having a hard time believing

I know what it looks like, but no, I'm not in charge of the Jelly Belly factory... this is a hat they gave me on tour there while on furlough.

It's not relevant to this conversation other than it's a funny picture.

My whole life I've known what I'm good at.  I mean besides being super dashing in photographs. (-; But lately I've been discovering a few more things about myself and what I'm good at and how they can be used to help Bible translation. 

Last month I was helping out as Director for Regional Centres, they asked me back again for next month.
Last month I was asked to fill out a financial report to give contributors an explanation of how their money helped install VSATs across the country.  I did it, very nervous that I would mess it up, as a result they loved the report and have asked me to send more photos for a JAARS publication.

Both of those things I was totally convinced I'd be horrible at.

But the part I'm having a hard time believing is that I have a unique talent that is needed here.  Conducting job interviews.  I don't know how he picked up on it, but the Director asked me to put together a training so I can teach other managers how to conduct good job interviews so that they get good hires.

I really do not understand why he thinks I'd be a good choice to do that training... I kept protesting.
He kept saying 'you've done more interviews than many managers here.'  How would he know that? I asked him, he said 'how many have you done?' I'd done well over 30, and he said 'that's very unique experience here. can you help us out by teaching us how to do interviews.'  I was surprised to hear his story of how they do job placement in Australia and how they don't often conduct interviews for his work.

So I went to sleep last night thinking about this.  I still don't believe it's true.  I can't be one of the more seasoned interviewers. Can I? I'd hate to conduct training if I wasn't an expert, and I don't think I am.  He thinks I am.

And then I started to think about it.
I've looked back on my life and seen many ways that God prepared me to be here and help, many skills that have been honed over time.  But I'm really surprised that there is more.

Not long after college I was working at a large company, and was asked to be on the interview team.  From that time forward, I've always been part of if not the lead, interviewer in many technical interviews.  From company to company, I was the one creating a list of questions, asking them, putting the applicant at ease, and wheedling out information from them.  Such that I had several techniques that I would employ to do so.  When I got here, I had to do the same things, so I asked around, and learned and....

Maybe God was equipping me yet again.

I can not express how incredible this is.  7 years ago I was shown how God had been crafting my life to do this exact thing in this exact place at this exact time.  How I was uniquely suited to do this, and how God had been honing me for decades to do it.

That was 7 years ago.

I wasn't expecting that He'd continue to show me things.  I was expecting that was it.  I'm set, I know my purpose, I'm designed for it.

But the intimacy I feel with Christ because yesterday He told me 'your life isn't over yet, I'm still crafting you, and there are preparations in place for a time that hasn't come yet.'  Is mind blowing.

The other day, we started talking about implementing a new telephony system.  Cisco VOIP voice gateways.
What was one of the last things I touched when I worked for Cisco?
VOIP gateways.

mind blowing stuff.  It just keeps unfolding.  It's continual confirmation that this is what I'm supposed to be doing.


Cultural differences

Before this anecdote I should give some background. Australians use the term "mate" to mean friend. We spend a lot of time with Aussies.

Today I was playing a trivia computer game with my kids and the question came up:
"Name an animal people claim their mate sounds like when they snore"

My son said "what does that even mean? Mate ?"

It took me a moment while I was thinking a few simultaneous thoughts
1 I have had " the talk with my son. Did I leave something out?"
2 "oh the're being politically correct and said mate instead if spouse. "

But before I could explain to my son what it meant my daughter chimed in

My daughter replied "friend"

Which is when it hit me that was a perfectly valid answer to them as they have sleepovers with their friends all the time. So I stayed silent whilst my son answered




in Praise

Today I find myself thoroughly impressed with a few things. First, I'm
impressed with my wife. In the midst of grieving she pulled herself
through a crazy travel adventure, spoke at her grandmother's memorial,
visited with family, underwent a long road trip, and was able to meet
with friends along the way. She's undergone crazy paperwork and
telephone hassles, a climate change, time change, been completely
uprooted. It takes one incredible woman to do something like that. I'm
constantly impressed by my wife.

I also am impressed with the people that support us. People were giving
my wife loving hugs, encouraging words, handing her money they didn't
have to spare because the Lord led them to, and commented on having read
about her adventure. I'm always humbled and amazed by people who care
so much for us to actually read our boring blog and emails, people who
give sacrificially. Thank you.

I'm impressed by our God. He knew this was going to happen, He knew it
would take a chunk of money to do it, and already He has people coming
along side and contributing to filling the hole back up.

