Seeing change

I try to keep this blog an even balance of 'life as a missionary in PNG' and 'seeing God's Word change lives.'

This post is one is both. (-;

I can't share the names or the long drawn out story, but here is my personal synopsis.

God chose and sent a policeman from the U.S. here to handle security issues. He has been developing relationships with people and one of the men he developed a relationship with recently came forward and said that his faith in God didn't allow him to ignore the crimes against the missionaries any longer.

A nearby village had for a while, been treating us like their own personal piggy bank. Stealing property whenever they had a financial need or a whim.

So this individual came forward and started secretly being an informant. VERY quickly through these relationships, crime against us came to a stop.

Soon his village found out he was a 'traitor' and excised him, beat him, cut him, kidnapped his children, and essentially ruined his life in every way.

But the man turned to God and forgave the people. He was given 2 opportunities, to demand financial compensation or to send them to jail, and he passed on both, opting to forgive, stating that God gave him the power to forgive them.

He was no longer effective as an informant, but God wanted to use him for something else.
From that reaction, a snowball began.

Easter morning, people began coming forward, confessing sins, crimes, and repenting.

We haven't had this long of a peace time here in years.
This weekend is a public 'tok sori' where the repentant men will come forward and make amends with those they stole from.

We don't talk much about security issues here. We find it worries people back home, and it is something that is part of life for us. But this is a new twist.

The longer version exposes the cultural intricacies and would make for very long reading, suffice it to say, that God took a man and used his faith and his heart to bring about change in the valley.

It is VERY rare for what happened to happen because of the cultural boundaries... but God blasted through them in a remarkable never-before-seen way.

He tends to do that.
This opportunity would have never happened if this man, this papua new guinean man, hadn't come into a relationship with Christ.


Fun product

from time to time we find a fun product description that is humorous to read because of the poor English translation.

this is from a Bible translator friend of mine:

"why the work of Translation consultants is so important...."

I recently bought a flashlight to take to the village.

The following model really intrigued me: "Hand-pressing Flash Light, NO BATTERIES NO BULB, simply shake to recharge."

After buying this promising thing, I read the product information on the box. It literally reads (and I'm not making this up!):

"Product Charcteristics:

1. This product is a new science and technology product and made with high and new science and technology. It can illuminate only placing it in rhythm.

2. No need any power no environmental pollution. Low noise and health. Comparing with common torch. it can be several times on lift.

3. Con stantly using this health torch. It can benefit to your palm. arm and shoulder stretching and blood circulation. so as to let your hands relax and brain clever. hand and brain coor dinate and promote your brain memory and health composition."

The sad thing about it is that that writer's English is certainly better than my Chinese.

Paratext Workshop

Paratext is a software that we use in translation work. It does all kinds of formatting and such. To truly know what we use it for you'd need to ask a translator.

These last 2 weeks our centre held a paratext training workshop.
4 weeks ago we were asked 'how can you guys help us with this?'.

We were faced with how to help the translators train future translators and current with this software, but having no man power to do it with. This time of year, we are very short on man power as people leave for furlough or finish, or vacation.

Well we did four things
1 - helped supply them with 60 netbooks so they had a platform to do the training on.
2 - setup a wireless network so they could access the internet for licensing
3 - thought up a creative way to help with little manpower and had 2 guys doing a lot of extra work, but doing it creatively
4 - prayed that God would provide the other needs they had.

God certainly did. They put out a 'help wanted' request for anyone with computer skills and they had 38 students with 20 helpers!!! That's awesome!

We're here to help with our computer skills. My department has an all time high of 8-10 people with computer skills. But, over the past 3 years, computer skilled people have been leaving the centre.

The high school lost 1,
the primary school lost 1
the translation department lost 3

which means the demands on people who have computer skills have gone up because the people have gone down. AND the use of technology has only increased in translating the Bible.
More and more people have more and more computer needs with less of us to meet them.

Which means we have a lot of work, and have to prioritize it properly.

Which means we have to say 'no' to a lot of things we'd prefer to say 'yes' to.

Which means there are needs not being met.

