Lent Day 9, 10, 11

(context: for lent I gave up my daily Bible reading as an experiment. I've been journalling the results.)

Day 9: Feeling unusually grumpy and irritable, and many small problems appear to be much larger and create more stress in me than they normally would.

Day 10: Starting to think this is a bad idea. I didn't feel like talking to people today, and used as little words as possible. People thought I was mad. I kept reciting memorized verses in my head to get through the day.

Day 11: I woke up and decided to abort the experiment, grabbed my Bible off my nightstand and began reading 'verses of the day' which I never do. I often prefer entire Chapters, but it was there and I did, and they spoke volumes to me. I love how the Word can speak new things to you even through verses you've read a hundred times. Spending only a few minutes with the Bible, when I put it down, the world seemed to have more color in it. It was like drinking a cold, tasty glass of water on a hot day. It was refreshing and I hadn't realized how strong my thirst was.

Only 10 days.

I instantly had 2 thoughts (besides the guilt of having given up on the 40 day attempt).

1. The world seemed much more gray without the Word of God in my life for those 10 days. I hadn't noticed how bad it was encroaching on me until I read some Scripture.
2. I thought about all the people in PNG (and the world) who only know a grey world. They have no Scripture, and I got very sad about that.

I realize this experiment sounds like I'm preaching. I realize there are believers who don't read their Bible daily, or even regularly, and to those people this is going to seem like a sermon. It isn't intended that way.

My passion is to get people who do not have the Bible, a Bible. It's that simple. Using all of our skills, my family and I are trying to get God's Word into the hands of people in Papua New Guinea. Having gone without it for only 10 days was a fast of solidarity, but it didn't even compare to generations of lifetimes without God's Word.

I believe there is power in the Word of God. Reading daily, spending time with God is one way to tap into that power. Reading the Word out loud is another way. But we have the Word. I have seen people who have received the Word of God for the first time, take to it like starving people, devouring it, listening to it, reading it, sitting in large groups to injest it.

And then letting it take root and change their lives.

Yeah it sounds like a sermon because I am passionate about it, and mentally I'm walking across a stage telling people… THIS is important. The Word of God has the power to change lives!

I was taking it for granted. I have 3 phone app Bibles. I have a mini travel bible, a large NKJV, an NIV, a MESSAGE, I have Bibles on my shelves, my desk, my nightstand, my computer and my phone. If I forget to bring one to church it's in the pew in front of me, or up on the screen.

If I want a quick fix, it's on the Internet via a web browser, or on mp3 or cd's in my car (with James Earl Jones reading it).

We're almost inundated with access to the Bible.

But in Papua New Guinea, there are people who haven't even heard of the Bible yet. The idea that God wants to reach out and love on them is a foreign concept.

Maybe the experiment worked. Maybe it was the gusto I needed to get up and start expressing my passion more.

Pray for us please, as we are preparing to return to PNG, and have financial needs still to be met.
But pray harder for the people of PNG, who have greater needs than we do.

p.s. I suppose that means I have 29 days left to fast from something else.



I served in CTS full time for the first 5 years we were in PNG, and part time from then on.  These are many of my co-workers and an excellent group of people to work with.  (They made this video while I was in the U.S. on furlough to help recruit more people.)  These offices are where I spent a lot of my time.  In the last 5 years we've made a LOT of changes and upgrades.


Why Ziploc makes me Homesick


I have a thing about ziploc freezer bags. I'll explain later.  I know Ziploc is a brand name, like Kleenex, and we don't always buy the name brand resealable zipper bags, but you get what I mean.
In PNG, you'll see pictures like above, people drying their ziplock bags on the clothesline outside, or in the dish dryer inside.  Because they are re-usable and useful, hard to get, and sometimes pricey.

