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."


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.


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.

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.



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!"


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.


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.”


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.”


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.



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. (-;