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Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Our Two Weeks of February in PNG Adventure: "Good-bye, Friends!"

We are sitting at the airport waiting for our flight home.  We came early in order to also see off our 3 young PNG staff
Filling out immigration cards
who are leaving today as last on their way to Fiji.  (I don't think they can believe they are really on their way.)

Thank you for your participation in this adventure through your support and prayers.  We are so grateful for you!
Dan, Lillian, Diane, and Elton

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Our Two Weeks of February in PNG Adventure: "Countdown to Departure!"

To Do List:

Pay for the reserved tickets for our PNG staff to Fiji.  (Yes, our staff have the "all clear" from Fiji to fly there tomorrow, the same day we leave for Auckland.)

Take last things to the office and check the mouse trap.  (We found a trap at the store yesterday...It's like the roach motel kind of a thing.  The mouse checks in, but doesn't check out.)

Go to the bank for bank statements.  (We can't get this information for this particular account through the mail or online...only in person.)

Get a receipt for a truck hire that we've already paid.  

Write a thank you note to the wife of our taxi driver, Charlie.  (She sewed and gave me a PNG blouse and skirt!)

One more sleep...

Monday, February 29, 2016

Our Two Weeks of February in PNG Adventure: "God's Eyes!"

I wonder what God sees during these big events that Student Life puts on.  I wonder whose hearts are being challenged and touched.  I wonder who the students are that will really grow and mature and offer themselves to be used by God to reach their world.

My eyes, on the other hand, see that not as many showed up as last year, we bought too much food, we were trying to roast hotdogs on a BBQ using plastic forks to turn them (The prongs get pretty dull once they are melted and curled up.), I wore the wrong kind of shoes for the mud that the rain made...

I wish I had my Father's eyes.  How did Jesus not get discouraged when looking at His disciples...or when looking at me?  

My favorite thing about being God's child is the absolute security of His love and acceptance of me.  I guess that's the best thing I can offer other people...His love and offer of forgiveness and acceptance.

Hey - Good news.  We got the venue, so we had a place for our big opening Student Life party.  (Two other groups thought they had this place, too.)  The students planned and ran the whole thing.  (Only a few balls were dropped here and there, but nothing major.)  We've made a beginning in 2016.

I wonder what God will do.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Our Two Weeks of February in PNG Adventure: "That's Better!"

A special "thank you" to whoever is praying for us out there.  It makes a world of difference.

I woke up this morning with dread.  (OK, I'm not a morning person anyway.)  It's the day of our big Alpha Party where we introduce our Student Life Ministry to the new students on campus.  (Neither am I a big-event person...or even an adventurous girl.)

There's a lyric from a song I heard over 30 years ago that says, "It's so hard to see when my eyes are on me."  I keep realizing how powerless I am when circumstances seem out of control:  (People are sick, there's a chance that the venue is booked also by another party, a student leader found her mother on the floor this morning and took her to the hospital...) Days like today remind me that there really is a spiritual battle going on, but I just want to curl up in a ball and "sit this one out." 

I laid back down on my bed for a rest.  When I got up again, something had shifted in my mind.  This is God's ministry, not mine.  He's the One with power, not me.  He's the One with the plan and the ability to carry His children through and move them closer to Himself.  I remember now.  

Thank you for praying.  I think that's what I will do now, too...with joy and confidence.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Our Two Weeks of February in PNG Adventure: "A Voice-Picture!"

PNG provides us with many new experiences: 

Dan had two taxi's breakdown as he traveled yesterday. 

I spoke with a 14 year old girl who had a girl in her high school dorm practicing witchcraft and putting spells on people.  (Some girls were sick, or numb and couldn't move, and everyone was scared.  The trouble-maker was expelled.)

We recently spoke to a taxi driver who had 28 children. (!)  Of course there were several mothers involved.  This driver was about our age.  He said he recently married a widow and now has a 9 mo. old baby by her.

