Me and my gals.  My how fast they grow!  Almost taller than dad!


The Flighter Side

Every time I think of something sad, I try to also think of the 'lighter side' of it.

Con:  Just plunked down $1800 for air fare tickets to go back to PNG. (Kendal and me)
Pro: Got a great deal on a flight to Sydney at only $525 

Con: It's ironically also a flight FROM Sydney, as we'll be leaving our daughter behind.
Pro: We'll be rejoining our son, and ministry in PNG

Con: We'll be saying goodbye to family and friends in the U.S. 
Pro: We'll be saying hello to our PNG friends

Con: Booking the flight, sets us in an absolute date for the day we say 'bye bye' to our daughter.
Pro: ???  

Help me out there? UM....    oh. 'knowing exactly what day you'll be super emotional and feel like your heart is being ripped out....'  Is that a pro?

I dunno somehow, I feel like I just paid a lot of money to be kicked in the gut.

We are so excited for our daughter to embark on the next phase of her life!
But it's going to be one heck of an adjustment for us....
We're determined to make our time as a family of 3 awesome and fun as well, but it's sad for sure and there's no way around it.

This trip to the U.S. has been pricey, with college tuition, all the flights, etc. But the money isn't the foremost thing on our mind because God always provides.

The emotions of the thing is what is the hardest part.  Kendal and I know we'll be emotional wrecks on the way back to PNG.

I honestly thought I would not be. I mean, I'm so excited and optimistic about this next phase. I get excited whenever there is a new part of life to explore and discover.

But in the past few days, I've been randomly ambushed by extremely strong emotions about the separation... primarily because Sydney is a huge joy to be around.

My wife gets a chuckle out of it. I have these random moments of ... freak out... which I can't fully explain, but I get hyper and wander around the house trying to find something constructive to do, and saying random things like 'without Sydney there then _____ etc. My wife looks at me and chuckles and replies 'I've been processing this for months, it seems like it's just hitting you.' Well yeah. I think it's all becoming real, what with absolute dates set and all. I'll say this even the most manly of men, Chuck Norris, agree, it's okay to shed a single tear over something like your only daughter. But Chuck's tears theoretically cure cancer (we don't know for sure, as he's never shed one) mine, don't cure much at all, except for dry eye syndrome.)

Pray for us please.
This is gonna be hard.


Last pic

On our way to drop Calvin off at the airport to go to PNG. No more family of four pics for a while. 


Fighting to be lighting

I was out with my son looking for a car wash, found a place. It advertised on the road gas was 3.19 p/gallon 3.09 with a carwash
okay that's 10 cents more than the 76 down the street but it had a car wash.

I paid cash, to get a discount which didn't exist at this station, and buy a car wash, go pump, 3.19 at the pump. WHAT? should be 3.09

So I go inside, to the cashier and I explain the issue, she owes me $1.30 she overcharged me a dime per gallon.

Here went the conversation:

me: "the pump charged me 3.19 your sign says 3.09 per gallon with car wash, and I bought a car wash.'
her: "oh I don't know." blinks at me.
me: (still calm) "I know, you owe me $1.30 because you over charged me."
her: I'm sorry sir, I don't know how to make the machine charge you that.
me: (accepting the apology) "that's fine, just refund me the $1.30 and it'll be okay."
her: "I can't do that sir, I'd get in trouble."
me: (starting to get incredulous, but still maintaining calm) "Okay... well, then perhaps upgrade me to a better car wash?"
her: "Sir I can't do that, I'd get in trouble if I gave you a free car wash."
me: (temper is growing) "And you won't get in trouble for stealing $1.30 from me?"
her: "I'd get in trouble for that too, would you like to talk to my supervisor? They can fix this, I don't know how to use the computer."
me: (maintaining my calm but torn between wanting to be angry and wanting to give grace) "Yes then, please, can I talk to them."
her: "They come in on mondays" (three days away and I'm clear across town)
me: (surprised) "Well you know I won't be coming back in 3 days, clear across town to argue over $1.30. Can I have their business card?"
her: "No sir, he doesn't have one."
me: "Can you give me an email address or a phone number?"
her: "No sir I don't know it."
me: (feeling lied to, hot, upset, I decide it's not worth ruining either of our days over, so I accept it and reply calmly) "Well ma'am, I think you should take the time to learn how to work the computer, or take that sign down. And you should know, I won't be returning here."

I realize that if they do this a few times a day, that's a nice little side hustle. But in the off chance she was a single mom, who never said 'when I grow up I want to be a gas station attendant' and who was just trying to get by in life, I decided it wouldn't be prudent or even helpful to read her any 'riot act' or lose my temper on her... not over $1.30 and yet, the desire was there to do so anyway. I fought it down.

