Two Phones

These two men came from a very far distance to work on translating their Bible.  They are very near the end, and nearing publication.  When I was in their village a few years back, I went to serve them with recording. But they humbled me with their hospitality and friendship.  They gave me several gifts when I was going to leave.

Now they have come here for a few weeks and leave in 2 days.
We had them over for a meal a while ago, and I had wanted to give them gifts from 'my place' as they gave me gifts from theirs.  But I had no ideas.
At dinner, it was mentioned in passing 'we don't have phones that play the video we made together.'

Which gave me an idea.  I'm also from the Silicon Valley, home of electronics.
I had to drive into town to find a place that sold the right type of cell phones.
Then I got our Scripture Use Media Dept. to make me some micro SD cards and put the Ura videos and audio on it.

It took me a few days to do, but I got the phones just how I liked them for the guys, ready to play the video.

Then I delivered it to them today.

(in tok pisin)
"Before, when I came to your place, you made me happy and gave me gifts from your place.
And now you come to my place to do work and I would like to give you gifts from my place.  I'm from here, but also my church and friends have sent me here, they support us with gifts of money and they pray for us.  So I have two places.  Here, and California, America.  Please accept these phones as a gift of appreciation for the work that you do in translating the Bible."

They were all smiles.  They thanked me in Ura which I remembered from my time there (Mamurr.. Mamurr Mas).

I showed them how to use the phones and how to play the videos.  We said our goodbyes, and I headed home. 

I set foot on the road, and thunder hit....And then.... it started raining.  Rain which we desperately need.

There are times in my life, when my heart is so overwhelmed with God's goodness.  And those times seem to come around the time when I'm trying to bless someone else.

God is so very good.



The communication situation where I work and live, is pretty involved.  Ideas have been circulating in my head for years about how to improve things, and I did so as a hobbyist for a while.  Now it's my job.  God has a funny way of turning your hobbies into ministries.

One of the things I wanted to implement was an 'autodialler'.
The idea being, in about 2 minutes time, I can punch a few buttons on a phone, speak a quick message, and everyone with a phone who needs to, can get the message.  It takes me (or anyone) about 2 minutes of work, to reach everyone quickly.

Prior to this, what would happen would be a telephone chain.  A team of people have a list, and script, and they have to go through the list and make the calls.  The telephone chain took a lot of maintenance, and time. (updating the list, etc).

What I have now is an automated process that catalogs numbers, and calls them in an emergency. 

It is one of those 'we'll rarely use it, but when we need it, it'll save a ton of effort and time' projects.

The trick was, everyone selling these systems these days, wants to go with VOIP, which I didn't want to utilize here.  I finally found a company who sold analog phone diallers... and the salesman was a believer!

He cut me a really great deal, and was very friendly to work with.
I'm happy that this project is going so smoothly and is nearly completed.

Jury Rigging

Today, I needed to install 4AA batteries into a device, and there were only 3 AA batteries available and 1 AAA battery.  Knowing that they're all 1.5volts, I grabbed a paperclip, stripped the rubber coating off of it and bent it into a spring shape with my leathermans, and dropped all 4 batteries into place.

Sure it won't last as long, but it works for now, until I can go rustle up more batteries.

"OH COOL" you say.  Well, yes n no.
Living in the land of the Jury Rig has its down side.

Today, I was wiring up a new project I'm working on at work, and I needed to convert 240v power to 110v power.  I happened to be needing this in the HEART of the Jury Rig capital of where I live.  An awesome Aussie guy lived in this telephone room for years, doing all kinds of incredible fixes and Jury Rigs before he retired.

I foolishly saw an unused transformer.  Completely ignoring the fact that there was a high probability it had been rigged for something else.
Plugged it into the wall, took my own personal 110v surge/power strip (because you can't buy them in country) and ..

BANG.. POP.. HISS.. Fire..SMoke... 
I unplugged it quickly!

