Let's Build a Library

So I'm walking through the office when I hear a very familiar voice. It
was the same voice of a lady who I spent hours editing sound samples
about 3 years ago for literacy recordings.  I turned to look at the
source and a friend was holding a tablet, showing off BLOOM.

Bloom is a library system for educators (useful in PNG) because it's
very very simple to make a book, and have it be read to you via audio.

I'm over simplifying it, because the tool itself is SUPER simple, and
serves a great purpose, because it leverages materials and educators
without having to train them to be super geeky.


Last 12 months

Scriptures from the last 12 months

Using it All

When I first arrived here someone told me 'This place can use all of your gifts, and interests, all of you.'  I took that to heart.  So when I get into hobbies, I always try to make people know what they are, in case they are useful.  One person approached me last week about helping with a 3d printing project

A friend of mine started this project which turned out to be wildly popular and now he needs help printing out the plastic boxes for this project. 
Typically a solar setup consists of a lot of equipment; a panel, an inverter, a regulator, etc..  But this box with these electronics in it, allow for a direct connection to a solar panel, to charge anything that will charge over usb port.

He is building these, and asked for my help printing the boxes.  Since I am running low on Filament, I had to print my first one in yellow:

It came out nice enough.  I am just chuckling at how a fun little hobby can always turn into a ministry opportunity if you let it.  This device should be helpful to many people in the village who need to charge cell phones, tablets, kindles, etc etc etc.



Bubbles and Glee

Each year the high school puts on a 'carnival'.  They make home-made things to do, games, events. Etc. For example 'sumo wrestling' where you take inner tubes and put people inside of them and have them bump into one another. 

This year, a friend of ours had inspiration to create the first ever 'Cow Train' which my son was asked to drive. 

At the same time, for our annual CRAFT fair, I have been making "blOWENSsome bubbles' brand home made bubbles while printing 3d bubble wands.  (yeah I'm into bubbles okay!)

So I decided to 3d print up a wind driven bubble machine. 


My wife suggested I attach it to my son's Cow Train. 

The end result was, pure glee!

Sometimes, being support staff, is all about just making people happy to be living here.


The World as I see it #234

To the men out there, learn the art of the compliment and pay one to
your wife, frequently.


-because you love her, and she loves words. Spend words on her. For some
guys they cost you more than flowers and they'll be appreciated.

If that doesn't convince you then I offer this secondary reason:

-you're at war man! Shore up your defenses! If your wife isn't used to
receiving compliments and praise from you, then one day some other man
may come along and offer her those words. She won't be used to it,
they'll have more power than they should, and you'll find yourself
either trying to keep her, or answering her accusations (why don't you
say nice things like Jimmy at the office! At least HE liked my dress
today).  But if when some person pays her a compliment, she thinks 'that
was a nice thing of them to say, but I prefer my husband compliments.' 
then you're doing it right.

It's an offensive and defensive game men.  Get in it!


The Trombone

When I was in elementary school there were a few things I remember to be
true. The first being that I must've been small and adorable, because a
few people took me 'under their wing'. One such person was our school

On a number of occasions I got into play yard fights. I never started
them, and I rarely won them.

I was also very vocal about Jesus Christ. I remember being the only
student in class who objected when I heard the teacher telling us about
certain things I knew the Bible to say were untrue.

Whatever the reason, I found myself from time to time, sent to the
principal's office.
As I sat there waiting to be scolded, the secretary would often talk to
me, offer me lollipops, even show me her forbidden secret wiener dog she
hid in her desk drawer. As time went on, the gifts she gave me got more
and more odd. Trinkets really, until the final gift I recall her giving
me was a trombone. She handed me a full size, in the hard case,
trombone. It was dented and tarnished and I accepted it with
curiosity. I wondered the whole way home, why this woman whom I hardly
know, gave me this very odd gift.

It was one of my life's mysteries. Why would someone give me such a
random thing? She obviously meant well, but I had no idea what I had
done to make an impression on her, and that impression would culminate
in a gifted beat up old trombone. I don't know what she was thinking,
nor what I said, nor could I find any logic to it. It was just plain ODD.

That trombone sat in our closet for years. I don't know why we kept it.
We never touched it. In fact my parents just told stories to visitors
about the time their son came home with a free trombone. We moved, and
instead of throwing it out, I guess my mom kept it.

Now I'm 43. As we went to drop my daughter off at college we stayed
with family, whom we had never stayed with and got the chance to get to
know them much better. In the course of telling stories we discover
that my mom had given that trombone to them for their grandson (my third
cousin). They had repaired it, and he was playing it in school.

I had forgotten all about that trombone. I am told if you live long
enough you see life come full circle. My cousin received that trombone
close to the age that I originally received it, only 35 years later.

Life is funny.

But why tell this story?

My life has been an adventure of following God's leading and going and
doing what He says to do. Very rarely do we ever get to see the
fruition of our work. We rarely get stories that show how it all links
together. We rarely get moments where we can see God's hand crafting the
events that lead to something happening. When we do get that glimpse,
boy oh boy our hearts get excited, we get pumped up!

God's masterful crafting of seemingly random events, to pull together
people to His glory. is a wonderful thing to witness. There's no real
great meaning to seeing the lifespan of a trombone switch hands from one
life to another, no one would make a movie out of it.

But there is significance in following the lifespan of a Bible. This
week, we see some Bible portions printed for the first time. They are
yet to be in anyone's hands. But they soon will be. Can you imagine
following that Bible for it's lifespan and seeing the lives it enters
and changes? Maybe it'll stay in one person's hands until it's read and
re-read and tattered and torn. Maybe it'll be passed down to their
children. Maybe it'll be handed to someone who needs comfort and guidance.

Whatever the case, God's ability to affect lives through His Word is
such a wonderful thing to be a part of.


