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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

PNG May Visit - Days 9-10: "Awkward Moments!"

Getting gifts ready to present

The new university year has begun and our party to introduce the first year students to Student Life was last night.

It was a wonderful time of songs, games, testimony, vision...and a devotional talk by me.  Usually I just share what I'm learning in my own "quiet time" with God, but I was having trouble making a talk out of it this time.  I was a little nervous, so my hands were sweating.  It was hot and humid, so the rest of me was sweating as well.  I was wearing a PNG top and slacks, both made out of non-absorbent fabric...therefore, it did no good to wipe my moist hands on my clothes.  I was a little worried about dropping the microphone!  However, since God answers prayer and can do wonderful things, the devotional went as well as it could.

Another awkward moment came at the end of the evening when students introduced themselves and we shook hands or hugged.  I saw one girl approach who either "high-fived" or hugged people around me.  When she got to me, I lifted my hand for a "high-five," while she leaned in for a hug.  I almost hit her face by accident...but danger was averted, and a successful hug was achieved!  

What amazes me about ministry is that although a million things could go wrong and everything could easily fall the midst of it all, God can work. He's the One who holds all things together and changes lives.  And...He can use even the awkward!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

PNG May Visit - Days 7-8: "From the Sublime to the Ridiculous!"

The other day we had lunch with an alumni to both the university and our ministry.  This young woman is on our board here in PNG and helps us out with her musical and teaching skills when needed.  We met for lunch right outside the high-rise building where she works for the Red Cross.  My-oh-my!  We discovered the NICE part of Port Moresby.  
The sign in the background!

The high-rise building was on the waterfront, surrounded by a security fence.  Withing the fence was another tall building and several trendy eating establishments.  (We didn't notice until we were already inside that there was a dress code.  Flip-flop footwear wasn't allowed.  Oops!

Contrasting with that was our day yesterday.  It was the day to sort through our storage room at George Puipui's old house and move everything we wanted to another facility.

One of rat's 3 babies on red plastic
The first box Dan and I peeked in, I saw a shadow running around...Eek, a rat!  I jumped back and let Dan take care of the situation.  He tipped the box to rid it of the rat, but the rat run right towards me and bumped into my foot!  (Pause for a shudder!)

Needless to say, it was a dirty, sweaty day.  On top of that, the truck we hired (and paid for) didn't arrive to pick up the saved boxes.  After several phone calls, we discovered the truck was broken and wasn't coming.  Elton eventually found us another truck, and we finally got home.  
After sorting, our student crew helped with loading

A very different dress code was required.


Friday, May 5, 2017

PNG May visit - Days 5-6: "Taxi!"

We've reached the half-way point of our visit.  We've met up with folks, had office times, campus time...and today we ran errands!  Anyone from Port Moresby knows that errand running should be an Olympic event.  It takes a lot out of a person.

Our friend and most treasured taxi driver hasn't been available this trip, so we've branched out to some new ones.  My favorite so far is a mild-mannered, careful driver (the most cautious driver I've experienced) who is middle-aged.  This man has a son who selected his ringtone for him... the sound of a police siren.  It starts out softly, then gets louder and louder.  Every time this man's phone would ring (and a taxi driver's phone rings pretty often), I'd look over my shoulder, thinking we were being pulled over! 

The man we had drive us around today took us to about 8 different places all over the city.  One time neither he nor we knew how to get to where we were going, but we got there in the end.  He was nice enough, but probably my favorite guy's polar opposite in the caution department.  It's the end of a long day...but we met up with and got an evaluation from our former staff girl, paid money at the Fiji High Commission to help clear a visa issue with one of our staff, picked up a donation for the Fiji student conference from the travel bureau, went back to the High Commissioners office to get our change from the fee we paid earlier (They didn't have it before.), drove to a church where we hired a truck for tomorrow (We're finally removing the rest of the ministry things stored in our former director's house, now that the family has sold it.), went to a stationery shop...then back to the church were we left something.  Finally we went to the bank. 

The day is done.  It feel like either crying or watching a movie on my computer.  I choose...MOVIE!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

PNG May Visit - Days 3-4: "Success!"

