Family Fun

obviously photoshopped (-; 
We were able to visit some friends in Orlando this past week, and they blessed us with a great day at Universal's Theme Park.  It was awesome!!  They had a real fire breathing dragon!!!  Of course this is photoshopped but it felt real when it breathed near you.  


Social Media Patience

In 2004 when I first came to PNG I blogged about the trip.  Blogging was relatively new then, but me being a computer type person, was pretty into it.  I was blogging multiple times a day and when I returned many people said " that was the most connected I've ever felt with a mission trip!"

I realized then and there that communication was something I cared a lot about.

We became full time missionaries not long after that, and committed to communicating with those on our team who didn't get to go overseas.  We want people to feel 'plugged in' informed.  Gone were the days of a quarterly newsletter, you wanted real-time information.

And we wanted to give it to you.

in 2007 that was 'cutting edge'

Today, it's common practice.  I've just finished a training session where I've been shown video, blogs, tweets, face books, snapchats, instagrams and more!!!  I USED to be cutting edge, and communicate MORE than the average missionary, and now I'm finding out, everyone else has caught up with me, if not even passed me!

I recently showed some videos to some friends who said 'you need to cut this down, that 4 min vid could have been 2 mins' 

WOW… things they are a changin!

I used to be almost controversial when I told my fellow missionaries 'keep your videos under 4 minutes' and now, 4 minutes is too long!

To cut your message down, so that people can digest it, takes a LOT of time.  
To communicate in all these ways takes a lot of time (although there are tricks to cut down how much time it takes)
To stay up to date with all of YOU as our partners, and read your posts, takes time.
And also during all THAT time, we have to be doing the work that enables us to generate stories that are worth telling!

It can be a bit overwhelming, honestly.

Before a single word is made public, it has to be checked, because legally, we're representatives of our organization (notice I never name our organization? I want to avoid legal issues), and if we ever say anything that can be misconstrued or misinterpreted it could be used against our organization which does a lot in the world to spread God's Word.


I'm asking for patience for the missionaries.

I fully intend to sit down and update all our social media stuff, but I haven't had much time to sit and concentrate on any one thing.  I'd much rather be seeing you face to face, and so we're driving and flying all over to accomplish even a fraction of that.

We love you, we want you in the know, we're committed to good communication with you…. we need you to do one simple thing for us….. invent more time.  Barring your ability to somehow slow the world a little bit, then use patience with us.  You have been so gracious already.

If you want our newsletter please let us know.  We try to send a blurb out monthly but don't always get to it.

thank you


In Florida

We are on day 3 of this 4 day training in Florida. The training is good, we are getting caught up on the latest tools and procedures and technologies for our ministry. Meanwhile the kids are getting to spend several days with other MK's (many of whom they know) and feel comfortable and are having fun.

in 3 days we fly back to California.

In Training



saying "goodbyes"

Remember that day when you graduated high school?  Remember saying goodbye to friends?  That was the day I realized I really hated goodbyes.  I find it ironic that I'm living a lifestyle of regular 'goodbyes' and 'see you laters'.
We said some today to some dear friends whom we haven't seen in 8 years.  
Cool thing is, we also get some 'hellos!'

We are currently in Orlando, Florida for a week of 'reentry' training with our organization.  The kids are still doing school in the after hours, but during the daylight they will be going through courses to help them acclimate to the culture, as well as equip them with tools to continue to serve in Papua New Guinea.

Kendal and I will also be attending sessions were we learn the latest and greatest methodologies and technologies and policies, etc.
I'm looking forward to it, which I find ironic because many of you may know, I am not really enthusiastic about school and training.

I've learned over the years however, that most of the training we've gone through, has prepared us well for the trials that come our way on the field.

8 years ago I sat in this very spot, and said 'I don't want to be here, I will never need to know these things.'
Today I sit here and say 'I'm glad they told me those things, I really used them to get me out of sticky spot."

Our plan is to return in July of 2015.  In order to do that, we are equipping ourselves with information.  We also will be attempting to raise support.  (for my thoughts on raising support see archived blog entries).  

In the last 2 weeks we've been to:
California, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Florida.  

