the game

imagine my morning.
I spliced fibre at 9:30am, finished by lunch, then headed to a friend's rugby game. There was a moment when I was standing in pouring down rain, crowded shoulder to shoulder by hundreds of papua new guineans, trying to get protection under the brim of my hat... watching a rugby game in the mud and the rain... under the rim of a hut.. (haus win)... and I was sitting next to my son.

And I was thinking... 'this is like taking your son to a ball game, but it's so much different'.

In the distance lightning was striking the hill tops, and thunder was ominous... and it was such an amazing surreal moment.

I'm doing this. With my son. We've come this way, through the mud, got lost a bit on the way, were treated like visiting royalty, escorted to a nice chair, watched 2 rugby games and a women's soccer game.

Got treated to PNG's version of clowns. (I can't post the pics as the men wore nearly nothing).

And saw a friend win the game.

It was truly an odd, not-quite-like our home country sporting event, but totally awesome.

leaving the game

leaving the game was treacherous. It was fortnight so a lot of drunk people on the road. The road was slick because of the new rain, AND it was downhill and rutty, and people all over. The truck in front of us got sideways and slid off the road, but the young men all around, simply began pushing and slipping and pushing and made it up. We made it with no problem, a little slipping but that was just for fun. (-;

rugby game


the Sat Saga

The Sat Saga
Nearly a two years ago, I was on the verge of deciding what my latest tech challenge might be. I decided that a skill around here that would be useful, would be to learn about satellite reception. The high school typically had received a free-to-air australian channel, but then one day all stopped working after a lightning storm.
The electronic engineer working on the dish came to me and said 'Chad, I think I've fixed this but without a dish to plug into, I can't make it work, and the high school configuration is too confusing, too many pieces of equipment, I can't be sure which is failing.'
So I decided to get involved. I asked the school to tell me everything they knew about the satellite configuration. What bird it was pointed at, what type of lnb they had, etc. They had no idea.
Okay... so how does a guy like me, knowing almost nothing about satellites figure it out?
By reading, joining internet forums, playing around with the equipment etc.
So I think I've got a decent understanding of Free-To-Air Cband and KU band satellites. About the easiest beginner level stuff. I get there and I find 2 dishes, 4 coax cables, and 2 sat receivers.
No one knows what satellite they're supposed to be pointing to, nor which dish is functional if not both.
So, I give it a try.
On the first visit I find 1 dish has been knocked over in a storm, which tore a huge hole in the roof. ( Oh yeah, it's mounted up on the roof. Our roofs are shiny tin, so tuning a dish is like sun bathing in a tanning salon) was that the functional dish? We decided to remove it, and make 1 good mast. So we do.
Now I have 1 dish, and I have to guess where to aim it. I notice a dual lnb, one looks to be C-band so I guess, given the direction it's pointing, that it's probably intelsat8 (pas8). But I can't tune it.
Visit 2 - a month later (because I'm doing this on my free Saturdays since it isn't work related). I'm convinced I have it tuned right, but still getting no signal. Trace the coax and find it just dies in the roof somewhere.... okay...
Visit 3 - several months later, by this time the school is tired of opening the door and letting me in only to sit around for hours while I tinker. We decide that we have no signal, and can't tell if it's the receiver, or the cable, or the lnb. WE simply don't know what equipment is good. We declare to give up. Do they REALLY need news channels?
Return from Furlough.
Get VSAT training. Install a few VSAT dishes. The self-training on the satellite tv stuff came in very valuable here. Suddenly I'm more confident and I have an idea. I had purchased a $9.00 analog sat finder tool, and had downloaded a few sat finder apps onto my iphone. I decide to give it one last try.
So today I get up on the roof, because it's the first sunny day in a while. I bring a monitor, the tuner, my two sat finder tools, and my wrenches. Very sunny day, I might get a sunburn.
When I plug in my tools to the dish, bingo I have signal... I KNEW I tuned it right... I did the math right. NICE!!! So I tweak it a bit to get max signal. And then I play with the receiver.
After 1 hour, I have a tv channel. I'm very excited, but I'm up on the roof and the sky is turning grey.
In december alone, we got 11 inches of rain. 2 days ago, we got 3 inches of rain. So yeah, I'm pretty sure it's about to start raining. How ironic would it be, to be doing this off an on for over a year, only to get a signal and then have water destroy the equipment?
So I hurry down, plug it all back in, NO SIGNAL!!!!
I troubleshoot coax cables, video cables, finally I find the combination of things that were wired wrong, and I re-configure the receiver to the correct transponder signal and polarization.
BOOM.... AUSTRALIAN NEWS, and BBC come online.
I have an enormous sense of accomplishment now. I stuck with this puzzle, this detective work troubleshooting thing, where I knew very little, and finally it's working. I feel good about that.
And then I ask myself 'is getting the T.V. turned on all that important?"
Here's the answer from a friend:
"When 9/11 happened, everyone here felt so disconnected. As if it was a dream, a horrible nightmare that we were so far from. We would all huddle together at the high school and turn on the television because it was the one place we could get news. We saw pictures of the World Trade Center and were flabbergasted. We were very thankful that we had that 1 television on center to get information from."