Success in ministry is hard to measure.  There are so many intangible things, as well as circumstances that cause discouragement.  So much depends on simply walking with God with faith and joy...letting Him be my life. (Col. 3:4)

I wish encouragement was liquid in a bottle I could pour on our staff here.  With so many responsibilities and the red tape involved in getting anything done, the need is great. They are doing a wonderful job, and we are so thankful for them and are filled with admiration for what they've taken on...but in ministry, it's easy to be disheartened.  The evil one sees to that.  I want to protect our staff from that.

I guess this is an old and continual problem, because when Paul prayed for the churches, he frequently mentioned the need for encouragement.  Maybe that's why there always seems to be the temptation to give up and go back to something familiar...something the world can point to and say, "My, what a success that person is!"  I think that's why Peter went back to fishing after the crucifixion...until the resurrected Jesus had a little talk with him.

Following Paul's example, I guess prayer is a form of liquid encouragement.  One way of being successful myself is to keep praying for the hopeful hearts of our staff. (2 Thes. 2:16-17.)



Tuesday, May 2, 2017

PNG May visit, Days 1-2: "Humble Pie in the Eye!"

It's pretty much a day of adventure getting to Papua New Guinea.  After about 3 hours sleep, Dan and I caught an airport shuttle at 3:30 a.m. and began the trek to Australia, then on to PNG.  You know you're getting old when on the plane you both look like bobble-headed dolls, napping to the beat of some silent drummer.  By the time we arrive at the guest house, we're not much good for anything but...maybe another nap?

I told Dan I'd be fine the next morning.  I just needed a good night's sleep.

I awoke with one of my eyes swollen and itchy.  The eyelid seemed to be the affected area, not the eye itself.  I think some cheeky mosquito bit my eyelid!  I looked like I got socked in the eye...and no, I'm not including a picture here.

After being upright and taking an antihistamine, the swelling localized a bit, but still...I looked funny.  What a way to meet people whom I haven't seen in a while.  Oh well.

Notice Tanya's necklace!
We had a meeting with our staff in the morning, and then went on campus and met some of the students in the afternoon.  There's quite a buzz of excitement about the Fiji Student Conference coming up in June.  Students are raising money for their airfares, filled with faith. Please God, let them go! 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Fiji Conference 2017 Day 16: "Lights, Camera,...No Action!"

We went to the movies to see Moana.  Dan had seen it earlier, and he said I would love seeing it in Fiji because the audience responded to all the island jokes.  We went with the Roths and Mansfields, bought tickets, bought popcorn (a big bucket!), and settled in our seats.  We watched lots of ads on the screen (which were pretty entertaining, actually,) and ate most of the popcorn. Just as the movie was about to begin, the power went out.  The movie screen was black.  Some lights that must have been run by generator provided enough light to see.

An announcement was made after awhile that power was out throughout the downtown area and we could line up to get a coupon good for another movie within the month it we wanted to leave.  It was a little difficult to find out if they WANTED us to leave, or if they were being polite by offering an alternative...and we wondered if the movie would come on if the power came on in the next little while.  After sitting there for quite a while, a guy came in and said most of the crowd was gone and that it was a good time to get our coupon.  So... we figured we should leave.  Don Mansfield arranged for us to get our money back as we wouldn't be around much longer to cash in a coupon.  Oh well.  That's show biz...and life in the islands for you.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Fiji Conference 2017 Day 12: "Comfort food!"

Tomorrow is our final exam.  Time for some comfort food!
Cute man in foreground, shady-lookin' dude in background

(Mailed grandkids' letters on Monday.  I wonder when they'll arrive in NZ.)

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Fiji Conference 2017 Days 9-11: "I Know A Guy!"

I am not what I would describe as an intellectual.  I feel too practical to be mincing words with people that like to hear themselves talk.  Therefore, I wasn't too excited by taking this apologetics class...fearing that's all the class would be.  However, after being in this class, I see that not only is it reassuring to learn that science doesn't contradict religion, but that there are definite truths that can encourage a Christian and help remove roadblocks from someone seeking to find God.