Washing Machine

I can not count on two hands, how many times my wife and I have repaired
a washing machine at 10pm at night.
And always on the cusp of something, such that we couldn't let it wait
until morning the next day.

Tonight the washing machine made some horrible beeps, and smelled like
burned plastic.

We knew our roles, I siphon, she towels, I tip it, she holds. I take it
apart, she waits. I put it back together, it works, she tests it.

We've done it so many times over the last 10 years, that it may very
well be the thing we do best as a team.

There's probably a lesson in there somewhere.


Whirlwind Tour of Sydney, Aus

Years ago we were here (2010), and took a cheap tour of Sydney by getting a day pass for the public transit, then taking the Circular Quay harbour cruise to see as much of the place as we could. Only I had extreme allergies, we were all jet lagged, it was a miserable day.

Today, we had 1 day to see everything, and so, my wife and I once again got the 'day pass' for public transit, only this time, it was the OPAL card, and GOOGLE MAPS which helped guide the way. Very enjoyable that way. We even snagged a geocache.

So... 4am - wake up because of jet lag, eat yogurt and granola and a muffin.
9am - step outside and go to the train station 800 meters away.

First stop, Circular Quay take the ferry...
(this is us on the ferry with the lighthouse area behind us) 

 take the ferry to... MANLY because it's a cool place with a cool name
Head on over on foot to MANLY Beach, and somehow my being there made it just a tad more manly (-;

(us at manly beach, beautiful clean sand and water!)

Then hop onto a bus and head up to North Head, take a mile walk to the lookout point, grab a coffee at the cafe, and sit and look at the wonderful view.

(North Head)
Walk back to the bus stop, chat with people waiting there, meet two neat aussie ladies and an Alaskan pilot working for Fedex.  Get back to the harbor, take the ferry BACK and go check out the 

Sydney Opera House

Ironically, if you're trying to get it out of your head that you've left your daughter Sydney back in the states, maybe touring Sydney isn't the best place to choose.... but it was still a great day

And the whole day we were taking my son's advice to beat jet lag.  Plenty of water and physical exercise.  Walked several miles (meandering more like it).

Enjoyable day, now we're tired.
But not too tired to stop, and find a geocache.  Then...

6pm stop by the grocery store, grab bread, cheese and soup, and heat it up back in the room.
Dinner, and back in bed by 8pm (heheh)

Total cost (not counting food) $2.60 AUD each. (for the bus/ferry/train pass because on Sunday everything costs less!)


On Saying Goodbye

In our line of work we say 'Goodbye' often. Goodbye to friends, family, co-workers, etc. We're used to it and I've written before our motto is 'Every sad 'goodbye' is followed by a warm 'hello'.'

Minutes ago, we said goodbye to our college student daughter. We are getting on a plane to travel over 6600 miles away from her.
That goodbye was a little new to us.
The warm hello is getting to see our son whom we haven't seen for a few weeks as he's already been overseas in school.

So how was it?
Well I expected it to be really hard, expected to break down into tears. I was told by students 'I saw my dad cry for the first time the day he left me at school.'

But it wasn't as hard as I was expecting. Not that it wasn't hard. It just wasn't as hard as I anticipated. Why?

Because both my wife and I are convinced that she's doing well. She's been in the school for ten days now, she seems adjusted, seems to enjoy it there, is making friends, is making good judgement calls, seems like she's going to thrive there.

Because we're convinced God has her in the exact right school, down to almost every little detail in ways we could not even have anticipated, He's got her covered and cared for.

Months ago when we were praying for the right school and God led us to WJU we had no idea that the lady in charge of student care (Kelly) was going to have her office in our daughter's dorm, nor that she'd be a missionary herself having spent a year in Uganda. Nor did we know that the school had several measures in place to keep the students involved and active. Nor that many of the staff have served overseas in some missions capacity.

Every time we stood on that campus, we got the feeling like 'there's no better place for her right now.' and that gave me so much reassurance.

Yes it'll be hard and sad without her, but I'm very happy with where she's at.

So parents about to do this with your kid for the first time... what's my advice on how to make the transition easier? Prayer... pray for the right school or the right next step, the right setup, and then trust God and listen. I tell you, I would NOT be able to be getting on a plane today if I didn't feel my daughter was well cared for. But she is, and I am.

And I'm not worried. The safest place to be is right where God wants you to be.


Hate to Love Stuff

Missionaries are sometimes renown and respected for not having a lot of stuff.  But nothing makes you so aware of how much 'stuff' you have as when you pack to move.... and we move often.

Have you ever packed to move and just thought 'How on earth did we come to own so much 'stuff'?'   When you're faced with the possibility of having to pay for storing your stuff, it starts to make you question why you ever bought it in the first place.

You find yourself asking "Do I really want to pay $20 a month to store this?"

On the other hand, when you live in a country where you can't get many items, coming back to the U.S. suddenly you have to resist the urge to go on shopping sprees.

"Dad, look at all this stuff! They have phone chargers here, and a million different kinds!"
"Yes kids, welcome to America, phone chargers for all!  Pink, blue, polka dotted, let's get one of each kind just in case!"
only to find out our phones are 4 years out of date, and when we buy new phones we have to get a different kind of charger!

If you put me in an electronics store after having not been in one for several years, you best stand aside for your own personal safety.

But every purchase is tinged with the reality of 'we're going to have to pay to get this back to PNG' and so you find yourself denying yourself that purchase.

And then, the day comes, like today, when you have to pack up all the little purchases that you did make.

The airlines only allow you 2 bags at 50 lbs each.  And our bags were selected to perfectly fit the maximum size allowance, and hold as much weight as allowable.

We've become masters at packing, fitting items in, elimination unnecessary weight from packaging, using socks and clothing instead of bubble wrap.  Saving every inch and every pound.

