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1/31/2013

The Showing

Imagine you have won a Man or Woman of the year award.  It isn't a common thing. Imagine the honor of the ceremony, the attention being focused on you, knowing in the end you do have to give a speech, but your only real concern is that you may forget to thank one of the many people who contributed. 

The honor, the respect, the gratitude of that moment is a rarely experienced thing in one's life.
I can count the number of times I have had such moments in my life, and all but few, started when we decided to move to PNG.

Yesterday was one of those days.  And I want to tell you about it, because you have invested in that moment as well.  This story is for anyone who has invested any time, prayer, money, good thoughts, concern, etc in our being in PNG.

I'm sorry, but the best stories are long ones.

I have been separated from my family for two weeks now (going on my third) in Kokopo, East New Britain, Papua New Guinea.  I have been living in the village house of Gary and Peggy.  This couple has spent the last 26 years of their lives working on translating the Bible into Ura for the Baining people.  There are 2500 Ura speaking Bainings, and nearly 200,000 Baining people in total.  They hope to translate into at least one or two other languages using computer comparative software.

The Baining people are not like Highland Papua New Guineans.  They are drastically different.  They are not aggressive, not very talkative, not nosey.  They do not interfere in your business, nor are they inquisitive.  This creates a great environment for avoiding the social claustrophobia, but a difficult environment for 'getting to know you'.

A baining will never ask you 'do you have a wife?'. They will not ask personal questions.  In fact you get the impression they don't care about you, yet they are very hospitable.  I think part of their hospitality is simplicity and acceptance.

As the days have gone by, we have been doing audio recordings to dub a video series called the Luke video into Ura.  Essentially the book of Luke is put into video form using 15 separate episodes, plus an audio version and a summation of the entire book at the end.  The point of the project is to be a discipleship tool.

Over these days, I have made friends with a small group of Uramet Bainings (Ura speaking Baining people) in their village of Gualim.

When I began this project, I was assuming this would be the most challenging thing I've ever done.  My reasons were, that I have never lived in the village for longer than 6 days in a row.  Village living is hard living.  It's extreme camping, in the tropics.  A simple scratch on your leg could turn into an ulcer (aka Jungle rot) before you know it.  Secondly, I had never actually DONE a video dubbing before. Other than as a hobbyist at home, and a bit of training, I had no idea if I could accomplish what people were telling me they had confidence I could do.  I trusted them, but was somewhat concerned I'd forget a vital piece of equipment or some small detail that caused my time to be wasted in Gualim.

My mantra was simple, Trust God... keep a good attitude.... it'll all work out.

Upon arriving, several of my worries were calmed.  Gary and his team (Boas and Mungsung and Amen and others) had built a wonderful recording room out of bamboo and mattresses, thus calming my worries about recording extraneous noise.



We did face some difficulty.  Occasionally we would have to start the generator which was too loud, so Gary procured a propane powered generator which was much quieter.  We had the power supply for our microphone overheat, so we rigged a stick to connect it to a room fan so it would stay cool enough.  Still from time to time, as it overheated we'd have to take a break until it came back online.  I was told I may not get home on schedule because the local volcano had erupted putting ash into the air which harms plane engines, so the airport was closed.

But the Baining people, were prepared.  They were saying their lines with emotion, and accuracy, often times perfectly the first time.  Because of this, we were able to finish recording in 7 days, and able to spend an 8th day refining and re-recording parts we felt could be improved.  On top of that, I had the luxury of being able to do post production with a team, and have them say 'no this isn't right, that pause is wrong,' etc.  Which is EXTREMELY beneficial since I do not know the language. I am confident to say that because of that, the final production will not have any linguistic or acting errors in it that will distract people.   On top of that, we still had time enough for me to go through and adjust the lip syncing and there are moments when you see God's supernatural hand at work and forget that Christ was speaking Hebrew in the original recordings, and swear He was speaking Ura.  The lips moved just so, the expression of his face just so... we all took to snapping our fingers at these moments in praise.

Gary later told me that he has seen God's hand on this project as it's become smoothed out.  He and Peggy have faced a few discouragements lately, but finishing the recording on Gary's birthday brought a big smile to his face.  They were encouraged that at least one project in their lives was going well.

I was excited because the thing I had come hoping to do, actually was done.  (I do have some more work to do once I return home to Ukarumpa).

The entire recording, it did not rain heavily which was a major concern as rain on tin roofing, causes so much noise, you have to shout to be heard by the man sitting next to you.  It would mean we had to take a break in the recording.

I wonder if we somehow set a record for recording time, and I wonder if God allowed me to do it quickly so that I could learn a great many lessons.  (don't worry, I wrote my lessons down).


On the left is Mungsung, the voice of Jesus.  On the right, Boas, the voice of the narrator. These two guys are remarkable people.

I learned a great many technical lessons during the project, and was thankful for the time afterward to tidy up the recording and make it better.  I really want my first recording to be a good one as I have a group of peers (in the U.S.) that have to review it before it gets approval to be mastered.  That said, I also learned several non-technical lessons.

For example: As focused as I was on producing a quality product, I had to remember that the process was also important.  I was keyed in on wanting the Luke video to be used well, such that I nearly forgot to build relationships on the way.  Thankfully, after my initial adapting to this new (hot and humid) environment was complete, I was able to eat their food with them, sit and talk with them, share pictures of my family with them, pray for their sick children, etc.

I was told later that the level of inquisitiveness that the people had with me, the level of interaction I had was rare.  That Bainings do not involve themselves that much with people.  Maybe it was the yoyo I carried with me, or the way I played with the kids, I don't know what it was, but I purposely kept myself from being shy and made some friends, that I hope to see one day in Ukarumpa as they do occasionally travel there.

Between times of recording, I would be walking through the rain forest on top of this ridge, experiencing this place.  Gary told me 'I've been here a long while, it's nice to have new eyes to remind me of the things to appreciate'.  I've blogged some of them such as:

a glorious full moon viewed through coconut trees.
the sound of the jungle coming alive at night, standing on the trail in pitch dark and listening (reminded me of disney cartoons where the characters start seeing spooky eyes in the dark).
the sound of thuds as coconuts dropped
lightning stuck trees that died
frogs
snakes
muddy roads we got the truck stuck in

most of these things, I wish you could all experience, after a while, it is amazing to me how well we adapt.  The deafening roar of the jungle night, became unnoticed by me after a few days. I learned to sidestep the toads in the road, how to plant my foot firmly in the mud so as not to slip, without thinking. Putting on bug repellent in the morning and evening was as common as brushing my teeth.

Then there is the geekily interesting technical aspects of life in a village house.  We had no electricity, so the basics like, lighting, and water, require creativity.  The lighting was provided by flashlights, or these LED strips that my computer department furnishes, that run off of a car battery.  Solar panels charge the battery.  The water is fed by gravity, from a header tank on the roof, which is filled by a tank that collects rain water on the ground.  Each morning you have to wake up and pump the water by hand, up to the header tank.  For fun, I volunteered to do it a few times.  It took 200 pumps to fill the header tank.  I decided to time my pace of pumping, then calculated that it would take 9 minutes to do the pumping.  So instead of counting in my head '1,2,3' I spent that 9 minutes each morning praying while working out my upper body. 

I was honored by Peggy's constant service of my laundry, and making meals, and pumping water, and all the difficult things of living in a village, that she made, easier.  But even this house belayed my worries because they had a flush toilet and a comfortable enough mattress on the floor for me to sleep in. 

The first day assuaged most of my fears regarding my environment, and ability to record, and after that, it was all just a lot of hard work and sweat and prayer.  In the end we had a product worthy of showing.

Which brings me to that moment of honor I began with.

Thursday it rained hard, all day long.  It was the first time it had seriously rained, and it is not lost on me that it happened the DAY AFTER we were finished working.

The rain subsided just in time for us to gather people together to show them the Luke video scenes we had selected.  But before that, there was a small ceremony with those involved in the project.
During this ceremony they thanked me for coming.

They thanked my family for letting me come.
They thanked my organization.
They thanked my supporters.
They praised the good work we had done.
And they gave me three gifts.

The first gift, Boas approached me, revealed a headband, and then tied it around my head.  It was made from tree bark, and was the traditional colors of their people.  It was remarkable because the colors and patterns were once used in a spiritual ceremony that many have since decided was sinful, and yet they wanted to preserve their traditional art, and so they used the pattern on a headband, I bowed slightly as he put it on my head during this ceremony.

