Steel Wool

Today a mouse was seen coming into the computer services offices.
We don't want mice near our cabling or servers.

My manager came in and said "if you could pick up some steel wool we'll shove it in all the holes, and we'll put rubber strips under the doors."

Apparently, mice don't like to chew through steel wool, so it's a good deterrent from the conduit entrances that hold most of our cabling.

Today I learned yet another use for steel wool in PNG.

thus far, my steel wool knowledge from PNG:
-you can light it and use it like "sparklers"
-you can use it to deter mice from cabling


Post Its from PNG

Sydney apparently found a stack of yellow "post-its" in a drawer today and decided to make some mini-books. Here they are, imagine very large letters and ever few words flipping to another page.

For those more curious, the sticky binding is on top.
also they are illustrated.

tooth trouble
the adventures
of tim and Barnabas

by Sydney Owens

one day
tim heard

he pullled and pulled
then Susie Lee
came and helped
"B's got a toothache"
said Tim

they tuged and
tuged and tuged
then rap came
"B's got a toothache"
tim said

they tuged and tuged
then Bob

they tuged
and tuged
then the tooth

(with a nice pic of a tooth)

then the tooth
fairy came




She likes
to eat
and cabbage


she is

and she



by Sydney





there is kaukau

and aibika

and rice



he has
his own

-comment: there is no jimmy, there is no pool-

People I Know
by Sydney

I know

I know

I know

I know

I know

I know

People I
(volume 2)
by Sydney

My house
meri is

and my

my house
kids are



Memorial addendum

there is a large part of the story I left out, but I wanted to share it to show God's incredible timing and to belay any concerns of "how could she die in the middle of God's work?"

It was the translator's last day in the village. As usual they spent it praying with people before leaving. They discussed during that time a recently finished passage translation:
The Lord arranged a wonderful New Years morning with a 3:00am prayer meeting by Baruga believers where the prayers, instead of focusing on their ruined gardens in the wake of the November flooding, focused instead on the upcoming dedication of their short Scripture volume (Luke, Acts, 1&2 Thessalonians).

Cindi and I split the group that came, and while my group was revising the first draft of part of Ephesians, her group took Philippians, and the day they got to the famous passage in 1:21-23-24 ( For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.) she was really bubbling. She and her whole group felt really good about the way it came across in Baruga. "It's sharp (like a keen knife edge)," they said.

after a prayer meeting before they headed back to Ukarumpa, she went back to her radio sched, must've felt something wrong and sat on the bed, and passed away.

Her 4 books of the NT finished, her prayer meeting finished, some commented it was as if God said, "you've completed the tasks I gave to you, welcome home."


When we were new here, a couple living across the street brought us a dinner because they felt we would be busy packing boxes. They invited us to their house for an annual tradition of hot cross buns.

We later found out they were translators and I felt honored by the irony that we came to support translators and here they were supporting us.

The wife of that couple passed a week ago in the village, while working on her second translation.

Second translation projects are rare because translating is a difficult process and finishing one and then starting another shows a particularly unique perspective on life and requires a special kind of devotion.

Yesterday we attended a memorial service. I wore a dark long sleeve shirt and a tie, and quickly found I was only tie in the place. Sandals and shorts were the status quo and I removed my tie.

I have never been to a memorial service like this before. People were celebrating her life, the gymnasium sized meeting house was full of people from all over the world. People shared in English, peppered with different accents indicating the places of the world this woman's life touched.

Some spoke in tok pisin, some spoke in the two languages that she had served in.

The things I heard about this lady I hardly knew were wonderful things that you'd want said about you, but know that it takes a lifetime of devotion to Christ and hard work to achieve.

I can not describe the deep impact being here has on a person. I had until yesterday envisioned my own funeral as hopefully having many people there, smiling, joking about my life, but I never once thought about anyone from a different country being there. In one moment the realization that my own world view is limited combined with the wonderful truth of the far-reaching love of Christ, floods in.

This woman wasn't superwoman, although much of what was said about her would tempt you to think she was. But she was Godly. She devoted her life to Christ and to being close to Him and through that relationship, she did incredible things, loved incredibly, worshiped incredibly, and served incredibly.