And as I'm packing all this wonderful stuff that I just have to bring to PNG I think, I wonder when I'll have to pack up all the stuff in PNG to send back to the U.S.?

I like the theory of living a minimal lifestyle when it comes to what I own.  And yet, even with what I would consider a minimalistic intent  (a desire to own very little) I'm still constantly struck with how very much we own.

For Silicon Valley, USA standards, most people would look at us and say 'they own so very little.'

By our fellow missionary standards people may say 'my they're doing nicely.'

Compared to a Papua New Guinean's standards we're rich.

But there's only one standard I really care about, and that is God's standard.

Does our stuff own us? Are we overly emotional or possessive about our belongings? How much of it would we be sad about if a fire took it all?

We have a lifestyle that causes us to pack our stuff often, which tends to make me take stock of my life.  Each time I buckle that duffle bag, I think 'am I overly attached to the things in this bag?' and 'is my focus on God where it needs to be?'

Moving and packing tends to make you take stock in your life.  At least it does me.  

We do it often.

We've been in the U.S. 3 months and we're taking back our full allowance of 'stuff'.  We always seem to.  I'm surprised at our ability to accumulate 'stuff' so quickly.  Awed by the blessings of those who support us that we can afford to.  Given hope by God that when we don't have the 'stuff' we always seem to get by without.

And this time, blessed in knowing that at least half of the stuff we're bringing back, we are doing so because we can bless our community with it.  Craft materials to make people cards, or gifts to bring people smiles and encouragement.  Items meant to bring people together and give them something new to do, or educational materials.  

This is how we've always viewed our role as support staff.  We're always thinking of little ways we can encourage others.  We've already begun hatching new Christmas encouragement schemes.  

JUST wait until Christmas!!! Hopefully we'll be able to share some stories!  There's stuff in my duffle for Christmas, birthday and (ssshh) anniversary gifts already!  

My wife said to me 'any weight or room we have left I want to bring chocolate chips and walnuts so I can bake for people at Christmas.'

It is much harder to deny yourself a purchase when you're thinking 'This would be so fun to do with so-and-so.'  In a way, having your focus in the right place, actually makes it harder to keep your pile of 'stuff' small.

The bags all feel a bit lighter when they're filled with things for others.  Instead of hefting around that 49.95lb duffle bag thinking 'why did I pack all of this stuff for myself?" You're thinking "I can't wait to get back and share XXXX with my friends!"

Yeah we're looking forward to getting back, we leave on Thursday!


Note to Friends

If you're just coming off the 'field' and want to update your mobile phones,

IF you wipe your phones and take them to a phone repair store, they may offer you some money for them... if you have nothing else to do with them,
this can defray the cost of purchasing a new phone.

ALSO if you're able to buy used phones on craigslist, or even take an older phone off someone's hands, you can reduce your costs.

MOST phones out of contract can be carrier-unlocked online in 24 hours for around $9.

So don't feel like you have to buy a new phone, you can buy a one year old phone and save a lot of money.



Me and my gals.  My how fast they grow!  Almost taller than dad!


The Flighter Side

Every time I think of something sad, I try to also think of the 'lighter side' of it.

Con:  Just plunked down $1800 for air fare tickets to go back to PNG. (Kendal and me)
Pro: Got a great deal on a flight to Sydney at only $525 

Con: It's ironically also a flight FROM Sydney, as we'll be leaving our daughter behind.
Pro: We'll be rejoining our son, and ministry in PNG

Con: We'll be saying goodbye to family and friends in the U.S. 
Pro: We'll be saying hello to our PNG friends

Con: Booking the flight, sets us in an absolute date for the day we say 'bye bye' to our daughter.
Pro: ???  

Help me out there? UM....    oh. 'knowing exactly what day you'll be super emotional and feel like your heart is being ripped out....'  Is that a pro?

I dunno somehow, I feel like I just paid a lot of money to be kicked in the gut.

We are so excited for our daughter to embark on the next phase of her life!
But it's going to be one heck of an adjustment for us....
We're determined to make our time as a family of 3 awesome and fun as well, but it's sad for sure and there's no way around it.

This trip to the U.S. has been pricey, with college tuition, all the flights, etc. But the money isn't the foremost thing on our mind because God always provides.

The emotions of the thing is what is the hardest part.  Kendal and I know we'll be emotional wrecks on the way back to PNG.

I honestly thought I would not be. I mean, I'm so excited and optimistic about this next phase. I get excited whenever there is a new part of life to explore and discover.

But in the past few days, I've been randomly ambushed by extremely strong emotions about the separation... primarily because Sydney is a huge joy to be around.

My wife gets a chuckle out of it. I have these random moments of ... freak out... which I can't fully explain, but I get hyper and wander around the house trying to find something constructive to do, and saying random things like 'without Sydney there then _____ etc. My wife looks at me and chuckles and replies 'I've been processing this for months, it seems like it's just hitting you.' Well yeah. I think it's all becoming real, what with absolute dates set and all. I'll say this even the most manly of men, Chuck Norris, agree, it's okay to shed a single tear over something like your only daughter. But Chuck's tears theoretically cure cancer (we don't know for sure, as he's never shed one) mine, don't cure much at all, except for dry eye syndrome.)

Pray for us please.
This is gonna be hard.


Last pic

On our way to drop Calvin off at the airport to go to PNG. No more family of four pics for a while. 


Fighting to be lighting

I was out with my son looking for a car wash, found a place. It advertised on the road gas was 3.19 p/gallon 3.09 with a carwash
okay that's 10 cents more than the 76 down the street but it had a car wash.

I paid cash, to get a discount which didn't exist at this station, and buy a car wash, go pump, 3.19 at the pump. WHAT? should be 3.09

So I go inside, to the cashier and I explain the issue, she owes me $1.30 she overcharged me a dime per gallon.

