesn't startle me.

I have learned how to find peace in the middle of chaos.

And I am truly for the first time in my 44 years, content.

It makes me nervous.

I mean that little stupid kid inside me is still saying things like 'if you're comfortable, you won't be relying on God. You won't be able to see Him zig, and you'll fail to zag. You should stay on your toes man!'

But I'm happy! I mean, I love this new teaching gig, I like my friends and neighbors. I like my work, my home. I'm very happy and content.

Which is the moment I realize how wrong I was as a kid. I'm not complacent, I'm not apathetic, and I'm not lazy. In fact, I'm finding this deep seated contentment, of being where the Lord wants me to be is permeating everything I do and creating this calm inside me that allows me to continue the work we have.

Instead of stress being able to attack me and rule me, instead confidence and quiet sit inside my soul.

I rather like it.

But I suspect it. I suspect God won't let me sit here too long like this. I suspect, as always, that He may throw me a curve ball soon. So, I choose to enjoy this time, knowing it may not last. Knowing I may one day long for these quiet and calm moments, I will enjoy it to its maximum.

For the first time in my life I do not feel the urge to be 'going going going.' I'm happy with just 'going going.'

I'm not unbusy. There's a ton to do, and I end each day completely tired out, as does my wife and son.

And yet, my spirit is full and calm, there is not a piece of me that is missing nor a part of me searching for something else.

Therein lies the drive for me to tell people about Christ. So many people are seeking to fill a void, with all the wrong things. If only they knew what it felt like to be full in Christ.

It's the spiritual equivalent of eating a guilt-free meal that is tasty, healthy, and you didn't overeat and so aren't stuffed. You're not so full that you can't move, you can move, you can go be active. You have fuel, and it isn't junk, it's the good stuff.

I want to serve that kind of meal to the world, but I'm not enough to do it. So I pray to God and then I watch and try to zig when He zigs and zag when He zags.

4/27/2018

Landscaping 4


"honey, see that tree in the yard that the rain bent over?"
"yeah"
"what do you think would happen if I chopped off the top and buried it in our yard?"
"do what now?"
"if I weight it down I could make it like  rainbow tree! I predict the branches will grow up and make it like a lot of shade!."
"I have no idea."
"I'm gonna try it."
"you realized the neighbors are talking about you now, right?"
"they're just jealous."

Landscaping 4


"Babe you see that old rotten papaya tree out there?"
"yeah?"
"I'm gonna chop it down, and turn the trunk into a planter."
"you're going to what?"
"I'm going to hollow it out, put dirt inside and make it a planter."
"mmkay. You're on your own for that one."

Landscaping 2



"Honey, why did you put a tree between two tree stumps?"
"Trust me, it'll be cool."

Landscaping oddities 1

'My husband is sometimes weird."
"Dad, that's just what?"
"Dad you have the most unique landscaping ideas I've heard of."

I decide to catalog some of my landscaping adventures just because.

#1 - In 2008 I made this for my wife out of Kwila for our Anniversary.
It is still going! and look at that patina!


4/26/2018

Adventures in Communication

I haven't blogged much as of late. Why? Well because my job mostly involves helping others who are blogging, etc. By the end of the day I don't have the energy.  But every now and then a story comes along that I have to share.

A friend of ours was on walkabout in their language area when they contracted a puncture wound to their foot (I will spare you the photo).  Because infections happen quickly here, it wasn't long before she was in a state to be brought out of the area and to our clinic.

A message was sent back to their main team (paraphrase) "Am hurt, may need to medevac"

(I had written a longer version of this story with more details but for the purposes of flow I'm going to cut corners here).

Soon after that text was sent, they lost cell signal as the cell provider tower must have gone done (this happens frequently here).

The people who received the message had no cell signal, but they had a satellite internet connection. Using Facebook messenger they contacted a friend, who did not have a working cell phone so they called us.

(us being our Bible study group).

Our Bible study activated, and my role was to be the point man to liaise between people with no internet and people with no cell phone.  Using a combination of tools we were able to get hold of someone who could come and get the ladies and take them to safety.