We spoke at a church today.  They graciously gave us 5 minutes on a very busy Sunday but they wanted to give us a chance to share.  We utilized our training and were able to get across a message in about 3 minutes.  Afterwards the pastor came up to us and said 'you are real professionals, most missionaries can not get across anything in that short of time, I am very thankful you were so respectful of our time schedule!'.

Who knew… once again I find myself thankful for the training I received.

So, though we said 'goodbye' to some friends today, and it was honestly a bit sad….. we will say hello to new opportunities this week and hello to some friends we haven't seen in several months.

wow, that blog entry was really all over the place… like my thoughts…ha! and my family….   we really need to settle down and stay in one place for a while.


Gotta Hand it to Them

I have to hand it to the folks in Van Buren, Arkansas, and Tulsa Oklahoma. I'm not the kind of person who complains often about bad service. It takes a while to rile me up about that sort of thing because I understand people can have off days.

In Van Buren, we went out to a Chili's for dinner, and first the orders took a long time to come. Then they got my son's order wrong… well… sort of… and then finally we found a piece of plastic in the dessert. So… I called the manager over, and very apologetically he not only refunded the dessert, he knocked $20 off the bill.

I was a little surprised by this. In San Jose, you may have been comped a little something, but that was a classy move.

Then, in Oklahoma, we found the pool at our hotel was out of order. I politely explained to the manager that the main reason we booked their hotel, was because of the pool, we wanted a place near the airport with a pool for our kids online school PE requirements.

He was very apologetic and refunded me not for 1 room, but for both rooms for the entire stay (1 night)!!!

I was really surprised at that.

I mean I'd like to chalk it up to me being a gracious complainer, but the truth is, down south they must have good customer service!

I am saying a quiet prayer tonight of thanks to God because money has been tight, and this trip was going to stretch the wallets a bit thin, so to have those too little refunds meant a lot to us.


Airport automation

"Dad everything here is automatic, the check in, the scan, the hand towels, the soap and the sink !"

"Yes son, we are losing the friendly face to face contact of human interaction"

"Dad that lady at the desk didnt seem too friendly"

"Its because the computers are taking their jobs"

"Well I can see why, computers dont get grumpy and rude"


Value-able Lessons

No one ever told me that teaching your kids valuable lessons might be painful to do as a parent.  I figured that one out all on my own.  That first spanking, hurts you too.  That first battle of the wills that you need to win for THEIR own good, creates sad memories.

Those can be expected, but one of the lessons that I wasn't expecting came in a different than usual package.

You expect growing up, that maybe your kids might break a neighbor's window, and you might even be prepared to talk to them about valuing other people's possessions and walk them up to the neighbor and have them promise to pay to repair the broken window.  Or some such scenario like that.

But paying for internet that you used up, doesn't really sound like the usual opportunity to teach this lesson.

Nevertheless, it happened.

In PNG, we pay per MB.  In reality, in the U.S. you do too, if you use a mobile wifi hotspot like Verizon, or Tmobile or others.  You pay overage if you go over the 3gb they give you per/month or whatever the deal is.

I have taught my kids the value of copyright protection.  Teaching them to actually BUY the songs they want, because there is no radio AND to pay the download fees for those songs.    When my daughter was younger, it nearly broke my heart, she came to me, all of 13 years old with a 5 Kina note and said 'dad how much songs will this buy?'

In reality, 5 Kina would buy her about 1 song.  As a dad I was bustling with 2 major emotions (I'm a guy so 2 is a lot)  1. Total pride.  She was willing to BUY the song, and 2 total Sadness because I had to tell my daughter the song itself cost 99cents, but the download would cost her another dollar.  I wanted to honor her desire to do the right thing, and not just pirate the music, or copy it from someone.  Truth be told she didn't even know those were her options.  I began looking for legal alternatives to buy the song more affordably.  And I was upset that as a missionary kid, one of the things she would have to do with her life would be to pay for downloads.  In her Passport country, the internet was basically free to her peers.

Fast forward to 3 weeks ago.  We were staying in a place that had a Verizon Wifi Hotspot, and we were warned not to use it up, it only had 3gb available.  So we were making an effort to not use it at all.  However as we were getting closer to moving, we had several items to take care of that we couldn't do on our phones. (yes I know 1st world problem).

