Taco Tuesday

On Tuesdays we buy a dozen home made tortillas (not tortilla option here other than home made) which are made by our friend Rose (pictured here).  Then we make taco meat (our special Dr. Pepper beef recipe is an extra treat when beef is affordable AND Dr. Pepper is available in the store), and serve it up with home made sour-cream (you have to make yogurt from scratch and turn it into sour cream, so that too, is a special treat).  Last night, we had sour cream, but no Dr. Pepper beef.  Cheese is a regular option when it's available, and tomatoes, cilantro and lettuce from our garden.

So on Taco Tuesday you know it's almost dinner time when you hear "Sydney, go grab a handful of cilantro from the garden please!" 


Fun Quote

Kurt Vonnegut wrote in 'Cat's Cradle' something I thought was rather
apropos to IT work or any technical field:
referring to some scientific processes he was showing to a stenographer:

"They're designed so as to NOT be mystifying. They're the very
antithesis of magic."
"The very what of magic?"
"The exact opposite of magic."
"You couldn't prove it by me."
"Dr. Breed looked just a little peeved. "Well," he said, "we don't WANT
to mystify. At least give us credit for that."


wow 15% seems to be the magic number by which to increase things this year.

Medical premiums went up 15% for us.... did they for you, I'm thinking they did.
School fees went up 15% for us....
Food costs, prescription drugs, all went up 15% this year.

that's like, 45% increase! 

I'm guessing you folks in the U.S. are feeling the same crunch.  All these notices and realizations that things are increasing in cost around you.

Our population here is shrinking a bit, the school lost 20 students, which increases the cost to each child still going, across the board, expenses are going up, and shared across fewer people.  So the overall financial impact can have an emotional impact as well.  People start to worry more... sometimes going into debt in order to remain on the field.  You know, that finances can be an overwhelming burden for many families, and it starts to become what is on the forefront of your mind.

I wanted to take this opportunity to say, that we appreciate your support. 
I think that by being linked to you in this way, we share a close common bond.  Our livelihood is directly tied to yours, and both of us rely on God to provide it.  Because of that, we pray for you daily asking God to bless your family and keep your family financially stable, keep you employed, protect you from increases in costs that you can't afford.

Our motto is "let God take care of the things we can't, and we'll keep focusing on the task at hand."

Isaiah 41:10 fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Matthew 11:28-29 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Today, keeping God on the forefront of my mind, not the finances.  But if you would like to know,  email me and I can give a full account.  Currently we're at 96% of where we need to be, which is a healthy situation to be in, because it is keeping us from going into debt.  And your financial support this year has been overwhelmingly encouraging to us, as these one time gifts come in to sustain us.



Reciprocal Encouragement

We are so encouraged by the people who support us to be here financially and through prayer.
Right now I'm having a bit of hay-fever and so if my thoughts come out muddled, know that it's because of that.  I struggle against bad allergies here (well in the U.S. I did too, so there's not much difference, except here the only cure I've found is to wrap a bandana around my nose and take a nap.  Which is alright until your daughter snaps a photo of you to show her friends... because to be honest a bandana around your nose looks pretty silly)

but I digest.

(yes I know I said that wrong, but it's true, I digest, I had a cookie about 5 minute ago, and you should be thankful because taking a cookie break is what encouraged me to sit down and type this blog entry.... come to think of it, you might come down on the other side of gratitude... in that case, blame the cookie (-; )

Where was I?

Oh yes.
A few days ago on a Saturday, I had finished all my chores and was at a point of either relaxing and taking a nap, or doing something fun. I chose to do something fun.  So I grabbed my video camera, and headed over to the local gathering of what I've dubbed 'the quilting mafia.'

They're technically called 'piecemakers' which is a clever name.  My wife is a newbie quilter and has really enjoyed this group of women that gather together periodically to share company and a common hobby.

I thought it might be fun to make a video of them, and show some of the quilts, and decided to hammer out something rather quickly (I was finished in the same day I shot it, so you know it was a quick job).

As I did it, I saw all the happy faces in the video and realized that this was actually an important ministry, not just fun, but a therapeutic gathering of incredible women gathered here in this country to serve God.

It turns out that the video itself was an encouragement and that plus a little email I sent turned out to encourage people who had been struggling lately.  I honestly had no idea that little bit of fun I put together would mean so much to people.  Another side result is someone asked me to help them make a Bible dedication video.

The point is, by using some of my side talents, and hobby, I was able to encourage some people who needed encouraging.  Which helps them to do better at their jobs, and to possibly stay here just that much longer.

And I wanted to let you know this, because sometimes being here, is itself a ministry outside of the job we do. And I wanted to thank you each for your encouragement to US, that enables us to encourage others.