The second gift was a sling.  Boas again approached and showed me without words, the step to using the sling.  This finger goes there, that goes here, the rock in here.  Then he began to twirl the sling with the rock in it, around all these people.  Inside I was shouting 'HEY! Someone is going to get hurt!' but then thought 'well, if he has enough confidence he won't hurt someone, he must be REALLY good'.  Then he let loose the sling with a SNAP.  My eyes widened, and I lurched a tiny bit.  Everyone laughed as they realized Boas has sneakily removed the stone, and tricked us all.   Then he handed me the sling.  The sling is not touristy junk, it is authentic and traditional, and later I got Boas to show me to use it, and I used it and he was impressed at my ability the first time.  So was I.  But I didn't hit my target, still, at least the stone went into the right direction.

The third gift was an envelop, which I later opened to reveal cash money.  This is a first for me.  No Papua New Guinean has ever given me such a gesture.  It was a generous amount of money and I instantly wanted to refuse it.  But then I got to thinking.  This is a sign that they are owning Bible translation.  They recognize that it cost me something to be here, and they want to own the product in the end.  It was a very good sign that they are serious about this work, because a missionary will only be present for so long.  I have already put that money to work ministering to a PNG family in another part of the country. 

The ceremony ended so I set up the laptop and the projector and had a seat to wait.  I have become quite adept at waiting and enjoy my iPhone with books on it to read, as I sit around and wait.  But instead I took out some sunflower seeds I had brought with me, and tried to teach the people how to eat them.  They replied
'this is bird food!'
'em bikpela wok long liklik kaikai' (this is big work for little food)
But then, after they were using their hands, etc, I put a handful in my mouth and within moments was spitting out the husks one after the other.  People were staring and laughing. (They laugh out of nervousness or embarrassment or appreciation).

I had put the word out 2 weeks ago that my son desperately wanted a tree python.  I had heard that Bainings were one of the few people group in PNG who had no fear of snakes.  That was because in East New Britain there are (I'm told) no poisonous ones.

A young man came to me with the snake he had caught.  The timing wasn't lost on me, the Gualim Uras, were waiting to reveal they had a snake.  But it was about 8 feet long, and older than what my son was looking for.  It was colored like a rattler, but it was non-lethal.  I saw another first in my life.  A PNG man holding a snake.

So he let me touch it, but held the head firmly.  Then he released it, and told me I could pull it's tail back to keep it from going into the bush.

Funny thing is, most PNGians don't want a whiteskin to get hurt for compensation problems would be bad.  But they were willing to let me get near this snake.

Finally Gary dared me to come up behind the snake, and grab it by it's head, ala 'Crocodile hunter' style.  I wanted to badly, but thought the risk wasn't worth it.  Still, putting my concerns aside, I slowly moved my hand up behind it's head, and grabbed it, and lifted, and the snake was perfectly in my control. 

You may think 'that's nothing'.  But remember, it was a wild snake, agitated, it would well try to bite me, as was shown when Gary went to duplicate my action, and the snake took a swing at him, but he out maneuvered it and grabbed the snake up.  The people hooted and cheered Gary as he put it around his neck.

Later several men said I was much more courageous than they were, as they hate snakes.

I contemplated whether or not my son would be happy with this snake and decided in the end, it was too big for his liking, and he probably wouldn't enjoy being bit.  So I passed on the snake, but the handling of it was fun!

The sun set soon after and we began to show the Luke video.
I can't really express the environment to you, because for me, there was huge spiritual significance.

The people were looking on and hearing and seeing Christ Jesus speak their language for the first time.  There were stares, nervous giggles, gasps, tears, and a reserved quietness that unless you knew the people, you would take as indifference.

Gary later told me, that it meant the words were hitting home.  Much like when a truly emotional moment of film happens and you get choked up and really quiet.... that is what happened.  When we recorded the scene, the room fell deathly silent as well.  So I knew Gary was right.

God was touching people.  Later a man whom I was able to correctly guess as John, told me how much he was thankful for that movie, how moving it was for him, how he was thankful we came.  He was hyper.  He was uncharacteristically hyper about this movie.

After the Luke video scenes, we put on a few Planet Earth scenes for the folks to enjoy, which they did, immensely.  Especially the scenes of animals eating other animals.

As I was sitting there thinking, a few memories hit me.

I remember the first and only other time I showed such a film.  It was my first time, and it was one of the things that convinced me to move to PNG.  It was in a village and it was 2004.
I pantomimed playing Goliath, and it wasn't lost on me that now I had an actual sling.

The symbolism to me was clear.  At the closing of this goliath task which I openly told people 'this will be the hardest thing I've ever done.'.... I was given a sling.  I used that sling in a speech to tell the people that we made a tool, like this sling.  The making of the tool isn't the end of the work, it's the beginning.  Now it's time to use the tool.

But here I was, completed with a goliath task, and I had a sling in my hand.  The tables were turned, as I had previously played Goliath at the very first showing of the Jesus film I had ever done. 

It was as if God spoke to my heart and said 'Chad, years ago, (I'm a bit choked up writing this), I used the experience of showing a dubbed film to move you to come to PNG.  And now, you have done a work I asked of you.  Now you not only know what this film is, you have had a part in creating it.'

I thought at that moment, 'I remember doing a coin trick in 2004, too bad I don't have a coin'. And I didn't.  I searched my pockets an hour earlier looking for one to entertain the kids with, and had none.  At that moment, my phone vibrated, and I reached down to check the incoming email, but instead my hands found a coin.

There was a 20 toea coin in my pocket, that I had searched before.  I pulled it out and my heart laughed, and I said to myself,

"God, you are wonderfully humorous, thanks for letting me be involved in this."

I fingered that coin for a while, remembering all the time from 2004 to this day, all the change, the work, the people, the support everything that went into the making of this movie.

I remembered wanting to make movies since I was a kid, and how I struggled with not seeing the point of spending years to make a blockbuster film.... and yet here I was, having made a movie..... that hopefully will have eternal significance.

I was sitting there, enjoying God's awesome gifts as these thoughts were flowing in my headband covered head.  I told the guys later ,'it's a good thing you gave me this headband, because otherwise my head would be swelling right now'.

My prayer is that this Luke video will go on to reach all 2500 of the Uramut Bainings, and it will kindle a revival.
Already the making of this movie has impacted people.
Already a dozen or so Bainings have learned to read the Bible in their language, in order to do say their lines.  Before this project was even an idea, these people couldn't read, now they can, and they're reading Luke.  They're reading Christ's words.

I have made friends here, I have encouraged translators here, and I have been extremely blessed in this challenge.

I am periodically reminded that God is awesome, in an overwhelming way.  I came here to help and to bless, and I was blessed many times over in return.  It seems that happens a lot to me.  I don't feel truly worthy of such moments in life.

Yesterday was one of those unforgettable days, full of exciting firsts, and everlasting significance.

I write this story for those of you who I wish could have been there, but whom I know were there in spirit with me.
I thank those of you who by covering me in prayer, made this project go smoothly.

I was warned this project would be far too difficult for my first one, I think because of you asking God on my behalf it wasn't.

I found out last night that the airport is open again, please pray that it stays open.  I think I'll be home on schedule!



This is Gary, see the guys poking their heads in the windows to see the Luke video?  They were there for 3 hours.



This is me setting up and pressing PLAY (don't worry I got out of the way so the people behind me could see).


These are some of the people behind me concentrating on the film.

They were watching a different movie than I was, but I was watching them watch it.  I really enjoyed it when this woman nodded in agreement with something Christ said.

-chad

1/30/2013

Wrangling

Snek

East new britain has zero poisonous snakes or so I am told

When a man brought this to me (his dinner) he taught me how to come up behind it and grab it by the head. My friend dared me to and I did. It was a bit if a silly thrill because I knew it wasnt poisonous this is a baby python

Ceremony

There was a closing ceremony today for the recording which finished yesterday. We came together to eat and share speeches. I was thanked my family my supporters and given this head decoration made from tree bark. And a traditional sling ( not for tourists ). And an envelope with money to support Bible Translation.

Jungle Chicken

Volcano

So across the cape here, there is a volcano active, which has closed the airport.

People are wondering how I'm going to get home from this village recording.
The recording is done, so now I sit and wait to see if I can get a flight out.
If I can not, I will drive an hour to a ferry, ride the ferry for hours to a different island
take a PMV to the airport and wait there.