In the San Jose, CA area I'm finding that people are rude, incompetent, selfish, inconsiderate. It's always been this way, but I've been around the opposite for so long that it's a bit of a harsh awakening. I fully believe in being the CHANGE I want to see, so I go around being polite and talkative, and I don't dismiss people when they say 'hi'. And I don't act all creeped out by strangers greeting me, instead I return it.

Yesterday at a theatre, the cleaning guy as we left said 'you all have a good day!' and I replied 'Hey! Thank you! You too!' and it looked like I caught him off guard in that I noticed him and acknowledged him, and so he replied "You're welcome!", in a surprised tone like "hey, I'm not invisible!"

I walked into a Walgreens and the very young cashier had no idea what to do with me.

After waiting a long time for a very old lady to pay in pennies and gather her items, I was finally at the cashier. It was one of those movie moments where the lady was counting out pennies and it took forever. My patience was thin already, because out in the 100 degree weather was my wife and daughter with our lunch, in the car, waiting for me.

her: "How can I help you sir?"
me: "I'd like to get these batteries"
her: "Will that be all"
me: (curtly-with that tone of -I'm in a hurry-) "yes"
her: "That'll be 10.91 sir."

I hand her a 20, she realizes she has no ones to return to me, calls her manager over, while she does that I say:

me: "here's 11 dollars."
she blinks at me and pauses
her: "What's this for sir?"
me: "hand me back the 20 I gave you and take this."
she blinks at me again and then looks at her supervisor and says
her: "I don't know what you want me to do."
the supervisor begins to say 'give him his 20 back. and 9 cents., but I didn't hear him saying it and spoke over him.

me: (as if speaking to a young confused child, with a gentle calm voice trying not to sound patronizing) "Hand me back that 20, take this 10, and this 1."
her: "No sir it's all okay, I'm just going to have Russ get me more ones if you don't mind waiting."
me: (very direct without anger) "That's the point, I do mind waiting. I'm sorry but I need to be going."

At which point I took the 20 laying in her confused palm, dropped the $11 and said 'keep the change, have a nice day.' and left.

I felt instantly guilty. I wasn't rude, I wasn't angry, but in this day and age, being curt is taken as confrontational and angry. It's not like I left her saying 'gee what a lovely person that was! Christ must be flowing through them! I think I want to know more about this Christ! I think I'll go to church on Sunday!"

It is so hard to be polite and share love and grace in the face of all of this.... what do I even call it, "unapologetic ineptitude"? "total self-centeredness?". I mean just trying to teach my daughter to drive on these streets I have to tell her 'people don't care about you or the law, they do insane things all the time, so watch out, constant vigilance!"

I keep thinking about transition and culture shock and how Christ must have had a huge "culture shock"... when He became human.

We must have seemed so crass and unloving to Him.

I try to be a little bit of light everywhere I go. It isn't easy. But you can see when others are trying as well. Now that we're in the U.S. for a short bit, the words to an old gospel song ring true in my ears:

"This world is not my home, I'm just a passing through, my treasures are laid up, somewhere beyond the blue, the angels beckon me with heaven's open door and I can't feel at home in this world anymore."


Not the best

For our friends not currently visiting their home countries, a few reflections:

1. fidget spinners are a thing. I used a pencil when I was a kid.
2. chromebooks are very popular now
3. there's a million shows to watch but for some reason within 10 minutes of turning them on I fall asleep.
4. people seem to be chasing after the 'best' of something. The Best Ice cream, the best burger, etc. We seem totally fine with the 'worst'. I mean, we've been without real ice-cream for so long that even bad ice cream seems good to us. People want to direct us to the 'best' of stuff, often. Like 'oh you're hungry for pickles? the best pickle joint is D.J. Jazzy Pickle! You can get three toppings for your pickle there for free!' And I'm like 'yeah, just a kosher dill in a jar will do, I've been away from Vlassic for years, let's start me out slow.'

I so appreciate all the people loving on us right now, and trying to help us re-acclimate. The incredible amount of variety here is almost paralyzing. I know as Americans we value variety, it's the spice of life. But my reaction to it is, I won't go buy a jar of pickles until I've googled it, or I'll go on full impulse and buy the first one I see. It's a coping mechanism. We're simply not used to incredible variety. I mean, even our neighbors have the same furniture, dishes, housing materials and food as we do, so we're not really surrounded by variety in many ways, except culturally, but even that happens here in California.

So when you ask me "So what pickles do you want on your sandwhich? Dill, sweet, bread and butter? spears, slices, whole, quarter?' All I hear is "...dill?...blah blah blah blah
' so I respond 'Dill would be great! Thanks.'