I am amazed at what God can do with a willing heart. I am amazed that now through her life, there are two languages that can worship God now and read His Word.

I would like to finish well like that. She collapsed while in the village, in the midst of work. Toiling over many issues and yet she still had time to make us pizza and bake us buns, us.. new to her, barely more than an acquaintance.

Her death created an interesting cultural issue. Within the year their translation should be finished typesetting (if I have my details right). One of the men from their village asked "what should we do about the drums?" to her husband after her death.

In their culture, they celebrate the finishing of the New Testament or a book, they celebrate with drums and dancing. But also, when an important member of the village dies, they don't play drums for a year. They don't have celebrations during that time.

So what about the drums? The husband's response was 'I can't tell you to play the drums, but I know she would have wanted you to celebrate with drums.'

The significance of that question... that an entire culture was affected by this passing.... is not lost on me.

I live among giants. In my eyes I'm a very small man living among people who have proven that they understand how to be servants. I have so much to work on before I finish well. But I'm thankful to God that I'm around people setting these marvelous examples.

these are the verses they left us with yesterday:

Philippians 1:20-23 (New International Version)

20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far;


Another NT Dedication!

For us, dedications are the landmark that tell us Bible translation is getting done. A dedication happens after a New Testament is finished translating into a new language. A process which takes many many years to do. Some folks say "I worked for the military for 20 years and got my pension" and others say "I worked on a translation for 20 years and had a dedication."

Supporting this work is what we do.

So here, is the latest info the the most recent dedication that we're excited about.
From a friend who went:

- It was a privilege for me to be at this NT dedication as it was the culmination of a work that my father, David [edit], was instrumental in starting back in the early 80s. Verses like Philippians 1:6 "he who began a good work...will bring it to completion.." take on a special significance. God IS faithful and will bring to completion what He began.

- Please pray that God would speak to the churches in Auhelawa in their own language as they... use these scriptures.

Tree flood

today some of the industrial department were tasked with felling 3 trees near the high school. At this point it is worth a moment of thought, to see if God has called any professional lumberjacks into the ministry. And even if "lumberjack" is the proper term.

Needless to say, the job had to be done and the guy tasked with doing it, gave it his best shot.

Unfortunately, wind today was unusually high, the space he had to work with was very very tight, zero margin for error, and to make a long story short, the first tree landed on the roof.

As a network guy I saw the switch go down in my air conditioned room and didn't think much of it "oh it's a power glitch".

Walking home to lunch, I saw the missing section of the roof.

BUT that's not all.
The tree landed smack dab in the center of a 2000 gallon water tank, and the water flooded the main offices.

This is where I come in, because ups's and power strips and tower pc's were getting soaked in water.

But, for the most part, the response of everyone is "we were fortunate" because school was not in session. It begins again on Monday.
It was not raining as it usually is around this time.
And there was very little expensive damage (if any).

We came together, lent fans, dried out the rooms to avoid mildew, and the roof is being repaired.

I would expect people to be mad or upset, but most folks seem to be understanding and feel bad for the guy in charge.

Looking at the tree, that would be a very difficult drop for the most professional of

They had a very small target space to drop it in.

I was speaking with my co-laborer (worker) and we decided we prefer our jobs. When we mess up, data gets lost. When they mess up, property gets damaged and people might get hurt.

But no one did.
So it really is something exciting and different that we can all help out with. It is nice to be in a place where the
"sucks to be you" mentality doesn't exist.

Where what happens to you, happens to us.


Kendal has been blogging
about VBS here.
I have put up some pictures

385 kids, 1 back yard... enough said. This pic is one of my favorite. See if you can find Sydney

Bird of Paradise

one of our friends got the "planet earth" dvd set for Christmas and we're watching it right now. The very first disk had some GREAT and super rare footage of some "birds of paradise" here in PNG.

That is the national bird, and several people around here have gone on guided hikes to see one, only to hear it and never see it.

now you can see it if you click play below.
youtube has a few of the videos, it truly is an amazing bird.
(WARNING: youtube does not moderate the comments section, sometimes it can get very 'colorful'... I typically don't read the comments because of this)

God's creation never ceases to surprise and amaze me.



two weeks ago I caught Malaria. Apparently only female mosquitos bite.
All this time I had been avoiding the male mosquitos. (-;

The clinic cured me with a few pills.

