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Thursday, June 19, 2014

PNG (After) Milne Bay Day 17: "The fight goes on!"

Spiritual warfare is going on all around us.  I really need to ramp up my prayer life in covering these precious students and staff here in PNG.  I felt impressed with that truth before I came here and I'm even more convinced now.

One of my favorite verses is:  "Little children...the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world."  1John 4:4  I like it because it calls me a little child.  Little children are vulnerable.  So...when I feel vulnerable and overwhelmed, I can take heart and remember who is in me and with me.  God is big, even if I'm not.

Tomorrow we fly home, entrusting those involved in the PNG ministry into God's care, looking forward to seeing more of His goodness as they continue the fight!

PNG (After) Milne Bay Day 16: "Sharing!"

Mark, one of the students from our project, was so excited by how God used him in Milne Bay that he went home and shared the gospel with his whole family.  He's also been asked to speak at his church on Sunday!

Speaking of sharing...Dan is coughing right along beside me now.  "Ain't love grand?!"

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

PNG (After) Milne Bay Day 15: "Meeting people!"

While I had a day in bed (just me and my cough,) Dan was a busy little beaver!

One of the meetings he had was with our staff to evaluate the project.  While there are definately things that we can improve on for next year, we were still blown away with what God has done.  One of our favorite things was to see our students take faith steps to do things they had never done before!

Amidst all the other official meetings, I think the one Dan enjoyed most was an unexpected surprise.  Over breakfast, he was talking to a girl also staying at the Mapang, waiting for her flight back home to the States.  As they talked, Dan discovered this girl went to Penn State.  After talking some more, they discovered that her dad was a friend of Dan's from back in the day...and that their family friend was Dan's best man and the guy who sang at our wedding.  Who would the middle of Papua New Guinea...!

PNG (After) Milne Bay Day 14: "Back in Moresby!"

It's good to be back in Port Moresby...the familiar vs. the new.  I arrived back with a killer cough, so my bed and I have had sweet time together.  I only have to get up for the lovely meals they provide here.  

Tomorrow, Dan has scheduled several meetings, trying to take care of admin. stuff while we're here.  We'll see if a good night sleep will kick this cough, and then I can join in.

My souvenir from our time with our student project is my fan.  Although it's not new, I had all the students and staff sign it.  That fan has surpassed my metal bucket in my affections as a most needed piece of equipment to take on a trip.  I used that fan for keeping cool, for sitting on damp ground, to shoo flies away, as a clean surface to put my wet wash cloth...the list goes on.  


Sunday, June 15, 2014

PNG Milne Bay Day 13: "Last Things!"

Our last day in Milne Bay has been full of "last things."  We had our last church service here and said good-by to the church as a whole. (Part of the good-by was singing two songs up front...the first of which I didn't know the tried to fake the words!)

We had our last "team time," when,as a mission team, we got to debrief our time here, and had our final discussion on the book:  The Finishers, (in which we talked about serving God out of gratitude for His grace.)

In the evening, we had a farewell party with the youth group at the church.  Both the church youth leader and our own group directed games.  (And we came away with great, new ideas!)  We ended with a sideshow of our time here, and then good-bys were said.  Dan and I were presented with beautiful Milne Bay necklaces.  (Mine was presented to me by Angela...the lady with the umbrella!)

We took our final walk back to the SIL guest house.  (My feet are glad of this!)  Tomorrow we leave for Port Moresby at 4:30 am.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

PNG Milne Bay Day 12: "Going Deeper!"

Stove on lt., oven (with fire around back) on rt.
Girl's sleeping accomodation
Our trip overnight into a village, staying on a family's land, seeing the kitchen building, the oven, the living style, and the welcoming/giving hospitality... was fascinating.  It was interesting that the more unlike my own experience and culture we got, the more relaxed and comfortable our students became as they were enveloped into their homelike atmosphere.  So, while I stuck out like a sore thumb, I was so thankful our students and staff could have a break like this in the midst of our busy schedule.

Our bathtub!
Our host family had a nearby river to supply extra water to the home, and it was also used for bathing, dish washing, etc.  In fact, I was shown a leaf that they use as steel wool for cleaning pots.  (It's very rough and thick!)  

