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12/29/2010

Weather




You'd think after nearly 6 months of being here in the U.S. that we wouldn't have any more cultural 'surprises'. Today I found another one. I was going to visit my Uncle and he said 'well I checked the weather and it will rain hard tonight, so maybe we should reschedule'.

It dawned on me. I had not been checking the weather here as a way to determine my next day's actions. It's California so you don't need to TOO much. But then it hit me why.

In PNG the weather forecast is always the same. Sunny with a chance of rain. The rain comes almost every day, and there is no way to predict when. It takes only moments to go from very sunny and warm to a torrential downpour.

Because of this often you get caught in the rain without an umbrella and wearing shorts and sandals with a t-shirt.

Sometimes you get a warning, the clouds come in and it sprinkles. To give you an idea of how fast it turns into HEAVY rain:

One day I was outside working, and I felt a sprinkle. I thought to myself 'this means I have anywhere from 15 seconds to a minute before this rain turns serious if it's going to'. So I literally began running for rain cover.

No sooner had I made it under and overhang than WOOSH a flood of rain fell and fell hard. I couldn't believe how fast it had happened.

In PNG you have the occasional days of 'tut tut it looks like rain, I think I'll get my umbrella and hat'... but more than often it's 'tut tut.... I'm soaking wet now'.

So to come to California, land of sunshine, it dawns on me that some people still do depend on weather forecasts to plan their days. Even if I had wanted to in PNG, the weather reports are never accurate... and more often than not they all read the same thing across the country.

One other thing about the weather.
Here the rain is cold and often joined by wind. Going out into the rain is miserable, and brushing against a bush or something that drops water onto you, makes you shudder.

In PNG, if you didn't go out in the rain, you'd rarely go outside. But the water isn't nearly as cold as here, and there is not often accompanying wind.

Simply straight, hard, warmer, rain. You don't mind getting soaked as much because it's not an issue of also being cold. I've said this before when asked about humidity.

Living in PNG, you learn to deal with moisture in every sense of the word. You learn to let your clothing dry while you wear it, to go days on end without ceasing to sweat, to put all leather objects in well ventilated areas to avoid mildew. You simply learn to deal with moisture. But the accompanying heat makes it much more bearable than the accompanying cold that comes with moisture in the U.S.

12/21/2010

One Hundred


What is God doing in America?
Well, the Owens family is heading to PNG for our second term on Jan 10.
We have reached 100% of our financial partnership, and are so very thankful that you all have joined us in our next term. Stay tuned to this blog for exciting things to come!

Celebrate with us as we recognize we are at 100% financial support and cleared to return to PNG, the plane tickets are purchased, and the bags are getting packed.

Praise to God we can go into the Christmas week knowing those issues are behind us, but to be truthful we never worried, because we had a peace and a confidence that God still had a call on us to return. We even were patiently expecting it to be January.

It is remarkable to us the encouragement that we have received and we are excited that not only did our 100% pledged support has arrived, but that we also have a new church family joining us! We're especially excited and blessed by that.


WHAT IS GOD DOING IN PNG?
(news as of Dec 17) 10 Bible Dedications in 2010 !!!!

Takuu Dedication - On 24 December the Takuu people of the island out beyond Bougainville will be celebrating the dedication of their New Testament that Abraham Vaeleni and Sue [..edit..] and others translated. Please keep these events in prayer, that the power of God’s word in these languages will penetrate their hearts as they read their scriptures. The other interesting piece of information is that the Kwadima II (the SIL boat based in East Papua) is heading up to Buka so as to be able to take the visitors from Buka to the Mortlock Atoll for the dedication. This will have made 9 NT dedications and 1 revision dedication in 2010. Isn’t God good?????!!

12/19/2010

Stuck

the weekend thus far

It's been a surreal weekend.

Woke up Saturday morning, breakfast food was covered in ants, and a huge skunk sprayed our house. In the midst of packing we were cleaning the house for company and cleaning the AIR of skunk. Company wasn't able to make it, so we had bbq'd steak and potatoes just the four of us. It started weird but ended good.

Sunday, we gear up to go to church, I dressed a bit shabby in jeans knowing I was going to help a friend move today.

Found that the rain had sunk the drive in down and our car was completely stuck. After about 40 minutes of trying to get unstuck, called AAA.

I also wrote our pastor and said 'sorry we didn't make it'
he replied 'I was going to introduce you this morning as missionaries'

I thought 'does he know how close we were to going to church covered in mud? I actually thought 'I'm not changing, we can be a bit late no one will notice mud covered jeans.'

PHEW.. dodged that bullet.. 'Ladies and Gentlemen, this is Chad and Kendal, Chad's the one covered in mud as um... a symbol of life in PNG yeah, that's the ticket.'

Three things we're thankful to God for:

1 - the car we bought had a tow hitch, almost totally useless except we got towed out SUPER fast

2 - for giving me the foresite to purchase a AAA membership even though until today we hadn't needed it...

3 - for the fact that with all this weirdness, we weren't bothered in the slightest. Not with company canceling, the skunk or with being towed. I dunno why, but for some reason all this weird stuff that might upset and stress people out,... didn't even phase us.

It's been a great and restful weekend, in an odd missionary kind of way.

Last night for dinner, we put on a virtual fireplace on the computer, looped it, and played some christmas music.. so it was fun.

12/18/2010

thinking with my ears

One of the things I've been spending a lot of time thinking about lately is mission strategy as it regards to technology. Frankly, if the Lord is going to tarry until everyone gets a chance to hear, I'm very invested in getting people to hear the Gospel message.

So they why do I work for a Bible translation agency? Because until we have the language, we can't do anything with video or audio. During the process of translating the Bible, we develop the dictionaries and all the written aspects, but we also develop videos and recordings to share with people and partner with other agencies who do it well. We provide the engine that feeds the language understanding into all these other wonderful ways to prove to people the YES GOD KNOWS YOUR LANGUAGE TOO!

The Luasanne congress has occured 3 times in history. The best minds of missions strategy come together. This year in Africa. In my reading through the conference notes, I came across this nugget:

REACHING ORAL LEARNERS a. What is the need? The subject of Orality, or reaching oral learners, is one of the break-­‐through ideas in mission strategy that is just starting to gain momentum. Two-­‐thirds of the people throughout the world are oral learners. That is, they prefer to learn through proverbs, music, poetry and especially stories

Page 9 of 20 As mission leaders, we must rethink how we are delivering our evangelism, discipleship and church planting strategies. We need to follow the pattern of Jesus from Mark 4:33-­‐ 34, which records that ␣he did not say anything to them without using a parable [or a story]␣␣
There are 41,000 denominations throughout the world and 4,700 mission agencies.19 We need to begin training them in how to teach the scriptures using stories from the Bible. When people are trained effectively, they will see every person involved in a Bible study able to repeat the story without error to their family and friends. One of the best ways to build pastors effectively for the millions of house churches will be to teach them how to tell stories from the Scripture. The staggering thing about Orality is that even in media-­‐sophisticated countries, the majority of people want to get their information through oral means: films, radio, television, and the I Fifty-­‐eight percent of high school graduates in the United States say they will never read a book voluntarily after they graduate. Forty-­‐two percent of university graduates say the same thing.20
1) We all need to learn how to share the Gospel through stories.

-

I'm excited about this because this strategy taps into two of my interests:
-technology
-video/audio production

I should share with you the story of my friend Chris, who thinking it may not amount to much, recorded the New Testament in his village's language onto some mp3 players called Megavoice. What happened is that over the coming months the village passed around the mp3 players for story time and gathered around and listed to the Gospel in their own language.

Three little mp3 players, reached a large group of people with the Word of God.
It required:
-the Word be translated
-the Word be spoken and recorded
-the Word be played back

imagine the amount of work gone into producing a device like the Megavoice that could be used in this way? Imagine all the people working to translate the Bible, to record it?

You need skilled people is so many dozens of areas to accomplish it.


GOD will accomplish His work. WE are honored to be along for the ride.

I am very excited about His asking me to use my skills in this area.

I am excited about the missions world understanding audio/video as a strategy and deploying it.

I am very excited about the leaps in technology allowing us to do it more effectively and affordably.

I'm SUPER excited to be bringing back a demonstrated kit I've built of different technologies to show people in PNG about how we can make it ultra portable!

12/09/2010

Relationships

Someone asked us the other day, 'have you been successful in culturing new relationships this visit home?'

What a great question that is.

Our financial support comes mostly from individuals. Individuals who partner with us primarily because we are friends.

Why do you partner with us financially?

We would LOVE to know the answer to that question, seriously. It would help us to know why people in the future may desire to partner.

For some we think it's friendship, for others a common interest or goal. One side effect is a deepened relationship and shared purpose.

Because of that, it is important to us at ALL times, not just when visiting back in the U.S. to have those relationships continue and to grow.

