Sunday, December 27, 2009
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Monday, December 7, 2009
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
The Lord did an amazing thing for us this week, so amazing that I couldn't wait until next week to post it on my blog:-) On Monday, Brother Randy took his 15 year-old son Matt and some of our national believers and drove to Aibai where the bulldozer and smaller machine have been waiting. At 5 am, they left Aibai with Matt Crain (a missionary from Aibai) driving the bulldozer, Brother Randy driving the smaller machine, Matt Smith driving one pickup truck, and a national driving a second pickup. (One pickup held the remainder of the stuff that came on the container and the other pickup was serving as a support vehicle for the machines.) They intended to come halfway to Kiari on Tuesday and spend the night at a village called Borowal. Matt Crain had to be back in Aibai on Wednesday, so he planned to drive home Wednesday and Brother Randy was just going to come back to Kiari, leaving the machines in Borowal.
We had received word that Dale Crawford, one of the directors of GFA, would hopefully be arriving next Monday (October 26th) to drive the bulldozer and work on the airstrip. He would be flying into another rural airstrip, close to Borowal. So Brother Randy had two different thoughts. Obviously, it would be best if the machines were already in Kiari when Brother Dale arrived, so that he would not use any of his time on the road and would be able to get right to work. The only way to make that happen was for Brother Randy to go back to Borowal on Thursday and drive one machine to Kiari, then return to Borowal on Friday and drive the other machine. If that didn't work out, then Brother Dale would just help him drive them when he arrived.
But the Lord did far above our wildest expectations. At 1pm on Tuesday, both machines were already close to Borowal. They were able to come all the way to Kiari in that one day! You should have seen the rejoicing when those machines got here. The nationals had spotted them on the road and yelled the news from neighborhood to neighborhood. People were all dressed up in their traditional dress and were dancing and singing to welcome the machines. The Christians were full of thankfulness at seeing God answer a request that they have been bringing to Him for many, many years.
Thank you so much for your prayers and part in this. Please continue to pray for Brother Dale's safe arrival and speedy and safe work on the airstrip without any unexpected setbacks.
Friday, October 16, 2009
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Last week must have been the week for broken bones. First, on Friday afternoon, about 40 nationals brought a man to the clinic on a stretcher. Apparently, that morning, he had been digging down near the river and a large stone had fallen on his upper leg. The people had made a stretcher and carried him back up to the village, arriving in late afternoon. I examined him and could clearly tell that he had fractured his femur. I put him in a cast to stabilize the fracture, but told them that he would need to be taken to town where they could do xrays to actually set the bone. In truth, I thought there were probably bone fragments involved and that the man would likely need surgery.
That evening, Jeff Owens, our brand new career missionary, fell in the Smiths' house landing heavily on his right side. Brother Randy sent one of his sons to get me and I arrived to find Jeff in obvious pain. After examining him, I was certain that he had fractured at least one rib, but I was concerned about the possibility of a collapsed lung or lacerated liver. We were able to reach a missionary doctor in Goroka on the satellite phone. On hearing my assessment, he agreed that Jeff should be gotten to town as soon as possible to be evaluated. It was already dark, so we had no way to get him that night, but we made arrangements for a helicopter pickup first thing in the morning.
I spent the night in the room next door to where Jeff was trying to sleep. Not being sure as to the extent of his injuries, I didn't sleep for fear that he would worsen overnight without me realizing it. Thankfully, he had a good night and was even a bit better in the morning. We were able to send word to the family of the man with the broken leg, and they decided to send him to town on the helicopter as well. The helicopter landed about 7:15 and by 7:30 Jeff, Brother Randy, the man with the broken leg, and one of his family members were safely loaded on the chopper.
It turned out that Jeff had broken 3 ribs in 5 places, but didn't have any internal injuries -- a definite praise. Lord willing, Brother Randy and Jeff will be returning to Kiari this morning (Monday) by helicopter. Unfortunately, we have had heavy cloud cover, so the helicopter has not yet been able to come. The hospital in town referred the man with the broken leg to a hospital in another town where there is a German surgeon who should be able to fix his leg properly.
Thank you so much for your prayers for our safety. Even simple accidents can be challenging to handle here, but we are very thankful for the Lord's protection and care through this whole situation.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Friday was a big event here in Kiari. We actually purchased the land on which to build the airstrip. This has been an ongoing project for several months. First, we had to determine exactly who owned every inch of the land. A committee of three national men worked on this for a while and drew up a map labeled with section numbers. For around a quarter mile length of land, there were 35 sections of land, owned by 25 different men! 22 of those men came on Friday and were paid for their land. The amounts varied depending on how many sections they owned and whether the sections were large, medium, or small. Each owner signed a contract with Brother Randy, then the contract was witness by the village council, a village magistrate, and the three men from the committee. We took a still picture of each man signing and a picture of him holding his contract with Brother Randy. We also shot video of each man receiving his money. That way there will no question in the future regarding this. Quite the process, but a real praise to have it successfully completed. Brother Randy is planning a supply trip for this week, but he hopes to go to Aibai the following week to drive the machines the rest of the way to Kiari. Please continue to pray for the details of this project.