With good friends, Diane & Andrea
One of the funniest things I saw was all the boys trying to catch a chicken for our lunch.   Talk about free-range birds!  Those chickens definately knew it was not in their best interest to be caught! The meal they provided was not only fresh, but bountiful, as all the sidedishes were added.  Along with chicken, we were presented with cau cau, tapioca, taro, greens, coconut rice, noodles, cooked bananas, and tea.

Boys slept on this platform

Liquid refreshment!
Eva took several plants back with us so that she could plant her souvenirs in her own garden back in Port Moresby!  Some students also took plants to add to their own village gardens when they return home in a couple of days. (I guess collecting souvenirs is a world-wide practice!)

Friday, June 13, 2014

PNG Milne Bay Day 11: "Movies!"

I had never seen an outdoor Jesus Film showing before...and it's so cool!

We've done one showing in an open space between a transit house (which provides rooms for people passing through town, so it attracts people from all over the province,) and the sea.  We also did a showing in another village a couple of hours away from town.  In fact, it was for enough away that my white skin scared one young boy. (He initially didn't want to see the movie because of the "dim dim," but was persuaded by his parents.)

The screen is a round white fabric with sleeves along the edge, into which flexible poles are inserted (like the new tent poles...light.)  When the movie is shown on this screen, it can be viewed from either side.

On these warm nights, outside under the stars and moon, watching people watch a movie of Jesus is pretty special!  450 came to the showing by the sea, and 90 came to see the movie in the more remote village.  

After the film is shown, one of our students tells their story of how their personal walk with Jesus began, and another reviews the gospel again.  For some of our team, it's the first time they've spoken up front to a crowd of people.  Faith-stretching stuff!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

PNG Milne Bay Day 10: "Following the Umbrella!"

Church ladies waiting for the group to gather
Our team took some of the church people out sharing and distributing the Jesus Film DVDs this morning.  I was teamed up with two ladies:  Angela and Eileen.  Angela had not been to all our training, but was an older,very confident, take-charge type of person...with an umbrella, which acted as a parasol.  Eileen was slightly younger with a quiet, gentle personality.  (I wish there was a video photographer following us.  What an unusual team we made!)

Being a stranger here, I asked the other two ladies where we should go as we started out from the church.  Angela said, "To the barracks!" and off we went...quickly.  (She's a fast walker!)    On the way, we came to a house and Angela said, "We'll stop here first."  It seems she had ministered to the lady who lived there and knew she needed to gospel.  Angela told us to wait on the bench outside the house while she went inside to fetch her friend.  She returned with her friend and a plastic chair for me...and told me I was the one who would do the sharing.

So...I shared to gospel with Marianne.  When I'd ask a question as we went along, Marianne would just smile.  (Being an older foreign white lady can be a handicap.)  I'd look over at my partners, who would both begin speaking "language," explaining my question, then Marianne would nod.  It was worth the effort of plowing ahead this way, because Marianne is now my sister in Christ!  However, when Angela told Marianne to go into the house to see if her daughter would also come out and here the gospel, I told Eileen she could do the talking this time.

On our way again, up went the umbrella and we followed Angela through to another house she had in mind on the way to the barracks.  We took a short-cut between two houses, down a narrow, muddy, rocky hill.  (Eileen, following me, said in her soft voice, "Just go easy...I'll hold your hand."  On the narrow path was no room for hand-holding!)  After wading through a small stream (!) and up another hill, we came to the house Angela had in mind.

I let my partners both do the talking as we shared the gospel to the old mother and her grown daughter.  As I listened to Angela and Eileen both sharing (one to the mother and one to the daughter,) I was struck with how quiet their voices were.  I really felt like a big, loud American sitting there...but what a privileged American!  I was sitting in a village in Papua New Guinea, hearing two newly trained local ladies share the gospel, and witnessing God at work, bringing people to Himself.  Wow!

We never did make it to the barracks.

Eileen and Angela are behind me, at my shoulders.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

PNG Milne Bay Day 9: "Matthew & Mayhem!"

We're here with our teammate from New Zealand, Matthew, whom all our PNG staff and students love.  This is his last day here with the team, as he travels back to Auckland tomorrow...and what a last day!

