water what now?

I Cor 3:6
    I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.

Recently, a translator posted this story because it occurred to him, that in PNG, the act of watering your garden is non-existant.

In almost every part of this country (except for a very few areas like the rain shadow area around Port Moresby, where they in fact have to import produce from the highlands) people have to make ditches, drains, and mounds in order to get rid of excess water.

During the big El Niño drought of 1997, an Australian support worker at Ukarumpa advised her village friend whose garden was right by the river, to get a bucket of water from what was left of the river, and pour a bit of water at the base of each plant in her garden.  The local woman responded with surprise - such a thought had never occurred to her!

Here people don't water their garden because of the excessive rain.  They plant something, and it just grows.  But then again, in our home country, you don't burn away the tall grass (kunai) to make a place to plant.  They till the soil by hand after burning away brush and chopping trees down.    The place once called 'lone tree' (because it had a single tree on top of the hill) now has hundreds of trees. 

Things grow quickly and easily here.

I thought it an interesting translation to culture dilemma.


Dad's two favorite words 'I'm bored'

Whenever I hear 'I'm bored' from one of my kids, they get put to work.
They know this. I have a board of chores, and whenever I hear 'I'm
bored' they get one, mandatory.

Today my daughter let it slip, and I said ' WOOHOO!! Okay kids, follow me!'
my son said 'But I didn't say it dad! IT was her!'

I took them outside and taught them how to change a flat tire.
My son was very into it, my daughter, no so much.

"Geez, I'm never going to say that again around dad."

I replied, "hey, you're lucky, it was either that, or splitting fire
wood. This time I chose to educate you, instead of give you a chore,
but say it again and see what happens!"


Common Ground, Thanks Grandad

Today during a break in recording, I was trying to find some common ground with the men I was working with.  In conversation I realize they were from a beach area so I assumed they were fishermen.  We began to talk about fish, their stories, my stories, and I decided to try and tell a joke.

Jokes do NOT often cross cultural boundaries, so I told him 'I'm going to try and tell this joke, but it may not be funny to you.'

I then told an old fishing joke my grandad told me:

"Tambuna papa bilong me, wanpela day, em i go long kissim pis"  (one day my grandad went fishing)
"Na em tromawae hook, na wetim" (he cast his line, then waited)
"wanpela bigpela fish kaikai huk, nau paitim paitim, na tambuna papa, em pulim pulim" (a huge fish bit the hook, and then my grandad began to fight to reel him in)
"na dispela pis, em kirap, na kaikaim han bilong em" (now this fish, leaped up, and bit off my grandad's arm)
"tasol papa, em paitim em, na banisim insait long boat na kissim em" (but my grandad, still caught him, and got him on the boat)
"behain, mi bin askim tambuna, Papa? Dispela Pis, em stap long wanem saiz?" (later I asked my grandad, "how big was this fish?")
"i bekim, 'Dispela bik'"  (holding up 1 hand, he replied, "This big")

The joke got a big laugh.  They liked it quite a lot....

thanks Grandad.

Bakovi Dagi

In the Bola language, Bakovi Dagi means 'God'.
I've recorded 50 chapters of the New Testament and must have heard this
phrase several dozen times, in my earphones.

So it's no surprise that this morning I woke up and began my prayers,
"Bakovi Dagi, thank you for this day, for my wife, and kids....."

and didn't even realize what I had done until later.

Ever see that scene in the 13th Warrior where the man by listening
suddenly understands the language of the vikings? It's never happened
to me. I wish it would! But, until it does, apparently I do soak up a
few terms.



This is Peter, he speaks Bola.  He's one of the readers I am recording this month.  We are recording an audio version of the entire Bola New Testament for play on AudiBibles and cell phones.  Previously a Jesus Film was also created, and we're converting that to play on cell phones too, as many Bola speakers have cell phones capable of playing video.  (amazing isn't it?.. they live in huts made from bamboo and grass, but have cell phones that play video.  They have no power in the village to CHARGE their cell phones, but they find places to charge them.)

