Sidewalks and Grass

i've been looking at pictures friends have sent me from lately and something was striking me as being... foreign. I couldn't put my finger on it until today.

The nice edges between sidewalk and lawn... it's so clean and crisp and foreign to what we're used to here.

It's funny, everyone has little things that strike them as they adjust to the differences. I guess for me, one of them is the visual difference between the urban cleanliness of nice lawns as compared to the tropical lawns we have here.


you never know

Different folks remember different parts of your life. You never know what someone will see as significant. People remember stories about how you've affected them that you may or may not recall.

This to me is part of God's miracle of relationships.

He knows what parts of you will impact people for His kingdom.

Part of our being here in PNG is the acknowledgment that God has put us here, not because of what we do, not because of who He's made our character into, but because we said "yes".

Things said in passing sometimes have a deep affect on people, other things that you intend to have an impact, don't.

This is the humbling reminder that God can use any part of you, and going it on your own is rarely productive.

Which is why a comment like below, is both encouraging and humbling, because it reminds me that God will pick and choose what about our being here, is helpful.

I got an email warning about a newer email scam. It was a rather obvious scam to me and I had already received a few, I was about to ignore the warning when I realized, maybe there were some people around who it was not as obvious to. So, without spending much time or thought on it, I posted it to a public forum here on center. Then I went about my day with my 'important' work which is the rest of my job.
It turns out, that day, the most significant thing I did, at least for this person, was taking the time to post the information.

Thanks Chad,
Think we might have just gotten one of [email scam] and because I read your note I was suspicious :).
Your ministry in this way has saved us lots of time getting uncorrupted.
Appreciate your partnership.



Our new neighbors moved in last night.
They have 3 children, none of whom speak much English.
They are Finnish.

The one son told his parents he would never speak English and wouldn't make any friends and would only email his friends back home.

So when his parents saw him playing with our kids and speaking English, they were pretty happy.

Our daughter says to my wife

"Mom it's hard, I was playing with our neighbors and [names of national kids] and I had to speak pisin to some and finnish to the neighbors"

It was a cute moment because our daughter doesn't really know either, what she does it speak English with a few other language words she's learned, with the accent that the others speak it.

But it's amazing how she can communicate. She can say the same thing I say, but she puts the accent on it of the people she's speaking with and they understand her better.

Really, learning a language with your ears has to be the best way.... adults who want to learn foreign languages should take a note from their kids books. Don't attend classes, jsut get some people together and play.


here's something you don't think about.
no digital clocks
at least no digital clocks from the U.S.

we brought 3
a radio alarm clock, a wall clock, and an atomic clock.

figured out why yet?

the power goes out frequently here, so without a battery backup you're constantly resetting clocks.

But that isn't the end of it.

Because the clocks we brought weren't international for power they run slow. They aren't used to getting 50hz of power. We step down the volts to 110 from 220, but we can't change the cycles.

Blenders run slow, clocks run slow. As you look around homes in this country, you don't see digital clocks.

What does that mean for us?
We suddenly realized our kids hadn't perfected their ability to tell time with an analog clock.

Our son has it down, but our daughter hasn't yet decided it's something worth mastering and so she relies on him to tell her the time.

He's 2 years younger. She also relies on him to do her multiplication for her. (-;

Geek Moment:
Out of curiosity I brought my atomic clock. I did not know until today that they weren't supposed to work globally

Q: Will Atomic clocks work everywhere?
A: Atomic clocks will work anywhere they receive the WWVB signal from the NIST. This signal is broadcast to reach across the continental US and into parts of Canada and Mexico.

*There are some environments and weather conditions that may influence the reception of the AM radio signal. Just as with an AM radio, the clock can be positioned for optimal reception. For instance, it is best to position the clock away from metal studs and toward the directions of the tower in Colorado. Since these timepieces contain highly accurate quartz movements, they function with very high levels of accuracy between signal receptions.

But, I wanted to see anyway, so I plugged in my laser projecting atomic clock (19.99 at walgreens) and the only thing that would power up is the projector, and I could actually feel the heat on my hand, so I knew there was a power problem. Very clearly on the back of the clock is a map of the U.S.

MAP conundrum:
I have room for 2 maps, and I have 3. PNG, US, and World.
I guess the Old U.S. map is gonna have to take the bench.

---------------end geek moment----------------

language barrier

today in the rain, our haus meri and her daughter knocked on the door.
my wife was having a bad allergy day and not feeling well so I answered the door but politely asked them not to come in.