By giving to us financially and praying for us, you help alleviate burdens that would otherwise distract us from serving others.  You lighten our load, and you join us in purpose, and for that, we thank you.

if you would like to see the video it is here:


Jury Rig #392

I don't own a chainsaw. It's been very cold lately. Two years ago I installed a dog fence for security by running 'pig wire' (here the wire is called by what animal it holds in usually. (so you don't speak in gauges). There is Pig Wire, rabbit wire, etc.

I used long lengths of firewood. Here the way to cut firewood is in long 4 foot wedges. So one four foot tree trunk, can make 4 wedges. The reason for this is they don't cook indoors, the nationals cook in a 'haus kuk' and the way they make a fire is a small round pit, they light one end of a piece of wood and as it burns off, they scoot it in more. Wasting very little wood, and making a tiny little fire for cooking over.

So, what I have to do when I want to fit it into my little fire stove is cut it into 12" segments. But again, I don't own a chainsaw.

But I own a saws-all!

My family was confused when I asked for a saws all many years ago, but I'm really glad I have it now, as it comes in handy when I need to make cuts from wood.
But what's not handy is when your blade snaps and the nearest home depot is 6000 miles away.

It takes 2 months to get new items from the U.S. here. I had spare blades, but none as long as the one that snapped on me today, right before I was almost done.

So... what to do?

Well.. you can take out your vice grips, and clamp the broken off piece to the blade, then take out an angle grinder and grind the blade down to create an identical end so it fits back into your saw.

That's the idea I had anyway.


Small World

Last night I was in a multi-cultural workshop and happened to be next to someone I didn't know, so I introduced myself.  Her name was Elaine and she had been here for only a week so far.  Having travelled here alone.  She asked me 'Do you keep a blog?' ... I slowly responded 'yeeessss.' 
"and, did you recently blog about your wife's adventure in travelling?"
and I replied "yesss."
and she started to tear up, and told me,

"I want to tell you I found so much courage from her and her troubles travelling alone."  She could barely get the story out.  "I was stuck in California trying to get here, travelling alone and I took encouragement and thought if she can do it, so can I."

The rest of the story was unspoken, but it seems she was asked to come out here for a short while to help fill a much needed job.  To do so she had to leave in a bit of a hurry, and all by herself, and she did it, thanks to the courage my wife had, that I blogged about.

It's a small world sometimes.  And I'm honestly surprised and encouraged to find people actually read what I write here.

I asked her "how did you know it was me keeping the blog?"
and she said "I was reading a lot of blogs before my trip, and...well, you wrote you wouldn't say where you were, or what organization you were with, or where you lived, but you said your name was Chad.... I took a guess."

Good guess.


bridge fixed

See the huge hole?  See the broken beam that collapsed under it's own weight being pulled out?  The bridge is repaired and crossable now!  YAY!!!


cross cultural texting

I don't text often, so when I got this text this morning, it took me a while to understand it.
It involves 2 languages, tok pisin and English, and 2 cultures. I had no idea who had sent it, but I figured it out after thinking.
Manager Chad, the ballot officials cancelled voting for the town of Kainantu yesterday and voting will be held today.  I'm going to vote and I will return before 1pm.

anyway, I got a kick out if, I don't often get texts.  Voting in this country happens every 5 years.  IT's a huge thing as a lot of violence erupts around the ballot boxes.  Soldiers in hueys come to escort the ballot boxes around the country.  People have been shot and died.  So 'going to vote' means 'I'm waiting for public transport, risking my life over a bad bridge, trying to avoid catching a stray bullet, ignoring the intense social pressure to vote for the same people my family is voting for, and I should be back to work by 1."  It can get pretty hairy, so we (my family) remain totally neutral, and avoid areas that have voting going on.  If you've never seen  a huey land and ak47  armed soldiers in camo jump out by the dozen.... it's pretty cool.

Having lived here, and seen the violence and the campaigning (which amount to people singing a lot and driving around with music blaring to grab attention...bullhorns are involved).... I better understand what the news means when they say 'voting is going on in NAMEYOURCITY today.'


4th of July

(my son flinging steel wool)

Our 4th of July celebration was the other day.  This is when a lot of the American ex-pats gather for a picnic on a lawn, show the flag, sing the National Anthem, and generally enjoy being together.  A few years back at our very FIRST of these annual gatherings, we found that it really gave us a huge sense of community, even though it was mostly with the Americans, even our British friends and Canadian friends sometimes attended.  One of the traditions is to light and spin steel wool, as a firework.  Sometimes we fire off expired safety flares for a nice 'rocket's red glare' effect.

The overall sense of 'these are the people I serve with' fills your heart as it does with any large community event.