MANY missionaries in the field fail to maintain contact with friends and partners. We hope we do not. If anything we've felt like we've over communicated at times saying things that possibly we shouldn't say. (-;

But our face to face, in person time has been extremely limited. The result is that when we do get face to face time, it's impact is enhanced. It is really good to see people face to face and spend time.

BUT, how do we make new relationships? If our financial partnership needs to grow, then we need to meet new people, find new churches.... how do we do that?

To tell the truth, we had no idea.
We simply asked God, 'please guide us'.

As a result God brought people into our lives and all we had to do was be open to sharing and making new friends. We're thankful for the new friendships we've built and the new relationships we've built.

We've tried to balance our time well between all our responsibilities without losing our family identity or getting the 'must do's ' done. We view our relationships with you all as a responsibility.

So please, email us and answer the question 'why do you support us?' and we will take those answers to heart.

12/03/2010

Tonsorial Artist



So today I decided I needed a haircut, but I'm nowhere near my regular barber, and so I go out seeking a new one. I found this little sign above and walked in.

Instantly my senses told me to flee.

But my desire for adventure told me to stay!

The room was as small as a large bathroom. All the furniture and decor was water stained wood, and the smell of cigarette smoke filled my nostrils quickly. Sitting one of the two chairs was an old, balding man by the name of Dennis.

His eyes were large, droopy and red, and I could tell by the smell of alcohol on his breath that he was not completely sober at 11 in the morning. His suspenders barely moved as he turned to look at me. He didn't say anything.

No 'Welcome', no 'Hello'.

So I stood there.
Looking around. Finally I said, "I'm here for a haircut."
Dennis blinks at me, as if to say 'well of course you are, idiot.'

I asked 'how much do you charge?'
"18" was his only response.

Again I thought 'LEAVE NOW' It was too pricey, and this man did not look fit to cut my hair. But part of me said 'this looks to be a very interesting story developing'.

I stayed.

Dennis moved very slowly, got up and walked to the old, but not charmingly antique, more like 1960's torn-up-mistreated-orange-pleather, barber's chair.

He again didn't say anything.
So I stood there.

He said 'well, What are you going to do?'

I replied, "I'm going to stand here until you ask me to sit down in that chair."

"That's sort of like going to a restaurant and asking to eat isn't it?"
I came back quickly, "No it's sort of like going to a restaurant and waiting to be seated."

"Well,..." his eyes indicated I should sit.

I sat, while stating "I don't know about you, but I don't sit in another man's chair unless I'm invited to."

Dennis seemed to respect that. He spun me around and I was facing myself in a large mirror with an engraved nameplate to the right that read:

"Dennis - Tonsorial Artist"

The room was so small, that a claustrophobic man would have gone running. The dust on the old newspaper clippings was thick, and I could barely make out some news about a fire decades ago.

"Well, what can I do for you today?" he said very slowly... I began to think Dennis might be a turtle.

I gave him detailed instructions about my hair and after a long pause he replied,
"So a lot off the sides and a little off the top? Got it"

His hands moved around slowly and I thought 'this is going to be a while'.

Up on a shelf were several carved masks. I couldn't spot where they were from but my guess was south pacific, so I said,

"Do you travel a lot Dennis?"

At this point I should say that between each sentence or response, Dennis was a firm believer in pause. He would wait a good 15 to 30 seconds before beginning a new thought. So what at first seemed like an awkward silence, became more of a contest of wills, I would try NOT to speak, and give him time to respond. I would also NOT react to the things he said so as to let him continue without undue pause. So imagine this conversation taking place in your head. Then replay it in slow motion... that's about the speed we were going.

"I've been around" he replied.

"I see these masks up there on the wall, where are they from?"

"oh here and there."

long pause.

"I would travel for the rest of my life if I could. Have you been anywhere?"

We spoke about Papua New guinea and how I was there for 3 years.

"You mean like in a religious way?" I instantly knew Dennis and I weren't cut from the same cloth here, but I felt an odd connection to him. So I simply told him the easiest version of the truth, which is that I was there helping linguistic work and translation. Every time someone asks me a question about what I do, I battle my desire to either keep it to myself, or to tell them too much. Often times I figure people don't truly care TOO much and so I have developed a quick version that I tell when I think people are simply trying to make small talk. I feel society in general is too disconnected, and so I force myself to be open with people so that we can forge some sort of connection in the limited time we have together. Still, with Dennis I used the short version because I was becoming concerned with how long this haircut might take.

Soon Dennis began to unfold for me stories of his travels to the Philippines.
As he neared me I smelled his breath and was trying to guess which liquid lunch he had had today.

He began to regale me with stories about how a pint of Gin was only 50 cents.

AH GIN! okay,...

Or how he bought a snifter of Whiskey and a steak for a buck fifty.

okay Whiskey? both?

I expected soon Dennis might tell me stories of prostitution and other such dealings... he had that 'vibe' about him and the story was starting to feel like a movie cliche, but before I could head it off.. sure enough he said..

"and the women there.... every ten feet a new woman..."

which is when I cut in, and mentioned my wife and kids.

Dennis caught the hint and dropped it.

He spoke to me of how affordably one can live in Thailand.
I mentioned that air fare to PNG was $10,000. He was shocked.

He then began to tell me how to go as a courier. And told me a slightly dodgy story about how you can go at a discount if you area courier. I inferred he meant something a little more shady but he actually threw a DOT COM reference at me.

I liked Dennis for some reason. This room was an odd place, full of mystery and aromatic puzzles.

So after Dennis finished telling me about these places he had been and the things he had drunk, there was a longer than normal pause.

And I said 'So Tonsorial Artist eh?.. are you going to make me look that word up?'

'Ah.. no.. anyone can be a hairstylist, but you're in a Tonsorial salon right now, it's from the Latin meaning 'Barber' '

And that's when it hit me, why I liked Dennis so much. Why I was willing to put my hair in the trust of a rather odd man in a rather odd place.

He had an unusual way of saying things.

That's it.

He pauses, his slowness in speaking (no doubt brought on by his inebriated state), and his choice of words, all intrigued me enough to sit in that chair and spend time with him.

I doubted I would go back, it was time to go. I stood, took one last look around and as I left I said:

'Dennis, here's a 20, thanks for the stories and the tonsorial care."

It was a perfectly odd 40 minutes. Very rarely can anyone say that they had a perfectly odd yet enjoyable experience. I wouldn't call it an adventure but it sure turned out to be one interesting haircut. The best part is, while my hair isn't exactly how I like it, it actually is a pretty good cut.

December Dedications

In PNG:

On 11/12 December the Malei (Hote) people of Morobe province will be celebrating the dedication of their New Testament that John and Amy Lindstrom, Elisa and many others translated.

On 24 December the Takuu people of the island out beyond Bougainville will be celebrating the dedication of their New Testament that Abraham Vaeleni and Sue Anderson and others translated.

Please keep these events in prayer, that the power of God’s word in these languages will penetrate their hearts as they read their scriptures.



We just got this bit of email news and thought we would share it! What a great December this will be with 2 dedications! A dedication is the celebration and prayer time that celebrates the completion of a New Testament and the delivering of it over to the people whose language it is in. In December 2 new people groups will have the Bible in THEIR heart language for the very first time.

Answering the question 'How can God love me? He doesn't even speak my language?"
YES..He does.

11/29/2010

for DADS

While driving up to Portland last week, as is my tradition, I kick off every road trip with a Bible lesson. Typically I ask them if they've heard the story of something in the Bible and then they tell me everything they know, and then I expand on what they know.

This last trip we were talking about God's law. Specifically the moral law. Why God created it, why we follow it, etc.

Well it came time to ask the kids to put things into their own words, and ... this is what hit me.

IN EVERY single one of my daughter's examples, she said "well it'd be like if Daddy ....." in every one of her examples I was the God role in the comparison example she'd use.

It struck me very hard, the reality of what all the books say, that a child's dad is their role model of God's character.

I'm sure she didn't realize she was doing it, but I did.

And I said a little prayer of thanks to God quickly "God thanks for not letting my lose my temper the other day when I wanted to, and if you think about it... please let me be a good example to my daughter."

a LOT is riding on our behavior dads.

I've always known it, but that moment made it very very real for me.

Proud Evesdropping

My kids are having a conversation in the next room that I'm proud to overhear. My pride swells.

Son - "Sydney did you know if you put like 8 million dollars in the bank and left it alone for like 3 years, you'd have another million dollars?"

Daughter - "what? no way! why?"

Son - "because you earn interest."

Daughter - "how much?"

Son - "I don't know but I think it's like 1 percent."

Daughter - "so like if I put a million in I'd get another million?"

Son - "no... "

Daughter - "well what's 1 percent of one million?"

Son - "It's definitely not 1 million."

Daughter - "let's figure out how much it is!"


As a parent I'm told there are two things parents don't talk to their kids about enough. The first is sex. The second is finances. For our children, they don't earn allowances, but they have extra chores they do to earn what we call 'fortnight pay' (as is the custom in PNG). So they have house chores, and then pay chores. During our time in PNG we thought we should begin teaching them about how to be responsible with their finances.