In the morning we split into two teams to cover two different primary schools.  The goal: to read through a children's tract explaining the gospel to assemblies of students, then pass out the Jesus Film DVDs.  Dan and I went with one group,  Matthew went with the other.

Our group went pretty much as planned, except that instead of talking with an assembly, we went into 4 classrooms.  Since there was 8 of us, that meant 2 of us went to each classroom.  We had a delightful time...the children were excited to have us there.
Matthew's group was another story...nothing went to plan.  They thought they were speaking to one assembly, then the next hour, another assembly.  Upon arrival, because of miscommunication between the upper and lower primary schools, no one was expecting them right then.  Matthew's group waited 2 hours...then ministry mayhem (or in Matthew's case, "heaven") broke loose.  The principal wanted our team to speak to ALL the classrooms...and it's a huge school.  Bottom line:  the team, divided up, spoke to 4 classrooms at a time.  They ran from one classroom to another, with Matthew acting as a go-between (introducing teams and passing out supplies).  By the end of the morning, they had spoken in 16 classrooms and one of assembly.  (The assembly was 400 of the youngest kids.)  Because of God working through Matthew's group, 1000 kids heard the gospel.  (They thought they would speak to only 300.) 

Matthew's talk on God's "call."
In the afternoon, Matthew gave a talk to our whole project team on "finding God's call."  By the end of the day, two of our PNG students came up to Matthew and told him they felt God wanted them to become full-time missionaries. One  of those students was so excited that she couldn't eat dinner or stop smiling!

Elton (Staff) taking notes

   What a way for Matthew to end his time here!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

PNG Milne Bay Day 8: "Highschool!"

Today we all packed 50 DVDs of the Jesus Film and Knowing God Personally booklets in each of our bags and we all walked 20 minutes to a local high school.  500 of the 700 students came to hear about Student Life at UPNG, Diane's testimony, and an outline of the gospel.

We then distributed to every student a DVD and invited them to stay if they would like to hear how they could know God personally.

Each of our team members ended up talking with a group of about 10-15 students...except Dan, who zeroed in on a male teacher who was hanging aroundIt turned out the Fred taught math and science (like Dan did in Palau), and didn't know who Jesus is...very unusual in the islands.  Dan went through the gospel with him and he looks a little scared.  He said, "This is a big decision!"  Dan shared his own story about choosing to follow Christ.  At the end, Fred asked Jesus into his heart and is beginning his great adventure as God's child!  Yahoo!

Monday, June 9, 2014

PNG Milne Bay Day 7: "Veronica!"

After our church people had gathered for their training session, we paired them up with our student
Demonstrating with a kind lady
mission team members for an afternoon of sharing the gospel in the community.

I had two church ladies with me.  After demonstrating sharing the gospel with the first lady we met, I let the other ladies' have a turn.  The three of us approached Veronica.  

Veronica was selling cigarettes along the road.  She was sitting with two small children and her young sister, Rose.    Veronica was the picture of despair...limp posture, sad eyes, still a young woman, but without hope.  She was very willing to talk with us.  Her eyes filled with tears as we shared to gospel and she invited Christ into her heart.  We prayed with her and for her.  (It seems she's having difficulty with her husband.)  Her sister, Rose, also invited Jesus into her life.

Veronica's circumstances broke my heart...I wish I could change them for her.  I wish I could be around longer to make sure she keeps understanding the eternal hope and love that's now hers.  I have to rest on the truth that the Holy Spirit can now work in her life and change and heal Veronica from the inside out...and keep praying for her.  We left her with a copy of the Jesus Film DVD...and hopefully my two church ladies will visit with her some more!

PS  I met Margery (one of my church ladies and sharing partner) later, and she was beaming and bubbling over.  It seems she went home and shared with her friends and family, and was filled with joy at what God was doing.  Amazing!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

PNG Milne Bay Day 6: "The Troops Have Landed!"

Dan and I went attended church in order to give the announcement of the training our students provide during the week, while Greg went to meet the students and staff arriving at the airport.

We started singing at 9:30...and at 11:10, Greg and team joined us at church in time for more choir numbers and a sermon.  