My favorite experience, though, is listening to the voice of a godly PNG man.  Some men here have unusually rich, deep voices.  George Puipui had a voice like that...a voice like James Earl Jones...or the "Un-cola nut" man from the American commercial of long ago.  When these men quietly pray, or sing, it does something to my spirit.  It's like hearing a lion, powerful, sincere, deep.  It seems to echo right through me.  It makes my spirit feel like a frivolous butterfly, and I long for more depth.

These rich voices remind me of what God is like.  "Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!"  (Rom. 11:33) 

Friday, February 26, 2016

Our Two Weeks of February in PNG Adventure: "Toss It!"

We've been trying to organize, ready for removal, all CCC equipment and materials from under George's house (our old office.)  Evodia (George's daughter) is selling the house, and our rented storage place will soon disappear.

Dan and I have been sorting through everything, taking inventory, and trying to decide what can be crammed into our little new office.  The rest will have to be stored some place else.  My major role in all this is shouting the battle cry,  "Toss it!"  Technology has changed so much in recent years that a lot of things have become obsolete or unnecessary.  Other things are just plain damaged by water, mice, or time.

 When we return home, it's straight through to the shower.  I tell myself that some people pay good money for a sauna and a mud bath!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Our Two Weeks of February in PNG Adventure: "Ease or Deep Roots?"

Have you ever noticed how often we pray for "ease" for ourselves or our friends, when it seems that when everything is easy, our hearts are the hardest?  And have you ever noticed that when times are hard, we're driven to seek out God?

I was reading about the wise man and the foolish man today.  The goal is for my roots to grow down deep into Jesus, through walking with Him (obedience.) While I don't want to pray for hard times for myself or others, I can pray for the tenacity to keep walking with Him, no matter the circumstances.  That's where joy and peace are.

So, in light of all this, the fact that I'm out of my depth here is not necessarily a bad thing.  It's just that when students assume I know what food would be easy to prepare for 80 people (with no equipment or kitchen at my disposal, no knowledge of the closest store for the best price, no sink at the party site...and only the possibility of a table...), and how long meat will keep hot and not spoil in this climate, my knees begin to quake.  Instead of sinking in all this "deep water,"  I need to be like Dory in "Finding Nemo" and "just keep swimming."  Only I need to keep my eyes glued on the One who is not just swimming with me, but keeping me afloat.

P.S.  And have you ever noticed that answers seem to pop into your brain at 2 a.m.?  (What's wrong with 3 in the afternoon?) 



Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Our Two Weeks of February in PNG Adventure: "Back Again!"

When our PNG staff's airline tickets to Fiji got cancelled because of Cyclone Winston, the airline automatically changed the tickets to fly out of PNG today (which is the first flight out after the storm.)  However, after a discussion with our Fiji team, we learned that Nadi, the city in Fiji into which our staff are flying, is without power and water.  Also, the hotel in which we had reservations is closed. Therefore, today, we all arrived at the PNG airport bright and early (7 a.m.) to get new tickets for our three staff to fly out of PNG on Sunday. Didn't Bilbo Baggins write a story called, "There and Back Again"?  I feel like our staff are "back again" without ever having gone anywhere.  (The office looks a little like a refugee center.)  I told them I bet they just wanted ANOTHER going away party.

After getting the tickets straightened out, we had an impromptu staff meeting at the little cafe inside the airport.  Since you must order something for the privilege of sitting at their table and chairs, I told Dan I'd like a juice.  It turned out that the juice cost 2 and 1/2 times more that his banana bread.  (Oops!)  But my, was it good!  (Dan decided that since the juice was pricey, he'd order something unusual.)  I was handed a huge cup of orange/apple/carrot juice.  YUM!  Hey, my feeling is:  If you have to get up early, you might as well make it worth your while!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Our Two Weeks of February in PNG Adventure: "The Only Thing!"

As a missionary, I think there's a temptation to fly into any situation with a feeling that I will "fix" the problems surrounding me.  Not only is this a bit ridiculous considering I have issues myself which aren't "fixed," but there's that pride of thinking I have the power.  This only leads to discouragement and defeat.