Also on Friday, I was brought a patient with a fairly severe injury. The man, Stanley, was attacked by his older brother. The brother was aiming for his head and when Stanley flung up his arm to protect himself, he received a major cut to his right forearm. Men from the village put him on a a stretcher made out of flour sacks and two small trees and carried him close to the mission. Then Matt Smith (Brother Randy's son) brought him the rest of the way in the truck. It was definitely the worst cut I had ever seen here. Thankfully, right after Stanley was carried into the clinic, Benson arrived. Benson is the government health worker for the village and a strong Christian. He doesn't have a lot of book training, but he has lots of practical experience, especially with injuries. So I was quite happy to let him take the lead in dealing with this patient. After about a 3 hours cleaning, suturing, and bandaging job, the man was ready to be carried back down the mountain. He came back to clinic today for a dressing change and seems to be healing all right.
Please pray for Stanley. His wife is saved and attends church with their five children and his oldest daughter is in our Christian school. Stanley made a profession of faith at one time but has either fallen away from the Lord or was never truly saved. Please pray that this injury will turn his thoughts to the Lord.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
This last week has been quite the adventure as far as the container was concerned. I wasn't directly involved though, so instead of trying to tell you about it myself, I am going to post a copy of the email that Missionary Michael Berbin sent out to tell the story. It's a bit long, but I think you'll find it interesting and enlightening. Enjoy!
"O give thanks unto the Lord: for He is good: because His mercy endureth forever." How can I praise and thank the Lord enough for His goodness in ways so innumerable? Your prayers have again moved His mighty hand on our behalf--amazing.
As you know, the last phase of this incredible journey (actually you'll see later I did leave some fun for Bro. Matt Crain) was to get the equipment from Lae on the eastern coast of PNG up to the Highlands by truck and then drive the equipment back into the bush. Among many challenges to these procedures was finding a company to haul the equipment up to the Highlands at a reasonable cost. You prayed for that and the Lord answered. However, I don't believe I mentioned the way the Lord provided (if I did already tell you this, the works of the Lord bear repeating). The first company wanted K10,000 to haul the equipment to the place where we turn off the highway to enter the bush road. That is roughly $4000 USD. PHEW! Then I remembered a fellow who is originally from one of our villages who now operates a heavy equipment company. I called Jeffrey and found out that he knew of a fellow who was willing to haul the equipment for roughly $2000 USD (this was last week Thursday (Sept 16th) while I was staying at the SIL guest house in Lae). Friday of that week (please keep track of the days and the guest houses) was the day we unloaded the container at a Bible college 14 miles outside of Lae. Jeffrey told me he would talk to his contact and call me back on Monday to let me know if his trucker would be able to move the machinary on Tuesday (Sept 22) or Wed. Back at the SIL guest house I was told that I would have to leave on Friday morning as they had pre-booked all their rooms for a group over the weekend of the 18th and 19th. So, Friday before I unloaded the container, I shifted over to the New Tribes guest house. Late Sat. afternoon, the (fairly new) guest house mangers asked me up to their apartment to get aquainted as they were from Romania--homeland to my grandfather. During our conversation the talk turned (for some unkown reason) to mechanics and they told me that there was a man staying at the guest house who was a mechanic. It turned out that I had known this mechanic (Steve who's workshop is in Goroka) for about 10 years. On Sunday after church I went to have a chat with Steve and he told me he knew of a man in Lae who may be able to haul our equipment, but I replied that I already had that arranged. On Monday I shifted back to the SIL guest house to find that the group never showed up and that I could have stayed at SIL for the weekend--at that point, it was no big deal to me. (This is going somewhere--stay with me.) No call from Jeffrey. All of my calls to him resulted in Network Failure messages. Then I began really thinking hard as I had already booked my return flight for Sunday the 27th so I had basically that week to get the machines up to Aibai. Tuesday morning I decided to go talk to Steve's man (John Bangkok) who said he could haul the equipment the following day for $3000 USD--I promptly took him up on the offer. Turns out his workshop where I would need to load the equipment on the trailer was literally 300 yds from the Bible college where the machines were sitting--was able to drive one piece there, walk back and drive the other piece there in about 15 minutes. I know this is a bit scattered and tedious, but think on this answer to prayer. The Lord shifted me out of one guest house through a no-show booking in order for me to be able to talk to Steve to get the contact I needed who's truck was already parked within 300 yards of my equipment--and I still have had no contact with or from the other man (Jeffrey)! Amazing.