Whenever I empty a ziplock in the U.S. I often look at it, and if it is too dirty I throw it away.  In the time that it drifts down into the trash, I have two thoughts:
-I miss PNG
-I would NEVER have thrown away that practically new ziploc in PNG! 
and then I guiltily glance left and right and make sure no other missionary saw me being so WASTEFUL! (=

Here's my peccadillo about Ziplocs freezerbags:
A ziploc bag is a very very handy thing to have around, especially when you have a child who is prone to car-sickness.  It is more useful than tupperware, because you can throw it away.
When you don't have a ziploc available, you can make due, but life is harder.
When you run out of ziploc bags, you usually wish you had more almost instantly.

We don't often buy the nice ziplock name brand bags.
(remember that commercial with the buzzing bees in the bag, and shaking the bag loose?  Which bag do you trust?  Apparently we trust whichever is cheapest.  It's worth risking a few stings.)

Years ago, before becoming missionaries, my wife had splurged and used a coupon to get the nice big freezer bag Ziplocks.  Yellow and blue make green indeed! There was a satisfying clicking as my fingers moved along the zip, that I enjoyed.  It said to me 'this is the cadillac of zipper bags, you have finally arrived, you can afford the nice resealable plastic bags'.

For me growing up, we never had a lot of money, but our parents made sure we kids didn't realize that.  Still, there were certain items I had in my head as 'rich kid items'.  Stuff that I might see when I visited friends houses and thought 'wow, they have THAT, that's rich kid stuff.'

For example, Eggo brand freezer waffles.  To me, that was rich kid stuff.

Ziploc brand freezer bags was also 'rich kid stuff'.

Anyway... on the very day that we had purchased those nice ziploc bags ( I mean, they were new, not even disturbed enough in the box so that they were all messed up, they were still silky smooth and organized in a tight roll) , a friend asked me 'oh hey, by the way, do you have a ziploc I can borrow?'

Unfortunately for that friend of mine, some 15 years ago (before moving to PNG), he accidentally stepped on not 1 but 2 of my pet peeve mines.

I unleashed a lecture upon him, with other friends watching on, that forever garnered me as 'That Weird Ziploc Guy' in the eyes of some of my friends.

"Borrow? Do you really intend to return it to me?  Don't you mean have?  Unless you're going to go to the store and buying me a brand new freezerbag, which by the way, cost about 16 cents each... I suspect you mean HAVE.  Would you ask me for 16 cents so cavalierly?"

"And while we're on the topic, NO, no you can not have one of my ziploc bags.  The tone in the way you asked me told me you didn't really value the ziploc bag enough.  You asked so flippantly like you were asking me for a handful of sand, or maybe some pocket lint.  Don't you realize the importance and the usefulness of Ziploc bags?!  No, I won't give you one of my precious ziplocs, because I don't think you appreciate them well enough.  Perhaps going without one will help you to appreciate them more."

Knowing me, the guy thought I was joking.  He asked "Man, are you being serious right now?"  To be honest, I wasn't.  I was allowing my imagination to run my mouth, of course I would have given any friend a 16 cent gift of ziploc any time they would ask.  But I was so impressed with my own rant, that I decided to press my luck.

"I'm dead serious.  Good luck finding something else to hold your stuff in.  Maybe next time you'll bring your own ziplocs."  I really had to keep from laughing at that point.  I decided I was investing in this gag fully.  But it backfired a bit, because the guys assumed I had gone mental.  To be completely honest, there is some odd emotional attachment I have with ziplocs, but none so great as to deny one to a friend whose leg I am not currently pulling.

Later my brother in law told me "Dude, every time I use a ziploc I remember you going off on that guy."

I say all this to my great shame, and to illustrate a point.

When I arrived in PNG, people were WASHING their ziplock bags.  These people valued their ziplocs.
It was one of the dozens of quirky things about the place, that made me feel totally 'home'.  Like God had designed me to live there.

And so, seeing a freezer bag makes me homesick for PNG.

(if anyone knows anyone over there at S.C. Johnson and Son, tell them my story and tell them I'd happily be a spokesperson for them in PNG!)


Newbie Translators

Celebrate with us!  I've just run across the blog of a new translator couple who has moved into the village of Arop in PNG!  As support staff we're always excited when a new linguistically trained translator family moves into the country!  We need translators, we need teachers!