That doesn't mean I don't love it here, I do. I love all the choices, just having a hard time choosing.


In the U.S. observations

Cell phones are completely invasive. Always beeping and alarming.  People testing you from morning till night, interrupting thoughts and in person conversations all day long.  And yet you can get a ton done.  Blessing and a curse. Takes discipline to put the phone down and ignore its beeping.  


Odd Moments in the U.S.A. 2

Today my son asked 'what is the wifi password grandma' and Grandma replied 'it's on the rolodex' and he replied 'what's a rolodex?' which was funny to me, because it was old tech meets new tech. Has nothing to do with us living overseas.

A cousin said 'you HAVE to try voodoo donuts while here and salt and straw ice-cream it's the best.'

I replied "We don't need 'the best' we can have 'the worst' and it'll be better than what we're used to. Do you have a place that's the worst? It'll probably be more affordable."
No one in my family seemed enthused about going to Voodoo donuts. In fact, the idea of a plain maple bar was so novel, we might just stop there.

Odd Moments in the U.S.A. 1

- Today I was sitting there reading and I saw a movement on the rim of my glasses. I instinctively figured it was an ant and took the frames off in search of it. Instinctively I took off the frames, blew off the ant, and put them back on. A few minutes later, another ant. So I did the same thing. Then I thought 'oh, mom's gonna be upset she has an ant problem in her office.' So I started looking for the source of the ants, but couldn't find a single one. Then a few moments later the same ant in that same spot on my frames, so I sat there, and looked and realized.... it was the flickering reflecting of the ceiling fan behind me.


Cry Week

This time of year, everyone around me is crying or on emotional edge.

My motto for the next several weeks is to keep my head down, be as quiet as I can, and be as helpful as I can.  Guys, if you're in the midst of cry week, take it from me, no one wants to hear your opinions, and it isn't encouraging to say 'I don't see why you're so sad! You'll have facebook!'  Yes it's true that 50% of the communication is via text or facebook even though they live mere feet from one another.  But saying that, doesn't help! Trust me.

My daughter and son are saying 'goodbye forever' to many people. They seem convinced that they'll never see some of their best friends again.  From my perspective, I see them keeping in touch, and seeing one another throughout the rest of their lives.

The bonds the kids make here are stronger than the ones I made in high school, and also likely in college.  It is an intense bond of classmate, best friend, neighbor, playmate, all of it. I've never witnessed any bond as strong as this save a family bond, and I have nothing to compare it to to make you understand. It's like each of these kids are immediate family.

As I grew up, I slowly became used to finding new friends every few years.  And in a sense, these kids do too.  But some of these kids they've been close to for 10 years and in 13 days they're going to scatter all over the world.

And they're about to leave their home too.  Their families, their safe place (bedroom), their pets, their school, their entire world.

It's a lot to have to cope with all at once.  When I was a kid all of that happened gradually and I looked forward to each step of it.

And I look forward to every step of it for them too.  They'll look back with fondness, but right now, it's all tears and sadness.

My wife is also going through it because she's poured her blood sweat and tears into this graduating class for a long time.  She's not losing 1 kid, she's losing 24 (approx.) kids.

Sure I get a sudden attack of sadness when I think I won't be hearing my daughter singing around the house again, or getting random hugs from her. But I think it's a good trade for getting to see her grow up.

I'm so excited for her life.  She's transitioning into adulthood.  This is the defining moment for her.  

This is when she leaves the nest, and we get to see her fly.  This is when we are parents move from authoritative to advisory.

There are so many adventures that await her, and I'm excited that I get to watch her experience them.

However to embark on that adventure, there is this rite of passage called 'cry week' and it should be called 'cry month' because last weekend, was the beginning and it will go on for a while yet.

Until we get on a plane on June 15th, there will be tears (and I'm sure some after that too).
Tons of tears.
Emotions fraying.

So dad is here for hugs and help and I'll keep my advice, and ideas to myself.  I'll make sure bags are loaded and we get on that plane.

And I will say to myself, repeatedly, I'm so thankful I'm not a teenage girl! Because this must be torture on her.

If I could invent a time machine, I would bring my daughter back in time to tell her current self  'your life is going to be awesome! So hang in there.'

I will tell you though, that in all of this there is only 1 thought that haunts me and that I have to give up to God.
See I grew up with a very close family, and though we all scattered for a bit, we rejoined in adulthood to live within a few miles of one another.

But we raised our kids in missions, they realize the world is not that huge a place, they know how to travel it and borders are not obstacles for them.  There is no guarantee that when I reach old age that my kids choose to live near me, or even live in one place.  I realize that by following God's instructions I may have resigned myself to not having the dream of living near my kids, or future grand kids.  I see my friends here in PNG going through this all the time.  The struggle between wanting to serve God in PNG and wanting to be near their family.  But none of us have any guarantee of the future, and God knows all of it.  So I just going to keep on following His lead, trust Him to do what He will with our family, and leave it at that. 