Given that the smaller kids like to run towards the burning steel wool, (pictured above), Kendal and I had the idea to provide the younger kids who didn't get to 'fling wool', glow sticks.  So we started a tradition years ago of doing this.  After everyone has eaten and the kids want to run around, right before the sun sets, we pull out the glow sticks, snap them and put them around the younger children's wrists.

This is an idea we got from my uncle Randy and aunt Rene many years ago, as they did this with their nieces and nephews camping.  It brings an extra element of fun to camping... to have a 'glow night'.

This year, we had our stash we had squirreled away from the U.S. and we used it for a youth event.  Having written about the youth event, some good friends of ours realized we were short of glow sticks and sent a huge bunch of them our way! 

Just the other day we employed them.  Suddenly feeling like the uncle and aunt we rarely get to be, we noticed there were a LOT of younger kids.  Many more than last year.  HOW AWESOME is that?  New families had arrived this year.  And just like us over 5 years ago, this was their first 'Ukarumpa 4th of July Celebration'.

They were amazed and encouraged.  See, when you get here, you've left family and community and are still trying to become part of this community.  An event such as this, warms your heart, and confirms that you're not alone.

And when we're able to give the young kids, these glow bracelets, it tells the families that even their little ones are cared for. 

That's a huge encouragement to a family who may have a large fear of what moving here may mean to their child's future.
Just to know, that people care.

And so we're encouraged too that some friends cared enough to send us glow sticks, so that we could encourage others in this way.



today for lunch, it was such a nice thing to bite into a granny smith apple.


we don't get apples here all the time. From time to time you find
yourself enjoying something and half way through you realize 'oh, I'm
enjoying this because I haven't enjoyed this in a while'. There is much
to be said for delayed gratification.


'Oh Where did you Get that Lovely Top?'

Where do you get your clothes?
The only in-country places to get clothes are thrift stores.  Around our neck of the woods, you'll often hear 'do you like my new top, only 1 Kina!!!'.  I used to wonder why missionaries dressed funny.  (As a kid I thought they did).  Now I know.  Once you get used to wearing out dated, used clothing that is super affordable, it's hard to justify buying new.

But, for us Big n Tall guys, even the thrift stores offer little hope.  One of my big n tall buddies, buys 2 pair of jeans, then sews himself a single pair out of them.  That's resourceful, and even skillful, but it results in a frankenstein type look.

Elastic wears out of your socks and underwear rather quickly, because we don't use clothes dryers. We do laundry in a very Australian way, we hang them out to dry and it takes a short time because the sun is so hot, when it's out.  Sometimes the rain pours while the clothes are on the line and prolongs the drying time.

The Laundry Dash - is a cultural happening when you're in the middle of something and realize it's raining, you sense the rain, is it going to be a downpour, or light, if it's light, you leave the clothing out, if it's going to be a downpour, you bring it in.

Everyone of your neighbors knows what clothing you wear, no one needs to ask you 'boxers or briefs'?  Of course we're  clever, we puts the particulars on the inside of the line, and the sheets on the outside to give that added bit of privacy.

The end result of all this is that if you're a Big N Tall guy, you only buy clothing when you're in your home country.  And when you do you need to buy a lot of it.  But it will hurt you because you think 'my wife got a top for 1 Kina, but I need to buy 20 t-shirts at $20 a piece!!!'  You get coupons, you wait for specials, etc.  When you get back, you'll be the sharpest dressed guy in town for a few days.  Then your socks will start to droop, and your whites will be more like light brown, and your pants will have holes in them.

All that to say, a sense-of-fashion isn't highly regarded in these parts.  Another reason why men feel so at home here, few of us have a sense of fashion anyway.


Broken Bridge

You can see where the bridge is buckled here.  This is one of the main bridges on the road to our location.  For a while now we haven't been able to send large trucks over it, as it's been slipping and breaking.  So whenever we get a grocery supply truck to come,  of a fuel supply truck, we park it in town, unload it into several smaller vehicles, and then bring the supplies in.

This bridge is notorious for shredding tires, as you can see the light coming through there.

You can see here why it might be chewing up tires... ragged steel sticking up all over.  This bridge is not our property, but we have repaired it a few times.  We have to weld the plates down well, because over time, people steal parts of the bridge. 

In this case, erosion, and weakened steal, and theft, have weakened the bridge to the point where we've known it would buckle any day now.  The officials have been informed, and they in fact spent money and bought equipment to build a new bridge.  The equipment is sitting in a town a few hours away, waiting to be assembled.

You can see here the wood planks, which are a temporary fix for the bridge, although we have no idea how long before those planks go walkabout.