We are now at Wed morning (and I will try to shorten and streamline this in consideration of your already overtaxed patience--sorry) When I got to the workshop at 7:30 am (our prearranged time for departure from Lae) I knew that I was in for a long day as John Bangkok (real name Lamjuan Phoolthasee, and no I did not make this up) had told me he estimated it would take about 7 hours to get to Goroka and another 3 hours to get from Goroka to the turn off. We then had to unload the equipment and drive it to a safe?!?! overnight stopping place--I guessed three more hours. You need to understand that the place where we turn off the highway (Dumun pronounced Doomoon) is a hot-bed of criminal activity (I and my family had already been held-up, as in robbed, there once), but 10 hours would put us there at 5:30 in the afternoon--still light. At 4:00 pm we had not left Goroka!!! I tried in vain to get the driver to overnight in Goroka so we set off about 4:30 for a meeting with the criminal element of PNG. Along the way I literally began checking my watch to see when you folks would begin waking up and praying for us again. We finally arrived at Dumun at 8:30 pm (6:30 am EDT in the US when some of you were probably praying) in the dark and rain, and the criminals began crawling out of the woodwork. Later Terry Ritschard would tell me that as he sat in the pick-up truck (which we brought to carry fuel and tools) in the dark he overheard two men discussing jumping into the truck while we were moving the bulldozer--presumably to steal it. Then (please understand that there are no police patrolling the roads after dark) a Highway Patrol vehicle appeared out of the darkness and gloom. I asked the officer in charge if he could hang around for about 15 minutes and out popped a number of officers. The one holding the M-16 had a very sobering (and proably disappointing) effect on the crowd. I was astounded beyond measure and just a little bit relieved. After we unloaded, the police actually followed us until we were clear of the criminal area (or more criminal area). We arrived at our over-night stop at about 12:30 am (Thursday morning)--a long but blessed day. The Lord also prepared this stopping place in the wilderness (they actually cooked fried chicken, and chips--which I missed out on due to my being in bed in a coma), but I'll have to save that story for later. On Thursday, we left at 8:15 am for the finally little drive to Aibai--we arrived in Aibai at 5:30 pm.
Thank you for your work in this adventure. We praise the Lord for His power in answering prayer, and trust that you will remember all of His wonderful works as you face the "bulldozers" of your life. This is about much more than getting airstrips completed. This is about the glory of our great God! Just this week I was reading in Matthew about the disciples who heard "beware of the leaven of the Pharisees," but actually heard "you have brought no bread." The Lord reproached those men who had seen the marvelous provision in the feeding of the 5000 with two problems in their thinking. First the did not remember the Lord's previous display of power to provide. Second, they did not understand what that display signified about the Lord and His working. I trust that as time passes, we will all remember and understand what great things the Lord has done.
Matt and Rebekah Crain will arrive on the same flight on which I depart Goroka. After recovering from jet-lag, Matt, Randy Smith, and Jeff Owens ( a new missionary for Kiari that arrived in country yesterday) will move the equipment to Kiari (another 14 hours or so by bulldozer--see I did leave some fun for Matt). There the plan is to finish the Kiari airstrip then move back to Aibai to finish the Aibai airstrip. Continue to pray that the Lord will supply operators to do this work (we are accepting volunteers at the GFA office).May the Lord bless you and continue to use you as He has--for His glory,
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Monday, September 14, 2009
In my last entry, I told you about the expected arrival of the container. We were informed that it arrived in PNG on September 1st. Unfortunately, they were unable to locate it until September 11th, but it has finally been found. The next step is for the customs inspection. We are hoping that can take place tomorrow (Tuesday). Wednesday is PNG Independence Day and so all businesses will be closed. Once the customs inspection is completed, the missionaries will load the contents into pickups and drive them to Goroka (our nearest major town). The bulldozers will be brought by flatbed truck to the start of the bush road. Then Michael Berbin and Randy Smith will drive the machines back to Kiari, clearing the road as necessary as they go. They are expecting it to take at least 3 days to make the trip, so a national will drive a pickup as a support vehicle for fuel, food, bedding, etc. Once the machines are here, they will have to make more trips to town to bring in the rest of the contents of the container and get more fuel for the bulldozers.
In the meantime, we are trying to purchase all the ground for the airstrip. (Technically, the land will be owned by the government when the airstrip is open, but our ownership of it will give us control over the clearing and maintenance of the strip.) Land ownership is a bit unusual here and there are 20 different land owners for just this area of ground, each with their own section. A committee of 3 national guys from our church is busy dealing with each of these landowners to reach an appropriate settlement.