Two days ago Calvin began to get bad headaches and have other symptoms.
The clinic proved he had Malaria, were very professional and he's on medication and being treated.

Malaria is like having a really bad flu for a few hours a day, and then it goes away, and then it comes back the next day or so, and continues on this cycle, getting worse each time.

But with the right pills, it goes away and doesn't trouble you for a very long time.

I feel so exotic having said I've caught Malaria.
Calvin on the other hand, jsut feels tired.

Pray for healing for him, he takes illness very very well, and it really is the first time I can recall him being sick this year. God has granted the kids good health as a major answer to our prayer.

In fact knowing he has Malaria is a bit of a relief.
First, it sounds worse than it is. If you've had it, you don't fear it any more than one fears the flu.
Second, we were glad to know he wasn't having migraines, which might be a hereditary thing given that Kendal gets them from time to time.

It's odd to think of Malaria as a relief, but it was in fact a large relief to us.

WOW it rained super hard for ten minutes and then stopped.
I'm very glad I finished my outdoor chores before then. Sometimes you can really get caught by surprise in these flash rainstorms.

The weekend, new ministries, and building

Here is an insight into the culture here.
Monday - Weds you do your job, but on Thursday you begin thinking about what you're going to do on the weekend because none of the stores are open unless you drive down the road a bit.
So if you're going to cook something special, or build something special, it's planned by thursday and friday you pick up your ingredients unless you expect friday will be full of everyone else doing the same so you pick up your items on thursday.

And if you're like me, Monday is the day you get all the stuff you forgot to get ahead of time. Both K and I do a decent amount of planning ahead, but there are some weeks that simply fly by.

Last week, Kendal did the Vacation Bible School for the PNG children, and there were 384 kids! You can read it on her blog (there's a link in the menu on the side there).

I began helping with the audio team on weekends. I'm committed to 3 hours a weekend for 1 month on and one month off, setting up and running audio for church services. Now it's nothing like a big professional setup, in fact, the audio team has no budget.

But over the years through innovation and creative use of resources there are a few mics (with old cables) a few horrible monitors, and a sound board. It's been a while since I've done sound, but it'll be enjoyable to serve again in this manner. Typically we attend the Tok Pisin church which doesn't use much audio, so every other month we'll rotate between English Service and Tok Pisin service.

Right now the audio team consists of one other guy who has been doing it for a while now. And given the culture of this place it can be tiring, because you end up spending a lot of your weekend setting up and tearing down. No equipment stays up permanently because the church is also the meeting house where all events take place.

Finally, the building part.
The family is getting a bunny. Someone has one on center they no longer want, and I went with the kids to see it, and they liked it.
We decided to name it Dominoe as it has white and black spots.

I preferred Cadbury or BigWig or even Excelsior. I have yet to be successful in naming any pet Excelsior. (-;

I was able to build the cage out of all spare parts left behind in the shed from the previous owner. It may not look like a masterpiece, but it was cheap. I only had to buy wire and hardware.

Ooh we had a theft this weekend.
I mentioned the tree falling down a while back and damaging the fence?
Well the fence has been repaired, but this weekend sometime, someone dug under the already weak fence pole, and snuck into our garden and stole pumpkins and various ripe food.

In PNG culture, this is a BIG offense. In our house, it's not a huge deal. If they would have asked, we would have gladly given them. But in PNG gardens are the livelihoods of the culture and it is the equivalent of stealing someone's paycheck. Our friend and yard meri, Moni is taking it very seriously.

We lost produce. It wasn't as if they broke into a building or stole anything valuable. Then again, with our perspective, not much of our "stuff" is considered valuable or irreplaceable.

That was pretty much our weekend. Sounds exciting, and the days flew by. Still we made time for family and had a family day as usual.

The wife of a translator passed away this week. They've been here for many decades and have finished several translations (I think the number is 3). It was sudden and the center is rather saddened by her loss.

