here are two pictures of typical village bridges. Papua New Guineans have an incredible sense of balance, rarely wear shoes, have very wide flat and thick soled feet. I've never seen one slip or fall (I've seen a few stagger).

So why do we care about these pictures of bridges other than that they are interesting to see?

Bridges are a huge thing here. The two main types, car bridges and foot bridges are both hazardous. The car bridges often wash out. There is so much rain here, that since moving here not a year goes by where some bridge somewhere isn't washed out making it so that travel and receiving supplies is difficult.

Everyone knows to do a bridge check before commencing a trip, otherwise you could face turning around. (a bridge check is asking around, and seeing who was last stuck at a bridge and if it's okay now.. it's all word of mouth, no official organization tracks bridge status).

Imagine you're a white-skin walking across this bridge with a laptop in your sack, and possibly some other electronic equipment. You definitely do not want to slip!

Well, as an I.T. guy, we often have to use variables to decide what types of laptops to buy or other items.

Criteria we use ranges, but among the top are:
-is it ruggedized?
-how long will the battery last?

'Ruggedized' defined: 'Able to be operational after being dropped, getting wet, having geckos live inside of it, will not short out when cockroaches climb inside, and rarely loses data when the wrong adaptor is used to charge it'

We've had laptops wind up at the bottom of the ocean, take a bath in a river, become a warm cozy home to several different types of creepy crawlies, rust over from living too close to the ocean, corroded internals and externals.

I once even had a hard drive enclosure corrode itself shut, such that I had to use a prybar to get the drive out to salvage the data. Once I did, I found gecko eggs inside.

And you know you live in a 3rd world country when a server crashes and your FIRST thought is 'a rat got inside and relieved itself on the power supply'

I recall crossing one such bridge trying to keep my balance, the nationals laughing at how uncoordinated I looked, and then having my daughter say 'daddy hold my hand, I need help'. Thinking 'wow, if I fall now I damage my daughter's sense of super-dad-dome'. But we got across fine. The trick with most things is to put fear aside and just do it.

Come on... anything else is boring (-;

Anyway, enjoy the pics.


Axe me about cupcakes

this image a is a bit late but I like it so I'm posting it.

In June, Kendal organized the baking of 12 dozen cupcakes (she baked several dozen and others chipped in) so that the 6th grade graduation class could have this cool display

Two week ago a tree fell in the back of my house.
A friend came over, grabbed my axe and started swinging. Canadians love chopping wood. I know this because 2 other Canadians showed up as soon as he began. Well I had this very nice fibre glass composite handled hatchet (black and yellow) that I brought from the U.S. and also had a standard wood handled axe here. I had my son take a few wacks at it with the hatchet, while we used the axe to separate the tree from the stump so I could drag it out of the yard.

That day, the hatchet handle broke.
The next day my axe handle broke... apparently the bugs got to the wood.

It's the chilliest it's been here in years at night and a fire is a very nice thing... but our fireplace is a tiny thing and needs small split logs. I had lost all splitting power. (i tried a sledge and using the axe head as a wedge but it was not working well).

So I asked around where I might be able to find a new axe handle, and they said 'in town'. Well our vehicle isn't working and I don't feel like driving 6 hours so I have to wait until someone else goes.

Meanwhile, we need an axe.

SO, I took a limb from the dead tree that fell, had my son strip the bark, and using a combination of tools, shaped it and split the top. Cut a wedge, sanded it to size, and then put the wedge with some glue in the top. Bingo.. makeshift temporary axe handle. Talk about WAY too much work for an axe handle. But the closest hardware store is 3 hours away over treacherous road, and often doesn't have what you need.

Everyone take a moment and appreciate their local hardware store for a tick. On furlough, walking into Home Depot was a wonderful moment for me. If I start a job here, an need something as simple as a nail, I have to wait until Monday and hope the local mini-store has some nails I can use. Either that or pull a rusty one out of an old board, hammer it straight and use that (I've done this....). You REALLY have to plan ahead if you want to do any work on the weekend around here. It's not so hard once you adjust to it, but it does take you a long time to adjust, especially if you don't have the personality traits required to think WAY ahead in a very detailed way.

I also welded a quick piece of rod to the hatchet, so my son and I were able to split enough wood and kindling today for a week's worth of fires.

part of our conversation

"son, part of being a good man is taking care of the ladies in your life."
'we're keeping them warm by doing this!'
'yes, that's right, a good man keeps his women warm.'

I chuckled to myself as I said it... but there you have it a real jury rig job, suitable for PNG.


Picturesque PNG

Here are some photos of life here, they include the market, a village at night, one of the many meandering rivers, mist settling in the morning, our planes (206), Yonki reservoir



I'm tired today. I will be working the weekend to move 2TB of data storage for our main file server. Please pray that it goes well with ZERO data loss, and gets done in the 3 days we have planned for it. We've been working at a sprinting pace lately, trying to get all the work done we can during school break when many people are gone and the schools are not as active. (it's a good time to get work done).

I'm tired because at 3am a pack of 4 semi-wild dogs attacked our dog and I had to break it up. And you know how once you wake up and your adrenaline flows and your mind thinks and you can't get back to sleep? Well that's me. Only now I have to on half a night's sleep, work the weekend (-; So pray that my mind stays alert.

So as you know this blog is sometimes 'life in png' and sometimes 'what God is doing here'.

God is always working. We are always working. We get really excited when God chooses to encourage us with a glimpse of what He's doing.

Last week there was a large meeting of men repenting and seeking Christ. That is God's hand moving.

An old friend and neighbor is visiting us and snapped some photos on his trip back here that I thought I would share.

When we say we're going to town, this is what we mean. These photos are from the nearest town called 'Kainantu'.

and for fun, here is one of the signs around town... I'll translate

(I'll do a literal translation)
1. cook your food well, don't eat the food people sell alongside the road

2. cover up your food well, flies can't come and sit down on it.