Probably of equal value to learning some of these things personally, is knowing what resources are available, and of people that have the smarts and the patience to deal with the "intellectual" crowd.  Today I saw a video clip of William Lane Craig, who spoke to an Oxford audience quite simply (as in I could understand what he was talking about) and convincingly.  The atheist who was suppose to debate with him didn't show up, so he responded to hard questions from the moderator. I'm quite interested in ordering one of the books he wrote because I think his arguments and approach are quite worthwhile.  The professor will give us a thumb drive upon finishing his course. On it will be, among other things, several different video clips he has used for class, including the one we saw today.  Yay!
"The gathering of wise men."  Fellow classmates with prof. Ray Albrektson

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Fiji Conference 2017 Day 8: "The DreamTeam!"

After a restful Sunday afternoon, we got the PNG team together for dinner and a chat...about their Christmas, their thoughts on the students back home, their needs for the future, and what the top priority is for prayer.

It was good to catch up with these precious folks.  We also invited Rose from the Solomon Islands to be a part of our group tonight.  (She came to Fiji for our theology classes and staff conference.)  Rose graduated last year (she studied in Fiji) and is working off her bond with the Solomon Island government who paid for her tuition.  She has 2 more years of working off her bond, then she wants to come on staff with us.  Tonight we gave her names of Solomon Island students who graduated from the PNG university because when she goes home she's interested in them all getting together.  We also found out that she attends the church we did when we lived in the Solomon Islands...therefore we know some of the same people.  It's a small world! 

We heard about Lily's trip to another Fijian island for Christmas and New Year's (with disciple of hers who invited her home for the holidays,) and Dianne taking her mother shopping around Suva, and Elton getting a provisional driver's license in Fiji, then going to Papua New Guinea, showing them his Fijian license, and receiving a full license from them!  (Look out world, Elton's coming through!) 

It's a nice feeling to be together again!
Dianne and Rose, with a good-lookin' couple

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Fiji Conference 2017 Day 7: "A Day in Town!"

It's Saturday!  No classes!  Time to shop!

We went to town today to go to the Pure Fiji outlet and the flea market.  It's a small world here in Suva, and we ran into Diane (from PNG) and her mom, who flew out to Fiji with Diane and is staying with her during our 2 weeks of theology classes.  What fun to see them!  (Diane looks just like her mom, by the way!)

view from pizza place
After shopping we went to a pizza place on the 4th floor of a department store.  It was so good to get somewhere air-conditioned...It's been a sweaty one today.  From our window we could see a rain cloud dumping down not too far away, but it just seemed to be a humid mist where we were.
View from pizza place
Then, our big treat of the day...we went to a movie.  It costs $7 here in Fijian money, and in New Zealand the price of an adult ticket is $18.50 NZD.  (That's $27 in Fijian dollars!) We saw the movie Passengers, and I was so caught up in the story that I let out a shriek at one point.  (It was a little, soft shriek. Good thing it wasn't 3D or my shriek may have been louder.)  What a wonderful break!

We returned home after picking up a few groceries, to find out that we needed to move back to our original room.  They said the toilet was fixed in the first room we had and someone else wanted the bigger room we were in now.  Sigh.  Easy come, easy go.  

Friday, January 6, 2017

Fiji Conference 2017 Days 5-6: "The Multiverse!"

I'm learning quite a bit of sciency stuff in my apologetics class...terms like "the goldilocks zone" for our place in the galaxy, and the fact that the big bang is generally embraced by the scientific community now...which says that our universe is not infinite, but has a beginning.  The question of what caused that beginning is a real problem for the materialist, or atheist.  They have come up with the theory that we're really part of a multiverse, and that another universe did something to cause the "big bang" that started everything for us.

I couldn't believe my ears...The multiverse...the term I worked so hard to remember from the movie Dr. Strange!  I think, because it was mentioned in a movie, that the term will be used by average people soon...not just the science community (or the sci-fi community.)  I have learned through my class that the multiverse theory is meta-physical...something that can be imagined, but not proven.  The atheist might have to exercise faith after all.  I hope he chooses God to put his faith in to explain who caused the "big bang" of creating something out of nothing.
We're not in the photo, but it's our class!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Fiji Conference 2017 Day 4: "Slippy Seats!"