There isn't a LOT of opportunity to SPEND money in PNG on anything... of quality. (but since when has that stopped a kid from buying things?)

Well, it stops my son.

He carefully evaluates quality of an item, verses how long it will last him. And often decides to save his money.

Likewise we've also instituted from each payday (every fortnight/ every second friday) that 10% of it goes into my savings box, and 10% of it goes to the offering at Sunday school.

I used to force it, but now it's at the point where it is voluntary and my son almost always does his savings, and they both always give to the Sunday School.

So, as a father, to realize they DO listen... when I overhear this conversation about savings and interest.... it does my heart good to know that even though they appear to not listen and learn, they are in fact learning much more than I had anticipated.

11/28/2010

Oregon

Visiting family up in Oregon.
Today we celebrate Christmas early with them as we may not be seeing them again before we leave for PNG.

Tomorrow we meet some new friends from a nearby church and will have a presentation about our ministry.

Please pray this presentation goes well, as it will be to a missions committee.


Currently funding is at 92% and we have three churches looking at us. We are waiting to hear from them.

Please pray for the rest of the funding to come in and for all three churches to decide to support us. We could really use the encouragement that comes from having churches supporting us.

11/23/2010

patience

We're both planners.
We try to plan so that we diminish as much of the unforeseen catastrophes as possible. So the discipline as planners is to find a balance between that desire and the ability to remain flexible to follow God.

Case in point.

In March 2010 we wrote to our aviation department and asked them to schedule a flight for us from Cairns, Aus to Ukarumpa, PNG on January 14th. Knowing that if they opened the flight it would fill up quickly, we'd be the first 4 on, and we'd have the easiest route back to PNG possible.

The wrote back the week we were travelling to the U.S. and said 'okay should we book you?'

We missed the email.
The plane filled up
We weren't on it
We found out 5 days ago.
3 Days ago we started a road trip.

So... 4 days ago we began hustling looking to book air fare. We had half the trip already planned and paid for, and thought we had the second half planned and paid for... but we don't. The hardest second half.

We began looking, calling people, getting a friend to pick us up, planned it all out 2 months in advance which is normal for most folks. For us, we feel that stress if we only have 2 months to plan.

So we found it. The perfect flight.
Instead of one 3 hour plane ride like we had planned in March (or failed to plan).
We would have
one 3 hour plane ride followed by
one 2 hour plane ride followed by
one 2.5 hour car ride

See how nice that first flight was?
So we sat there, a bit wound up and said 'hey let's book it, it is our only plan.'

Then, feeling a bit stressed I stopped and said 'hey babe, pray with me'.
And we prayed... 'God, feeling stressed, we feel silly we know You always work it out, help me to calm down and enjoy this road trip.'

Sure enough, we calmed down, decided not to book it, but let it simmer for 24 hours.
By the time we reached our destination and checked email, there had been a cancellation on that other flight and we were booked!

Praise to God,
and thanks to the hard working people at SIL aviation!
we now have the short 3 hour trip... this will go a HUGE way to all of our energy levels and health. It means no cargo loading and unloading... it is simply a much much better way to return to PNG as it means we'll be more likely to arrive with good attitudes and a healthy energy level.

11/18/2010

Inside Scoop

There are, from time to time, some things that missionaries will say that they don't necessarily share with the public. Not because they are bad things to say, but because they don't translate properly without the context of living as an overseas missionary for a number of years.

One of those things is "I don't like furlough".

I understand why folks say that now, after 4 months of it. But it sounds like an awful thing to say.

'don't you love your family and friends?'
'don't you want to speak at churches and tell them about your ministry?'

We of course absolutely love our time of visiting and being with friends and family. We enjoy speaking and exciting others about missions as well.

If I had to put my finger on the downside of furlough it would be that we tend to live with constant stress.

At first it's the stress of paperwork and planning a trip. Then the stress of paying for it, and the stress of traveling (we only have 2 kids, think about small kids, or 7 kids). Then the stress of culture shock. Followed by the stress of finding a place to live and a car to drive. Then life settles a bit.

And you only have the normal daily stress of paying for things.

But soon comes the stress of scheduling each day to it's fullest, visiting here, friends there. Then the stress of road trips and public speaking and fund/support raising.

After a short time you need to begin planning your trip back. So it's the stress of medical exams, paperwork, paperwork, paperwork.

Multiply all of it by a deadline, because you need to get on the plane before a certain date and will you have enough money and time to accomplish what you need to before that deadline?

Throw in weekly surprises like 'oh your visa won't be renewed on time' and 'your son has the flu'

Top it all off with the fact that you know you're going to shed tears at the airport departing from family and friends, and it'll rip your heart out again.

And you can see how the memory of a furlough will appear like a whirlwind where you didn't ever truly accomplish the deep sit down and spend time with you, conversations you had wanted to have on your way over.

We're winding down our furlough here. EVERYONE told us that a 6 month furlough for first time was a very difficult task. And it is.

I want to share our hearts very clearly at this point.
Furlough tears our heart in two. We want desperately to be here with friends and family, and we also want to return to Papua New Guinea excited and refreshed ready to go again.

We are very excited to return to PNG. We're sad to begin plans to leave here.
In the middle we've had enough of all the other stuff required to make this visit happen.

When we arrive in PNG in January, it will be a happy time, glad to be back to our ministries, to our normal routine, to friends. But it will be tinged with sadness. Sad to leave family and friends for another long stint. Sadness that their kids and ours will age before we see them again.

Gladness that we prevailed against the mountain of work to get home, tinged with sadness that the huge dose of excitement is now once again at bay.

I've said it before, following God this way is a bit of a rollercoaster.

So.. when life gets as stressful as it has today... and we start to get worked up, one of us grabs the other's hand (me and my wife)... and we sit down and we pray. And the stress melts away just enough.

And we remind ourselves and give thanks for the many things God has blessed us with this trip, and we also petition for the things we have yet to get done.

And so, we won't say 'we don't like furlough'. It is definitely an emotionally tough time, a physically tough time, and a mentally tough time. But it is also a rich time, a blessing time, a time where we get to do things we haven't done in years, see people.. it's a wonderful time.

God has blessed us richly through the experience and through you. We wish we could slow time, and spend quality time with each of you. But we also recognize that we need to return and fill our roles in Papua New Guinea.

And so, as the holidays approach and 'getting things done' opportunities decrease,
please pray for us that we can accomplish the things God needs us to get done... and we can let go of the things we want to get done that don't comply with God's needs for us.

We are not complaining at all. So many of our friends have had horrible experiences with their furloughs. Imagine arriving to the house you're to stay at only to find out you can't move in until you install and pay for new carpet and new paint! No, we recognize how blessed we are, and our hearts are overwhelmingly full with gratitude.

11/14/2010

Braggin' on our kids

Yesterday we took the kids on 4 tours in Sacramento. The purpose was to give them some California history as we feel they do not get enough American history while at school in Ukarumpa, PNG. So we took the time to show them:
-The capital building
-the Stanford mansion
-Fort Sutter

(the 4th was a jelly belly factory tour for fun since it was free).

On each tour the kids were well behaved and asked astute questions. For example, when the tour guide of the mansion was talking about the gas lights and how to light them, my daughter asked "how do they light the first one? It would be too dark to see."

the tour guide replied, "I.. well... no one has ever asked me that before... I suppose they had a candle or a kerosene lantern or they lit the before it got dark"

But everyone in the tour group was impressed with the questions our kids were asking.
At the end one lady said
"I'm a teacher of gifted children, and your children are asking questions indicative of higher level thinking"


As we drove in the 3 hour trip I began to explain to them the three branches of government and how they work, and what we were to see, and their level of involvement as citizens and how they can vote, call representatives, and even attend sessions.

Then I asked 'who is the governor of California" and they both answered Jerry Brown.
I was surprised they were almost right... so I talked about the difference between governor and governor elect.

Not to be too proud though, Calvin kept calling the current governor,

"Governor Schwarzen hagger"
which was funny.

Being able to take my kids to places like that and not only not worry about being embarrassed by loud noises or whatnot... but to be impressed with their questions is such a huge blessing for us as a family.

One other thing though... if you're a parent, have you ever been impressed with a moment that said your kids were better than you?

My kids came home from a trip to the store the other day. Each of them snuck in privately to show me what they had bought for christmas gifts.

I was completely floored.

Not only did they think of buying gifts for everybody, all the cousins...
but they bought the best of the best. I mean they spent top-kid-dollar on the GOOD stuff. For example, if my daughter wanted a pet shop thing, my son didn't simply buy her a pet shop thing, he thought and thought and bought the one she might like the best, regardless of cost.

They spent ALL their money.

And so I told my son, "son this is great but I don't want you to be sad if your cousins don't give you any gifts, they may not be thinking like you."

and he replied.... sorry choked up a bit here...