My sites on are the next 2 years with my son. It'll be a fun time just him and us.
Then the next 4 years with our daughter in college, and what that brings.
And from then on, we're all just holding hands and stepping off the cliff together to see what God brings into our lives next!



What I did today

A neighbor nearby, a large property and business owner, recently had an
altercation with some people and there was some damage done to his property.
Word got out that I had a drone and they asked me to come get footage of
everything for insurance purposes.
So that's what I did, helped a neighbor with my drone.

I'd go into more detail or share a photo except it doesn't seem proper
to show someone else's photos nor talk in detail about their issues.
Suffice it to say, I was glad to be able to help.



I offered Calvin a ride to school today, in return for a favor, so he
waited to walk.

He was having trouble starting the ATV so I stepped in and said 'Let dad
show you how its done.'

One pull on the start cord, two pulls, a three pulls.. SNAP

The pull start cord snapped. It was new! We just replaced it like 3
months ago.

Calvin had to start walking, and thankfully wasn't late.

Conundrum: I can wait for a month to buy a new pull starter cord, but
we'll be in the U.S. by then (Can buy one there) OR, I can buy a new
battery now to get the electric start working, and hope it doesn't die
after 2.5 months of unuse. (batteries cost $200) I think maybe we'll
just live with the inconvenience of not having a working ATV until we
get back.


Vote for her

My daughter is competing in a scholarship essay contest for up to $10,000 which would really help us send her to William Jessup University.
However the winner is chosen by votes.
If you could help us out, and click to vote for her essay, it is here:


Music of the 80's

I was working on my computer and my iTunes started playing 80's pop. This of course transports me back to my teen years. Of course at the time I was clueless about Artists and Titles.  But the tunes brought me back.

"Down Under" had a new context for me, living 'down under' for 10 years now.

But it was the lyrics to the song 'Kyrie' by Mr. Mister that suddenly transported my mind to a new place. Words I've never really heard before.

"My heart is old, it holds my memories."

"When I was young I thought of growing old, of what my life would mean to me. Would I have followed my chosen road, or only wished what I could be?"

Okay so first what does "Kyrie Eleison" mean?  Well let me google that.... loading...loading...loading.... aha Wikipedia!

It's greek for 'Lord have mercy!'

I figure you have 3 maybe 4 major 'roads' in your life. Major career changes, major paths.  I figure I'm on road 2 right now.

Road 1 was graduating college, finding a wife, having kids, finding a career and working that career in I.T. for 20 years.

Road 2 was moving my family overseas and becoming a missionary.

Road 3 .... We don't know yet. But I have a feeling it happens after the kids graduation high school and move out. So, 2 years from now.

My daughter is about to embark on Road 1. The foundational road.  I hope you all are praying for that road to be precisely the road God wants for her, and that she doesn't fight Him too much along the way.   My road 1 and 2 were awesome and I can see God's blessing on it.

"Now that I'm older, I see what my life means to me and others, and the chosen road I took." - Chad Owens

Wanna know what I learned?  There are a whole lot of purposes to any one life. Some of them you miss if you're too focused on trying to do 1 great thing.

If you're convinced that your life is going to be something huge, have a huge impact, you may miss the smaller things that also have a huge impact.

For example, being a dad.

There are a lot of people out there who are pretty messed up because their dads left them when they were young to pursue whatever 'greatness' they were after.  Ironically in their quest to become 'great' and 'make a difference' they have contributed to one of the biggest problems this world faces.  A lack of strong moral men who raise their kids well. It takes guts, it takes time, it is hard work. It really is the hardest work in the world being a parent. You'll have higher highs, and lower lows. You'll doubt your self, your decisions, you'll be challenged in everything. Your hypocrisies will be brought to question, your entire character will be on display.  In the end, you won't exactly be able to take credit for your work, because it wasn't all you, but you'll feel a deep sense of pride and joy.

Young men, if you want to do something great, if you want to impact this world in a lasting way, then when/if you become a father, do it well.  If you fail in this, nothing you do in life will compensate for the destruction you leave in your path, and the ripple effects that will have.


Easter Traditions

2017 Easter pic. Sunrise Service
the fam in front of the Cross, transformed by flowers.
Our family tradition on Easter is to rise early, start the day with the Son as the sun rises. Then we have company over to share good food and conversation, maybe play some board games or something.  Our lifestyle here is very social and not hurried, not rushed. People tend to stay longer and visit longer, conversations tend to be deep. Celebrating Easter here, is truly a joy.