On top of all this, the list of students accepted into our Christian school for the coming year was posted after church yesterday. Unfortunately, six former students were not reaccepted due to their conduct either during last school year or over the school break. This led to a rather major reaction from the parents of some of the students. One man had a tirade in the church yard after the service yesterday and this morning cut trees and blocked the path to the school. Also this morning, two former students came to the home of one of our national preachers and threatened he and his wife, then later came to the clinic where his wife was working and tried to get me to kick her out so they could "talk" to her. Brother Randy had a long meeting (several hours) with everyone involved this morning, and things seem to have calmed down for the present.
So, please pray for all the details associated with the container, the machine transport, the clearing of the airstrip. Also pray for clear heads to prevail regarding this school situation. At least it's never boring here:-)
Saturday, September 5, 2009
I must apologize for the sparse posting over the last few weeks. We have been having a number of major email issues. First, the computer that I was using for email quit completely. So I started typing my emails on my computer, loading them on a flash drive, walking up to the Smith's house, loading them on their computer, and then sending them. That worked okay for a few weeks. Then the phone card system that we use for the satellite phone quite working. It is a company out of Indonesia, and they said it would be down for an indefinite length of time. That left us completely without email access for about a week. Then the Smiths went into town on their vacation. They took their computer with them, which enabled them to send and receive email in town, but it didn't help me here in the bush. But now they are home again, with their computer, and the phone card system seems to be up and running again, so I am finally posting on my blog. Whew!
There has been lots of other news as well. As you know, we are expecting the arrival of a container with machines for clearing the land for our airstrips (as well books for this school year, an exam table for the clinic, and other miscellaneous boxes of supplies). The container will come to Lae, the main port of the country, and the men will have to drive to Lae to clear the container through customs, unload it, and transport the contents back to the bush.
Originally the plan had been for Randy Smith to go to Lae with Michael Berbin and Matt Crain to deal with the container. Well, first the Berbins ended up heading home for furlough in August. They were due for a furlough but hadn't planned on going until next year, so it was a bit unexpected. Then, last week, Matt Crain developed some health problems and had to return to the states to see his doctors there. (He seems to be doing fine and hopes to return in the near future.) So that left Brother Randy to deal with the container -- a rather challenging proposition. Well, Michael Berbin decided to fly back to help him, so he should arrive in the country on Saturday (September 5th). The container was scheduled to arrive in Lae on September 4th, but we don't know yet if it actually arrived or if they have located it yet amongst all the other containers on the cargo ship. When we know for certain that it is there, then Brother Randy and Brother Michael will drive down and begin the process. Please pray for all the details associated with customs and transporting everything back to the bush.
Well, I guess that's all for now. Thanks so much for your prayers and support. They are a huge blessing!
Monday, August 17, 2009
It didn't take long to get back in the routine of bush life. Clinic numbers have been a bit down over the last couple of times. One reason is that the government sent a car from the nearest medical clinic (about a 2 hour drive) with some medical personnel and medicine. They were concerned about the flu epidemic that seems to be sweeping the area. (Since we are south of the equator, our seasons are opposite those of the US, so this is the same flu season that you see during your winter months.) I was thrilled that the government took the initiative to provide the medical care, but of course, that impacted my clinic attendance. They only had one day of clinic though, so I'm sure things will pick up again soon. Today two ladies came with their newborns. Both ladies had come for prenatal clinic, so I was able to give them baby packs. It was a lot of fun for everyone to check the babies over, dress them in the new clothes from the packs, and get pictures of them. One lady had twins, so there was 1 boy and 2 girls.
On Friday, my clinic helper Alice told me of an older man that was sick down in the village. She suggested that the 2 of us go down and see him to give him medicine and also witness to him. I was thrilled to do it, but even more pleased that she came up with the idea. We went down to see the man and gave him medicine. (I think he may have congestive heart failure.) Then I was able to go through the gospel with him as Alice translated for me from Pidgin into the local village language. (Many of the older people don't speak Pidgin well and understand the local language much better.) What a blessing to minister to physical and spiritual needs simultaneously. Lord willing, this will be only the first of many such visits. Please pray for a clear understanding of the gospel, conviction of sin, and a genuine heart response.
By the way, we have been having a number of email issues and some messages may have been lost. If you have emailed me in the last week or so and have not gotten a reply, please resend your message.
Monday, August 3, 2009
We have had some unusual happenings in our village over the last couple of weeks. A young man died and 3 women confessed to performing witchcraft on him, claiming to be possessed by evil spirits. The women were then killed by some other villagers. This is actually a rather new thing for our village as the people here have not typically been involved directly in witchcraft. Two of the three women were from other villages and they apparently taught the third woman. I won't go into all the details of the incident, but it has been the main topic of conversation now for several days.
