PNG TIME

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12/31/2016

Flying ants

When the rain falls hard and long we get these flying ants who are attracted to light.  Whenever a door is opened dozens fly in.  It is the ultimate in that "something is crawling on me" feeling as they drop into your hair and neck.

At midnight we celebrated the new year by going outside and firing expired flares into the skyh.  The ants siezed their moment to flood the house, and now I am at war.

Whatever I do not remove tonight, will be dead by morning.  It is the most curious phenomenon. I really should research it.


12/25/2016

Light





Christmas Eve Service
It is 11pm Christmas Evening for us over here.
Most of you are sleeping and will wake soon to your Christmas morning. In a few hours, if you haven't already.

The lifestyle we live, it is customary for your high school graduate to move away after graduation, and that is true of many families.
So this is the last 'in our house under our roof in PNG' Christmas with our daughter for the foreseeable future.
Because this has the tendency to make us all sad, we outlawed the phrases 'for the last time' and such, so that we could keep it out of mind.

But our Christmas is over now, and I can write this blog entry without fear of breaking our rule.

Christmas is a time of many lights. Christ was a light to the world, we put up lights, we light candles.

My daughter is a light. Not just to our family but to any place she goes.

You've probably been in the Christmas Eve services where one flame lights one candle and it spreads out quickly until the entire room is lit.
That is my daughter's affect on a room.

I suppose we could look at the end of that service with sadness as we blow out the candle and say 'look the light was extinguished.'
But most of us leave that room thinking 'That was a remarkable thing that we were a part of.'

And that is my attitude about my daughter, preparing to go out into the world and light it up.  Sure next Christmas our house will be a little dimmer, but someone else's will be that much more bright, and isn't that what you're after as parents?

Our prayer for her, is that God's kingdom would be magnified in her life, and that she would come to know Him and love Him more with each passing day.

Jesus is way more than 'the reason for the season' He's the reason for our existence.
He's the purpose of our lives, He's the light.

Our family wishes yours the best Christmas... full of light, God's light.
We know that not everyone is cheery this time of year, but even when things are grim, everyone could use a little light.  For those who are in hospital waiting rooms, for those who are away from loved ones, for those who feel alone and lonely, for those who need some light...

We pray that God's light would find you and somehow, for even the briefest of moments, brighten your day somehow... today.

Merry Christmas.



12/20/2016

Joy and Santa

This question has come up more than once this Christmas season and I would like to share with you my answer.

"Why do Christians celebrate Santa, and lights and presents? Isn't that wrong? Doesn't it have pagan roots?"

My answer.

My take on it, for believers who choose to engage in some of the traditions, is this. When Christ came, it was a big joyous occasion. The angels heralded it, told us that JOY to the WORLD!! They are more engaged and public around his birth than any other event. We're meant to remember His birth with joy and celebration! These traditions get us "in the spirit" of joy. They amp us up, give little kids something to be excited by. So partaking in them is actually good so long as we connect the dots and complete the loop and get that associated joy connected to the birth of Christ. The dichotomy of 'yeah we know it's about Jesus, but we're excited about Santa' should eventually be coached to helping each person focus that sense of Joy on the depth of what Christ has done, so that by the time they are mature adults in Christ they can say 'I am sincerely joyful each year at Christmas, because of Christ.' For me is about this discovery of Joy. If we take out all the 'fun' of Christmas to kids, we are teaching them in fact the exact opposite. While trying to combat the many 'evils' of Christmas, we end up teaching our kids 'Being a Christian at Christmas is a drag, because we don't get to do the fun things the other kids do.' and it makes it much more difficult for them, as adults, to become truly joyful about Christ. Not impossible, just, harder.

I don't offer any judgement on Christians who go the other way and choose to disengage from Christmas, because you have to do as the Spirit leads you.

I realize my answer sounds like a justification for doing what I want anyway, but I had to seriously consider this as a young parent when one of my good friends challenged me on the topic.  So it isn't a justification it is a real life choice that I made before having kids.

My kids are teenagers now, and haven't believed in Santa for a long time.  From a very young age they understood that giving was better than receiving and are very generous people.  They have never felt 'lied to' nor 'deceived' about Santa, and in our house are Christmas traditions involved daily Advent readings, a 'Happy Birthday Jesus' cake, etc.

We have always kept our traditions Christ focused while still enjoying and engaging in the other traditions. So our kids were able to move easily into the joy of Christmas being about Christ.

We have also, having raised them overseas, have had the chance to engage with meaningful community during the Christmas season, as well as serving others (and escaping commercialism). And so the kids have grown up with this excitement for Christmas that doesn't revolve around what they are going to get.

For them it centers on, what we get to do together, what Christ did, and what they can do for others.

I'll admit to being a classic overthinker, and to having a strategy for this from before they were born.  My wife and I have been accused of having too many Christmas traditions, but I guarantee you, that every one of them has the side effect of accomplishing strong moral character in our kids that we have already begun to see fruit from.

So before anyone goes around bashing other Christians who engaged in the holiday spirit a little-too-much for their tastes, please consider this perspective.

Oh, and Merry Christmas!




How Did This Happen?

Photo of the month, under the heading:
"How Did This Photo Happen?"
and
"What Are They Laughing About?"

I give you:


11/28/2016

Putting up lights

Anyone else thinking I might end up on some epic fail video compilation?  Son is standing by with video camera just i case. 

11/27/2016

Reindog

From memory designed an antler from the Grinch and printed it out.  Made our own "max the reindeer"

11/26/2016

3d Christmas #2

Some of you may remember my Mario Bros. Star tree topper from last year.  Well I didn't design that.
THIS year, I designed a tree ornament.

What is it?
it is a 3d print of the 4 of us.

