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12/31/2007

2007 in Review

I love the "year in review" stuff on New Years, it helps remind you exactly how much has happened this year.

So at dinner tonight, the family discussed the year, it's hard to imagine it's been a year, and exactly where it all began, but as best we can tell:

-To us-
Spent time in Waxhaw, NC. Saw snow, made a snowman, received training.
Moved to Papua New Guinea
Made new friends
Learned a new language
Celebrated boxing day in a Korean home, and a Finnish home.
Learned some Finnish words.
Became missionaries.
Kids starred in a christmas chapel
Calvin discovered a love for running and soccer.
Sydney blossomed as a social butterfly in many cultures. German, PNG, Finnish children in our yard is a daily thing.
Had a jungle adventure at POC, did lots of hiking and learning.
Went to exotic new places like Lae, Madang, Alotau, Port Moresby, and Australia.
became involved in multiple ministries
generally being good neighbors to people and building relationships

-While we were here-
several bible dedications
showing Jesus video
showing AIDS awareness videos
VITAL training
literacy work in progress

-To Others-
new babies to several families and friends
friends moving to hawaii
family changing jobs
friends remodeling homes
family moving into new home
friends getting engaged
deaths in friends family
medical scares for friends and family
and more


Side Effects:
-not as "up" on pop culture, tv, radio, or movies as we were last year
-can't remember the taste of Taco Bell or real Pepperoni
-missing friends and family
-overall sense of joy and accomplishment


It's been such a great year. Words don't really accomplish the task of communicating the fulfillment that comes from looking at the last year of your life and realizing it's been your best year yet.

I had thought for a long time my best years were behind me. Many people tell you "college will be the best years of your life." and I think personally, that life keeps getting better when you're following the will of God. Marriage, children, family, and the blessings keep coming.

Our prayer at dinner tonight was one of thanks for the blessings of the past year
and for strength for the next year that we would be able to overcome the challenges and be aware of the opportunities, and ever mindful to be thankful for both.

Happy New Year!!!!!

12/24/2007

Video

We made a 20 minute small video you can watch or downloadof our Christmas.
if you download the video, you can expand it to make it larger, it's small so that it didn't take us long to upload.

This is for everyone we'd normally see at Christmas, and everyone who helped contribute to us being here and everyone who helped to make our Christmas great!

thank you
-Owens Family

CLICK HERE FOR THE VIDEO - it's best if you right click on the "click here" to save it.

Christmas Eve and Morning

Christmas Eve

tonight we were invited to celebrate "finnish porridge"

it is meant to be a christmas breakfast dish, but they got started late.
"yolle" is their christmas
santa comes to the door, knocks and gives out gifts...
that is how they know he is white

they have trees inside.
in the rice porridge, a sweet dish with options for milk, sugar, cinnammon,
if you find a hidden almond you get to make a wish.


Sydney found the first one, the second, the third,
and our friends snuck an almond into their 5 yr old son's bowl who wasn't looking
he found the almond, and began to chew it when his mom said "what did you find?"
he replied,

"a peanut!!!"
we all laughed, he missed out on his wish!

it was very pleasant talking about their traditions on Christmas.

Sydney liked the porridge, she ate two bowls of it.

I was honored to be invited, although we had plans to be elsewhere we found a way to squeeze them in.

Their traditional christmas dinner is a huge ham, but they are doing turkey this year.

They performed a chapel for us last week part of their tradition.
Traditionally they ask for alms at the end. IT's a play about Herod and his decree to kill the boys under 2 and a soldier who defied him.

An unexpected treasure found on Christmas Eve.

A visit by a neighbor with cookies
a visit by a national seeking money
a visit by a friend borrowing a vehicle and breaking it
a visit by a neighbor inviting for porridge
and now, the new year's eve party.
Got home from our celebration with friends and it's 7pm the kids say "we got to get to bed quick! Santa's coming"
we looked at norad
and we figure since PNG is on the edge of the map, we're sometime after russia. Sure enough Santa left Kamchata Russia moments ago, and is now flying over the blue ocean.

The kids were scared, they ran and jumped into bed!

They're odd ducks in some ways.

Christmas Eve the kids were acting excited as kids do, and as parents do, we used the Santa ploy against them.
I said "If you guys misbehave, I'm going to stand outside the house at midnight waving a flag shouting ' Santa don't stop here!!'

Instead of being stricken with fear, which is what I thought their silence was indicating, they were puzzling this scenario out until finally Calvin asked,
"What kind of flag would you use?"

That sent Kendal and I into laughter but Calvin really wanted to know. "I'll use a PNG flag buddy."
"okay."

Christmas morning:
Funny moment:
Calvin got really excited over a used toy lightsaber that cost us less than a dollar at a neighbor's yard sale, and he shouted
"I bet no one else in Ukarumpa has a light saber like this."
and I replied "well, not any more."
Kendal and I chuckled over that. The kids weren't phased at all by the fact that a few of their gifts were used. I doubt they noticed.

We were amazed at the generosity of everyone this season and feel overwhelmed with honor and gratitude that this Christmas morning was so enjoyable!

My Daughter is slightly evil. She decided to leave a christmas cap at the base of the fireplace to trick me into believing that Santa left his hat behind. So in the morning I played it up. I saw the hat, and ran out the door yelling "Santa santa!!! you forgot your hat!" I came back in... "oh man.. what if santa flew around without his cap and got a cold and got sick and couldn't deliver presents to back home?"

Her face got really serious for a moment, and then she laughed.
I half think the laugh was because she realized I was joking, and half because she pulled one over on old dad and was enjoying it.

12/22/2007

the Santa Debate

My wife and I believe this is the last Christmas that the kids are going to believe in Santa because of the conversations we've been having.

I know many folks don't believe in teaching their kids about Santa, and I have debated this with a friend a few times. However our household has taken measures this year, to make sure that their first Christmas away from home is a special one, and thus, it's not the year for them to stop believing.

Which is why the debates they've been having have been so encouraging and fun. They are really trying to apply reason to this issue that is of the utmost importance to a young child.

Here is a caption of the debates:

Which brings me to the debates on Santa Claus.

We've had ongoing debates over the past few days, and I'll try to summarize them here.

C-"How is santa claus going to fit down our chimney, it's small?"
s-"he's got magic, besides he can come in the front door."
C- "well that settles that question, but it doesn't settle what color Santa claus is."
s - "in PNG, he's black."
C - "no he's white"
s - "he's black"
C - "he's got to be white, I've seen him before in the stores."
s - "that wasn't the real santa claus, the real santa claus is black"
Chad - "what color was Jesus?"
S and C - "white"
Chad - "why do you think that? where was he from?"
C - "Jerusalem"
S - "no nazareth!"
Chad - "and what color were people from there?"
S and c - "we don't know"
Chad - "they why do you think Jesus was white?"
pause...
C - "but Santa is from the north pole."
Chad - "what color are Santa's elves"
s and c - "white"
Chad - "are elves big or small?"
s and c "small"
Chad - "what else is small?"
C - "a mouse."
Chad - "and what color are mice?"
S - "brown"
Chad -"so if elves are small, why aren't they brown?"

at this the kids paused and the debate ended until a new day

S - "I don't know what to think about Santa Claus, I mean, a lot of my friends don't believe in him."
C - "he's real, I know it."
s - "yeah I know it too, because every christmas eve, I hear reindoor footsteps on the roof, but everyone else says he's not real"
C - "he's real alright."
s - "yeah I know he's got to be real."
C - "okay so that settles that he's real, but it doesn't settle what color he is."
Chad - "we've never seen santa so how could we know?"
s - "you could setup a video camera for when he comes?"
Kendal " don't you think santa would know if you did that? After all he knows if you've been good or bad."
C - "dad, I don't think you should put up a video camera, Santa will know and you won't get any presents"
S - "I know you can wrap up the camera and put it in a present under the tree"
C - "but then it would only take a picture of black."
Chad - "does that mean santa is black?"
s and c - "no, silly!!"
C - "I don't think we should talk about this any more, Santa will know and then none of us will get any presents."

and that ended the conversation... at least for now.



the next debate.... why today (sunday) is called "Christmas Adam"
C - "it's christmas adam because Adam came before eve"
chad - "who came before Adam?"
S - "GOD!"
Chad - "then why didn't we call yesterday Christmas GOD?"
they laugh
Chad - "and who came before God?"
both - "nobody!!!"
Chad "oh."
Chad -"so who came AFTER eve?"
C - "Moses"
S - "no silly, Father Abraham"
Chad - "no, their kids, two of which were named Cain and Abel. So why don't we call the day after Christmas, Christmas CANE?"
S - "well, we do have a candy cane."
C - "And jesus came after Eve, so Christmas is called Christmas Jesus!"
Chad - "you guys do know that Christmas eve isn't named after Eve from the bible right?"
C - "yes silly, it's a joke, we're making jokes."

That was a load off my mind.

one of the traditions we have in our house is to weekly light a candle in preparation for Christmas, and read some scripture verses around the table, celebrating Advent. It's a Scriptural preparation for Christ's birth, and what we're truly celebrating.

It is a pleasant thing to see when your children spend more time talking about Christ and His birth than they talk about their gifts and what they might be getting. Each year, neither of them can come up with a list of gifts they want.

It is part of the magic and the innocence of Christmas, that our kids still get. It has a lot less to do with what they might be getting. They write no letters to Santa, they make no lists, they do however, spend time reading their Bibles and wrapping gifts for others.

It brings me a lot of joy to watch Christmas through their eyes. This year, it'll be different, but it should be very memorable.

Thank you all for your contribution to it!

12/17/2007

Voltage

the electricity here is provided via a hydroplant (dam) some miles... er.. kilometeres away.

This country uses 3 phase power.
I'm not an electrician, don't ask me to explain.
The long and the short of it is,
many times a day we get under voltage (brown outs) over voltage (spikes), power outages and phase outages.

This wreaks havoc on computer equipment but we've got systems in place to compensate.
(read: a shack full of car batteries daisy chained to an inverter system)

One fun anecdote however,
yesterday we got an over voltage so long, and so high, that the fans all began spinning faster than usual.

