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.



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.



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.


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.


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.



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.


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.


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!)