Okay, THAT didn't work.  I suspect the transformer had be cross wired or something for some other purpose.  Thankfully my power strip didn't totally fry and still worked (though the surge protection feature is likely gone forever).

Love the smell of ozone in the morning.


Another one Recorded

Praise God with us, the whole Kuni New Testament is recorded! It seems
like a miracle. Last year the recording team recorded 25% within four
weeks. Later it was a bit more than 70% also within four weeks! ... and
that was including a few 'hick-ups' along the way. God is good.
Now please pray for the post production to go smoothly so that the Kuni
NT will be ready to be distributed in audio form on different devices.


Me and My Leatherman

I use my leatherman's tool for a lot of things.  Every day I use it multiple times.  On furlough, the company in Portland, received my broken ones and replaces them with new ones, free of charge.   I like this tool.

If I were to list out the many things I do with my leatherman it would be a very long list.

I got distracted.  This post was about keyboards.

Mass Communicatin'

I use my laptop keyboard a lot.  I do a lot of typing in meetings.  One day, it started behaving oddly and I needed a replacement.  So I had the local computer department order me a replacement.  Only, it came without a ribbon cable, which was part of the broken piece... I wanted 2 months for a keyboard that didn't work.  I decided to do the repair myself, and order the repair piece myself, because I felt like I had already taken up too much time from the computer department.  They are REALLY busy, and I have the skills myself.

In the 2 months the second replacement keyboard took to arrive, I used an external USB keyboard.  It was a pain to have to haul that around to meetings, but I did. 

Today the new keyboard came.

It was damaged in shipping.  The key in the corner bent up there is the ESC key. (OH NO! I CAN'T ESCAPE!)
I whipped out my leatherman, bent the corner back into place, installed it into my laptop and viola... it works just fine.
If I were back in the U.S. I would have rejected the package and ordered a new one, and it would arrive in 2 days.
But not here.  Here, you have to make due.  Which is why a leatherman's is so helpful!


Saturday Stuff

This Saturday, Oct 24th, (for us in PNG it's the 24th)
Was the birthday of my recently deceased father in law.

Knowing my wife may need to grieve, the kids and I planned to do all her chores for the day, plus our own.  Several of her friends dropped by with some goodies to share, and briefly chat.  One friend stayed the whole day to craft with her.  As a result, the day was not as hard on her as it could have been.

Calvin and I did a long list of chores.  In our family, the kids do chores on Saturday morning until I release them (usually around lunch time).

Calvin and I dropping off yard rubbish at the dump.  PNG is not normally this brown but we have a drought on.

"Calvin, you work while I, uh.. take photos and stuff."

That shirt, btw, reads "Hume Lake, PNG"  It's a cool shirt.

After chores were done, the kids went and did their things, homework, visiting friends, etc.

On Sunday I gave Sydney a driving lesson.  I don't have a picture of that because I was hanging on for dear life. (-;  (I'm joking, she did fine.)
I'm teaching her to drive standard, on dirt roads, in PNG.  Because I think that one day she'll appreciate being able to tell her kids where she learned to drive.

Blog Suffering

My blog has been suffering lately. Anyone who is a loyal reader has
definitely noticed the change in it. Why has that happened? Why have I
stopped writing about my work as much and how awesome PNG is?

Well, it is because of my job. I'm Chief Officer of Internal
Communication and because of that, a lot of what I do, is handle
internal items which aren't for public consumption.

My job is one that was designed to help with efficiency and unity. The
idea being, I'm supposed to be the guy who finds where problems are
being caused by a communication breakdown, and resolving those and
making sure that they don't happen again.

I'm also responsible for making sure that the people who live here, know
what is going on around them.
Right now, my concentration and purpose are important. My job doesn't
afford me as many chances to get into the village and do recordings, or
do exciting things.

Mostly I spend my days talking to people, writing up communications,
doing research and sitting in meetings. That isn't exactly exciting
blog stuff.