I would not have thought 2 years ago, that my growing interest in satellite technology would have allowed me to get 3 regional centres online, and a news channel on at the high school. I am feeling pretty good about that right now.

Here's a note I got from one of the directors here:
Dear Chad,

I want to thank you for all the sacrifices you have made to help bring the "Good News" of Jesus Christ to the people of Papua New Guinea. Chad, your service as the IT Manager helps keep people connected and has allowed language workers to focus more on their work. Because of your support of Bible translation, you have helped six people groups receive the New Testament in their tok ples this year alone.

Thank you also for all the other ways you serve our community. We all depend on each other.

It's time like this when I think 'wow God, you fashioned me this way, taught me these skills, gave me this attitude of total obsessive desire to solve technical puzzles, and you let me serve you in ways I never could have predicted, you use skills I never thought could be used to serve you, and you use them to server you.... you are AWESOME'


Christmas in PNG

I've been asked, "What is Christmas like in PNG?"

The answer is a long one. I'll try and divide it up.
It's definitely not like in the states. The entire country celebrates it, but there is not a lot of commercialism or hype. It's very simple. It's a time for people to come together and enjoy each other. Take a break from work.

It's not really about the food. Turkey is pricey and not at all flavorful. The food is homemade. The ex-pats typically celebrate similar to how they did as kids, although most christmas trees are fake, because we don't have tree farms here, so they are brought from home.

Gifts under the tree are usually not as plentiful as back in the states, but we've not found that to be a bad thing. Our family makes a point to send gifts each year, and that's nice. We also find ways to plan years ahead and buy gifts and have them shipped for the kids.

Most couples don't give gifts to each other, it saves money, plus, unless there is something really special, the gifts aren't extravagant. For example, last time, my wife gave me a six pack of Dr. Pepper. Which at $1.25 a can was pricey, but also a very special gift because I hadn't had REAL Dr. Pepper in a while. In fact drinking soda is a rarity here because of the expense.

The nationals and the ex-pats often come together (bung pronounced boong), in some sort of celebratory way. The picture above is a mumu. A traditional feast of potatoes and pork or chicken, and talking.

Relationships are key here. So getting together for no reason at all and talking is highly valued. Christmas break allows time for that. Dropping in on someone, sitting down and simply talking about anything and everything.

It resembles Christmas back in the U.S. We have our traditions. We drive around to look at lights, but with so few houses here, and power at a premium, there are few families who light up their homes. And when we do, it's often very simple. Although I have been tempted to look into the technology like "light-o-rama" that synchronizes lights with music.... that sort of fanfare is not really seen here.

We celebrate with many church services and worship services. Usually around this time of year you can go to at least 2 or 3 different services on the weekends up until the new year.

We celebrate boxing day as well (day after Christmas) which is more casual and relaxed.

All in all, it is more about Christ here than gifts, more about people than events. We share goodies, Kendal makes cookies and pies, and we simply come together and enjoy each other.

Jigsaw puzzles are put together, board games are played, songs are sun, the Christmas story from Luke is read several times, advent is observed, candles are lit.

It's a time for me and my family of closeness, appreciating the gift God gave us. Thankful for the gifts others have given us, enjoying the beauty of God's creation, and taking a short break from work to accomplish other things that are valuable as well.

I think you would enjoy it for it's simplicity and calm.

The flipside of that coin is that the kids end up saying 'I'm bored' a few too many times near the end of the break. But as a result, they really enjoy and look forward to the little things.

The differences are subtle, and perhaps not that different than how you celebrate. It is always a joy to be back in the U.S. for Christmas because of the delight in how everything is decorated and festive. But it is also nice to be here, because of that rainy, calm feeling that is almost the opposite of the stress and excitement feeling in the U.S.

In that way, Christmas isn't just for kids anymore.... big or little ones. Adults can enjoy the relaxation. I know in the states, me, the dad, was always loading stuff into the car, driving here and there, and then loading back up and driving here or there, with exhausted kids. That doesn't happen any more, all your neighbors are within 5 minutes walk.

This way of celebrating may appeal to some, if it does, come visit us!! But be warned, we'll put you to work! (-;

Merry Christmas from PNG!


Evolution of Technology Use

Someone asked me a good question about my last blog post. 'Why is this a problem this year and not previous years?"

more new people = more people who are used to "always on" internet
higher res equipment, newer cameras, smartphones, laptops, all are now assuming you live in a place with always on, high speed internet. Even though, several ISP's across the world still charge Per MB.