One fan, spun soo fast, it began to whistle, and then, the blade flew off it's mount, hit the fan cage, rattled it loose, and sprayed plastic chips in all directions.

Mind you the fan was mounted via a reverse threaded screw which is meant to tighten as the fan spins... so how this happened, we don't know.

But it was exciting!

Unexpected Needs

One thing that has been a huge adjustment for me personally, is being surrounded by constant need.

What I mean by that is, every day that goes by, as I talk with people, I find someone who has a need.

In the States, most people hid their need, or really didn't need.
Here, people are constantly wondering how they are going to get along day by day.

Many friends have strong financial need. As we talk on the roadways, or store aisle, that need is communicated and often through tears. We serve a miraculous God who can supply our need. The struggle is the process of waiting on Him to supply. Often people here are very tired of struggling, it wears you down, and tears are very near the surface.

Today I spoke with a friend in dire straights right now, they've had break ins, and thefts, and translation issues, and they are having a very tough time.

The part that I was not expecting here was to have my heart torn in so many different directions. I'm the kind of guy who likes to solve problems for people. It's why I am in the computer I.T. business.

I like for people to look to me as a solution provider. But I simply can't meet all of the need there is here. I can occasionally help in one way or another, and as a family we can pray and encourage, but I never expected to have my heart broken for people on a daily basis.

I'm sure there is some sort of survival technique you learn after being here for a while, but my entire life I've tried to avoid becoming apathetic, which means all to often, that empathy is the opposite reaction, and here empathy means feeling other's pain frequently.

The only thing I can think to do most of the time is pray.
It's the kind of environment that makes you want to give everything you have to help others.

So what am I doing?
Today that means giving someone some cookies and a hug, while delivering the bad news about their laptop screen having died. What I want to do is give them a brand new laptop, but I can't. I can not solve this problem with my resources. heh heh, I didn't even bake the cookies, my wife did that!

It really seems to me that all things come down to relying on God.

kid stuff

last night at dinner my daughter asks
"mom, I have a question, and it's kind of funny"
mom-"okay"
syd-"so, why did you marry dad anyway? Was it because you wanted a good laugh?"

this morning my son says
"mom, I saw a part of a movie yesterday and it was really wierd. These guys were wearing robes and saying all kinds of crazy words, and then they hit themselves in the head with a board. It was really funny."

I laughed because I knew he was talking about a Monty Python scene.

12/16/2007

Christmas Chapel

Calvin and Sydney were in a christmas chapel today. A one hour musical in which they sang songs of praise to Christ for His birth. It was a very lovely school event.

It is such a nice thing to be able to walk 5 minutes up the road and attend their school functions, and to know I don't need to explain it to my manager because he'll be there too watching his kids.

I saw a lot of imbalance in the Silicon Valley.
One day, on Valentine's day, it was 6pm and a manager came around, mind you it was already one hour past quitting time for many of us, and he said
"I think you should go home early." to every one of us.... I thought "this isn't early"
and I asked him, "why?"
and he responded...

"It's Valentine's day. Work is important, and... I guess Marriage is important to."

In his mind he was being magnanimous and giving everyone time off. In my mind, he had his priorities sorely out of whack, and a few hours of leaving work earlier wasn't going to fix it.

Here, things seem to have balance. We take time to pray, we do daily devotions as a department, we do monthly prayer as a branch, we go to our kids school functions, and on weekends we rally around the youth events that are taking place.

While it is balanced however, there is an added stress on the family of being outside one's comfort zone. Several of our friends have been having a really rough few months, and it is human to want to curl up into a ball during those times.

We are thankful that we're looking at a new christmas this year. New adventures, new people, new happenings. It is for us, the silver lining in not being home.

For some of our friends, however, it's really tough. Add onto that the hits that seem to keep coming at them, and suddenly their desire to return home becomes very strong.

Pray with us this season for the fortification of the missionaries here. Pray that our home could be a warm blanket for those wanting to curl into a ball. Pray that we can be supportive and encouraging to folks who are tired of being here. And pray that God would breath new life into them, and if He so chooses, to use us to do it.

Personally, I wish that I could somehow inject people with this enthusiasm I have for this place. Yes it wains at times when people expose their grumpy side, but that's part of life anywhere. If we could bottle up how glad we are to be here, it would be a good medicine for people. A lot of our friends right now need a "christmas miracle". They need an infusion of joy.

The kids sang great this morning, it was the best Christmas gift to see your children praising God in song, in a community that praises God.

12/15/2007

Unexpected blessing

Today was a day of unexpected blessings. It's Sunday here.
First, to hear the Christmas Story in Tok Pisin. I was not expecting that, although years in the church I should have been expecting the Christmas story soon, but it snuck up on me.

I learned a new term "bokis kaikai" it's the Tok Pisin term for "manger" and it means "food box" which is what the manger was, it was a trough.

Somehow, hearing the Christmas story of Christ's birth, in a new language, had new meaning. I don't know if you're like me or not, but when you've been raised in the church, the holidays all seem to have a routine. It takes a serious commitment to not let yourself get caught up in going through the motions of celebrating Christ and to really let the meaning sink in.

Hearing things in a new language, I didn't have to take the effort it jsut sunk in. It hit me in a new way.

Like they said in church "long taim bipo, ol i no got tok save long tv o tok save long nuispaipa, tok save i kam long ensel" (back in Jesus' day, they didn't get news from the paper or tv, the Angel brought the news"

Secondly, I got to spend some time talking with my neighbor who has lived here for 24 years. He's a Papua New Guinean man, who manages a department here. It has been my pleasure to get to know him better, and to have him show me the ropes a bit this morning, was a blessing. Now, I have a trusted resource to talk to when I have questions about the culture.

Many times, the question comes up "what is the right thing for me to do here?" Culturally it's hard to know what to do, and when you are trying to build a reputation as being trustworthy and helpful, you don't want to make a wrong impression or make a wrong move that could take a lot of time to fix. Thankfully, God sent us our neighbor John.

It was good to talk to him today, and to realize that he is watching out for us.
The other day I had a man come to my door, as they often do, to talk. What I didn't know was that this man was a well known liar, or con-man. My neighbor helped in that situation and shed light on things.

Thanks to God for surrounding us with people to help us adapt.

Today is Family Sunday.
We typically attend church, enjoy the afternoon, then in the evening we eat pizza and watch a family film.

Yesterday Kendal spent the day in the kitchen while I puttered around doing chores and projects. She baked cookies, bread, caramel corn... all the smells of Christmas. Today some ladies are coming over for a cookie exchange so I'm hopeful that'll be a good thing for building relationships... me and the kids of course are going to be GONE during those 2 hours building relationships elsewhere. (-;

****FOR MEAT LOVERS******

Oh and last night we enjoyed our first STEAK here. WE've been avoiding the beef (except for ground beef aka "mince") because it can be rather chewy and taste gamey. But we decided to give it a go.

I began the marinade the night before, put in some lemon juice for tenderizing, garlic, oil, vinegar, spices. Let it sit.
Then in the morning I put meat tenderizer on it, and rubbed it in.
In the afternoon I rubbed it with spices... and I figured, the meat had to be almost falling apart in your mouth now. I've never tenderized meat that much, because it would fall apart.

Nope, while the flavor was great... the meat was REALLY chewy. Calvin seemed to really like it. It was a tasty meal. For those grillmasters out there, I will definitely need to tenderize this "steak" a lot more.

IT was an odd cut I've never seen, so don't ask what cut it was. The meat cutters do things differently here. Even so, the flavor was good enough that it was worth the chewing.

I think, the thing that most takes us "home" in our minds is food. Food is an adaptation here, but occasionally you get things jsut right and all the food tastes like home. Last night was one of those kinds of meals. Definitely being here has broken my love affair with food. Okay maybe not broken, but inhibited.

One of the things they'd tell us is that we'd find it odd what we miss about food back home. For some reason I really miss Taco Bell burritos. I have NO idea why. I wasn't a HUGE fan before coming here.

12/12/2007

Losing freedom

Today a few things hit me as I ponder the freedom's I've lost. I suppose maybe they aren't freedoms as much as they are conveniences.

This week the aviation department discovered an engine problem in one of the planes and while it is being repaired, the plane is out of commission. There are no roads to get to the Port Moresby airport, so without aviation, we're somewhat stranded. Yes we could drive down to LAE and take boat somewhere, but it takes 5 days to get to Australia by boat, and that's after a 3 hour drive.

So in a way, without the planes and helicopter, we're very stranded up here, although we're never truly stranded because there are multiple aircraft.

With this particular craft however, out of commission, mail is slower, flights are rebooked, schedules are drastically changed, and people remember that flexibility is a very important attribute.

Being flexible as you lose a convenience isn't a quality that I was necessarily born with. In the States, if someone can't offer you what you want, someone else can.

Here, you're lucky to have it from a single source, and most likely you learn to do without.

This is not the United States of America. There are things you learn to do without. There are a great many things here however, don't misunderstand me. It is not the middle of nowhere, we have conveniences.

-Another freedom, or ability I should say, is earning power. Being a volunteer, dependent on the generosity of others, we have no ability to earn bonuses as is usual for me around this time of year.

So as I'm sitting here pondering these, limitations, and wondering... why there is this gnawing feeling at me like something is wrong... in my mind Psalm 121 starts reciting.


Psalm 121
A song of ascents.
1 I lift up my eyes to the hills—
where does my help come from?

2 My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;

4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

5 The LORD watches over you—
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;

6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

7 The LORD will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;

8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.


And it dawns on me, the part of this adjustment, is that I am losing some of my self-reliance. I am relatively powerless to make a plane engine start working again, to find a competing airline, to do many of the things that we rely on others to accomplish.

Losing self-reliance is a humbling thing, at least for me, an American. And in the midst of feeling, maybe glum, I recite Psalm 121.. and then Psalm 40

Psalm 40
For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.
1 I waited patiently for the LORD;
he turned to me and heard my cry.

2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.