I'm not worried, because it's several days away yet, but if you have time to think on it, pray that the volcano allows our flight in.

from the local Chamber of Commerce:

With the resumption of low level volcanic activity from Mt Tavurvur last Sunday and recent changes in wind direction, all three airlines serving Rabaul (Tokua) Airport have now cancelled services in and out of Tokua, leaving ENB cut off from scheduled air services.

 

The resulting travel disruption is proving costly and inconvenient for business houses and other travelers alike.

 

As well as no passenger traffic, there is also no air cargo service, no mail and no newspapers. There can be no medical evacuations, no urgent spare parts can be procured and the tourist trade has been halted.

 

Little can be done until the winds move again or the volcano shuts down. Air safety rules and plain common sense prevent any turbine or jet aircraft flying near or in volcanic dust.

1/29/2013

Jackie

The little girl on the left is Jacquiline.

Scratch

Scratched myself today and folks here saw it and said quick put some anti bacterial and a bandaid on it. I figured they met like later today. Nope. They meant immediately. Apparently bacteria is a huge problem here.


-Chadl
On mobile device

Jungle T

The folks I am here recording for wanted to give a gift to the team of actors. They decided on a t-shirt. Two trips to town to find paint and shirts. Then a day in the village house on a laptop charged by solar to design the logo. The Panias here took the printout (to work the laser printer you start up the generator) and he hand cut a screen of silk. Then we made a wood frame for the silk and soon the painting will begin on the shirts.

Easy. Right?

1/28/2013

Eddie

This is Mangsang. Aka Eddie. He plays the voice of Jesus and is one of the Ura translators. We sat in the shade talking about all manner of things while waiting for our bus. I am showing him right now how I am able to send his photo to our support partners back at home, thanks to a cell tower nearby.

He seemed very interested in knowing that there were people praying and paying for me to be here helping make this recording

A big smile happens when he hears that noise my phone makes when it sends email.

Topless tree

I have been seeing these coconut trees with no top on them all over and today asked why they had no top. I assumed they were harvested or bug ridden. Nope
Lightening struck them and the tops slowly died and dried. You see this in groups sometimes. Three to ten trees struck by the same lightning. Yet another reason to not stand near these trees.

Mahmurr

It means thank you in Ura. This little girl saw us waiting for our ride. She grabbed a woven mat so would we would have a place to sit and though it was far too large for her she refused all help. Eventually she made it to us and I replied "mahmurr" in her language and she bashfully turned away.

1/27/2013

About a Hat



a few years before I came to PNG, my wife and I took the kids to Disneyland for the first time.  It was a hot day, we were in line for the Jungle Cruise, and I thought 'man I could use a shade hat'.  I'm not a hat person.  I don't wear baseball caps, I've never worn a fedora, nor a cowboy hat.  But for some reason I wanted shade.

With permission from my wife I jetted across to the little trade store they had there, and quickly grabbed a hat that would fit.  It was affordable, it fit, and I grabbed it.  I gave little thought to the style, or anything because I was trying to get back before I missed out on the ride with the family.

As I bought it the lady at the register was a bit chit chatty, and said, 'Good choice sir, this is our most popular hat that we sell here at this store!, it's only available in this store at Disneyland, how did you know to come here?'

I replied "I'm in a bit of a hurry, I just grabbed any old hat."

"well" she replied, "you chose wisely."

I donned the hat, and didn't think anything of it.  But, I wonder if God looked down, on me in that hat, on the jungle cruise and laughed at the foreshadowing of it all.

Here I am today with that same hat.  I've gotten several comments about it 'wow, nice hat, where did you get that hat, it breathes well,'  I've seen other people trapsing through the jungle with the same hat.  I even.... I EVEN saw another Chad, in Papua New Guinea, wearing the exact same hat.  None of them had bought theirs at Disneyland.

I take this hat with me, whenever I go into the village, or down to the coast.  It gives good shade, it's packable in luggage, and it allows my scalp to breath, plus it won't get blown away in the wind.

But that's not why I like the hat.

I've caught fireflies in it, I've killed wasps with it, I've swam with it.

But that's not why I like the hat.

A relationship with Christ is a personal thing.  God knows I like intricacy.  I like several strands of story twisting together to reveal a magnificent and complicated tapestry that prove only a master craftsman could have conceptualized and created the thing.

So when I wear this hat, in the middle of the jungles of East New Britain,  I think to myself that God knew that the first time I wore this hat, would be in a mock jungle.   Almost as if he was saying 'Chad, one day you're going to see the real jungle, and I've been preparing you for it for a very long time.  This hat is only one of the many ways I've equipped you to handle what I'm asking you to do.'

I like the hat because it is a symbol of the preparation that God gives us for the time He asks us to do a thing.

Now, let me tell you about this paperclip I have (-; .... perhaps another time.


1/26/2013

Church

Church is outside. Skip the cologne put on repellent. I love church outside. Butterflies dogs chickens ants people rain It is all so animated so alive. It inspires me to worship even though I dont know the words to the songs.

Living in the tropics

You may know this but salt absorbs moisture so if you want to keep it from clumping (so it'll shake) you keep it in a jar with silica gel. When the silica gel gets saturated you can heat it in the oven or the sun to dry it out. Pepper does not require this. Chemistry in motion.

1/25/2013

The dryer

Rope plus bamboo plus sun equals clothes dryer.

Ringer

Washing machine in the village
Fill with rain water by sucking on siphon hose. Then start the generator. Then literally run the clothes through the ringer. Then place clothes in dryer

Notice the maytag brand? This machine was dug out of the ruins from their first village home after the volcano eruption forced them to leave.

They dont make them like that anymore

1/24/2013

Skilled spitters

One of this countries pastimes is chewing buai which creates red spit. Ive see. Red spit before but this is taking it to a new level.

Lagun

This is one of the translators helping me. His name is pronounced Lah...goon. He is a very quiet guy. Every now and then when we record the timing right he snaps out of happiness.

Today is Friday and I am tired. I give thanks to God that He has made the lip syncing very easy on me today. He knew but I didnt that I would have a lot of closeups to sync today which is tough work when you are tired. Thankfully there have been several clips that just worked with little effort.

That is why I love doing this stuff. I can see Gods hand in it. There are times when a scene comes out so great but I know that I didnt do it. I call those moment "a God thing"

TGEF

This is Hane and her daughter Gloria. Lunch is kaukau and cabbage and popo mango. The fruit here is tasty. I used to not like sweet potato but today it hits the spot.

1/23/2013

Glue knock off

Top. Italian rat glue
Bottom Chinese knock off of the same glue.

This is meant to trap rats. Not glue made from rats.

Lights. No camera. Action

It is too dark to capture on camera but at night the trees outside this village house are lit up with fireflies. They blink and flash in unison at times and the result is a bio luminescent light show. Like several christmas trees. It makes you say "God you are unceasingly creative".

-Chad
On mobile device

Heat sync

While we are recording audio tracks and syncing them, our microphone power supply gets overheated. So we put the only fan on it that we have and let it twist in the wind. So far. So good. Every now and then during the heat of the day we lose the mic for 5 min or so.

1/22/2013

Looks how i feel

Dont you wish you could still sleep anywhere? This baby slept the entire PMV ride to work.

1/21/2013

PMV


Riding in a PMV

There are certain 'you had to be there' type of experiences that come with living in PNG.  This blog is often an attempt at trying to give you the reader, the next best thing.  So let me take a moment and describe riding in a PMV.

A PMV is 'public motor vehicle'.  What it truly is, is a private owner has purchased a vehicle and is charging people for rides back and forth.  The most common type is a Toyota HiAce van which holds 15 people or so.

Over time the single vehicle yields enough profit that the owner can buy another, and so on until they have a fleet running different routes daily.

Each PMV has a name, usually it makes no sense to you (eg. Bully's Pit), but that is how you know its route.  Reading the funny names has become a 'road game' people play as they drive the country. The trick is to know, which PMV goes where, and how much it costs.  It is not advertised, it is not printed.  It is something you come to learn experientially.

Ok, so you've somehow guessed or been told where to stand and wait for the PMV.  There is nothing really to mark the spot, but you're standing there.  Here it comes, you get on, and you ride.

On the bus you see the driver's eyes in the mirror.  He's driven this route several times a day for years probably.  His eyes are glassed over, his lips are bright red from buai.  He will sometimes drink beer while he's driving, and he'll sometimes be on the cell phone.

