You may have experienced this scenario; You get a bill, or an unexpected fee, and your stress level begins to rise. You don't have the money. Or maybe, you do have the money but times are tight and you're trying to be thrifty. Or maybe you're a missionary and you're trying to be a good steward and responsible...
and the fee is unavoidable.
Like driving a car, and breaking down, and the only nearby repair station bilking you higher rates because they can.
And there is nothing you can do about it. Your stress level goes up. Something in you cries out for justice 'THIS ISN'T RIGHT'. You decide to see what creative things you can do to mitigate the cost. Maybe part of you dies as your hopes for that money may have been something you could have enjoyed with your family.
Instead, it's money, right out the window. And you don't like it.
Has that ever happened to you? It happens to me regularly.
I have to go through this process, it's a disciplinary action I put on myself, to hopefully develop a discipline. It goes like this:
- Take wise steps to be creative and not be wasteful.
- Don't be disrespectful or angry when taking those steps.
- If those steps prove to be so complex that you are being distracted from what your main purpose is, drop it!
- Remember the money is God's money, and not yours.
- Remember that God put authorities into position for a reason.
- Relax, and spend the money with a cheerful heart and giving attitude.
I had a few moments like this today. In the process of moving, we need to paint our house, and the last time we painted was 6 years ago. The new house we're moving into requires a paint job, and the price of paint in this country is $100 per gallon. Because we were not expecting to have to move, we did not budget for a new paint job as our old one is still clean and 'new to us'. However the house we're moving into needs interior AND exterior paint.
This unexpected expense in moving has caused us to question 'do we really need paint?' The estimate is close to $2500 to get it all done. So my wife and I sat there thinking 'we didn't come here to paint houses.. we came here to minister to people, how can we justify this expense?'
So the stress of the unexpected fee, coupled with the moral quandry of whether or not we should paint the house has led to a drop in the mood lately.
Still, my dad always taught me to keep a certain amount of money handy for emergencies like this... when you own a home, or a vehicle, you're sure to have them. However we also have this thing called 'furlough' coming up, which we need to save $10,000 for just to be able to fly home and back.
Anyway... thankfully, in the midst of this financial stress God reminded us 'it is MY money, I've given it to you.' and quickly turned our prayer from 'do we need paint' (which we do) to 'God help us to be wise stewards of your resources'.
Yes, that's my head hitting the ceiling, and yes, that's a tiny little door that I'm about 5 inches too tall to pass through easily.
This is the kind of thing I run into around this place, from time to time.
Go ahead, laugh. I do.
I would really laugh if one day someone put a table there and some food labelled 'eat me, drink me'.
Being a missionary mother is an entirely different type of mothering. I appreciate my wife because of how well she does it. Other women look at my wife and wonder how on earth she can be such a great mother. I want to tell the women who compare themselves like this, to stop it. The children I see around this center way over here in Papua New Guinea are living good lives. They are living childhoods that hopefully one day they will be very thankful for. They are living the childhoods that God intended for them. So for moms who feel a tad bit jealous at how good my wife is at being a mom, stop it. That said, I will now brag about my wife.
The fact is that many things young children, adolescent children and teenagers need, are not available in this country. Planning ahead is an incredible talent that my wife has. Four years ago when my daughter was 9, she said to me 'when we're in the U.S. on furlough we're going to have to shop for training bras for Sydney because she'll need them before our next trip to the U.S.' When the time came, and our daughter had a need, her mother, (my wife) had a box ready for her to select her favorite training bras from.
Planning ahead to get things like shoes, underwear, socks, that will fit for the next 3-4 years is an insane amount of insite and guess work, and it pays off in dividends. Our kids have not grown up feeling like they lack the necessities of life. On furlough my wife bought a case of deodorant for the family, expecting our developing kids would one day need it.... AND THEY DID. As a result of this planning ahead, our children are even developing the knack. My son, asked for a bow tie, 5 months ago, for his 6th grade graduation, which happens in a month. He planned ahead knowing how long it takes to get things, and as a result, he will wear a Bow Tie, from Thailand!
Creativity is also required. Your resources are limited, and so your creativity must expand. Outfits can be sewn together from mismatched finds at the Thrift Store. Costumes for book week can be created. My wife made my son a Gandalf Hat and Beard. The beard she made out of tying a lot of yarn together. The hat, she stitched from felt and then used a wire hanger to stiffen the brim.