It is fun to see the trip to the village through new eyes, and I enjoy this photo essay, I hope you do too:

(you can read more about their journey in other links, for example the video of them crossing the river).

Lent Day 8

I do not think I am going to make it to Easter without reading my Bible
Yesterday I was a bit moody, and was short-tempered in conversations
with my wife.

Today is Day 8.
I jumped awake at 6am, which is 1 hour before I normally wake up. My
mind was racing with all kinds of worries.
Can it really be that the simple habit of reading the Word of God for a
few minutes each morning, calms my mind so much?

I haven't given up my daily prayers, because there's just too much to
pray for. But I am already not liking the personality changes I'm
seeing in myself having gone only 8 days without.



I'm giving up reading my Bible daily for Lent.  For those that don't know the tradition of giving something up for Lent is intended to prepare the believer for the coming of Christ (Easter).  Usually this preparation comes in the form of prayer and self-denial.  The practical application of which is, every time you have a longing for that thing you're fasting from, you go to God in prayer.

Why am I giving up reading my daily Bible for 40 days?  There are three reasons, and they are personal and I do not recommend anyone else try this.
I read God's Word daily to bring myself closer to Him and to start my day off properly, put my attitude and heart into the right perspective.  So why would I want to give that up?  I don't.  Here are my reasons for doing so:

1 - A friend recently asked me 'what does following Christ get you besides heaven?'.  My answer was Hope and Truth.  I have seen in my life, many people without hope, and those same people don't have the Word of God or choose not to read it because of their beliefs.  They wake up each day dreading what the day may bring, and find temporary happiness in things that leave them quickly.  I suspect that by stopping my reading, my daily reminder of Christ as my hope, will give way to a growing sense of despair, and after 40 days I'll be longing to jump back into the Bible.  I can already feel this affect happening.

2 - Thousands of people and hundreds of language group in Papua New Guinea, have no Bible in their language.  Fasting from reading the Bible, is going to help me appreciate their lack.  It hopefully will add fuel to the fire in my heart already to work in Bible translation, and to get them God's Word into their heart language.  So many of them have never heard in a way they fully understand "God LOVES you, and His Son died for you!"  They haven't heard that!  I know there are those who heard that and believed it, heard that and rejected it, but these people haven't heart it at all!  Giving up my daily reading for 40 days should help put me in their shoes for a short while.

3 - I have a theory that the day to day life of business and distraction, all the thousands of details that go into simply living in the U.S. (or anywhere) distracts us from God.  Will I be able to keep my focus on Him without my daily reading?  Will I be able to automatically pray when troubles come up? Will I be thinking of Him and His kingdom perspective instead of a worldly one?  Or will the world creep in along the borders and begin to depress, distract, and destroy me?

I know I'm flirting with my own happiness here.  But I think this is going to answer that question for my friend (at least in part, I'm still going to follow Christ).  What does following Christ get you while you're here on earth?
I think at the very core, my daily happiness is at risk.  I'm voluntarily severing my daily time with God, for 40 days.

I'm not sure it is a wise thing to do.  I'm fully aware there are plenty of believers who do not in fact read their Bible weekly much less daily.  For me connecting daily to Christ is a survival skill.  It strengthens my defenses against temptation, gives me more patience with people, it fills my heart with love, and reminds me that there is more to life than me.

I'm a bit nervous about quitting this habit, so we'll have to see how it goes.  It might turn out to be a horrible idea, and I might have to give it up.  This experiment is making me a bit queasy to be honest.

I'm hoping in the end, instead of having broken a discipline, I will have created a stronger thirst.  I'm told it takes 21 days to create a new habit, but much longer to break one.  A few years ago I gave up complaining for Lent, and I still complain, so let's hope it takes longer than 40 days to break a habit. (-;

Here we go.