Here went the conversation:

me: "the pump charged me 3.19 your sign says 3.09 per gallon with car wash, and I bought a car wash.'
her: "oh I don't know." blinks at me.
me: (still calm) "I know, you owe me $1.30 because you over charged me."
her: I'm sorry sir, I don't know how to make the machine charge you that.
me: (accepting the apology) "that's fine, just refund me the $1.30 and it'll be okay."
her: "I can't do that sir, I'd get in trouble."
me: (starting to get incredulous, but still maintaining calm) "Okay... well, then perhaps upgrade me to a better car wash?"
her: "Sir I can't do that, I'd get in trouble if I gave you a free car wash."
me: (temper is growing) "And you won't get in trouble for stealing $1.30 from me?"
her: "I'd get in trouble for that too, would you like to talk to my supervisor? They can fix this, I don't know how to use the computer."
me: (maintaining my calm but torn between wanting to be angry and wanting to give grace) "Yes then, please, can I talk to them."
her: "They come in on mondays" (three days away and I'm clear across town)
me: (surprised) "Well you know I won't be coming back in 3 days, clear across town to argue over $1.30. Can I have their business card?"
her: "No sir, he doesn't have one."
me: "Can you give me an email address or a phone number?"
her: "No sir I don't know it."
me: (feeling lied to, hot, upset, I decide it's not worth ruining either of our days over, so I accept it and reply calmly) "Well ma'am, I think you should take the time to learn how to work the computer, or take that sign down. And you should know, I won't be returning here."

I realize that if they do this a few times a day, that's a nice little side hustle. But in the off chance she was a single mom, who never said 'when I grow up I want to be a gas station attendant' and who was just trying to get by in life, I decided it wouldn't be prudent or even helpful to read her any 'riot act' or lose my temper on her... not over $1.30 and yet, the desire was there to do so anyway. I fought it down.

In the San Jose, CA area I'm finding that people are rude, incompetent, selfish, inconsiderate. It's always been this way, but I've been around the opposite for so long that it's a bit of a harsh awakening. I fully believe in being the CHANGE I want to see, so I go around being polite and talkative, and I don't dismiss people when they say 'hi'. And I don't act all creeped out by strangers greeting me, instead I return it.

Yesterday at a theatre, the cleaning guy as we left said 'you all have a good day!' and I replied 'Hey! Thank you! You too!' and it looked like I caught him off guard in that I noticed him and acknowledged him, and so he replied "You're welcome!", in a surprised tone like "hey, I'm not invisible!"

I walked into a Walgreens and the very young cashier had no idea what to do with me.

After waiting a long time for a very old lady to pay in pennies and gather her items, I was finally at the cashier. It was one of those movie moments where the lady was counting out pennies and it took forever. My patience was thin already, because out in the 100 degree weather was my wife and daughter with our lunch, in the car, waiting for me.

her: "How can I help you sir?"
me: "I'd like to get these batteries"
her: "Will that be all"
me: (curtly-with that tone of -I'm in a hurry-) "yes"
her: "That'll be 10.91 sir."

I hand her a 20, she realizes she has no ones to return to me, calls her manager over, while she does that I say:

me: "here's 11 dollars."
she blinks at me and pauses
her: "What's this for sir?"
me: "hand me back the 20 I gave you and take this."
she blinks at me again and then looks at her supervisor and says
her: "I don't know what you want me to do."
the supervisor begins to say 'give him his 20 back. and 9 cents., but I didn't hear him saying it and spoke over him.

me: (as if speaking to a young confused child, with a gentle calm voice trying not to sound patronizing) "Hand me back that 20, take this 10, and this 1."
her: "No sir it's all okay, I'm just going to have Russ get me more ones if you don't mind waiting."
me: (very direct without anger) "That's the point, I do mind waiting. I'm sorry but I need to be going."

At which point I took the 20 laying in her confused palm, dropped the $11 and said 'keep the change, have a nice day.' and left.

I felt instantly guilty. I wasn't rude, I wasn't angry, but in this day and age, being curt is taken as confrontational and angry. It's not like I left her saying 'gee what a lovely person that was! Christ must be flowing through them! I think I want to know more about this Christ! I think I'll go to church on Sunday!"

It is so hard to be polite and share love and grace in the face of all of this.... what do I even call it, "unapologetic ineptitude"? "total self-centeredness?". I mean just trying to teach my daughter to drive on these streets I have to tell her 'people don't care about you or the law, they do insane things all the time, so watch out, constant vigilance!"

I keep thinking about transition and culture shock and how Christ must have had a huge "culture shock"... when He became human.

We must have seemed so crass and unloving to Him.

I try to be a little bit of light everywhere I go. It isn't easy. But you can see when others are trying as well. Now that we're in the U.S. for a short bit, the words to an old gospel song ring true in my ears:

"This world is not my home, I'm just a passing through, my treasures are laid up, somewhere beyond the blue, the angels beckon me with heaven's open door and I can't feel at home in this world anymore."


Not the best

For our friends not currently visiting their home countries, a few reflections:

1. fidget spinners are a thing. I used a pencil when I was a kid.
2. chromebooks are very popular now
3. there's a million shows to watch but for some reason within 10 minutes of turning them on I fall asleep.
4. people seem to be chasing after the 'best' of something. The Best Ice cream, the best burger, etc. We seem totally fine with the 'worst'. I mean, we've been without real ice-cream for so long that even bad ice cream seems good to us. People want to direct us to the 'best' of stuff, often. Like 'oh you're hungry for pickles? the best pickle joint is D.J. Jazzy Pickle! You can get three toppings for your pickle there for free!' And I'm like 'yeah, just a kosher dill in a jar will do, I've been away from Vlassic for years, let's start me out slow.'