Cooking is required. My wife cooks two meals a day. She cooks eggs or oatmeal every weekday, and every weeknight she prepares dinner. Not only that, she occassionally prepares dinner for other families in need, donates desserts to functions (because they can't order catering). Sometimes some large gathering asks for volunteers to make a few loafs of something sweet, and our kitchen is site to behold. On the left, is a crock pot with tonight's roast, on the right are some tortillas or pizza crusts she's making to freeze ahead of time because of a big conference she'll be attending and have little time to cook, and in the oven is the fifth loaf of banana bread she's making for the PNG Bible Association's Conference tea time. My wife is great cook, a great baker, and frankly, the only reason I would ever want to go to a restaurant would be to give her a break.. and not for the food. Her home cooking excels anything I've ever had in a restaurant. There are no restaurants around here really. But we make due. Occasionally myself or the kids will prepare a meal or find some other way to give her a break.
Social skills are helpful. Being a woman in a closed community can make it very easy to feel socially isolated. My wife occasionally reads facebook to feel connected, but also she's socially extroverted and kind and so tends to make friends quickly. Friendships which I try not to muck up by being too unwilling to try new things (like crazy games). The things we do for fun, might sound odd to you. We don't 'go to the theatre' because there is none. But we do play board games. (not my favorite activity but it's something to do).
Because of all this, we honor the missionary mothers today.
Yesterday I actually had arranged to take my wife to lunch, which we did successfully as a family. There was a woman here on center who came for a few months to minister to guests who was willing to cook and serve a meal for us. It was a very nice treat for the family, for my wife. And of course, my kids are old enough now that they can do chores, so I worked them like slaves.
I told them 'today is mother's appreciation day, so... I'm going to make you work as hard as you make mom work every day..' They did a lot of dishes and some cooking and some cleaning. I was pretty tough on them today, but they did it with willing hearts.
The same way, my wonderful wife, does all of that, with a willing heart, every day, and yet also still finds time in the day to teach, and do her ministry job.
As the Aussies say.
Good Onya, Sonya.
The name of the woman in the middle is Slyvia. She is from Aseranka village nearby. She has been mopping the floors of this department for 3 years.
Today we were recording Revelation in Bola and I heard her outside mopping. She comes every Friday. I don't know where the idea came from, but I decided to let Sylvia know how her mopping the floors, was helping in Bible translation.
So I paused the session and went outside.
I told her 'Sylvia, did you know that by keeping this dept. clean you are helping with Bible translation?'
I wanted her to connect her work with being more than a job, but being a ministry. Some PNGians here work for a paycheck, others volunteer, and others work knowing they could earn more money elsewhere. They work with a purpose, a mission, and they stay longer because of it.
I wanted Sylvia to understand that. Having no idea if she has a saving relationship with Christ or not.
She told me 'well yes, I knew that, Dan (my co-worker) explained it to me some time ago.'
I replied, "we're doing a recording session and you're helping with your work."
she answered "I've never seen a recording session."
I returned "Would you like to?"
she smiled big and said "I would, yes I really would!"
I invited her inside, and here she is watching us record chapter 5. Later she gave me a big smile and thanked me quite a lot.
I am wondering if God did a work in her today... if maybe He was prompting me to have her come in and realize what we do here, and how she contributes.
It was FAR too much information in too short of a time.
So I'm approaching it differently.
Play this sound file... and read this script I wrote. This is one of my projects that never saw the light of day, because I felt the final result was too ..... noisy.
Every knee shall bow, every tongue confess
What you are listening to, is select excerpts from Scripture that have been translated into the heart languages of the people of PNG.
What you are hearing, is a portion of PNG that have some Scripture in their language
What you are NOT HEARING, are the hundreds of languages that do not.
Not every language in PNG has such a recording.
Not every language in PNG has Scripture in their heart language.
Audio and Video is a very effective tool for communicating the Gospel.
It costs approximately $8000 to complete a media project which puts Scripture in the hands of 200 Papua New Guineans, for the first time, in their own language.
This year nearly 3000 audio players were put into hands of people …..who shared them.
Countless lives are being changed.
The demand is increasing.
774 languages and counting
144 of them have an audio or video Gospel presentation in their language.
1 technician/project manager team can accomplish 2-4 projects a year.
We need … funding … recordists, editors, distributors, computer techs, project coordinators, managers, village teams…. People with skills and people with funds.
If you are interested in helping there are jobs available without the need to go overseas.