So to have this workshop something we had to say 'we can't help as much as we'd like to' to... a creative solution was to pray and send out that 'help wanted'... and people came.

God is good. We can't afford to think inside of the box, God's resources are endless.

I was so glad this workshop went well. Today is the last day.
I am sad that I wasn't able to participate as much as I would have liked to... but that's only because I enjoy training and learning!!

Please pray for more computer help.
I hear that next week we're getting a new programmer, and his name is Chad.
So there will be two Chad's working here in computers.

I'm hopeful he's a small guy, so I can get the nickname 'Big Chad'. (-;


50 Kina

In the U.S. if you ask someone if they will lend you money, it's often a statement about your relationship in some way. You wouldn't ask a total stranger, and you wouldn't ask someone you disliked. It is the same way in PNG. But there is also a part of the culture here that diverges from culture in the U.S. which is called the 'askim'. It means pretty much what it sounds like. An ASKIM is when you request a favor. An askim can be a small favor or a big favor. However unlike U.S. culture, there is little to no shame associated with an askim.
For example. In the U.S. if you go to a buddy and say 'hey I'm a little strapped for cash right now, can I borrow 50 bucks until payday?' You most likely feel a tiny bit of shame in admitting your need. Perhaps you ask for something bigger or smaller. Still there is a sense of shame and then a sense of debt.

I'm not saying whether or not the shame is right or wrong. I've noticed that this area of borrowing and lending seems to be one where cultures diverge quite often. I've had a few friends from the phillipines who have completely different views on borrowing and lending and if you're not expecting it, the differences in cultures can cause a huge clash.
Well, yesterday a knock came at my door and a man whom I know but would not call 'friend' necessarily asked, with no small talk, simply 'can I borrow 50 kina.' and then 'I'll pay you back on payday.'

It was the first time I was ever asked to borrow money. I've had other askims, some I've said yes to, some no. Often being white we're seen as rich, and so there is no shame in asking us for money and also no shame in not repaying the debt. So you need to be careful and wise.
It took me by suprise. I had no thought this person knew me well enough to ask me for such a large sum of money. I was flattered in a way that our relationship was at this point, but also slightly doubting that maybe I was being used. Quickly I reached for whatever wisdom I had and said 'let me go see if I have any cash.'. I went to my office to think, utter a quick word of prayer for wisdom and put the K50 in my pocket.
Then I returned.

I thought - if he were a white skin friend, I would not hesitate to lend the money. Does this make me a racist? No... their culture is different, I may not see this money back. If I lend it, I need to be prepared to not see it return. But what should I say to this man? If this is a relationship building moment, how should I respond? A flat no would communicate to him that I am not interested in friendship.

I went back outside to speak to him again.
'What is this for?' I asked.
He responded in Tok Pisin, his eyes glanced down, and didn't make contact with mine. A typical symptom of shame.
'My brother has beaten a women from a different village and now they are demanding compensation and he has come to me for help.' he replied.

Suddenly this entire transaction became a lot more sticky. Now what do I do? In lending him the money am I condoning this type of behavior? By not lending the money, if they can't come up with the compensation funds, there will be a fight that could lead to death.
I was thankful for the 4 years of living here thus far that gave me the cultural inside I've had, but I've heard missionaries say that after 20 years of living here you still don't understand all the complexities.

In my head was resonating this voice 'you have to earn the right to be heard.' He wasn't going to stand there and listen to a lecture about this from me if I didn't give him the money.
So I pulled out the 50 kina and as he reached for it I held it, his hand touching my hand we made eye contact and I said in tok pisin:
'I will lend you this money, but I do not like this behavior of your brother's. You can't go around beating women. You should not hurt women'.
He replied, "I know it's a bad thing.'

I continued, because in their culture, repetition adds strength to the point,
"This behavior, is very bad, you can't beat women it is a bad thing to do, you must talk to your brother and tell him he can not beat women. You tell him that I say, he can not hurt women any more and he must talk sorry to this woman."
And Andy replied, "I know, you are right, and I will talk very strong to my brother and explain to him that his bad behavior has put me into debt (dinau) with you and many others and I work hard for this money and he can't keep coming to me for this. I am going to talk very angrily with him."