3 He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the LORD.

4 Blessed is the man
who makes the LORD his trust,
who does not look to the proud,
to those who turn aside to false gods.


And my attitude turns very quickly. Because I realize that I have been given the opportunity to apply Scripture in a very real way. To live it. In so many ways being here, doing this work, living this life, is a chance to apply God's Word in a new way.

I am in fact blessed to be depending on God for these things, because I get to see Him deliver. He won't let us fall. We're trading a bit of self-reliance for God-reliance and while a somewhat uncomfortable transition, it is a trade well worth making.

Now before anyone gets the impression that we're doing poorly in any way, let me belay those fears. We are not. We've been the recipient of such care and generosity and encouragement that our spirits are high and our hearts are full.

What I refer to is the occasional moment where you are struck with the very real truth that without God's provision you would not be able to do what you are doing. And in that moment, there is an opportunity to recognize God's work. It is in this action that we can turn a struggle into an act of worship.

My life this year, has not been forgettable. It has been a series of moments. Moments of great joy and of struggle. Moments where I seek God out to guide my family, and to give me the strength I need to continue.

I think that this relationship, the discipline to turn to God and praise Him in every situation is what will keep the vitality of this ministry going.

I thank all of those who are continually praying for us. It is sensed on this end. How?

Well many of you already know how... but for those who haven't experienced it yet...

There comes a time every so often when a feeling or a thought hits you. It is a discouraging thought, and incapacitating thought, and yet, from somewhere unbeknownst to you, strength comes. A reminder of our God's greatness. It is in that moment that you realize someone out there is praying for you. And you have found triumph in the struggle because of it.

I'm not being very specific I know because this doesn't apply to a specific instance, but rather to many instances that occur infrequently.

12/11/2007

Thoughts on the day

new cultural experience - watching cricket... not sure what it is yet, but it appears to be a spectator sport. They have something called cricket 20 which is supposed to be a fast paced version of the sport. So now I assume the sport is typically slow paced. Still, when you see the fanfare of the NFL on a television and then the game is cricket, it's a bit of a let down. Sport is sport however and I will attempt to learn this game's rules.

black santa claus - I instinctively want to say "African American" but a), they aren't African, and b) they aren't American. Seeing a Papua New Guinean dressed in a Santa outfit dancing around was an odd sight.

Commercialism - this people of this country are cash poor, land rich. Land is passed down through the family and they make their living and their food from it. But they do not have a lot of cash. A television station entered the seen about 3 years ago, and thus commercials. This year, cell-phone service in parts of the country became available. So now, on t.v. and radio, there are lots of commercials of people dancing around looking happy and clean with cell phones. It strikes me as odd, however the people who work in town, are living a much different life. I saw a man buy carrots in town. This told me he did not have land of his own, and probably lives in town.

There is a lot of new to experience although we've been here 10 months now. So much is new.

Today at work, a team of us ran fibre cable to the primary school campus. I've never had the privilege of running underground fibre cable. We ran it through dirty muddy pipes into cement junction pits, and kept pulling and running it. It was a lot of physical work, but now the primary school will be able to connect to the backbone network more effectively.

It made me think of some friends who recently went to Africa to do similar work.

During the fibre pull, one of the guys said, "I heard a crack." That's not a sound you want to hear pulling several hundred meters of fibre, when you're on the last length of it. It means the cable might have broken (being mostly glass inside).

So we tested it... THIS is the interesting part.
We put a magnifying lense to the sun directing light into the cable, and then simply glanced at the other end of the cable (far across the center) and it worked!! I'm glad we prayed over that cable!

We got sore, and muddy, and sunburned and we loved it! Sitting at a desk all day is definitely not part of the job description. Getting outside was very nice. Working side by side with Papua New Guineans (it feels awkward to make the distinction, because these men are becoming friends, but I want you at home to understand there is a mixture of culture and race in these efforts), and while we were waiting for this or that, to speak in Tok Pisin a little about our families or our home or whatever it was.javascript:void(0)
Publish Post

It was my idea of a perfect day.

12/03/2007

Lightnin'



Remember when you were a kid and the thunder storms came and you ran into your folks' room and asked if you could sleep with them?

If that were to happen too frequently with our kids, we'd never sleep.

Thunder is almost a daily occurrance during the rainy season. We live in a valley where the clouds gather and that atmosphere acts in such a way that thunder and lightning are common occurrances. The aviation guys could explain why and how it happens much better than I can.

What I know is that at one moment I'm sweating from the sun, and the next I'm drenched from a sudden downpour.

Add to this, that the roof is made of metal, and when it pours, it makes so much noise you can't hear people in the same room as you without shouting. As people walk about your house it is as if you are watching a pantomime.

'Oh look, there's my daughter, I wonder what she's saying... she's motioning to me.... oh she looks scared... I'll comfort her with a hug, because she won't be able to hear my voice unless I shout which won't help the calming process.'

Our kids have always been good at not being scared at night. They both slept with the lights out since I can remember, and I can't recall a single time when they were scared and had to sleep in bed with us. This is a good thing because here, an average rain/thunder/lightning storm is worse than the worst one I can remember as a kid.

The thunder shakes the house, the lightning, if it strikes nearby, can fry electronic equipment over the phone lines.

And so what do we do?
Well, the kids go to sleep, and then my wife and I open the curtains, and sit down in front of our largest window, and watch the night sky. We watch the palms sway in the rain and sometimes wind. We watch the silhouettes of the night leap out as the lightning strikes, and then we count the seconds until the roaring thunder.

It's energizing, it's interesting, and it's part of living here. I am thankful to God that our kids aren't skittish. He knew, and He prepared them.

11/25/2007

Our Tree



We went Christmas tree hunting!! Of course there are no tree farms here, but with a little paint and a piece of wood, your imagination could turn your own garden into a tree farm! We had packed with us a $15.00 Home Depot artificial christmas tree (about 3 feet tall minus stand) and some decorations. Before we came here, we asked several people "what is something you wished you brought or brought and were glad of?" and one answer was Christmas decorations. So.. being "thanksgiving weekend", (a holiday not celebrated with days off here, as there are only two nationalities that celebrate it), we decided to go get "a tree".
It began with us all piling into the car, Kendal made some cocoa, and we played Christmas songs. We drove around for about 30 minutes, and arrived back at our own house, saws in hand.. where there was a painted sign "merry christmas". The kids imagination kicked in and we walked all over until finally finding a perfect little 3' christmas tree already in a stand with lights on it!! WOW!!!! we "cut" it down and took it inside and decorated it.

It was a nice day. It wasn't quite as hard to imagine it's nearing Christmas for us as it is for others because we're from California, so we're not used to snow at Christmas time.

Fly Swattin





I don't wish to "gross out" anyone so I don't speak of bugs and vermin often. It isn't a huge problem here, but things are relative. You learn to ignore roaches, and mice, or at least mitigate the problem with baits and traps.

Wild dogs are a big more of an issue, because they knock over your trash, and in so doing, the flies come.

We don't have screen doors (yet) and to let in the cool air, we open the doors. Even when we don't, the kids forget to close them often, so the flies come in.

We had no fly swatter. When we visited town last week, we looked for them. Couldn't find such a simple thing as a fly swatter.

So, finally fed up with the flies, I took some spare cupboard lining I found lying around, and taped it to a bent wire coat-hanger.

Viola... home made fly swatter.

Current kill count: 10 flies in two weekends. At this rate, I'm going to have to wear a fedora and get a nickname.

Hmmn.. how does "fly killer owens" sound?
maybe "fly flicker mcgoo."

11/23/2007

a play,a birthday, a holiday, a quake, a paperwork problem

how to sum up this week best?

a play - a month ago I was asked to handle "tickets" for the high school play here. Yes, I was surprised, this high school has a drama dept. My COLLEGE didn't have a drama dept. but it is a great thing for the youth to experience and a great thing for the community to see. So, a month ago, having few other committments, I said "sure". But then life got rather busy with other things. Still, there is work and ministry, and when your work is your ministry, then the line blurs, but this was one way I could minister to several people at once, if I did my job well, and it was outside of my normal daily job of server and network maintenance.

Work, has been very busy, but that isn't part of this week's blog (-; Needless to say, this week our dept. offered the community a lot of features they'd been hoping for online for a long time.

a birthday - I turned 34 on nov 22. What a great birthday, the kids with homemade presents, my family really made the day special simply by making my special foods and being thoughtful. I really enjoyed my birthday.

a holiday - thanksgiving? don't celebrate it here. But, we do have a turkey... the store manager here ordered them special for us Americans. We will celebrate on Sunday since we didn't get a thursday off. Enjoy your 4 day weekend. I on the other hand had a moment of pure joy today when I saw the sunset over the hills... wow.. that moment made me so glad I was here. Even trade I'd say. Still we're having 10 folks over for turkey n stuffin'.. PNG style. It'll be fun as we try to bond and make a holiday special.

a holiday tradition - tomorrow is the "saturday after thanksgiving" and we traditionally get our tree then. so I've planned a little "surprise" for the family. We're going "tree hunting". Basically we'll load into the car, drive around listening to christmas mp3's and sipping cocoa... then we'll stop back at home, with a saw.. .come first to our artificial 5'pedastal costco $45 special.... and then say things like "nah, it's got a big hole in the back".. and then walk around looking for other trees, only to come back to our original tree an hour later. Then we'll put it in the livingroom and hang approximately 10 decorations on it (that's all that'll fit I think (-; )

a quake - there was a 6.7 quake here last night. Well it hit us at more lik 5.6. It shook us but didn't damage us, and I far rather experience a 6.7 here than in California. They roll different here, less damaging. Still we got under a table and the kids were a tad frightened. Then, we called all the single ladies who are new to PNG from our POC group who were alone to comfort them. It was for many of them, the biggest quake of their lives, if not the first. It was the biggest one ever here in PNG that folks can recall anyway.

a paperwork problem - the government has recently informed the director's office here of major issues with everyone's visas and work permits. Basically, unless they work around the clock (which they are) many people will incurr $150.00 fines p/passport. One lady, a friend, is leading the campaign to organize everyone and get them all to sign out their applications. It's quite the stressful time for many folks, however we aren't too stressed as we don't intend to do any travelling for a while. Still, I went to the lady in charge and offered my help computer-wise, day or night, since most of what they are doing is computer oriented and it'd be a shame to lose any of their work.


