Game of Drones

So one of the things I brought back from furlough was this mini drone.  It is a really small, cheapy, with camera that I found at the Maker Faire.  After crashing it the first time, I decided to modify its landing gear and put on these styrofoam blocks.  BUT, that kept if from going up high, as there is a lot of extra weight and drag.

My son came up with this idea:

As he had some surgical tubing left over from making his slingshot rifle.

This did the trick.  Less weight, less drag, AND it keeps the motor covers on better.  This is GREAT for soft landings in grass or hard landings on rock.

I got the camera rather high up, the wind caught the drone and I nearly lost it, but after a bit of hunting for it, we found it.

So now I'm hoping to get some shots of where we live.  From the air, it looks like a bit of a shantytown, it looks much nicer from the ground.


Losses and Answers

A friend, co-worker, and brother in Christ died this week. Today we
hold his funeral. Yesterday my wife and I visited his house and gave
some banana bread to the family. This time of mourning is called a
'haus krai' (house cry) and it is similar to a wake, but with the PNG
cultural adaptation. The idea is to focus a time of mourning, getting
the wailing and the tears out during this time.

This community is giving his body back to the village that sent him, and
in doing so, they are thanking that community for the many years of
service this PNG man gave to our organization. The people here chipped
in food and water as very practical thank you to this village who is
also undergoing drought.

When this community pulls together and reaches out in love, is when it
shines. When the chips are down, these people prove to be wonderful and
loving, and incredible.

At the same time, this Monday there was a very important meeting which a
friend/co-worker was going to, and we prayed as a small group for that
meeting. God did a wonderful thing there. The results of that meeting
were well beyond our wildest wishes and it went really well!

(I can't discuss more detail than this.)

But the point is, that even amidst grief, God is still there and
working. Even among discouragement at the loss of a hard working
brother, God brings encouragement in other forms by relieving us of a
large burden.

I do not know the label for the emotion of being in the middle of
relative upheaval, and yet still knowing God has you safely.
But I know it is a very alive place to be. You feel as if you are truly
living life when you live like that.
Ups and downs, good news and bad, faith, acceptance, grief, excitement,
knowing God is in control and working all around you.

It is truly something else.


Burning need for Translation

One of the many hats that I wear where I live, is a fire helmet. As a member of the volunteer fire crew,
I get to drive around in an old fire truck and shoot water from the hoses to put out fires.

As you might be able to tell from the writing on the side of the truck, the fire truck is from Japan. Being a Japanese fire truck, all of the valves and gauges are labeled in Japanese. There is a slight problem in that none of the fire crew can read or speak Japanese. Imagine going to a fire and not knowing for sure if you needed to move a lever to the left or right to engage the a pump.

To overcome this problem, the fire crew had a Japanese speaker translate the Japanese labels into English. The English was then written in permanent marker in the appropriate places on the truck.

Great. The Japanese labels have been translated into English. But the work doesn't stop at just getting the words translated. Imagine if the Japanese translator approached us and asked about the translated labels and our response was, "You did a great job. We never take the truck out of the firehouse, but whenever we go there we stand back and appreciate the hard work you put into making that more understandable. Sometimes we even read the English words and marvel that those Japanese characters say that." He'd probably be very frustrated because he wanted his translated labels to be used to have an impact on fighting fires.

In a lot of ways, this is just like our desire to see God's Word translated into the various heart languages here in Papua New Guinea. We don't want to produce an end product that just sits on the shelf. We want people to actual read God's Word in a language that they can understand. But we want them to do more than just read it. We want them to be fully engaged with it. We want it to be used to have an impact on transforming their lives and communities. 


turning 16

My daughter's 16th birthday party is today

Years ago when I heard classics like 'you're 16, you're beautiful and
you're mine" or "sixteen candles" or "happy birthday sweet 16" I said
'I'm going to play those songs when my daughter turns 16.

I remember Potsy singing to Joany on Happy Days, on her 16th birthday.  I romanticized the idea of one day being a father with a sixteen year old daughter. 