3d Eggs

According to Wikipedia the Easter egg hunt is a Christian tradition intended to use the symbol of an egg (womb/tomb) to bring joy to people.  The men used to hide them for the women and children to recapture the joy the disciples felt upon realizing the Lord had conquered death.

This year we don't have the little tikes running around we normally do, our house will be full of teenagers and adults.

So I decided to make up a little more 'mature' of an egg for the egg hunt.

Enter, my Easter 3d printer setup.  Printing out:

-a parametric mini egg
-my first multi-color eggsperiments
-my first multi-piece jigsaw eggsperiments (red and blue zigzag)
-a brick egg
-an egg within an egg.
and more

This is my major hobby, and you can tell the filament rack I made out of wood.


Techie Rant

The rest of the world is online.

Last month a college my daughter wants to go to sent us the list of her interviews.

A singing audition

An acting monologue

A scholarship interview

Another scholarship interview.

The medium they use to do all of these things is Google Hangouts.

I live where I live and the internet speeds we have are shared among many people. Google Hangouts utilizes more bandwidth than most video chat services.  So, I wrote them a plea email to let us pre-record her auditions and upload them, and have a telephone interview instead.  They graciously accepted.

Due to the time differences, though, it means we'll be up at 4am to conduct said interviews.

PLEASE pray that all goes well.

It would have been so much easier if we could just do google hangouts and do all this live. But now, because I'm pre-recording it, here is my techie rant:

-reserve a room with the capability to record audio, and also has a piano

-plan with the pianist a time they can record

-plan with others when I can use the room

-go late at night to setup 2 mics, 2 monitors, a digital recorder and find some way to run an output line that doesn't HUM (because of grounding loop) into my video camera

-setup another room with a decent background so that she can do her monologue.

-Once all the recording is done, copy it off the camera, compress  the video, upload it (will take 24 hours)

-Top up all our pre-paid cell phones.

-do it all in 2 days.

There are several things that can go wrong, as you well know with anything technical. This is coming at a time when we're already quite busy.

If the internet goes out, if the telephone service goes out, we'll be unable to have the interviews.

These interviews are very important to us, because  this is the school we're set on going to, but we need financial aid to be able to afford sending her there.

WE would appreciate your prayers.

Thank you.


Chad and the Dad of Chad

This is myself and Clement. Clement is from the Pou village. Clement is a translator and is quadra-lingual working on 2 translations.

Last night his wife gave birth to a son. They named him after me.

Chad and the Dad of Chad

This is me and Clement. Clement is from the Pou village. Clement is a translator and is quadralingual working on 2 translations.

Last night his wife gave birth to a son. They named him after me.


Chad and the Dad of Chad

This is me and Clement. Clement is from the Pou village. Clement is a translator and is quadralingual working on 2 translations.

Last night his wife gave birth to a son. They named him after me.


B.E. We bring good things to life!

In this village translation project there are three ways to communicate to the outside world.

The most used one is their internet connection, because it is also reliable.

I'm out here mainly because recently it's been having issues.

Which are fixed now.

Today I stepped outside my comfort zone and had to install new batteries for a solar system.  Not being an electrician I was unsure what to do.  So I spent every break I had, reading up on things, talking with co-workers/friends back in our main HQ asking them questions, reading manuals, and coming up with plans.

Because it was a battery system, I figured people would be without power so I approached it like I used to approach server down times.

I made my plan, I documented it, I even cut out cardboard cutouts to show where everything went.

When it came time to do the actual work, it went very quickly, and it worked the first time. 

I was very happy because I've never done this before.  I was originally going to rely on my friend pictured above who was the one who had done it before.  But his real job is linguistics and translation and I didn't want to steal him away from that for longer than I had to

My buddy B.E. (let's call him B.E. because he brings good things to light), has to know a little about everything.  He's the man in charge.

He has to know a little about electricity, a little about networks, a little about computers and hard drives, a little about construction, I'm so amazed by all the things he has to know to keep his project running.  And to learn them, he meet with experts we have who have come to support Bible Translation.

So when someone comes to help him who can take one of those jobs off his shoulders, and give him more time to spend on what he's a real expert about (linguistics) then he is happy.

Today, I saw him on fire. He was all jazzed up! Because the Bible Checking workshop began!  He was doing what he came to do.  All the electricianing, carpentry, plumbing, networking etc, was all built up so he could do that.

To see the team working and doing that, was impressive.  To know that they trusted me to get work done while they were doing that was satisfying. 

Today was a day where a team worked well together, people doing what they were good at, and then sometimes, doing something they weren't so good at, but with the help of others they succeeded!