HUNDREDS OF LANGUAGES ARE STILL LIVING IN SILENCE. HELP US TO HELP THEM PRAISE GOD.
(list of languages in the sound file)
For those of you who care to know, I enjoy Togo samiches. I enjoy sandwiches of most kinds, but Togo's is my favorite. I have fond memories of Togos, not the least of which included my future-brother-in-law, putting an extra few ounces of beef on my number 8, or was it 9. I've been gone so long I can't remember my togos favorite!!! ACK! I don't tend to miss food places much in the U.S. So I don't join in when people start saying 'wow I miss SUCHnSUCH food and I can't wait until furlough'. When your wife is as great a cook as mine, you tend not to lack in the food dept.
Still from time to time, something strikes you momentarily and you're hit with a hunger pang you can't satisfy. For most of you in your home country you can say 'wow I could really go for some Taco Bravo...' and then get in the car and go. For me, I have to sit, and put it out of my mind.
Today, we were recording 1 Corinthians and these two phrases kept popping up:
"To go" (pronounced TOE GOE)
"togo" (pronounced TOEGOE)
So of course I couldn't help but think of a nice big cold roast beef and turkey with American cheese on a roll. ..................sorry had to squeegee my keyboard there.....
Anyway I decided to ask what it meant.... because, I know missionaries who went to TOGO, so I thought maybe I might expand my TOGO trivia.
"to go" means 'all will go' they all go together.
"togo" means 'respect'.
So, for those of you today who are all going to TOGOS, I respect that! In Bola I suppose that would be "to go TOGOs togo"
Today we were recording 1 Corinthians Chapter 12, and over the headphones I heard a buzzing. I couldn't tell if it was in the control room or the studio. Benjamin suddenly pointed, and we saw a large horsefly on the INSIDE of the studio window glass. It was in the mic'd room! So I called a break.
I opened the double doors, walked into the sound-resistant room and there was Peter, the reader. I had a rolled up manual and was swatting at the fly and missing. The fly was circling around the room.
Peter stood and watched... watched... watched.... I was on my fourth swing...
Then, suddenly Peter swatted his hand, I heard 'thwack, thunk'.
And sure enough, on the ground lay a dead fly.
Without saying a word, Peter sat back down and put his headphones back on, as if to say 'now, let's get back to recording'.
I congratulated him on his kill, and we went back to work. I'm still amazed at how effectively he downed the fly.
finished. That means moving hundreds of files into subfolders, which
would be about about 7 days of work if I did it manually. (okay possible
I'm over exaggerating, but to do this repeated hundreds of times....
seemed like something I could automate) So I've spent the last 4 hours
of work writing a naming standard, and a recording standard and then
scripting it out on my linux machine so that the computer does it all
for me 4 hours turning 7 days into 5 minutes.
So right now, as I type this, on my Windows machine, my MAC is rendering
a video, and my linux machine is converting WAV to OGG, renaming,
sorting, and shuffling into sub folders hundreds of language recorded files.
What I thought was going to be a LOT of work, turned into something I
could use technology to automate because I know how. And now I can use
these scripts for all future projects and be able to quickly turn out
higher quality work, the same way, every time.
That's technology improving Bible translation.
we're MASS communicatin!
The room began to shake, the microphone was registering all kinds of
we had to call a break.
We are recording ahead of schedule anyway, so we could afford it.
Suddenly I find myself with 4 extra unplanned hours!
YES! I was wondering how to finish the MAIA files in time for their
dedication in June. I was planning on pulling some weekend work coming
up to get it done before June.
Well, thanks to the help of using 2 computers rendering and converting
at the same time.
DONE with my first ever, from beginning to end, they walked into the
door and talked to me first, PROJECT. The first one I didn't inherit,
but was mine from beginning to end. And it's done, and I'm happy with
it, and in a week or so, it'll be out the door with close to 150
AudiBibles to fly themselves into the hands of PNGIANS.
I'm very very glad this 6 month project is completed!
I was married, you might be asking 'where did the time go?'.
I'm asking myself that.
I know what the last 6 years have brought. We've been in PNG since
March 2007. Our son was 6 then. Now he's 12.
His birthday celebration is rather simple. We got him a used Wii game
that we had bought 2 years ago on furlough. NFL Madden 2007. Yeah, it's
not the latest nor the greatest. But he liked it.
He got an SF Giants cap. Although we can't get the games here, it
doesn't stop him from having a favorite team, and we did get to see the
World Series this last year!