At this point I had realized the situation and was glad I helped Andy. Andy was very upset with his brother. Andy was a good and hard worker, and his brother had done this bad thing and put him into a terrible situation where he HAD to honor his relationship and give his brother money, which meant he was working hard simply to fund his brothers woman beating.
Typically as a policy here, we do not aid or assist men who have beaten women. We don't admit them to our volunteer run clinic, we don't help them, we don't give them rides. IT seems heartless but we have to levy a very strict penalty for men who beat women.

Our policy as an organization is very strict regarding how we react to women beaters.
It's a sad commentary on the culture. There are many wonderful things about it, but the truth of the matter is that when the boys grow up without fathers, without God, they have no moral direction and do whatever they want to do. Thus spreads AIDS and thus spreads a great many sins of man. Living here you understand how important it is in a culture where men are the authority, that those men submit to GOD who is THE authority.
Anyway, so my prayer is that in lending the money, I wasn't condoning or contributing to anything other than peace and a chance to get the message into the right ears.


Fire Training

that's the fire.

that's me in full breathing apparatus next to our fire chief (I'm the bigger guy) ready to go in an fight the fire burning inside

that's me busting a hole in the wall of the burning house we were training in.

that's a blurry me, busting in the door with a sledge hammer.

One of the side-jobs I do besides computers, is volunteer with our fire-team. We train once a month on Saturdays.

WE learned a LOT during this training. Also I think we learned that what I'm best at, is knocking holes in walls and busting down doors.

as you would imagine, being INSIDE a burning building with breathing apparatus and fire gear on.. is HOT.. but that GEAR (donated) really does work. The last fire I fought without gear, I couldn't get close enough to help so I worked the outside more. But we're geared up now to where we can go inside... but training taught us, the only reason we would, is if there was someone inside.

At that point, being big and able to carry people is a bonus. I also learned that without a sledge hammer, these walls are constructed such that by sheer mass and force I can knock a hole in one and get out.

Pray we never have do, but we're thankful that we're more skilled and ready if we did have to.


we did it

SWEET and praise God.

it was a very productive week...
we swapped satellites and ISPs,
and it all got done today... the power stayed on.

Thanks God for keeping the rain off our sensitive digital test equipment, and for getting my co-workers back safe and on time.

hey folks,
we doubled our internet speed today!!! ... and... kept it as the same cost.... AND reduced our latency quite a bit.

thanks God.


Too much on Friday

please say a quick prayer for me today.

-I'm alone in the network room, usually we have 3 guys
-I have to handle the backup changeover - tapes (no big deal)
-We had been given a warning a week ago that 1/2 of our power will go out which is fine, since we have double backups.
-I was told yesterday that we will be re-aiming our SAT dish this afternoon (might take a few hours if done right)
-I JUST got the message that the other 1/2 of our power is going out today... which means I have to bring down all of our servers now, which often takes a few hours.
-My daughter graduates 6th grade tonight, so I have all these extra little tasks to do.

In other words, at the checking of my email this morning, I realized I have far too much work to do today than is humanly possible, and the ramifications of that, is that the center may be without internet for the weekend, OR I miss my daughter's graduation.. OR I work the weekend.

If I work the weekend, I will have to cancel on the other things I have volunteered to help with.

SO, please pray.
PRAY that my co-workers return today, and that they have a safe trip and get here early.

There is hope we can pull it all off today if they get here.
I of course won't be missing my daughter's graduation ceremony, but I may not be able to stick around for the celebration which I'd like to be at.

This is how it goes... some things are totally unpredictable and you have to cope.
OFten times when I arrive at work in the morning I find my day plunged into total chaos...

and 99% of those times, it's on a Friday, which is why I always try to be extra energetic and early on Fridays. Don't ask me why it's always Friday.



tomorrow several 'newbies' go on furlough.
You typically are here 2-3 years before your first furlough.

I've been here long enough to have seen new people come, go on furlough and come back.