On Sunday, Brother Randy preached about evil spirits, explaining that the Bible teaches that they do exist, but that the Holy Spirit is stronger than any evil spirit. He challenged the Christians to make sure that they were not quenching the working of the Holy Spirit in their lives and confronted the unsaved with the truth that without Christ they are already under the bondage of Satan. Please pray that this incident will have a positive effect in the lives of our people as opposed to the negative effect that the devil obviously intends.
We also held a church business meeting yesterday and voted to church discipline two individuals who have continued in sin despite biblical confrontation. Please pray for the restoration of Micah (a woman) and Ben.
On a lighter note, Tiffany, our short term teacher, is scheduled to arrive back in PNG on Thursday morning. Brother Randy and I (along with a truck load of nationals) are hoping to head to Goroka tomorrow (Tuesday) to both pick her up and do our bi-monthly supply run. If all goes as scheduled, Brother Randy will drive back on Friday, then Tiffany and I will spend the weekend in order to do some more shopping and then fly into the grass strip at Nomane where Brother Randy will pick us up on Monday. I am looking forward to this trip. Brother Randy does a great job of shopping off the lists we give him, but it will be nice to be able to go through the stores myself for a change. Your prayers would be appreciated for dry weather and safe driving as well as safety from thievery in Goroka.
Monday, July 27, 2009
I suppose on first glance that the title of this entry seems a bit unusual, but these two things represent some of the biggest struggles facing our national believers.
First is coffee. This is coffee harvest time in Papua New Guinea. Nearly everyone owns a grove of coffee trees. When the coffee is ripe, they spend days picking the coffee and hauling it back to their homes in flour sacks, usually around 50lb loads at a time. Then the coffee is run through a sort of hand cranck machine that strips the shell from the coffee. The coffee is washed and spread out in tarps to dry, then repacked in the flour sacks. When a sufficient quantity is accumulated, it must be taken to town to be sold. The closer to the coffee factory it is taken, the higher the price it can be sold for. So many people take a 50 pound bag on their backs and walk 6 hours to a spot where they can get a ride to town. After all their work, they can usually sell the coffee for 5 kina a kilogram, which translates roughly to around $50 for that 50 pound bag. That may seem not like very much money to us, but it is a huge amount of money to them.
With the money, unfortunately, comes many spiritual struggles. First, many of our believers are gone from home for days or weeks at a time, picking, processing, and hauling their coffee. That means that they are away from the ministry and accountability of the church. While they are in town, they are often surrounded by the unsaved, who are very ungodly in their actions and conversations. In addition, since most people have more money at this time of year than any other, there are many pitfalls even for those still here in the village. There are noisy parties with alcohol flowing freely. The peer pressure is especially hard on the young people.
Then, on the other hand, there is rugby. Rugby, as you may know is sort of similar to football, but with a few rule changes and no pads or helmets. Each neighborhood has their own team and often receive challenges from other villages. When a game is scheduled, nearly everyone from that neighborhood will pack up their entire family and walk the several hours to play or cheer on their team. They are usually gone for several days, as it is not just a matter of the game, but also a huge feast following the game with presents for everyone attending. The most recent game was about a week and a half ago on a Friday. Probably half of our church attended and probably half of those didn't make it back in time for church on Sunday.
Some churches here have banned participation/attendance as part of their church covenants (much as we might bars or nightclubs), but our church has not yet taken that position. Yesterday morning, Brother Randy preached on cleaning out areas of sin and specifically mentioned those who may have allowed coffee season or rugby to pull them away from the Lord and into sin. The altar was crowded at the invitation with 12 men and women making things right with God. Then, in our afternoon service, Brother Randy preached on "prove all things and hold fast that which is good" from Philippians 1. He then got two pieces of paper and labeled one "Ol Samting Nogut" (Bad Things) and "Ol Gutpela Samting" (Good Things). He then asked the people to list the things pertaining to ruby that fit each of the categories. There were lots of ideas for the Bad Things paper but hardly anything at all for the Good Things paper. Brother Randy didn't draw any conclusions at the end. He just taped the two pieces of paper on the wall at the front of the church and left it at that. We are praying that the people themselves will recognize the damage that this is doing to their spiritual walk.
So, all that to say, please pray for our believers to stand strong and stay faithful. Perhaps they are not bombarded with the many evil influences present in American culture and entertainment, but they do face their own struggles, perhaps even more difficult in certain areas.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Things have been going along pretty well here lately, outside of a few minor aberrations. Jeremy Dion, the BJU student who was doing his missions internship with us, left on Friday. He actually flies out of the country this Thursday, but he wanted to spend a few days with the Ritschards, GFA missionaries near Goroka. Brother Randy drove him to Nomane and he flew in to Goroka from there. His time here was a real help to us and I hope to him as well. He preached several times, initially through an interpreter and later on his own by writing out his message ahead of time. He spent many, many hours working on various building projects around the mission. He built a number of shelves for me to store medical supplies on in the clinic a huge blessing.