I don't know exactly how this happened, the time sort of slipped by.  I still feel like there are a lot of things I wish to impact to my daughter.

Where we live, when your child graduates high school, they are sent out into the world on their own.  I have less than 2 years left with my daughter under my roof.

My wife and I are entering into that stage of life where so many people have been before us, but we enter it now for the first time.

I'm finding I don't like the idea of her turning 16.  I don't like the idea of seeing her in a full length gown.  Dads, is this normal?

I'm fighting a strong desire to be grumpy all day.  She's growing up.  I'm fighting the desire to do the cliche'd dad thing ' I used to hold you and you were no longer than up to my elbow..... how did you grow up so fast?'.....

But at the same time, I am proud of who she is becoming.  We get compliments from people about her all the time.

I always told myself I would not be that typical dad who gets all emotional at times like this, but man it's hard not to be.

On a practical side, Kendal is working hard to make this day perfect.  They've been planning this party for a year.  Our oven is misbehaving and the first attempt at a cake came out horribly.  And my wife is an excellent baker, so you know its not her.  Kendal has been cooking all day... but not everything is cooperating.  I think our oven is dying or something.

I wasn't able to download the birthday songs (playlist) that I wanted, because for some reason my computer is being buggy.

Sydney has a cold.

All this smoke and dust is giving me a sinus infection.

It is one of those days... you want it to be perfect but a lot of things are going wrong...

and you just think 'life is never like the story books, we'll make the best of this that we can.' and you soldier on.

Thankfully, my daughter isn't like some of those kids you see on those reality shows, she's not throwing a fit, she's just adapting along with us and really keeping me from being grumpy because of her good attitude.

She does that a lot.  She's awesome that way.


Where There is Smoke, There's Fire

(that's not fog)

It is dry season here.  It hasn't rained in weeks.  The grass is burnable, the water tanks are emptying, the roads are dusty.

Monday morning it was both a record cold morning, and a record smokey day.  Fires burn all around us in the valley for multiple reasons:
-kids are bored and start fires
-traditional beliefs that smoke brings rain
-preparing gardens for planting

On days when the wind isn't blowing, the smoke settles into the valley and even inside of buildings you can't see down the hall clearly.  People with Asthma are having a hard time. 

On days when it is windy, the fires burn longer and further.

I'm on the volunteer fire team and in 5 days we've had a record breaking 7 calls.  We responded to 3 fires yesterday alone, and one of them threatened to evacuate the school because of smoke (the fire wasn't close enough, but for kids with asthma, thick smoke is dangerous)

This is part of what life is like during dry season here.  Plenty of excitement for sure.  Between fighting fires, and drying my clothes on the line, most of my clothing smells like smoke.

I don't know if this happens in other countries, but I think it is a unique thing for sure.  The longer the rain tarries, the more fires get started.  We're all praying for rain!


Victim Mentality

The dictionary defines this as:

Victim mentality
is an acquired (learned) personality trait in which a person tends to regard him or herself as a victim of the negative actions of others, and to think, speak and act as if that were the case — even in the absence of clear evidence.

For me, practically it looks like this:
Victim mentality: "I didn't know that! Why hasn't anyone ever explained that to me?"
My mentality (I have no title for it) : "I didn't know that!  I should investigate that further, I wonder why I never investigated that before."

I have been trying to teach my son how to stop saying the word "Can't".  It is self-defeating.  Deciding that the world is out to get you, is self-defeating.  You can't get anywhere with that mindset.

The Bible tells us we wrestle against things not of this world.  Our attitudes can be a part of that.  Yes spiritual warfare can affect your stress level, and your attitude.

God is sovereign - believe that (bellee dat).
You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you - believe that.
If you abide in Him, you will accomplish things - believe that.

Having a victim mentality, feeling like everything in this life is happening to you, because of someone or something else, is a failing attitude.  But, it gets one thing right.  Humility.  Unfortunately it also creates despair. 