Some friends are coming over, and they're going to watch the latest DVD
on center, "The Hobbit". I borrowed it from a friend who got it for his
birthday. It's a Hobbit themed party, and Kendal is making him a Hobbit
Hole birthday cake.
It's definitely 'home spun' and simple. There are no places to go to,
no real fancy gifts, but he loves it. He got to choose what we ate for
breakfast and dinner.
We like our simple celebrations, and although it lacks family and
friends from back home, it has its own special charm. The gifts are
rare, and simple. And my kids have grown up knowing the joy of a care
package, or the recognition of thought behind a gift rather than the
gift itself. They aren't exposed to English TV marketing and so their
expectations are low and often they are happy with whatever comes their way.
I think in living here, we have traded things that have little substance
with things that have great substance. Of course the biggest sacrifice,
is family and friends. And so, we allow ourselves to take a moment and
say 'next year, when we're on furlough, our birthday wil be with......"
And I absolutely love that my kids say 'with'.... and not 'at'. They
don't say 'it'll be AT funland and we'll ride go-carts'. They say
'it'll be with cousin Jake, and Grandpa, and....'
That to me, makes all the difference in the world.
is sought out because of his voice to do commercials, documentaries, and
His timbre, his tone, his fluent English reading, are the reasons he is
chosen to sit in recording sessions.
Our criteria is a bit less exacting.
We're looking for people who can read.
Sometimes we get fluent readers. Often times we don't. Even fluent
readers are not experienced in how to record, so they may read well, but
they touch their face, make lip smacking noises, touch the page, jitter
their fingers, and otherwise pollute the sound recording with extraneous
The less fluent readers make a lot of mistakes. To adjust for this, I
do a lot of editing, and rely heavily on someone who knows the language,
to tell me 'we need to retake that' when there are pronunciation mistakes.
Since we're recording Scripture here, you can be sure, that mistakes are
That's what recording is. Listening for mistakes, coaching readers out
of being monotone, and trying make the Scripture come alive as best as
A recordist in PNG, is much more than a technician, he has to be a
linguist too. I may not know the Bola language, but I know when someone
is reading it wrong... if that makes sense. I know vocal patterns, I
detect when someone needs to drink water, or is not inflecting
properly. I read hundreds of words I don't know to make sure none are
Yesterday was one of those days I was trying to apply the patience of an
elementary teacher who is teaching children to read for the first time.
It was taking forever to get through a single verse,with so many
mistakes, and hard to pronounce words. I actually stopped for a moment,
closed my eyes and prayed
"God, give me patience!.. please!" It can be very frustrating, but then
you have the reward of knowing at the end, there is something
permanently recorded that generations can listen to!
I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.
Recently, a translator posted this story because it occurred to him, that in PNG, the act of watering your garden is non-existant.
In almost every part of this country (except for a very few areas like the rain shadow area around Port Moresby, where they in fact have to import produce from the highlands) people have to make ditches, drains, and mounds in order to get rid of excess water.
During the big El Niño drought of 1997, an Australian support worker at Ukarumpa advised her village friend whose garden was right by the river, to get a bucket of water from what was left of the river, and pour a bit of water at the base of each plant in her garden. The local woman responded with surprise - such a thought had never occurred to her!
Here people don't water their garden because of the excessive rain. They plant something, and it just grows. But then again, in our home country, you don't burn away the tall grass (kunai) to make a place to plant. They till the soil by hand after burning away brush and chopping trees down. The place once called 'lone tree' (because it had a single tree on top of the hill) now has hundreds of trees.
Things grow quickly and easily here.
I thought it an interesting translation to culture dilemma.
They know this. I have a board of chores, and whenever I hear 'I'm
bored' they get one, mandatory.
Today my daughter let it slip, and I said ' WOOHOO!! Okay kids, follow me!'
my son said 'But I didn't say it dad! IT was her!'
I took them outside and taught them how to change a flat tire.
My son was very into it, my daughter, no so much.
"Geez, I'm never going to say that again around dad."
I replied, "hey, you're lucky, it was either that, or splitting fire
wood. This time I chose to educate you, instead of give you a chore,
but say it again and see what happens!"
Today during a break in recording, I was trying to find some common ground with the men I was working with. In conversation I realize they were from a beach area so I assumed they were fishermen. We began to talk about fish, their stories, my stories, and I decided to try and tell a joke.