Peter reads at what I am guessing to be a fourth or fifth grade level.  He's young and enthusiastic so his reading is good, but he often makes mistakes.  This is where I come in.  I edit my recordings on the fly to make sure that post-production is faster.  I use Adobe Audition or Audacity for my recordings, I use an AKG mic, or a Audio Technica, I'm using a SHURE USB interfance with a RANE pre-amp.  I don't run throuhg a compressor or a noise gate, but I could use this DBX if I wanted to.  I don't want to.  Peter doesn't shout. (-;

As you can imagine the process of recording has a lot of stop and go.  A word is missed, or mispronounced.  It is VERY important we be grammatically correct for multiple reasons
1 - it's the Bible.
2 - People listening to this, and looking at the Bible, may in fact increase their reading ability so we want to be accurate with pronunciation. 

For this reason, I'm recording, checking levels, pausing, editing, restarting, etc,... AND scanning the Scripture in a foreign language for words that may have been skipped.  Meanwhile one man sitting next to me.. Peter, checks to make sure pronunciation is accurate.

It can look like a rather boring process... three men, in front of mic's... saying things like 'stop, start over, good job... pause...' and then being quite for long periods of time.  If you were to watch me do it, you might think I spoke Bola.  I don't.  But I can read.

Peter, has a heart for the Bola people getting God's Word, or he wouldn't be here.  His home is way across the ocean on another island in West New Britain (Kimbu).

He tends to get down on himself when he makes mistakes, but I remind him, that's why we have editing.  When he makes mistakes, culturally, he becomes more shy, and thus more quiet.

So for you audio geeks... imagine, that every couple of verses, I have to stop, and restart, and also check my levels, because the readers get shy when they make mistakes.

You have to learn your reader.

PETER starts off a -12 or so, maybe -9, but after a few mistakes, goes down to -10db
But if he doesn't make mistakes, he jumps up to -6 at times.   I have to keep an eye on the mic gain.

Pastor Benjamin, rarely makes mistakes, he reads at a high school level.  However he is older and his voice gets tired more quickly, so we take breaks, and often only do 1 chapter at a time.  Which means, I'm always checking levels, editing out long pauses, etc.

So, what may look boring to the casual onlooker, is actually an adrenaline filled, constantly vigilant, always looking at things, trying not to tweak or make changes but reacting when I need to.... high energy process.

Which is why when I get home, all I want to do is sleep.

People ask me 'why are you so tired'.

Yesterday, a translator tried his hand at recording and said 'wow, I got home, and just fell asleep instantly.' 



God can use the illiterate

(this story has more power if you recognize the role of women in this
culture, and also the current context of a lot of violence against
women. For this woman to speak took courage in multiple ways)

This is from the Oral Bible Storying work in the Sepik:

Susan is a pastor's wife in the remote Kwomtari area of Sandaun
Province. She has always been soft spoken and quiet during gatherings as
she listens to others speak and express opinions. Susan is humble and
submissive in her attitude and behaviour. She is however illiterate. Why
was she selected as one of the Oral Bible Storytelling team members from
the Kwomtari community? Susan has a deep faith in God but has been
frustrated by her inability to read and therefore participate fully in
leading the women's fellowship group or even sharing Bible stories with
her children. It was for this reason she was chosen but God had a much
bigger picture in mind.

After the first OBS workshop Susan began to share her stories first with
her family and then with the ladies' fellowship group in her village.
The other women on the committee however were not pleased. They felt
Susan was trying to put herself forward, to make a name for herself.
They were literate and Susan was not so she should keep to her place.
Her husband seeking to shield his wife forbade her to tell the stories
outside of the home. Just recently over 150 women attended a regional
women's meeting. There was opportunity to clarify the goal of the OBS
method. When the stories in God's Word, become part of the heart and
mind of a person, whether literate or illiterate, they come alive and
impact lives. Susan, a woman once shy and lacking in confidence, opened
the devotional time by telling a Bible story. The ladies listened

Susan's husband found another way to encourage his wife. If you travel
to the Kwomtari area you may witness Susan telling a Bible story during
the church service and her husband then following her by preaching his
sermon based on the message contained in the story she just told.
Together they are planning an outreach trip to other Kwomtari villages
and beyond.