I will spare you the exciting details but what ensued was a series of technical acrobatics leaping from texts to messages to land line, coordinating people who were all over the country in various stages of incommunicado.

At the climax of it all, we had a truck with a driver we didn't know, heading to pick up a patient who wasn't expecting a ride to take her to a location we weren't sure of. Dealing with this level of uncertainty forces one to pray. We did. We all prayed. A lot.

What eventually worked out was their team hiking to the river and getting signal and finding their own ride.  So, as much as the technical communication acrobatics and software were involved, in the end, good old ingenuity and survival skills out in the bush is what got the job done. 

Less than 24 hours later she was being seen by a doctor.

It took a team of people to get our friend to safety and she's on rest now as she recovers from a rather nasty foot wound.

When we say we're 'support' this is exactly the type of thing we mean. "Hey Chad, I can't get hold of so and so, can you reach them and get them to send a plane?"  "Hi Gavin this is Chad, can you send a plane to help them?" "Hi Dr. Carl this is Gavin, we're sending a plane to get so and so can you be ready to receive them at the clinic."  and it goes on and on and on.

Sometimes knowing there's a team of people behind you striving for the same goal is what it takes to help you soldier on.

Here's what patient X says about it:

My injury is only one casualty from this battle.  On this walkabout we had many physical trials!  But I consider every single difficulty that happened so worth it!  I got to teach Bible studies about prayer, forgiveness, the trinity and the saving redemption of Jesus.  We got to fit people for reading glasses so they could read the new Scriptures printed in their languages.  We got to help people play games to increase their reading fluency in their language.  We got to show a Christian film written and produced by Papua New Guineans that encouraged them to think about some of their cultural traditions in light of the truths in God's Word.  We sold many copies of newly printed Scriptures, Bible studies and children's Bible stories.  These momentary, light afflictions are nothing in relation to the priceless nature of God's truth.  Praise to God and my thanks to you for joining with us on this walkabout journey.

We support some pretty cool people.






2/22/2018

AutoPainting

This morning as I headed to work I saw the morning clouds topping the
hills. Rolling green hills, scarred by the remnants of fire lending a
sort of beautiful texture.  I saw the trees animated by the breeze, and
the blue of the sky and I thought 'this is a remarkable painting God
made.'  But then I thought 'He's made these paintings all over the
world, stretching out His wonderful hand and moving His creation to make
daily, ever changing portraits of beauty.

And then I thought 'If I had to make thousands of such portraits a day,
as a unix administrator, I would have written a script to do it for me
automatically.  It would take up my entire day otherwise.'

Which is when the thought hit me.  God has already automated such
beauty. That's one of the magnificent things about His creation,
designed in such a way as to move and shift and maintain itself.
Automatically creating this portraits all over the world.  I dunno how
anyone can see it and not want to praise God outloud.  PRAISE GOD.

2/04/2018

Being Support Staff

We're support staff.  We are on about Bible Translation in Papua New Guinea.  So what does it mean to be 'support staff'.
Well it means a great many things, but one of the most recent was to cover our friends Ben and John and Beth in prayer.
Ben and John and Beth were heading into their village to do Bible Translation work and training.
I've been to their village.

We were praying over obstacle #1 and #2.  I'll let Ben share:
Tadji airstrip is one of two operational airstrips in Papua New Guinea that still has the steel perforated Marston Matting that was used during WWII for quick and portable temporary airstrips. Nearly 80 years later, we're still landing on it. However, tall grass frequently grows up through the holes in the steel matting and makes it unsafe to land. We asked you to pray that we could land here and avoid an additional 8+ hour road trip from Wewak. After praying for the day's activities, praise the Lord that our veteran pilot got us to Tadji, circled once at low altitude to check the airstrip, and then safely navigated his landing against a strong headwind.

I've taken this flight and landed, the alternative road trip is very taxing on the body. It is polite to call it a 'road trip'.  A road trip implies music, snacks, comfort. This is much more like a sojourn. Unless you've lived it, you won't really get what I mean from that so I'll move on, suffice it to say, when you arrive at your destination you're exhausted.