I found all of this out today as I got to Skype with my wife for a few
minutes, and found out what a warm reception she's getting there. I
knew she'd be safe in your hands. Thank you, I needed boost of
encouragement today and you provided.


She Made It

Thank you for praying.

okay so kendal went out of communication when she left for Manilla.
I wasn't sure if she was going to make the flight transfer in Manilla (from POM to LAX)... but there was nothing I could do... which when I asked for prayer.

So I prayed, and left it to God, sat down with the kids to watch a movie... about 30 minutes into the movie, an idea popped into my head. I returned to my well worn seat in front of my computer.

I called Philippines airline and told them the situation, that my wife had luggage, and 1 hour to check in to a transfer flight. They told me it required a taxi ride to a new terminal!!! She was most likely not going to make it in an hour. But they told me 'tell your wife to do this (and several instructions) which involved her flagging down a Customer Service Representative.

I did not have a way to tell this to my wife.... I could hope that she might think of it, but in her emotional state, even though she's very smart, it might not come to her. So, I had another idea.

I tried calling the Manilla airport but the phone wouldn't go through. I'm told the Philippines have the worst phone system in the world.

Not to give up, I did some web searching and found an odd little website where someone had indexed email addresses and phone numbers.

So I wrote up an email, explaining the situation, and asking them to send a Customer Service Rep to the gate of her flight with a sign with her name on it.

I sent the email to several different addresses hoping that email would work, where telephones failed. (yes I'm geeky that way).

Then I set my alarm to the time the plane was scheduled to touch down... so I could wake up and pray her through each step.

I fell asleep praying, 'it's all up to God'.

I woke up around 1am, and prayed for each specific step, as she went off the gangway, etc... fell back asleep, and my phone never rang, indicating she made the flight.

I called her dad's cell phone 5 minutes ago and my wife answered it. She also had her luggage.

From her end she says this:

"I was stressing out the entire way from POM to Manilla, because the plane left late and arrived 25 minutes late. I knew I wasn't going to make it, but when I got out of the gate, there was an angel there holding a sign with my name on it. I would have never made it without this person. I had to clear security around 12 times, wait for my bag, take a taxi to the new terminal, but first had to convert my U.S. cash into Philippines cash to pay the taxi, then my angel helped me and escorted me into the gate and my bag was the very last bag to come off the track in LAX."

Is that not super exciting! .. she's safe, she's with cargo. We made the decision to not all go, if we had decided all to go, we'd all 4 be stranded in Manilla right now.

Praise God.... this has been one wacky story of travelling.

I feel like the computer geek in mission impossible, sitting with a phone headset at the computer, clearing the way every step. No one I've told this story to has EVER heard of Air Nuigini just letting someone on board. That miracle, coupled with the idea that came to me in the middle of vegging out with the kids... just popping into my head to get a customer rep... all of that was from God.

Thank you in your help getting my wife to LAX, as soon as she stepped off the plane, she was able to release the tension she had from the flight hysteria.... and I could hear in her voice she was already doing much better!!

Thanks to God.

What a CRAZY travel story.
Every single thing that could go wrong, went wrong, except the part where she didn't get to her destination. And.. she got there in under 35 hours. Many have travel stories like this, but this particular story shows us that God answers our prayers, He listens, He reacts, and He cares. He's a personal savior.


Emergency Travel

This story deserves several titles. It's 4:40am I'm a bit tired, so I can't decide. Should it be "Booking Emergency Travel in PNG" or should it be "When Credit Cards Fail You" or should it be "Why Even at 37, My Parents are Still my Heroes".

This story is somewhat typical of a couple living in Papua New Guinea, needing to book emergency travel, and what we need to go through to get it done, so I thought I might share it. And, our story has a little twist, but then, PNG is the 'land of the unexpected' so I suppose most stories from here do have a twist.

Friday evening I got an email from my parents stating that my wife should call her parents. It was bad news. It was one of those emails that we sometimes get living here that changes things, quickly. If you live here you come to call these emails the 3D emails. "Death, Divorce, Deadly disease" Kendal's grandmother who is very dear to her, was passing away.

The first hurdle was getting through to call. We don't do a lot of international calling, and it was a work day, so I had to reach my wife who was finishing up her last day of teaching pre-school…. ever, with the details of HOW to make the call. She'll be moving on to kindergarden next year. The end of the year is always emotional for her. On the same day I was finishing up a month long job, my kids were finishing school…. it was a day of finishes.

I got home to hear from my wife that her grandmother was not doing well, and the doctors said the outlook was not good. I came home to a wife who was emotionally a wreck. So we prayed, I held her, we talked.