You have crammed yourself into a thinly foamed seat which is your only protection against a very bumpy road.  Underneath you are bone jarring, teeth splitting, back breaking bumps that come randomly.  If you are tall, and somehow fall asleep, one of these bumps will send your head into the roof, which may bring you a different kind of sleep.

On your right is a young Papua New Guinean child.  Because of the way they handle sickness, his nose is not wiped, so both nostrils are running.  We call this number 11.  He's also crying and not being stopped.  Again this has to do with how children are cared for culturally. 

On your left is an older man, who is somewhat talkative because of the color of your skin.  He coughs, sneezes, wipes his nose with his hand, and then offers it to you to shake.  Once you take it, he doesn't let go.  You find yourself listening to him while he's holding your hand and having thoughts of 'will this guy ever let go of my hand?'  You know you're not homophobic, but you don't even hold your wife's hand this long.  Your head races to thoughts of where you last put the hand sanitizer.

The entire bus is filled with a body odor stench,  that will make you swoon until you get used to it.  That's the thing, you get used to all of it.

The bus comes to a stop, if you're tall like me, you have no idea where because you can't see out the windows.  But thankfully it's a scheduled stop and not a hold up.

You get out, you walk across the street, and stand in the baking hot sun for another hour waiting for the connecting PMV to get you to where you wanted to go.

As wierd as all of this seems, you get used to it.  It's normal.

Mankind has an enormous capacity to adapt.

The first PMV ride I was ever on, I actually got to share the Gospel.  It can be a wonderful chance for a captive audience, or, it can be a quiet time when you're able to see the country and not have to worry about driving.  You can worry about crashing, but it won't help you avoid it much.

That is the PMV experience.  Some ex-pats in country use them daily, some hope to never use them, some have only used them once.  Me personally, I've used them on several occasions but only special occasions when no transportation is available.  Others use them more than ex-pat cars because they like the driver's pace and knowledge of the road better.

It's all up to you what kind of experience you want to have.  But one thing is sure, it is definitely an experience you won't forget.

Smartphone jungle

Hang cords

We've taken to hanging our chords to deter all but the most ambitious of rats from eating our cords.

power

Among one of the power problems we had today,

-power went out
-diesel generator was too noisy and got on the recording, so we had to
eliminate it
-once we got a gas generator (propane) it was quieter.
-the power supply to the microphone overheated
-my laptop was causing extra noise because of a grounding loop.
-we didn't have the right kind of UPS cable.

My motto:
improvise, adapt, overcome.

We fixed the mic problem with a twig...
I fixed the laptop grounding issue with a pair of pliers, I simply
adapted an Australian adaptor to be reverse.

I carry electricians tape and a leathermans, and was able to fix the UPS
cable by splicing a new one on the spot.

I think the enemy wanted to keep us down today.
But he failed.

Boas's kids, are recovering from their fevers, his daughter is fine, his
son is recovering.
and WE STILL recorded 111 spots today! (our pace before on a full day
was 126).

PRAISE GOD and keep praying for us. Today was a 'everything seems to be
breaking' kind of day.

At one point, the translator's wife here said 'wow, Chad is a miracle
worker" and her husband said "I'd be impressed except it's hard to be
impressed when he keeps working miracles.

I thank you for the prayers, thank God for the skills, and taking care
of us.

Hot

We had a lot of power problems today. We bought a new gas powered generator. Finally after a late start we found our mic power source was overheating every 40 minutes or so. Our solution was to hang it in front of the fan. This is Lagun. He helped me find the stick its hanging by. He is one of the translator assistants.

1/20/2013

Rats

Spent a while eliminating a hum yesterday. Today its back an the reason is that a rat chewed into a cable. This was my spare cable. Good news is I found a place that sells these 2 hours away.

Funny moment

We brought in an older man named John Talbot, or that is what he went by.
He played the voice of several characters, and was able to try different
voices.

He played the voice of the serpent, and he used a very high childlike
voice....
and we all laughed because he made a mistake and said 'sorry' in the
same voice.

After that people said 'here chicken chicken' because it sounded like
the voice you would use to call your chickens to feed. It was a useful
humor break during a hot day of work.

Later John T played the possessed man and let out a scream that had us
all laughing again. I almost kept the outtakes just for fun, but I
didn't want to exploit John in any way. I appreciate these guys so much.

Also some of the people mistakenly have been calling me 'Aku' because
they think I am the Rosensteel's son come back to visit after several
years. Aku was his village name.

Prayer for Beeps

two months ago I had no idea how to do recording and post production.
Today, I sort of

surprised myself with ... I dunno what you call it.... but I had a
thought. Being very

nervous about missing something, I spent last night making a spreadsheet
of all the

recordings we had to do, and then double and triple checking to make
sure I didn't miss a

section, so far. In doing so I found 1 missing scene, which later
turned out to be on

purpose and it was noted. The system worked. Nothing got skipped.

But in the process this thought hit me 'oh yeah, the guy who trained me
used to do post

production on the fly... I'll just do that when I get back to my
office.' Because we're

working at such a pace, that I don't have sit down time to do post
production. Well, I

really wanted to give my first day's recording a listen.

I'm REALLY glad I did. It turns out, that the timer they were using was
beeping and being

picked up on the mic. So at the beginning and end of each recording you
heard 'beep,

beep'.

So I took the timer apart minutes ago, and removed one lead to the tiny
'speaker' so now it

won't beep. And then, I had to go through and edit 126 parts and remove
the 2 beeps.

I learned a valuable valuable lesson this way, and I'm SO glad I caught
it quickly.

Because I'm making an audio AND video version of this movie, the post
production is going

to be very important. So any editing I can do on the fly is helpful in
saving time later.

So... this is what I do.

-I put the actor in his headset and adjust the mic
-Go back to my desk, have him say the line and set my levels
-Then I record his line
-I then check the video and move the file around until it syncs, or do a
retake
-Then I shave off the first and the last bit, normalize it and save.
-Then I double check the script, and check off that this scene has been
recorded in 2

places.

Doing all of that, takes about, 30 seconds. And saves me a lot of time
later.
In fact, if I had 2 hours a day outside of recording I could probably
burn a DVD while in

the village for them, except that being my first recording I want to
make it very GOOD and

so I'm not rushing myself.

It is at this point I want to thank everyone out there praying for me,
and ask you to keep

praying, because that thought popped into my head 'you have time now,
CHECK IT NOW' at a

time when I was hot and tired and would rather have helped working on
the translator's

house than sitting at the computer. Had you not been praying for me,
I'm pretty sure I

wouldn't have, and there we would be, with beeps in all of the
recordings from here on..

that's 1064 sections, and double that in beeps. So thank you all for
praying you saved me

a LOT of time!

Support

I have begun to see our work here as support staff in yet another
light. After having gone

to church yesterday I realized that the pastor never opened a Bible, no
one was reading

from the Word. They were giving testimonies and one lady told of a
dream she had. They

seem to be putting a lot of emphasis on experience, dreams, prophecies,
and not much in

reading the Word. If I had spent 26 years in this country trying to
give people a Bible, I

would hope they would use it. Maybe one new light to see support work
is... simply reducing the amount of

discouragements that a translator has to face. Offloading the
exasperating details of

computer work, recording, electrical, so that they can focus on
overcoming the

discouragements that come from their work, in order to continue on.

The translators here are very thankful for CTS and other such support
departments.

On a related note:

I actually got applauded that first day of recording. The men saw a
scene where we had

recorded two people talking, and so they saw a completed scene for the
first time, and were

astounded. They applauded... I suppose me.

It strikes me, that even if this video never leaves the dusty shelf,
that the process of

making it, and showing it at least once, has affected these 17 lives
profoundly. Or at

least I hope it will. Already I'm hearing that this process has
increased the interest in literacy, and we're looking at a possible
revival going on.

What I would love to see happen, is that this video and audio
discipleship series we're making can be used evangelistically as well as
to disciple people (which is it's intention) and that the fact they know
people who were involved in making it, will want to watch it, over and over.

I know it would be discouraging for me to finish this huge project and
then the dvd in the end is never used, and that is only about 3 months
of my life.
What about a translator who spends over 20 years of their life making
something that rarely gets used?