So my family and I, our Bible study, everyone prayed that they would be able to land, and the Lord provided!

Obstacle 2: (from Ben)
Can the truck make it through the rivers and the mud?
Once we landed, our friends from Pou, where the language of the same name is spoken, were ready for us with their pickup truck. We loaded up and headed out to Arop. Our teammate Beth reports that the river now normally flows down the path of this road.

Maybe you saw the video I posted last year about the 'river road'.  This is one crazy journey.

One of the things you hear Christians say is 'pray for travelling mercies'.  Before I came here, that meant having a nice comfortable air-flight, a safe flight, not losing your luggage.

Now it means, arriving in good health without your cargo capsizing, without your truck being washed down river, without major injury or worse.
It's funny to me because I never could relate before, when watching movies of people driving jeeps through the jungle. I used to think 'that looks like so much fun!.'
But when you've done it a few times, it stops being 'fun'.  In this case, the journey is NOT the point, arriving to the destination and being able to do Bible Translation is the point.

So we are supporting them in our prayers, and in any other practical way we can (technical support, moral support,  caring for family staying behind, sending supplies, whatever they need).

That's just a glimpse at one of the things support staff does.



2/02/2018

The Little Firefort that Could.



It was Christmas break and I wanted to get Calvin and myself outside.  Recently a neighbor had cut down a tree, and many branches were lying around.  Having learned how to make a 'haus win' (temporary outside fort) using nothing but branches and twine, Calvin and I embarked on a fun project.

We would make a little outside firepit area, and put a tarp over it.  Every time we build an outside fire for an event, it rains.  So, we began the work.

It wasn't impressive but it was near free, and it worked.

Problem: - we accidentally and unknowingly built it mere feet from our neighbors bedroom so when we had a bonfire and chatted, it was like we were in the same room.   When we were told this, we had to figure out a way to move it.

With the help of some friends, we dug it up, and carried it about 50 meters away to it's new home.  It was a little bit weaker and not where I wanted it to reside, but it was done.

Problem: - The wind picked up. Cyclones over Australia nearly ripped the tarp off the top of it. I had to run out there in the wind and secure the tarp with ropes, before the whole thing flew away.  Mysterious winds have been present since.  I've had to repair it a few times.

After a long week of work, it's nice to have a fire, maybe roast a dog, have a place to chat, even have teens over.  It was still alive.

Problem: - As if the winds weren't enough, one evening a tree fell over and hit the firepit area (which Calvin and I dubbed 'FIREFORT!'.  But! Since the limbs we used were still green and flexible, they bent instead of broke, and though the tarp is torn more, the FIREFORT lives.



So, we started chopping up the tree and now firefort is eating the tree that tried to eat it! (we're burning the  tree wood, yes, that quickly because the tree was dead standing)



Having survived a move, defeated the monstrous winds, and survived the falling tree, FIREFORT was beginning to win over my heart. This stupid ugly little fort was living a lifetimes worth in only 1 month's time!

Problem: - The rain picked up, and the firefort, after taking the hit from the tree, was not strong enough to let the rain roll off of it (also because the move moved it from a slight hill to a flat area).  So the rain water began to pool into the now, tired fort's roof.  This resulted in the green bows, bending (not breaking) under the weight.


The Firefort was dying.  I went out to drain the tarp, and put it all back together again with new branches from the tree that fell on it.

Today, we sat under the firefort, held together with zip ties, bunjis, nails and screws and of course, a refusal to die!

As we sat there, my friend and son laughingly mocked me and said 'The reason this wind is here, is because you refuse to let this fort die. Let it die and the wind will go away!

It was funny but the fort still stands.

All I wanted was to keep my our bonfires from being 'rained out'.  But now what I have, is a story of the Little Firefort that Could.

This is truly a beautiful country but you have to be outside to appreciate it. Our Little Firefort gives us that underdog appreciation.

People have said 'it'll burn down, that's a tarp!'
'it won't last 6 months'
'let it die!'
'it's ugly!'
'it's a lost cause give up!'

Don't  they know, that kind of talk makes me love it all the more?