I also had some more email troubles this week, so if you sent me an email and haven't gotten a reply, that's why. I was using an old Dell computer to do email because new computers just don't seem to work well with the setup out here. Unfortunately, the problem with using an old computer is that it's old:-) So, while I was typing an email last week, it suddenly died and won't start up again no matter what I do. I hope to send it in to town on the next supply trip and see if anyone can fix it, but for now I will just share the Smith's email.
I had a record day in clinic on Monday 55 patients! That is the most I have ever seen since arriving here as a career missionary. (I did see 60 patients once during my short term trip here 5 years ago.) I'm not sure exactly what brought the high numbers. For one, I had to cancel clinic last Wednesday due to my own illness, then I had a smaller group on Friday as many people were gone to a big rugby game in a neighboring village. Other than that, it just seems that a lot of people are sick right now. Most seem to have upper respiratory infections, but there are a few malaria, ameba, etc.
Other than that, I am staying busy doing language study and trying to organize the clinic. On Monday, I paid the Smith kids to come help me carry boxes of stuff over to the clinic, then today I started getting it put on the new shelves. It's a bit overwhelming at times, but it's going to be great when it's all done.
I'm also getting involved in a few new ministries. With Jeremy's departure, I am going to take over the choir for the church. That isn't as pretentious as it sounds. We only sing about every 6-8 weeks as it takes that long to learn a new song. No one reads music, so it is a matter of drilling the parts over and over until everyone gets it down. We don't do fancy arrangements, just basically the 4-part harmony that you have in your hymnbook. I'm excited about the opportunity though.
I've also started helping Elena Smith with her Sunday school class. We have two SS classes for the children and 4 teachers working on a 6 week rotation. We also have 4 helpers for the SS teachers. The girl who normally helps Elena is in town with her family for an undetermined length of time, so I am filling in for her.
Well, I'd better stop for now. I just had a lot to cover since I wasn't able to post last week. Thanks so much for your prayers.
Monday, July 6, 2009
averaging around 25 each morning. The injured patients I mentioned in my
last post all seem to be healing, a definite blessing from the Lord.
On Sunday, we had a bit of a treat for the afternoon service. One of our own
young men, Barry, preached the message. We have 3 other national preacher
"boys", all in their late 20s or early 30s. Barry, on the other hand, is
maybe only 20, if that. (Most people here don't know their birthdays and
don't really have any idea how old they are.) He was saved several years ago
under Jon Calhoun's ministry (the missionary that started this ministry).
His family is unsaved but he has continued to go on for the Lord. His family
wanted him to get more education and sent him to town to go to high school.
There he lives with an unsaved family and by his own testimony, there is a
lot of drinking and wicked behavior. At school as well, he is surrounded by
pagan influences. But, as he testified on Sunday, the Lord has been with him
and enabled him to stand strong. The church he is attending in town has also
recognized the Lord's hand on his life and they have chosen him as one of
their preacher boys to preach from time to time and help lead the church. It
is definitely a blessing to see the Lord at work, raising up workers for
Himself and His glory.
As you know, Saturday was the 4th of July. Of course, since it is a
celebration of American independence, it is not observed here in PNG. But we
whiteskins (as we are called by the nationals) got together Monday to
celebrate. We roasted hot dogs over the open fire and grilled hamburgers.
(Both of those are a bit of luxuries as we don't typically use that much
ground beef at once.) I made a cake from a cake mix that my father sent in a
package and decorated it to look like the American flag. We also made home
made ice cream. After we ate, we sat around the fire and sang patriotic and
Christian songs. Probably more low key than your celebration, but
Sunday, July 5, 2009
have not changed the time references, so they all refer to the week previous
This week, I took a brief trip out of Kiari for the first time in a little
over a month. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, Ben Ritschard was visiting
us for a week, so it was time to get him back to his family. The easiest and
most economical way is to drive to Nomane, the nearest airstrip and put him
on an airplane that we booked to come get him. It had been raining quite a
bit, so we were a bit concerned about the condition of the road. In the
event of road difficulties, Brother Randy asked 6 national guys to come
along to help pull/dig us out if we got stuck anywhere. We left about 7:30am
and made it safely to Nomane with only minor incidents (got stuck twice,
truck quit once, etc.). I wish I could post video from the trip as it is
almost impossible to describe. I was standing up in the back of the pickup
truck holding onto the roll bar. Ben was standing next to me and five of the
guys were sitting either in the bed of the truck or perched on the sides.