"how can I help you?"
"I need ice and sugar."
thinking it an odd request I went to the kitchen, and began cracking ice cube trays into a ziplock bag. Thinking perhaps she was making ice cream. Then I grabbed a jar of sugar and returned to the door.

She gave me a very weird look as I said "how much sugar do you need? this is all the ice I have I hope it is enough." holding the elements up to her.

"no, mi laik ice and sugar, ice and sugar, mi makim donuts."

I pause... and then.... from the back of the house, it clicks with my drowsy, sneezy wife and I hear her holler/chuckle from the kitchen as we both get it at the same time....
"icing sugar"


Yes we have plenty bags of that. I went to the kitchen, grabbed a bag of powdered sugar labelled "icing sugar" and returned to the door.

We had a nice little chuckle.


Cuz' Hey... Free Shoes!

I saw a fun sight today.

You know how some folks throw their old shoes up over the power line?
I saw a papua new guinean man, barefoot, look up, see the shoes, go into a nearby store, borrow a long board, come out, and lift the shoes off the wire, put them on his feet and return the board.

As he got them down he held them up like a trophy while other people smiled and some even whistled.

that.. is resourcefulness at its best.


Moving Day

the moving Story

A month or so ago, the opportunity came up to purchase a house. After much prayer and consideration, we decided to make a bid on the house.

Housing here is very different than in the United States. The average price of a 4 bedroom, two bathroom is $30,000. Most houses have a garden of some sort, and many have an outbuilding, which is used to house a national translator/guest, or be a storage facility, or any number of things.

When you look at a house here, you're looking for whether or not it's a place you can live. Does it have the bare necessities? Does it have anything you really like?, as well as how the plumbing works (a puzzle at every home, there is no standard), how the hot water works, (is it solar, is it gas, how old are the panels on the roof? Does a heating coil go through the fireplace?) You're also looking at electric, most of the lighting here is fluorescent because of the high light yield and low energy cost. If you think working in the office is bad, people here "ooh" and "aah" if you have an incandescent lamp in your house, and usually it's a luxury. Dryers are rare, as are dish washers. This house has neither of those, but the house we rented did, although we didn’t use them because we didn’t want to get spoiled. The pictures (see link below) seem to say “this is a normal U.S. home” and that’s what we were hoping for. However living here while not as difficult as many places, is more involved than in the U.S.

You look at the walls, are they mildewed? The walling here is not sheetrock, it's "fibro". A very brittle, hard, non-absorbent thin type of material that offers no soundproofing at all. If a room is hot and the outside is cold, or vice versa, condensation tends to collect on the fibro. Thus making enamel/oil based paints practical for cleaning these walls. So you get the picture of a shiny indoor room. Bright, reflective (oil based paint), and noisy.

So there is a challenge to make a warm and inviting home here. Housing is mostly seen as utilitarian. It gets the job done. But some of the homes have a nice touch to them. EVERY home has been added on to multiple times. This place was started with huts, and each generation builds up from there.

The home we purchased, ironically has lower ceilings in some of the rooms which will be a challenge for me, mister 6'5" tall. I already hit my head on the doorjambs around here as it is, and I have currently have what I fear is a permanent welt on the top of my head from not clearing the beam in the under-the-house area where I go regularly. (-;

Is the house on stilts? How high up is it? Is it at the top of the hill? Is it on the ground? How close to the river is it? (mosquitos) Is it on the fence line? (there is a fence around the center) Is it near the road (more dust if it is)? Is it near the construction (more noise if it is)?

Our house is near the fence, near the river, near the gate, near the road, near construction. What the means is... more dust, more mosquitoes, more traffic noise, more daily noise, and less of a view... THAN the houses on the top of the hill.

But we love it down here. We love that we daily have nationals near our home, to talk to, to visit with. We don't mind the traffic noise, and in fact, our new house is further off the road than the one we're currently renting.

We are moving about 4 houses down from where we've been staying the last few months. Everyone is different, and living down here, makes the place feel... more alive. I've spent hours at the top of the hill at it feels more secluded. It's nice to go there, up on the top has gorgeous views, but there is fewer interactivity with the nationals of the country who live down here more than not. While being at the top is more secluded from the rest of the country, being at the bottom is nicer because you can't see every house on center. Being on the fence means we don't have neighbors all around us, and so, I enjoy it.