I so appreciate all the people loving on us right now, and trying to help us re-acclimate. The incredible amount of variety here is almost paralyzing. I know as Americans we value variety, it's the spice of life. But my reaction to it is, I won't go buy a jar of pickles until I've googled it, or I'll go on full impulse and buy the first one I see. It's a coping mechanism. We're simply not used to incredible variety. I mean, even our neighbors have the same furniture, dishes, housing materials and food as we do, so we're not really surrounded by variety in many ways, except culturally, but even that happens here in California.

So when you ask me "So what pickles do you want on your sandwhich? Dill, sweet, bread and butter? spears, slices, whole, quarter?' All I hear is "...dill?...blah blah blah blah
' so I respond 'Dill would be great! Thanks.'

That doesn't mean I don't love it here, I do. I love all the choices, just having a hard time choosing.


In the U.S. observations

Cell phones are completely invasive. Always beeping and alarming.  People testing you from morning till night, interrupting thoughts and in person conversations all day long.  And yet you can get a ton done.  Blessing and a curse. Takes discipline to put the phone down and ignore its beeping.  


Odd Moments in the U.S.A. 2

Today my son asked 'what is the wifi password grandma' and Grandma replied 'it's on the rolodex' and he replied 'what's a rolodex?' which was funny to me, because it was old tech meets new tech. Has nothing to do with us living overseas.

A cousin said 'you HAVE to try voodoo donuts while here and salt and straw ice-cream it's the best.'

I replied "We don't need 'the best' we can have 'the worst' and it'll be better than what we're used to. Do you have a place that's the worst? It'll probably be more affordable."
No one in my family seemed enthused about going to Voodoo donuts. In fact, the idea of a plain maple bar was so novel, we might just stop there.

Odd Moments in the U.S.A. 1

- Today I was sitting there reading and I saw a movement on the rim of my glasses. I instinctively figured it was an ant and took the frames off in search of it. Instinctively I took off the frames, blew off the ant, and put them back on. A few minutes later, another ant. So I did the same thing. Then I thought 'oh, mom's gonna be upset she has an ant problem in her office.' So I started looking for the source of the ants, but couldn't find a single one. Then a few moments later the same ant in that same spot on my frames, so I sat there, and looked and realized.... it was the flickering reflecting of the ceiling fan behind me.


Cry Week

This time of year, everyone around me is crying or on emotional edge.

My motto for the next several weeks is to keep my head down, be as quiet as I can, and be as helpful as I can.  Guys, if you're in the midst of cry week, take it from me, no one wants to hear your opinions, and it isn't encouraging to say 'I don't see why you're so sad! You'll have facebook!'  Yes it's true that 50% of the communication is via text or facebook even though they live mere feet from one another.  But saying that, doesn't help! Trust me.

My daughter and son are saying 'goodbye forever' to many people. They seem convinced that they'll never see some of their best friends again.  From my perspective, I see them keeping in touch, and seeing one another throughout the rest of their lives.

The bonds the kids make here are stronger than the ones I made in high school, and also likely in college.  It is an intense bond of classmate, best friend, neighbor, playmate, all of it. I've never witnessed any bond as strong as this save a family bond, and I have nothing to compare it to to make you understand. It's like each of these kids are immediate family.

As I grew up, I slowly became used to finding new friends every few years.  And in a sense, these kids do too.  But some of these kids they've been close to for 10 years and in 13 days they're going to scatter all over the world.

And they're about to leave their home too.  Their families, their safe place (bedroom), their pets, their school, their entire world.

It's a lot to have to cope with all at once.  When I was a kid all of that happened gradually and I looked forward to each step of it.

And I look forward to every step of it for them too.  They'll look back with fondness, but right now, it's all tears and sadness.

My wife is also going through it because she's poured her blood sweat and tears into this graduating class for a long time.  She's not losing 1 kid, she's losing 24 (approx.) kids.

Sure I get a sudden attack of sadness when I think I won't be hearing my daughter singing around the house again, or getting random hugs from her. But I think it's a good trade for getting to see her grow up.

I'm so excited for her life.  She's transitioning into adulthood.  This is the defining moment for her.  

This is when she leaves the nest, and we get to see her fly.  This is when we are parents move from authoritative to advisory.

There are so many adventures that await her, and I'm excited that I get to watch her experience them.

However to embark on that adventure, there is this rite of passage called 'cry week' and it should be called 'cry month' because last weekend, was the beginning and it will go on for a while yet.

Until we get on a plane on June 15th, there will be tears (and I'm sure some after that too).
Tons of tears.
Emotions fraying.

So dad is here for hugs and help and I'll keep my advice, and ideas to myself.  I'll make sure bags are loaded and we get on that plane.

And I will say to myself, repeatedly, I'm so thankful I'm not a teenage girl! Because this must be torture on her.

If I could invent a time machine, I would bring my daughter back in time to tell her current self  'your life is going to be awesome! So hang in there.'

I will tell you though, that in all of this there is only 1 thought that haunts me and that I have to give up to God.
See I grew up with a very close family, and though we all scattered for a bit, we rejoined in adulthood to live within a few miles of one another.

But we raised our kids in missions, they realize the world is not that huge a place, they know how to travel it and borders are not obstacles for them.  There is no guarantee that when I reach old age that my kids choose to live near me, or even live in one place.  I realize that by following God's instructions I may have resigned myself to not having the dream of living near my kids, or future grand kids.  I see my friends here in PNG going through this all the time.  The struggle between wanting to serve God in PNG and wanting to be near their family.  But none of us have any guarantee of the future, and God knows all of it.  So I just going to keep on following His lead, trust Him to do what He will with our family, and leave it at that. 

My sites on are the next 2 years with my son. It'll be a fun time just him and us.
Then the next 4 years with our daughter in college, and what that brings.
And from then on, we're all just holding hands and stepping off the cliff together to see what God brings into our lives next!