So.. you ask me "what do you do there?"
the official answer is , I work in computers, and my wife teaches English.

But the unofficial answer is, "whatever it takes"

Sometimes you have a week where you take ticket orders, cheer a friend, invite people over for faux thanksgiving, fake a tree hunt, duck under a table, turn a year older, and offer support to an overworked friend.

To borrow from another friends newsletter:

Exodus 17:11
As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning.

Exodus 17:12
When Moses' hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset.


In some ways, we are here holding up our hands to support the translators getting the work of Bible Translation done. We're holding up the people of PNG to God. And sometimes we're holding the hands of the people holding up their hands.

But always, you, our partners, prayer warriors, financial supporters, friends and family, (who by the way I prefer to jsut call 'family' which you are), are our Aaron and Hur. Holding us up.

Thank you so very much for allowing us to be here.
We do so much enjoy this work.

11/18/2007

Fathers and Daughters

this morning I woke up sick, and it's Sunday.
I had to make the decision of whether or not to attend church.

Besides the fact that you miss out on everything when you miss church, there is the bonus of everyone asking your wife why you're not there, and her having to explain you are sick. Suddenly everyone knows you are sick.

"Tell 'em I was captured by aliens honey, but I should be back by monday."

she wouldn't do it.

Anyway, my daughter made it clear that she'd rather stay home with me today. So I said, it's still the Lord's day, so we'll do church at home while mommy goes.
So when night church came around my wife went silently by herself while the kids and I enjoyed the weekly tradition of a movie and home-made pizza, family time.

I assumed they didn't want to go. Finally my daughter looks up "where's mommy?"

before I could complete the sentence "she went to church" my daughter was in hysterics.

Now dads, you can tell the difference between crocodile tears and a meaningful cry. THIS was a meaningful cry. Something was very important about church and I didn't know what it was. And I couldn't get her to calm down.

I frankly surprised me greatly, and I finally calmed her down and asked "what is wrong?"

She explained she wanted to hear the testimonies and now it was too late she'd miss the testimonies and why didn't I tell her mommy went to church?

The truth was she missed mommy saying "bye bye" because she was too wrapped up in the film.

I tried to explain how she shouldn't be angry at me but she was still rather upset, curled into a ball and was jsut crying...

Completely unlike her. It was so unlike her it disturbed me.

Anyway.. I said "well it's pouring rain!!!... but... I can take you there and you probably won't even miss any of the testimonies."

We have a tradition here of the new arrivals giving their ten minute testimony in evening church so we can get to know them.

It had never been an important thing to her before. But suddenly it was, and I think it was because she knew the people testifying.

So...
in pouring TROPICAL rain, across mud and potholes we went. I got soaked and covered in mud, but we got there and she was happy.

As I was going home I thought... "that was one of those things dads do for their kids to make things better."

The irony is, I didn't for one second mind the mud, the cold, the fact that I was not feeling well, be a thought in my head. I was jsut wanting my little girl to not miss those testimonies!!!

There is something deeply spiritual about our children that I can not finger yet.
This morning my daughter had a strong understanding of the verses she was reading. She was able to discern the truth through the words of the NIV. It wasn't a kids Bible, and she was able to make application from it.

Meanwhile my son is walking around going "dad, who was anointed Jesse, David or Samuel.... no wait, I know... Samuel was asked to do it.... to one of Jesse's sons.. so David was the only son on this list... it was David." Sure enough we looked it up in I Samuel and he was right.

I have no idea how he put that all together but he did.

Today was another day where I was convinced that maybe God simply called us to PNG not for what WE (my wife and I) might do here, but for something enormous he has planned for our kids.

11/15/2007

Seniors

today a friend and co-worker turned and said "in the states, what is a Senior?"
I asked for a context, as he replied "this email says my friend is a senior in university".

So I explained the freshman/soph/jun/senior which apparently shed a lot of light because earlier in the year some of the senior high schoolers had walked to Madang, which is a 5 hour drive.

Apparently in Canada, "seniors" refers only to senior citizens as they do not have the high school/college freshman through senior naming convention.

He replies "OH!... that explains a few things... because I was told the seniors walked to Madang and I thought .. WOW we have a very active senior group here!"

11/13/2007

Lightning your load

There was a couple of lightning storms here the other day. Monday morning was full of people bringing in hardware that had failed. We think the lightning surges were strong enough and close enough to cause a LOT of hardware failure here.

We've lost at least a half dozen modems a printer, and a switch so far.

It was an interesting morning because I got to use my linux and cisco ios knowledge in one concentrated morning of emergencies as people couldn't get on with their work.

The door opens and in walk 3 emergencies:
-the directors can't print and they are working on work permit applications. These applications keep everyone in the country as well as get those trying to come here into the country. HIGH PRIORITY.

-the network for LCORE is down. The lightning took out a switch and they are unable to continue in their work. LCORE does (among many things) tasks for translating the Bible. HIGH PRIORITY!

-the intranet is down. We've rolled out a new intranet today and the entire community depends on this for communication and information. HIGH PRIORITY!

So, in the middle of 3 High Priorities 2 of which were lightning induced, and the third ocurred simply because we had a project planned and lightning struck, literally... at the worst possible time... how do you decide?

You don't, you find a way to make progress on all 3. And I did.

I tend to excel during high pressure situations. I do not know why, but it is like everything unimportant fades away, I'm able to make clear decisions and get things fixed quickly. I enjoy these types of situations here because I enjoy problem solving and because life isn't one big panic here as it was back in the Silicon Valley.

Wipers

Driving in Papua New Guinea is an interesting task. I think I’ve mentioned this before. A driver (me) has to be very alert to many things. Potholes in the road cause constant braking and swerving. It is a tad unnerving to see a truck coming at you in your “lane” or side of the road, but you are hopeful that it is because he too is avoiding a pothole on his side of the road and will soon swerve back.
Obstacles include potholes, people walking on the roads, goats, pigs, dogs, bridges, missing parts of bridges (top metal disappears from bridges from time to time), roadblocks (police safety checks and other causes), and weather. To name a few. And remember, opposite side of the car, opposite lane for those readers in the United States (and the other 90% of the world).

We were driving home from Lae on the weekend when the rain began to pour. No worries I was raised in the hills, I know how to drive through hazards, I let off the gas a little, hit the headlights, and drive that much slower.
“honey, I think we need new wipers” says my lovely wife, echoing my exact sentiments.
Soon ahead of us there is a van full of nationals with one white skin in the back seat. Normally I would pass a van going much slower in front of me, but not being able to make out who this whiteskin man is, I assume the possibility that he is a neighbor of mine somewhere living on center.

It is in the midst of my thinking I should follow this van, that this man waves at us as if he knows us.

“honey, who is that?” asks my wife.

“I don’t know, does it look like Phil?” I reply.

“I’m not sure, but whoever it is, he is sure happy to see us” This she says because of his constant double handed palm out, waving at us and big smile.

I put two and two together and realize that either this is another SIL member who was out for a walk about 30 minutes off center, and got caught in the rain. He’s probably hoping we pull over and give him a ride.

I constantly drive looking for people in need, especially people I know. Before passing a car I try to recognize it or the driver, and now, this attentiveness was about to pay off for “Phil”. I wasn’t sure it was Phil but it looked like Phil through our windshield, the rain, and their rear windshield.

“Honey what is Phil doing way out here?”

So I follow this van, when suddenly it pulls over. So I pull up along side, Phil begins waving madly. So I stop. The driver, a national. Looks at me rather angrily and waves me on. Perhaps he doesn’t know Phil wants out? I wait until I can wait no longer then pass him.

Well… apparently Phil doesn’t know Tok Pisin or the driver isn’t listening and so now I assume Phil is stuck inside this van and still needs a ride. So I figure,
“okay, he’s probably paid for a ride to kainantu, which is on the way, so we’ll stop there and give him a lift the rest of the way”.

Yes following this van was very slow, and would cost us about ten extra minutes on our journey, but what is ten minutes when it comes to helping a friend?
I go slow enough so the van can keep up. Soon though, the van pulls past me, again another nasty look from the driver.

Now I’m stuck following again. I give him room so I can see the potholes, and we arrive in Kainantu after a while. We’re both looking forward to having the mystery solved of how Phil got stuck in this van.
The van slows,… is he pulling over? Yes, into a gas station. I follow.
The van stops, and out of it pile about 15 nationals. No white skins. NONE.

“honey, where’s phil?”

“that’s not Phil. That’s not even a whiteskin.”

“OOPS!”

We drive on towards Ukarumpa for a few minutes in silence until I mutter, “yup I guess you’re right, we really could use a new set of wipers.”

11/08/2007

Hakuna Matata

our House Meri has a young 4 year old son whom she brings with her when she comes to work at our house. Usually the kids are in school and so she sets him down to watch a movie. I've seen the "Lion King" out a time or two when I've gotten home from work and assumed it was Blake's (her son) favorite movie.

That suspicion was confirmed today. After having a sneezing fit, I said "maybe it's the dust?" Before I knew it, our House Meri dusted the room, and I stopped sneezing.

"Thank you for dusting my room!" to which she replied "no worries" a very common phrase here as a lot of the English here derives from Australian.

A moment after saying it she said "hakuna matata". We all laughed. It means "no worries" after all.

She then proceeded to tell us (in pidgin), she has learned the language of this house, because her son has watched our movie and learned it. He is forever saying "Hakuna Matata" around her home and she's picked it up.


The cultural involvement in unravelling that little phrase was too complex for us to figure out so we laughed and let it be.

How do we explain that the phrase is in an American film about Africa with roots in Swahili viewed in Papua New Guinea in an American missionary's home by a Papua New Guinean.

So now.. Hakuna Matata is a family phrase... it means no worries, for the rest of your days.

(-;

11/04/2007

Monday Monday

Fixing the UPS.