More and more technology is geared towards using more internet access, and it is harder to retrain the folks that come from fast 'always on' internet.

One of the places we use to train our 'new recruits' is called Pacific Orientation Course (aka jungle camp). It is an emmersive course which teaches language, culture, food, environment and survival skills in the village. Until recently it also had the added side effect of cutting people off from technology. No television (people overcame by watching dvd's on their laptop when hard pressed), no internet (people used modems if the phones were working), but all in all, you really do get disconnected or 'unplugged'. As a result, you begin to feel rather isolated if you're from the Facebook/Twitter generation. The isolation works in your favor, because when you finally get through the training, and arrive here on this network.... it won't seem 'slow' to you anymore it'll seem fast. BUT alas, recently with new improvements, that adaptation hasn't happened.

Fewer people know how to operate in a low bandwidth environment. And there really isn't that much training for it, other than what we have posted online for people to read, and the occasional training sessions we might conduct. It's counter intuitive and people without computer skills really don't want to be bothered with learning how to make their computer go against it's nature.

6 years ago:
-during jungle training camp there was no internet access, no way to communicate from the village (not even hf radio because new-arrivals hadn't been set up yet)

5 years ago:
-during jungle training camp there was modem access, which was at 56k, and we had 2 hours to share daily among 20 people, so you downloaded email, read it at night, replied, then uploaded the next day. If someone in the village got sick during training, the trainers scheduled a mid-stay visit to be sure you weren't dying of denghe fever.

3 years ago:
-there was modem access and people had cell phones in the village, so they could call when they got sick, and then get pulled out.

2 year ago:
-there was modem access and people had cell phones with digital EDGE subscriptions and could get internet access that way

1 year ago:
-there was usb EDGE modems and everyone plugged one into their laptop, no sharing, no more 56k modem.

-there is a 5.8ghz Wireless N bridge link with high gain polarized antenna, at 11mb per/sec supplying all of the camp with internet.

Why this evolution?
Because the technological demands of how we do work is increasing. As you can see, we're at a point now where people don't have a huge technology culture shock when they get here, and as such never get the training on how to survive in a low bandwidth world, even though, relatively we're still low bandwidth.

EMAIL fury

This is gonna be geeky. But let me weave you a tale of how Christmas newsletters can down your internet connection much like a Denial of Service attack.

First you have to have hundreds of people sending newsletters larger than 4mb each, to hundreds of people.

Missionaries have to stay in communication with their support base, so they send out newsletters. None so popular as the Christmas newsletter, often filled with pictures and longer than usual. Everyone is familiar with a family Christmas letter. Well missionaries are no different.

THEN add to that, the fact that missionaries move all over the world. That means email gets forwarded.

THEN add to that, that people SEND newsletters to missionaries who love to read them.

And you get a lot of email activity.
Couple that with a slow internet connection, dash on a little 'we all decided to send it on the same day' and bingo... NETWORK NIGHTMARE.

So, last night I realized the network was slowing down, our up(tx) bandwidth was 100% utilized because we were sending out newsletters.... hundreds and hundreds of large emails.

BUT THEN also our down(rx) bandwidth was slow because of the way satellite works when up(tx) is 100% pegged.

Our email servers weren't pegged, I have divided them up enough with their respective responsibilities and networks, and have even put a packeteer in place to prioritize the right traffic weight so that work can get through.

The trick is, that when vsat is pegged in either direction, the other suffers. But, also people sending out these emails sent to people NOT here which invokes forwarding.

You're in the U.S., you send me a newsletter at my email here, but I'm in Africa at the time, so it comes INTO my server over my satellite link which says 'hey, he's in Africa,' then it goes BACK out the same link.

If that email is 10mb huge, then suddenly my email servers and internet link just had to process a whole lot of data for someone who wasn't even here.

And that is what has happened over the last 12 hours.
A perfect email storm of email going, coming, coming then going, and all of it killing our network link so that no work can get done.

Now... call me the Grinch, because I had to deliver the sad news that I had to delete the sending of newsletters from the offending parties that sent hundreds of very large emails out at the same time.

I didn't want to have to do it, but I had to find a way to clear things up so we could get priority information through.

So if you're expecting a newsletter from someone you support, and you don't get it... you CAN blame the responsible network administrator...

or you can kindly wait for it to come late, and be understanding of resends. And if you really want you can send them this link (but don't send the email until after Christmas (-;



That data is GONE bro....

Today I did some housecleaning. I took an old server that we had since virtualized this year and powered off. As I was going through installed programs, and I found this.

It gave me a good laugh. I guess no one uninstalled the application, and then it just sat there.

2521 Days ago... yeah that data is GONE.

Hmmn, but it made me think, where was I on Jan 24,2005 (2521 days ago)

I had been to PNG for the first time, only a couple months before, October 2004. I was working at Cisco. I wasn't considering coming to PNG full time, in fact I enjoyed the trip but was convinced I would never return.