How to:
Take an xbox 360 kinect (or other like priced 3d scanner)
Adapt it to USB slot
Install FREE version of 'Skanect' on your mac or PC.
do a full 360 scan of each of your family members
Drop that scan into Google Sketchup
Edit the heads and align them as you need to
Drop that into Netfabb, to clean it up for printing
Drop THAT into your 3d software
Print using white PLA
show it to your family
Have them break it accidentally
Crazy glue it back together
then hang it on your tree.



The Hunting of the Tree

My family kicks off the Christmas season by hunting for the perfect Christmas tree.  Only, we don't have tree farms here, we have instead, an artificial tree we brought from the U.S.  Still, we have this little tradition where we go tree hunting anyway, even though it's not really a thing here.


Here's how the tradition was birthed:
My wife and I wanted our first Christmas in PNG to be a good experience for the kids instead of a reason for them to miss home even more.
I spoke to several of the dads around centre and tried to get them to agree to put all our trees in one big area and call it a farm, and we could all go there and find our own tree. Mimicking the experience we had in the States. We could hunt around for a bit, eye the other trees, have my wife say something like 'well it's sparse in the back but if we turn that side against the wall....' etc.  Every guy thought it was cool to do, but none seemed willing to actually DO it.  So, the day came when we had to pull the tree out of storage, and I decided to wing it.

I was out in our outbuilding which was filled with lumber and scraps from the previous family.    I happened upon this tiny little piece of plywood that had a red and green "Merry Christmas' painted on it.  It made me chuckle and reminded of a Tree Farm sign. Rather than simply take the tree from the shelf and go back inside, I quickly painted "TREE FARM" on the opposite side of that little piece of plywood, nailed it to a flimsy little stick, and went outside in the front of our yard, planted the sign in the yard, and then took our little  five foot tall, pre-lit, in a plastic pot, artificial Christmas tree, and stuck it in the bushes near our house. (The family was none the wiser).

I went inside and told Kendal "I'm going to be weird, just go with it." To her credit she did. (Sometimes that exchange is the birth of awesomeness for our family.)

"Okay kids, load up the car! It's time to go to the Tree farm!" I shouted.  It was met with confusion. They were 6 and 8 years old at the time, and tree hunting to them was up in the hills with family.  So doing that in this country did not seem like a possibility.

In subsequent years, Kendal has made cocoa and we've added Christmas music in the car via an iPod, and also a trivia game.  But that year, we just all drove around with a saw, and the kids at first were like 'this is really weird' but then after a while they kept seeing tree after tree that we could cut down.

I drove around in circles on centre for about 30 minutes and then I slowed down near our house as one of the kids saw a 'TREE FARM' sign.  Kendal looked at me with a 'What did you do?' inquisitive smile.

We walked around the yard, looking at trees. I told the kids 'there's a perfect one here somewhere.'  I paused at times to let the kids bicker over whether or not to cut down our lemon tree, and slowly guided them towards the 'PERFECT' tree.  They found it, and were excited, we pretended to cut the fake tree down, and just like that, a tradition was born.

It was providence, if that little piece of plywood hadn't been there, the idea would never have hit me.
The tradition turned our first Christmas in PNG from "this is a tiny little fake tree, this is NOT like home at all!" to "Hey! We can do things here we've never done anywhere else! That was weird and fun, and we look forward to the little fake tree hunt every year!"

Over the years we have tried variations, and some worked and some didn't.
One that worked was, that the kids have to answer Christmas trivia and whoever gets it right, gets to choose which way we turn at the next fork in the road.
THIS is very difficult for dear ol' dad who knows where the tree is, and knows if the kids choose the wrong direction, it'll be another 15 minutes in the car or so.

This year is our daughter's last Christmas in PNG. (I mean, for the foreseeable future, who knows what God will do.)  So this year, our Christmas trivia was all about our past family PNG Christmases and our traditions.  It was a 'best of' kind of thing and the kids, now 8 years practiced at this (we've been in country for 10 Christmases minus 2 while on furlough), guided the truck to the 'Tree Farm' and found the tree within 40 minutes, while we sipped cocoa and played Bing Crosby on the car radio.

We have decided as a family that we're not going to use the word 'LAST' or 'FINAL' because focusing on it being our last Christmas, just the four of us, will ruin all the good times by tinging them with sadness.

As my daughter said 'Mom, Dad, us seniors are trying hard not to think about June, about having to leave, so please stop reminding us every chance you get that this is the LAST of this or that, it's sad to have to leave your home, your family, your friends, all at the same time.  So we decided we can't, or it'll ruin all the time we have left.'

It was wise advice.  So we don't say it.
But still, I popped awake at 4:30 this morning thinking 'This is the last one with Syd, so I gotta make it good!'  And it was, it was fun, we enjoyed it, and then we moved on to the next thing we had to do for the day.

I find it interesting, that this little tradition that started because two parents wanted to help their kids transition into the country well, has become something to help their parents transition as our little girl leaves the nest.  It's a transition tool for me now, as because was thinking about our many memories as I hid the tree.  Life is funny sometimes.


11/06/2016

Completely Random Thought #173

Music evokes emotion in me. Some music accompanies an emotion 'what
music I'm in the mood for.'
Other music evokes a memory, and a linked emotion.


Today I was listening to a John Williams' 'Superman Main Theme'.
I grew up with Christopher Reeves as my Superman.
Second to that was George Reeve with old Superman t.v. shows..
Lois and Clark never took hold with me,
Smallville was enjoyable but not superman...
the new superman fights like superman should but he's too ...alien for me.

all that to say...

at 2:11 when... maybe it's the bridge of the song....comes this strong
emotional sense of safety and happiness hits me. Like at the end of a
Superman movie when you left feeling good! I mean there was a real
protagonist, a real HERO... a real feel good movie. Triumphant... safe,
good.

And today's youth call THAT movie lame. It wasn't lame. What's lame is
non-hero hero's. Anti-heroes... bleh!

I may be showing my age, but hey looky looky, you throw away good clean
cut heroes in movies, and life imitates art. WHERE have all the heroes
gone? We're inundated with super-hero movies, but exactly what is so
super-heroish about any of them today?