THIS is why our strategy we've adopted in country over the past 5 years
is ENGAGEMENT. Teaching the church leaders how to move from testimonies
and dreams to scripture based teaching. My daughter's ministry 'the
puppet team' has a part in that, in that pastors can see kids hearing
the Word of God through puppet skits.

Our main goal here, is to start at the very beginning. Give the
resource of a Bible. The leaders in the country need to take that and
run with it. But because we have seen a huge need for USING the tool
given to them, a lot of support people have teamed up with translators
to create tools to help.

This Luke video is one such tool. It presents an audio/oral....
version, which is culturally appropriate since it's an oral culture.
But also because not everyone reads. And it presents a video version,
which they can see and hear.

It is a spiritual experience to see someone look at the face of Jesus on
a screen, and hear him speak in their language for the first time.
Observing them perceive truth in a way that is completely understandable
moves you deeply.

I wish that to happen on a huge scale. The potential is there. I pray
it grabs on.

In other news.
Please pray because one of the chief actors in this video sent 2
children to the local hospital. They have malaria which is not
responding to treatment and have fevers of 103.2 now for 2 days.

Please pray against the enemy harming those children, that family, and
this project.

Thank you

Woven mat

This is one of the things you get very used to seeing such that I overlook its interest to others often. This mat is made of a palm branch which is woven together while still green. Today it was used for the honored guests at church to put their belongings on. I was one of those guests. As everyone was watching me, before using it I made sure what it was for by watching those around me. It would have been embarrassing to sit on it or to put my feet on it. but i saw others put their Bible on it so thats what I did.

Ura

This is Michael and he is eating a guava. These are Michael's friends

1/19/2013

Day 4 Church

Day 4: Church on Sunday
The village church was very pleasant. They saw me coming, ushered me to
the section for 'elders' and gave me the 'strong' chair, which in the
U.S. would be cheap lawn furniture. I spent much of the service trying
not to move so I didn't shatter this chair. The preaching was mostly in
tok ples (Ura) but sometimes the people swapped to Tok Pisin so I
understood it. The singing and praise was awesome, and it reminded me
that ALL people all over the world will one day Praise God. I had to
choke back tears as we were singing heart felt praises to God in this
remote part of the world. I take worship for granted in our home
church, but sitting here amongst the bamboo, chickens, dogs and dirt, I
was hearing Tok Pisin Praise from the top of their lungs, and I was
joining in. God is holy, God is good, God is mighty. I've always said
the most significant moments of worship for me were outdoors. There is
something about being amongst God's creation that makes you want to
praise Him. These people were, and I may not have understood the
sermon, but I could understand the praise.

We walked home to start the generator and printing, and drank a cup of
cold water. That is a luxury because there is no fridge here. But we
went to town yesterday and had ICE, so we got some cool water from the
'ice chest' aka an 'eski'. Gary, the translator here said 'take
advantage of it while we can, Cold water is NICE!'

So I'm sitting here printing on a laser printer, which is powered by a
generator, downloading the driver for it, over a CDMA modem with Digicel
coverage nearby.... and being cooled by cold water and a 12volt fan
which is attached to a car battery, which is charged via solar. (don't
worry I have pics and video to share later).

You tell me, is that roughing it? I mean, as far as village living
goes, this is high tech! I get a kick out of seeing practical uses for
technology.


doh! ... gotta go put fuel in the generator, I have another 30 pages of
Script to print out for tomorrow's recording.

Church

A typical day in this village

Typical Day in the village

There is no such thing, but there are things that do happen daily.
Waking up at 6:30am.

Pump the manual pump 200 times to fill the water tank on the roof, which
feeds the sinks

via gravity. Then there's breakfast. The stove runs on gas, coffee
water is boiled in an

older fashion metal tea pot, and then poured through individual cup
filters, making 1 cup

at a time. Dishes require we boil water as well. Sleeping happens on a
foam mattress on

the floor (no bed frames). It is hot and humid and sometimes if there
is a breeze we go

outside and sit on the steps.

The house is on stilts, 10 feet up, so when you move around the house,
it shakes. Until

you're used to it, you will continue to think it's the beginning of a
4.0 quake. And then

there are the actual quakes too, since we live within sight of an active
volcano.

Clothes are washed manually in a tub, unless we have a generator. You
know the saying 'run

through the ringer'. Well this one has the actual ringer on it. Then
dried on a line in

the sun.

We daily take in anything left outside to avoid tempting the local youth
into thievery.

The Baining people are not especially extraverted, so there is rarely
people dropping by

simply to talk. They seem to leave us alone, but there are opportunities
to meet them.

And that is about all that is typical about a day, all the other hours
are filled with

whatever work we're doing, punctuated by water breaks.


The bucket shower.
A word on this, for those who have never used it while camping. There
are 2 ways to do a bucket shower. Some, heat water, then pour it into a
bucket,hoist it up onto a hook, and let it dangle turning on and off the
water.

The second way is to stand next to a bucket and use a cup. This is the
way we're doing it here.

You have 4 gallons of water gathered from the rain the night before.
(rain hits the roof, drains into a gutter, to a pipe, down into a
bucket.... if you ever see this in the village, it means the houses cost
a little more to build (metal roofing) but, the health standards will be
higher, because they are drinking clean water instead of river water
filled with disease).

The trick with a bucket shower, is to avoid getting too much soap on
you, lather up a washcloth, and you'll do fine... apply the soap to you
with the cloth, and it comes off much easier.

Then, bend, dip the cup, stand, pour it over your head.
Repeat about 30 times. And you're done.

Hard on the knees, but easy on the water wastefulness.

They told me we could heat a kettle to take the edge off the rain water,
but I wanted a nice cold shower.

Let me tell you, a bucket shower at 6:30am, with water that came from
the previous night's rain, EVEN in a tropical humid climate, is STILL
FREEZING COLD! Not refreshing freezing, but BRACING freezing.

I take the edge off now with water from the kettle.

If you've ever bathed in a river from snowmelt, you know what I'm
talking about. (it's relative, I'm sure the water is actually much warmer).

And that, is the bucket shower.

The only real skill you need is to remember where you put the cup once
you put the soap in your face, otherwise you have to open your eyes and
get soap in them.

This all seems completely easy to do, and it is, but when you return to
your nice shower at home, you suddenly appreciate it a whole lot more.

One thing the translators here said was 'it's good to have a visitor
with fresh eyes, we learn to take a lot of things for granted, it's nice
to see our place through your eyes.'

(in other words, I'm snapping a lot of pictures.)

Jungle Tripod



I am trying to video as much of this experience as possible, but I had to pack light.  So, I improvised a tripod here to record me helping get the truck out of the mud.

What is a good name for this?
Bushpod?
Copra pod?
hope my camera doesn't get covered in fire ants....pod ?



Devil's in the Details


In the village doing recording....
things are going well, and my biggest worry, is that since we have 1062 separate recording sections (blocks) to do, is that I might miss one.

So since I had a few minutes, I thought I might put together a spreadsheet checklist so we can double and triple check that all the blocks got recorded.

with 1062 lines of details and numbers, I was 1 number off... 1 short... 1 error.
and I couldn't find it, so I checked, then re-checked.

Wouldn't you know it...
the error was on line 666.

Now I'm not a superstitious guy.... but I decided just in case, I would pray over this work.  Specifically that we would get EVERY single block recorded for this movie, and not miss a single one.


1/18/2013

More musks?

First time ever seeing this candy. Found it after a 1.5 hour pmv ride

Musk?

These smelled like heavy perfume. Are these an Aussie thing? Do I eat them if I am hunting?

Comfy bed

Concrete beds are cool. Notice the drool?

Find!

In kokopo prices and product availability seems better regarding electronics. Benq is a good brand in projectors at $3000

Recording

Bamboo plus foam mattresses equals a very hot, small but excellent recording room. Day 1 recorded 127 parts!!!

1/16/2013

Volcano

On the left you see the smaller mountain? That is a venting volcano in Rabaul. Pretty neat place to wait for the final leg of my journey to the village.

Tokwa

There is something serene about a PNG airstrip early in the morning. Of course takeoff is not always as serene but I've come to trust our aviation team much over the years. Flying this way is the safest in country. And yes. I do fit in that plane. Just me and a whole lot of garden produce being flown to the coast

Another Blogger writes about the CTS dept.

One of the things I've heard occasionally is that when people leave here, they often find themselves not knowing how to get computer support.  They are so used to having a place where they can walk to, and get their computers fixed, and suddenly they leave here, and can't.  If you've worked in any company with an IT department, then you know how sometimes you wish you could ask the IT guys to look at your home computer.  Only here, we do both home computers and work computers.