Our training started that afternoon at 2:00.  At 2:00, two children and I were there, watching a man pack up sound equipment from the morning service.  The rest of our team filtered in, and by 2:30, about 6 church people came.  By 3:10, we decided to start with the 12 people that had shown up by then.  By the end of our time, 15 very excited people thanked us for coming and promised to show up the next day.

In the evening, when it was dark, we showed the Children's Jesus Film.  Our projector turned out to be faulty and the picture on the screen wasn't very clear, but the children didn't seem to mind.  Others on the team organized another projector to arrive on tomorrow's flight from Port Moresby, and will hopefully appear before tomorrow night screening of the full Jesus Fim.

(I'm tired now, but Dan says our trip isn't over yet.  TeeHee)

Saturday, June 7, 2014

PNG Milne Bay Day 5: "Going Shopping!"

Our goal today was to go to the fresh fruit and veg. market and the grocery store to buy supplies for the first two days of the students' missions project.  (Everyone arrives tomorrow!)

This is a big deal:  buying food for a group in another culture and in unfamiliar stores with unfamiliar brands.  As a girl, it's assumed I know what I'm doing.  Ha. We phoned Eva last night and asked for advice.  I had to asked her to explain what she was talking about a couple of times.  (We had a good giggle, and she knows I'm rather desperate that she gets here soon.  TeeHee)  Apparently "cou cou" is sweet potato. (Pronounced:  cow cow)

Ok.  Upon entering the market, I discover that I really don't know how to recognize what someone in PNG calls a sweet potato.  It's pouring with rain.  Most of the fruit and veg are under a roof...along with everyone who's trying to not get soaked.  As I'm squished up alongside a kind looking woman, I explain my situation and ask where the cou cou is located.  Sure enough, she points just outside the roof to several different kinds of sweet potato, in different piles.  Eva didn't say which variety to get.  Greg gives us his opinion, I give Dan and Greg the umbrella, and send them out to "hunt and gather" while I stayed under the roof, holding the bananas, onions, carrots, pineapple, etc. 

Loaded down with parcels and one umbrella, the three of us walk along to the kitchen outside where the students will be staying.  After finding someone to receive our food, we set off for the grocery store.

Dan patiently waiting outside store
  After filling two shopping carts, the real challenge began...finding a taxi.  A rainy day is a good day to be a taxi driver.  Busy, busy, busy.  Greg, very wisely, bought an umbrella for himself, and faced the daunting task of finding a ride for us.  Dan and I waited (along with a swarm of people) under the roof overhang just outside the store with our purchases.  After a time, a taxi approached with Greg inside!  Hurray!  We made our delivery to the kitchen and continued in the taxi to a cafe for a well deserved lunch!

PNG Milne Bay Day 4: "Moving Day!"

Today we moved to our new home at the SIL base housing...with a great sense of relief.  (Cold water bucket baths such as we had at the expensive place, are not a favourite with me...and I didn't pack my beloved metal bucket in which to heat the water...but isn't the heart-shaped dipper-bucket cute?) 

The move was not without it's challenges, though.  

I don't know where the cultural value of time efficiency sits on your list of priorities, but it seems that mine is closer to the top than on the list of some folks here. I guess it depends if your goal is to live life as you find it, or to accomplish tasks.

 We packed our bags and set them on the porch.  Dan went to the main office to pay our bill.  He wanted to use a credit card.  Uh,oh.  It seems that the machine for swiping the credit card was in town.  So, Dan came and sat on the porch while someone went into town to get the machine.  Then, when they returned, Dan went again to pay, but none of his cards worked.  So he came back to our porch and waited for someone to go with him into town so he could withdraw money and pay in cash.  He went, returned and paid, and then we called for a taxi.  The guy said, "5 minutes."  All this time rain is pouring down.  Half and hour later, Dan tries the taxi guy again and he doesn't answer.  Finally, Greg came to us in another taxi and we all went to our new place.  Whew!

We bought an umbrella today!

Also, we now have twelve foam mattresses purchased and stored at the church, ready for the students.  We'll cart them over to the Nazarene Transit House on Sunday for use in the bunk beds. (The plywood base on the beds looked pretty hard.) 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

PNG Milne Bay Day 3: "Whoops!"