We spent the remainder of the night looking at the possibility of her flying to the U.S. How much would it cost? What would the itinerary look like? Emails began flying around…. who would take up Kendal's other responsibilities…. is this even possible? I don't care how much of a planner you are, this is one thing you can only plan so far for. We had an emergency bag for such a thing which included different international cash, credit cards, travel docs, etc.

It was school break, so Kendal would only be dumping details like …. who finishes decorating cupcakes, what about our dinner guests coming, is there any food in the fridge, should Kendal go alone, should we all go?

The night was spent praying about it and talking about all the possibilities. If you've ever been in the throes of grief, trying to upheave your life you know what I'm talking about. It's hard to see all the loose ends, and focus on what you NEED to do. We knew she needed to be there by the way she reacted to the news.

So we deliberated, until too exhausted to think, and went to bed, vowing to decide before noon the next day.

We woke up rested, and checked in with family. Grandma had passed…. we made a decision. Kendal would go to the U.S. and Chad would stay behind with the kids.

This is culture note #1. This type of separation happens a lot, and it tears the heart right out of you, but practically, it's what needs to be done. I'll admit to being the one who wanted to scrap it all and all 4 of us go to the U.S. together, as a family to support Kendal and her family…. but reality sets in when you get to looking at the costs. I've seen families go through turmoil here. Having to decide all of these logistics really is torturous. I've seen people NOT go, couples split for weeks at a time, I've seen families leave kids behind and the parents go, I've seen every combination and there isn't any combination which doesn't cause pain and hardship. In the end you have to do what you feel led to do, and also be faithful to your financial supporters who put you here.

In this situation we were very thankful for the timing, school was out, the biggest obstacle was finances. We thought.

The decision made, Kendal was to go alone, tore at me inside, but it was made, and so it was time for me to begin handling as much as I could to offload my wife, so she could grieve, and handle that which I couldn't. Men, husbands, no matter how strong and intelligent your wife is (and mine is.. in spades) it's still hard to send them off in a situation like this alone. Men are designed to protect and support their wives. We are designed to stand in front of a bus for our family. I saw 2 busses coming and I wanted to stand in front of both. My wife gently guided me to standing in front of the 'stay home and care for the kids and worry about me leaving alone' bus instead of the 'come with me and comfort me' bus. Getting hit by 1 bus isn't nearly as painful to a husband as not being able to block ALL busses. Women may never fully understand that sentiment, but the men do. But.. I digress this isn't about me, it's about my wife and our family.

10am Saturday. I begin making calls.

Culture Note #2. Internationally calling is hard to do when the phones are not totally reliable. Praise God that Skype didn't fail us the entire day and I was able to patiently be on hold for most of 12 hours…. yes yes, I'm Praising GOD for being on hold. Because, it meant I didn't get disconnected… and it wasn't costing me any more than a fraction of a penny per minute.

After surfing the web for 2 hours we found an itinerary that required we leave at 3am. I booked it. As I pulled out our emergency credit card from inside our 'for emergencies' prepared bag from our lock box inside our locked cabinet, I realized 'this expired last month'.

Culture Note #3. Living in a place where you rarely use cash or credit cards, or look at your passport, often you need to check your expiration dates on things, because it takes weeks or months to renew them, if you even can from outside the U.S.

I had known it was coming, and I had a note on my desk 'renew credit card' which I had begun months ago, but life got a way from me the last 2 months and it was something I left undone because of the difficulty in renewing from outside the U.S. The Credit Card company was not approving the transaction.

Okay time to go to the backup plan. Use the Debit card. It means we won't get any Credit card miles, but it's an emergency. Only thing is, the debit card has been re-issued and is sitting in a safe at my sister's house, with a new number. My credit union was confused, and I was stuck there too. DENIED. Someone please let me pay CASH!!!! I have enough cash in the bank to cover this expense, but I can't move the money!

Okay plan 3. PAYPAL. I was able to book the return flights with Paypal, but the departure I couldn't book because by policy they won't book flights that are sooner than 3 days away.

Each booking and failure is costing me hours because I'm dealing in email and Skype. I've been on the phone for hours, and I still haven't gotten the booking for my wife to leave the country. But I have the booking for her to get back handled… barring some manipulation of the space time continuum I still need to GET here there in order to get her back.

BUT!!!!… all plans involve her leaving from LAE which is 3 hours away from here. And our car has not been running for months due to missing a part that has been taking forever to get here. And it's the weekend so the Auto Shop is closed and I can't rent a vehicle.