Ash Weds:  Feb 18
Day 1: Apparently I chose to use the time I normally spend, sleeping in a little bit.  Was a good day, nothing to report.
Day 2: Today I felt kind of off, not sure why, just focused on work.
Day 3: Slept in today, I apparently needed the rest.  Found myself a little impatient with people and wanting to be alone.
Day 4: Saturday - woke up to a great breakfast, had a great day with my daughter, visited with my folks, didn't seem to miss it.
Day 5: We didn't go to church today, spent time as a family instead.  It was one of those days where I was misfiring my jokes though, I was off center a little.
Day 6: Odd day, I was alone waiting outside for a while and found myself thinking about all the problems in the world, felt very stressed and like there was a huge weight on my shoulders.
Day 7: I feel like the world is doomed. While I gave up Bible reading, I didn't give up news reading and there is so much going on in the world, I want Christ to return badly.  Can it be I'm already starting to lose hope?

Day 8 is tomorrow, I'll post another few days in a short while....


From our Friends in Menapi

Below I'm sharing select passages from our friends newsletter.  The village they live and work in, is called Menapi, and some of you may have seen our Bible dedication video that we attended.  Though the New Testament is completed, the work of discipleship continues.  Here is a small glimpse into village life in PNG.

Life in the village is unpredictable, and sometimes lent to distraction.  When we take an attitude of discipleship, coming along side, and the activity of the day becomes something other-than-planned, we can still do ministry, because we're building relationships that model how Christ would have us live, and bringing others along for the journey.

Here is an entertaining update from our friends the McGuckins:

"We had the generator working for a few hours last night, so we got a couple of hours of work (keyboarding Village Checking corrections) and charging computer batteries. I'm not sure if the generator will be available tonight so I thought I might let you know that I am doing OK while I have a bit of power.

The run of pinamato fish is a real distraction and the women on the translation team are rushing off to net fish every time they hear someone on the beach cry out that the pinamato have been spotted. Elvina and Linda dashed out of the house where we are staying - at 3:00 AM - when they heard an outcry so they are not very bright-eyed today as we work. And I am being served big helpings of pinamato three meals a day.


I gave typing lessons this morning after the Ash Wednesday service. We had three computers and two manual typewriters going on two small rickety tables. Making do with what we had.... this afternoon I introduced the translators to games for practicing typing. They are quite entranced and I am not sure I can distract them from the games now.

Monday there was great confidence that the chain saw operator, chain saw and fuel were all lined up to cut the posts and beams for the new translation office this week, but so far nothing has happened. First the operator needed to work in his garden, then the new chain could not be found, then it took half a day to get the chainsaw maintenance done, then it took a day to discuss why half of the 20 litres of fuel for the chain saw was missing. (Turns out Theo donated 10 bundles of sago leaves for the roof thatch of the new office and used the fuel for the boat to go pick it up from Uga village. So now there is not enough fuel for the cutting of timber.



Holding Pattern

A state or period in which no progress or change is made.  That is what a holding pattern is.  I'd like to share my thoughts on this concept, because I find that when I am in a holding pattern, I become frustrated and impatient.  Thankfully, not as much as I used to.Image result for holding pattern image

In Papua New Guinea, it takes a long time to get projects completed.  As a result, you find yourself waiting a lot.  So for someone like me who is able to plan and multi-task, you compensate by having several projects going at once.  That way, you always have something that is making progress.  Also you develop more of coping mechanism to waiting patiently.

If you know it takes a month to get supplies for a project, then you plan a project for next month, the following month, the month after that, etc.  So that once the initial waiting period is over, you have a steady stream of progress being made.

Being in a holding pattern is frustrating because you know you're about to take off, or land.  You know you're very close to making progress or completing a project.

For us, the holding pattern is in our return to PNG.  We're counting down to June.  But we're waiting.  Waiting to see if our financial needs get met.  We've been cleared medically to return, and so really the only thing left is the financial needs we have. 

I have the habit of keeping many irons in the fire at once.  Each at a different state of heat, each scheduled to be ready at a different time.  For me, I need to always have something brewing, something afoot, something going, in order to not feel like I'm wasting my time.