Out of all the houses we've seen on center, there are a handful of "we could live here" type of houses. And the one we bought, is in the top 3.

But buying a house works differently here. Housing is limited and so there are rules. When a house goes on sale it has to sell for what it was bought for (until the recently changed rule). This is a guideline more than a rule now, meant to keep real-estate from being an investment. All it is, is a way to keep from moving multiple times a year. It is for family stability.

This stability is something we prayed for from God 2 years before coming here. WE specifically asked God to provide the money and the house. He did both. First the money. The money came rather surprisingly as a series of bonuses from my previous employer. Our bank account went from zero to an amount near exactly what we paid for the house.

Next came the house. While we were here, a few went up for sale, we looked at them and really liked two. We bid on both. The rules:
-if it is a 4 bedroom house, the couple must have a minimum of 2 kids.
-if the bid price equals the asking price, (no one can over bid), then seniority on center is used to decide the winning bid
-the amount of children in a family also plays a role... a family of four vs. a couple, for a 5 bedroom house, will win out even if seniority is less.

So we have our two bids out there.
Same price, one house is 6 bedrooms, HUGE... it used to be a hostel. The other is 4 bedrooms, and not as big. Different locations, but both nice. We had begun praying about the houses, for direction. We wanted the exact house God had prepared for us. But there were two. And here we are, not even a month on center, with zero seniority so if ANYONE bids with us we lose instantly.

After we prayed the next day we heard that a family of 7 wanted to buy the larger (6 bedroom) we had bid on but they did not have the money. They became the underdogs for this house, and we found ourselves not wanting to bid against them. They had seniority and their church had been scraping together for a year for them to buy a home.... they came up short, by $1000.00.

Which means, we would win the house.

This family of 7 whom we had not met, because they were in the States on furlough, was living in a 3 bedroom "apartment" aka "flat". They were crowded to say the least.

Not knowing them, but not really having a use for 6 bedrooms, we decided to withdraw our bid from this house. This REALLY nice house with a nice yard, and plenty of room, and a nice rock fireplace and..... why did it feel like such a sacrifice? We don't know... but truly we gained friends through it whom we're hoping to meet, and the nice benefit of not having ticked off the community that wanted to see them in the house.

They fended off several other bidders and won the house. Meanwhile... our bid for the other house was accepted, with zero competing bids. No one bid against us! So we got what essentially was our second choice, after being only a month here.

In a seniority based bidding system, that was nothing short of confirmation from God we had the right house!

Right now we're finishing packing our house.
When you move out of a house, renting or owner, the housing department here requires you leave behind certain things, and you pass a cleaning checklist. House wares stay, furniture stays. When you enter a home here, you should be able to buy food, and begin cooking, have a place to sleep, sit, etc. You never move into a completely empty house. What's the sense in shipping all that stuff everywhere? Add to that, frequent moving, and it makes things more simple.

The side effect of that however, is that sometimes people leave a little more than the bare necessities behind. So here is our moving plan:
Monday - we get the keys, we go in, we clean everything from top to bottom (with help)
Tuesday - we move in our stuff
Weds - we move in the rest of our stuff
Thurs/Friday - we clean the home we were renting top to bottom.

Because moving is part of the culture here, we stumbled upon two surprises:
1 - you get two days off of work to move.
2 - your neighbors call you and offer to make meals and carry boxes!

WOW!. Yes we're no stranger to people offering to help, our friends and family were always helpful. But making meals, because... you can't eat out. You can't order fast food. That was a surprise. So we have neighbors dropping off dinners for us two nights next week. What a blessing this community is!

Attached are some pictures of the house we purchased. The house is in disarray as we move in but I wanted to get the pics up soon since we will be slowing down on the blog in the next few weeks due to P.O.C. (I’ll blog about what this is later

This is our first house we’ve owned. The benefits of owning here are that we no longer have to move when the owners return, we’ll not have to worry about if the kids scratch a wall, WHAT will the owners (our friends) think?

We’re both firm believers in leaving something better than you found it, so we’ll be doing some touch ups on the house we’ve rented too because, kids are kids, and dads are dads, and sometimes things get scratched (-;

We haven’t completely acclimated to the whole idea of cleaning up after someone, and packing up all your belongings on a regular basis, and knowing the person who owns the house you’re living in. It adds that small touch of extra… worry when you know that every nick in the house could possibly affect a personal relationship. On the flip side, we’ll eventually be renting this house out to people and will try to remember that and be very flexible.