There was breathtaking scenery as far as we could see in every direction.
The road is pretty narrow, so you could reach out and touch the side of the
mountain on one side and the other side was a steep drop into the valley.
The road is dirt, of course, or actually more better described as mud and
clay. We cross numerous stream beds and small rivers. The basic pattern
involves a steep climb to the top of a mountain where there is a village,
then a steep descent to a water of some nature, then another steep ascent,
and so on. There are 4-5 major villages between us and Nomane, all without
any Bible preaching church. Very sobering!
At any rate, we arrived safely at Nomane and waited for the plane. To make
the most economical use of the plane, Brother Randy had left some supplies
from his last town trip to come out to us on this flight. In addition, the
Ritschards (who are planning a furlough sometime late this fall) took the
opportunity to send out some of their animals for some national Christians
to care for in their absence. After a bit of a wait, the plane arrived. Of
course, this is not the paved runways and busy airports of America. It is a
long grass strip framed by large white cones to mark it from the air. The
pilot circled the strip first to check for any issues, then landed and
taxied to the side where we were all standing. The guys with us helped
unload all the cargo including the animals. Then Ben got on the plane as
well as five little kids who their aunt was sending to Goroka to their
We loaded the truck with, starting at the cab, approximately 500 lbs of
supplies wrapped in a tarp and tied to the rollbar, the spare tire (also
tied), two goats, eight people (including me), and two pigs. Needless to
say, the ride home was a bit crowded. The goats were pretty sedate. One of
them laid with his/her head on my foot for about half the trip (better than
later when it turned around and tried to sit on me). The pigs on the other
hand were not happy at all and one of them kept trying to bite one of the
guys. We got home about 3:30 that afternoon.
Well, that was most of the excitement for the week. There have been a lot of
people for clinic lately. 25 on Friday and 24 today (Monday). Even my clinic
helper was sick, so Susanna, the Smith's oldest daughter, came down and
helped me. I had a 10 year old girl come on Friday who had basically impaled
her leg on a fence. (They're constructed of sharpened posts held together by
vines.) She had large flap on her upper thigh that took about 2 hours to sew
up. She came back today for a recheck and it seems to be doing alright, but
I'm still a bit concerned. It was very dirty and rather deep, so it will be
a real blessing if it doesn't get infected. On Wednesday, one of the
national ladies from church brought her 1 year old son. His older brother
(6-7) had been cutting firewood and the smaller boy got his hand in the way
and was cut. It really needed to be sutured, but there was no way to
restrain him adequately. In a stateside ER, he would have been sedated while
the doctor sewed him up, but I just am not equipped for that. I ended up
steristripping it and wrapping it very well. He came back on Friday and it
seemed to be knitting together all right.
Well, I'd better close this epistle for now. Thanks so much for your
prayers. The Lord continues to give safety and wisdom in answer to your
Monday, June 22, 2009
Randy Smith returned Thursday from town with our supplies for the next two
months and mail. I received some of the baby packs that you folks have
assembled and sent, and I'm excited to start using them in the clinic. Ben
Ritschard, son of the Ritschards who are GFA missionaries based near Goroka,
came out to spend a week working with Jeremy Dion (our missions intern), so
they have been busy on various projects. Clinic has stayed fairly busy but
uneventful. I've seen lots of babies and toddlers with respiratory
infections, so something must be going around.
When I'm not busy in the clinic, my time has been filled with language study
and organizing medical supplies. There are probably 20 large crates full to
the brim of various kinds of medical supplies -- some of it very useful and
some of it not at all. (For instance, I'm not planning on doing open heart
surgery any time soon, so that open heart instrument kit probably won't be a
lot of help. And, no, I'm not joking.) This morning, I spent a couple hours
going through one of those crates (probably 4ft x 6ft x 4ft) and salvaging
what is usable. Actually, I was working on it in between doing my laundry.
To do laundry, we use what is called a twin tub washer. Maybe you are
familiar with that, but I wasn't. It has two tubs (as its name suggests).
You fill the first tub with water and soap and put your first load of
clothes in. When they finish washing, you transfer the load to the second
tub which spins out the soapy water. Meanwhile, you wash your next load in
the first tub. When all the loads have been through the soapy water, you
change the water and put them back through to rinse, then into the second
tub to spin out the rinse water. Once they are all spun, they can be hung up
to dry. Running the washer requires the generator, of course, so it is also
a good time to charge computer batteries and other electronics.