"I know that dad, to me the funnest part is giving something really cool to someone else."

my kids have always had generous hearts. I mean we've always had the problem of them spending their money... on someone else..

When I was a kid, I was never thinking like that... around Christmas? I'd be good if I remembered mom, dad, and the grandparents. And I always figured who to spend the most money on, etc.

But my kids are thinking well beyond that, and spending much more money than I ever would have to get thoughtful nice things.

In the area of generosity, my 9 and 11 year old kids, outdo my 9 and 11 year old self.

And I'm awed and floored by it.

11/10/2010

confirmations

You can go through life with a relative amount of confidence in yourself and in your decisions. I would say that is normal. But most people will tell you they have a few regrets about choices they've made. I made a huge career choice early on in my life to not go into television and film audio production and instead pursue computers.

I've never felt regret about that decision.
But I have at times wondered.... 'what might have been'. Or I suppose because I'm very happy with my life more of a 'Would I have been good at it? Would I have enjoyed it?'

Since deciding to become a missionary, or rather since God called me into the mission field and since I submitted to that calling, God has repeatedly confirmed to us that this is the path He wants us on.

And because God is really cool, He has also given us some amazing blessings as if to say 'look you didn't think you'd ever do this thing again, but here you are doing it.'

Case in point.

Last week I was invited to attend an AES convention by a friend of mine. This is a convention full of the leading minds in audio technology.

Nearby the inventor of Dolby walked by. I shook the hand of the inventor of the MP3. I met the man who invented the CD Jewel case.

It was cool!

And then, I was allowed to attend an exclusive event at Mr. Lucas' Skywalker Ranch.

I sat inside the model of perfection in movie theatres, the STAG theatre, and I listened to professionals talk about their latest film and how they accomplished it.

As I sat there in heaven.... I didn't feel regret, I didn't think 'wow that could have been me'... I felt a mixture of excitement because it was technically so amazing and interesting, and confirmation that I was never meant to work in audio.

I do not mean to diminish what these artists were doing... but I had the definite pull on my heart that I did not want that life, I wanted this life.

And it hit me... HOW many people get a chance to answer the 'what if?' question? How many people get to settle all their regrets or see how their life would have gone down another path... and come out of it very happy that they are where they want to be?

God granted me not only a cool night with a friend, He granted me the opportunity of a lifetime... to recognize truly that my life since following His call on my heart is full of remarkable moments! This isn't the first time He's confirmed for us this is what we're meant to do, but it is definitely one of the coolest. (another cool one was the time we went to a Clippers game via Limo... I blogged about that years ago... How many people can say 'well since I became a missionary I've ridden in my first limo, was invited to Skywalker Ranch, ... and who knows what else?)

My life has been completely unpredictable since 2004.
And it has been wonderful.

11/07/2010

a practical moment on shoes

one thing we have to consider when returning to our missionary assignment is clothing and footwear. If you've ever found a pair of shoes you like, good luck trying to find the same pair in 3-4 years. Styles change. I typically try to buy shoes that will last 3 years but the dirt and gravel are tough on them, so I buy multiple pairs.

4 years ago I bought this pair of reebok tennis shoes.



I didn't wear it for 2.5 years as I waited for my nicer leather shoes to wear down. So, 2.5 years into our assignment, 'hey look Chad has nice new white shoes!' well, I did, they didn't last long.

But that's not the point. The point is, I didn't realize something about the shoes until AFTER I had bought a replacement pair while here in the U.S.

Last month I bought THESE pair of Nike's.






Why? Well for one they were on sale. And for two, I couldn't find a pair of tennis shoes anywhere that had the the leather all over them and on the sides. These new shoes were more 'breathable' and 'lighter' but didn't have the leather all over them like I wanted. Oh well.

Then came the first 'rain' in California at the end of the summer. These new shoes simply will not do for PNG. Apparently this new material is super absorbant and so when even a single drop of water hits them, it goes right through to my foot.

I mean usually you're used to thinking 'uh oh, shoes got wet, I'm gonna feel that in a minute when it soaks through' But with these shoes, you realize you hit water before looking down. Instant wet foot. The only upside is that they also dry faster.

So today, I realized 'hey these shoes will be useless in PNG where it rains all the time'. So now I'm on the mission to find a better tennis shoe for a good price.

WHY? Do the shoe companies have to always change their products? I mean I don't care if COKE/PEPSI always change their can, but changing the core elements of a shoe can have an impact on a person! (-;

This is why I gave up wearing tennis shoes a long while ago, preferring practical work shoes, but there are times when the tennis shoes grip the dirt and gravel better than a work shoe would and are more comfortable for long walks. Many people opt to learn how to harden their feet and walk around barefoot, but that would take me a very long time, and although I've tried it, where we live is very rocky and even the Papua New Guineans wear flip flops in the really rocky areas.

11/04/2010

Special Visitor




Hillary Clinton speaking in PNG on women's empowerment. There has been a large media campaign in the country over the last two years to help curb the huge amount of violence towards women.

They mostly take the shape of music videos, as the message is conveyed in the song 'men, protect our mothers and our sisters. Noken paitim meri' (don't beat women)

I find it odd that a catchy tune is relaying the concept that we shouldn't beat, rape, or kill women. You almost want to sing along, which is the point. But then you recognize this catchy tune, is a very serious message.

Growing up in PNG our kids are used to seeing banners about AIDS, warnings against rape, they've even seen women get beaten in the streets.

Papua New Guinean women aren't seeking empowerment, they simply want to be safe.

One of the ways we get to minister in PNG is by simply being a good husband and wife. Men see how I treat my wife in public, with respect and love. And they recognize that there is value the Word of God for empowering me to behave this way.

One of the changes we see when PNG men become Christians is a lack of violence towards his wife. Even at times, tenderness and caring. It becomes hard for them because of the peer pressure.

One man was determined to stay with his wife while she gave birth, and faced ridicule that he was not out celebrating the birth of a new child by drinking with his friends. But he refused to leave his house while she was there giving birth. It was against his culture, against his habit, but he was determined to be a public example of his new found faith.

In our world, staying with your wife while she gives birth is a given now. We wouldn't want to miss it! Usually dad's are severely disappointed when they do have to miss a child's birth. Can you imagine something as simple as that, being an issue that someone could take a Christian stand over?

It happens. And when it does, we support it, and we are encouraged that people are taking the change in their lives through Christ, seriously.

I hope Hillary is serious about helping change in PNG, but I suspect it's political posturing more than anything.

This kind of posturing, abuses the Papua New Guineans. They are a proud people, with a fierce heritage of warriors. Their women are hard workers and they are very intelligent people. They understand when you ask them to put their feathers and makeup on (bilas) and photograph them, that you are most likely trying to use that photo to your advantage. I've been told 'I don't want you to take my photo because you will use it to make money.'

Maybe I'm a cynic. Let's get real, a white politician from the U.S. will not have near the life changing power as a saving relationship with Jesus Christ does.


(wow politics AND religion in one solitary post... that's sure to be a divisive topic... doh!)

10/27/2010

Why translate the Bible?

here is a brief essay from a friend of mine, a translator whom I've helped many times with computer advice and repair



Why Bible translation? Why not just preach the gospel to them?

Missionaries have been preaching in Papua New Guinea for over 100 years and many good churches have been established. But on any given Sunday in the village where we work, you can hear the following things being taught:

Jesus died for our sins and we should follow him. He is the way to a relationship with God.

Or, you might hear that you can’t be a Christian unless an apostle from that particular church baptizes you. He will write your name in the book of life, which is at church headquarters in Kitchner, Ontario.

Or, you might hear that Jesus was only the messiah for the white people. In order to please God you must take food sacrifices to King Charles, the messiah for Papua New Guinea. He lives in Arkosame a village about a hundred miles away.

Who do you believe? What makes any one of those messages more believable than the other – the color skin of the messenger, how loudly he speaks his message, how much money he gives you to come to his church, how well you know him?

When the Bible is used in a church service, it is the Pidgin (trade language) translation. You might also hear this familiar passage read: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. The pastor then applies this verse by saying that it means you should not smoke or chew bettlenut.

Part of the problem is that while we have many churches there is little or no Bible instruction for the teachers of those churches. Our friend Peter is the pastor of a church. Once a year he goes to a pastors training course for two weeks. He comes back to the area and then teaches what he learned to the leaders of the other churches he has started in the area. Those pastors have more training than most in our area.

One of the local translators we work with said this: Reading the Bible in church in Pidgin confuses people and our pastors end up teaching all kinds of wrong stuff which confuses people more. When we have it in our own language, it's clear.

Like Nehemiah, seeing this great need, contrasted with the importance of the scriptures in our own lives, was our call to take God’s word to those who don’t have it.