We want to praise God for answering prayer.
We had a chief 5 prayers we went to God before coming here. THESE 5 things are things we either need to give up, God, or we need you to fix.
Of those 5, we learned to give up 2 of them, and God supplied 3 of them. Owning a house was one of the 5.

God’s continuing to provide for us in unlikely ways, continues to amaze us. IT is another confirmation that we’re in the right place.

In many ways, we still feel as if we’re in transition here…. There is so much we are waiting to do. Kendal will begin teaching when P.O.C. is over. (again I’ll blog on that). We’ve been able to minister but really have been ministered to more than anything. We’re hoping to settle after P.O.C. and really sink our teeth into what we came here to do.

It may not be much, but I’ll relish the chance to say to my kids when they’re in their 30’s:
“When I bought my first house, I paid $30,000 and I paid cash fer it!” Can you imagine how expensive houses will be when my kids can buy one?


Copyright Law

At Biola University, I took a semester long course on Copyright Law. I took it only because it was one of the options available to me, and because I was going into communications.

I've not really used that course in it's entirety for any reason.

Through a series of unrelated events, I was asked to explain copyrights to a gentleman from a different country. Nobody here has any idea I took this course years ago, and even if they had known, it wouldn't have had any bearing on why I was selected to have this conversation.

So here I was, sitting in a room with four countries being represented, discussing what is arguable the most popular area of law right now. Copyright and Privacy law.

And I marveled at God. What small piece of my background does He intend to leverage next?

Honestly there was no reason for me to be in that meeting other than someone randomly asked me because I work in computers and assumed I had to know something about it.

I am definitely no expert. But it was another one of those little times when God said,

"you're in the right place."


Bel Isi

My department (computer services) has a daily 30 minute devotional. Today was a special morning as we spent the time listening to the testimony of two co-workers who went on a crusade.

In our department there is as many Papua New Guinea nationals as there are whiteskins. Two such nationals are in the worship band in the Tok Pisin Lotu (the pidgin church service).

They were sent to a crusade at a not so nearby area last week and spent from dawn monday to sunset saturday on this crusade. With only a few hours sleep each day, the crusade was really a 'round-the-clock' event. Staying up past 4am is not unusual at a get together of this type.

The equivalent of "heart" in this country is "stomach". Or more accurately "bel". Here you feel things in your 'bel'. When things aren't right, they sit uneasily in your stomach, when you are at peace you are "bel isi" (easy stomach). The stomach is the place where you feel here, and I really enjoy the term because it makes sense and feels right.

We do the same back home, we say "my gut feeling is....". It points to the center of their wellbeing and their emotions... this "bel".

The testimony we heard was awesome, because they spoke of miracles. Healings. A man blind in one eye, was prayed over and able to see again. A man with a crooked back was made straight. The testimony was in tok pisin so I didn't make it all out, but these men who went came back proclaiming the strength of Christ's blood. That's why they went.

God is powerful, and He proved it at this crusade to many people in this country. The worship leader told a few stories of physical healing, some of emotional healing, but the continued thread was at his awe of Christ's strength and how it was impressed on the people.

Then the other man shared. Him I'm closer to as there are about 30 people in my department, (we cover more than computers, we do all types of electronic repairs) and I've spent the most time with this man.

A brief history on him, he married a woman from a clan that his clan at one time was at war with. In fact where we work and live is their old fighting ground. So he is a man with many pulls at his attention. They live in peace now, but he is a serious man and has much responsibility on his shoulders.

His testimony (from what I could put together, I'm still learning the language) was that during one sermon, it was pressed on his heart to forgive someone from a different clan that had weighed heavily on him. So he went to them, and they cried together, and soon, pastors joined and cried, and many people cried so many that if they were on a grandstand it would have broken and fallen over. And God did a great healing of peace and unity between the clans that day. He walked away feeling as if God has lightened his burden and done a great work. And mostly he proclaimed how God is strong.

Strong bilong em i helpim mi. (God's strength helps me)

This is a country and a people who are so very loving and giving towards their friends. Without a thought a man would give you the shirt off his back if you were a wantok (close friends, family is more accurate) and yet ironically they are no stranger to fighting and having real enemies. They have multiple names because you never share your one true name, for fear that it would be used against you in sorcery. They are a people who are aware of spirituality and spiritual influence. They are a people who are aware that they can be called to fight with knives, spears and arrows against their enemies.