Jokes do NOT often cross cultural boundaries, so I told him 'I'm going to try and tell this joke, but it may not be funny to you.'
I then told an old fishing joke my grandad told me:
"Tambuna papa bilong me, wanpela day, em i go long kissim pis" (one day my grandad went fishing)
"Na em tromawae hook, na wetim" (he cast his line, then waited)
"wanpela bigpela fish kaikai huk, nau paitim paitim, na tambuna papa, em pulim pulim" (a huge fish bit the hook, and then my grandad began to fight to reel him in)
"na dispela pis, em kirap, na kaikaim han bilong em" (now this fish, leaped up, and bit off my grandad's arm)
"tasol papa, em paitim em, na banisim insait long boat na kissim em" (but my grandad, still caught him, and got him on the boat)
"behain, mi bin askim tambuna, Papa? Dispela Pis, em stap long wanem saiz?" (later I asked my grandad, "how big was this fish?")
"i bekim, 'Dispela bik'" (holding up 1 hand, he replied, "This big")
The joke got a big laugh. They liked it quite a lot....
I've recorded 50 chapters of the New Testament and must have heard this
phrase several dozen times, in my earphones.
So it's no surprise that this morning I woke up and began my prayers,
"Bakovi Dagi, thank you for this day, for my wife, and kids....."
and didn't even realize what I had done until later.
Ever see that scene in the 13th Warrior where the man by listening
suddenly understands the language of the vikings? It's never happened
to me. I wish it would! But, until it does, apparently I do soak up a
This is Peter, he speaks Bola. He's one of the readers I am recording this month. We are recording an audio version of the entire Bola New Testament for play on AudiBibles and cell phones. Previously a Jesus Film was also created, and we're converting that to play on cell phones too, as many Bola speakers have cell phones capable of playing video. (amazing isn't it?.. they live in huts made from bamboo and grass, but have cell phones that play video. They have no power in the village to CHARGE their cell phones, but they find places to charge them.)
Peter reads at what I am guessing to be a fourth or fifth grade level. He's young and enthusiastic so his reading is good, but he often makes mistakes. This is where I come in. I edit my recordings on the fly to make sure that post-production is faster. I use Adobe Audition or Audacity for my recordings, I use an AKG mic, or a Audio Technica, I'm using a SHURE USB interfance with a RANE pre-amp. I don't run throuhg a compressor or a noise gate, but I could use this DBX if I wanted to. I don't want to. Peter doesn't shout. (-;
As you can imagine the process of recording has a lot of stop and go. A word is missed, or mispronounced. It is VERY important we be grammatically correct for multiple reasons
1 - it's the Bible.
2 - People listening to this, and looking at the Bible, may in fact increase their reading ability so we want to be accurate with pronunciation.
For this reason, I'm recording, checking levels, pausing, editing, restarting, etc,... AND scanning the Scripture in a foreign language for words that may have been skipped. Meanwhile one man sitting next to me.. Peter, checks to make sure pronunciation is accurate.
It can look like a rather boring process... three men, in front of mic's... saying things like 'stop, start over, good job... pause...' and then being quite for long periods of time. If you were to watch me do it, you might think I spoke Bola. I don't. But I can read.
Peter, has a heart for the Bola people getting God's Word, or he wouldn't be here. His home is way across the ocean on another island in West New Britain (Kimbu).
He tends to get down on himself when he makes mistakes, but I remind him, that's why we have editing. When he makes mistakes, culturally, he becomes more shy, and thus more quiet.
So for you audio geeks... imagine, that every couple of verses, I have to stop, and restart, and also check my levels, because the readers get shy when they make mistakes.
You have to learn your reader.
PETER starts off a -12 or so, maybe -9, but after a few mistakes, goes down to -10db
But if he doesn't make mistakes, he jumps up to -6 at times. I have to keep an eye on the mic gain.
Pastor Benjamin, rarely makes mistakes, he reads at a high school level. However he is older and his voice gets tired more quickly, so we take breaks, and often only do 1 chapter at a time. Which means, I'm always checking levels, editing out long pauses, etc.
So, what may look boring to the casual onlooker, is actually an adrenaline filled, constantly vigilant, always looking at things, trying not to tweak or make changes but reacting when I need to.... high energy process.
Which is why when I get home, all I want to do is sleep.
People ask me 'why are you so tired'.
Yesterday, a translator tried his hand at recording and said 'wow, I got home, and just fell asleep instantly.'