Wow, that was a long time ago... yup that data is lost, NEVER EVER apparently has an expiration date. (-;


rant on Exchange

I have never liked the Exchange mail server. I learned email servers from one of the originators of Sendmail. Sendmail has it's problems. I enjoyed Qmail. I even enjoyed Postfix, I have generally enjoyed most unix based mail servers because although confusing to some, the puzzle pieces make sense in my mind.

But Exchange is a different beast.

I've been doing this job for nearly 5 years now and in that time I have upgraded Exchange 3 times.

EACH time I have become convinced that the newer version is WORSE than the previous.

Exchange 2010 is losing it's GUI-ness and going more command line. So, it was with the experience of knowing that moving to Exchange 2007 with 2003 was wrought with bugs and problems, that we very carefully went to 2010.

While the gui on 2010 looks very similiar, the under workings are very different and so when someone from the helpdesk came to me and said,

"our imap clients can't send email" I thought 'it's probably some super secret hidden command line somewhere that says 'make sending mail work for Imap clients'.

After hours of experimentation and searching, I found it. YUP... there's a super secret command line for imap clients only, to be able to send mail.

THANKS Microsoft. I really needed to waste 5 hours of my life. Why wasn't that in the training I took? Why wasn't it in the documentation? Why wasn't it in the gui? What were you thinking?

I know what they were thinking. See this super secret command line isn't needed if you're running microsoft products only. But we support Mac's and Linux boxes which run non-microsoft email clients. And so they use imap, and so, it didn't work. Outlook in imap mode works great.

Our department may quickly be switching away from microsoft products simply because of the cost involved. I'm looking forward to that day. If you want, you can pray that God sends us the right staff who understand unix enough to be able to maintain unix servers.


Mumu 2


Christmas 2011

The Christmas Party

In our department we have several ex-pat (whiteskin) workers and more PNG workers than that. Each year we have budgetted to have a little get together for

christmas. The aim of that budget is to have enough money to have some cake, sit together and grow together as a team and celebrate Christ's birth. But

the proper way to celebrate has been elusive to us over the past 5 years or so. Previous management has tried various things. Some years we have had a

small party over banana bread (sweet kai), some years we have purchased rice and sugar and gifted the PNG employees (as a Christmas bonus instead of a

party), but neither of these things really help the team to come together. It is important in PNG culture to share celebrations. Working side by side

isn't enough to form lasting relationships. Last year our well meaning department manager thought he'd surprise everyone with a nice breakfast at his

house. It was a great idea, but the PNG employees disliked it greatly. We're not 100% why.

This year we have an acting department manager. He decided to give the employees the options before them.

It's important to know that between last year and this year, there was a 1 week training for all PNG staff on centre to learn a little more about ex-pat

culture. Many of us coming here have received cultural training and have tried to adapt and not make huge mistakes, but still, we do things that seem odd

to Papua New Guineans. Odd in such a way that we may have caused insult which harmed relationship building without even knowing it. So keep in mind, that

they have had their eyes open to how we operate and live.

The idea of financial support has eluded some. The idea that we volunteer to uproot our lives to come here because we want to help is not entirely grasped.

A lot of ex-pats come to this country to harvest it's resources, we come to provide a resource that will last.

So given that this year has been a remarkable shift towards really developing relationships.... we should not have been as surprised as we were to have our

PNG employees come to us and say

"we want to throw you a mumu."

A mumu is celebratory feast. It is a lot of work to prepare, as a cooking pit must be dug, food donated and gathered from gardens, a pig killed. In PNG

culture, when a pig is killed, it is a significant event. It shows that the occasion has a special meaning.

But, we didn't have enough money in the budget for anything more than buying a pig.

This is where THIS Christmas story begins.

The employees said 'the pig is important, we will donate food from our gardens, we will also donate 20 kina each, and we want everyone to bring their



WOW. Such hospitality is not unusual here. They even got together and wrote a letter from which I'll quote:

"We feel that this time together will signify Christ's birth and strengthen relationships within the departmen. As you will learn over time, Papua New

Guineans are relationship orientated people and this will definitely mean a lot to us. We extend our invitation to our Expat Brothers who are working in

CTS to attend this mumu to show as a team we have stood together this year 2011"

What started out as a "how are we going to accomplish the department party and grow relationships without angering the staff" turned into the staff honoring

our desires, and not only GIVING to the cause, but doing so with hospitality and cheer. How does this type of thing turn around like that?

Very simply put, God is at work in our lives.
Our department manager put it out there, was willing to take their guidance, and they responded.

I am excited as we will partake of this mumu today. My son and I went to help kill the pig, and learned that in the highlands they kill the pig differently

than in the coastal area. They take a blunt axe to the crown of it's skull. Then they bath it in boiling water to shave the hair off, because they don't

skin the pig, they leave the skin on when it cooks.