That blows my mind. Time passes so fast here, possibly due to the lack of season change... that I lose track of who is no longer a 'newbie'.

In fact the guy I keep calling 'the new guy' has been here almost a year now.


Time she flies.

Pray for my co-workers in Madang, they are trying to install a new wireless link.

ALSO for this friday (2 days from now) as we will be repointing our sat dish and hopefully improving our bandwidth!!!


One, Two, TREE

On friday we got to watch both our kids perform in a choir concert. They sang some wonderfully fun songs with a real heart-wrencher at the end. They sang 'We are the future, give us hope, teach us the way, show us Christ.' Of course it was more lyrical at the time. It was a nice moment to be a parent.

On Saturday we got to see Sydney perform her trumpet in a middle school band. WOW this band is good. Much better than some high school bands I've heard. The bands here are simply excellent. They did some fun songs and I never had to take my advil! (-;

On Sunday night a tree fell in our back yard, narrowly missing the house. The windows in the picture is our bedroom window. Had the tree fallen 1 foot more to the right it may have caused the window to break and rain broken glass on my wife's head.

It wasn't windy or raining, the tree wasn't rotten or dying. It was perfectly healthy. Later investigation showed that there were tons of ants around the base. Apparently the wood ants ate away at the root system enough to cause the tree to lose connnection and it fell over because it had no roots connected. It was a great shade tree for our yard, and we're sad to see it go. That's 2 trees fallen in 4 years here. And both times, no damage to any structures, we're so thankful.

So I spent monday (a holiday for us, the Queen's bday) cutting and hauling the tree out.... then the kids and I went to the river.

Where we found our dog loves the water now... he used to hate it. HE had fun with the kids in the Bae' river... it was a good day of hard work and clean fun.



If you happen to be reading this and thinking about what job you might one day want to do, here's a tip to help guide you away from the wrong direction.

If you can't emotionally handle a day where everything breaks, then don't become an I.T. person. (-;

Yesterday was one of those days.
Our team were all very tired because we put a lot of effort into this new project, and it finally went public and we were glad.
Today stuff broke.

-email ssl cert expired
-vpn stopped working
-email wasn't getting delivered
-people weren't able to log in from work
-radius server went offline so no one could access the internet
-I had to tell a crying translator her work needed re-doing.

then, quitting time rolled around and I went home.

-my truck broke - a short in the wiring causes the fuel injector fuse to blow repeatedly so I can't start it
-my wife told me the fridge is on the blink

then add to that the normal aches and pains of daily living,
-my wrist is banged up because of some fire training we did on the weekend.
-my son's health is slowly getting better but not as fast as we'd like.

so.. the theme of Tuesday was.... -BROKEN-

Having a day where everything seems to be falling down around you is a typical thing when you work in I.T. no matter where you are. The difference between somewhere else and here, is that when something breaks, like a refrigerator, it takes weeks to get a new one.

Well, I'll tell you my honest reaction at times like these, and they do happen regularly in my line of work....

If I'm energetic, I sink my teeth into the problems and go after them aggressively.

My honest reaction if I'm tired is to get down in the mouth a little, without realizing it.
And then, when I do realize it, I stop, and find a quiet spot and take a few minutes and pray.

Yesterday I prayed, 'God, I'm tired and stuff is breaking. I need to fix them well, and I don't have the energy, please help me in whatever way is right, to do You proud today.'

By the end of the day,
-the SSL cert was put back in place
-vpn was working (no thanks to microsoft it was THEIR patch that broke it)
-email got delivered
-people could log in to work
-the radius server was put back online with a script to refresh it when it dies AND it helped us troubleshoot another problem.
-The translator found someone to help

-my truck is still broken but my mechanic friend is looking at it.
-the fridge turned out to be fine.
-my wrist still hurts but is healing up... telling me it isn't broken.

Being on the field, having a bad attitude, or a depressed attitude, or letting problems get you down, can be a definite advantage to the enemy. Since I honestly view my work as battling the enemy and trying to push the lines of God's forces against the enemy's lines, I see things like getting discouraged as spiritual warfare.