My daughter says 'dad, time you enjoyed wasting, is not wasted time.'  But I don't enjoy wasting time by waiting.  I don't twiddle my thumbs well.  There is far too much to accomplish in the short period of visitation we have on earth, and that for us, is further concatenated into our periods in the U.S. and our periods in PNG. 

When we are in the U.S. we have a little over 4 months left to accomplish the things we have to do here.

The absolute most frustrating time for me, has always been, when I have several irons in the fire, and none of them are ready.  I can't add another iron, can't take on another project, because I know at any moment one or more of my other projects is going to pop and I'll have to work on those.  So I have to be patient and wait.

Patience.  Who among us could claim that was our strongest attribute?  Not I.   For me, nothing is as stressful as having to employ patience, which is what waiting is.

I fixed my daughter's computer the other day, I'm waiting to see if my fix was permanent or temporary.
I'm waiting for my publisher to get back to me on my book.
I'm waiting to see if our financial support will come in before June.
I'm waiting to see if I will be excused from Jury Duty,
I'm waiting on tax forms so I can fill out my taxes
I'm waiting on an email from tech support so I can fix a web site
I'm waiting to verify my name is on a waiting list for missionary housing in 2017
I'm waiting to see if Conference ratifies the director,
I'm waiting to find someone who can develop iphone apps.

The list of things I'm waiting on, seems so long.... is yours?
Aren't we all waiting on something?

And then it hits me, there are thousands of people in PNG waiting to hear the Words of God in their language for the first time.  There are men my age, who were not born like I was, with no understanding that they could open the Bible and simply read about Christ and His acts of love.  They can't, it is a foreign concept to them.  The idea that Jesus Christ knows them, loves them, can speak to them, is not something they have lived knowing.

They're waiting to meet Christ.

and like that... poof... my waiting list seems so unimportant.



borrowed from the PNG EXPERIENCE

I am sharing this picture above, and the paragraph below from another blog.  First, the picture above, can you guess which book of the Bible it is?  That's what our finished Bibles look like on the inside.  But there's more... read on:
So what does a Papua New Guinean New Testament look like?  Here is the Dedua New Testament. The Dedua people live in a remote part of the Morobe province. The Dedua New Testament has had a great impact on the area and is available in written and oral form. Being an oral culture, the New Testament on the Audibible, a player in digital audio format, is very popular.  More than a thousand have been sold. Pray that this finished New Testament would have impact and that work on the Old Testament would continue.

Isn't that AWESOME!  1,000 Audio Bibles sold to Dedua speaking Papua New Guineans.  Come on, that has to excite you.  1,000 Bibles in the hands of 1,000 people who have never heard nor read Christ speaking in their language before! 

Last night I was talking with my kids:

me-the World population is growing fast kids
Son: - it's growing exponentially dad, not linearly.
me-that's true son.  so many people being born every day who don't know Christ yet.
Daughter: yeah, well some of those people will get to know Christ and some will tell others!  But it'll take a while, it's not like a baby is born and says 'wah wah, I want to be a missionary.'

At that point we all just started laughing.  But I appreciated my daughter's upbeat take on it.  Not every will be lost, many will be saved.  And we, will work hard to help increase those numbers. 

Finance Update

Our passion is to really make disciples out of people in Papua New
Guinea. Yes we support Bible translation. The Word of God transforms
lives, but what we really want to see, is people's lives changing to the
point where they are devoted to serving Christ and sharing His love with
others! That involves time, and effort, training and love. That is
what we go back to PNG to accomplish! That is what we continually are
praying for God to do.

We have now officially begun the process of trying to make new financial
partners, and get our level of financial support up to 100%. If you
know of any church, small group, Bible
study or individuals interested in financially supporting missions, or
wanting someone to come and speak publicly, please let us know.

We have sent out support letters to people and are awaiting responses.

We ask all of you to pray along with us. I do not believe it is a
coincidence that at the same time we've begun this process the following
has happened:
-some letters returned to sender because the addresses were out of date.
-I got a summons to Jury Duty that may force us to cancel a planned trip
to Oregon.
-my wife became ill. (a flu or a bad cold or something, she's had a
fever and chills for over a day now)

Please join us in prayer, that these obstacles are overcome. It's just
noise, God is more powerful.