Yes, God had something special in mind for the Kwomtari and he used a
most unlikely person to deliver it.


Laughter and Chickens

Every two years we have an odd event.  Hundreds of missionaries gather to discuss weighty things, strategies, policies, etc, on how we will minister in PNG for the following 2 years. 

As a result, there is stress, which means, laughter is good medicine.

This year, I did not have time to rehearse a complicated banjo number, so I decided to do more of a comedy act with my banjo as the main prop.  Sadly, the video and audio is actually well done, and yet, I don't really play banjo so much as strum around for effect.

One of my side-ministries is trying to do things that help people 'STAY'.  To increase their longevity, it is important to, from time to time, laugh.  So I wrote this comedy act, with a friend, to get a lot of laughs.  Some of the jokes are impromptu, and some are written but not rehearsed.

Please excuse the poor mic'ing of the event.  I tried to make it easier on our sound techs by sharing a mic, but the end result is that I had to do a lot of leaning and looking back and forth.  Like I said, very very little time or rehearsal went into this.  The laughter you hear, is 300 or so non-profit volunteers from all over the country, who know me, and my guest, Andrew.  It'll be funnier for them.

Hopefullly in 2 more years I'll be able to post a more serious banjo piece but, in reality, I can't take myself that seriously... after all, I play the Banjo.  (still 2 years ago, my dueling banjos between me and my laptop was something to see).

And before you get all 'this is what he spends his time doing?'  remember, I spent very little time preparing this number... and also, yes.  I do spend some portion of my time encouraging others in creative ways.

I hope you enjoy...



I listened to Francis Chan last night preach (via .mp3 file) on 'what do
you do that has eternal significance?'.
And I thought 'Every thing I do here, has eternal significance, and
everyone who supports us to be here, is doing things with eternal

Today was a banner day.
-I trained a translator how to record audio Scripture.
-I setup the recording studio to begin 5 weeks of recording the spoken
BOLA New Testament
-I mastered and burned 3 DVD's of a LUKE video
-I passed my first quality exam for an Audio version of Luke
-I received 2500 new AudiBibles, pictured here. 2500! Our typical
order is 1500, but we blew through that in 3 months. That's right, 1500
Audio Bibles went through our doors into the hands of PNGians.

That's a Lot of Bibles!!!
2500! WOW... look at all those boxes! I better stop blogging and get
to work. I got to put Scripture on all of those!



Sometimes we get requests that have us write a blurb or a photo.

This month we've had 2 or three 'flat stanley' requests... we've done those for kids in school, because it helps them see the world as BIGGER than the one they live in.

We have gotten pen-pal requests from kids in Awana programs who are required to speak to missionaries, or who want to know more from our kids.

And this week we got a little 'can you send us a pic of what you do'... so here's what I sent them regarding me:

Chad works at several jobs.  He is currently spending 12% of his time as a network engineer with CTS, 50% as the E.C. Secretary and 38% of his time doing Scripture Use Media.  Recording Tok Ples scriptures so that the people of PNG can hear God's Word in their own language is very important to him.  Sometimes he travels to the village to get the recordings done, and sometimes he edits the recordings at his office back in Ukarumpa.  Audio recordings help some people in PNG who can't read, to hear the Word of God in their heart language.



Here's a crazy little story of how planning ahead actually ended up
burning me.

2 years ago I noted down our US passport expiry dates, and then, a year
in advance put it on my calendar to 'renew passports for the kids'.