I asked a friend what the best part was, he said 'the spine'. In PNG, the best piece of the pig, often has no meat. Often it's a piece of skin covered,

hairy fat. And often as an ex-pat they will offer this 'best piece' to you to eat.

So what do you do in that situation? I personally have given it to my son, who seems to enjoy that part of their culture.

The other day the high school vice-principal said "I was in my office and I heard a young voice speaking perfect tok pisin and I thought, 'who is that

student'. And he stepped out of his office and my daughter was talking to the office staff. He was impressed with her Tok Pisin.

Two days ago I heard my son teaching a line of PNG boys and girls how to play a ball game in tok pisin. For him it's important to do proper training and

rules before the game begins, so he was explaining the rules to them. They all looked on at him and listened, and fully understood him as he fluently spoke

to them about boundaries and outs, and fouls, etc.

This Christmas I'm thankful for the changes God makes in our lives and in the lives of people around us. I see a significant difference this Christmas in

the way we interact with our PNG friends and the relationships seem deeper.

I learned a lot today. It wasn't my first mumu, but it was perhaps the one I was closest to. Apparently, the thrower of the mumu mounts the pig head in front of their house as a way to declare 'I have killed this many pigs'. Also traditionally whoever keeps the head, throws the next mumu.

This mumu we sang praise songs, read Luke 2 in Tok Pisin and honored each other by giving certificates for time with CTS as well as doling out portions of the pig. This is a sign of honor and respejavascript:void(0)ct and appreciation. Even I was given a section of the cooked pig, having been here nearly 5 years.

It was a good day.


Mumu prep

Dig a pit. Check
Gather banana leaves. Check
Stones for heating. Check
Killed the pig. Check
Got all the ladies together to peel taro and Kaukau and banana kuk? Check

Mumu time

Our png coworkers are treating us to a Christmas Mumu. Today we observed the killing of the pig


7.3 in PNG

I was in the middle of troubleshooting my email servers when a long violent quake hit. Don't know the stats yet, but guessing it was in the 6's.

Possibly the most violent quake we've had here, and I recalled from years ago that a big quake made the server room racks jostle... so instinctively I dashed to the server room, and pressed my feet against the door jamb and my arms against the server racks.

My co-worker caught a clip of it, but by then it was rather calm, those racks were all over the place, until I stopped them.

At one point there was a big 'boom', and I ducked, but it turned out to be a loose floorboard that went.

Someone asked me "at what point do you say 'leave the servers and protect yourself?' and I replied "I suppose when something hits me in the head." Nothing did.

I can survive a scrape or two, but damaged servers will mean days of work for me....

Of course at home all was well, some paper spilled on the floor.

The biggest damage risk is a fallen power line, or a burst water tank uphill from you. Thus far, no reports of bad damage have come in.

I'm from California. I've been near the Loma Prieta 6.9 in October of 1991, the Eastridge 7.0, and now the PNG 7.3 in the Eastern Highlands, and let me tell you, I prefer the PNG 7.3 to the California 6.9 WOW what a huge difference. The land didn't split here, buildings didn't topple. My servers started rocking, some paper fell on the floor, and that was it.

I went outside to hear two men, their hair now white, who have been here well over 2 decades and said 'that was the strongest one I've ever felt here.'.

So, for those wishing to come here, not from quake country. Yes we have quakes. We don't have big animals of prey. (nothing larger than a small dog) We don't have tornadoes. We have rain, quakes. If you're from California, come on over, the quakes are docile here!


Two Funny Stories

Yesterday I was at the aviation department saying goodbye to a friend. While there I saw a Papua New Guinean friend and I said hello to her.
In tok pisin the conversation proceeded:
me: Hi, are you leaving?
her: yes to port moresby
me: ah, why are you going?
her: to get Kero

now I think to myself "kero is short for kerosene here, but if she's buying kerosene she must be buying it in bulk because air fare is costly... so I figure she has to be buying a lot, or I misunderstood, so I cleverly figured out how to verify"

me: Kero?
her: yes.
me: How much?
her: this much (she shows me with her hands about the height of a 55 gallon drum)

now I think (1 drum? that's it?)
me: That's not much.
her: huh?
me: That's a long way to go to buy kerosene
her: not kerosene, CAROL! my daughter, her name is carol, you don't know my daughter's name?
me: I guess I don't.
her: Carol, my daughter has been in the U.S. for 5 months going to school.

I laughed out of embarassment but she wasn't laughing. Around here, everyone knows everyone and their entire family. It is the PNG way. But I am horrible with names and faces and so I had no idea she had a daughter nor what her name was. I didn't want to tell her that 5 months wasn't a very long time to be in school in the U.S. But I've also found that those who do come back from the U.S. often have learned a LOT in a short time, enough such that they can become quite successful at interacting with ex-pats. Which goes to show, the people of this country are intelligent. They seem to grasp things very quickly that we often overlook.