When we were first here, this couple invited us to their house for "hot cross buns". An Easter tradition with them. Later they brought us pizzas as we packed for POC thinking properly that we were busy.

We only knew them a little, but what we knew, we like a lot.
This is a sad time, but the community comes together and supports the family through prayer, listening, meals, and all manner of things.

Logistically it was difficult to get a helicopter to their village so that the body could be transported out. But the community pulled together. She was 61. She spent her life serving God, and we are inspired by her spirit and her actions.

I can think of fewer better ends than to be brought home in the midst of serving Him.


Long Standing Issue,...resolved

follow up and follow through are hard tasks to accomplish in any organization.

Since before I've been here, there has been one outstanding technical issue we have not been able to solve.
In a village, lives a translation assistant. A papua new guinea man who understands some English. He sits at a radio which is connected via modem to his laptop, he types in a number on his radio handset "sel call" and it dials a radio here, and then the two modems begin to talk and email is transferred.

This man has been unable to get the communication working to get email, which means all of his work has been sitting on the laptop hard drive and not sent here, which means one crash could wipe out months of work.

We get 15 minutes every other day to solve this with him over the HF radio. The computer guys gave it a go for weeks and weeks,... no progress.

We asked everything under the sun, and finally said, "it HAS to be a radio issue"
and we called in the radio guys.

THEY spent hours and hours over weeks and weeks with them.

All hope was diminishing quickly then today, one of the radio techs came in and said,
"well team, we solved it!!" and sure enough, we monitored the call and email was working.

The solution:
-The man in the village was calling the wrong number. He was calling himself.

It's a silly solution, but not one single one of us thought to ask the question first "what number are you dialing?"

He was very simply dialing the number on his handset, which rather than indicating the number he should dial, was indicating the number he was should someone want to dial him. Because technically the dialing is not a computer thing, the computer guys didn't ask it, and because it's not quite a radio thing, the radio guys didn't ask it until finally someone said, "okay, walk me through from the very beginning" a question we had asked repeatedly.... something about his answer sparked someone to ask 'and what number are you dialing?'.

It was the equivalent of someone saying "everytime I dial my own number I get a busy signal".

We chuckled for a moment at the simplicity of it, but soon realized the irony that it took several of us, so long to solve the problem because of all the communication issues in the way.

Sometimes, in fact most times, finding the solution is all about asking the right question.

Maybe I will add to my daily prayers, the God give me the right questions.
No matter how smart you feel you are at what you do, sometimes something very simple comes along and humbles you.


Ministries and moments

Kendal is helping staff a vacation bible school for the national children. There are 300 signed up. It will be interesting to see how many will show up, as when you ask parents if they want to bring their kids, your typical answer culturally is "yes".

There is a pretty dramatic story tied to the last VBS. One of the little boys grew attached to the son of the VBS instructor and in turn quickly became a small part of their family.

One day his father showed up and thanked them for loving his son. Apparently this man was a notorious criminal and brother of many criminals. Through this relationaship all three gave up crime and came to Christ.

So please pray for the VBS and for Kendal's involvement.

Today in our Tok Pisin church, we prayed for:
-a ministry for the young children
-a new ministry for the youth
-a ministry for non believing adults
-a ministry for believing adults who want to learn to help in translation and literacy
-existing translation projects
-translation projects finishing up.

That is a huge spectrum of people and involvement.

The two chief issues that I see in this country right now are:
-AIDS - we are in epidemic proportions now, and soon to reach Africa's level.
-Youth - the culture is starting to realize that their youth are in need of strong moral role models and leadership. Ministries are starting to pop up to meet that need.

It is exciting to see reaching out to the community in so many ways.

Please be praying for this week and VBS.

And, a note on the family front,
today the kids and I made a tin can telephone.

It actually works quite well!

Sydney insisted on decorating each can, and I replied that they could each decorate 1 can.

s-"but calvin doesn't know how to draw the numbers good!"
me-"what numbers?"
s-"the numbers for the phones!"
me-"what are those numbers for?"
s-"to dial phone numbers"
me-"what are phone numbers for?"
s-"so you call the right person."
me-"and how could you call the wrong person?"
s-"if you dialed the wrong number"
me-"and how many phones are there in the world?"
me-"and how many phones are there on this tin can phone?"
s-...long pause..."two"
me-"so if you're on one phone, how many phones do you need to call?"
me-"and can you ever get the wrong number?"
me-"so how many numbers do you need to decorate on your phone?"
s-"well, either one or none. I suppose calvin can do that alright."