My wife warned my daughter NOT to watch videos (like youtube, etc).  But she did anyway.  She 'claims' she didn't hear mom's orders.  She also claimed she thought she was on the 'other' wifi that was 'free'.

Nevertheless, she over used the internet, and she would have to pay.
She didn't put up much of a fuss, and she went to our host and offered to pay, and we had prepped the host to let her know we wanted our daughter to learn this lesson…. so she tallied the bill and my daughter, bless her heart, was relieved when the bill only came $10, she was relieved, as she was thinking it would cost her hundreds.

Okay, so we taught a lesson.  Not sure what it was, was it 'stealing is bad' ?  Was it 'using too much internet is bad'?  Was it 'pay for your own expenses?'

I'm not sure, but the geek inside of me, and the dad inside of me always boils at the idea that my kids have to pay for internet usage.  I get upset.  I tend to think that internet is a utility, and my dad never made me pay for electricity or water, and yet my kids have to pay for internet…..

And I get angry about that, high speed low cost internet almost seems like it should be a right!  Like free air!  

But then, I stop, and calm myself and remember…. that it isn't a right.  And that our kids will learn their values and lessons in a new context.  We have to teach them to discipline themselves and look away when they come across bad images and adult google results by mistake.

It's a brave new world out there, and while our kids are growing up in it, the parents have to adapt to it, and learn how to do our best given the ever changing technology.  

I try to keep up, and I try to help others keep up.  And I pray our kids will navigate the cyber-jungle well.


How the U.S. is different #283

Everywhere you go, tons of wifi options out there.  Maybe Weird Al might call this a first world problem…. "I have so many wireless networks available I can't remember which one is mine!"

We're headed to Arkansas.  Please pray for the family as this will be a tough time, our main goal in Arkansas is to spread my father-in-law's ashes and to visit family.  
After Arkansas we're headed to Orlando, Florida to visit friends, and undergo some re-entry training, get medical work done, etc.

Each month our goal has been to make it through THAT week.  Each individual week has presented it's own challenges, expenses, change in diet, change in schooling, change in…. everything.  And this week is no different.

Please pray as we adjust.


Worth the Read

This one may be a long entry but it is because I'm excited.  But trust me, it'll be worth the read.  I have for a long time been convinced that God moves not in the ways of travel that man expects, not linearly, but through people, events, and His Spirit.  He positions things, and puts them together like this intricate jigsaw puzzle.  Let me paint for you one of the puzzles from my perspective (and as usual every puzzle, when finished, has several stories it can tell).

Some time ago, my wife and I held a movie night at our house for some friends.  Those friends brought over 2 of their friends saying 'they could use some encouragement'.  Of course we invited them, but as is our usual habit, if people need encouraging, and just to plain have fun, we try not to bring up the business of what has them down.  That conversation can wait for another time.

Suffice it to say these friends (let's call them Jack and Lois since this is a public blog), were Bible translators and something had them down.  They were neat people and it was the first time I really spent time with them, and I liked them.  

Some months later I was at a Bible study when a close friend of Jack and Lois mentioned that their language project was seeing very discouraging results and it looked as if the people of their language area were not going to be having a Bible Dedication.

Now let me pause here to put that last sentence into perspective.  A Bible Dedication is a celebration usually the scale of a large wedding, if not larger.  There are feasts, dances, ceremonies, special dresses, original songs and even buildings constructed for it.  But mostly it is evidence of how excited a people group is, to receive the Word of God in their heart language for the first time.  Sometimes these dedications are huge and full of obvious joy for people to be receiving a Bible.  Other times, the people aren't that excited and the dedication may not happen.  Worse times, the final project is met with rejection, and worse even than that, the project is abandoned.  All because of the hearts of the people and how hardened they become, or how joyous they become about the Word of God.

It is a terribly discouraging time for someone who has invested decades of work into a project, to have the final product be received with apathy or rejection.  And yet, we continue on because we know God has called us to the work, and we hope future generations will be able to pick up their Bible, dust it off, and welcome Christ into their lives.

So, when my wife and I heard that there might not be a dedication, we knew exactly what that meant.  It meant there was a large group of people who were deciding they didn't want to let the Word of God penetrate their hearts….. even though all the work had already been done!