Second story:
I was driving around in our department vehicle when a man came up to me and said,
(again in tok pisin)
him: I see you are driving this vehicle, so I waited for you.
me: okay, how can I help you? (knowing this might be an interesting conversation)
him: I have a camera that won't flash. CTS will charge me 90 kina to fix it.
me: Yes they will.
him: all I need is someone to fix it, and I don't have 90 kina.

(at this point I know this is one of those broken devices that will not go away. Often times people throw away items that will no longer work nor are repairable, and CTS can end up wasting all kinds of time on these things. Which is why when we get one, we don't throw it away, we dissect it into parts we can use to repair other things. There's nothing worse than working to fix something that you think is important to someone else, that they picked out of the trash, and then keep bringing it back. It really wastes a lot of time, especially since the item was already deemed 'unfixable'. You'd be surprised how much electronics these days cost more to fix than to replace. At this point, I recognize that the 90kina number was a 'this is unfixable' rate, intended to deter people from trying.)

me: I can't fix it, I am not an electrical engineer, I fix computers
him: but you drive this car.
me: yes I work for CTS
him: oh... will you fix my camera?
me: I can't fix your camera
him: do you know anyone who can?
me: I know 1 guy who might be able to.
him: who?
me: He works at CTS.
him: but they will charge me 90 kina to fix this.
me: no, they will charge you 90 kina to TRY to fix this, they may not fix it.
him: can you fix it for me? I don't have 90 kina.
me: I can't fix it. I don't know how.
him: oh... okay.

Now, to you, it may seem like he wasn't getting the point. But he was. There were two cultural aspects at play here. First, was the tendency in this culture to repeat oneself. In fact to get the idea across and be sure that someone fully understands, you should repeat yourself several times. Second, the 'no harm in trying' concept we call 'traim tasol'. If you find a camera in the trash, and can also find someone to fix it for free, why not try? No harm done.

Next time I'll not drive the dept. vehicle. (-;

Back on the repeating something. This is something it takes a bit of getting used to here. But it is important, because if something is important, it bears repeating. This culture does not tire of repetition. They can hear the same story over and over and over.

Whereas in the U.S. you rarely enjoy watching a re-run. You have more important things to do with your time. Which is why if I said,

"Be sure to check that the oven is off before you leave. Before you leave, be sure that the oven is not on. If you leave, and the oven is on, that is bad, so check that the oven is off."

But here, that is perfectly appropriate and if you were to only mention the oven offing once folks might think 'well it can't be that important'.

Which is why, when discussing things of import, like Christ's redemptive blood, you repeat it. So you can imagine... given that it takes twice as long to say most things in tok pisin as it does in English, that a quick sentiment like 'check the oven' could turn into a ten minute conversation.

This is partially why a lot of the South Pacific areas feel like a slower pace than the rest of the world. You take time to stop, talk to people, repeat yourself, tell them the same story you've told them a million times, they'll laugh as if they've only just now heard it, and eventually you get around to business.

And while it is one of the HARDEST parts of adapting to the culture here, the slower pace... makes you feel as if you're wasting time... it is also why we love this place so much during Christmas.


Mind Upload

So it's such a busy time for everyone, I figure no one is reading blogs now anyway until maybe that Friday before Christmas vacation and you're killing time ??

Well I didn't have time to throw up any photos and such... but here's the download.

Weds - co-workers got back from Wewak.. YAY wewak internet is online now!
Buka internet still needs prayer, not coming up, but on the morning we prayed as a centre for it, it got an actual TX lock which was very encouraging. Still not enough though.

Thursday - threw a 'goodbye' bbq for a friend and co-worker leaving for Canada, not planning to return.

Thursday evening - hosted bible study

Friday evening - having the single ladies over for our annual Christmas Classic movie showing double feature of "It's a Wonderful Life" and "Miracle on 34th Street". We find that around this time of year, many single people miss family more than at other times, so we try to offer a nice evening of placebo family. We serve up soup and I start a fire, and the kids get to spend time with some of their 'aunties'.

You wouldn't believe how many people have never seen It's A Wonderful Life.

I typically bore them with movie trivia about the film, and how it was produced. Soup, popcorn, cookies.

Saturday - youth group event, doing 'minute to win-it' Christmas Style for the kids. They should enjoy it.

Saturday - there is a big christmas hoo hah going on here, that we may attend if we haven't collapsed from an already busy pre-weekend.

Kids had a musical concert last week, this week it's final exams.
What else.... Oh Sydney won a contest at school for more 'festive' dress.

She wore a hat I fashioned with a close hanger to point straight up I also rigged it up to a thread so you could make it 'dance'.

and finally we did our annual "tree hunt" in which we hide our fake christmas tree and then go hunting for it. The kids enjoy that tradition.