Powers? No, for me it was always character. Still is.

Today's modern heroes are people with character, strong morale fibre.

Anyway.. rant over.
I just really like that piece of music.

10/29/2016

jury Rig 986.5


In the middle of a wood project the belt on my sander snapped. One month minimum to get a replacement. Used duct tape to temporarily keep it spinning so I could finish the project!  

10/20/2016

75 Years

This gets me charged up. I've been reading a lot of history of people who have gone before us lately. We've been here coming up on 10 years. This place has been here for 60 years! That's a LOT of people who came before us and did some foundational work. Every time we see a Bible dedication, I am reminded that someone started that work over 20 years ago. God's economy, His timeline is vastly different than ours.

10/04/2016

Christafari Concert

20 years ago I attended Biola University, where I saw a young band called Christafari perform its lead singer was a classmate of mine, though I did not know him very well.

1 year ago, while leading a Bible study for 9th grade boys, my co-leader asked me if I had ever heard of a band called Christafari.  I told him I had, but that I didn't know they were still together.

Apparently this band called themselves 'Musicianaries'. 

They went all over the world and performed and told people about Christ.  My friend wondered if there was any chance we could get them to come to our corner of the world.  I told him there it was worth a try.

This culture really responds to music and audio.  My friend Todd worked hard for a year, with many others to get a concert going.  Last night, that concert happened.

Approximations have it at 5000 people in attendance! With an altar call at the end that had 100's of responses!





Join me in praying that these decisions take root and change lives for Christ!



We're praising God for this unlikely event that had a huge impact.
And though it is not directly related to what we do in this country, it a great example of one of the many "side-ministries" that happen here that have a huge impact.


10/01/2016

FAFSA

The form I've been dreading for years is done.

And it was fun!
I mean, it was EASY.
I don't know what the FAFSA forms of years past looked like, but this
was... very simple. Even over a busy internet line, it was quite doable.

Why was I so amped up about this form?

I was told that submitting it early gave you the best chance for
financial aid. And, being ahead of the U.S. time wise, I was able to
begin it right at midnight U.S. time. *snicker*

But I only did that because I figured it would take me a few days to
complete it.

Instead I found the process actually enjoyable!
So, for those out there dreading the FAFSA... keep dreading it! Because
you'll likely find out it wasn't half bad!

I feel all grown-uppy now.

9/25/2016

Drones and Quads and Footage

So I'm a bit of a quadrotor hobbiest. Although I've never flown anything
larger than my hand.

I had great dreams of putting a smaller drone up into the air (for
around $200) and getting video footage of villages and remote locations etc.

However the drones I could afford, had very choppy footage. So, I gave
up my dream of using it for video.

Today however, I happened across some footage shot of our Alotau area by
someone who had a higher end quad with a camera on it, and man... it was
the nicest footage from a drone I've ever seen!

I began to salivate at the footage, imagining all the things I could do
here.

I've taken up photogrammetry as a way to achieve this, but it failed
because, I'm not that patient with photographs.

I've tried low cost drones but that failed....

I want to create a video/virtual tour of all the places we do ministry
in this country so that people back home can see it and get an idea. So
that people coming here could get an idea.

If any of you have the time and energy and toys, I'd love to have you
come here with your toy and shoot tons of video!

It was really fun to watch the local kids and adults watch the drone and
interact with it, chasing it, shying away from it.

I really wanted that toy! But obviously it is not a necessity. I may be
able to drum up a hobbyiest around here who will be willing to help me.
If so, watch this space for some video tours!

9/04/2016

Clothespin Challenge

The Clothespin challenge


Have you ever seen an old movie or cartoon where someone puts a clothespin over their nose to keep out a bad smell?  




The only real improvement on the clothespin was in adding a spring, (later making them plastic may arguably be an improvement)  Otherwise, this invention has withstood the test of time.


If you think about how versatile the clothes-pin truly is you'd probably realize you have some use for it in your home.  At least one or two.  

You may be surprised to know that we have dozens of them in our house, and we use it to put our clothes on the line in our back yard.  We don't use a dryer (unless dire emergency) because it consumes costly electricity.

Which gave me this idea……  I know that a lot of places in the world still use the clothespin.  I also know that there are a lot of places that no longer do.  So I came up with this challenge for the places that no longer do.  Maybe your whole family can get involved?

Every Church has some Global Emphasis week or month. (It used to be call 'missions month').

Maybe you can take up this challenge during that time.


THE CLOTHESPIN CHALLENGE:

For 1 month, unplug your clothes dryer and don't use it.  Instead run some low gauge rope in your back yard, and dry all of your clothes with the power of the sun.  This will require hanging the clothes after they are washed, letting them sit out in the open to dry (maybe a horrible time of year for this if you have a lot of rain), taking them down, then folding them.  It is more time consuming than throwing clothes in a dryer.  It also means you're putting your clothing out there for anyone to see (if they look over your fence) and it means leaving them open to possible theft.

While you do this, you are learning part of what daily life is for a large percentage of the world. You'd learning what our daily life is like, as well as the people we live and serve amongst.  You'll learn that feeling of 'Nice, I can finally put my feet up after having done my morning chores…wait.. is that rain! FAMILY RUN! Get the clothes down!"  You'll also save electricity bill costs.

It'll take significantly more time than putting ice water in a bucket and pouring it over your head.  It's true.  But at the end of it, you'll have a deeper appreciation for one of the small adaptations in life that living where we do requires.  For many people they already live like this. Some do so because it is more ecological, others do so because they live in environments with plenty of sun.  But many across the world do so because modern conveniences don't work where they live, or are too costly.

After the month is over, post about your experience and anything you may have learned?  Did the challenge help you understand a new aspect of living in a different way or place?   If you want to speed it up, you can forego the clothes line and just drape your wet clothes over bushes, or any surface not on the ground as many people do in this country.