I do not mean that I have to always be upbeat and happy. I allow myself to get rest when I'm tired. And to talk out problems when they bug me.

But I also am always aware that exhaustion and discouragement are weapons in the enemy's arsenal that I have to have defenses against.

SO, if you're working in I.T. and you have a day where everything breaks, think 2 things:
1 - this is great job security for you!! (-;
2 - every day you find a solution, is preceded by a day where you're given a problem. So if today you found a problem, tomorrow, may be the day you find the solution!


Why it takes a Team

I've been asked 'why is support staff required, why can't the translator do all the work?'

Here's a good example why:

Currently the guys who really know the software well for Bible translation are gone and so this morning we had a translator who had a problem and I got the call.

I went over to help them.
They had spent three days and three nights working on a booklet in two different languages and were unable to print it.

So I installed printer drivers and got the printers working.

She was very emotional and obviously exhausted and at her wits end and it was difficult for me to get an answer from her regarding certain things. She kept repeating 'I don't know'.

Typically before she got to that point, a member of the team who knows the software would have helped her.

I was unable to because I simply didn't know all the required formatting, the page size, the fonts for her language, etc... for making a booklet. I could have gotten her stuff successfully on paper, but not into the booklet form she wanted.

It turns out, the harsh reality of the fact was that all her time and effort formatting and including pictures, was wasted, because she didn't start out with the proper template, and therefore everything was on A5 paper instead of the smaller booklet size.

She would have to reformat it all, twice.

It was a sad moment for me. Not unlike when I used to have to tell students in college that they accidentally deleted their term paper.

There are times when I get to be the hero, and there are times when I have to be the bearer of bad news.

The bad news was that were a vital team member present then they could have told her how to do it right from the beginning. Instead she plugged along with her best guess and spent days doing the wrong thing.

So, can a translator do it all on their own?
You tell me. Having the proper support would have saved her days of wasted work and hours of emotional anguish. It would have brought the pamphlet to print much faster, and enabled her to do work where her strengths lie, instead of spinning wheels in areas where she is weaker.

Support staff is the coming together of the body with their different talents and giftings to help others who need it.

My job is to enable her, and today I had to help and watch as she realized that there was a gap between what I knew and what she knew, and there was no one around to fill the gap.

It was a sad moment for both of us, but even sadder for the Nankina and Ngain people who won't be getting a pamphlet in their heart language today.

They will eventually get it, but it will be late.

This scenario is also a good example of how sometimes, two people can't fill the shoes of 1 person with very specific knowledge. This is why we are constantly praying for God to be moving more people to come here. We need people to fill the holes that are left when people leave.


From the Keepers File

It is easy to forget 'thanks'. That's why I have a 'keepers' file. This is a folder where all emailed 'thanks' that come to me or my department get filed away. Another thing hard to remember because we do so much in a year, is to recall at the end of a year what we have accomplished.

The reason I want to keep the thanks, and the accomplishments is so that I can effectively communicate them to YOU, the people who enable us to be here.

This month I was able to volunteer some time each day at the TTC training course. I met several Papua New Guineans learning how to translate and use the Scripture in their heart language. It was refreshing to work with people at this level because often times behind a monitor you can feel detached from the actual translation effort even though your work does support it.

Anyway this morning I got a thank you for helping at TTC and I pass the thank you on to you, this was from the 'boss' the coordinator of the TTC

Thanks so much for your help during TTC – it has been SO much appreciated. Can’t really say it enough. For me this has been the best TTC I have been part of, and having you around has been a key part of this. Last year I was not able to do my job because I was constantly helping people try to solve network problems, or worrying about people’s network problems, or trying to contact CTS. Just knowing that you were there, that you were coming at a set time, that you were available was such a huge psychological burden removed and I could actually concentrate on doing things I am supposed to do – like checking how the teachers were doing and any help they needed with the content of their courses.

So, thanks very much!!!

so thanks to you. This is the difference between support and no support. Sure this man could have done the class without us. I'm sure with a lot of effort he could have gotten things to print and found a way around requiring a network.

But thank you so much that he didn't have to!!!