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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

PNG Easter Conference: Day 1: "The Longest Day!"

The alarm went off at 2:45 am.  My mind slowly started kicking in with all to be done before catching the shuttle to the airport at changing the bed for our house-and-dog-sitters.  (Who changes a bed at 3 in the morning?  Ah...the glamour of missionary life!)

We made it to the airport and went to the ticket counter...UH OH!  Big trouble.  Dan picked up his passport when we hurried out the door... and also Laurie's, not mine.  There was just enough time for Dan to catch a taxi, race home, collect the correct passport, and make it back to the airport and to me, waiting with the luggage. (We even had a little time left over for a hurried McDonald's breakfast before jumping on the plane.)

Leaving is always hard for me, emotionally, physically, mentally...and I wonder if God has the right person for the job.  (I'm giving 3 devotional talks at the conference and they're in a pretty fuzzy condition in my mind at the moment.) I always feel inadequate and torn.

Ah...but arriving is another story.  We got off the plane about 13 hours after waking up in New Zealand, and it was just after lunchtime in Papua New Guinea.  Breathing in the hot, humid, tropical air felt familiar and homelike.  My island self came to the fore and I am now arrived, body and spirit.  (Tired, yes, but arrived.)
My confidence begins to trickle back, that our big, majestic God can do anything He wants...even use the likes of me.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Start of the Year - Day 10 "Going home"

Today's my last day - I leave for the airport at 11:30 this morning.

I had a great time with the 3 staff this morning.  They have been running around full speed for the past 2 months, so I told them that I want them to take this afternoon & tomorrow off.  But, then Greg had to go downtown to confirm the venue for our Easter conference (in a week and a half), and Elton needed to go to the Department of Labour tomorrow to (hopefully) pick up the Volunteer Work Permits for the 2 girls coming to help (with our ministry growing so fast, they are so desperately needed!) - so I said try to take some time off sometime.  Please pray that they won't burn out!

Lillian & Elton pretending that they didn't see me.
After I checked in at the airport, as is our custom, I bought everyone lunch.  There are no eating places in the International terminal (they are remodeling it), so we walked down to the Domestic terminal.  

While we were eating lunch, a little bee came along and wanted Greg's drink (and nobody else's).  So Greg was trying to swat it away.  Well it flew over his can and Greg ended up swatting it INTO his drink.  It was very funny!

He finally got the bee out (after drinking half of it). and it waddled across the table like he was drunk.  But I think it was okay.  And Greg's drink still tasted okay as well!

A few highlights this trip:
  • We had a record number of first-year students fill our cards at orientation - more than 650 - most saying that they are interested in growing closer to God;
  • We had a record number of students come to the first Splash (our weekly meeting) - 63!
  • We ended last year with 11 movement Builders (students who lead Bible studies and disciple other students), yet we're starting this year with 16!
  • Elton, Greg, & Lillian provided several opportunities for new students to be trained before the start of the university year, and these students are excited to trust God to use them as they disciple other students;
  • We had a record number of students at our opening Alpha Party, and almost all said they wanted to be in a Bible Study (Discovery group).
Please pray for our staff to not get burned out and for these students to see God work through them!

Thanks for helping to make this ministry possible.  Together, we will help reach all 839 people groups in PNG!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Start of the Year - Day 9 "Seeing the excitement of the new Movement Builders"

Today, I spent most of the day at the office.  We had a good time looking at Galatians 5, and then deciding which student should be in which discipleship group (we don't want to leave out any returning student).

Instead of holding Splash, our weekly meeting, tonight, we held a small session with all the Movement Builders (MBs: those students who lead Bible studies and disciple others).  All 4 of us were going to go and then it was only Lillian & myself, and Lillian said that she didn't mind going by herself (if I paid for a taxi for her to go home at night) - so I said sure (I was very tired :-/).