And yet, the job is exciting, because it's important, and useful.
When I first started I thought 'am I really going to be doing any good
here? Could it possibly be as good as recording Scripture in tok ples?'
The answer had to be no. Recording audio in the village was some of the
most exciting and rewarding work I've ever done.

But what I'm doing now, feels vital. It feels like there are only a
handful of people who have the vision I have for this ministry.

Why is it so important?

I feel we are at a crossroads. We're coming up on 60 years in this
country. There is still a lot of translation to do. There are more
jobs than we have workers. Morale has been low for a while because that
tends to happen when you are overworked.

And I have this strong impression that in order to continue getting the
Bible into the hands of Papua New Guineans, some things are going to
have to change. And whenever things change, good communication is
needed to make sure that change is clearly expressed and understood.

Since doing this work, I've had many missionaries (whom I support) offer
me words of thanks and appreciation. Part of my role is trying to make
their burdens lighter.

I am much more in a supportive servant role now than I am any kind of
photo worthy role. If I'm doing my work well, people won't notice,
because things will work smoothly.

When I was doing computers, if something broke I fixed it, and people
were excited and I was a rock star (love those CTS guys!)
When I was doing recordings, I was in the village or the studio and
meeting interesting people and it was awesome!

What I'm doing now, is not really blog worthy, and the things that are
worthy, I can't share due to confidentiality. But it is important.

I could say 'last week some friends went finish after 30 years in the
field. I was instrumental in helping people become aware of their
contribution and facilitating a chance to show them honor and
appreciation." WOW... * blog snore*. And yet, I got real satisfaction
out of knowing that a couple finished well here, instead of leaving
burned out and angry.

So I'll ask for some grace on my blog as I'll be sharing more of our
'saturday' stuff than our mon-weds stuff.

Third Culture Kid Moment

My daughter yesterday was calling to help arrange a surprise party for a
friend turning 17.
One of the people she needed to call was a Korean friend named
'Seonghwan' (pronounced sung wahn).
Without knowing it, she accidentally dialed the wrong number and reached
the place of a Papua New Guinean.
A man answered the phone.

Syd: "Hello is Seonghwan there?" - she asked assuming it was
Seonghwan's dad.
Man: "yes."
pause....... silence.... my daughter assumed the man was going to go
fetch his son.
Man: "What do you want?"
Syd: "Seonghwan."
Man: "I'm someone."
My daughter, thinking this man did not sound like Seonghwan, slowly
realized the mistake and the miscommunication.

Syd: "I'm sorry, I wasn't asking for 'someone' I was asking for
Seonghwan, I think I've dialed the wrong number."


As she told this story to her dad at dinner, I was SO hoping for a
'who's on first' unraveling but it stopped pretty quick as she realized
what was going on. Still funny.


About the Book

Well it's been a while since the book I wrote has been available to the
public (8 months).
In that time, we've returned to PNG. I told myself 'I'll work on
publicizing this book when I have the time, maybe on weekends in PNG.'

I haven't had the time.
We've been very busy. In fact Kendal and I have been more busy this
term, on average, than in other terms.
As a result I forgot about publicizing the book.

Not a lot of people back in PNG mentioned my book to me, so I figured
they heard about it and didn't care. Or worse, they read it and didn't
like it.

Come to find out, a lot of people didn't know about it. They were
asking me "WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL US!?" and "AM I IN IT?"

I was surprised people seemed to care. I have to admit, I'm often
surprised by what people care about. There was a modicum of hubbub when
we imported our truck. People seem to want to come see it and touch it
and stuff. When I expressed surprise at this, friends said "well yeah!
it's something new and exciting."

So today I checked out my book on Amazon. Apparently there are 11
reviews, a majority from people I am not sure that I know. So that's
good, it seems to be reaching people and having an impact. I'm glad of
that. I've said from the beginning that this is really something up to
God to use. If it is useful to someone, I suspect He'll bring it to
their attention.