What I did today

A neighbor nearby, a large property and business owner, recently had an
altercation with some people and there was some damage done to his property.
Word got out that I had a drone and they asked me to come get footage of
everything for insurance purposes.
So that's what I did, helped a neighbor with my drone.

I'd go into more detail or share a photo except it doesn't seem proper
to show someone else's photos nor talk in detail about their issues.
Suffice it to say, I was glad to be able to help.



I offered Calvin a ride to school today, in return for a favor, so he
waited to walk.

He was having trouble starting the ATV so I stepped in and said 'Let dad
show you how its done.'

One pull on the start cord, two pulls, a three pulls.. SNAP

The pull start cord snapped. It was new! We just replaced it like 3
months ago.

Calvin had to start walking, and thankfully wasn't late.

Conundrum: I can wait for a month to buy a new pull starter cord, but
we'll be in the U.S. by then (Can buy one there) OR, I can buy a new
battery now to get the electric start working, and hope it doesn't die
after 2.5 months of unuse. (batteries cost $200) I think maybe we'll
just live with the inconvenience of not having a working ATV until we
get back.


Vote for her

My daughter is competing in a scholarship essay contest for up to $10,000 which would really help us send her to William Jessup University.
However the winner is chosen by votes.
If you could help us out, and click to vote for her essay, it is here:


Music of the 80's

I was working on my computer and my iTunes started playing 80's pop. This of course transports me back to my teen years. Of course at the time I was clueless about Artists and Titles.  But the tunes brought me back.

"Down Under" had a new context for me, living 'down under' for 10 years now.

But it was the lyrics to the song 'Kyrie' by Mr. Mister that suddenly transported my mind to a new place. Words I've never really heard before.

"My heart is old, it holds my memories."

"When I was young I thought of growing old, of what my life would mean to me. Would I have followed my chosen road, or only wished what I could be?"

Okay so first what does "Kyrie Eleison" mean?  Well let me google that.... loading...loading...loading.... aha Wikipedia!

It's greek for 'Lord have mercy!'

I figure you have 3 maybe 4 major 'roads' in your life. Major career changes, major paths.  I figure I'm on road 2 right now.

Road 1 was graduating college, finding a wife, having kids, finding a career and working that career in I.T. for 20 years.

Road 2 was moving my family overseas and becoming a missionary.

Road 3 .... We don't know yet. But I have a feeling it happens after the kids graduation high school and move out. So, 2 years from now.

My daughter is about to embark on Road 1. The foundational road.  I hope you all are praying for that road to be precisely the road God wants for her, and that she doesn't fight Him too much along the way.   My road 1 and 2 were awesome and I can see God's blessing on it.

"Now that I'm older, I see what my life means to me and others, and the chosen road I took." - Chad Owens

Wanna know what I learned?  There are a whole lot of purposes to any one life. Some of them you miss if you're too focused on trying to do 1 great thing.

If you're convinced that your life is going to be something huge, have a huge impact, you may miss the smaller things that also have a huge impact.

For example, being a dad.

There are a lot of people out there who are pretty messed up because their dads left them when they were young to pursue whatever 'greatness' they were after.  Ironically in their quest to become 'great' and 'make a difference' they have contributed to one of the biggest problems this world faces.  A lack of strong moral men who raise their kids well. It takes guts, it takes time, it is hard work. It really is the hardest work in the world being a parent. You'll have higher highs, and lower lows. You'll doubt your self, your decisions, you'll be challenged in everything. Your hypocrisies will be brought to question, your entire character will be on display.  In the end, you won't exactly be able to take credit for your work, because it wasn't all you, but you'll feel a deep sense of pride and joy.

Young men, if you want to do something great, if you want to impact this world in a lasting way, then when/if you become a father, do it well.  If you fail in this, nothing you do in life will compensate for the destruction you leave in your path, and the ripple effects that will have.


Easter Traditions

2017 Easter pic. Sunrise Service
the fam in front of the Cross, transformed by flowers.
Our family tradition on Easter is to rise early, start the day with the Son as the sun rises. Then we have company over to share good food and conversation, maybe play some board games or something.  Our lifestyle here is very social and not hurried, not rushed. People tend to stay longer and visit longer, conversations tend to be deep. Celebrating Easter here, is truly a joy.

3d Eggs

According to Wikipedia the Easter egg hunt is a Christian tradition intended to use the symbol of an egg (womb/tomb) to bring joy to people.  The men used to hide them for the women and children to recapture the joy the disciples felt upon realizing the Lord had conquered death.

This year we don't have the little tikes running around we normally do, our house will be full of teenagers and adults.

So I decided to make up a little more 'mature' of an egg for the egg hunt.

Enter, my Easter 3d printer setup.  Printing out:

-a parametric mini egg
-my first multi-color eggsperiments
-my first multi-piece jigsaw eggsperiments (red and blue zigzag)
-a brick egg
-an egg within an egg.
and more

This is my major hobby, and you can tell the filament rack I made out of wood.


Techie Rant

The rest of the world is online.

Last month a college my daughter wants to go to sent us the list of her interviews.

A singing audition

An acting monologue

A scholarship interview

Another scholarship interview.

The medium they use to do all of these things is Google Hangouts.

I live where I live and the internet speeds we have are shared among many people. Google Hangouts utilizes more bandwidth than most video chat services.  So, I wrote them a plea email to let us pre-record her auditions and upload them, and have a telephone interview instead.  They graciously accepted.

Due to the time differences, though, it means we'll be up at 4am to conduct said interviews.

PLEASE pray that all goes well.

It would have been so much easier if we could just do google hangouts and do all this live. But now, because I'm pre-recording it, here is my techie rant:

-reserve a room with the capability to record audio, and also has a piano

-plan with the pianist a time they can record

-plan with others when I can use the room

-go late at night to setup 2 mics, 2 monitors, a digital recorder and find some way to run an output line that doesn't HUM (because of grounding loop) into my video camera

-setup another room with a decent background so that she can do her monologue.