Actually Lillian was tired also, but at the end of the meeting (and the next morning), she was all charge up!  She was so excited to see the enthusiasm and committement of the MBs!  They were so eager to disciple others - Linson had allready called 6 guys that he met last night and had their firts meeting scheduled for Wednesday!  She had a short training on how to conduct the first meeting and gave them all Knowing God Personally books and the first Follow-up lesson.

Then she went over the Movement Builder Challenge which makes it clear about the time committment, etc. They had a very good discussion with some students saying that they felt burned last year because their leader was not faithful to them.  Another student stood up and told everyone to take this seriously, because her leader last year didn't and it really hurt her.  They all agreed to it and signed their name saying that they will trust God to use them.

Please be praying for the students who, by faith, have stepped forward to be used by God in the lives of other students!!   Thanks!
Most of the 16 new Movement Builders for 2015!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Start of the Year - Day 8 "The Alpha Party"

Tonight we had our opening party of the year - called the Alpha Party.  The goal was to give a clear explanation of Student Life (our university ministry) and what we do, and for all the new students to meet the Movement Builders (Bible study leaders & Disciplers).  
We had about 103 students (it was hard to count)!  This is by far the largest start of the year we've had!

We had a good time of worship, a few games, 3 testimonies from students describing how God has used Student Life in their lives, introduction of our local missionaries, etc.

We then had all of our Movement Builders come up front (wearing the new shirts that Elton & Linson printed).  What a sight!  There were 16 of them, many had never led a group, but have gone through training in the past month and are ready (one more training tomorrow).  Last year we ended with 11 Movement Builders and we are praying for 22 this year - 16 is a good start!

I spoke on what God did in each of our lives when we trusted him to save us - amazing things including the opportunity to be used by God in other's lives for the rest of our own life!

I also explained a bit more about Student Life (we're a movement, not a fellowship - we teach discipleship and every student has the opportunity to develop their own ministry - each of us learning how to help fulfill the Great  in Matt 8:18-20).... and then about how the discipleship works - every student who leads a group is also in a group and has all the support and encouragement that he needs.  

Then all the Movement Builders (MBs) went our into the midst of the students and found 4 to 8 new students to come into their groups.  It was very exciting to watch - especially the new MBs.  One new MB came up to me after everything was over and showed me his list of 6 guys and said, "I'm so excited, I have my group"!

Thanks for praying for this ministry - God is doing amazing things!  It is such an honour to be able to see God use us in the lives of these students (who will be used by God to the next 50 years to disciple others).  

Elton & Diane preparing the feast (Susan is BBQing)
We ended the evening with BBQed hot dogs and fruit salad that the students prepared.  Two former Student Lifers did the BBQing - because the other student leaders were all heavily involved in the program (thanks Sine & Susan)!  Several students commented that this was the best Alpha Party ever (a great compliment because it's the first one that the young staff and student leaders planned without Eva, who passed away last August).

Please be praying for Elton, Lillian and Greg (our 3 PNG missionaries) that they we have the stamina and energy to keep going.  They're a bit tired.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Start of the Year - Day 7 "Getting ready for the big party tomorrow"

I Spent a good chunck of this morning (Saturday) at the guest house because I had so many things to do.  But it was good to not have to leave at 7:15 and to have time to think and work on organising my brain :-)

I then spent the rest of the day at the office where Elton & Linson were screen printing some T-shirts. The Alpha party is tomorrow and all the missionaries and student leaders were working hard to get ready!

Lillian was out with different girls (student leaders) buying groceries and bringing them to the office (what would we do without an office?).

Greg was working with our music team (called the Trail Blazers) at our old office - they were practicing some songs for tomorrow night.  They're also getting ready to play for our Easter Conference in 2 weeks.
Elton & Linson putting silk on the frame.

The purpose of the party tomorrow is to invite all the first-year students to come hear about Student Life and to meet all our returning students. With the response we've been having with the first year students, we could have 100!