My next challenge would be the 'sliced bread' challenge.  Have you ever heard the phrase "The greatest thing since sliced bread?"  How much bread does your family use in a week? Imagine that sliced bread… hot dog buns, hamburger buns, sweet rolls, ALL bread, had to be made by hand. That you didn't have sliced bread, you didn't have toast… unless you made it from scratch and sliced it by hand.  How much time and effort would you spend each day, just making sure your family had bread?  Or would you adapt and remove bread from your diet?  How would you adapt?  And how happy would you be when you could finally buy sliced bread again?  If your church is having a Global Emphasis week, consider doing one of these challenges with your kids. Thankfully, where we live, we can buy sliced bread now, but it wasn't always so.  We can't however, get buns easily.  So for us, having hamburgers, or any kind of special sandwich requires bun making first.









8/30/2016

Losing Fingers


Several years ago word came out that a man named Enoch was looking for a ride from the Highlands down into the coastal city of Madang. My family and I were driving down there for the very first time, having been in country only a few weeks at that time. We offered to give Enoch a ride.

For five and a half hours we got to know Enoch. At first he seemed very nervous and seemed to feel unsafe. I thought it was perhaps riding with strangers, but instead it was because of the area we were passing through, the area in which Enoch had met a very violent time. He proceeded to share his testimony with us, and it is in this video.

In late June we dedicated the Urat New Testament. Work like this is impossible without people like Enoch, helped by people like you. We are here to support Bible Translation, and you support us being here. Your lives have touched Enoch's life indirectly, but God knew exactly who would be helping Enoch and how and where.

To hear 'I decided to let God take revenge' has an incredible meaning in this cultural context and is tremendously indicative of God working in Enoch's life. His testimony has reached many. This is why we are here, to see God's Word changing people's lives in a meaningful way.

Thank you for your partnership with us!

8/27/2016

Last Night

Last night we were driving somewhere and my son looked up and saw a
digital thermometer that read 68F.
He asked "Dad do you think that temperature is correct?"
I replied, "Yes, it should be."

he paused...
then said

"Dad I just had an epiphany. You grew up in California and you
instinctively assume gadgets work whereas I grew up here and
instinctively assume they don't."

It was a poignant observation. I did assume the temp gauge worked at
first, and then verified (by judging the temperature of the day being
slightly chillier than room temp), he assume it was broken, and verified
by asking me if it worked.


I ask 'why wouldn't it be working?'
he asks 'why would it be working?'

Interesting subtle difference in how he grew up.

8/25/2016

Photogrammetry

For a while now, for fun, I've been creating a 3d map of where we live.
It isn't photo realistic, it doesn't look nice like Google Maps street
view. The idea being I could one day 3d print it out and have a model
of the area.

Today as I was tinkering around on Google Sketchup doing this... I
thought 'this would be better if the buildings looked like themselves
instead of white blocks'.

So I began to dig into how Google maps does the street view, if I could
make my own 'google car' and drive around the neighborhood.

The answer was "photogrammetry". In a nutshell, taking huge amounts of
photos and connecting them together to create a 3d map!

You can use stand alone cameras, drones, or even, a self-made "google
car" where you snap a ton of photos of things.

I thought it would be neat to spend some time creating a 3d map of the
place, so our friends back at home could do a 'virtual walkthrough'.
However, I've only just begun playing with the software for this and can
already tell it is going to take a LOT of time and THOUSANDS of photos.

So watch this space, I may one day, have it all done. I'm throwing out
my previous model and starting from scratch. If this works, it'll be
very awesome and useful!

8/16/2016

How Did You Wake Up Today?

I had to euthanize a cat.

This post is not for the feint of heart. I hesitated to post it, but I wanted to highlight the difference of living here. Sometimes the differences are subtle.  Because this may have happened where I grew up in California as well.

Moments before my alarm went off this morning, I was awoken by the sound of barking/fighting dogs.  I looked out my window, and without my glasses on I saw 3 wild dogs tearing and tossing at something small and white.  I instantly assumed it might be our dog or our neighbors dog (which is small and white).

I burst out of the bedroom to run outside when I saw our dog.  Relieved, I realized it still may be our neighbors dog, because, when a pack of dogs comes up, your little domestic one on a walk, is no match.

When I arrived outside, my Swiss neighbor had scared the pack off and was hovering over a dying cat. I will spare you the details but it was dying and in pain.  The only thing humane to do was to end its life.  My neighbor being a cat lover, I volunteered to do the necessary work.

Thankfully the cat was a feral cat, and not one of the domestic ones with a loving home.  In fact this particular cat had also been terrorizing the neighborhood a bit, so there wasn't any love loss.  I know it's sad, but somehow that made it better knowing someone's beloved pet wasn't dying.

I'll spare you the details, but I buried the cat, jumped in the shower and headed to work.

Now I have to help deal with this pack of dogs.  Because as long as they are around, children, cats and little dogs in the neighborhood are not safe.

There is no animal control to call. This is one of those times where, if you're lucky, there is someone in the neighborhood who can do what needs to be done, and do it without the means of firearms. 

Why on earth did I write this blog entry? 

If you're thinking of coming here, you don't need to put animals down, there will likely be someone you can ask to do that for you. But, if you're the type of person who can do that, then believe it or not, that is yet another ability you have that can be used to serve others by doing a dirty job no one likes to do.  In this place, every aspect of you, every skill you have, can be utilized to serve and bless others. I am thankful to God for the way I grew up, and the animal husbandry I learned, and the experience and ability to be able to handle these types of situations.



8/08/2016

Urat

Urat NT Bible dedication last month.

People of this generation:

Working hard so that people of this generation (and all future generations):


Can have God's Word in their language.

That's what it is all about.



7/15/2016

Jury Rig #3201

This is our tree, we call it the Dr. Seuss Tree


One day, the wind came along and made our tree sad.



Confident it would break after drooping over, I thought I might shore it up with some rope, but there was nothing to moor it to.  So we waited and waited for the tree to fall over and snap.  But it didn't.