This to me is what support work is all about. Supporting others, offloading them with your skills so they can use their skills!


Fun Moments

Yesterday being sunday, I flew the drone around to get some shots, and the village kids all came running to watch, and with each turn there were giggles and finger pointing, it was fun.

I've only been here a couple of days so far, and so take this with a grain of salt, but hearing laughter and children brings this village alive and gives a sense to me that the Spirit is alive in this place.  I have been to villages that do not seem as "light" as this one. It is a nice feeling.

Today, at the beginning of the translation workshop I was asked to share a bit of my story. I did it in Tok Pisin and realized it's been a while since I've done that.

I spoke about how we have prayed for and new this village for ten years but have never been here nor seen these people we are praying for.  I drew a parallel  between that and those sending us here, how they have never seen these people but still pray for them and send us here.

I told them that I was happy to be here and happy to be helping and happy to finally meet and see them.

I told them that all of you back home supporting us, to support them, were here with me in my heart.

That resonated with them because several of them walked a very long way, leaving their families to come do this work.

God is the only one I know who can compel men's hearts to leave everything they know, to go a long distance, to do sacrificial work that glorifies Him and brings others to Him.

Being a part of something like this is eternally significant, and makes you appreciate God's ability to orchestrate lives.


Sore Buns Sunday

(What you can't quite see in the background is the road/river.  The river has flooded onto the road and we're driving through a few inches of water here.  Later it becomes closer to a few feet.)

Sunday is the Lord's day. It's a day of rest. I generally like to keep it Holy and not work. However there is a lot of work that needs to be done to prepare the computers for the workshop, and people begin arriving this afternoon.  I could definitely use the extra hours that I would normally use to visit the local village church.  In my head I was tempted to skip church for that reason alone. When you are in the village dates and time are almost irrelevant. You care more about sun for power, rain for water, so the time is 'light time' 'dark time' 'hot time' 'wet time' oh and 'mosquito time' (at least for me)

Yesterday afternoon the bruises on my backside became well pronounced. I obtained these from the 1.5 hour drive coming into the village. The bruises were such that I was unable to sit anywhere without a lot of pain.  You can imagine working on computers, moving from chair to chair, this was annoying.  It is also somewhat embarrassing to admit that my buns were not road-tested-hardened-buns-of-steel and normally I would not, except it contributes to the story.

So there I was on Sunday morning, realizing that visiting the local village church is usually a great way to meet people and get to know the area and see some of its culture.  Yet the thought of sitting on bamboo pole benches, or any type of hard seating, made me wince in pain.  Coupled with the need to get these computers working, I opted to skip church.

A few minutes ago, I was sitting at the computers unable to solve a problem that was stymieing me.  I could not figure out the proper firewall pass through for this software to work.

After a frustrating hour, I realized, that I did not start my morning the same way I had started all the others. ( I hadn't read my Bible nor prayed because the internet was off and I went right to work fixing it so others would not have to wait for me.)  So I stopped and prayed this prayer:

"God, I know today is your day, and I have not done anything to recognize that. I am sorry.  God I know these computers, and this work in this village is your work, and I am honoured to be here to help with it. God, please forgive me for not putting you first today.  God if you would, please help me out here, I'm stuck, and I can't figure out this problem. I'm going to click apply on this button in a second and I am asking you to make it work. I need your help, I need you. I forgot that for a moment, but I'm reminded all the time. Thank you for reminding me."

I clicked apply.

It worked.

I'm not advocating treating God like a genie in a lamp. That isn't what that prayer was about.  As soon as it began working my eyes filled up and got a little watery.

Unless God wants our efforts to succeed in glorifying Him, they won't.  Sunday is not God's only day, all of the days are His, all of our efforts are His.  He is almighty, all powerful, loving and graceful.

I was moved that He imparted grace to me while I chose to bun shun the hard church benches.

Pray for us while out here, we will run into spiritual obstacles.  This work, what is happening here is so exciting, people are legitimately following God, that the enemy doesn't like it and fights back.

Please pray for the next 6 weeks that when this happens we recognize it quickly.


My Trip to Arop Village

First we took this:

To this airstrip:

Then we  loaded our cargo, and 6 people in the back of this:

and drove to the village over and through this:

and this:

until we arrived here, to find all sort of help in unloading:


I've been a lot of places, I've done alot of driving through various terrain.

That was the most adventurous ride I'd ever been on, and I'm told it was GOOD. The rivers weren't too high, the truck didn't get stuck or stall. All in all it was a good trip, thank you for your prayers in getting me here.

I was able to get the internet back up and working for them before dinner that same night, which was a big win for everyone.

Please continue to pray that the trip goes well and I'm able to help this work of Bible Translation with my skills and attitude.