And in the middle of it, many of them men are struggling out what it means to follow Christ in this culture. It has been somewhat peaceful here for some time (at least locally) and during election time (now) things can get stirred up because of all the conflict between tribes.

We're praying for peace, but mostly that God's strength be known to the people here. God's love is a powerful force in America, people experiencing His love experience Him. Here, that is also true, but God's strength and forgiveness are major themes here. Christ's blood can wash away sins, and we can lean on God's strength to help us.

My heart, is filled with God's praise for showing His strength to these people and seeing their lives changed is remarkable.

Thank you for your prayers!


Happy 4th

What did you all do on the 4th?
send us an email so we can celebrate with you in spirit? (yesterday was our 4th of July) owens at

thought of home yesterday as one of the families here had a 4th of July bung (boong...get together).

A lot of Americans gathered at one home, picnic style. We grilled on the Australian grill (a flat grill, what we would call a skillet, not an American bbq grill because they are hard to come by) It was covered in hamburgers and hotdogs and steaks and chicken.

Kendal baked apple pies....and they were mighty tasty.

There must have been about 80 Americans there.
For fireworks later the older kids stuck steel wool in the fire until it got red hot, then spun it around on a chain. It looked a lot like the chinese fire wheels, spinning fire... it was fun to see.

The organizer coaxed many to sing American patriotic songs. You really have to be more deliberate here because the holidays sneak up on you.

Without the television and radio ads, and stores selling products, you almost forget a holiday is coming up. For us of course it wasn't a day off of work, we're jsut one nationality here of several.

There was a moment of homesickness as I realized that it was July and didn't feel like summer (it's winter here) during that moment though, I looked over and saw my wife singing American patriotic songs about the Revolutionary war, shoulder to shoulder with the vice principal of the primary school who is from England.

A Brit and an American singing the American national anthem, shoulder to shoulder, in Papua New Guinea.
The awe of that moment, blew away any homesickness I was feeling.
I don't think they realized the significance of it. They were representing opposite sides of a war, singing a song about the war of independence, in peaceful harmony. God brings people together, time heals wounds.

The opportunity to be near so many different cultures provides us with different moments of admiration for God's creation.
I looked out over the rolling green hills that were the view of this person's back yard, and smiled at the sunset. I smiled at Sydney and Calvin running around with sparklers. (Someone had saved them for such an occasion, probably for as long as a year) I smiled at eating apple pie. I laughed at eating hot dogs which didn't really taste like hotdogs, but no one was complaining. (it's near impossible to get a good American beef frankfurter here).

It feels a little odd celebrating the freedom of your home country when you're so far away from it. But we did, we spent time together in prayer thanking God for the freedom to share Christ. For the men and women who died to protect those freedoms, and for protection of those in harm's way now for the same reasons.

Then we prayed, that we would be good witnesses for Christ where we are now, and good representatives of our country as well. Many here don't have the roots of a home country because they've moved around so much. I was speaking with a new friend of mine, who was born dutch, in Peru, grew up in peru, but lived in villages, and now is serving in PNG. Where is his home? He spent a few years in Tennessee, and that's where he tells folks he's from because that's where his dad is from. Gives you a new perspective on national pride... it's a privilege to come from a place... especially if that place is America.

We prayed for America's leadership. There may be a lot of America bashing in America itself. We all have things we dislike about our own country, we have the freedom to criticize, and that is part of what makes our country great. It's a country that maintains it's freedoms, even if those freedoms are used to do it harm.

I have gained a perspective that I held only loosely before regarding politics and government. Being in a country where currently we are able to share Christ, spread the Gospel and are not held in contempt to do so, is a luxury. The government can change any moment on us here, it is election time in this country. And the new officials can decide to forget their history, to ignore the good that has come to this country with this organization's presence, and dispel us.

This is not a real threat, so don't be alarmed, but we could very easily lose our freedoms quickly should the wrong sequence of events occur. Which is why, my perspective on freedom has intensified. While we enjoy the freedom to share Christ, we shall use it.

God has put it on our hearts to be here, He has provided the freedom both from our home country to get here, and the host country to stay here, and do what we're doing.

We thank God for that opportunity and we pray for those living in less free countries who are putting their lives at risk for doing what God has called them to do.

Today's prayer request is that God's light would shine in all countries to all nations and that those He uses to shine it, would be protected.

Happy 4th of July!