10/26/2010

Stories

I've always used this blog to share personal stories and experiences, but it dawns on me that there are so many exciting stories that WE get to hear because we know people who it happened to, or get to hear the testimony of people we have met, that you might also enjoy hearing. So from time to time I'll post a 'story' that doesn't have our direct involvement, where we aren't the main characters in the story, but that we and you, are involved in because we support their work. I'll try to make the stories as personal as I can.

This is Ainde's testimony, he's a neat guy, long white beard, and he's got a wonderful presence about him.
----------------


“For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11

Nothing can thwart God’s purposes for each one of us if we remain true to Him. But how many times can someone meet with certain death - and escape? For Ainde Wainso, part of the Angaatiya people group in Papua New Guinea, it was obvious that Satan wanted him dead.

Listen to Ainde’s account of an experience in his childhood:

“I escaped death many times by God’s divine providence. My father died from an arrow wound infection when I was about 2 or 3 years old. We put his body to rest in a dry cave as my people’s custom was. A few days later, my mother took me to where we put my father’s body. I noticed she had a very strong rope with a tied knot in her hands. When we reached the cave, she made signs with her hands showing me that she was going to hang me first and then she would hang herself. My mother and I were alone in our hamlet far away from the big village and people. I cried loudly, telling my mother that I did not want to die. I wanted to live. She took pity on me and did not hang me and herself. After that she worked hard to bring me and my sister up on her own.”

The Angaatiya people had a reputation as fierce fighters, but they were a small people group. Some of their enemies were the Menyas. Hear another account:

“My only sister and a male cousin were killed and eaten by the Menyas in 1952 when they raided our village, set fire to it, and destroyed everything. My mother and I escaped with most of our people.”

Ainde said, “God, in his providence, saved me for the work of giving His word of life and salvation to my people- the Angaatiya.”

Angaataha is one of over 800 languages in Papua New Guinea. Tribal customs and the mountainous terrain are only part of the reason for the people of this country developing so many different languages. Some use a trade language, Tok Pisin, to communicate with each other, but this is inadequate for understanding terms like grace, mercy, and love. How could the Anaatiya people know that God sent His son for them as well? Would they believe in a God that didn’t speak their language

Like Ainde, the Angaatiya people were also saved and protected by God’s providence from their enemies completely wiping them out. They were reduced to only 477 people in 5 villages at the time of first contact with the outside world, modern civilization, and the first white government officers and missionaries. Ainde feels God sent the Australian colonial officers and white missionaries with the power of guns AND the power of the Good News about Christ. In the 1950’s, Lutheran missionaries came to this area of Papua New Guinea. A young Ainde, about 14 or 15, was baptized along with other converts as first generation Christians. The warfare and cannibalism was completely stopped by the early 1960’s.

Also in the early 60’s, several teams of SIL missionaries came to help translate God’s word into Angaataha. As with Ainde, these translators found the spiritual opposition strong. One couple’s marriage failed. The second and third teams experienced sickness in their families, but the third team did manage to complete translation of about 30% of the New Testament before they had to return home.

As the teams left for various reasons, it became clear that God was calling Ainde and others to do the translation for their own people. In the early 80’s, Ainde and James Namaranso joined together to work on completing the translation. But the Angaatiya was a group with a history of sorcery, witchcraft, and black magic. Satan would not allow God’s word to come to them without a fight. James’ wife died of breast cancer and Ainde’s wife left him and their two boys. Ainde was seriously ill many, many times - often with chronic asthma. He saw many others dying around him in hospital wards, but God spared him. Ainde’s declaration is: “We trust in the Lord and in His mighty power. We believe breakthrough and victory is just around corner, for we stand under the blood of Jesus Christ and His victory over Satan at Calvary.”

In December of 2004, the Angaataha New Testament was dedicated. When the New Testaments were received by the people, they spontaneously began a circle dance, reminiscent of their former tribal dances of victory. But this time instead of holding the limbs of their enemies over their heads, they were holding up God’s Word.

10/21/2010

Today

What is Chad doing today?
oh, it's a typical day:

-meet with our home church missions committee, meet n greet. that was fun
-rush back home to complete a few hours of work on some priority 1 emergency issues
-change the oil in my car before our trip to Portland
-spend a few hours doing VMsphere training to brush up my skills so I can return to PNG ready to work on our new projects
-look around to borrow some snow chains
-order some parts for a repair that needs to be shipped to PNG
-play with my kids for a few minutes, maybe pick out some pumpkins
-inhale
-hopefully squeeze in the last game in the NLCS ...go GIANTS!
-configure a vpn and a network to prep access to install vmotion
-save a small universe by finding a rootkit virus installation and gain my employer a new customer.
-doing all that while my computer keeps randomly powering off.

Oddly enough, this is NOT a busy day. That's tomorrow, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.
Today is my slower day.

God I'm thankful for all these opportunities and the health to keep going. I ask forgiveness for wanting things to slow down a bit, as you keep showering us with your blessings.

my to-do list is growing daily and I haven't enough time to complete the items. Jan 10 is coming too quickly.

how to pray:
-more time
-need my laptop to quit dying or need to get a new laptop.

PRAISE:
support is at 89% now!

10/15/2010

Disneyland from a Missionary's perspective

This will be a lengthy post, but I think, worth it. My wife and I were devout Disneyland fans back in college with season passes. We went many nights there and I proposed at Snow White's wishing well. Years later when our kids were around 4 and 6 we took them for their first, and later second, times. It was magical seeing it through our kids eyes.

It's nearly 5 years later now. I'm 5 years older, we're both late 30's in age. It's October which means the park is decorated for Halloween.

We were going to be in Southern California to meet with friends, family and a supporting church and the money all came together for a special family vacation to Disneyland in Anaheim, CA.

The trip went GREAT... I mean REALLY great, God confirmed our ministry in so many miraculous ways. I will blog about that possibly more later. But kno
w we're very excited about our ministry and returning to PNG. So many things have happened that this 10 days feels more like a month because of the sheer volume of awesome things that has happened. I can't even recall them all.

First... a few words from our kids:
Calvin – while watching captain EO with me because it took me back “I don’t get it, is captain EO a boy or a girl?”

Calvin – while on the pirates of the C. he said while referring to the skeleton drinking a bottle of rum “he must be freshly dead because the bottle isn’t empty yet.”

Calvin – while on California Screaming “I’m going to die, I’m going to die, I’m going to die”

Calvin – after California Screamin “Choosing to ride that ride was the worst mistake of my life. There was probably a sonic boom during it but I couldn’t hear it because I was screaming my head off.”

Calvin and Sydney at the tortilla factory weighing Sydney (what’s your weight in tortillas)– Syd - “Wow I weigh like 100 more tortillas than Emmy” Cal - “well that’s because we eat tacos every Tuesday night”


Day 1 at Disneyland we decided to ignore the advice of friends telling us about this new 'fastpass' system and how to work it. The day ended in disappointment as we found we could not see this 'world of color' show. So on Day 2 I decided to 'work the fastpass system' Which resulted in me doing a LOT of walking around while my wife took the kids to fantasyland rides.

Day 2: After two ull days I have decided that they have upset the delicate balance of magic at Disneyland. I have also decided I don't care at all for the new California Adventure. The fastpass system for world of color is a horrible disaster. The park opened at 9:30am and the horde of people RAN ignoring all warnings towards the fastpass machines. I refused to run. Wheelchairs, older people, heavier people, younger people, all dashed passed me. Combine CA adventure, with Dland and downtown disney and what you end up with is having to make reservations for rides since there is triple the crowd and triple the wait. I went on a weekday in October, on a drizzly day and it was still insanely crowded. The crowds will be the undoing of the park. Combine THAT with new information at the gate each day about what the closing times actually mean, some halloween party that meant we didn't get to see Fantasmic OR the fireworks... and you realize, that you need to plan your itenerary and the internet is not enough of an information source. I realize there is a phone app and such.. and the people who seemed to know their way around the park all had iphone4's and Verizon whatevers... there were a LOT of smartphones employed by families trying to figure out their next move. The LAZY, relaxed way of doing Dland comes at an extreme cost, which is not being able to ride rides.

The clothing fashions have changed, and I wondered how cold those folks with very short shorts felt, but also folks seemed rude to me. I think possibly large crowds are that way. I found myself compensating by being overly pleasant to people instead of grumpy. Before I left for PNG, a large crowd would make me angry and stressed. Now I feel, 'wow these people only need someone to simply be kind to them and they'll have a better day'.

Still, family fun can be found but you have to be deliberate about avoiding the madness. We tried to go with the flow but failed. Because things 'sell out'.


LOSING THE MAGIC:
lit and blinking balloons, neon blinking cotton candy? Everyone with iphones, i felt old.. and not because my body was sore, but because I was longing for the days of disney 15 years ago. I was wishing to see disneyland at night but it was too far away and the crowds too awesome to brave, but my wife suggested we get on the train. WHAT a great idea. So around 9pm we all prepared to board the Disneyland express.