This morning we flew to Milne Bay Province and to the town of Alotau.  Dan, Greg, and I are the advance team, arriving a few days before the students get here.  Our job is to solidify the arrangements for housing and food for our students, and speaking schedules for the well as confirming that people have been anticipating our arrival.

Dan learning not to believe what's online
Greg squished into taxi from Alotau airport
Church where we'll do our training
Dan went online and booked a place for us to stay while we are here...(so we can sleep earlier than the uni students each night.  TeeHee)  The place online was a  great price and said it was only 1 1/2 km from town.  We told Greg about it while waiting at the airport in Port Moresby.  He was doubtful about the truth of the location, so Dan phoned them up.  "Oh, no, sir, we are 52km (an 80 minute drive) from town."  Uh, oh.  Greg found a  lodge for us to spend tonight...and it costs  quite a bit...and no running water (until the evening, because of a landslide upstream.)  But the view is wonderful.  Today, we found missionary housing available for the rest of our stay.  (Good old SIL housing...reasonable price, clean, happy Christians running it...)  Thank you, God!  They only happened to have openings the exact days we would need housing.

Dinner at our 1-night lodge

 Bottom line:  We spent a lot of time walking in the on-and-off island rain.  (How about that, Miss Isla Rain Morris?)  As we slipped or sloshed inside our wet flip-flops I came to a firm conclusion.  You know that muddy, spotted stripe that can run up the back of your leg from your flip-flops?  Well, it looks much worse on a white leg than a brown leg!!!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

PNG Milne Bay Day 2: A Day In-Between!

Today is the day after arriving from New Zealand, and the day before we head out to Milne Bay.  This day in Port Moresby is for discovering things:  which students are going on the mission trip, what has already been organized, what things still need to be done...
Dan with Elton

And more important... a day to collect hugs from Eva, Greg, and Elton.  It sure makes what we do feel worthwhile!

Here's a photo of Dan in work mode.  The bed is his office.  Pretty cushy life!  TeeHee!

(We also received our mission project shirts that were printed for all those coming along.  The students will receive theirs when they arrive in Milne Bay.)

I've been reading the book that will be given out to the students on the trip.  It's really good...and written by two guys from Pennsylvania!  I can recommend it:  "The Finishers," by Roger Hershey and Jason Weimer.


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

PNG Milne Bay Day 1: On the Way! we go again on another adventure to Papua New Guinea!  This time we are helping to facilitate a mission trip the UPNG students are taking to a village in the Milne Bay Province.  Our objective is to build into our students and staff as they train a couple of local churches in evangelism and follow-up, and lead them in a village outreach.

Waiting for Dan to return with passport
We got off to a rocky start.  The unheard of happened.  Dan forgot to include my passport when he got his off the top shelf in the bedroom we arrived at the airport at 4:30 a.m. minus one passport.  (If I had been the one to forget, it might be considered "normal."  But, Dan has never forgotten before.) 

Time for a hurried sausage McMuffin
 THEN, after leaving me to guard the luggage and racing in a taxi to retrieve the passport, he returns and discovers he doesn't have his wallet.  (He'd used it when paying the taxi driver and thought maybe he left it in the taxi.)  Just then, a voice over the airport loudspeaker is saying, "Will Dan Mills...(muffle, muffle, muffle.)"  A nice lady behind the check-in desk called on her phone and found out the Dan's wallet was being held for him just down the hallway, out the door, across a small alley, in a small (locked) building.  After ringing the bell, a nice man answered and said a parking warden found the wallet outside on the pavement and turned it in.  (A miracle.  And, again, so unusal for Dan...but it wouldn't have been out of character for me.)

All this makes me wonder what God has in store for the next couple of weeks.  Just getting here and being able to write this blog from the missionary guest home in Port Moresby seems a miracle and a spiritual battle won.  I feel very ordinary and not a very likely candidate for the task ahead...but luckily this is God's work and He is BIG, and it will be an adventure to see what's in store.

Arrived in Moresby, waiting for ride "home"
Note:  The children's Sunday School at our church in Auckland has loaned us Wooly (a sheep puppet) to share our mission trip.  So, look for him in photos!