So, not knowing Jack and Lois super well, but having a special place in my heart for them, that night I asked my wife 'I've decided a long time ago, that I'm going to hold on to a couple of long term prayers.'  Our prayer lives consist of the normal daily prayers, but also, a short list of prayers we pray for the long term.  This list can't be very long, the longer it gets, the longer you spend in prayer each day and it can only be so long before it becomes unmanageable.  But a prayer of mine that I had been praying for 30 years had just been answered so I had a slot open.  So I committed myself, and my wife with me, to pray this very simple prayer:

"God, please give Jack and Lois an awesome Bible Dedication."

That prayer was started over a year and a half ago.

A while after that Jack came along and wanted to do an Audio Bible version of his NT.  I spoke to him briefly about it, and though the outlook for the reception of their printed New Testament looked grim, He was still committed to do everything he could for future generations to be able to engage with the Bible.  I was more than glad to work with Jack and get him started, as were others on our Audio team.  I didn't tell Jack what my prayer for him was, I didn't see a point for it.  But what I did do, is ask other people to join with me in the prayer.  I invited my entire Bible study to join me in that prayer.

I don't know why, but God put this little poking on my heart that I should be praying this.

Today our weekly newsletter came out.  Over a year after we all began praying this quiet prayer:

[Jack] went on a recent trip throughout the[ir] language area distributing Audibibles. For a long time the [Jack and Lois] have been assuming there would be no formal dedication of the recently completed […] NT because there seemed little interest in such a thing. However, Jack came away from his trip tremendously encouraged. Hearing God's Word in [this language] had a stimulating effect on many, many people, and for at least one a life-changing effect. After discussions with a large group of people just before leaving, a dedication date was set: 14 April 2015. Praise the Lord and pray for arrangements that will be honoring to God and culturally appropriate.

I can not tell you how excited I am right now.  My heart has that kind of hyper joy in it right now that only comes from your Spirit being excited!!  First this is an awesome validation of the audio ministry, but even more than that, it is looking like God is answering our prayer with a big fat YES!!!!

Now, before you begin to say things like 'awesome prayer warrior' please know that I'm not a prayer warrior.  I know this because I know some people who are.  My point isn't that prayer works, or that I'm a great prayer…. my point is this:

Prayer is not some trick or method to get God to do what you want Him to.  It's not a formula for finding happiness.  

God is going to do what God is going to do.  

There are but 2 results of my receiving and responding the urge to pray about this.

The 1st is that I get to be totally excited because I have SEEN God's hand move in this way.  My Spirit is uplifted and I am encouraged and I feel blessed, simply from the perspective that I have on this story, because I prayed.

The 2nd is that God deserves to be glorified and lifted up.  Time and time again, we ask God to do the impossible, and He does it.  We ask for God to be glorified, to stamp out the resistance of the enemy, to not give ground over to the wicked one, to win souls and hearts, to push back the darkness… .and HE does it.  And then we… those who have asked Him to do it, nagged Him to do it, begged Him to do it,… knowing all the while He'll do whatever He chooses to do….. we talk to Him and give Him our wishes because we want Him to know what's on our hearts… but He already knows…. He just loves having the conversation.  And then…. and this is one of the things I most enjoy about God….  He fulfills our request in a way that blows our socks off!!!

And so for me, the 2nd point of this last year+ of prayer is that I want to tell you, first hand, that God is awesome.  And we, together will celebrate that awesomeness when this dedication happens!  But already we're seeing lives change!  

Celebrate with me today with Jack and Lois…. to God, for answered prayer, for changed lives, for revival in this area (Jimi Valley, Papua New Guinea), and for whatever other exciting things God has in store from this!

The reason I put the image of the Dominoes up was two fold:
1-have you ever seen a complex domino layout where the path splits and breaks into sub-paths and then in the end they all come together again?  That's how this is unfolding, the way my wife and I have woven in and out of this story, only really touching the fringes, not really going into the center of it, but floating around the edges just enough to be blessed by it…. reminds me of a domino layout like that.  

2-because it only takes 1 changed life, to start a domino effect in a village setting….one key event, one changed life, to affect a myriad of others.


Am I That Guy?