FINDING THE MAGIC:
In the train station I suddenly felt the magic coming back, as I looked at the old photos. Which is when my wife found an old wurlitzer and put in a dime. Surely this old device would not work. But it did. And it played a wonderful tune, as we stood in awe, literally... stood. In the distance we heard the familiar bell of the Disneyland Express and I was transported back to a time when Disneyland still had magic. For a dime my wife found the magic for me, she gently put her arm around me and we rode around the park in style... and magic.

It was a great moment.

The next day it was raining, and we said goodbye as our blisters anticipated the time when we could sit for our shuttle. But before leaving, we ducked into Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln and I felt the magic again. I learned what the statue on top of the Capitol building was. I enjoyed the museum like feel of the room.

Now my wife sit here in the lobby of our hotel, ready to embark on the journey home tomorrow. There is free wireless in the lobby.

But the place is insane at 9pm. It seems at 8pm the park opens for a halloween trick or treat party, AND in the conference room here is a small children's beauty pageant. So we're playing a game of 'pageant or party' as we see people running around in different costumes. 'Is that a princess or a contestant?'.

Lots of sequins and sparklies. A hollywood agent type running around handling details and such.

And we are thankful for this trip to Southern California for many.... many reasons. Not the least of which, is a new found appreciation for the comfort of home, new found friends, surprise meetings with old friends, and enjoyable time with family and friends.

God has certainly blessed us. And this last 10 days, has accomplished the largest goal of all we had on our furlough: Re-confirming and re-energizing our desire for Papua New Guinea.

I hope this post doesn't sound too negative. We really enjoyed the family time. We made a lot of great memories. And we really are thankful that we got the chance to go at all. Someone had given us money specifically to do this trip. So we enjoyed it tremendously. It is simply that, after you've been away for a while and love the place and are used to no crowds and knowing people everywhere you go, it's a bit of a change.

Oh, we did bump into 2 groups of people we knew.
AND, we noticed after PNG that the Tiki room had 'birds of paradise' which are a bird from PNG.

AND when we didn't want people to know what were talking about in line, we could speak tok pisin.

10/12/2010

Speaking to youth

this morning I woke up at 5:45am, and had this on my heart to share. I wrote it down as the thoughts in my head and sort of thought it could be a 'sermon' to youth or young adults.

Anyway, for what it's worth... this is what was on my heart and mind this morning.




'If anyone here is feeling left out, unnoticed, unrecognized, alone, I need to tell you that God is looking at you and thinking 'I have a plan for you, and it's awesome!'

I grew up with a bit of a wierd childhood and as a result I never really felt like I fit in anywhere. So I began to spend time with God, reading my Bible praying and I would say 'God, there are these great men in the Bible, Noah, Moses, Joseph, David, Paul... and they're all guys like me... human... do you want to do something incredible with my life? If so, I'm not psychic, I can't read minds, I need to know, so tell me.'

Then one day, I was 25 or so, I got this little bit of a feeling like I was supposed to go to Papua New Guinea to visit. And I couldn't forget that thought no matter how much I tried. Some people came to our class and spoke like I'm speaking now and I got this thought and it wouldn't go away.

So I prayed about it. And so I went to PNG. And when I got there, it was THERE that I felt at home. THERE that I felt like I fit in, I belonged, all my skills all my interests, my talents and my hobbies, my childhood everything clicked and I knew, I knew...

people say 'how did you know'.... man when you know it's very strong on your heart and your mind, and I KNEW this was the plan for my life.

God had planned everything that had happened in my life to get me to that point where He wanted me.

Jer 29:10-  10 This is what the LORD says: "When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14

Okay so now, if your'e in this room and you're in the other boat. You're thinking 'I got this handled... I've been a Christian since I was 5 years old, and I know exactly what's going on in my life. I have my goals, I have my life all set out before me.' That's awesome.

Guess what, that was me after college. I had goals to accomplish, and I did too, I accomplished every one of my goals. I was 33 when my last goal was accomplished. I wanted to have 2 kids, a lovely wife, and a job that paid me six figures a year. And I had it.

Then I said 'wow, now what? Retirement? At 33?'

So I started asking God more about what His plan for me was.

If you're there, where you have your plans all set out before you, you've got your life all laid out, you're in the cool group.... be sure that's what God's plan for you is.

Okay so the Bible says He has a plan... so let's talk about how we figure out the plan.

I mean are we supposed to HEAR GOD'S VOICE like we hear stuff on the t.v.?

Let me tell you how it worked for me.
I spent my time and effort getting closer to Christ. I spent a lot of time reading the Bible, praying, finding out what the truth was, kept asking God what He wanted of me. And the more time we spent together, the more times I knew what to do in those moments when you have a tough choice to make.

The the more times I chose to do what I felt would please God and not myself, the more I got to know what God wanted from me.

It was like building a friendship. You hang out with your buddies and you learn about them, you learn what they like and hate.

Okay... so that's the story of how I got involved in mission work and went overseas.

So the question remains for you all, ... what does God have planned for you. Well, I can't answer that for you, but I can answer a different question.

If you're asking 'how can I right now, get involved in reaching the whole world for Christ? Missions work?' ... I'll tell you very simply.
PRAY.

If you don't believe prayer works, go overseas and depend on God for everything. You'll soon realize prayer is everything.

There have been so many times I've been in dangerous situations that I got out of safely only because of prayer. Situations totally outside of my control. There have been times when we felt lighter inside happier during times when we should have been very sad, because we knew people back in the united states were praying for us.

So pray. Pray for us, pray for safety, pray for encouragement, pray for support, pray for our kids, pray for everything you can think of.

Prayer works, we're all standing here in front of you because God answers prayer.

KEEP praying. Prayer takes a while sometimes. In Daniel there's a story about an Angel who takes 21 days to answer a prayer because of all the fighting through the enemy he had to do. Check it out.

KEEP praying.

10/11/2010

Awesome Day Awesome Trip

We've been relatively busy this trip to So Cal. We haven't bought meal yet, we keep running into people who want to buy us a meal and visit.

Today we met a guy who was so generous and excited about how technology can be used to spread the Word and gave us some nice new toys to bring to PNG to give to other teams.

I was left in awe at his generosity to us and our children. He had goodies and gifts for them, and his heart was full of love for missionary kids.

Then tonight, we spoke at a young adults class and heard some awesome testimony and was able to share.

I do not know if you understand what I mean when I say 'divine appointments'. It basically means to me a meeting that God had designed for you to have.

I really can't list out all of the divine appointments we've had on this trip. There are far too many to count. Needless to say:

Nearly EVERY single encounter we have had on this trip has been an incredible reminder that GOD is confirming our ministry and blessing us WAY more than we deserve.

Have you ever thought 'WOW? what are the odds that I would meet someone who knew how to do _______ on the day when I had to figure out how to get ________ done. ?'

We revel in, love to see, get pumped up about.... the times when God does something that is so obviously only doable by Him.

And it's happening EVERY SINGLE DAY of this trip, multiple times a day!

God is confirming our ministry here. We pray and hope that we are helping spread His Word and His message to the people we meet.

It has been mind blowingly incredible.... my brain is so overflowing with the amazement of it all I can't even list them all out I can't even think them all through to list them all out.

Pure awe. God is good.

10/08/2010

People

Which of these best describes you:

-you know today you're going to meet new people and you start to get nervous.
-you know today you're going to meet new people and you start to get excited.

?

Years ago, meeting new people was something that would give me butterflies in my stomach, although you wouldn't know it because I've got an extroverted exterior.

Today, I get really excited and here is why.

God has continually brought incredible, miraculous blessings to us through people.

And so, years ago it was my habit to think 'how can I get out of meeting someone new, I'll say 'no' to every opportunity to do something 'different'.

Now, I say 'yes, sure!, YAH!' to any opportunity to meet someone, because when I do that, God does such incredible things.

I would like to tell you about someone, but I'll wait a bit until I know him more. Needless to say, he's a techno guy, and he, without knowing me, send me his business card and a hard drive full of useful data on it.

I called and said 'I can't copy all this I don't have room'... he replied 'no, the hard drive is a gift, use it and copy the data and give it to others in PNG.'

!!!

This guy has turned supplying technical gadgets into a ministry... he buys them and gives them away to people who can put them to God's use!

How amazing is it?


Friends, I can not describe to you the incredible feeling of wonder I get, when I see our God work. It's like this magnificent puzzle of planning perfection.

I'll lay one out for you, but I can't finish it because it's not even over.

-We plan to go to Southern California
-my grandmother passes away
-we pray and decide to postpone the trip
-because of that decision that we're confident was God's leading:
-details surrounding my grandmother's apartment went very smoothly
-we got an extra speaking engagement
-we were hosted by a family we didn't know and turned out they know a lot of our same friends and blessed us not only with a place to stay but THE perfect place to stay!
-we met a man who gives gadgets to missionaries
-we had a spontaneous family reunion on Kendal's side.
-the kids wound up with a special gift.
- and more and more and more

All of it God had planned. His plans are way better than ours. We simply have striven to always say 'yes' when we feel his prompting.