Around here UPSes (uninteruptable power supply) are very important. The power goes out frequently and having a battery backup/surge protection for your computers extends their life. Last week I spent setting up a new monitoring system so that we could see when servers went down.

We noticed Friday afternoon that a switch went down repeatedly during the power failures which was indicative of a UPS failing. So we found a replacement UPS after closing time.

Monday morning, we arrived at the door with a new UPS and this particular department was doing typesetting. Typesetting is one of the final stages of a Bible translation in which they perfect the look and feel of the text before publishing. (from my current understanding anyway).

They said, "wow, we hadn't even called yet!, how did you know?"

Typically the first time we know about a problem is when someone complains, but this new (free) software we put in place allowed us to see the problem, and come up with a solution before the problem was reported by the people in the office.

I gladly swapped out the UPS and they were rather impressed that they saw little to no interruption of their work.

THIS is how things are supposed to work. To know that our efforts of the past three weeks led to a very direct solution for the translation process is extremely rewarding. It means that our vision (our =CTS) of helping Bible translation is working and will work. The alternative was that they could have been unable to do their work for half a day if not more while we scrambled to get replacement parts.

As a comedic side note, I spent some time repairing the (now spare) UPS, and while one "customer" was watching, proceeded to discover a short in the UPS.... the hard way.

Sparks flew, flames flew, smoke billowed.
We apparently have a bad UPS.

I've never.... ever... ever done that on a UPS. I've never seen that happen on a UPS. And I had to do it right in front of someone who by now has told several people I'm sure.

It was in this moment that I realized the pride I felt from doing the quick replacement for the typesetters was equally relational to the amount of humility I felt from blowing up a UPS in front of a non-computer technician. The following moment I paused and gave the glory to GOD that anything I touch works at all in the first place, and to thank Him for the nice free new software that enables the vision to become reality.

I LOVE how God doesn't let me get full of myself.
I also like He made it so that hair grows back. (-;

10/28/2007

working here

Do we really like solutions?

Working in I.T. my job is to find solutions to problems. Some days you feel great, solving one problem after the other, other days you feel darn near stupid for not being able to solve the simplest of issues.

When you are well matched with another I.T. employee, the days when you feel stupid you can turn to them and say "help!" and they understand and try to lend a bit of their brain to you and work out the solution together.

Often times here we're too busy to put two brains on the same problem, and some days, like today, you both have enough problems of your own and are both unable to solve them.

Those aren't the best days.

The days when you feel challenged by a problem and can't solve it, and realize no one else around you can solve it and it's up to you to solve alone... and you feel as if you can't.

Those are the frustrating days.

This morning, I walked into the door with a plan, which 2 minutes after arriving from group devotions, was shattered.

Email issues happening left and right. Radio issues. All our major forms of communication were under assault. People were getting upset at other people for not responding to emails they never got, etc.

And in the middle of it, sat two I.T. guys feeling by noon as if they had no clear path to solve the issues.

We took a break, walked home for lunch.
At lunch I calmed down and realized "solutions can only come AFTER problems."

So I decided to let the problem have it's time, because inevitably a solution would come, and I shouldn't let my attitude get defeated as well as email.

Armed with a fresh new perspective and a quick prayer for creativity, I walked in through the same door after lunch and low and behold a few minutes ago, not 1 but 3 problems were solved and things seem back on track.

At times wrestling with an email issue here can feel like going 15 rounds in a boxing ring. There is polite pressure and sometimes not always polite to restore this integral service. How did it get broken in the first place? People over your shoulders, and the realization that confusion is enhanced by panic.

So you can imagine my elation when I was finally able to resolve the issue, and I was ecstatic, and I jumped up out of my chair...
YES! IT WORKS!! FINALLY! This issue ate up some of my weekend and most all of my monday but it works now!!!

which is when my co-worker walked in from the radio site and said
"well at least one of us is fixing things."

He will solve it. I know he will. But still, one of the many wonderful differences in being a member of the Kingdom of God is that I can quietly say a pray for him to solve it.

And, one of the great things about working with other believers here is that I can pray with him, and not have to find a secluded office somewhere where people won't be offended by our prayers and write an angry email to a manager.

I'm finding there is a great many cultural differences between working in Silicon Valley and working here. Not the least of which is being able to blast praise music in an "office" without offending people.

10/20/2007

A Painting, Providence

Should I write blog in haiku? Would we call that "blogku" ? Or perhaps "haikog"?

That isn't my area of expertise... I'm more of a run on sentence kind of guy.

3 years ago in October 2004 I came to PNG for 3 weeks.
for 3 of those days I spent time in a language area (apparently I shouldn't say village? This is news to me but it was a village.)

We visited 3 villages, Goglmo was one of the ones where we showed the Jesus Film and I played with the kids.

3 years later exactly... the same month... my wife says "I'd like to check out this National Art show." So she went, and I stayed and did work around the house.

She says "I liked one let's go back."

So we went back, and we liked the same one so I was able to talk to the artist. Found out he was a national translator with the same guy who's village I visited and is FROM the village I visited 3 years ago.

I don't know the odds of that, but we bought the painting because it's a little piece of our history (and here they are very cheap).

Now we have more of a story than "we liked it so we bought it". It is in fact, 3 years to the month after my original trip here, meeting a man from the village that was instrumental in teaching me about the true PNG, and who had painted this beautiful scene of a lake in Goroka (the town I flew into 3 years ago and haven't been to since).

I do not believe in coincidence, I can't afford to.
I am not normally an "art" purchaser but this one happened to be the right price (about $40.00 US) and had a good story to it, and has a lot of personal memories tied to it as well.

Cultural Moment

Before coming here we either gave away stuff, sold stuff at a yard sale, scrapped it, put it in storage or brought it with.

So the other day I was looking for something I owned, and I stopped and thought...

"wait, do I still have this? and if I do... where is it?"

It's an odd place to be in mentally... knowing that you formerly owned something.
AND THEN, if you can convince yourself that you still have it, and get up the energy to begin... you can search through the many boxes you haven't opened yet that it might possibly be in.

And ironically, we inventoried everything we brought so that this wouldn't happen.
It's more a funny moment than anything.

Like that moment when you're walking and suddenly you forget where you were going and what you were about to do? Some folks call those "senior moments" but even at the tender young age of 33 I have them regularly when busy.


So here is an interesting moment in our culture that unless you've spent time here you really wouldn't appreciate or fully understand. You really never throw anything away here. So when you're done with something you can give it (or sell as some do) away. But, because we all live so closely, you also put your name on the equipment that often gets brought together and lost. Umbrellas, basketballs, stuff like that, often you'll see a name on it in sharpie pen, or several names with prior names scribbled out.

You know an item has been around a long time by how many names it has on it. Each name a previous owner.

Well we live in the house formerly occupied by [Last Name Hidden for security reasons].

So last night, as my wife and I were talking in the living room, we heard three kids dart for a snack in the kitchen and my daughter yells out

"Okay, but I get the cup that has Joy [Last Name] written on it!"

We laughed. It was such an odd thing to hear and something you might not here anywhere else.

It was a "I'm a missionary on a missionary-center" cultural moment.
Those happen almost daily.

For example, the other day I was looking at a video of my nephew whom I haven't seen for 6 months taking his first steps and something felt very ODD about it.

Finally I realized it was because the floor had carpet on it. Something you don't see a lot of here because of the climate.

Another moment is when you're watching a movie and feel like the driver is on the wrong side of the car... and road, then you realize... oh yeah this movie was made in America.

10/15/2007

Fun Fact


A friend sent me a picture of this letter above from one of her 6 year old supporters.

It's a cute question, and very valid so I thought I'd spend a minute on it.
The reason it is so valid is that it is two names combined. Papua comes from the Melanesian term meaning "frizzy hair".

Papua New Guinea the "Last Unknown" to the rest of the world was "discovered" in 1526 by Portuguese sea captain Jorge de Meneses. Or did he really ‘Discover’ Papua New Guinea?

-credit

The country's dual name results from its complex administrative history prior to Independence. The word papua is derived from a Malay word describing the frizzy Melanesian hair, and "New Guinea" (Nueva Guinea) was the name coined by the Spanish explorer YƱigo Ortiz de Retez

-credit

10/14/2007

Interesting Day

Today is Sunday

Today I woke up to hearing the sounds of my children playing a game in our back yard. The best I can tell it was a sort of a "hide the treat" and guess who has it type of game. The part that was interesting is no english was spoken and I understood everything that was going on and it took me a second to realize it wasn't English ( I was still sleepy). I keep a tape in my video camera for these moments and started taping. Unfortunately most of it involved being quiet and closing eyes. But I was able to give you a small glimpse of what my children's days are like outside of school and chores.





I had been thinking for a while that the kids needed a swing, and so today as a family we went outside, after church, and the kids picked the tree. We smacked some weatherproofing on a scrap piece of wood, and tied some rope in place. I weight tested it and viola... tree swing. It really is nice that they have plenty of room to run around outside and play and that they have made and continue to make many national friends as well as ex-patriot friends.

God has blessed us continually through watching our children here. Never once do they stop to think about how incredible it is they are playing games with children from a different birth place, speaking a different language, eating foreign "biscuits" in a backyard once owned by Bible Translators. But we do.

Yesterday I spent the day (saturday) helping a friend dig some really big holes to put up his antenna. T.V. antenna you ask? No, his amateur radio antenna. With it he can very rarely communicate with portions of the midwest United States. He is hoping to converse with his dad more frequently with the improved antenna. Radio is a big form of communication around here, and I am trying to learn more about it since I seem to be in the perfect place to learn.

The work of a support missionary here is very diverse. Almost everyone has multiple jobs, all of which are key. Beside that though, my wife and I have a commitment to helping others as often as we can and having the needs of others take priority over some things that may seem important to us, and yet in the long run are not. Part of our heart towards support is lending help wherever we can. Yesterday for me that meant digging 33 inch square holes all day instead of repairing things around our house. Why? Because I heard someone who was going to do it and thought, it be better for their daily job if they weren't sore and exhausted on Monday by doing it alone.