2 weeks ago that reminded popped up. So I wrote to the proper people
and asked "how do I renew my children's passports" and got back 'the
consolate embassador is actually coming next week, you asked in great
timing, this will save you a trip to port moresby to get the kids
sited! show up next thursday at 3pm."

Now I should have known this next bit, it was my failure. I think I was
too busy to put 2 and 2 together. The LAST time I did this was around 4
years ago and I had a slew of paper work to fill out and copy, etc etc..
BEFORE the siting.

So what I should have had was all my ducks in a row, all my papers
copied, applications filled out, etc.. before 3pm today.

But I didn't. Because I forgot that's what you had to do. I had no
idea the consolate SITING was the LAST part of the process and not the
FIRST part.

I asked the right question, but at the wrong time....

Anyway we show up today 'here we are. the Owens' what do we do?'

And the next hour was all 4 of us running around with our heads cut off
trying to get birth certificates, passport photos, social security
numbers, etc.

But the cool part was... we did it! We actually got passport photos
taken and printed, we got in the door moment before they closed!

Still, you don't really like to have to jerk your family into panic mode

Now, hopefully, even though our papers weren't turned in all neat and
orderly, we'll still get 2 passports renewed for the kids.
The reason I do this a year in advance is:
1 - to get a free siting when the consolate is here
2 - to get the passport renewed before the visas get printed.




today, we put out 40 Kwomteri Audio Bibles
20 Bo-Ung Audio Bibles
21 UmbuUngo Bibles

that's 81 Bibles that went out of this office today, and into the hands
of Papua New Guineans who either can't, or prefer not to, read.



The way we distribute AudiBibles requires SEVERAL steps:
1 - the audio has to be recorded
2 - the audio has to be edited (remove mistakes and check grammar and Scripture accuracy)
3 - the audio has to be post produced (remove lip smacks, make sure volume and EQ are at good levels for our players)
4 - the audio has to be organized (placed into the proper order by filename so that it the chapters play in the right order)
5 - the audio has to be converted and compiled (into the proprietary format for the player)
6 - the compiled audio has to be placed onto a Micro SD card
7 - the Audio player has to be charged (power), and the SD card has to be put into it, tested, and then a small plastic door has to be screwed into place to prevent SD card theft.

Step 1 takes the longest
2 - the second longest
3 - the third longest
4,5,6,7 all relatively short periods of time.

But.. step 6, can take a LONG time.
The way we WERE doing it, until today, was to have a 10 port USB hub, on a linux machine running a script that would copy files from a CIFS share. 
It took 15 minutes for every 10 SD cards and it was a huge pain to put them into those USB to MicroSD adaptors, plus the Linux script would fail and we wouldn't know which card was the issue... etc.

So, I proposed we purchase an SD card replicator.  It was an idea that another technician had as well, but he hadn't the time to pursue it.

We got it yesterday, a translator came in an said 'we have to get 96 Audio Bibles into the village by May 4'.

It was time to use our new replicator.
WOW is this easy and fast.

It takes 2 minutes to do 15 with NO errors and NO hassle now.  No USB adaptors, it is soooo amazingly simple and fast.  We're on cloud 9.

Today we may actually get a lot of Audio Bibles into the hands of PNGians, faster and easier than we ever have before!  I'm pretty excited about that, as I'm constantly trying to find ways to improve our productivity. 

Doing MORE with LESS is preferred over doing LESS with LESS but that's the reality of our situation.  We have 1 technician here (me) for the time being... so tools like this, are super helpful!


Work Done

This week:

-scheduled the next 2 years of meetings and work for the executive committee
-organized and documented a house relocation for 8 households
-completed post production of Genesis and Luke in Maia language
-completed 1 episode of Luke dvd Uka
-upgraded linux server from fedora to ubuntu 12.04 w/wiki
-built a web calendar
-attended 2 days of committee meetings
-made a birthday video
-executed a 40th birthday party for my wife.
-fixed emergency plumbing problem this morning when pipe burst

It has been an intensely busy week, with a lot of stresses outside of
the work load, but amazingly God has blessed us through it with a high
level of productivity (completely unexpected) which in turn relieved
some of the stress because I was sure I would never be able to get all
that done in even a month, much less 5 days. I'm blogging this at 1am
of course, because when I am busy my brain is busy, and I end up not
sleeping. I think... I think.... I can rest now....