Let me tell you, saying 'yes' has always been harder than saying 'no', but it has been vastly more rewarding and incredible to see God do His thing in front of us, and for us, and with us.

Thank you all!

10/07/2010

In Southern Cal

well we're in southern Cal visiting partners, friends, family.
One of the things we were hoping to do while down here is to go to Disneyland.

First off, fellow missionaries reading this... here's another money tip:
check out priceline.com
you can pretty much tell hotels how much you're willing to pay for a room, if you're flexible regarding where you stay... and let's be honest... since we're out of the country our standards have lowered plus we don't know the area as well as we once did so... we're flexible! Discount hotel stays!

Anyway, we wanted to surprise the kids with Disneyland, and so we prayed about it and yes some money did come in for it, but we kept it a surprise.

I decided to turn it into a learning opportunity for the kids. We had been talking about God and how the kids felt He wanted us to be happy all the time. After much Biblical debate, the kids agreed God doesn't promise us to have fun all day every day.

This was a shock to their theologies for sure. But they finally agreed that life may be hard on God's path, but maybe from time to time we get a special treat from him.

So they decided to pray for Disneyland. What they didn't know was that I had already gotten the tickets. But I decided to let them pray and experience what fervent prayer and patience can do, as we have seen over the last several years.

So they prayed.
And waited.
And prayed again.
I held out for 3 days... waited until they were in the LA area.. even drove passed 6 flags, thinking about it, talking about it.. praying.

And to myself I'm thinking 'what's the harm in letting the kids think we may not go? Just for a few days.'

Well today we told them God answered their prayers and we were going.

But what we didn't expect was that tonight some friends gave each of the kids an envelope and inside it had money for 'something you want that's special'.

The kids as I put them to sleep tonight said,
'Dad, God answered our prayers about Disneyland, but also, He threw in a bonus and gave us enough money to each get a souvenir.'

Isn't that how God works? He continually chooses to bless us with a little bit more than we were expecting for ourselves. We absolutely love this because then we know it wasn't of our doing but it was God's.

Thank you to those who had an active role in letting our kids experience personally what we've seen for many years now through you.

In talking about it tonight with friends, I boiled it down like this:

-Sometimes we worry even though we know God provides
-When we worry we remind ourselves to bend our knees and pray... trusting God, surrendering our will.
-God shows up in some incredible way and does something really cool and beyond what we expected.


I absolutely love being surprised by God and I am so addicted to it, that I will gladly submit my will knowing His will has something better.

10/05/2010

Click

Being our first furlough, I've blogged a bit about what it's like going on your first furlough.

It is very busy.
You have goals to accomplish, and they are:
- inspire people's interest in missions - we do this by talking to groups
- raise financial partnership and prayer partnership - mostly by prayer and speaking
- reconnect/visit with family and friends
- get medical treatment needed
- purchase supplies that we lack in country
- rest and enjoy our home country
- get training for job back in PNG
- get re-inspired to return and start your second term


Well the first few goals we've been making headway on. But honestly, we've been so busy, we've barely gotten 'rest' and we definitely haven't gotten to the 'I really miss PNG' point....

until yesterday.

Something in me clicked and I got really excited about returning to PNG. It will be sad to leave here, but my spirit suddenly was... unburdened and I said 'Okay God, I can go back now.'

It might be a dirty little secret, but most every missionary needs to make that important transition during their furlough from 'Thank God I'm in America...' to 'Okay I'm re-inspired to go back and serve again!'.

I've finally gotten over the hump and began that transition.
And God knows my heart because as soon as I got to that point, the email and the phone started our support going in the positive direction again.

I'm still not ready to leave the U.S. but I'm starting the emotional process of being excited about the work yet to be done in PNG!

Newsletter gone

We've completely abandoned the idea of a paper newsletter. Which means it is imperative we have your proper email address.

We thought there might be some people out there without email addresses who would like a newsletter so we investigated the cost of doing it. For the past 3 years we have had a great sponsor who paid for our postage and printing. Since losing them, we have investigated other paths, but all of which were very expensive.

So, at the risk of upsetting people, we're convicted that being a better steward means stopping the paper newsletters.

If this upsets you, we'd love to know, but the odds are people that read this blog wouldn't be upset by it.

So were considering one last final mailer to everyone to say 'this is the end of the newsletters.'

please be sure to email us your opinions at

owens (at) gimpel.tv

10/03/2010

Faith in housing

So this morning, we had no housing for our LA trip.
Now we do.
We were convinced, that God had us change our LA trip from a week prior, because everything went really well since we made that choice. I mean, we got an extra speaking engagement out of it... packing up my Grandmother's apartment was easier. It was confirmed that it was a God thing.

This morning we began to stress a little. And so we prayed “God we know you have a plan, please reveal it soon to us.”

Today we got an email while we were out. “we have a little side house with 2 bedrooms we’d love to have you come stay for free” total strangers who house missionaries... About ten minutes from the church we’ll be speaking at.

So I call.

They’re really involved in missions and in two different churches. One of which is Eric Kregel’s old church in Chino Hills.

Still gets better.

They want to know if we want to be involved in their church’s mission fellowship night on Thursday night!!!!

This morning we were convinced God had canceled our housing to ‘upgrade us’ to someone He had in mind for us. This evening we were convinced.
I called in, and spoke with Ron, liked him instantly and he was watching the Giants game and said he was watching it with his son because they were both in fantasy football and Ron was beating his son by 3 points., and I said ‘Ron, I can tell we’re going to get along great”

We are convinced when God changes plans on us, He often had something better in mind. If we had booked a hotel and bit the bullet, we would have never tried to look up people who were registered to house missionaries. Instead we thought 'Okay God, let's see what you do with this!" I love it.. It is so encouraging to see people with generosity and love in their hearts in times like this, when it is so hard to be thinking about others.

9/30/2010

Family night

Today, thursday, was family night. But first I had to go to the doctor and get my blood testing required for going into PNG done. The report thus far is that I'm rather healthy.

At the doctor I accidentally smashed a finger on my left hand. Later today I gashed a finger on my right hand moving some equipment around. So I'm typing to you on two slightly injured hands (-;

Today the window on our car door broke. The electric assembly (regulator) broke. I could have taken it into the mechanic for a $350 repair, or I could fix it myself for the cost of parts ($99.00).

Not knowing how to do it, I turned to youtube. Awesome, there are several how-tos online in repairing car door assemblies. So hopefully tomorrow I'll be able to repair the window before we go to speak.

We're finding our time very short.
The balls we are juggling are spending time with friends and family that we need to reconnect with. Speaking and writing and working on partnership development (financial support). Medical appointments. Preparing for our return by getting clothing and finding other similar bargains.

So far, we've been missing out on the things that matter most because of the tyranny of the urgent, which is reconnecting with friends and family.

If you need to see us, we need to get a time on the calendar ASAP

Next Speaking Engagement

Tomorrow, Friday, we'll be speaking at a youth group. It is part of our mission while on home assignment, to excite people about missions. Getting a chance to speak to youth is an awesome opportunity. Add to that, they want to hear primarily about how technology is used in the missions field and we have the formula for a really fun and exciting time!

We love to talk about God's calling for us, and I LOVE to talk about how God can use technology!

Pray for us that it goes well. As someone said to us, 'when youth get to thinking about missions, it can change their lives, affect their choices, even who they marry'.

Part of what we do while here in the U.S. is to help plant the seeds so that we have a future of missions minded people.

9/18/2010

Abomination

today, as we drove, I invented a car game for the kids. One kid reads a proverb and the other kid tries to figure out what it means. We were reading Proverbs 15 and we got to verse 8:

8 The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD,
But the prayer of the upright is His delight.


My son read it, so here is the conversation I had with my daughter.

her: "Well I don't know what it means because I don't know what abomination means."
me: "Have you ever heard of the abominable snowman?"
her: "Yes, I have and I've also heard of Obama."

at this point my wife and I were laughing too hard to continue the lesson.

Things We Saw 1



This week we did a few things as a family.
First we had a funeral for my grandmother and it went well, it was a good time of remembering a great lady.

Then as a school trip/family trip we went to the Santa Cruz County fair, where among seeing livestock and other items, we saw a display of collections. The most interesting was the collection of 'scat'. Sounds gross but knowing what different animals' scat looks like can be VERY helpful in a survival situation.

Another thing we did was go to Gizdich Ranch and picked apples so we could learn to make pies, and apple sauce when we got back home. $1.29 per lb. If you want cheap apples, this is a good way to get them.

Missionary Tip:
For an inexpensive day outing, you can go to the Santa Cruz wharf. We did today and visited one of my old childhood favorite memories, Marini's candy shop.