-Once all the recording is done, copy it off the camera, compress  the video, upload it (will take 24 hours)

-Top up all our pre-paid cell phones.

-do it all in 2 days.

There are several things that can go wrong, as you well know with anything technical. This is coming at a time when we're already quite busy.

If the internet goes out, if the telephone service goes out, we'll be unable to have the interviews.

These interviews are very important to us, because  this is the school we're set on going to, but we need financial aid to be able to afford sending her there.

WE would appreciate your prayers.

Thank you.


Chad and the Dad of Chad

This is myself and Clement. Clement is from the Pou village. Clement is a translator and is quadra-lingual working on 2 translations.

Last night his wife gave birth to a son. They named him after me.

Chad and the Dad of Chad

This is me and Clement. Clement is from the Pou village. Clement is a translator and is quadralingual working on 2 translations.

Last night his wife gave birth to a son. They named him after me.


Chad and the Dad of Chad

This is me and Clement. Clement is from the Pou village. Clement is a translator and is quadralingual working on 2 translations.

Last night his wife gave birth to a son. They named him after me.


B.E. We bring good things to life!

In this village translation project there are three ways to communicate to the outside world.

The most used one is their internet connection, because it is also reliable.

I'm out here mainly because recently it's been having issues.

Which are fixed now.

Today I stepped outside my comfort zone and had to install new batteries for a solar system.  Not being an electrician I was unsure what to do.  So I spent every break I had, reading up on things, talking with co-workers/friends back in our main HQ asking them questions, reading manuals, and coming up with plans.

Because it was a battery system, I figured people would be without power so I approached it like I used to approach server down times.

I made my plan, I documented it, I even cut out cardboard cutouts to show where everything went.

When it came time to do the actual work, it went very quickly, and it worked the first time. 

I was very happy because I've never done this before.  I was originally going to rely on my friend pictured above who was the one who had done it before.  But his real job is linguistics and translation and I didn't want to steal him away from that for longer than I had to

My buddy B.E. (let's call him B.E. because he brings good things to light), has to know a little about everything.  He's the man in charge.

He has to know a little about electricity, a little about networks, a little about computers and hard drives, a little about construction, I'm so amazed by all the things he has to know to keep his project running.  And to learn them, he meet with experts we have who have come to support Bible Translation.

So when someone comes to help him who can take one of those jobs off his shoulders, and give him more time to spend on what he's a real expert about (linguistics) then he is happy.

Today, I saw him on fire. He was all jazzed up! Because the Bible Checking workshop began!  He was doing what he came to do.  All the electricianing, carpentry, plumbing, networking etc, was all built up so he could do that.

To see the team working and doing that, was impressive.  To know that they trusted me to get work done while they were doing that was satisfying. 

Today was a day where a team worked well together, people doing what they were good at, and then sometimes, doing something they weren't so good at, but with the help of others they succeeded!

This to me is what support work is all about. Supporting others, offloading them with your skills so they can use their skills!


Fun Moments

Yesterday being sunday, I flew the drone around to get some shots, and the village kids all came running to watch, and with each turn there were giggles and finger pointing, it was fun.

I've only been here a couple of days so far, and so take this with a grain of salt, but hearing laughter and children brings this village alive and gives a sense to me that the Spirit is alive in this place.  I have been to villages that do not seem as "light" as this one. It is a nice feeling.

Today, at the beginning of the translation workshop I was asked to share a bit of my story. I did it in Tok Pisin and realized it's been a while since I've done that.

I spoke about how we have prayed for and new this village for ten years but have never been here nor seen these people we are praying for.  I drew a parallel  between that and those sending us here, how they have never seen these people but still pray for them and send us here.

I told them that I was happy to be here and happy to be helping and happy to finally meet and see them.

I told them that all of you back home supporting us, to support them, were here with me in my heart.

That resonated with them because several of them walked a very long way, leaving their families to come do this work.

God is the only one I know who can compel men's hearts to leave everything they know, to go a long distance, to do sacrificial work that glorifies Him and brings others to Him.

Being a part of something like this is eternally significant, and makes you appreciate God's ability to orchestrate lives.


Sore Buns Sunday

(What you can't quite see in the background is the road/river.  The river has flooded onto the road and we're driving through a few inches of water here.  Later it becomes closer to a few feet.)

Sunday is the Lord's day. It's a day of rest. I generally like to keep it Holy and not work. However there is a lot of work that needs to be done to prepare the computers for the workshop, and people begin arriving this afternoon.  I could definitely use the extra hours that I would normally use to visit the local village church.  In my head I was tempted to skip church for that reason alone. When you are in the village dates and time are almost irrelevant. You care more about sun for power, rain for water, so the time is 'light time' 'dark time' 'hot time' 'wet time' oh and 'mosquito time' (at least for me)

Yesterday afternoon the bruises on my backside became well pronounced. I obtained these from the 1.5 hour drive coming into the village. The bruises were such that I was unable to sit anywhere without a lot of pain.  You can imagine working on computers, moving from chair to chair, this was annoying.  It is also somewhat embarrassing to admit that my buns were not road-tested-hardened-buns-of-steel and normally I would not, except it contributes to the story.

So there I was on Sunday morning, realizing that visiting the local village church is usually a great way to meet people and get to know the area and see some of its culture.  Yet the thought of sitting on bamboo pole benches, or any type of hard seating, made me wince in pain.  Coupled with the need to get these computers working, I opted to skip church.

A few minutes ago, I was sitting at the computers unable to solve a problem that was stymieing me.  I could not figure out the proper firewall pass through for this software to work.