3. use the toilet when you need to relieve yourself. Don't relieve yourself in the bushes or water.

4. Wash your hands well before you eat. Also after you use the toilet.

5. Before you drink, boil your water well.

I think we can all agree, these are words to live by if you want to avoid cholera.
At first seeing a sign like this (especially because of #4) you think 'well there's evidence I'm in a third world country)... but then you realize that education is the true battle against all kinds of disease.

We teach our kids to wash their hands, don't eat that, don't touch this... and after some time they know why, and understand the science of germs and health.

In fact it's so ingrained in us as kids we take if for granted as adults that the whole world knows this stuff.. but they don't.

We're reading through the Bible and when we came to the laws in Exodus and Leviticus the kids learned 2 things:
1 - God cares about us. He made all these laws partially for our own protection and health.
2 - God cares about the details. When the kids ask 'does God care about this?' the answer is yes...



so the other day I told my kids that when I was a kid, living in the mountains, I would go on long hikes or bike rides and seek adventure. I would try to get lost and find my way home again.

My son asked me 'how do you get yourself lost?'

I said, 'well you could take a bottle and spin it everytime you come to a fork, and go whichever way it points, until you feel like you've gotten very lost.'

So today he borrowed a plastic soda bottle and said 'I'm heading out for a long while, I'm going to try and get lost.'

after lunch I arrived back at work and heard 'hey dad!!!' and my son was about 50 yards away, up in an odd place on top of a hill.
I was proud...
for ten seconds... when he yelled so everyone around could hear him.

'I'm doing what you said to do!!! I'm gettin' LOST!'

this happened five minutes ago.



(this pic is what steel wool looks like when it's on fire and you spin it... my son had a BLAST doing this... don't attempt in places lacking tropical rains.. it's not a fire hazard here there's too much water)

well it was raining all day... and we were concerned because we had plans.
Some friends of ours host the annual 4th of July party.... we were really looking forward to it. All of the Americans (and any other nationality are invited) come together to potluck and socialize and then when it gets dark, come up with any and all fireworks we can.

Calvin and I had tested out a few ideas to launch our air rockets (made out of paper).

if it rained, no one would go outside for the fireworks...

but, the party was starting over at the WA centre at 5pm and the rain stopped, and the ground was dry enough.

We grilled burgers and after a bit my son and I began launching the rockets we had made out of paper and duct tape, which went well over 100 feet up.
The kids were really excited by it, the high schoolers, even the adults... everyone was rather impressed by our rocket invention we had made out of pvc, a sprinkler valve, and an air pump.

Eventually the sun started to set.
1 rocket landed on the roof, and the other 2 eventually blew to smithereens (65psi AIR launcher can do that to paper) We only got about 6 successful launches with the rockets.

SO... then we started launching glow sticks. Those big thick ones.

We wadded the rocket tube with styrofoam, and then dropped the glow stick down in,

By this time the crowd was cheering '3 .. 2...1...FIRE!!!' and the glow stick went flying up into the air aboud 70 feet or so, spinning as it went.

Then, they started up the fire pit for steel wool.

Kendal and I broke out the glow stick bracelets for the younger kids who didn't get to play with steel wool. It is our way of playing Aunt and Uncle when we can't be around our true nieces and nephews. It gives us that feeling of family we miss. Soon the whole place was swarming with around 50 glowing kids running around outside on the 4th of July... like it should be.

Families here for the first time, away from home, got to see how we do the 4th of July here in PNG, and they were amazed. They didn't know you could do that with steel wool, or how close a community this could be. The 4th for us is bigger than it would be back in the U.S. because it's the one chance a year we get to celebrate loudly, being from the U.S.A.

The steel wool looked SO cool.
But that wasn't all.
a friend nudged me, pulled out a few packets of pen flares... and we went over and started firing them 2 , 3 ,4 at a time.. big RED glowing flares with smoke trails launching into the air in arcs and making big BANGS! when being fired. Nothing is more exciting then the smell of black powder and a ringing in your ears!!!

We sang the national anthem, we ate red, white and blue cupcakes. And since it was an American get together we invited people from all nations.

It was a lot of fun... a LOT of fun.

God created man with the need to celebrate.... in fact early on in the Bible HE commands us to celebrate and makes laws about feasts and celebrations.

It felt really good to be able to be a part of it, and launch our rockets, and share our glow sticks... which over here you can imagine are really appreciated since they are really hard to come by.

Calvin got to fire a pen flare, and spin steel wool for the first time.
Sydney got to run around with a sparkler.
I think it was Calvin's best 4th EVER... because of that.

Our family has been reading through the Bible and recently we were in Exodus where God lines out the importance of a day of rest, and the importance of certain celebration feasts. I think from time to time, we work so hard we forget that our soul has a mandated need for celebration and rest.

Celebrating together. Looking around at all the young kids, and the young parents, here for the first time, thinking 'wow... here I am in PNG, forgetting my homesickness for a moment, appreciating a wonderful part of the culture of living here, making new friends and neighbors, feeling part of a community with one common purpose... to see the Word of God, change lives.'

That's the kind of moment that fuels people to keep on... keeping on.

Overheard Conversation

my daughter comes running into the house shouting 'CAlvin, Calvin come quick!!!'
my son is barely waking up, sitting in bed.... and if you have a boy you realize this is not a 'come quick' situation.

He lies there, 'What?'
daughter: 'come quick you gotta come catch this huge grasshopper.'
son: 'huge?'
daughter: 'big enough to eat!'
my son gets up and runs outside on the way he says, 'wait? did you make this out of beads?'
daughter: 'nope! you can really eat it!'

and then they went outside.