The other day I saw that some Papua New Guinean gardeners used sticks to prop up their fruit trees when they were too heavy with fruit.

So, I followed suit..



See the baby branches at the top? You never see that on these trees. We call it our Dr. Seuss tree because it grows clumps.  Now I know why, the branches reach up to the sun, and when it is vertical, they are shaded by the bushy part at the top.

It is the oddest thing, a tree growing horizontal like that, but hopefully it will bring some much needed shade!

To do this jury rig yourself you will need:
-to drive around and happen to see a neighbor who has a long straight tree branch they are willing to lend you
-Dig a small hole
-Prop up the tree branch
-Some cutting required

*smile*

I think I'm going to call it our Jonah tree now.  Jonah 4:6 "The Lord appointed a little plant and caused it to grow up over Jonah to be a shade over his head to rescue him from his misery.  Now Jonah was very delighted about this little plant."


7/06/2016

Da Book

https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Call-Missionary-Chad-Owens-ebook/dp/B00V3YYBWA#navbar 

It's been 4 years since I began writing this book. A friend began reading the book and was moved to donate her time and talents to donate several pieces of promotional art.  This is one of them.  I will hopefully be using them to put onto blogs, instagram, facebook, etc.

Thanks to : http://www.beckymuth.com
If you are a self-published author and are looking for some promotional art, look her up. She's good!  I'm very thankful she chose me to donate her talents and time to.
 


6/28/2016

Learning to Read

Here is an encouraging video depicting what reading God's Word can do in
a village.
As part of my job I get the privilege of approving, consulting and
sharing videos that my team do to help get the stories out.

This one was done by the newest member of our team, and I found
encouragement in the story. It is helpful as someone who does support
work, to be reminded why they are supporting Bible translation.

6/14/2016

Graduation is over

So my daughter is now a senior in high school. My son a 10th grader.
As is our way of life, in 1 year's time from now, my daughter will be
leaving home.

Part of our culture here is that seniors have to leave soon after they
graduate for visa reasons. So, you can imagine in a single month's time
(4 Saturdays)

-a banquet/prom

-awards ceremony

-a graduation

-a graduation party/reception

-all the 'lasts' ... saying goodbyes, etc.

-moving out for 6 months to a year as you go on furlough (or shorter)

-a child moving out of the house.

They say stress levels on normal people range up to 12 on some scale of
stress that someone smarter than me figured out. 12 being complete
meltdown/burnout. A survey done last year said that missionaries live
at a constant 13 which they have become accustomed to. Thus feeling
stress at peaks to 16. This June was 15. Next June will be 18.

We've one year left with our daughter to equip her for the real world.
1 very short year. To teach her everything left that we can. Cram it
all in.

That isn't a whole lot of time.

We sure could use some prayer. I have this feeling that the next year is
going to pass by like a blink.

THIS year we were incredibly busy, next year will be insane.

As a father, I don't even like thinking about this, but it is time.

6/08/2016

Movin' On Up

Exams are over, by Weds we'll have a 10th grader and a high school
senior in the family!

Today as I was leaving for work, my daughter the only one left behind I
began to shout out to her,

"Bye, don't do anything I wouldn't do." but then I thought 'wait, that's
WAY too permissive. I'm a 42 year old man, there are plenty of things I
would do that I don't want my 16 yr old daughter doing.

So I modified it to

"Do the things I would do." but then I thought 'wait, that's the same
thing!"

so I changed it to

"Don't do some of the things I would do." and then I realized that
sounded odd. Plus I breath and walk, and talk, and I would want her to
do those things, so.... again it changed to

"Do some of the things I wouldn't do and some of the things I would do
but..." that didn't work so again I changed it.

and just started to say "Do the things YOU would do, I trust you." at
which point the salutation was completely pointless. I mean, do I really
need to tell someone to do the things they would do?


What my daughter eventually heard (or didn't hear as she was in a
different room) was her dad walking out the door shouting

"Duh, but.. suh.. doo.. love..bye."

Adjusting to having a senior in the house is gonna be entertaining.

5/30/2016

The 'Huh' Moment

I like coining terms. I'm trying to invent a term for the following
idea, perhaps you can help me.

It is that moment AFTER you've finished a huge undertaking (like
planning a wedding or some other huge long-term project) where you slump
down in your chair, and say 'Well, We did it! It's Over' and you relax
and celebrate... not that moment... the moment AFTER... when you
realize 'Huh, life goes on. There's millions of people all around me who
have no idea what we just accomplished and wouldn't care even if they
knew. Interesting.'

And then you decide to just keep on going with life.

It is that moment when you realize there will be no parade for your
accomplishment, maybe a quick pat on the back, but otherwise, the world
is not going to hoist a statue in your honor, nor will hundreds speak
your hallowed name in reverence.

Life goes on. You did something good, you served someone well, and
now... life continues. No pomp.. no circumstance. It's all over. Onto
the next thing.

THAT moment.

It isn't sad moment. It's a pause, a realization. All the people moving
around out there, have their own big moments, their own plans to undertake.

And in that moment you have a choice. That 'Huh' moment. You can
choose to wish the world did pay you homage and in some way said
'THANKS' to you. Or, you can choose to let having helped someone,
having served someone be its own reward, and then be happy and move on.

That 'huh' moment is the moment when you decide if you're going to be a
humble servant, or a complaining servant.

Banquet is over.. Huh.
Cleanup is done.. Huh.
Graduation is next.. Huh.
My daughter will be a senior in a few days.. Huh.
In 3 months my daughter will be 17... Huh.

Life is a series of moments, a series of attitude adjustments. This
week has been one of those weeks where exhaustion attacks your attitude
and you have to fight to remain a cheerful servant. I think my wife and
I pulled it off, but only because we love where we are and what we do.

5/27/2016

God Can Use Weird

Years ago, I thought it might be fun to figure out if I could build a
karaoke machine.
I started with an old mac.
I installed Kjams software on it.
I plugged in a mic.
Boom, Karaoke machine.