The bridge finally buckled this week as a large coffee truck went over it.  So now, we are cut off from supplies, as well as cut off from driving out.  We can't drive out to the local commercial airport, or the towns where we can get food and fuel.

So... today I am very thankful that we live where we do, because unlike a regional center, we can self-sustain for a few weeks while we wait for the bridge to get repaired.  We have supplies of food, and fuel, and we have a local aviation department.  So while a broken bridge is bad, it could be so much worse.

Pray with us that it gets repaired well, and finally (not another temporary fix up job).  We literally have been praying for months before crossing this bridge in hopes that it wouldn't buckle underneath us, before the officials in power replace the bridge.

It would be a nice blessing to have this one thing not to worry about.

And for those who swear we've talked about bridges before.  Yes, there are 2 main bridges to where we are, but immeasurable bridges throughout the country that affect our work.  This bridge I'm talking about here, is actually NOT the one we were praying about a few years back, that was another bridge.

Both bridges are on the same road into town. So, if one goes, they might have well both have gone, but I'm very thankful that we only have to worry about 1 bridge at a time right now.

Part of the experience of living here, is that you rarely drive off centre.  You never do so just for leisure as each time you drive, you take your life into your hands, in multiple ways.

So, each journey begins with prayer, ends with prayer.  You prepare yourself for vehicle break downs because abandoning your vehicle means losing your vehicle to theft and stripping.  You check that you have toilet paper, water, wrenches.  You call ahead and ask the local police if there is any known raskol activity on the roads you plan to be on.  You bring flashlights but hope not to be caught out after dark.  You pray every time you come across a bridge.  As we are fond of saying, it isn't the fall that'll get you, it's the abrupt ending at the bottom. (-;

On furlough we so enjoyed being able to jump into the car without much thought, drive 2 min down the road and have a place to eat, or get fuel!  It was a bit of a culture shock that my wife was able to drive in a car, alone.  It was liberating for sure, but still awkward at first.

So for those of you who get to drive around and don't spend even a moment thinking 'is there a bridge between me and my goal?  should I be driving alone?  Does someone know where I am planning to go and how long it'll take me to be there?'  Can you thank God for that freedom and maybe say a few seconds of prayer that our bridge get repaired?

Thanks!! We do appreciate it!

Important Penguins

Someone lent us the movie Poppers Penguins. We were also loaned the movie The Big Year. So, being Sunday, after we returned from church and had some family time, we turned on a movie.

Both movies had a very strong message about the important of family. Both movies were clean and PG. I typically expect some bad stuff that makes me cringe with my kids, and Penguins did have a brief moment like that, but for the most part I was pleased with the movies.

Is there a change in films in the U.S. right now? Are the films becoming more family centric, or do my friends simply lend me good movies?

As the Penguin movie ended the titles played with the song 'Ice Ice Baby'. That song was popular when I was 13 or so. Ironically the star of the film, Jim Carrey, once parodied that song on a t.v. show.

I had these thoughts:

- Jim Carrey doesn't look that old. But he was twice my age when I was a kid. Wow, I'm old.
- This song is over 20 years old... my kids have never heard it before... I told them it was sung by Vanilla Ice. My son said 'um.. what's a Vanilla ice.'.

By No means is Vanilla Ice representative of any kind of quality music of my era. And yet, in my kids minds now, they think 'the music dad listened to when he was our age is bad rap by someone called Vanilla Ice.'

I felt old. My kids were watching a man in a comedy that I watched in comedies when I was their age.

Today in church a testimony was given from the high school band trip. The message I heard was that the kids had left what is 'home' to them... to minister in Australia. High school boys who couldn't be bothered to do much more than grunt, suddenly became very talkative when speaking about what their parents do in PNG.

I'm 38 years old. My nephew just graduated high school. My daughter is nearly 13.

Behind me there are a lot of good memories, living in PNG is our current stage in life. It's lasted 5 years thus far, and with your prayers it'll last a while longer too.

My kids are experiencing life for the first time, hearing songs for the first time, seeing thoughts that strike me as having been expressed before, many times.

And I find that entirely encouraging.

There are some hardships right now. Our clinic is closing, the main bridge fell apart today-breaking our supply line, medication is costly, my wife's grandmother has passed on, we have financial need because of the airfare we bought to send her there..... and yet, God has blessed us with 2 kids who are looking at life and have so much potential... they are experiencing it all with wide open eyes. And we get to shape that a little bit more before their time with us is done.

So I can't really get too discouraged. I looked outside today at this beautiful place... and I've heard the testimonies this morning of people reading the Scripture for the first time in their language.

And I'm struck with one theme for the day. Focus on what is important.

(I'll flesh some of this out more throughout the week, to help you pray specifically, but today is Sunday, God's day, and I'm focussing on what is important.)