WE find we have to create new traditions, but being creative is definitely something our family doesn't lack.

This year we have a real-tree we got from planting a christmas tree 3 years ago, it was finally tall enough to harvest (fake tree is in the pic).

And what else... oh yes... Merry Christmas!

see if I can list our family traditions:

-tree hunting w/cocoa and christmas mp3's
-hide pickles (hide a pickle or an ornament and whoever finds it before Christmas gets to open the first gift).
-Christmas decoration and music
-caroling - often carolers visit us (the high school choir) this year they brought cookies
-daily craft - there is a christmas calendar and for 25 days we all do something together, last night it was 'dance to christmas music'
-advent story - each day we read part of the advent story... and each Sunday we light candles
-reading of the christmas story

oh this year I will be performing with 2 friends at a little christmas gathering... I chose "this is our God" as a Christmas song, and while it's not really a Christmas song, it says "this is the one we've been waiting for" which is really the message of Christmas.

..okay sorry for the speed blogging... had to get that out and now I have to run!



Getting into my final plane for a while. A week in tropical Buka setting up Vsat Internet didn't go according to plan. More on that later. Here's the completed dish with belas (decoration) after the ribbon cutting ceremony in which three ribbons were cut asan official thank you to the three groups involved in getting it working. Richard and I cut the middle ribbon.


Good laugh

Needed something sweet so grabbed some cookies and was well into them before reading the label. Had a good laugh. Pretty much sums up most food experiences in this country.



(found this at Honiara, Solomon Islands at Henderson Field....a key victory by the U.S. over the Japanese in the south pacific)

I am now a manager of a section in my department. We are in charge of repairing and maintaining all the laptops/desktops and servers, the telephones, and the software of in this country. Since I'm the manager, I thought that I finally should share my passion for this work. I thought I'd share it with you too.

When a Bible translator puts their laptop in your hands to repair, when they entrust their internet communication to you, when they trust their hard work in the form of data to your backup system.... they are putting in your hands their ministry tools.

We are responsible for many of the tools that people use to get the Word of God into the hearts and minds of people in this country.

Because of this we should give them the utmost professionalism. We need to deserve their trust. We need to have excellence in how we deal with these tools, so that we can glorify God with our skills.

And that's what we do.

When you come to our department, you are not getting third world technical support. You get first class, professional help. That is what our aim is, that is what we have achieved and endeavor to continue achieving.

Sometimes we get very fortunate and get to do something glamorous like flying to the Solomon Islands or to a regional centre like Buka (leaving for there in 1 hour) and get to do something that is good and hard work. We get to take awesome pictures that help our people back home realize we're not always at a desk.

We get to install satellite dishes, run cabling, climb ladders, dig trenches, run conduit, patch cables, crimp connectors, raise antennas, work with nationals, etc.

But that isn't every day. 9/10 days we'll be at our desks, accepting broken hardware, and repairing it.

We do this so that these tools can go on serving God's purpose. So that His Word can get into the language of the people in this country and their lives would be changed by it.

We work on tools. We do so to glorify God with the skills we were given.
But as we work on tools, we work WITH people.

We get to treat them with love, and care. Let them know they are valued help in this common goal of seeing lives changed by God's Word.

We work with the people who trust us with their tools.
We work with the people who enable us to be here.
We work with each other as we need help fixing these tools.

We work with people whom Christ loves, and whom we will treat with love.

And this is how we justify why we get to do this work.

It is exciting and fun and rewarding to be serving God.

Let us not get discouraged by losing sight of why we're here in this country.
We are here because we are fortunate enough to be sent here by all the people whom God has worked in to get us here.

EACH person who supports us to be here has a story of why they support us, how they met us, why they sacrifice to send us here.

We are indeed blessed to be doing this work. What better job to have with your skills, than to be serving in the King's court?

Some people want to do something more exciting. There are a lot of exciting jobs out there. Sitting at a tech bench and fixing computers may sound like the most boring job to some people.

But I get excited.

My life has been a non-stop series of surprises and excitement since signing my life over to Christ.

I look down at this modem I'm repairing, and I imagine it is making it's way into a village. And it's being connected to a solar panel/inverter system that a co-worker setup. And it's getting power, and turned on.

And then it starts sending and receiving data, and that data is the latest revision of Mark in the Kuman language. And it travels through the radio waves, across hf-radio, over an antenna that another team member installed, and into our servers here.

Onto our file server, and our tape backup, and it will never be lost. And then, eventually that data gets printed out and put into the hands of someone who previously thought God didn't speak in their language.

And they are changed.

And that excites me. The same way it should excite the guy who makes the bolts and screws to hold together the antenna tower. OR the electrician who powers the whole thing. Or the radio technician who makes sure we are experiencing low interference.