Fond Memory

Before my last village stay, my wife found a bunch of these packets of Gatorade powder mixes. You don't often have refrigeration in the village, so having cold drinks is something special.  Also because you have to carefully manage your wait on the plane or chopper, every bulky item you choose to carry means you can't carry something else.  Like, oh, solar panels.

I was in the village for 3 weeks (which for me is a decent to long stay), recording an audio version of Luke.  The place where we were recording had to have a generator for power for the recording equipment and it also therefore, had a fridge!

Each day we'd hike or take a PMV to the recording area from the village house.

Drinking enough water in the hot climate is essential to survival. (as are several other items).

I got into the habit of pouring my powder mix into my water container, shaking it up, and dropping that in the fridge in the morning, then drinking half at break time, and half with lunch.

About 2 weeks into the process, I was tired, sweaty, and just plain ol' worn out. But each day, I looked forward to a few cold gulps of that drink. And each day I was thankful for my wife during that time, and for the people at our store who had this rare item available.

Today as I prepare to go out again, I recall those happy moments, and how I felt about the cool drink of something that wasn't luke warm rainwater.  Of how my wife cared for me and sent that special treat.

And I smile.


Mixture of Emotions

I almost think I need to create new names for emotions as it seems the
current available ones don't quite cut it.

Anticisolation - the anticipation that you will soon be very very
alone. Explanation: I have been asked to go to the village for 2 weeks
coming very soon. This has taken me by surprise, but I'm looking forward
to it. It does however exaggerate the thought that not only do I have
only a short time left with my daughter before she moves out of the
house in June. But I also will be away from my family for 2 weeks, in a
remote locations.

Divestsive - the obsessive and overwhelming urge to suddenly rid
yourself of all your material belongings. I'm sitting in my office, and
looking at all the stuff I have around me, knowing that in June my
family will be making the long journey back to the U.S. and all I can
think is, I want to take a garbage can and just throw it all away. The
urge to rid myself of everything I own strikes suddenly, and I believe
it happens when the pendulum swings the other way from the missionary
'save it because you may need it'. I have pieces of electronics laying
around in case someone could use it to fix something else. I have rolls
of duct tape, sugru, a packet of balloons, an old fushigi someone gave
me, some cockroach chalk, led flashlights, empty cans of pringles
(useful!!) zip ties, etc. I'm surrounded in useful junk that I just
want to trash!

iFrustration - the impatient anger that leads to defeat which comes from
filling out taxes, online banking, buying plane tickets, handling
college applications all online while the internet is slow or non
functional. We have 3 available paths to the internet. My wife and
daughter are gone this weekend so time to do taxes and get caught up on
everything right? WRONG, all 3 are having major problems and nothing is

And the one I call 'Old MacDonald':
Because when you experience one, two, or three of the above at the same
time, as I am right now, it can be lumped together to cause you to have:

Extremely Irrational Expensive Irritated Outbreak (E.I.E.I.O.) - this is
when you're convinced that you can fix all your problems by doing
something near insane, like, building your own satellite dish, mounting
it on your roof, and aiming into space. Or driving 4 hours away hoping
the internet works there, or calling someone in the U.S. and begging
them to help. Whatever it is, we've all faced 'Old MacDonald' a time or
two. I have only seen 1 person ever run out of their house screaming in
all of my time here, but I know others have wanted to. 'Old MacDonald'
typically comes on stronger the closer one gets to trip home.

Today my wife and daughter are off helping run a women's support
ministry weekend.
In 1.5 weeks I fly into Aitape to help technical needs during a
translation workshop.
In late June we fly to the U.S. for a 3 month stay to get our daughter
setup in college.

The logistics of all of this, the expense, the need for online time is
all building up and today I'm just trying not to blow. It's at moments
like these, when you are very loudly reminded that WE are not in
control, that GOD is in control. And that calms me.... it calms a me a
lot because I don't know how to fly the plane, but God does.


The Ride Home

Was driving home and had car issues.
Thankfully we belong to a good group of people who were able to help out!
We're very thankful for the many men and women who serve alongside us.


Flying ants

When the rain falls hard and long we get these flying ants who are attracted to light.  Whenever a door is opened dozens fly in.  It is the ultimate in that "something is crawling on me" feeling as they drop into your hair and neck.

At midnight we celebrated the new year by going outside and firing expired flares into the skyh.  The ants siezed their moment to flood the house, and now I am at war.

Whatever I do not remove tonight, will be dead by morning.  It is the most curious phenomenon. I really should research it.



Christmas Eve Service
It is 11pm Christmas Evening for us over here.
Most of you are sleeping and will wake soon to your Christmas morning. In a few hours, if you haven't already.