Here is the blog entry.  Thanks Joy, it was nice to read!
----------------

Toshiba, Papua New Guinea and Apple.

It’s been over a month since my computer started it’s sad broken saga but it is once again back and doing it’s job.  Of course Toshiba did somewhat honor their 7 to 10 business day repair policy but with the holidays, weekends, shipping and the time it took for them to first send me the shipping box, it all adds up to a lot longer than 10 days.  Part of me thinks I shouldn’t be upset, after all it allowed me to go through the holidays un-tethered to my computer and it also gave me some time and space away from my work.  However, I can’t help but think that it is ridiculous that computer service for my old Toshiba in Ukarumpa, Papua New Guinea was so much better than my under warranty computer service in California.

This seemingly mundane building is where the magic happens.  Computer guys work here but they aren’t just any computer guys, these are your neighbors and friends.  These guys work super hard, they make house calls, they do their best because they know how hard it is to be without your computer.  And because you are in the humid tropics, computers have issues.  It’s just the way it is.  Of course my biggest computer issue was caused by my own stupidity but nevertheless CTS fixed it.  In 2011, I stepped on my computer and that cracked the screen.  CTS didn’t have the right part but they ordered it right away.  If they had a compatible screen anywhere, they would have just gone ahead and used it.  Of course it took a couple months to get the part but it is Papua New Guinea.  And my computer continued to limp along with it’s spidered, ever-blackening screen but I was still able to use the computers in the literacy office and had access to other computers when I needed them.  Then my screen came in and I quote myself here when I say they “…replaced the screen in just a couple hours.”  For PNG standards that’s quick and painless.

Fast forward a year or so and now I am back in California and my new computer just decides to stop talking to the hard drive.  I promise I didn’t step on it this time.  Instead of just walking down to my friendly neighborhood CTS, I call a faceless technician and end up shipping my computer to Tennessee.  My computer is then held hostage for the full 10 business days.  And I was wishing that I was still in PNG, where I could walk 5 minutes to the literacy office or put out a call to everyone on center asking for a computer to borrow while mine was being fixed.  But I am thankful that I could drive over to my parents and make use of their desktop, it could have been worse.  So my computer is back but there was no “just a couple hours” fix in this story.

And now I am contemplating making myself a little Apple computer fund to start saving.  I can think of a whole lot of good reasons still not to buy a Mac but maybe the scales are starting to turn in Apple’s favor.  I may not be convinced but Toshiba might have lost my loyalty with this one.  So that concludes my complaining story.  Now onto happier things like Australia and work and all the things that I have missed blogging about this past month.

1/15/2013

Heading Out please pray

Tomorrow morning I am heading to a village near kokopo/Rabaul. This is
line of sight to an active volcano.

I'm taking with me 4 big cases of sound equipment, and a generator.
I've packed spare cables, spare microphones, etc.

I will be daily meeting new people who speak a language I do not
understand. I will be asking them to read from a script into a
microphone in a language called Tok Pisin, or maybe if they speak it
well, English.

I will be responsible for making sure every actor says his part right,
and fast enough to be in sync with the video.

The video is called the Luke Video, and it is the entire book of Luke
sans 'And Jesus said' bits because you'll actually be seeing Jesus on
the screen, speaking.

It is my first attempt at doing this. The expense is so high to get to
this place, that I can't afford to have equipment failure, or to miss a
single line... because there will be no re-shoots once I fly home.

I will be away from my family for 3 weeks.

I will be in a village setting. This is not like traveling on business
for 3 weeks, because there is no hotel, no room service, none of that.
It's a village house, which, I think I'm fortunate, they have an indoor
flush toilet. (a huge luxury).

Until this trip, the longest I've spent in a village is 6 days. Staying
in a village is an exercise in endurance. You have to endure
mosquitoes, heat, isolation, foreign language and boredom. Well I
shouldn't say boredom, I should say... a lack of things to do.

I am confident that I can do this project, and excited about the
prospect. I'm excited about the challenge before me, and I have that
adrenaline feeling right now that you get when you're standing on the
cliff, considering jumping into the river below. Nervous, excited, and
looking forward to the exhilaration of having accomplished it.

This is how I need you to pray:
-that our equipment (old as it is) does not fail. The weather is VERY
hard on this stuff, and if it fails, the project halts.
-that I do not miss a single take. I get all the parts recorded with
quality and that I do not lose the data.
-that I do not get sick. I've had a head cold lately, but I'm more
worried about malaria, denghe, giardia, etc.
-that my family is safe while I am away
-that I maintain a healthy attitude and enjoy the experience.
-that I get along well with the people I interact with and am staying with.

-that once completed, this collection of Movie, audio version, and study
guide will be used to change lives for the Kingdom of God..... and that
specifically it will NEVER sit on a shelf collecting dust but be
constantly employed to communicate Christ's love to people.


I see a lot of good coming out of this challenge. I see:
-my tok pisin will get stronger
-I will have accomplished living in a village for a longer time, and
thus be confident the next time this is required of me (because it will be)
-I will have done my first Luke video, and people have told me this one
is a VERY hard one to start with, so I figure if I do well, the rest is
all downhill.
-I will have seen a beautiful part of this country.
-I want to have encouraged the translators I'm going to help, and
encourage the work they are doing.
-I hope to have built relationships that will endure.


Thank you
-C

1/13/2013

Dancing Queen

During church yesterday my daughter was a member of an all girl team of
praise dancers. It was one of those church acceptable dances where the
girls move their arms slowly in graceful motions to a song about
praising God.

I know that dancing in church can be a controversial issue, and before
seeing it, I didn't know if this dance was going to be one of the 'did
you see that spectacle in church? What was that about' gossip stories,
or if it was going to be a "that was pleasant" one.

Thankfully it was a 'that was pleasant' one.

But on the way in, knowing dance in church can be a hot issue, I decided
to ask Sydney where she stood on the issue.

As we walked up to church I said:

"Sydney, so how do you feel about dancing in church?" (meaning the issue)
she kept on walking and said simply:
"Don't know, haven't done it before."

I chuckled at the misunderstanding and left it at that.
and in she walked. And up she danced... and she felt pretty good about it.

And so did I.

My daughter surprised me with a fluid grace I had not expected. She was
confident she wasn't looking about to see if the other girls where in
sync with her, she was focused and she moved with style and grace and I
wondered where on earth she got THAT from.

One of the things I like to do, is construct good compliments. When
someone puts a lot of work into a thing, I like to construct a
thoughtful compliment that shows I put some effort into thinking about
what they have done. I have a very small, but growing reputation for
well worded and meaningful compliments.

So, when I saw my daughter afterwards, I waited until we were quietly
alone and I told her,
"That was well done, you danced with confidence and grace and I am proud
of you."

and then I added
"I wonder where you got all that talent? Neither I nor your mother
possess such grace."
and she simply replied,
"Maybe I got it from Aunt Julie or Aunt Cori."

and walked off.
I decided not to explain heredity to her. I thought it more interesting
to wonder why she felt her aunts were graceful dancers.

1/10/2013

Suffering

For a while now, my theology of suffering has been well defined. It's a
topic I often do not engage people in, because often people find comfort
in their coping mechanisms and so I do not seek to alter their
mechanisms and hope for them that life doesn't serve them up something
that would challenge them.

If we're going through suffering and I hear:
"I'm sure God will turn this into something good for you one day." I
understand that people are trying to comfort me, and I take it as that.
But I do not agree with the basic premise that:

1 - God is using and maybe even causing my suffering
2 - That the good would be for me or my family
3 - That the idea of a future good would somehow assuage the current
suffering.

Every epithet spoken betrays basic assumptions, but I take it for the
good intentions that people mean, because it's often hard to know what
to say to someone when you want to comfort them. Sadly, some people
take these sayings and let it turn into reasons why they hate Christians.

Last night, seemed to have a theme for me, which is always a bit spooky
because that is how God speaks to me. Through repeated themes that I
notice around me.

We watched this sermon:

http://marshill.com/media/rebels-guide-to-joy/the-rebels-guide-to-joy-in-suffering

It says in words my thoughts regarding suffering in ways I could never put it. The first 47 minutes of this sermon hit the NAIL ON THE HEAD for me.


then at night I read myself to sleep with the book
"Sleeping Coconuts" which I'll talk about later. In the chapter I read, the missionaries involved were going through a lot of suffering and learning how to grow closer to Christ through it.