After a frustrating hour, I realized, that I did not start my morning the same way I had started all the others. ( I hadn't read my Bible nor prayed because the internet was off and I went right to work fixing it so others would not have to wait for me.)  So I stopped and prayed this prayer:

"God, I know today is your day, and I have not done anything to recognize that. I am sorry.  God I know these computers, and this work in this village is your work, and I am honoured to be here to help with it. God, please forgive me for not putting you first today.  God if you would, please help me out here, I'm stuck, and I can't figure out this problem. I'm going to click apply on this button in a second and I am asking you to make it work. I need your help, I need you. I forgot that for a moment, but I'm reminded all the time. Thank you for reminding me."

I clicked apply.

It worked.

I'm not advocating treating God like a genie in a lamp. That isn't what that prayer was about.  As soon as it began working my eyes filled up and got a little watery.

Unless God wants our efforts to succeed in glorifying Him, they won't.  Sunday is not God's only day, all of the days are His, all of our efforts are His.  He is almighty, all powerful, loving and graceful.

I was moved that He imparted grace to me while I chose to bun shun the hard church benches.

Pray for us while out here, we will run into spiritual obstacles.  This work, what is happening here is so exciting, people are legitimately following God, that the enemy doesn't like it and fights back.

Please pray for the next 6 weeks that when this happens we recognize it quickly.


My Trip to Arop Village

First we took this:

To this airstrip:

Then we  loaded our cargo, and 6 people in the back of this:

and drove to the village over and through this:

and this:

until we arrived here, to find all sort of help in unloading:


I've been a lot of places, I've done alot of driving through various terrain.

That was the most adventurous ride I'd ever been on, and I'm told it was GOOD. The rivers weren't too high, the truck didn't get stuck or stall. All in all it was a good trip, thank you for your prayers in getting me here.

I was able to get the internet back up and working for them before dinner that same night, which was a big win for everyone.

Please continue to pray that the trip goes well and I'm able to help this work of Bible Translation with my skills and attitude.


Fond Memory

Before my last village stay, my wife found a bunch of these packets of Gatorade powder mixes. You don't often have refrigeration in the village, so having cold drinks is something special.  Also because you have to carefully manage your wait on the plane or chopper, every bulky item you choose to carry means you can't carry something else.  Like, oh, solar panels.

I was in the village for 3 weeks (which for me is a decent to long stay), recording an audio version of Luke.  The place where we were recording had to have a generator for power for the recording equipment and it also therefore, had a fridge!

Each day we'd hike or take a PMV to the recording area from the village house.

Drinking enough water in the hot climate is essential to survival. (as are several other items).

I got into the habit of pouring my powder mix into my water container, shaking it up, and dropping that in the fridge in the morning, then drinking half at break time, and half with lunch.

About 2 weeks into the process, I was tired, sweaty, and just plain ol' worn out. But each day, I looked forward to a few cold gulps of that drink. And each day I was thankful for my wife during that time, and for the people at our store who had this rare item available.

Today as I prepare to go out again, I recall those happy moments, and how I felt about the cool drink of something that wasn't luke warm rainwater.  Of how my wife cared for me and sent that special treat.

And I smile.


Mixture of Emotions

I almost think I need to create new names for emotions as it seems the
current available ones don't quite cut it.

Anticisolation - the anticipation that you will soon be very very
alone. Explanation: I have been asked to go to the village for 2 weeks
coming very soon. This has taken me by surprise, but I'm looking forward
to it. It does however exaggerate the thought that not only do I have
only a short time left with my daughter before she moves out of the
house in June. But I also will be away from my family for 2 weeks, in a
remote locations.

Divestsive - the obsessive and overwhelming urge to suddenly rid
yourself of all your material belongings. I'm sitting in my office, and
looking at all the stuff I have around me, knowing that in June my
family will be making the long journey back to the U.S. and all I can
think is, I want to take a garbage can and just throw it all away. The
urge to rid myself of everything I own strikes suddenly, and I believe
it happens when the pendulum swings the other way from the missionary
'save it because you may need it'. I have pieces of electronics laying
around in case someone could use it to fix something else. I have rolls
of duct tape, sugru, a packet of balloons, an old fushigi someone gave
me, some cockroach chalk, led flashlights, empty cans of pringles
(useful!!) zip ties, etc. I'm surrounded in useful junk that I just
want to trash!

iFrustration - the impatient anger that leads to defeat which comes from
filling out taxes, online banking, buying plane tickets, handling
college applications all online while the internet is slow or non
functional. We have 3 available paths to the internet. My wife and
daughter are gone this weekend so time to do taxes and get caught up on
everything right? WRONG, all 3 are having major problems and nothing is

And the one I call 'Old MacDonald':
Because when you experience one, two, or three of the above at the same
time, as I am right now, it can be lumped together to cause you to have:

Extremely Irrational Expensive Irritated Outbreak (E.I.E.I.O.) - this is
when you're convinced that you can fix all your problems by doing
something near insane, like, building your own satellite dish, mounting
it on your roof, and aiming into space. Or driving 4 hours away hoping
the internet works there, or calling someone in the U.S. and begging
them to help. Whatever it is, we've all faced 'Old MacDonald' a time or
two. I have only seen 1 person ever run out of their house screaming in
all of my time here, but I know others have wanted to. 'Old MacDonald'
typically comes on stronger the closer one gets to trip home.

Today my wife and daughter are off helping run a women's support
ministry weekend.
In 1.5 weeks I fly into Aitape to help technical needs during a
translation workshop.
In late June we fly to the U.S. for a 3 month stay to get our daughter
setup in college.

The logistics of all of this, the expense, the need for online time is
all building up and today I'm just trying not to blow. It's at moments
like these, when you are very loudly reminded that WE are not in
control, that GOD is in control. And that calms me.... it calms a me a
lot because I don't know how to fly the plane, but God does.


The Ride Home

Was driving home and had car issues.
Thankfully we belong to a good group of people who were able to help out!
We're very thankful for the many men and women who serve alongside us.