No one ever used it. But I knew how to make it.

Years later, I considered getting rid of that old laptop, but I kept it
around because.... you never know.

A few minutes ago, someone said "Our karaoke machine is broken and we
have a youth event tomorrow... does anyone have a karaoke machine?"

I said 'Um, I may have sort of one... that might work... if it still
boots.' I ran home, dusted it off, booted it... boom instant karaoke.

Now tell me ... is it circumstance that I had the yen one Saturday 7
years ago, to build a karaoke machine that never got used, and then
decided NOT to get rid of it?
Or is that providence?


I have found over the years that there is a time and a place for almost
every kind of odd little interest I have, while serving here. Somehow,
that little know-how or talent seems to find a place where I can help
someone.

I don't believe in luck.

5/24/2016

For Our Daughter



This is our daughter, helping lead Sunday morning worship.   She's in the youth band, in the choir, in the accappela singing group, and an 11th grader at the high school.

This week we have for the 11th and 12th graders a tradition here, called Banquet. You'd be familiar with the concept of prom or banquet depending on where you live/go to school.  Only we don't have fancy restaurants to go to.  So, the parents of these youths and other caring community members plan for months to make it a special time.  Those plans come to culmination in a one week period of repurposing old building materials and turning the gym into something new and exciting for the kids.  A place they visit very regularly, their teen center, is transformed into something else.

The concept isn't foreign, other schools do it.  We do it a slight bit differently in that we have relatively no budget for the event.

My wife and I have been knee deep in this since the beginning (along with many others) and it is the kind of hard work that is also very enjoyable because the community is pulling together to create a blessing for our outgoing seniors and incoming seniors.

For some it is also a catharsis, a period of knowing this is the last big thing you'll be able to do for your kid before they move away.

Some of you may remember 'Carol Sing'.  It is a lot like that (on a smaller scale).

I won't avoid the truth, there are some people who feel that missionaries shouldn't spend their time doing this type of thing.  We've learned a LOT about transitions and the role traditions play in transitioning over the years.

In June, dozens of TCK (third culture kids, formerly called Missionary Kids) are going to exit their 'home' and go to their sending country and try to establish themselves in this foreign environment, as fledgling adults.   It is a difficult time for them.  They could use your prayers.

But before they go, we're gonna have one last big fling, and it's called Banquet, and it happens in 2 days.
And then, all the adults are going to pass out and sleep for the weekend.



4/17/2016

Solitude










I love swimming in the ocean.  I float there, looking down through my goggles, and see all the fish.  They don't know my name, maybe they know me as "big floaty white thing", but they otherwise pay me no mind.

I like the solitude of swimming in the ocean.  I like that it brings my mind to how awesome God is.  Look at all He's created!  It keeps me from all distractions, it's fun, it's relaxing, and if I allow myself to go there, it is communing with God.  To me, my time in the ocean is some of the best worship times.  I don't mean singing (how would that sound?.."Our gurgle is an Awesome gurgle").  But just thinking about how incredibly wonderful and awe-inspiring God is.

So there I was, big-floaty-white-thing, all alone in the ocean, just us fish, thinking 'being alone is GREAT! I love this anonymity, this solitude!'.  Suddenly, from right behind me I hear 'HELLO!!!" and I turn to see afamily of Papua New Guineans rowing a canoe.  Mom, dad, and two kids, all perfect strangers to me.  All waving and smiling and laughing and big-floaty-white-man.

I waved back.

In PNG I'm always being watched, rarely alone, never anonymous.  I'm always representing my gender, my race, my country, my organization or the world where giants live (go Giants! "See that's funny Hildy because he's big and he's a Giants baseball fan, try to keep up."). 

But solitude, (taking a break from all your worries sure would help alot!) communing with God, getting to that quiet place where you can say you concentrated on hearing what God is telling you,  THAT IS VERY IMPORTANT.

For some it takes work. For most it recharges our batteries.  But we all need it.  We need the tune up time with God.  We can't very well serve others, or even be in community without first getting things straight with God, one on one.

Here comes the but!  But we shouldn't stay there either.  We need to surface, look around, and continue swimming forward toward where God pointed us.

As I was under that water enjoying that no one knew me, or possibly even saw me, and the canoe came by shouting 'hello.'  I had one very clear thought.

"Okay Chad, you've had your spiritual retreat weekend, you know what I've been telling you to do.  Now, it's time to get to work again, its time to go back among people,  loving them, serving them, ministering to them."





4/11/2016

Showing love

As Americans we are trained to be independent. I still try to be as
independent as I can be. But there is much to be said about being in a
place of helplessness. About being dependent on someone. About knowing
how to accept help graciously, and understanding how to sense when
others need help, and provide help yourself.

Since becoming an overseas volunteer (bwa hahaha, you thought I'd say
missionary?), I have been placed in the very uncomfortable and yet
entirely awesome position of being dependent on others.

Not just for financial support, but for other things as well. Dependent
on God, daily is a glorious position to be in. Seeing Him come through
and be faithful is wonderful.

It is an entirely different kind of wonderful to see humans, friends,
even strangers, come through and be helpful.

I mean we sort of come to expect it of God, we know He loves us. We are
thankful for Him, and His love, which never ends and never tires. But
human love does get tired. And so when we are shown love from one
another, it tends to reach us in a different part of our heart. I think
that is why Christ tells us to love one another. It seems to reach us
in ways nothing else does.

Yesterday my parents needed help with their computer and though I tried
remotely to fix it, I was unable to. A friend went way above and beyond
and assisted my parents by going to their house, spending multiple hours
with them, fixing their issues, and then telling them about his family.
He didn't make a big deal of it, he didn't even say a whole lot about
it. He just did it.

I can not communicate to you how much this touched me.

There have been many times like this over the last 9 years. Times when,
had I not been in a dependent/helpless position, I would not have
experienced the awesome love of others towards us.