There are things we know, feats we are capable of, that we can employ to serve God and enable the feats that OTHERS are capable of to see fruition.

So this job excites me, and I'm honored to be doing it.



Cross Cultural Interview

Today I gave my first job interview to a Papua New Guinean. I've done international job interviews before (where I am the interviewer). However I've never done them in this country. It was definitely a cultural experience.

Having conducted several job interviews in my career, I have found doing so cross-culturally is difficult. In an interview you want to gauge the applicant's personality fit, enthusiasm, and technical ability.

Personality fit you can do pretty quickly, cross-culturally.
Enthusiasm is hard, because different cultures have different ways of expressing this.
Technical ability is rather easy, so long as you're using the right terms. BUT to get to the point where you're 'getting down to business' you first have to lay the ground work relationally to get to where the applicant is comfortable enough to share with you and not feel bad when they don't know the answers.

That all is pretty much the same world-wide. What isn't the same is what responses comprise a successful interview.

The one phrase that came up repeatedly in this interview was 'I am a slow learner.'

What does that say to you? In our culture, it is a bad thing to be a slower learner. But it was said so many times, as if it was the winning characteristic of the applicant, I tried to figure out what was meant.

'slow learner'
If I put the emphasis on the 'learner' then this comment suddenly means that the applicant is trying to tell me that they have the ability to learn. That they are diligent in learning, and they take their time to learn it well. THAT is what I think was meant by 'slow learner'.

Anyway, the point is, as part of my new job I have to figure out how to wisely navigate the already tricky waters of hiring skilled personnel for a job. Hiring the wrong person could mean a ton of headaches that would distract me from doing other parts of the job.

You can pray for a skilled heldpdesk technician, who will fit in well, require minimal training, and be a good performer for a long time. This would drastically lighten the load on a some already overworked people.



We are in a flurry of activity here at work. Having just returned from setting up a network in the Solomon Islands and Vsat in Aitape. We are now prepping for two more trips. Vsat and wireless and file storage for Buka and Wewak. We're using every last inch of space as we prep the equipment and configure the network and run test. The goal is to make the solutions as foolproof as possible so they don't break after we return to our home base.



Vsat saves lives

from a friend's blog, regarding the VSAT internet our team put in last month:

The VSAT has already helped save the lives of a mother and her twin babies! After coming back from the village, we learned from Emil via SKYPE that an Arop woman couldn’t deliver her second baby. Ben called the hospital in Aitape, a 2.5 hour drive away from the village and connected Emil to them using Skype so that they could talk to each other. The hospital personnel sent a car out to get her right away. A week later, I was able to reach the hospital by phone and found out that although the mother and babies survived, the mother needed blood. Once again, we got on SKYPE and asked Emil to send a family member to the hospital to donate blood for her. We praise God for the life of this mother and her babies. We are grateful for the VSAT which allowed us to help them get to the hospital!



My time has come to a close.  Not only did God smooth the way for us to complete everything we HAD to do, we got to finish a lot of the WANTED to do's as well here in the Solomon Islands.  Being that nearly everyone here is translator staff, I was really privileged to support Bible translation so directly.
off the top of my head:
We have accomplished a LOT here:
-file sharing
-secure wireless
-wireless and physical network coverage
-billing/metering solution
-better throughput
-networked printing
-physical cabling to specific locations
-computer training
-language data backup/archiving
-offline windows updates
-anti-virus strategy planned
-hf-email more reliable
-remote access
-overall faster network performance
-usage reporting
Then there are the smaller one off issues as people found me and asked me questions.
I.T. guys, you'd be hard pressed to find a spot of the world more grateful for your help, and more hospitable to boot.  I had dinner in every one of their homes, some more than once!  Great group of people.
At the end I had to fight back tears for the 'thank you' dessert they threw me and the prayers they prayed over me.  They called me a blessing.  Having those people, call me a blessing.... that's one of those.... 'woah, me? wow!' moments.  I can't express to them how awesome an opportunity to serve them this was for me.  To serve God with my skills.
Let's be totally honest, I'm not the world's smartest guy, nor the best I.T. guy around.  I'm just a bloke who said 'yes, I'll go.'  And God has filled in all the gaps since.  So all the glory goes to Him.  He kept me from crashing and burning this week, He gave me what skill I have, He solved problems quicker and smoothed the path for me.  I GET to do this?  Are you serious?  Go exotic places!?  Serve people who call ME a blessing? 
THEY are the blessing.  They brought me here, paid my plane ticket, fed me, and made me useful.  Then they appreciated my work, and heaped thanks on me, and gave me a special 'dessert' send-off where they prayed over me.  I covet their prayers.
Anyway, it has been a very incredible week.  I miss my family and it's time to go home, but thanks God for letting me do this, and for making me useful to these people and this project.
HERE are some of the languages that I was able to directly impact this week:
















Cheke Holo





























Ontong Java