Still, it's nice to see people happy with the book. I still don't have
time to publicize it much, so if you know someone who needs to read it,
let them know!



Goat on a truck lift

At the autoshop, they have a goat.  The goat was standing on the truck lift, and I was thinking 
"he needs his hooves rotated"

anyone with a better caption?

Ura friends

You may recall that a few years ago I spent 3 weeks in a village and did a recording to dub a Luke video in the Ura language.  

Two of the friends I made in the village came to visit at Ukarumpa and do some translation work.  We had them over for dinner so that I could introduce my family to them.

It was an enjoyable evening of visiting.  To my right is Boaz, to my left is Mangseng.

Boaz spoke to me and told me that since we did that video dubbing, hundreds of his people have seen and heard about what Jesus did for them.  I was told that one man had heard it on the radio and said that he finally understood in his skin, his whole body, what Christ did.

The message was going viral, via cell phones and the radio.  And though no official screening of the video was ever scheduled, the people were passing the film amongst themselves.  

He told me that though some people recognize his voice, and heard stories of me and my coming to do the work, most everyone doesn't know him, or me.  But God knows.  And the work we did has reached hundreds of people.

I was really touched by him taking the time to share that with me. I had no idea that the video we did was affecting so many people.  It is wonderful to see God's Word and the Gospel being so absorbed by these people.  

It was enjoyable to see old friends, and the unexpected update on the results of that work was a bonus!! God is really great.  You don't always get a moment like that when you're in ministry.

For a ride

My son on a ride in PNG.

Not Nerf


It's my ATV

The other day I was outside, driving to work on my ATV.  I was going very slowly, looking around at the beauty of Papua New Guinea.  And a huge smile crept across my face.  This is my therapy.

But after a while I thought 'why do I have this huge smile?'  Is it the freedom? Being outdoors? The scenery?  Why this huge grin, every day? I feel like people are looking at me saying 'why is he so happy?'

And it dawned on me today.
Sorry this isn't a super spiritual post.

The 'put put put' sound my ATV makes, reminds my inner child of the Autopia ride at Disneyland.  And how as a kid I always wanted to jump the track and drive tha gas powered car freely around the park.  And now, here I am, a grown man, doing just that!  I had the realization when looking up at my desk today that has one solitary Disney pin on the wall.  Years ago I traded all of my pins for this one.

I love this place. (PNG, not Disneyland, but I love that place too).


Thankfulness in gallons per inch

My daughter occasionally used to say 'we never use math in a practical
way'. We've been really short of water these days, and today it rained,
hard but short. It rained about 2mm worth. Not much. I wanted to show
everyone 'although it did just rain, we still need to conserve.'

So... FIRST you measure the width and length of your roof.
Then multiply those two numbers to get your square footage.
My roof has 3 parts, so I did this for all three parts, and then added
them all together.

1756 sq.ft of roof.

Then I multiplied by .56 which will give you the amount of water
produced per inch of rain assuming 90% efficiency. Since my gutters are
only slightly leaky I'm comfortable assuming 90%.

That gave me 983.36 gallons p/inch or, 39.3 gallons p/mm or 148 liters
p/mm (I'm rounding for simplicity)

So now the kids know, if it rains a single millimeter, we'll get near 40
gallons of water.

the stats I used for the average water consumption (drinking/potable,
dishes,laundry, etc) per person per day is: 150litres (that is using UK
stats, US stats are much higher). or 40 gallons. Our family consumption
p/day would be 120 gallons p/day when NOT in conservation mode.

80litres for a bath
45litres for a 5 min. shower
50-100litres for a wash of laundry
15 litres for doing dishes (we don't have a dish washer)
+ drinking water around 3 litres p/day.

Given that we only produce nearly 148litres/40 gallons for a mm of
water, then that little flash rain we got covers the need for only 1 of us.

That opened their eyes.
THEN, I decided to calculate how long it would take to fill our tanks.