Culture Note #4. It takes months to get car parts. Plus living here is not a 24x7 thing. Places close at 5pm and when a place is closed, it's closed. I have enough friends that I could begin sounding the gong and adding stress to people's lives, pull them out of bed and ask for them to drop everything and help me. And they WOULD because the people here, are amazing people. But I didn't want to have to do that to them. Because it would involve disrupting more than a dozen people's holiday weekend plans. I'd have to get finance to open up, the Auto Shop to open up, a team of people in the capital city to wake up, plan rides, etc. I was hoping it wouldn't come to that. But if it did, I know they would help. I knew, that if I had to, there were swarms of people waiting to bend over backwards to help my wife. That's the kind of reputation she has, and the kind of people we live with. It's a benefit of being part of a missions organization versus going it alone, and it's a benefit of living with a tight community of believers.

So… before pulling that particular trigger I decided to call a good friend of mine. I met him over at the auto-shop, he pulled some strings, and within minutes we had rented a Ford Ranger, fueled it, and he agreed to travel with me at 3am to take my wife to the airport. He's my go to guy… I went to him, he came through.

But, we had an idea, what if someone else was already going?

Tech note #1. A Community Bulletin board is an awesome thing. (Maybe this should be tech note #2, because Skype is also awesome).

I posted on there 'is anyone leaving for LAE on Sunday morning?'. In the off chance they were. I got a call. Someone was. Only they weren't going at 3am, they were going at 8am, meaning my wife wouldn't make flight #1 on her itinerary.


So.. waiting in the wings I have a co-driver. Which is much needed because the roads right now are awful and we'd be traveling them at the most unsafe time of day. Which means going slow… which is less secure.

Culture Note # 5: You're not supposed to drive at night in third world countries, but if you have to, go fast. Don't travel on roads that make you go really really slow in spots!

I also called a friend to see if I could access the community safe we keep our passports in. She not only said yes, she said 'I'll deliver it to you home!' Man, God puts incredible people in our lives!

When I got back home after making all these plans, I found that Kendal had also put out a request to our 'Kitchen Angel's' a team of people who gear up specifically for times when mom leaves, and can't be home to make bread and meals. I already had people signing up to bring me and the kids dinners! BONUS!

I checked email, the itinerary was cancelled, due to credit card problems. It's 4pm now. We have dinner guests arriving in 2 hours. The kind you can't cancel on because they arrived on a plane from the U.S. only a few hours ago. In 1 hour my daughter needs me to put on a tie and escort her to a Bible Study function she's been excited about for weeks. She made me a home made boutineer. I didn't want to break her heart…. so I had 1 hour to make this work.

It seemed like life was squeezing us into a few hours of total pressure. But the blessing was, Kendal was so busy she didn't have time to stop which I think… kept her going.

So I'm still on the phone at this time working out the new itinerary which can let Kendal go on the SAFER road trip, but I have no ideas left… none of our credit cards will work, I can't pay cash, I can't paypal. I pause. I try to cell call Kendal's dad, no answer. He's probably finally sleeping after driving straight through from Portland to LA when they got the news. In a clutch, I thought, I know!…I Skype call my parents. It's late in the U.S. but they claim they weren't sleeping. I chose to believe them. They give me THEIR credit card info, although I was absent minded enough NOT to get their billing address and info. This is important later.

Culture Note #5b One of the wonderfully hard parts about living here is that you need to rely on people. You rely on people for their support, their prayer, their encouragement. If you're new to relying on people, then the first time you have to do it, your pride will take a hit. But once you get through that individualism, you learn that God blesses you through people. You learn who those people are that you can turn to and rely on when the chips are down. And you learn as we have, that a whole heck of a lot of people love you. God blesses you through these relationships in a way so deep and meaningful because your livelihood is in their hands…. it's a blessing few others get to experience, and ironically it is one of the hardest things about becoming a missionary. It is also one of the best things about becoming a missionary, because it brings you closer and makes you more aware of God's working in your life… through people.

I book the flight with their credit info… the booking company asks me the billing address, I thankfully know my parent's mailing address and assume it was the same. The flight is booked. I jump into the shower, throw on a shirt and tie, escort my daughter to her thing, jet back home.

30 minutes until company arrives, and I have to do the grilling. Thankfully my son is well trained with a spatula and I put him in charge.
I find out during those 30 minutes the flight booking was rejected. NOT because of Credit card information, but because this company doesn't have a booking deal with Airlines PNG, our friendly 3rd World Country airline.