I tell you, I heard a sermon from a man in Alotau, a pastor there, born in Papua New Guinea, and he preached on being a cheerful giver. I can honestly say that having a cheerful heart of giving has come from God through many of you. Being supported by you has touched us in a profound way and has taught me the meaning of cheerful giving. Through your example, I was able to dig holes without once complaining inside my own head about how hard the work was, or how I'd rather be doing other things.

For me, that is a lot of personal growth (-; I'm seeing that I'm not the man I used to be in many ways. I've really stopped grumbling to myself about things. WOW, did I have life easy before, why was I complaining? And now, I see all around me that I could have it a LOT tougher... so why complain now?

God has blessed us too often in so many ways for us to not be thankful no matter what comes our way.

Right now, we are settling back in. I've been back from Alotau for 3 work days, and a weekend, and now it's time to really get some major projects at work begun. We have a lot of improvements that we are able to do, and judging from the new missionaries coming in through POC the computer services department is going to have more work to do.

Five years ago, email wasn't used as often here, one of ten missionaries brought a laptop to POC with them. Last month at the orientation training, not one single member was without a laptop. Everyone knew what high speed internet was. The next generation of computer users have arrived with their MacOSX and their Vista and their high speed expectations, and so we at CTS will have our work cut out for us.

Meanwhile Kendal has begun teaching English as a second language, and this next week will begin sessions with the kids one on one! She's pretty excited.

So things are moving along and we're beginning to feel a lot less like students still learning the ropes and more like helpers starting to pull our weight.

10/07/2007

Alotau Too

I am back from Alotau which is in Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea. I finally understand all the jokes about air travel in a third-world country! Flights cancelled after 4 hours waiting in a terminal, getting stuck in an area for days because of a cancelled flight. Missing connections etc.

For a moment picture the oldest plane in the States that you've ever flown in commercially. Now imagine that would be the shining jewel in the Air Nuigini fleet. For the most part you're grateful there IS an airline, but the rest of the time you're frustrated that you can't seem to get on a plane the first time you try. Pushing and shoving has been known to happen, flights sitting on the tarmack for hours because the stewards forgot to come to work.

Anything can happen.

And it did. But that's not the point of the story.

My department sent me to the southern bay area of the country to help solve computer and network issues.

The setting:
In order to get translation work done, translators spend time in their assigned village. For many reasons from time to time they need to exit the village (supplies, laundry, sanity, deliver mail, send their current translation work to headquarters, a simple break, refridgeration) and when they do they can not make the trip back up to the Ukarumpa headquarters as it is a costly trip. So we have strategically placed regional centers.

Each of these regional centers need a few bodies to manage them. Usually these centers provide jobs for local Papua New Guineans. When translators are not at the centers, the flats/apartments are available for other travelers both private and commercial.

The Alotau center has two new acting managers who have come to PNG to help kickoff the new maritime (boat) ministry. If you know how useful planes are out in the jungle, then you can imagine how nice it will be to have reliable boats in a location that is very coastal and has many nearby islands.

The new manager also happens to be a personal friend as we attended Training Camp together.

VITAL a translation course in which there is training as well as actual translation that goes on, is kicking off the day I arrive.

The mission:
In order to help relieve some of the pressure on the new manager who has been in country under 2 months, has 4 kids and is really here to do the boat ministry, I was chosen to fly to Alotau. My mission was to remove any computer obstacles to their work getting done as well as assisting VITAL with their network setup for the class.

The work:
I showed up, assessed the situation, and began to work on the computers, volunteering also to when available work on anyone's personal computers. There were several personal computing issues that stood in the way and jsut gnaw at people and frustrate their work, slowing their progress. I began alleviating as many as I could find or was told about.

The blessing:
Really I consider myself being blessed what mainly happened on the trip. Yes people were VERY excited to be able to get a long standing issue solved in a place where little support is offered. Very grateful indeed! Some of the most appreciated work was stuff I did on the side that I saw as a simple favor. We reached out to the community to meet a few people and happened upon a guy with a few computer issues and I was able to repair them in under ten minutes... that ten minutes went a LONG way to help further good relations in the community with the current managers.

But for the most part, I got to work side by side with people doing translation! I got to see it happening! I also gained a new appreciation for the diversity of this country as this coastal area was unlike anything I'd seen before. Honestly each day was like a scenic frame from a tropical paradise movie! One night I was worshiping God thanking Him for putting me in this fantastic adventure. I've seen many adventure films but I never thought I'd be in one!

I gained an appreciation for what life at a regional centre is like and how my friends' lives down here are different than my own. I met people who I'd later be supporting with computer work, and gained faces to the voices. Overall, a productive week!

There is burden, and there is sacrifice when serving God, but in so many ways God reaches out and blesses, and His yolk is light! I have found joy in serving Him even though the things I've done are so far outside my comfort zone, I've been amazed by God repeatedly in the way He choses to work.

One example, I was scheduled to fly down and the flight was late, forcing me to miss my connection and scramble to rebook a flight and a place to stay the night in one town. The flight was cancelled without me knowing it, and had I not been late, I would have never booked the place I did (most affordable), sat in the airport forever, and had a miserable time. Instead, I went straight to my place to stay and had a deep conversation with a Papua New Guinean woman about law and morality and God and all kinds of subjects. A conversation which helped me gain a greater appreciation for Papua New Guinea's struggles.

Play time:
One day the boat manager needed to take the boat out and do some safety equipment training. So while he did that, I was able to go look at the new boat. The Kwadima II. It has replaced the old boat which was less effective at moving people around. This boat was designed as a fiber-glass hull but in the old wooden hull appearance so that culturally it wouldn't stand out like a soar thumb in the docks of PNG. A wise move I think. The boat didn't have a lot of luxuries, but it was very functional and got the job done effeciently. While we went out, I was able to drop a fishing line in... caught something big too but it snapped the line. Then we anchored for a bit, and jumped into the water for a quick swim. I saw a squid, a lobster, a kingfish, a jellyfish, a few huge oysters, and told there was a moray eel nearby. That was all in the span of about 1 hour. We got back on the boat and headed in. It was a nice break in the hectic pace. It's odd that in such a laid back society as this coastal area was, that life could be so busy for us at the center, but it was. Very busy.

Overall, the trip held a lot of benefits. Although I did find that being away from Kendal and the kids for ten days in PNG was a LOT harder than being away for 10 days in the States. I think it was being on the ocean, without a main highway between us, and an unreliable airport, made me feel a bit isolated from them, add to that super slow dial up internet speeds, and unreliable phone lines and I was feeling rather homesick by the fourth night.

Still, it was a very good trip and I know God was filling me up with experiences He'll tap into at a later date.

Picture time:
FOR LARGER PICS CLICK HERE:


A WWII anti-aircraft gun pointed right at me as I got off the airplane in Alotau. War relics litter the beaches.


the plane


the village we visited of an employee


a glimpse of town - this place has EVERYTHING (-;

VITAL in action (admittedly not the most active picture, but the course is longer than I was there for and I didn't get many action pics)


Alotau from the ocean.


Boat training

using safety location equipment


the old boat

10/03/2007

Alotau

I went to bed last night around 2am because I was working in the office to repair failed hard drives. I'm trying to work in the office AFTER hours so I have from 4-6(dinner) then from 10(dinner chat) till I go to bed. Gladly though, battling the slow internet connection, I finally downloaded somewhat timely virus definitions.

Today Tim needed to go on the boat and train many people on the emergency location device and test the new antenna. So we all went with him. We sent the "old" boat the MARK out with a beacon and tried to locate it. It took us about an hour. On the way I thought "why not drop a line in?" So I did, send the tension on the line, and let it sit, about an hour later the line started unspooling like mad, so I ran to the back of the boat, grabbed the pole and before I could get a good yank in to set the hook, I felt slack. The line snapped... I hadn't yelled "fish on" and the tension was too much for it. Oh well, some excitement, but it would have been nice to have some fresh fish for the first time in 6 months.

This is really a different world down here. For going such a short distance, it's completely different. Ukarumpa is a highlands (mountain) culture, this is a coastal culture. The houses are different, people are more used to being on the water or shore than in the hills, there are no gardens visible from the ocean up in the hills, which tells me most of the people are down on the coast. They don't speak Tok Pisin, they speak mostly MOTU, and if you speak Tok Pisin and they don't, they might be insulted. Things seem more safe here, but in many aspects it is such a different way of life. Tim and the family are like fish, we swam today in the ocean, taking about an hour break for fun after training was done.
He dives down, stays down... it's amazing.

So I had a lot of firsts.
At tim's challenge, I dove off the top of the boat (about 13+my height) up from the water, jumped into the water. Then in the water saw an old WWII wreckage that had 2 huge oysters on it (about the size of basketballs). Getting back onto the boat was a trick. It's a new boat and they haven't worked out the ladder yet, so I climbed up the side, and in the process cut my foot and dropped my mask into the water . I hesitated but jumped in after it, and it was too late. So I had to climb my way up onto the boat again. On the way back I saw some dolphins off the bow and ran to get my camera, and came back they were drifting in front of the bow of the boat right under me! It was pretty neat. I'm not sure if the pictures came out.
A lot of firsts.

It sounds like a nice day, and it was. The boat is a fibreglass hull crafted to look like an old wooden boat. The style of the boat doesn't reflect all of the latest technologies but it tries to incorporate as many as it can (satellite,gps, radio, etc) in a culturally sensitive way so the boat doesn't stand out too much at the dock. And it doesn't. It actually blends in nicely, except that's it is very clean and white still.

I came over here because the current "acting" manager of this location is supposed to also be the maritime manager. The maritime ministry is a new ministry trying to get off the ground, with the intention of getting translators to and from their allocation safely. Until this boat came along, travel was at best, risky. So this family came and in the process have also taken on the site management job. I've spent 5 days with them now, and they are very simply put.... overworked. They do not complain, but he is doing the job of 4 men right now.