Thank you for your prayers


World Pop

So today, just for laughs, I setup a Chromecast device, and on a whim, I threw up a random web page I found 'World Population'.  I left it running on the tv in the background just because I wanted to be goofy.

But then something hit me.  Obviously this web page can't be checking the world population registries real time, but it is doing some sort of estimating based on measurements taken, the end result is on this screen you're seeing numbers moving around all the time.

Including the number under Death's Today.

My first reaction to this was 'wow, a LOT of people are being born and dying!'  and then, the novel curiosity of it all was sucked from me and left a cold chill in my bones.

There are a lot of people dying every day.  God doesn't need a ticker like this, He knows the count, intimately.  But He knows the REAL numbers.  the REAL deaths.  People who don't join Him in Paradise once they've fallen asleep in this world. 

God doesn't want anyone to die that death.  And here I am, watching the numbers fly by.  How many souls have left this earth without knowing Christ?  There is so much work to be done out there, so many people to disciple, so many who haven't heard about Christ, or who have yet to believe in His gift of salvation.

Sorry to bum you out today, not exactly a cheery message.  Each second that death count goes up.  My heart hurts for the lost, and the gone.  Each time there's a birth I think 'another chance, another hope, another potential, someone Christ loves.'  Each time there is a death I think 'did they know you Lord? Did they get their chance? Did they hear?'

And then I look at how fast the world population is growing and I wonder... how on earth are we going to reach everyone in time?  If you view the world as a mission field, there is such a herculean effort in front of us, that I can only encourage myself with this little reminder:

The way you eat an elephant, is one bite at a time.

Days like today though, make me want to eat faster.... a lot faster.

We need to get Bibles into the hands of people in their heart language.  We need to be making disciples of people.  We need to not only see that people come to a saving faith in Christ but also that they in turn have a burden for others and reach out to them.  We need to be multiplying the Disciples of God, because the world population is changing too rapidly to keep up if we don't.


9 days left 

There are 9 days left to help make my book a reality. The kickstarter campaign is at 82% !!!!  Rather than tell you about it myself, I'll let the words of a professional do the talking.  I submitted my manuscript to a professional editor to see if what they thought.  This is coming from a non-christian non-missionary:

You obviously have a passion for the missionary work – you present your piece in a very well-researched, thorough manner.  You really give your reader a lot to consider and present a wealth of information about your experiences that I am sure others will enjoy reading about. I can tell that you have spent countless hours with your subject matter. You have presented your material in a way that just about anyone could understand and benefit from reading it (thanks to the fact that you have really considered your audience.) You add details that add to the credibility of your writing and really do come across as an expert.  In your work, your narrative voice is just great – very familiar and easy to follow.  I have to say that you have put together an excellent piece here.  It looks to me like you have meticulously gone through your document revising and smoothing things out.  It flows very nicely. It is one that should be well received by a wide audience. I learned a lot I didn't know about missionary activity, and found it genuinely interesting. The toilet stories were entertaining, I like it, and I believe your readers will too.


Valentine's Thought

Here are some thoughts for you, as you find that perfect Valentine's Day Sentiment... consider saying "I eat your liver." instead of "I think you're cute!"
In Papua New Guinea, 'lewa' or 'liver' is used similarly to how we in America say the word 'heart'.

hat tip to Karl Franklin and Steven Thomas
The lexeme lewa, as in examples (8)–(11), refers primarily to the "liver," which is often
considered to be the seat of emotions in Papua New Guinean languages. So it can be associated
with various degrees of affection. In examples (9)–(11), the verbs katim 'to cut something',
brukim 'to break open', and kaikaim 'to eat something' refer to penetration into the emotional
 8. katim lewa (cut the liver) "very attractive"
 9. brukim lewa (break the liver) "very sorry"
10. kaikaim lewa bilong yu (eat liver of yours) "show extreme attraction/devotion to someone"
11. lewa bilong mi (liver of mine) "my true love"