PRAISE to God, that in the midst of this drought, we have not run out of
rain water in our tanks. This is because we have a LOT of storage
capacity. I do not know if we were the only ones to not run dry here,
but it is thanks to the fact that we were bought a new tank a while ago,
and kept it through the move. When we looked for houses to move to (2
yrs ago) water storage was a huge issue for me. Knowing we'd have 2
teenagers, and knowing that a drought was predicted 4 years ago, water
storage was more than once a reason I said 'no' to house.

God provided us with water storage, and we are thankful. We got to
within 2 weeks of running out, enacted our emergency stores, and then it
rained and now we're at 1/2 capacity again (most people are full).

Our storage capacity is 4000 gallons of water, plus an emergency 400
With that in mind, it would take us 4inches of rain to completely fill
our tanks if they were empty. So far, we've got a little under 2 inches
of rain.

I also designed a clever little water tank meter, so that we can easily
monitor our water level. Otherwise you have to tap on a metal water tank
to tell where the water level is (or pour hot water down the side and
watch the condensation mark).

(you tend to learn a few tricks regarding water).

That all said... the way I figure it, if we go 3 months without rain, we
will have depleted our reserves. This assumes tight water conservation
methods kick in once we reach half tank.

So we're thankful for the rain, and we're able to actually measure that
thankfulness in gallons per inch. (or litres per mm)


Odd Conversation

Are you prepared to have a conversation with someone who sits down and
says 'Tell me about Christ.' ?

That happened to me today.

Are you then prepared to have a conversation with someone who says 'I
disagree with you and here is why.' ?

That also happened to me today.

I believe I would answer both of those questions with an affirmative
'yes'. But that isn't what was really happening.

Today as I was at work doing my job, and in fact, on a Friday being very
busy about it, I was asked by the receptionist to speak to a man who
walked in off the street. My office is placed inside the Director's
office but I am not a director. I happen to sit here because my job is
communication. So, when a man came looking for a director, and they
were all out of the office, I was asked to field it.

I showed the man in. He was a Papua New Guinean man, we spoke a mixture
of English and Tok Pisin. He was definitely educated about the Bible
and able to quote Scripture. I kept trying to discover why he was here,
what he wanted.

So, (not for the first time) I played a little bi-lingual back and forth
trying to discern the man's intentions. Often times a man says 'tell me
about Christ.' and there intention is not to learn about Christ at all.
God must have prepared me for this meeting years ago because the first
time I was asked this in country I did an entire Gospel presentation
only to find out the person didn't want to know any of that.

After going back and forth in a friendly way, talking about the Bible
and our beliefs, I gathered that the man wanted to come and speak to
leadership. He saw us as responsible for translating the Bible and
wanted to convince us to clear up a few misunderstandings. Mostly he
was friendly and wanted to be heard.

He believes that Christ has not come yet. That the Bible is talking
prophetically about a savior yet to come. And because we have not yet
identified who Christ is, we're still in sin. He believes the church
was wrong in assuming that Christ has already come and he is going
around talking to everyone in leadership about his ideas. He kept
quoting Daniel to show me he was right. Of course, one verse does not a
theology make.

I kindly told him I disagreed with him, shared with him a brief Gospel
message of who Christ was and is, and is to come.
We agreed to disagree, and he thanked me for listening to him. He
wanted to be sure that I heard him and got his name known, in case we
wanted to ask him questions in the future.

And then we shook hands and he left.

Unexpected and odd conversations like this happen frequently amongst
folks here. For me, in this office job, this is a first. But I've had
these interesting conversations outside of the office before.

It is during these conversations that I say a quick prayer "God, give me
the words to say, this person has come to me probably on your behest,
what do you want to share with them today?" I never know what happens
after that.

You never know when those chances are going to come, and I tell you, it
makes me want to continue memorizing more Scripture so I can be more
prepared for them. I'm actually kind of excited that even in a desk job
that supports Bible Translation, I can have these face to face meetings.