So, here is my basic theology of suffering.

-For me almost everything boils down to your relationship of closeness with Christ.

-God is good, and He WILL work all things to His good.

-We are not assured that we will ever see any good to us while on this earth. There is no gaurantee of that.

-So the question you have to ask yourself is this.... Do I care enough about God to care if He accomplishes good? Do I care enough about God and His kingdom, that if you told me today 'the rest of your life is going to be miserable, and you will see everyone you care about die, and you will be destroyed and then die in misery'... that I would still choose to follow Him?

-We know God delights in giving us good things, but we have no guarantee of them.

-So how well do I know Christ? How well do I love God? How much in love with the person of Him, the true person, not the one I've convinced myself is real... but the REAL GOD. How well do I know Him? And do I know him well enough to say 'yes' to the question above? Would I still follow Him?

Of course no one hopes for that. No one wants the bad stuff. Well, some people run around wanting to be martyrs, at least until they see true suffering. Some people run around feeling and acting like they are suffering when they are not, because they feel they are somehow more righteous. But they are just being prideful and silly.

Christianity is not about rules. It's not about do's and don'ts. It is about coming to know Jesus Christ so well, that you fall in absolute love with Him and can't tear yourself away.

Let's rephrase the question:
-Do you love your wife or child enough to stand in front of a moving bus to protect, wind up in a hospital bed for the rest of your life?

Most people would answer 'yes'. Well then, every day you're not in a hospital bed is a good day!

And every day spent in a hospital bed, is an opportunity to let people see that the difference in your life is Christ.

Let the nurses ask 'why doesn't that one complain as much as the others?'

If we put our minds on heaven, our limitations are not on this earth, suffering takes on a whole new connotation.

But being able to live with suffering well is a coin toss.

My prayer for Christians going through suffering is that they find a way to draw closer to Christ.
My prayer for people around Christians who are suffering is that they see what being close to Christ means and are compelled to fall in love with Christ themselves.

But don't take my word for it. Listen to Paul in Philippians, he was pretty much an expert on suffering.

Stippin'

My son wrote this to a friend in an email and I thought it worth posting

====
 Tok pisin vbs is going on over here and ive been involved in that. Its over now whooohooo. Dont get me wrong, its a lot of fun, but its sooooooo exhausting. I worked with a group of younger kids. They were really a handful, but they were also really funny and nice. Some of my favourites in the group were Joel (his name is joel but he pronounces it Jo-el), delma a sweet little girl who grew really attached to me over the last week, and marli. Marli is a little guy who kept on bringing me rocks and calling them his "stippin" (Turns out he was trying to say they were good skipping rocks, but with most of his top teeth missing, it's really hard to understand him). Oh yeah, he also bit my knee for some reason, although it didnt really hurt. Anyways, as usual, vbs was fun but very draining. I miss you a lot.

====

On a side note, words like 'draining' and 'exhausting' should not be spoken by children.  Not unless their holding a decaf frappecano in one hand.


Video

This is what my wife and the kids did this week:



http://youtu.be/2XGdbW37E1k

I went intending to shoot some video of them working so we could show it while on furlough, but the sound of those kids praising, got to me, and I stuck around long enough to throw together this short video that hopefully gives you a small idea of the incredible nature of this event.

1/08/2013

Cruel Math

Today 5% of the children who came to this 1 week Baibel school, prayed
to receive Jesus in their heart.
that's 25 kids approx.

the VBS started 4 years ago.
which means 25 + 25 + 25 + 25 (assuming none more do similiarly in the 2
remaining days)
that is 100 children from the valley, from all different lains and villages.

Given a recent study by the Barna Group in the U.S. with 2 faithful
parents: 93% of youth stay faithful
with 1 faithful parent: 74%
with 0 faithful parents: 53%

So crunching the numbers, assuming the WORST, if these children return
to homes with 0 faithful parents, 53% of them will remain faithful.
Assuming those numbers even apply in this culture...


Given 100 children, with a 53% rate of losing faith, that's still 47
adults in PNG who will one day remain faithful, possibly marry others,
have children and increase the percentages that they will have children
who remain faithful.

After only 4 years of VBS, we've begun a multi-generational series of
increasing the odds that a person will hold onto the Christian values
that we teach.

Assuming the numbers remain the same,
100 people every 4 years, coming to a saving knowledge of Christ,
47 of those making it to adulthood.

here's the math

2013 = 43
2017 = 86
2021 = 129
(after 12 years, some of these kids will be having kids which changes
the percentages to 74%, or 74 kids every 4 years)
2025 = 203
2029 = 276
2033 = 349
2037 = 422
(after 16 - 20 years, that generation will be having kids, possibly
moving us up to 93% remaining faithful, or 93 kids)
2041 = 515
2045 = 608

This math is horrible to consider, because it means we have to measure
faith, when it's lost, the odds that it'll be lost, it's horrible math
to consider. I hate it when people do this kind of math. It doesn't
factor in the Holy Spirit, it doesn't factor in other outside influences.

It's cold, hard, emotionless, number crunching that is probably
completely inaccurate. But it does show us 1 thing.


The Tok Pisin Holide Baibel Skul is 1 week out of the year. It isn't our
main jobs, it's something we as a community do 'on the side' (as are
hundreds of other things). But the real impact it has is good. The
potential impact it has is incredible.

In July 2012, the PNG population was counted as 6.3 million.

Assuming we did NOTHING other than that 1 week a year, it would take
270,967 years to see every single person in PNG find Christ.

PNG's growth rate is 26 births for every 1,000 people, per year.
That's 144,900 new babies a year.

PNG's death rate is 6.56 deaths for every 1,000 people, per year.
that's 41,328 people who die, per year.

which means each year the population grows by approximately: 103,572 people

(actually the population growth rate is 1.96%, which means closer to
1.2million per year, but I'm unsure how the factbook is calculating that
unless people are coming IN to the country from other countries).

That's a lot of new people each year who need to hear.

That's a lot of sand filling in the holes we're digging, trying to make
an impact.


Chad, why on earth did you tell us this? This is completely depressing.
You're taking something we were celebrating, 24 kids deciding to turn to
Jesus, and making it a depressing statistic? Why man why? Why must you
make our work look like we're digging holes in sand, with the sand
falling into the hole nearly as fast as we can dig it? Why?

Because I want to show that God doesn't work like the world works. We
can not crunch numbers to show the work of the Holy Spirit. We can not
measure our progress through statistics and formulas. We should not
attempt to define something so infinite as eternity with Christ, by
something as finite as a ruler or a calculator.

Any one (or more) of those kids could turn out to be a PNG Billy Graham,
a revival could start, the impact could become exponential. It's not the
only work we do, it's only 1 single week! A vacation week no less. We
have 51 others to do more stuff with.

What we're doing here, is immense. All that digging in the sand is
worth it if we see even only one more soul in heaven.

Today we celebrate 24 lives that accepted the gift of the purchase price
Christ paid for them.

And we do so, knowing that the world may mock our efforts, they may tell
us it is pointless, they may call us fools.

But someone much more important than they, said something far more
meaningful:

Mark 16:15 (some of Christ's last words:)
And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all
creation.

Banana Bread



This week we're all four helping out with the Tok Pisin Holide Baibel Skul (Vacation Bible School).
Kendal is helping with registration
Calvin and Sydney are doing performances, teaching, helping with small groups and other events.
I am not really helping so much as shooting some of it on video and making a recap video.

The valley around us consists of several Villages (aka tribes).  On Day 1 there were 485 children which is a record high for day 1.  Day 2, 580.  I've yet to hear what day 3 is.  AND, that is without the nearby Bae' village because the river was too high to cross.

This happens once a year, through the planning and coordination of several people spearheaded by 1 family who traditionally puts it on.

The kids learn Scripture, use it, memorize, are taught it through skits, teaching, puppetry, play, crafts, etc.  Our prayers are that we can change the country by discipling the future generations into saving relationships with Christ.

Each day the kids come, and they sign in, and they get 1 slice of banana bread (or some sweet bread) and a cup of water.  Since the entire event is coordinated by volunteers, and since there are no bakeries near by, a very practical question is, how do you get that much banana bread?