Having been fiercely independent, even reputedly so, for many years, I
can tell you, though it takes adjustment and is scary at times, no
feeling of personal victory comes anywhere close to the incredible
feeling when someone reaches out to you in love, and you're able to
accept the help.

I can't even really explain it.

It's not begging, it's not pity, it is becoming close to one another in
a way that we are rarely accustomed to. It is Christ bringing people
together. And it fuels us, and enables us to show love to the people
that we are ABLE to show love to. It sort of amplifies itself, and is
contagious.

God knew what He was talking about.

Showing love

As Americans we are trained to be independent. I still try to be as
independent as I can be. But there is much to be said about being in a
place of helplessness. About being dependent on someone. About knowing
how to accept help graciously, and understanding how to sense when
others need help, and provide help yourself.

Since becoming an overseas volunteer (bwa hahaha, you thought I'd say
missionary?), I have been placed in the very uncomfortable and yet
entirely awesome position of being dependent on others.

Not just for financial support, but for other things as well. Dependent
on God, daily is a glorious position to be in. Seeing Him come through
and be faithful is wonderful.

It is an entirely different kind of wonderful to see humans, friends,
even strangers, come through and be helpful.

I mean we sort of come to expect it of God, we know He loves us. We are
thankful for Him, and His love, which never ends and never tires. But
human love does get tired. And so when we are shown love from one
another, it tends to reach us in a different part of our heart. I think
that is why Christ tells us to love one another. It seems to reach us
in ways nothing else does.

Yesterday my parents needed help with their computer and though I tried
remotely to fix it, I was unable to. A friend went way above and beyond
and assisted my parents by going to their house, spending multiple hours
with them, fixing their issues, and then telling them about his family.
He didn't make a big deal of it, he didn't even say a whole lot about
it. He just did it.

I can not communicate to you how much this touched me.

There have been many times like this over the last 9 years. Times when,
had I not been in a dependent/helpless position, I would not have
experienced the awesome love of others towards us.

Having been fiercely independent, even reputedly so, for many years, I
can tell you, though it takes adjustment and is scary at times, no
feeling of personal victory comes anywhere close to the incredible
feeling when someone reaches out to you in love, and you're able to
accept the help.

I can't even really explain it.

It's not begging, it's not pity, it is becoming close to one another in
a way that we are rarely accustomed to. It is Christ bringing people
together.

3/25/2016

Opulence

We don't use clothes dryers here. As often as it rains, the sun shines
hot and often. We hang our clothes out on a line. I'm sure you've
heard already about some ways this affects our culture. For example,
when it starts to rain, everyone running like mad to the line to get the
clothes off. Or having to wait for the sun to come out to hang your wet
clothes, etc.

One thing that happens to clothes on a line is that they fade. You can
sometimes see this clearly if you look inside the pocket of a shirt, or
on the underside.

Another thing that happens to nice, soft, cuddly towels, is that without
fabric softener or tumble drying, they stop being so soft and cuddly.

I used the towel in this picture to dry off, and it as I was doing so I
had this thought "I've somehow become accustomed enough to this
sandpaper like texture, that when I feel a new towel, I notice it very
quickly."

(We got a few towels on furlough, which are the 'good towels', but it
wasn't my turn to use one.

I put it on the rack, threadbare, very stiff and rough to the touch, and
I looked at the tag at the bottom and hand to laugh at the irony.

"Opulence" yeah, maybe one day, a long time ago.

3/17/2016

Lunch meet

Today I was sitting alone reading my book in a rare escape from the world moment. I was eating lunch alone at our local store when I heard a dirt bike pull up that had a familiar sound to it. I looked up, and saw a friend of mine. In my line of sight however I saw a young crippled Papua New Guinean man who also had a severe mental handicap.

I had seen this young man around before, limping to and from wherever it is he goes. Drooling on himself along the way, and sort of moaning out 'hello' to people in his way.

I had always admired the fact that this guy has kept himself alive in this culture, in this climate. He just keeps waking up each day and getting dressed, and walking to wherever he goes.

I found myself wondering at that moment 'how I could help this guy?' I

I wondered if maybe offering him a ride to someplace might help as he
limps along very slowly. But I didn't know if he would be able to tell
me, as his language ability is so impaired.

Something distracted me and I lost the train of thought and moved on.

Not long after my lunch was over and I decided to head back to work,
when a fleeting thought caught my attention 'hey, go into the store, and
hey, go into the store the back way.'

It was an odd thought, and I kinda was breaking the rules to do it. But
I used the excuse of using the bathroom along the way to make it feel
less like breaking any rules.

I didn't get too far into the store before feeling a tug on my jacket.
It was this young man of whom I was speaking earlier. He moaned out to
me something unintelligible and then pointed to some meat in the fridge.
It was an 8 kina (2 dollars) pack of lunch meat. He looked at me and
got out 'You buy for me'.

Oddly at this moment I can't recall if it was Tok Pisin or English.

I instantly said 'Yes.' I saw the coins in his hand, and assumed he
wanted help getting to the register, carrying it, etc. So I said 'Do
you have the 8 kina?'

He shook his head and replied 'You pay!'. As he did so more drool
escaped his lips and his eyes wandered.

I know that begging in our store is not permitted as it could cause a
big problem. So again I was faced with 'If I do this, how many rules am
I breaking?'

I decided to ask for cultural assistance. You really don't want to
encourage begging because you don't want to encourage a culture of
depending on missionaries for income. But I didn't feel this was
exactly that situation. I mean we've had people beg us for money
before, but never meat. And never like this. Mostly they just grunt and
put out their hands. This young man was telling me what he wanted and
assertively, how he wanted to get it.

I asked a nearby stranger from PNG his advice. And this is where the
entire exchange became so, out-of-the-ordinary that I considered it blog
worthy.