On the mission field you need a few things to stay alive and productive:
-a recognition that GOD is the only one who gets anything done.  We're along for the ride.  We're invited by HIM to participate in what He is doing.  No good we go and get a big ego about this, humility is key.

-hope - God is our hope.  Even when we don't see fruit from our labor, God is our hope.

-God is in charge - He is an excellent planner, so follow His path.

Be encouraged... WHO has stood against GOD and come out unscathed?  No one.  Don't despair.  Instead be full of hope.


Keyless entry

Under the topic of "Who Knew?"  comes a pretty funny little interaction this morning.  Last night, new keyless entry digital keypads were installed to access one of our office buildings.  Part of the installation is having everyone create a personalized pin who needs access.  This includes several Papua New Guineans as well as expats.
Most everyone was able to follow the instructions with ease.
-press a 4 digit code
-press the unlock button
-wait 30 seconds
-press your 4 digit code again

That was it.  One of the men, Asi, was having a hard time with the concept that the 4 digit pin you input, is YOURS and you should remember it.  And then, it should be the same 4 digit pin you enter every time.  But, the guy who was explaining it to him, is still getting better at his Tok Pisin and didn't mention that you had to remember the code and use the same one.  Why? Well because we all take it for granted that most people understand that concept.  Only Asi didn't.

So what was happening was a sort of 'who's on first' dialogue.

"Push 4 digits"
he pushes 4 digits
"now we wait... okay now push 4 digits"
he pushed 4 different digits
"that didn't work... push 4 digits again"
he pushes yet a different 4 digits
"hmmn, I wonder what is wrong."

they repeated this over and over until the lock master realized Asi was pushing a random and different 4 digits every time.
"okay, now.. let's try this again. push 4 digits"
he pushes 4 digits
"now push the same 4 digits as you did the first time"
"I don't remember those 4"
"okay let's start over, this time remember the digits you press the first time.... and push 4 digits"
he pushes 4 digits
"okay now push the same 4 digits again"
he pushes 4 digits again works!

it was a fun few minutes as they were figuring that out together... but what I am looking forward to is tomorrow when he realizes that he needs to remember those 4 digits EVERY day, and not have to do this procedure every morning.

I got a good chuckle from that.  You never know what information you take for granted until you run across someone else who doesn't take that for granted.



Going Around

Have you ever woken up one day and said 'God, what are you doing? What is the point?'

I know plenty of people in ministry have, and they struggle through times of feeling less-than-effective.  The truth is that the Bible tells us, if we are following God, there will be fruit, but what it doesn't tell us, is that we'll always be able to see all of it.

About 2 years ago was the last 'Luke Video' I did.  It's the Gospel of Luke, told in the heart language of people, and put to video.  Since then I've been asked to do various other jobs and I don't know when I'll be able to get back to doing that.
I honestly was asking myself for the last day or so 'God, what's the plan here? I'm pretty sure this is what you want me to be doing, but it is nothing like what I was doing.'

On my way back into the office I happened to run into the translator I worked with on that last video I did.  He said 'hey, I wanted to tell you something neat.' 

He proceeded to tell me how he has never once shown that video.  My heart dropped.  It was my last video, it was fruit... it was an awesome time when I felt super alive in my ministry...
Then he continues, because the people have taken the video and put it onto smart cards and have been copying it to everyone they know and everyone is watching it on their cell phones.

He said, "I've heard cute stories of old men walking around clutching Bibles in their language who can't read.  They feel the book is precious, but what is it really doing?  But this video, is taking on a life of its own.  People are watching it and copying it around.  They are saying 'this is a good video, it is the first time we understand what Christ did!'.

He hasn't had to show it because everyone has already seen it.
And then he said "I'm certain that in a short while we're going to start hearing about how that video has impacted lives."

It appears as if that last video I did, has gone viral.  Which is exactly what I was praying it would do.

To anyone out there discouraged that they can't see what God is doing, hang in there.  God knows what He is doing.