So, Elton & Linson were printing up 22 special T-shirts for all the Movement Builders (what we call the discipleship group leaders). This way, all the first-year students can visually see who the Movement Builders are.  We'll be watching to find those who are the most keen to join a group.

I didn't really help much, except to cheer them on (which they probably didn't need cheering :-/).  I got them some water once and I took off twice in a taxi to do errands for them.  I took went to exchange our empty gas bottle with a full one - which turned out to be a lot harder than expected - because they are going to provide sausages for all the students.
Linson Printing the front of the shirt

It was great fun just to be with them! 

I also wanted to post a picture of their planning wall (white board), but I forgot to take one - maybe I'll come back and add it later (it was impressive).

Friday, March 20, 2015

Start of the Year - Day 6: "Lots of bright orange shirts"

This morning we spent about an hour in Galatians 4.  It was good, as usual.  Just like the law (or dos & don'ts in a church) in chapter 3, our culture (chpt 4 "Elementary Principles of the world") puts pressure on us to do what it says is right.  It applies very well in these cultures as there is spiritual warfare all around PNG.  And there are things that their cultures tell them that they need to do to appease the spirits (like name your child after a dead relative so that their spirit will protect the child).  Some of the students tell about how their summer was so spiritually oppressive that they couldn't wait to leave and come back to uni.  Anyway, Jesus is King over ALL and we only have to follow Him!

After our time together in the morning, we all went our own way... well almost everyone - I almost always go with someone.  Elton, Lillian and I went to the shirt store and we picked out the shirts for our Easter conference (bright orange - people will see us coming from far away).  You can see them below - 100 of them (and 22 blue ones for this Sunday night) :-)

This is Danika, she & Emily are preparing for PNG!

Then Elton & I went over to the Department of labour again and they told us that they "found" the 2 volunteer work permit applications for our girls who want to come from Australia & USA, and the man at the window took them to his supervisor (while we watched) and then told us that they will probably be approved on Monday! We can pick them up on Wednesday (they're not on to the public Mon or Tues).  This is very exciting!  Danika & Emily have been waiting a long time!  Then we have to wait 2-3 weeks for a visa :-(

I also went to a bunch of other places today, but I won't describe them 'cause they're boring.  But it's never boring doing things with Elton, Lillian or Greg!

Thanks for praying for us!!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Start of the Year - Day 5 "Galatians"

What do these people (the Galatians), who lived in the Middle East almost 2,000 years ago, have to do with us ,as we live in Papua New Guinea in 2015?  

This year for our 3 PNG missionaries will be  wild one.  This is the first year that they are running the ministry together (since Eva passed away last year).  This will also be the first year of two for their staff training (on the field training - learn-and-apply) with 2 trainers from Australia & USA.  They will feel the pressure of performance to be a godly leader, a good missionary, and a faithful discipler.

So, to help them start the year with the right perspective, we have been studying the book of Galatians this week, one chapter at a time.  So far we've found:

  1. That the true Gospel came directly from God, not from another human; 
  2. There is no other Gospel other than Jesus crucified & risen from the dead, completely paying for ALL of our sin (complete forgiveness);
  3. The truth of the Gospel is that we come to Christ through FAITH and we live our earthly lives trusting Jesus at all times to live His life through us;
  4. There are lots of people who influence us to believe that our success lies in what we do - we're "foolish" (unintelligent) if we start following them;
Thank you for praying for these 3 missionaries: Elton, Greg, & Lillian!  God will use them to turn PNG upside down.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Start of the Year - Day 4 "Learning & Labour"

We are excited to see many new things happen this year.  

One of these things is the training of our PNG Missionaries.  Some of them have been on our staff for 4 years, but things have not come into place for training to happen - until this year.  So... today we ran through the 5-hour introduction to the New Staff Training that will happen this first semester.  