In day 1, there were 43 loaves consumed.  I'll post a video on it shortly.  43 loaves, at around 12 slices a loaf, that's a Lot kids, and a LOT of banana bread.  My son counted, because he was the one saying 'only take 1 please' (wan tasol).

So how did we get that much bread?  Weeks in advance an email blast went out to community asking for people to volunteer to make sweet bread.

Kendal made 12.
5 days of school, at 43-50 loaves a day, with 1 person able to make 10-12 loaves.
That's 250 loaves needed, and at 10 loaves per household, that's 25 households volunteering to make banana bread.

So, when I say, that what we do here, is much more than our passport jobs, this is one of those things I meant.
Since it is during school break, my wife baked loaves of bread, and then volunteered to do registration.

And several others from this community are getting involved.

I showed up to record my family working, that was it.  But when I heard nearly 600 kids praising God in song, reciting memory verses, my heart was stirred and I let the camera run.

There are times in ministry when you see despair, and there are times when you see hope.
When you see 600 kids in a room, reciting Ephesians, singing 'We love to praise God' (mi laik presim God), that's one of those 'hope' moments.

Hope for the future of the children, their families, their tribes, their region, their country.

I'll post the video soon.

1/07/2013

Price of Food

Props to a friend who compiled this data for US and UK comparison to where we live.  I'm taking her info and editing (stealing) it for a U.S. audience only.


One of the most common questions we get asked is, "What do you eat?" The photo below was taken in the store here in the Ukarumpa centre. As you can see, we are fortunate to have access to basic food supplies. We generally have an adequate range of key ingredients, though we can never guarantee that a particular product will be in stock at the time we need it!

Eggs and cheese seem to alternate between available and not.  We have a relationship with a local national family who brings us eggs weekly.


Sliced bread is usually available but the only one who eats it is our son for his cheese sandwhiches. So when there's no cheese, the leftover bread starts to mold (quickly).

Ice Cream - this is RARELY available, and when it is, we forget to check, so we rarely eat ice cream.

Meat - Chicken is most common, beef second most, fish is VERY rare, and pukpuk (crocodile) is eaten more often than fish.

Juice - so expensive we almost never drink it, but it is available.  However this picture here of Orange Juice, that's a VERY rare find.  The best you can hope for for Orange juice is Concentrate Orange Drink called Sunkist. It is nothing like freshly squeezed California/Florida O.J.  something we never get here.  I don't even know how the photographer got that picture of that can of juice. That's how rare it is.

Milk - most often is formed from milk powder (Syd's job is to make milk every other day), sometimes, we can find low fat boxed milk.  Boxed milk won't spoil as quickly, and doesn't need refrigeration until opening.

(oh yes, Fridges here are very small compared to a typical American refrigerator)

In 2012, everything in this picture in the U.S. would cost you $21.  The price for these items here at the same time, was $51.  In 2004, it was $21
                                       
CHEAPEST US PRICE (in U.S. dollars) : 2012 - $21
CHEAPEST PNG PRICE: (in U.S. dollars)  2012 - $51



A market basket is a collection of items economists use to measure inflation. I tried to gather a basket of goods that most closely resembled the market baskets used in the US. Of course I couldn't collect exactly the same items that are used in our home countries. For instance, I used UHT boxed milk, as fresh milk isn't available in our store. I didn't include fruit and vegetables because oranges and apples (which I was planning to put in the basket) are out of stock here right now.

Fortunately we are able to buy fresh fruit, vegetables and beans from local growers at an early morning market here on the centre. The prices are often lower than they would be in our home countries, and so we are eating a lot of market produce right now!

I would love to do this same sort of comparison for you regarding our Medicine.

When we first got here, our Malaria medication (taken weekly) cost something like $1.00 cents per pill.
Now it costs $14.37

So we stopped taking Malaria medication.  Malaria meds are to stop you from GETTING malaria, and we don't need it as much up in the highlands.

For me to go into the village for 3 weeks however, I need 9 pills (9 weeks).  So it cost me $129.28 to buy medication to help me avoid getting horribly sick and thus stopping my work in recording the Luke video.  The funny thing is, this is one of the CHEAPER malaria meds, the more expensive ones are more than double that per pill.

Food and medication costs are rising, the Kina is losing strength against the dollar.

EVERY person sent to here a year ago, with 100% financial support, is now (thanks to these increases) at least 10% lower.

For us, our son needs constant medication, if I buy over $1500 in medicine this year, (which I will, I will buy closer to double that) our insurance will give me 80% of whatever I spend OVER the deductible.  So, each January (this month) I file a claim to get back 80% of the money over $1500 that I spent.

It takes about a year to see that money realized in my accounts and verify it.

None of this is complaining.  I'm trying to give an honest account for where your money goes.

The truth is:
we live in an expensive place.  The primary reason it is expensive is because it's hard to get to. Shipping, fuel, etc all calculate into the price.

Internet is expensive

Medication is expensive (yes you can buy cheaper medicine in country, but we have a huge conterfeit drug problem in this country)

Food is expensive if you want to eat American staples.  Often to save money, we eat food from our garden, and cut down on meat and bread.


One of our favorite questions when we're home is:
"So what is a special treat for you?"
(please note the context is WHILE WE'RE IN PNG... last time I made a post like this I said 'hot dogs' and all furlough long people were feeding me hot dogs.... these are special treats while HERE)

answers:

-soda - we all have 1 soda per week. (At $2 each) with our home made pizza for Family Pizza and Movie night (we watch dvd's)

-ice cream - if we get an ice cream cone, it's maybe once per quarter?  We just rarely do this.

-Macaroni and Cheese - when someone sends us Kraft... the kids go ape.

-Fish - I've lived here 6 years, I've had fresh only when I visit the coast, which is less than once a year.

-Anything 'instant' - Crystal light packets, ranch dressing mix, anything that doesn't require preparing from scratch.  And when I say scratch, I mean, we can't buy ricotta cheese, or cottage cheese, it has to be made first.  My wife constantly has a yogurt starter ready, so she can have yogurt occasionally.

-you name it.  Anything that we don't have available to us regularly.  Anything that makes prepping a meal easier.  And in truth, compared to constant availability of things in the U.S. I rather like the fact that our family can get excited over simple things.  We got a baggie of Taco bell hot sauce, and a baggie of Pizza hut parmesian cheese a while back and we used it sparingly over several weeks.  It was a taste of home, and it was great.

You show me anyone in the U.S. who gets all excited over a packet of cheese!

And for all of that, we're not suffering, we're not starving.  Look at our pictures!  We eat home made foods that have to be thought out and prepared.  My wife spends a half day each week menu planning, and then schedules shopping around her busy work schedule.  That's how she runs the house, and she does a good job.

We don't eat junk food, we don't eat many sweets, we eat wholesome home made stuff.  It's tiring for sure, but it's affordable, and healthy and we're happy.

It's helpful when you read this information from me, not to think 'wow, they're bad off' .... because that would be the temptation.  And in all honesty if you think that way, it doesn't hurt me at all, sometimes it compels you to send me a packet of sauce! (-; 

But the truth is, we're not bad off, we're different off.  We don't have a million varieties of pickles on the shelf.  We have to consider before buying soda, if we can afford it.  But we're not worse off by any means.  In fact we come to adopt an appreciation for things that most people overlook or take for granted.

If anything is negative about it, it's how silly we feel when we get somewhere more civilized and feel like the out-of-towners gawking at everything:

'Gee Ma', look at all them differnt types of breads they got!'
'that Sure is a lot to choose from.'
'Hey Jethro, check out these newfangled lights that turn on with a switch!'
'Bet you won't get shocked no more when you turn them things on!'

Yeah, we go through a few days of that... and it's a little inside joke that not everyone understands.  If you ever are shopping in the store, and see someone having spasms holding some food... literally the joy is filling their face, the surprise, the shock, and their bodies are jittering from excitement... they may even scream 'Honey! Come here,... they have... OLIVES in a JAR!'

Kindly go up to that person, put your hand on their shoulder, and say 'Hi, I'm (state your name), welcome to the U.S. how long have you been gone dear?'



--END NOTE:
I should probably say that in posting this, I might make other missionaries upset.  Please don't read this and think 'well then shoot, I won't send this Beef Jerky in this care package to these other missionaries then'.  This is very much my (a male) perspective.  There are a LOT of people who miss many many things about their home country's foods.  I don't happen to be one of them. I rarely think to myself  'Gee I really miss ....some food....'  Although, I'm still craving that badito.