I was surprised when I saw Dark chocolate covered bacon. I had heard rumors of this delicacy when we were in PNG but I wouldn't believe it. Then months ago when we arrived I challenged a friend of mine to produce such a thing and he did not.

Now at last, I found it. At Marini's.

And finally we saw the seals at the wharf and some gas powered ( single stroke engine?) bicycles.

Things We Saw 2

Things We Saw 3

Things We Saw 4

9/16/2010

a Bit of a rant.. on my mind

I haven't ranted in a while.. this one is a bit of a long winded thought.

I’ve been reading the Bible since I’ve been able to read. One of the things that fascinates me the most about it, is that I seem to always be able to come up with something I didn’t see before, or that didn’t give me pause in an earlier reading. Yesterday we buried my grandmother. Today I opened the book of Exodus to continue with chapter 4. I got to verses 24-26 and my ‘just-woke-up’ brain had a hundred questions about this passage. It is a very confusing passage and my take on it is that Moses had acquiesced to his wife's desire to avoid circumcising their son which God did not like and rectified. God was not going to let Moses have sin in his family before he went to lead the Israelites out of Egypt.

Men in ministry have responsibility and I've been thinking about the true sadness of seeing people finish their lives poorly.

During our preparation to move to Papua New Guinea, my wife and I underwent a lot of prayer and soul searching and begging God to bring any sin between us to the open so we could confess it, repent, heal, and avoid the situation where a sin is exaggerated in the field. Too many missionaries have imploded on the field from not dealing with God honestly. It is our utmost concern that we not fail. Truly what's the point of uprooting yourselves, leaving your life and family behind in an honest endeavor to serve God and obey His calling... If you're going to get there and be ineffective... or worse, totally and utterly fail in a public way?

I'm aware that people in authority have an extra portion of spiritual responsibility. Because of that I've never endeavored to take on authority.

As a man, a husband, a father, and now a missionary (gulp) I feel the burden and weight of this on my shoulders and I desire to continue being a pure man of integrity, and have put up disciplines and practices to help me maintain that lifestyle. Not the least of which is a true friend who holds me accountable.

Over the past three years I've seen men (and women) fail. I suppose fail is a strong word, possibly I should use the phrase, 'become overwhelmed to the point where they have to pause their ministry'. It makes me sad. In my youth I think I was judgmental of men who succumbed to one weakness or another, but as an adult I recognize how easy it would be. And I'm not just talking about the biggies, but about the small ones too. Things as simple as not spending enough attention on family. Being unkind. The little things that add up over the years. There are a myriad of issues that could cause a ministry to stop in it's tracks and the enemy will find that weakness and exploit it. He will attempt to do so HARDER the more fruitful your ministry is. Often times we see a long strain of bad occurences as an indicator that your ministry has potential and has gotten on the enemy's radar.

I'm constantly vigilant for these types of things, because truly, I want to end my life well, and I want to glorify God and bear good fruit... This is the reason for our sacrifice and our obedience, but in order to give that value we have to maintain a life of integrity which is harder and harder to do in a world where the enemy grows stronger.

So I suppose these verses in Exodus moved me, even if they were a tad confusing at first. I am very thankful that I have a wife who is a help mate and not a stone around my neck. She is very much a teammate in our endeavor in PNG and anywhere we go. Yesterday as we buried my grandmother and people praised her godly character, I looked over at my wife and I truly and deeply appreciated her for her help in this time and how I can always rely on her to be a help to all around her. I looked at my children and saw two well adjusted kids who enjoyed talking to people and sharing their hearts about Papua New Guinea. And I looked up and said a silent prayer to God.

'Thank you for them God, and please don't let me muck it up.'

9/14/2010

Questions

Frequently asked questions:
-While you’re home on furlough do you still need our financial support?
- YES we most definitely do.

-What have you been doing so far to raise financial partnership (support?)
- We have spoken to 2 churches, with a third in a few weeks planned. A retirement home, a few Sunday schools. We have more speaking engagements planned and we have begun a letter writing campaign as well. We have had meals in houses and lunches, and will be speaking at a few Bible study groups soon.

-Are you going back to PNG? -
Yes we are, God willing.

-When are you going back to PNG?
- January 12, 2011. Our goal is to have all of our support pledged by Jan 1, 2011.

-What happens if you don’t raise the support by then? - Our lives will be turned upside down as we seek what God wants next and work out the logistics of what that means.

-If I changed my commitment to you financially, do you need to know?
- YES please, if you increased, decreased or stopped your financial support of us, we definitely need to know as soon as possible.

-How can we pray? - Pray that God brings in our support before Jan 1, 2011.

-How can we give? - you can email us at chad_owens@sil.org for more details

9/12/2010

Encouragement

Life throws us mountains.
At the bottom of the climb we look up and are tempted to think 'this is impossible'. The temptation to become overwhelmed at the task is very strong.
At the crest of the climb we look back and say 'the hard part is over!' and look down and say 'it's all downhill from here'.
At the bottom we say 'I'm glad I did that, I'm proud of that accomplishment'.

Today life threw a few mountains at us. A few obstacles that would easily overwhelm us.

It was once said 'it ain't furlough unless you're exhausted.'

My prayer has been and continues to be, 'God please send us a tiny bit of encouragement during those exhausted times.... so that we can be a blessing to others around us. We desire SOO much to glorify God but we need to be filled with peace, help us during those times'.

God is so faithful to us. I just plopped down today and said to my wife 'I'm tired to my bones.'

And then the phone rang.

Today we have for the first time in our furlough begun to make financial progress toward our goal!

Thanks God for new partners and new pledged support... timed in such a way that it would encourage us when we needed it!

9/10/2010

Moving On

Yesterday my grandmother Jonnie whom I was rather close to, passed away. Or as my daughter put it, 'moved to heaven'.

You can read the obituary here.

I was holding off on mentioning it until family and friends had been notified. If this comes as a shock to you, I do apologize that you were unable to hear personally.

During this time, we could use prayer for the family. Everyone is grieving and prayers to the effect that we can all remain healthy (physically and emotionally) during this time would be appreciated.

Thank you.

9/02/2010

excitement

each morning we wake up, we don't know what will happen.
It's the same for everyone.

For us, we wake up and we know each day will be different, instead of the same.
This sounds exciting for many folks, but the lack of routine does tend to make you more tired after a while. We have become well versed in the nomadic lifestyle.

Yesterday was a quiet day. I went outside and heard a BOOM!
some college kids were fanning their burning car engine, and it exploded... no flames jsut a hood flying open and a big BOOM!.. no one was hurt.

It seems even on days when we're having a quiet day there is some adventure to be had.

I'm thankful to God that life never gets boring, and also thankful for the periods of routine and the periods of excitement, and the periods of rest.

I have lived routine.
I have lived constant excitement.
I have lived danger.
I have lived in safety.

It is my opinion that life is not boring.... when we feel bored we seek excitement and we're over excited we seek quiet. It seems that part of our nature is to always seek some state that we aren't currently in or tired of.

The discipline therefore seems to be in developing a sense of happiness, of contentment in whatever your circumstances are. I realize there is drama all around everyone.

This furlough has taught me a very important lesson.

Everyone has drama.

Whenever I get to thinking how life is difficult for us in PNG, I will remind myself that it isn't exactly a bowl of cherries for everyone here back in the U.S. either. After meeting with you and spending time with you, I have found no single person whose life is completely going exactly how they want it to be going.

So we pray for you guys, and hope that you remember as well to pray for us. In this way, it seems to me to be even more of a partnership, because we are heavily invested in your families as well.

We have really enjoyed re-contacting folks we haven't seen in years... and we haven't reached everyone yet... we hope to!

8/25/2010

Missionary's New Friend

In an effort to find a good deal on a trumpet for my daughter, I visited 3 pawn shops today. I have never set foot in a pawnshop, and the Oregon ones are rather clean and nice.

I didn't buy a thing, but they have used power tools, dvd's, electronics, musical instruments.

My wife and I have become enthralled with all the 'bargains' that are to be had out there. Thrift stores, pawn shops, these are wonderful things to people on a budget.

I suppose this isn't news to families with 6 kids, but to a Silicon Valley computer geek, become missionary in PNG... it's a whole new world full of promise and previously owned merchandise.

Once your levels of expectation and definition of what is 'nice' have been changed by living in a third world country... America's hand-me-downs are actually a really nice step UP for us!

Craigslist/ebay - for getting in touch with how much used stuff should cost.
Thrift stores - for kids clothing when they change sizes so quickly
Pawn shops - for trinkets that you may need.. you never know what you're going to find.

it's like treasure hunting, and as many of you know, I HATE to shop but I love to geocache. So long as I can see these places as searching for treasure and not shopping, I can find a way to enjoy it!

8/24/2010

Miramont pointe

Today we spent time with our friends and partners a place in Oregon.
It was a real blessing to get to share about what God is doing in PNG
with them. We thank you again for praying for opportunities to speak!!

-Chad

Geocaching

Another adventure