There are 14 weeks in the training and 14 weeks in the UPNG schedule (for each semester).  That seems like it fits well, except the semester has already started and the staff have a 2-week commitment in the middle of the semester.  So please pray for them as they may feel pressured all year long :-(

We also took a couple hours and went to the Department of Labour to try to encourage them to speed up the applications for Volunteer Work Permits for Danika & Emily, our two trainers from Australia.  Please be praying for these permits - we need these 2 girls desperately as we are already seeing 10x more fruit this year than previous years.  We easily could start the year with 100 students wanting to be in discipleship groups! [Oh my, what a great problem to have :-)]
(L-R) Lillian, Greg, & Elton wait in the back while I stand in line :-)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Start of the year - Day 3 "...Ripple"

Yesterday I shared all about the first Splash meeting.  Today was much quieter and so I thought I share about some ripples.
Lillian and a few key students have been working on a Student Life UPNG "magazine".  At first (hopefully at Easter) it will be small, like 1 or 2 pages.  The name will be Ripple, and they are collecting stories from students of how God used them or of different changed lives that they see on campus.  It sounds very exciting and several students are writing articles for it!
We have 2 guys who graduated last year and are "looking" for a job, but can not stay off campus.  God has changed their lives and all they want to do is work with students.  Please pray for these men to find where God wants them to be (where they can serve Him the best)
Beautlyn, who I knew from last year, was involved this year with the Australian project in February.  But I don't think I ever heard any words come out of her mouth before this year - now she has such passion that she was moving around last night pulling a chair into the middle of a group of girls to explain to them what Student Life is all about and how God has changed her life.  It was very encouraging to see.
Here is a photo of Beautlyn sharing with the first-year students:  

Lison also was involved this year with the Australian project in February.  And list night, like Beautlyn, I watched him as he sat with groups of men and explained to them why he was involved in Student Life.  Both Linson & Beautlyn took the initiative themselves to do this.

Here is a photo of Linson (in the white) sharing with first-year students:

Please pray:
  1. Today we checked out cell phone plans that will allow our 3 PNG missionaries and our 2 girls coming from Australia to talk & text to each other for free.  It's much more complicated than I thought - please pray for wisdom which company to go with.
  2. Also Easter is only 2 1/2 weeks away and we still don't have a venue.  This afternoon Greg & I went down to 2 hotels and have a good option for one that we used the past 2 years.  I think next year we may be able to be creative and provide training for the students in a different way, but for now we need a ballroom somewhere - please pray that we find one that we can afford - one hotel quoted K33,000 (over USD 12,000) for 3 days!  We obviously turned it down :-).
  3. Tomorrow we all go to the Department of Labour to try to urge them to move faster and approve the Volunteer Work Permits for the 2 girls coming from Australia.  We need them to come as soon as possible!  Please pray that it gets approved tomorrow!!
Thank you so much for praying!!!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Start of the Year - Day 2 "SPLASH..."

If you GPS'ed where my body went today, it would look quite boring (I only went 2 places all day), but if you had a spiritual ECG (EKG) of my heart , it would be all over the place :-)

I had a good sleep last night and got up at 4 am (7 am New Zealand time); I had a good breakfast and a good time with the Lord. Then I caught a taxi to our new office and spent the whole day there. 
Elton with the new stuff!

Elton & Greg were thrilled to see all the stuff that I brought: sunglasses (to give to the students), Bible studies (on Sharing Your Faith, Making Disciples, and Knowing God's Will), New Staff Training notes, Soularium, diaries, a couple photos and a poster for their wall. 
Greg and Elton taking pictures of the new stuff

It was great to sit and watch the staff work - the first weekly meeting is tonight and a lot had to be done.  I watched them call the students to make sure that things were being taken care of - and work together as a team.  They are getting to understand each other better and it's a thrill to watch them work.
Elton, Lillian and Greg enjoying their sun glasses!
In the evening I then went to UPNG campus with Elton, Lillian & Greg for the first Splash meeting of the year (Splash is the name of their weekly meeting - to help students who are being discipled to make a splash on campus and then have a ripple effect over the whole campus and the rest of PNG)

What I am most thrilled at is how the 3 missionaries have taken responsibility and ownership of the ministry.  One of them shared with me that they have been going non-stop since January and they are surprised that they haven't crashed yet.  Please pray that they will keep their focus on Jesus as He lives His life through them (Gal 2:20), and that they will guard their time to make sure they get some rest.