Quite literally an hour later they had their lines crossed as they had tangled their tin can phone string in a tree. After they were complaining of "busy signal" for a while, I came and untangled it for them.

Saturday in a really big nutshell

the kids have been a bit much to handle as we're in the 4th week of a 6week school break, so Kendal invented "the kindness crown".
Family members (including daddy and mommy) act with kindness and the most kind person gets to wear the crown until the next day's dinner.

The kids were SOOO good today.

I did some cleaning and organizing. It is amazing how time goes so fast and things can get out of order. We like a certain semblance of order and cleanliness around our house, so I took the time today to do that.

I did some woodworking today, Calvin and I made a little frame. He helped me make it and then he oil/stained it. I LOVE that the previous owner of this house was a carpenter and has nails/screws/wood/glue/stain all left behind. I can do many of these small projects without spending a dime.

I repaired a handlebar on a bike by adding a makeshift spring.

This place really is paradise for jury riggers.

I worked on another project of mine, but that's a different post.

And then, after all that, around 5pm, I looked up in a tree and looked at the rotting tree fort. Intending only to climb up and test out it's strength, I ended up rebuilding the tree fort with scrap wood, and so now the kids have a nice little and simple tree fort.

Kendal came along and said "you need a bucket with a rope to carry stuff up with!"

The kids loved it.

So... with all that family time, work stuff, and given a new fort in the yard, I'm looking at a very restful Sunday with the kids outdoors all day!

When I was a kid, I remember my dad was always working. My kids don't get to see me at work unless I work on Saturdays, but it's good for them to see that rather than me sitting inside all day at a computer, which, I would be doing even if I was working.

I enjoy busy days like today, because not only is the work rewarding, but being able to do it along side your kids, is rewarding to.

Kendal spent her day working in the kitchen making meal preparations.

Tonight's dinner:
bbq teriyaki chicken sandwhiches, cabbage salad, pineapple, and fruit jello.

look, no grubs in that meal... well not on purpose. The only grubs I've eaten while here, I ate accidentally.


Guinea Pig Funeral

Today, our two guinea pigs died. I returned from work to find my son crying and in need of comfort. He discovered the guinea pigs dead in their cage. I sat with him, put my arm around him and together mom and I comforted him.

Sydney was at a friend's house.

His sad little face, his tears. A day that you know is coming the moment the family decides to get a pet, and after all, death is part of the process of owning a pet.

I told him it was okay to be sad, and that maybe a funeral would help us to say goodbye. He perked up at the idea of being able to say a few words.

So in the pouring rain, we went out, made a grave marker, dug the graves, and held a service in our back yard. Grieving doesn't wait for weather.

"I'll talk the most since I loved them the most", he said.

Oddly though, it was Sydney who played with them the most.

We told Sydney the news, and then had a little burial ceremony in back. Calvin is pretty broken up about it.

It is always heartbreaking to see your kids that sad, but you know that it is also a good opportunity to discuss death, and goodbyes, and sorrow, and grieving.

We think that the guinea pigs ate something that was poisonous to them, as the day before the kids were feeding them all kinds of pickings from different plants.

They are forever immortalized however in our guinea pig movie, so the kids can look on them fondly.

In my eyes, this is a blessing because I had recently been wondering how prepared my kids are for loss, and this is a good opportunity to talk it out. Kendal's eyes are teary when I look at her, because seeing her children like this, breaks her heart.

After the funeral they are perked up a bit, still sad, but not as much as before. We'll talk more about it at dinner.

Sydney said "I'm sad."
me "it's sad when pets go away"
Sydney "I'm not sad because of that, I'm sad because it's my fault, I fed them the red leaves."
me "they have a good word for something that happens that you didn't meant to happen, it's called an accident, and it wasn't your fault, or Calvin's, you weren't trying to kill them. Besides we don't know that is why they died."