Okay Chad think.. think… I decide we can scrounge enough KINA cash to pay for this 1 leg of the flight. (We were asked the night before if we could lend a PNG friend our cash, and I had this odd instinct that I should say 'no'. Which is unlike me, but it was an intuition 10 hours before receiving the bad news.. Thanks God for that!) I redo the booking, I'm on hold for 57 minutes (PRAISE GOD AGAIN for HOLD!…am I crazy?). Our guests arrive, and understand COMPLETELY what we're going through. They do not feel slighted that I spend most of their visit with us, on hold.

Total failure, the booking isn't working, I take a break to eat a rushed dinner, and say hello to friends I've not seen for a year or more.

They leave, I jump back on the phone. I explain "I have to put my wife on a plane in 9 hours!'.

I rebook it all, sit on the phone, my final attempt, I'm exhausted, my wife is exhausted, we fall into bed around 12:30 midnight, praying to God, that this booking goes through.

I put a little prayer up to God 'God, I know you have it handled, I'm at my wit's end. I've been on the phone and computer for 13 hours. I'm not sure that my wife isn't going to wind up stranded… I need some details to go right today, I'm worried I'm sad, help me know what to do. I trust you… please help us." In the back of my head, I'm thinking if I wake up and it's all fallen apart, maybe we decide not to send Kendal at all. I think Kendal was worried about that eventuality too.

4:44am, I bolt awake, for no reason. I check my email.


but then there's another email from my dad

"Got a call from our credit card company… the charge was blocked because you're in PNG"

Culture Note #6 Everyone who lives here knows what it means to have a credit card company think you are charging fraudulently because of where you live.

But then….
another email from my dad "It's okay, it went through! It's 8am here, we just got off the phone."
and then another email

Because I had to book with my parent's credit card, I had to give their number,… which the booking company could reach… during their timezone, which was daylight hours. The booking company couldn't reach me, they have no idea how to call PNG, during sleeping hours. It hits me… by being forced to book with my parent's info.. they were able to get a hold of a live person and work it out… clutch save dad!

My wife was booked and paid for! Which means she shouldn't have to show an expired credit card that she doesn't really have to get to the U.S. !!!

It means I can cancel the car and co-driver I had scheduled, she can go with the friends already going, during daylight, be much more safe! It means that the trip is smoothed out before her as much as I possibly can do.

IT means God answered my prayer of worry for my wife. It means maybe she'll be okay without me, and God has her in His hands.

It means I can calm down. Only I'm not calm. I'm up at 4:44am writing this story, because I'm excited about what God did.

It took 14 hours of calling and booking. 4 different credit cards, Skype, digital, and several friends and family to pull off getting my wife in a car for 3 hours across dangerous highway, to a 3 legged flight of over 24 hours travel time.

She leaves in 2 hours.
PLEASE pray for her safety and that she gets through.
I know that if she can get to L.A. that her family will take care of the rest of the details. We don't know where she'll be staying or any of that, but she'll be with family and she'll be okay.

PLEASE pray for the kids here. They're very sad Grandma Shirley has left us, their sad mom is leaving for 2 weeks.

PLEASE pray that God will fill back in the money we had to spend.

and thank you… for your involvement in this story. I would tell this story to the friends we live with here, but it's nothing new. We all have lived through it. The only twist is that I let my credit card expire. Which in itself is a humbling thing because we're supposed to be the 'organized couple'. It goes to show you… not everyone has all their ducks in a row all the time. But it's okay, we serve a God who can realign any duck.



Hard Candy


This place isn't just hard on rubber bands, it's hard on candy. This
picture is of a tootsie roll pop that I opened today after it was in my
shelf for 3 days. (took a while to get here from the store.) Hard candy
lasts a long time in my house, because it's a rare and special treat
that we savor and save. But this odd liquifying effect happens to most
hard candy here. The tootsie pop normally has a crunch... here, not so
much. With little effort you can pull the stick out of this making it a
Tootsie lump. It happens to Jolly Ranchers too, and other hard candy.

I don't understand why. Is it the humidity, the altitude? Do those of
you living at 5000 feet above sea level have this happen to your Tootsie
Pops? If not, can you try an experiment for me. Buy a box of rubber
bands and a bag of Tootsie pops. Open them both, and leave them in your
cupboard for a month (I figure it takes that long to ship sea
freight).... then let me know if they liquify.

If they don't then my theory will be accurate. I theorize that during
the customs process, they spray a chemical on all packages, that slowly
disintigrates them into puddles which eventually evaporate. This
explains why the books I ordered a year ago never arrived. (-;