I keep having to realize that God has put me here to help the best I can, and then let Him be the God He is.  After all, He is the ultimate Rescuer.  The best thing, and sometimes the only thing I can do in certain situations is pray.  This is a highly under-rated thing which is sometimes relegated to the last resort.  Now THAT'S ridiculous!  What an honour to come before our great and loving God on behalf of someone I care about...and what a joy to wait with anticipation to see  what He will do.


Monday, February 22, 2016

Our Two Weeks of February in PNG Adventure:"Who Needs TV?"

While Dan is busy working 2 phones and a notebook computer, I'm left with time to observe people around me.  The Mapang Missionary guest house is rich with stories that rival any TV soap.

I've gotten to know a couple (about our age) who are calm, solid, gentle folk, originally from Arkansas.  They are seasoned missionaries that have been in difficult situations all over the world.  They came here to be with their pregnant daughter and son-in-law, awaiting the arrival of their first grandbaby.  (The daughter is married to a PNGer, but they met in another country.  Fascinating.)  About 3 days ago she delivered a baby boy named Trevor Lawrence.  However, Trevor managed to swallow amniotic fluid which got into his lungs and he was on oxygen and antibiotics.  Yesterday, though, he was free from all his tubes, and they hope to bring him home.  I've been a prayer supporter all through this process.

To add to this drama, the daughter and husband brought with them to the guesthouse the husband's cousin's little boy, Bradley, whom they've been caring for.  Bradley was neglected in the village and thought to be mute.  He's six, and only began talking about 6 months ago.

I wish you were here, Julie Morris, because I bet you'd find his case fascinating.  This little guy definitely does not have an inside voice.  He yells everything... exuberantly!  ("Good morning!" or "Hi!")  He doesn't know much English, so repeats the same phrase over and over. He seems unnaturally animated and seems driven for people's attention.  My guess is that there's a little more going on here than the previous neglect.  Without warning, he may hit or bite or pinch...but not out of malice.  I think he just wants attention.  (He reminds me of Donnie in "The Wild Thornberries" cartoon.) 

Because the daughter and her husband have to travel to the hospital every 3 hours to feed the newborn, the new grandparents are caring for Bradley.  What a challenge: to try to keep him in their room most of the time and entertained and to try and not disturb the other guests. I must say, they are doing a wonderful job, and are maintaining their calm, and their patience.

I hope if the baby comes out of the hospital today that I'll be able to see him!


Sunday, February 21, 2016

Our Two Weeks of February in PNG Adventure: "Grounded!"

OK.  Cyclone Winston, you really know how to derail a plan.  A category 5 storm...biggest in the history of the islands, is over the airport at which our staff were to land today.  All international flights in and out of Fiji are cancelled.  Huh.

Good news:  We heard from one of our Fiji staff, and they've weathered the storm.  There was good warning for this cyclone as it's traced its chaotic path around the Pacific, picking up momentum as it goes.

The question:  When should we reschedule the flights, where should our staff stay now that they're all packed up, when will Fiji be in good enough shape to receive our 3 travelers?

I wish I could be with our Fiji staff to make sure they're OK and sense how they are feeling.  I don't want to hand them 3 more people if it will bring stress to them right now.  (And I could help with the clean up!)

I'm sure the students will be overjoyed to see our 3 staff at the meeting this afternoon.  Won't they be surprised!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Our Two Weeks of February in PNG Adventure: "Getting Ready!"

We took our staff team out for dinner last night to a restaurant called "Hog's Breath."  We discussed last-minute details on their to-do lists before they head off to Fiji for a year of training.  They all have their bank cards now and will be able to access their salary while in Fiji (Yahoo!), and a passport and a long-lost SIM card were finally found.  Dan will follow-through on banking details that weren't completed.  (This is not for lack of trying on the part of our staff.  The banks here are notorious.) Lillian is still waiting for the people who bought her household goods to pick them up.