The stranger smiled big at me, and friendly. This was our conversation:

Me: "Hi, sorry to bother you, do you know this man's name?" (indicating
the young man)
He turned to the young man and said "What is your name?" The young man
replied with his name.
Me: "he has just asked me to buy him some meat. This isn't normal PNG
behaviour (pasin), what do you think I should do?'
Him: "Has he asked you to buy something too expensive? Meat is costly,
maybe you don't have the money?"

At that point I was very impressed. This man didn't assume I was rich
because I was white, and at the same time, he was using words in such a
way that I could make that my 'excuse' instead of saying 'no'. He was
coaching me. He was giving me an out. At the same time he wasn't
shaming me. This man, this stranger was impressing me.

Him: "He is crippled, he doesn't know PNG behaviour. He only knows what
he needs."

I went to the counter and bought the meat for the young man, hoping that
I didn't in some way, create a ripple of problems throughout the store
by breaking rules, or throughout the culture by declaring open season on
begging. I was thinking 'others will object because of the precedent.'
Etc.

And frankly, I would agree with those people. Normally.

And I say none of this to my own credit if anything it is to my own
shame, because it was only AFTERwards that I realized this was guidance
by the Holy Spirit.

I did it because:
-I had only 2 minutes before been thinking 'how can I help this kid.'

-I have always said I don't shy from direct confrontation, and this kid
was clearly telling me what he wanted from me.

-I sort of admired his self-preservation and assertiveness yet I know it
might scare and offend someone else, and so by doing it, I think maybe I
spared someone who might not react as well.

-I'm so rarely in the store, there is no way this will become a usual thing.


And later, I thought.. 'Hey God... I have no idea why that kid needed
meat. When I handed it to him, he didn't tear it open and ravish it.
It put it in his bag. Was he bringing it home to someone? He had coins
in his hand? Had he set out to buy food for someone only to realize he
didn't have enough? I don't know, but You do. And I think your Spirit
was guiding me to be there at that time to help him, and I'm ashamed
that I didn't realize it sooner, and I'm ashamed that I didn't decide
more quickly, but I'm thankful that you likely got me to the right end
anyway.'


It is such a small thing really. It was $2. So why on earth blog about it?

Well for two reasons:
1 - It was an unusual cultural experience for me.
and
2 - I firmly believe that if we cultivate our relationship with Christ,
we will be more sensitive to hearing what He is guiding us to do each
day. And that God is in charge, and able to compensate when we don't
exactly do what we were supposed to.

I'm hopeful all of that went in a way that glorifies God, and if it did
I'm thankful that He guided me into that place at that time. And I ask
for more such times as that.

The reason this is not boasting, is hopefully clear. It was 2 dollars.
That's it. It was nothing. Hardly worth mentioning. And yet it
stood out to me more than any other times when we've been more generous.
And I don't know why. Other than, I have this sense that God was in
the driver's seat during it.

And there is mystery, and there is encouragement and, it was odd.

So it made it on my blog in an attempt to give God some glory for it.

3/06/2016

No explanation needed

Here is a testimonial shared at a recent dedication.  I really don't need to offer any additional explanation:
(this is a translation, she was speaking in Kandawo)

" "We were starving and we didn't know it. Now this audibible satisfies our hunger and tastes sweet. Now I'm waiting for the Lord to come back to get me. You've come with the audibible, at this exact time in my life. It is perfect for me. I have worries and heavies; my husband left me to work the garden and feed and clothe our two grade school children. But the audibible has given me so much peace. We saw ourselves as wild animals, pigs and dogs that die and are lost. But when you came and introduced this machine to us, it enlightened our minds from being like wild animals. It has taken us out of the destructive road we were on, and we have entered into its (new) road. It has been a game changer for me. I feel that it has met my deepest longing. The audibible said that if I humbled myself before the Lord, He would lift me up. So now I give things to God and I am at peace with this because God will raise me up." The next morning through tears, she pleaded with me, "You have to understand how very much this has completely changed me and my situation! This has changed everything for me."

3/01/2016

Timeline

When I was attending a Bible camp in high school, someone challenged us
to write a 'spiritual timeline'. Putting significant events in our
lives in order.

The visual of it had forever stayed with me.

Sometimes there were dips or valleys, other times there were peaks.

Most of the valleys were times when I wasn't as devoted to spending time
with God. (prayer, Bible reading, taking our relationship seriously).

Most of the peaks were times when I had been closer to God and He did
something awesome in my life.

One think I noticed along that timeline, is that God didn't change, but
I did.

I'm really not one for these common and cheesy christian phrases, like
"Trust in prayer, God is faithful!" but there is often truth in them (I
still don't like myself for saying them.)

A short while ago I watched the Kendrick brothers movie "The War Room".
If you are familiar with these films, they are usually well produced,
sometimes a little bit more smooth than edgy. (I am trying to avoid
saying they are cheesy. Well done, occasionally cheesy, but overall
some of the best 'christian' films ever made.)

This movie reminded me of that spiritual timeline. It reminded me that I
need to recommit myself to prayer. Life got a little busy, I wasn't
praying as earnestly as I had been accustomed to. And, not
surprisingly, life was getting a little overwhelming.

But after the prompting of the film, I got back into it again. Daily
spending time with God, on the weekends spending MORE very pointed
prayer time with God.

The end result is I started seeing immediate answer to prayer again and
started feeling more confident and happy.

Every valley, or dip on that timeline has been the same for me, the only
thing that ever pulls me out of one, is getting closer to my savior.
Every time I do, I think 'I'm such a fool for neglecting this
relationship, why did I let that happen?'

The enemy doesn't really need that much prompting to get us off track.
Life is busy, and it can very easily overwhelm us if we neglect the
delicate balance of being IN the world but not OF the world.

2/10/2016

Road to Lae



4 hours from us, is the town from which we get most of our supplies.  There has been so much rain lately that the road is flooded badly, thus hiding the potholes.  These gentlemen are willing to guide you past the hidden potholes (for a modest fee).