This is what the missionaries and the student leaders have done on their own (besides what I talked about yesterday): 
  • They found a new room for Splash - the room they have been using had benches and desks that were bolted to the floor so that you couldn't stand up between them - there was no room to do any activity (or anything fun).  This room is 3-4 times the size and it has no bolted benches (this is rare at UPNG).
  • They started a second weekly Splash on Wednesdays for the day students.  In the past we have had day students (commuters) join the movement, but then drop out because they can't make the evening get-togethers.  This will be led by a student leader and will mirror the Monday Splash for a while.
  • They started Splash a week early to bring in more first year students.  In the past the first "event" of the year was the Alpha party and Splash would start after this.  This year, many first year students will have had 3 points of contact with a Student Life person before the Alpha party!
Here is a photo of the Splash - led by students (but I had 10 minutes to talk). We had 63 students come, most being first year students.  And I watched as 2 of our student leaders went around group by group and introduced themselves and helped the new students to learn about Student life.  Here is a composite of 2 photos (I couldn't get everyone into one photo).

Thanks for praying!!!!!  

[This is the second time I had to write this as the first draft went missing - thanks for bearing with me]  [Sorry this is so long.  Tomorrow will be short!]

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Start of year - Day 1 "So Very Exciting"

Here I am in Papua New Guinea... again.  It's been 4 weeks and a lot has happened while I was gone.  Since today was boring (11 hours in airplanes & airports), I thought I'd give you an update of what has been happening.  [You can read more at:]

1. Orientation (3-5 March) - here's a quote from the students meeting the 1st year students: "Orientation today was overwhelming. Nothing like this ever happen before. 1050 gift pack were given to the first years and a few continuing students today. A total of 513 connection cards returned. 700 students cramped at the Main Lecture Theatre and each of them received a gift pack from us.This is super amazing. We are so blessed to have this and we requesting your prayers for effective follow ups".
Students crowding around Student Life's table!

2. Calling some of the 679 students who filled out response cards during the 2 days of orientation.  The student leaders got together on the 3rd day to call the students who indicated that they wanted to grow closer to God.  They called over 200 that day.  It was very encouraging as the students who they talked to were very excited to talk.  Each student was invited to a "meet and greet"on the next day.
Alfred & Linson calling new students

3.  At the "Meet and Greet" over 50 students came!  They were told that we are a movement run by mostly students.  The new students were split into groups and our students (& staff) used Soularium to get to know them - there was real connection there.  The students asked a lot of questions - it was very good! (Sorry, no pictures)

4.  Last Saturday, all 5 student leaders who were involved in the project with the Aussies (last month) held a special training for all the other returning students who didn't come.  Six students came!  Here is a quote: "It was another great day doing the training in Movement Building, Discipleship Making, Time Management and Strategic Planning. Equipping the Movement Builders to be effectively doing Bible study and Discipleship. It was full of fun and excitement.
Thanks to the Movement Builders for taking the training. Congratulations to you and special one to the trainees and the coordinators. Looking forward working with you all this year."  I asked Linson what he thought of teaching, and he said "I really enjoyed it!!! I'm looking forward to teach more!"
Returning student leaders coming to be trained!

Linson discovering his love for teaching!

I am very excited and thrilled to be able to work with these men & women of God - who are eagerly stepping forward in faith to reach their campus for Christ, and eventually their whole country, all 830+ people groups!  

Thank you for helping to make this possible!