Add to that cultural learning, as they've been here not even 2 months yet, and then finally throw in a slew of computer problems, and life is pretty tough down here. So my department sent me down to help ease the load as much as I could. Almost like a missions trip inside of being a full time missionary.

Today we took a break from working 8am-2am every day, and worked out on the ocean. It is a completely different life from my own but I really enjoyed seeing Tim and his family in their element, seeing where they excel. It made me realize God really chose the right family to come here.

I've had some interesting cultural situations that I've been involved in since being here. It's been a very rich experience. Sparing you the details, the overall point of the encounters seems to be that you need to reach out with care to the surrounding cultures and show them you are here to love them and integrate. Failure to do that would be a huge mistake but an easy one to make since we don't know all the cultural rules yet. Being active in the community, being seen, kids playing together, adults talking together, this is relationship building and no work will be effective until that is established. It takes time and wisdom.

I've gotten to taste a little of what life is like for translators AWAY from Ukarumpa which is our "headquarters", I've seen the village, and now I've seen a regional center which is like a mini-headquarters. I've been able to see the boat they spend nights on travelling, and I've been able to solve computer problems for translators who come through and need to get work done.

I've felt very directly involved here and realize that this experience is very unique to those who live in Ukarumpa and it can only profit everyone that I've had it. I should be able to better support them knowing what it's like down here, but mostly understanding what life is like will help me best support them both spiritually, physically and technologically.

9/27/2007

Alotau



Many people here in Ukarumpa have not been to Alotau. This is the place of the new BOAT ministry that some friends of ours are managing.

I was asked if I could go a few days after returning from P.O.C. POC is a 4 hour drive from Ukarumpa or a 20 minute flight. Alotau is a two plane trip. One plane from here to Port Moresby then another to Alotau. Since I am going on a WORK related trip, our department is covering the cost of the flight.

The manager of the boat ministry is also acting as the regional center manager so he's overbooked. When you're overbooked and your computers aren't working, life seems that much more complicated. So as a support ministry, we (cts) are sending a representative (me) down to solve their computer problems.

It feels like a business trip like back in the States. I'll be leaving Kendal and the kids home for 10 days because while the work may only day 3-5 (after all I've brought up an entire hosting facility in 5) the flight schedules mandate I stay for 10.

So I'll be able to do more work than jsut the top priorities, which is a real blessing to me because I'll be able to work with people one on one AND assist with the VITAL program. (a translator training course)

It is really special whenever I can get more direct exposure to the translation process and apparently this experience is one that not many get to have. So I'm thankful to God for it, even though it means travelling again so soon after having jsut gotten home.

My plane leaves in 40 minutes.

Life in Ukarumpa.
I was all packed, and ready to go when my wife said "the phone isn't working".
I looked at the phone and realized it was off the hook in the other room. We hung it up and it instantly rang.

I have 1 hour to go before the flight and I have had 2 favors requested.
-since you're going to Alotau can you bring some things for them?
OF COURSE I CAN!

In fact, we also signed up as a support family for one of the couples in Alotau, which means that since they are more remote and we have more resources, that we arrange to send them things when they need them. (more batteries, radio parts, computer parts, whatever). So for ten days I have 3 "outfits" and the rest of my luggage is stuff for them and the kids as a help and encouragement. So fitting in another small thing isn't huge.. I ....can...JAM...it...in.

-we have friends leaving on the same flight as you, and their connection won't leave until tomorrow and they'll need cash to eat/sleep etc. Since finance can only let us draw X amount per day, can you draw X amount and I draw X amount and then I'll pay you back later?

OF COURSE WE CAN! WHY? BECAUSE my wife is so brilliant that she planned ahead for our personal cash needs and got our needed cash two days ago!

It's year end stock take, so in addition to the standard office closure of Saturday and Sunday, we also have monday/tues/weds closures....

WOW... in the course of 1 hour we were able to help 2 people out. I LOVE being in the position where we can be helpful.

For so long we've been learning, training, working, and basically learning the ropes, asking questions of others, and feeling generally like... mooches. Relying on the kindness and help of others.

But now, we've been here half a year, we're established, know more of the language, and have been able to help people quite a bit!

We take our roles as support much further than the work we do. It pours into our attitude, we want people to feel welcomed, supported, encouraged, and generally like we're the kind of family they can always come to when they need help or rest.

So today is a GREAT day because not only do we get to help people at Ukarumpa, but I get to go to Alotau and give some goodies to this family's 4 kids, give some encouragement and love, and practical technical help.

This is the kind of day we were made for!

God is so good to us, giving us this kind of opportunity time after time.
At POC we were able to be helpful to people as well because of where God had put us months previous. We were able to encourage people and comfort people, fix their computers, etc.

Please pray for Kendal and the kids alone for 10 days. We've been apart for ten days before but this time it's in a different country, and Kendal is the one staying. Pray for safety and health and sanity. (-;

Thank you all for reading and supporting us!

9/20/2007

Village Living.... the EPIC SAGA



I wrote my “blog” down by hand since I did not have a computer with me during village living. I also only wrote snippets as I had time, so what you’re about to read will be a very long blog entry as I’ve put all the 6 days together in one post. Also, since it is more like a quilted fabric of thoughts and recollections of the day, the grammar is not always clear. Take it for what it is, and I hope you enjoy reading it. It’ll be a bit of a read. Also, soon I will post from Kendal’s journal, so you get her perspective as well.

PLEASE ENJOY THE PICTURES
(the way I enjoy is I goto the first picture, click on the down arrow, choose "view slideshow" then up at the top click on 640x480 change the time from 15 seconds to 3 seconds, and click "show more info"... then I can sit back and enjoy the photos)


POC

Village Living

Day 1


We took 2 hiluxes and 4 families into the bush “kamba”. After unloading the others we took a 2.5 km trail in the 4x4 to the village named “Betelgut”. There we met our was mama and her daughter and granddaughter (1yr old) and her dad. We were told that our waspapa was in Lae for the week so I figured I was destined to not have one. He may show up later.

The house was up a short path, our temporary waspapa is a carpenter so the house was very nice. Strong. After we saw the newly finished liklik haus (outhouse) we storied a bit (talked) then put up the beds and mosquito nets and got water going through the filter. I was told “you fat” and that Sydney spoke better tok pisin than me or Calvin or Kendal. These types of comments are not rude in their culture, they simply are observations. This hurt Calvin’s feelings until I told him that he spoke better tok pisin than me. We seemed to click quickly with the family so that was good. The roof of our room is at 10’ but the door is at 6’ and I’ve hit my head 4 times thus far.

We’re isolated but it is really nice. I am finding I can communicate somewhat well although I’m not sure if that’s a tribute to my tok pisin or their ability to understand bad tok pisin. I still have much to learn. After a brief nap 10-15 boys came and played soccer. Watching the boys w/ Calvin was amazing. They would run all around him but stop near him and let him take his time kicking the ball because he was so much slower than them. Then in a feat of cross cultural communication, I taught them kickball! They loved it. 2 dads umpired and one dad was your typical little league dad, shouting and directing them in their tok ples (native language).

Stand in was-brother showed me a new house being built, it was 2 stories. Sydney is amazing! Everyone loved her from the 1^st minute. She’s fluent in tok pisin, plays with their pet snake, and right now is learning to shred coconut. It is simply awe inspiring to see her flourish. Calvin is right now trying to catch a chicken with his bare hands. He thinks a rope would help him, so he might get a vine. From time to time you see him chasing after it. For Dinner we’re having taro, kowkow, chicken, kumu and rice. Syd played hopscotch but her hair wasn’t curly enough to hold the piece of coconut shell on her head. Calvin played marbles and I learned to chop/split wood the PNG way. An old man came into the room and started talking. It was an awkward conversation because he was partially deaf. He had 4 sons, 1 daughter and 2 sons of his died to sickness. They tell us we will be seeing many funerals in the coming years as AIDS is quickly becoming a major health problem here (to rival Africa).

The liklik haus is a 4x4 room with a 12” hole in the ground. I put a toilet on top of it under advisement from staff at POC. I met wasmama’s husband. He’s a very talkative and hospitable guy. A carpenter, I really like him. He has many friends and built his house to host visitors. We had a good dinner and talked a lot. He gave me permission to do magic tricks tomorrow, I was concerned about this because of the country’s history with mysticism, but he was assured when I taught him the secret to the trick and realized it was all play. His prayer at mealtime was quiet and on one knee and well spoken. So far I’m really enjoying village living as is the rest of the family. They call SYD a PNG Meri. I think they want to keep her. Sydney carried firewood on her head today, and Calvin has been a little quiet, but he’s warming up.

Day 2


My air bed leaks. So I decided to hike the 2.5km to the PMV stop. We saw some other POCers there. The hike wasn’t too hard, very sweaty and hot. Calvin and I rode the pmv into town, THAT was an adventure. Then we bought 2 foam mattresses with all the cash I had on hand. I bought Calvin an ice-cream with the remaining coins because he was so good today! The new rode another pmv to Kamba and hiked back into our village. I never planned to ride a pmv or hike while in the village. I made up for the hike I missed when I was sick! On the way up one man asked my advice on how to be successful, and in tok pisin I replied to him that true success was knowing Christ. If he wanted true success he needed to read his Bible. I had only a little time to witness to him, but instead of answering his question of how to sell more effectively to whiteskins, I gave him that. Who knew I’d be witnessing on a the back of a flatbed truck in the middle of a jungle? God. It was a great adventure today, one I would have never attempted without the training of the previous 5 weeks at POC.

Papa talked about an adopted son in Australia learning the computer business from a friend of his who likes snakes and insects, I’ll have to ask more about this later.