We have high hopes for these three young people.  God has seen them through some tough spots.  They've learned a lot as they've shouldered the ministry in PNG.  They've received excellent modelling and training from our Aussie friends.  As they do a brave thing in leaving the students, friends, and family here that they love, they go to Fiji to learn how they can serve those special people even better upon their return.  I think God has built a strength in these three that will help them in their new venture...and that the Fiji team will find our staff gems to be a great asset!

Today they finish packing and will spend time with family and friends...then tomorrow morning they catch the plane!  (We're praying that the cyclone that's just swinging into Fiji today won't give them any problems.)


Friday, February 19, 2016

Our Two Weeks of February in PNG Adventure: "Amazing!"

I just finished breakfast with 2 amazing people.

Person #1:  A young woman with long blond hair fit for a shampoo commercial, is waiting in town at our missionary guest house to meet her husband. They will then return to their village in the highlands.  She teaches all subjects at the high school, owns her own goats and chickens, and opened a medical clinic. ("Do you have medical training?" asked I.  "Oh no," said she.  "I just read a lot and ask a lot of questions.")  I think her husband opened a saw mill.  They are both involved in biblical literacy teaching.  She can't wait to get back to the village.

Her husband grew up in a PNG village as a missionary kid of Bible Translators.  The parents recruited the kids to help with the literacy work, and then had to leave before their translation was finished to take care of ailing parents.  This young woman seemed so at home with the culture, with the spiritual needs of the people, and had so much energy and enthusiasm!

Person #2:  A 65-year-old man who handed us his two workbook-sized bible studies...taking current hot topics from the newspaper and finding what the Bible says about it.

These topics range from chewing betelnut, to land wars, to polygamy, domestic violence, drugs, and more.  These books seem like an excellent resource for our students on campus.

After breakfast I returned to our room, feeling a little over-awed by the company I was keeping.  I opened my Bible and read again the story of Jesus telling Peter to let down his nets and the miracle of all those fish.  Peter's response was withdrawal because of the company he was in...and I could imagine his experience better.  If I felt the way I did around simple humans, how much more would I feel around God in human form doing miracles.  Jesus response was, "Don't be afraid..."

I guess the joy of walking with a miracle-working God and being around His people is that it's all about Him.  It doesn't matter if we have swishy hair, or can speak the language, or if we're a sort of pudgy grandmother.  The amazing thing is, that sinful as we are, He forgives us, loves us, and invites us along on a journey with Him.)


Thursday, February 18, 2016

Our two weeks of February in PNG: "Getting the Lay of the Land!"

Today's goal:  Get the real scoop and scope of what's been happening in the ministry on the ground here.  (Our view from New Zealand is never quite accurate.)

First cause for rejoicing: Our smiling staff of three!  After hosting a joint Australian/PNG student project just as the university year kicks off (and just before our staff leave for a year of training in Fiji), this is an important measuring stick. 

When asked how this project compared to last year's, they all agreed it was even better.  The teaching covered was just what the students here needed.  As a bonus, one of the Aussie girls came from a campus that had no full time CCC staff.  Since the PNG students knew that they'd be on their own this year, they asked her lots of questions.

However, probing more deeply, it turns out the accommodations were not as wonderful as last year.  (The venue had been changed.)  Lillian had to wash the bed linen and towels for the whole project several times.  (That's wash by hand, ladies!)  The sewer line broke once.  The water was off and on.  And the bedding wasn't as comfortable.  What amazed me in all of this is that our staff didn't start with this information.  The lasting impression on them seemed to be the teaching and one of the Aussie guys named Michael, who picked up the Tok Pisin language quite easily.  (I'll have to investigate and find a picture of this guy!)

As I find myself once again humbled by our young staff, I feel a bit shallow when I think of one of my lasting impressions of the day:  a mouse.  A small black shadow raced towards me during our meeting and I must admit, I jumped.  (But I didn't shriek...I get points for that...right?)  The poor mouse did an abrupt about-turn and raced back from where he came:  behind the filing cabinet.  Note to self:  buy a mouse trap!