The lifestyle we live, it is customary for your high school graduate to move away after graduation, and that is true of many families.
So this is the last 'in our house under our roof in PNG' Christmas with our daughter for the foreseeable future.
Because this has the tendency to make us all sad, we outlawed the phrases 'for the last time' and such, so that we could keep it out of mind.

But our Christmas is over now, and I can write this blog entry without fear of breaking our rule.

Christmas is a time of many lights. Christ was a light to the world, we put up lights, we light candles.

My daughter is a light. Not just to our family but to any place she goes.

You've probably been in the Christmas Eve services where one flame lights one candle and it spreads out quickly until the entire room is lit.
That is my daughter's affect on a room.

I suppose we could look at the end of that service with sadness as we blow out the candle and say 'look the light was extinguished.'
But most of us leave that room thinking 'That was a remarkable thing that we were a part of.'

And that is my attitude about my daughter, preparing to go out into the world and light it up.  Sure next Christmas our house will be a little dimmer, but someone else's will be that much more bright, and isn't that what you're after as parents?

Our prayer for her, is that God's kingdom would be magnified in her life, and that she would come to know Him and love Him more with each passing day.

Jesus is way more than 'the reason for the season' He's the reason for our existence.
He's the purpose of our lives, He's the light.

Our family wishes yours the best Christmas... full of light, God's light.
We know that not everyone is cheery this time of year, but even when things are grim, everyone could use a little light.  For those who are in hospital waiting rooms, for those who are away from loved ones, for those who feel alone and lonely, for those who need some light...

We pray that God's light would find you and somehow, for even the briefest of moments, brighten your day somehow... today.

Merry Christmas.


Joy and Santa

This question has come up more than once this Christmas season and I would like to share with you my answer.

"Why do Christians celebrate Santa, and lights and presents? Isn't that wrong? Doesn't it have pagan roots?"

My answer.

My take on it, for believers who choose to engage in some of the traditions, is this. When Christ came, it was a big joyous occasion. The angels heralded it, told us that JOY to the WORLD!! They are more engaged and public around his birth than any other event. We're meant to remember His birth with joy and celebration! These traditions get us "in the spirit" of joy. They amp us up, give little kids something to be excited by. So partaking in them is actually good so long as we connect the dots and complete the loop and get that associated joy connected to the birth of Christ. The dichotomy of 'yeah we know it's about Jesus, but we're excited about Santa' should eventually be coached to helping each person focus that sense of Joy on the depth of what Christ has done, so that by the time they are mature adults in Christ they can say 'I am sincerely joyful each year at Christmas, because of Christ.' For me is about this discovery of Joy. If we take out all the 'fun' of Christmas to kids, we are teaching them in fact the exact opposite. While trying to combat the many 'evils' of Christmas, we end up teaching our kids 'Being a Christian at Christmas is a drag, because we don't get to do the fun things the other kids do.' and it makes it much more difficult for them, as adults, to become truly joyful about Christ. Not impossible, just, harder.

I don't offer any judgement on Christians who go the other way and choose to disengage from Christmas, because you have to do as the Spirit leads you.

I realize my answer sounds like a justification for doing what I want anyway, but I had to seriously consider this as a young parent when one of my good friends challenged me on the topic.  So it isn't a justification it is a real life choice that I made before having kids.

My kids are teenagers now, and haven't believed in Santa for a long time.  From a very young age they understood that giving was better than receiving and are very generous people.  They have never felt 'lied to' nor 'deceived' about Santa, and in our house are Christmas traditions involved daily Advent readings, a 'Happy Birthday Jesus' cake, etc.

We have always kept our traditions Christ focused while still enjoying and engaging in the other traditions. So our kids were able to move easily into the joy of Christmas being about Christ.

We have also, having raised them overseas, have had the chance to engage with meaningful community during the Christmas season, as well as serving others (and escaping commercialism). And so the kids have grown up with this excitement for Christmas that doesn't revolve around what they are going to get.

For them it centers on, what we get to do together, what Christ did, and what they can do for others.

I'll admit to being a classic overthinker, and to having a strategy for this from before they were born.  My wife and I have been accused of having too many Christmas traditions, but I guarantee you, that every one of them has the side effect of accomplishing strong moral character in our kids that we have already begun to see fruit from.

So before anyone goes around bashing other Christians who engaged in the holiday spirit a little-too-much for their tastes, please consider this perspective.

Oh, and Merry Christmas!

How Did This Happen?

Photo of the month, under the heading:
"How Did This Photo Happen?"
"What Are They Laughing About?"

I give you:


Putting up lights

Anyone else thinking I might end up on some epic fail video compilation?  Son is standing by with video camera just i case.