Day 3

Slept from 8p-4a was tired. The family is large, 7 kids. 2 boys away w/work 1 daughter w/baby. Our wasparents are no who they were meant to be but it’s fine. Mama runs most of the show. Today waspapa stand-in wants to climb coconut trees and drink kulau (young coconut milk, very tasty. This is a good drink sort of like jungle Gatorade, it puts back in minerals and electrolytes You find a green coconut, then cut open the top 1/3 of it and drink the contents). He took me on a tour of betelgut, it’s large w/30 houses or so, very pretty because there is water all around. Yesterday I asked Sydney “what are you eating?” “kowkow and a lolli”. PNG MERI. Calvin has been practicing cutting bark w/a bush knife. Sydney has befriended Alma, I’ve done a few magic tricks. Sydney drank some bad creek water but didn’t get sick from it. She was called “blackskin” and we’re told she will soon know yet another language (tok ples) if she stays much longer. I hiked up with calvin to the kulau and it was very tasty. Grandpa stopped in twice today. The first time he wanted medicine and the 2^nd he wanted a bread. I spent some time with him documenting his family history (homework assignment). The kids have really taken to me and papa said it was good for a man to play with his children because too many order their kids around to do work and then their children never come until dinner when called. Today the boys really were interested in touching me. They compared hand sizes and foot sizes, tried to feel my toe inside the boot, wrapped their fingers around my calf… they were fascinated with my size and color. It takes a measure of patience to be pawed at, but I didn’t mind it too much. I read today from the Bible in tok pisin and they gathered around. We spent a lot of time laughing and talking with everyone. The kids enjoy coin tricks much more than any other kind. There was a mouse in our room last night, but we didn’t even bother getting out of bed. The dogs chased some stranger snooping around the village off. We played games with papa tonight, talked a while, did shadow puppets which he found very amusing and participated in. Tomorrow he will go on a BOMBOM (fishing). I wanted to go catch kundaum(shrimp) but mama decided it would be too dangerous for me. I insisted but she declined. I have been warned that these families will really watch out for us and make sure we’re safe but I had yet to be denied anything. I respected her wishes and didn’t go. But I asked her to teach me how they are caught and prepared and was wary of how they are preserved since we weren’t to eat them for 2 days.

I was shown how they dry them. Whiteskins refrigerate, they dry. The shrimp were cooked over a fire for 2 days… They use a spine from an old umbrella and attach it to a bamboo stick and spear the shrimp around 2am. I am anxious to give this family our parting gifts as they’ve been such gracious hosts. I told them so as well.

Day 4

It would have made a good story to go on the bombom but at least the story doesn’t end with me making a trip to the hospital as mama didn’t allow me to go. But what did transpire was a bit of a pickle for me. Papa asked mama to ask Kendal to ask me if they could borrow our coleman kerosene lantern. Now this lantern was lent to me by the POC director and I was told not to bother coming back without it. So I had to decide if I was going to give the impression that “stuff” was more important than a relationship because in PNG culture, you share everything. However, knowing that, I also know that should I share this coleman with him, he would see sharing it with his brother or friend as the same permission. This is exactly a text book case of cultural values being different. We studied this in ICC. I knew therefore, that if I lent this, it could end up in ANYONE’s hands. And it did. In fact it ended up in two of his close friends’ hands. And since mama didn’t let me go, I couldn’t watch it. Let’s face it, I was more likely to fall and break it than they were anyway. Well, that night Kendal and I prayed that the lantern would come back, and if it didn’t, it was worth the relationship building to buy a new one. I could not shame him in this way. I did notice however that he didn’t ask me directly, it went through the wives. It rained all night and into the morning, so I was somewhat relieved to have been banned from the trip. The coleman came back fine and they caught more than kundaum they caught maleo (eel) and fish. They told me it was snake but when I looked up “maleo” the dictionary said “eel”.

Papa and I talked again for a while. It seems to be the nightly tradition, we eat, and then we sit back and talk about anything. He talked more of his son in Australia. He talked about how his son failed a computer course and wanted to know how I might be able to help. He talked about opting to not finish his house and use the money to help his son graduate his course. Which he did, and has yet to send any money back. I sensed an air of sacrifice for his son and yet disturbance that his son doesn’t write or contribute money to the family. This made me think of the idea of compensation in their culture. Even a father who invests in his son (whom he pointed out repeatedly was adopted, and the only bearing I can think that has on the issue was that it was his oldest. He made a distinction between his FIRST BORN and his FIRST SON, the reason this is significant is because by adopting a son before having a son, his adopted son gets all the land rights, instead of his first BORN son. So perhaps the slight bitterness was that this boy who was in line to inherit all his land, was not contributing to the land, and yet the first born son was living here, working the land, working hard, giving back to the family. I’m unsure) There is a lot about the people and the place and the family that you can’t glean from 6 days. I get the feeling that if I were to stay months I might scratch the surface of all the elements that go into the social interaction.

Papa seems to have many friends all over the world, which shows me where his heart lies. I was walking today and saw a sketch in the dirt of a tall man with boots and shorts and I had to assume it was me. Someone in the village was drawing me… that brought on a chuckle. Papa doesn’t talk to his dad (grandpa) nor listen to him, so again there is that something underlying that as a guest, I’m not privy to.

Day 5

Last night I was shutdown. I could barely speak English. I don’t know why but I was hoping my brain was switching to tok pisin thinking. I didn’t do much but I had little energy. The bagman in the village (community leader) came to visit with me. Sydney taught the kids the “chicken dance”. I read some more of the Bible and gave a little magic lesson (God has the true power kids). We ate eel for dinner with rice and kuaka. Sydney ate the eel down to the bone. Calvin liked it too. They asked me to read/preach in church this morning as their pastor was at a conference. They asked about 5 minutes before church was to start. It went well, the church is about 3 feet taller than I am. Papa was proud to tell me he painted the lettering on the door and in fact he was a leader in the church. He led the service. He later showed me his son’s soccer trophies.

Tonight was a big night, we had a Bangka (big feast) and many people came. Waspapa made a traditional meal of “banana cake” which was really enjoyable to watch the process of. It isn’t a cake like we’d think of it, it wasn’t sweet. Watching the ceremony of the day and the preparation of the food with coconut leaves as rice baskets, really the description of it doesn’t fit the participation so I’ll save some typing and skip that. It was an enjoyable celebration where we were the unspoken guests of honor. The bigman later took me aside and asked what my intentions for being in their village was.

I answered in tok pisin and then in English to be sure he understood me

“I’m here to learn Tok Pisin and to learn what your life is like, what you are like. My job in this country is to fix computers to help with Bible translation, but it is a meaningless effort if I am not doing it with a love in my heart for the people of Papua New Guinea. So I am here to foster that love, and to gain the skills to make friends in this country.”

He was very pleased with my answer and then told me that he had several experienced with white men who come, learn the language, take pictures then sell the pictures for a profit and exploit his people. I had heard reports of this as well, and I’m not sure what is going on but others seem to complain about it. Every person there has a different impression when they see a whiteskin that is tainted by their previous experience. I feel though that we made good friends and I know we made a close connection in this time.

Day 6

Today we leave. We packed up and the kids gave our kids gifts, we gave gifts and received gifts. I entertained the kids with finger tricks, eye tricks, whatever I could think of. We had a great time with the old “spin your head on the baseball bat then run in a straight line” game. The kids and adults laughed as the dizzy kids would fall all over the place. Papa and mama both asked us to have Sydney write them and send pictures as she grew. Mama was tearful at saying goodbye to Sydney. Again I’m convinced we are here so our children can minister. (-;

Earlier papa took me to their matmat (cemetery) and I asked him about his family line. Apparently his grandfather was a peacemaker (like a policeman) and came to settle a large tribal fight. In so doing he was rewarded with land, and his family relocated to Betelgut. So their children, the ones I played with, were the first children FROM betelgut from his bloodline, until the kids were born they were more or less outsiders. He explained how the community functions, how they have committees for everything and how they are communicated to through the GARAMUT (like a gong) and what the different gongs mean.

Market Experience

Sagawa Market


I got there twice after a long hike and pmv ride with Calvin. 30 men on a flatbed truck, with a ton of cargo and bilums. People were shy about touching me but I told them “if we hit a bump, don’t fall off, grab my leg” they chuckled but at the next bump three men grabbed my leg to hold on. My calves are thicker than their necks. I am repeatedly surprised by the pictures that show our size difference.

Garden day

We (calvin me and waspapa) hiked to the coconut line about a mile away and rested in the shade and drank kulau. I asked if Calvin could learn to climb a tree and they taught him. They wrapped a loop of bark around his feet and showed him how to hop and pull and hang on. He made it about 5 feet up and then stopped as he says “I didn’t want to exhaust myself, but I could have gone all the way up.” Then we cut the kulau and brought it home by tying the husks and throwing the coconuts over our shoulders. The kids (mangis) threw some coconuts on big Limbu leaves (about the size of a wagon) and dragged them home. I cut my finger a bit on the coconut shell, when drinking but it was good and Kendal enjoyed sharing some back at the village as well.

Garden Visit –Kendal’s Journal

Sydney and I went to the garden with some of the women and children. The garden we visited was “longwe liklik” (not too far) and thankfully not too steep of a climb. The family has another garden that is on top of a big mountain, so to get there you must go way down and then way up again. I was thankful they didn’t take us to this garden. We walked to the garden and then worked together to weed a large part of it. I’m sure wasmama thought I was very slow, but I felt like I did a good job of contributing to the work. Sydney is definitely the star of our family. Wasmama kept saying over and over how she is a good PNG meri.

Learn A skill/teach a skill – Kendal

Today I taught some of the ladies how to make bread in a drum oven. The women said they wanted to learn this and I think they enjoyed learning. They seemed eager to help mix and make the bread. I decided now was the time to tell them that I would leave the drum oven that Chad made, when we go. It would be silly to teach this skill and then take away the tool needed to repeat the skill.

Mama taught me how to make (or at least start) a bilum. I enjoy this kind of work a lot, it was nice to learn this skill. At first I think Mama didn’t really want to teach me, but she did and I think we both enjoyed it very much.

Attending Church - Kendal

We attended the local church in the village. Just before going Chad was asked to read and share about a passage of Scripture. The service was rather short due to the fact that the pastor is gone at a conference. The service was a mixture of formal like the church near poc and informal because they had someone playing a guitar and leading some praise song. Since the pastor was gone our papa led the service. One thing that really stood out to me was the very serious and respectful way Papua New Guineans behave when it comes to speaking about and worshiping God.