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Our 2-weeks of February in PNG adventure: "It's the posh, posh, traveling life for me!"

Yes, here I am, once again joining my husband on a Papua New Guinea adventure.  Dan has traveled so much in the last year that he has obtained "gold status" on Air New Zealand.  That means marvelous things for his traveling companion: ME!  We don't have to wait in long lines of people.  Our line is short and quick.  Best of all, Dan can take a guest into the Air New Zealand lounge while waiting for our flight.  

In the olden days (before the conferring of the "gold status,") we'd arrive at the airport, wait in a long line, get our bags checked in, and then hurry to McDonald's for an Egg McMuffin breakfast while waiting for our flight.  Now, however, we're checked in lickety-split, and off to the "lounge," where there's free food, soft chairs, and nicely dressed people.  Instead of an Egg McMuffin, my breakfast was scrambled eggs with chives, a melon fruit salad, and raisin-bread toast.  (Free food of this quality is a missionary's dream!)  There's even a friendly wait-person to take away my dirty dishes.  A girl could get spoiled!  No wonder the grandpa's song from Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang was going through my head:  "Oh the posh, posh, traveling life, the traveling life for me.  First cabin and Captain's table, regal company..."


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

PNG Starting a New Year - Day 2 (of 8): Fiji High Commission

We are sending the PNG missionaries to Fiji this year.  It will probably weaken our movement on campus a bit, but it's a risk we are willing to take.  The main reason we are sending them is that we do not have any trainers in the country to train our staff (we have young missionaries).  Lillian, for example (in the orange below), is in her 5th year as a missionary and has only had 1 year of training.  We are sending our missionaries to Fiji so that by the end of this year Lillian (and possibly Elton as well) can be fully trained and then be trained as a trainer - then any new staff women that join can be trained by Lillian.  

This year is also good because the vast majority of our movement are students in their 3rd year - and they will still have one more year (2017) before they graduate to reap the benefit of a better trained Elton, Lillian and Dianne.  We also have no STINTers (from another country) coming to help this year (and we should have several in 2017).  So, this year is the only possible year.
Part of my trip here is to help Elton, Lillian & Dianne to think through what the students need to learn (or practice) before the 21st of February.

Another part of my trip is to help Elton, Lillian & Dianne to get everything ready like their Fijian visa. So today we went to the Fiji High Commission and spoke to the First Officer there and received the correct applications.  The are getting their Police clearance and their medical report and hope to submit the application my next Friday (the 5th of February).  They are getting excited about going to Fiji (again) and being involved in a large movement (our Fiji ministry has about 25 Fijian missionaries and are growing every year).

Thanks for praying for these three wonderful people (Elton, Lillian & Dianne)!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

PNG Starting a New Year - Day 1 (of 8): Getting ready for 30 Jan and 21 feb

Hello again!

I came a bit early to Papua New Guinea this year.  We have the opportunity (& the funding) to send our 3 PNG missionaries to Fiji for the year (more on that later), so my schedule of trips to PNG this year will be different. There are 3 major times in the next 5 weeks (4 major in the next 7 weeks), but instead of coming here for 5 weeks (which would wipe me out), I'm here for only 1 week, then home (New Zealand) on 2nd Feb for 2 weeks, then back here (PNG) for 2 more weeks - with Kaylynn :-).
Elton, Dianne & Lillian - our 3 PNG missionaries

My goals this trip are to: 
  1. Help Elton, Lillian, & Dianne, our 3 PNG missionaries, to get everything ready for their 8-month move to Fiji;
  2. Help Elton, Lillian, & Dianne form goals for how they want to coach the students in the next 4 weeks - before they leave for Fiji on 21st of February;
  3. Help help to get things ready for the project coming up on the 30th of January with 6 Australians and 8 (hopefully) PNG students (more on that later).
Thanks for praying for the Gospel to flood Papua New Guinea!  I'll write again in a couple of days...