The woman I love turned 40 this week. Tonight we celebrated her.

The last few weeks have been... those kind of weeks. Where you wake up
on Monday morning and pray 'Lord let me make it to the weekend in

One of the things I've been working on in the background was a surprise
40th party for my wife. She doesn't like BIG surprises, she likes to be
told to expect a surprise. So about 4 days ago I told her we'd be doing
a little something tonight.

I baked 3 cakes. But we opted to have her blow out a single candle
since she has a cold.
I made a platter of crackers and cheese (Cheese is like Ukarumpa caviar,
it is costly and people LOVE it so they swarm the cheese plate, but
there is a bit of missionary guilt there too, so they don't over
indulge, so that everyone can share the cavia....cheese)

I delegated some activities to two different groups of ladies, to make
my life easier, but also to invoke the feminine element to the party.
I hired an industrious high school student to wait tables and wash dishes.
I asked people to bring a dish to share, and made the party potluck.
Which, here, is a very acceptable thing, and the food was GREAT!.
I built a playlist for mood, starring a lot of popular songs from 'our era'.


we had 45 people, from all over the world.
we sat and shared a meal together, and played an awesome mixer game.
There were posters to write words to the wise about turning 40, around
the room, and notecards to write Kendal a loving note.. we wore name
tags that said how they knew Kendal,etc

Then, I played a 3 minute video of Kendal and baby pictures up to modern

Then we moved to a game where people had to race to draw, sculpt or mime
something about Kendal. The game got hilariously crazy.

People were having fun.

We sat Kendal in this throne, put a ridiculous hat on her, and brought
her cake, and posed for pictures, etc.

Then I ended the festivities by playing the guitar to her and seranading
with 'She's got a Way' by Billy Joel. Yeah it might be a bit cheesy,
but I humble myself this way to honor her in public in front of her friends.

In the end, a great time was had by all, and for 1 night, she felt on
top of the world!

It was a good night, which highlighted a good day. She finished her
village program work, and we got a good email that answered a huge
prayer request of ours.

God seemed to time everything so that Kendal could have a very good
day. Thanks to Him.



The other day I stood up in front of over 400 people as they asked me questions before they eventually voted me is as the Executive Committee Secretary.  The question asked was "how do you cope with stress?"

-I go outside, inhale, look at the scenery
-I go for a walk or a drive
-I punch my punching bag
-I listen to music
-I play my banjo
-I pray
-I vent and talk with my wife behind closed doors

Today was a crunch day.  It was one of those days when the weight of the world is trying to crush you.  Sure I could write out all the things going on, but it's enough to know that it wasn't a great morning.  On top of all that stress, nothing was working right.  Even the computer mouse was failing.

One of the major things, is that because of my new responsibilities, I now had only 6 days to do 2.5 months worth of work.  I had to finish post producing Genesis, Luke and Acts.
I got 12 chapters into Luke, I was on a roll, when I realized, I was working from the wrong source files and had to scrap all of my work.

STRESS + WASTED TIME = not a good mood for Chad.

I did some of the things on my list at lunch time.  Definitely prayed! 

After I got back from lunch I learned a new answer to 'how I deal with stress'.


Being productive is the best thing for stress.  Completing things, getting them done, getting them OFF your plate, is hugely helpful.  Not only did I finish a ton of paperwork I'd been unable to get to.  I posted Genesis, and 98% of Luke, in only 4 hours.


That drastically alleviated my 6 day crunch, so now I can proceed with much less stress.

Sometimes, the way I handle stress.... is I work.  I don't work like a work-aholic, I just narrow my focus, tune the world out, and go at it, until it's done.