She seemed to feel better after that.

This may sound callous, but as a dad, these moments, where you can comfort your children, offer guidance, they come to you for help and consolation..... these are cherished moments, and while I wouldn't have them suffer if I could have stopped it, I am glad I was home to be there with them.

R.I.P. Bullet
R.I.P. Stripes

---Words spoken at funeral---
Calvin - "Bullet was my birthday present, and I'm sad he died. He was my favorite pet in the whole world. Goodbye Bullet."

Sydney and mommy abstained.

Dad - "You came to us in a box, and you left us in a box. You lived side by side and you died side by side. And while it saddens us to see you go, we'll remember you both for the movie stars that you were."

brief prayer
"Thank you God for giving us two friends like Bullet and Stripes for as long as You did. We're sad they are gone, but we know it is okay to be sad sometimes. Help our hearts to heal, and thank you for our friends."

Follow up
Today we received a package from our friends at Devoted. We were not expecting a second package full of Christmas presents.

We decided at lunch to keep the presents for after dinner.
When Calvin said, "he was the best present I ever got." I said, "well tonight we have some presents we can open, and I'm pretty sure none of them are alive so they can't die."

As soon as I said it, I realized it wasn't as comforting as I meant to be.
But, after opening the presents after dinner, the kids perked up a little more.

So thank you to our friends and to God for the well timed gifts.


Goings on

With Christmas, New Year's and Boxing day, I've fallen a bit behind in blogging.
We hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and will have a Happy New Year!

Well let's see, what is going on around here.
Weather, it's rainy.
Bible Translation - there is a new dedication soon. Auhelawa NT dedication in Milne Bay. This particular translation has an interesting story.

Dr. David Lithgow, father of one of the current leadership here in PNG, began a translation here and it was finished by national translators who took over the project.

you can read more about the good Doctor at

Note that his wife's name is Daphne.

So that dedication is coming up, great story, there is a book about it. His son isn' the only missionary to have been raised here and then stayed through adulthood.

Yesterday we trained and equipped a literacy worker team to go into the village and use their radio for email. For me direct interaction with language workers is rather exciting because it is my chance to give them superior support and make them feel less isolated while they are in the village.

The better job I can do here, of equipping them, the less devastating a technical failure when I'm not around will be.

What else is going on?
Hmmn, extra curricular activities,
Kendal has begun involvement in a vacation bible school. Next week the two of us will be hiking through a nearby village inviting all the national boys and girls in the area to come and attend.

I have signed up to help with the audio team during Sunday services. I'll be setting up microphones and the like to help with the morning audio.

An interesting side note there. Many people wear multiple hats (have several jobs). Some are their technical jobs for being here, and others they do for fun, or involvement. I've yet to see a ceiling on how active you can be here.

Well the main sound guy was also a manager in Aviation. And sunday morning there was a medical evacuation, something that the Aviation manager needs to handle.
Ironically the only other guy on the audio team was his aviation deputy manager.

So... since the medical takes priority, it was touch and go as to whether or not church on sunday would have any audio.

Honestly, we deal with power outtages enough that not having audio would have worked out fine too, but it has become a luxury we've become accustomed to. Hearing the pastor way in the back without him having to shout is often considered a good thing. (-;

So, even though I've joined the audio team because I'd enjoy it, and Kendal has joined the VBS team because she'd enjoy the ministry, a side effect is that we're also accomplishing supporting other ministries as we free up others to do their OTHER jobs as well.

It is an interesting community and the way we serve an interact creates a strong support base.

People do come and go often, as is the nature of living overseas and having furloughs. But it always seems like when someone leaves a huge hole is created, but slowly, somehow, that hole is weaved back together, not always as strong as before, but able to allow functionality until the original person returns.

For this reason as well as social reasons, seeing people leave permanently is always difficult. Not only do you lose the proximity of a friend, you have to work twice as hard. (-;

But, we are very excited as January is the month of returns! People are coming back! We're very excited to see new life breathed into the place, see new faces that have been gone longer than we've been here!

It means more work for me in CTS, as I'll be setting up all their email and accounts and access etc. But it is well worth it!