Transportation to and from our classes is via Fiji taxis.  Some taxi drivers fix up their taxis really nicely...others, not so much.  I really like the taxis with clear plastic covering their seats.  They look and feel so clean.  Often there's air fresher and many times a picture of a Hindu god on the dashboard or visor.  Another thrill I have discovered about plastic-covered seats is that they're easier to slide over when we share the ride with our friends and all crowd in.  The down side is of course that you're more likely to slide over unintentionally when rounding a corner "at speed."  (I guess it's wise to only share slippy seats with friends!)

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Fiji Conference 2017 Day 3: "Blast from the Past!"

After a hard afternoon of reading a textbook full of long sentences filled with huge and unusual words, what gives a refreshing distraction?  Internet TV!

We watched some old NCIS episodes...then, after seeing "Ducky," I was hankering for the old Man From U.N.C.L.E. TV show where the same actor plays the co-star spy.  When I was a little girl, I used to pretend I worked for the same spy organization.  My girlfriend and I made identity cards and everything.  Of course my brother was the enemy agent...only he didn't know he was part of the game.  Dan found the old TV show online and we watched an episode.  It was pretty hokey, but fun!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Fiji Conference 2017 Day 2: "Unexpected delights!"

Today I attended my first apologetics class...and it was not what I was expecting. I had supposed I'd learn to argue with intellectuals...which I wasn't very keen on doing in the first place. The professor is taking a practical approach to the subject, and the heart of the subject isn't about winning arguments, but is about creating an opportunity in which the gospel can become the focus of the an environment of gentleness and respect.  I like that.

Another surprise was in glimpsing the children of the staff here.  My goodness.  I've done childcare with these kids who are now young men and women who tower over me!

I barely make it to Ilisoni's shoulder!

After class today, we were surprised to learn that the room in which we were staying had been upgraded (at no extra cost) to the bigger room across the hall, because we had a leaky toilet in our previous room.  It's like getting to fly business class when you've only paid for an economy seat on a plane!  Score!

Another delight is that we have arrived in Suva during a bumper crop of ripening mangoes.  They're literally falling off the trees around here.  It's like God is giving Suva a wonderful Happy New Year present of extra abundance!


Sunday, January 1, 2017

Fiji Conference 2017: "The Taste of Paw Paw!"

Happy New Year! We woke up this morning in Suva.  Yesterday was a bit of a blur getting here.

Yesterday we woke up at 4:30 am to catch our 6:00 shuttle to the airport.  Dan had only 1 1/2 hours of sleep because of his cold.  (Dr. Anna gave him 2 antibiotics and a steroid.  That should wipe out any infection.)
This is the first time Dan was greeted at his assigned plane seat by his screen.

 We landed in Nadi and needed to catch a bus to Suva.  We just missed the bus from the nicer company (more roomy, less people,) so had to take the bus that had many stops along the way and MANY people. I sat near the back.  There were 2 of us adults and 2 children in our two my carry-on backpack.  Dan was somewhere in the front.  The family I was scrunched up against was a mom with her 2-year-old boy and 4-year-old girl.  They were Indo-Fijian, so I looked very different...especially to the little boy who kept tentatively touching my white skin.

About an hour and a half into the  trip, enough people got off that Dan motioned for me to sit with him (and another passenger) in the front.  This time it was Dan who didn't quite fit, with half his body taking up the aisle space. After another while, the woman next to me got off, and we fit into our seats much better.  The whole trip was about 4 1/2 hours, and I was so thankful for my kindle.  We arrived in Suva about 5:30 and were a bit hungry (breakfast had been a long time ago), so we made a quick trip to McD's. before settling in for the evening.

The place we're staying provides breakfast in addition to our room.

We had a good night's sleep and awoke to breakfast laid out and covered on the dining room table.  Fresh paw paw (papaya), pineapple, and toast! There's a cool breeze blowing, and I haven't met a mosquito yet. We're laying low trying to rest up and hoping Dan's nose and cough will be much better before the opening  banquet tonight.  The dinner kicks off the beginning off our two-week theology class studies.  (My first apologetics class starts tomorrow morning!)