I have to admit, I was pretty judgmental about 'missionaries' when I met my first few. They have this penny-pinching mentality that I always found off putting. Now however, I understand it. The understanding of it has allowed me to not be judgmental when I see someone try to sell a 1/2 bottle of hair gel online. But I still vowed never to become like that.

And yesterday I had to wonder, have I finally become that guy?

I was fortunate enough to be serving my church and community by working at a bbq grill yesterday with my family. My brother in law pulled out a case of Kirkland polish dogs, opened it slightly, but accidentally dropped it in the dirt. After which he immediately threw it in the garbage.

He wasn't being purposely wasteful, you just can't serve dirty meat to guests, and you can't even be seen to be thinking about washing off the meat, so you have to immediately toss it.

I was stricken by the wastefulness and went to the trash pulled it out and said 'I'll take these home and clean them up.'

I wasn't thinking 'I'll take these home and eat them.' So the saving from the trash wasn't based in gluttony.

But it was at that moment, when I was standing over a trash bin, with a case of hot dogs in my hands that I said 'oh no, I just went into the trash for food.' (I thought up a Seinfeld episode). Have I finally become that penny-pinching guy? Have I uttered the phrase 'these are perfectly good…..'

Yes, admittedly I think I have. It was confirmed today when I was trying to find a place for my pens, and instead of paying $1 at the dollar store for a 'pen holder' I cut the lid off a water bottled, dropped a few rocks in it, and that was my pen holder.

When we moved in on Saturday, we ordered a pizza, and I didn't want to throw away the pizza box because it was 'perfectly usable cardboard'. I in fact padded the table legs with pieces I cut off the pizza box so it wouldn't scratch the floor.

I had this sudden realization "OH NO!!!! I'm one of them!!!!"

My grandmother was a WWII bride. If you know one, you know the penny-pinching, saving, never let anything go to waste mentality that it brings with it. For me, that thinking has a bit of a twist. I had to sit and ponder why I had become what I have become. How did I go from a guy who would rather not bother with the effort it takes to save items, and store them, and turn them into something useful, .. someone who would throw stuff away and produce a lot of trash….. to someone who has a hard time throwing anything away before thinking about how it can be used differently?

I've figured it out I think.
Here's why:

-In Papua New Guinea, when we put trash out, it is gone through with a fine tooth comb by wandering nationals who often find useful things in our trash. Therefore I try not to throw out anything that our PNG friends would find useful, instead, we gift them to our PNG friends. This helps us avoid being oblivious to their needs, avoid looking like super wasteful people, and gives us the opportunity to turn our rubbish into something nice.

-In PNG, things are hard to come by. You have to improvise a lot. You never want to be hit with the thought 'oh I could have fixed this leaky gutter if I had only not thrown away that scrap of sheet metal I had". I can't tell you how many times I've converted some piece of trash into a useful tool. It's been a lot. I've repaired many a household item with scrap I refused to throw away.

-What I may want to toss out, may be the exact same thing someone else is wishing they could get a hold of. I often am offering scraps, hinges, nails, screws, switches, etc… to friends who need it. Why throw out the entire iron when all you need is a new switch for it? I have a switch here I saved from an older broken blender someone through out. It is a bit of a scrounging mentality.

-Having lived in PNG for a long while, you get used to not having new and nice things, and so our standard of living is lower, and thus, much more affordable. When you live on support, you value the money you get because you know it's given to you by people who work hard for it and have to choose to sacrifice when they give some of it to you. So, we don't need a nice new dress, when a used dress at a thrift store will suffice. It makes when we get new things, a very special treat.

The reality is, now I have a freezer full of Kirkland hot dogs. It is a $14.99 value. Some of you might say 'man $15 that's nothing.' But it isn't just the money, it's the idea that someone went through a lot of effort to produce those, shelve them, sell them.

I think pretty much the whole country is on board now with being less wasteful. California is trying to waste less water, there are recycling bins everywhere, we're making less plastic shopping bags, etc. The reality is however, that not everyone is willing to go dumpster diving, to accomplish the goals of conservation. In fact, it is illegal in many states.

And so I think about myself, and the transformation. And I realize that I shouldn't feel shame. And though I would love the opportunity to share these dogs with my neighbors and make new friends, I don't think I will, only because I feel like maybe they might not like where they came from (-;