Well, my laundry is done, but the crate isn't finished yet, so I need to get
back to it. I'm going to attempt to send email first though. That is another
bit of a project. I have a satellite phone that connects into the computer
as a modem. Ideally, the email program just dials through the satellite
phone and sends and receives email, but usually it's not that simple. First,
the sat phone has to find a connection to the satellite (indicated by a
series of beeps from the phone). Then, the computer dials the number and
waits for the phone to start the connection process (indicated by another
beep). Then, we wait and hope for what is called a carrier. I'm really not
sure what that means, but it seems to be hard to get sometimes. More times
than not, I will attempt to call and get a message saying "No Carrier." When
I see that message, I mess with adjustment of the antenna on the satellite
phone, try another number, or sometimes just give up and try another time.
Some days, I try 3-4 times before getting through, and some days I don't get
through at all. So now you understand why sometimes I'm slow in responding
to your emails:-)
Well, I'd better stop before this gets too much longer. Each second of time
that the satellite phone is connected costs money, and the longer the email,
the longer it takes to send. Thanks so much for your prayers and hope all
this detail about daily life here hasn't been too boring.
Monday, June 15, 2009
sort of duplex. One side is mine and the other side has 3 bedrooms and is
intended for the single short term girls. At the moment, Tiffany is the only
one living on that side but she left yesterday (Monday) to head back to the
U.S. for her sister's wedding. Since the road is now open, Mr. Smith,
Jeremy, Tiffany, and 13 nationals took the truck to the nearest airstrip. We
were a little concerned about the trip as we had a big rainstorm on Sunday
and the makes for slick roads if not landslides. But it was dry Sunday night
and Monday morning, so they were able to drive.
Getting to town is always a bit of a process, no matter what route we take,
as we try to make each trip as economical as possible. For this trip, Mr.
Smith let the nationals put in orders for things that they wanted from town.
(They like to purchase oil, soap, salt, etc. and resell it here in the bush
for a profit.) Then he called the store in town and had their order
delivered to the airplane hangar. That way the plane would come to the
airstrip fully loaded and the nationals' payment for transport of their
cargo would defray some of the cost of the trip. (That's why there were 13
nationals in the truck. They were going to pick up their cargo and would
walk back with it.) Tiffany flies out today (Tuesday), and Mr. Smith and
Jeremy will do our shopping for the next two months, pick up mail, and do
other business in town. They will fly back to the airstrip on Thursday.
There are two flights booked for that day as one plane load would only half
fill the truck, and it is a waste to drive the truck back only half loaded.
Once both flights come in and all the cargo is unloaded and packed in the
truck, Mr. Smith and Jeremy will head for home. When the road and weather
are good, it is about a 3 hour drive, but it often takes 4-5 hours depending
All that say, Tiffany left yesterday and will be gone for almost two months.
Hence the title of this blog entry. I am hoping to use this quiet time to
get a lot of language study in and get all the medical supplies organized.
Thanks once again for all your prayers for the ministry here.
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Saturday, and while freely acknowledging that she was not saved, was not
really interested in making a decision at that time. I continu,ed to pray
for her and shared that burden with you as well. Well, yesterday, the Lord
answered our prayers. She is a very shy girl, so I was surprised and
thrilled to see her march up to the front of the church during the
invitation and tell the missionary that she wanted to be saved. I and a
national lady took her to a private place to speak with her. She still had
some confusion about salvation, but after we shared some Scriptures with her
and talked with her for a while, she made a very clear prayer of repentance.
Later, I found out that she is the daughter of a man named Jack. I had met
Jack when I was in Papua New Guinea five years ago. He was attacked by a
wild pig, and had very severe injuries to his legs. I made multiple trips to
his house to change his bandages and was quite burdened for his salvation.
Perhaps the salvation of his daughter July will be a catalyst that will
bring him to repentance. What a privilege to have a part in God's plan to
bring souls to Hiimself!
Monday, June 1, 2009
remarkable was a 16 year old boy who cut the top of his hand with a bush
knife. He sliced right through the tendon that controls his 3rd finger. I
knew that if the tendon was not reattached, he would have no use of that
finger, but that procedure isn't exactly covered in nursing classes:-)
Tiffany, the short term teacher, was over helping me, so I had her
retracting skin while I hunted for the two ends of the tendon, praying
earnestly all the while. But the Lord was good and I was able to locate both
ends and sew them back together with absorbable suture, then close the cut
in the skin. He came back for a bandage change on Friday and is able to move
that finger. Praise the Lord! Now if I can just keep him convinced that he
has to keep it splinted for several weeks so he doesn't tear it apart again.
Like most teenage boys, that won't be an easy task.
In other news, Jeremy Dion, a missionary intern from Bob Jones University
arrived last week. He will be spending two months with us and will be
assisting in both the physical side of the ministry (mechanics, building,
etc.) and the preaching and music ministries. We also received word that
Elizabeth Ellinghausen has been accepted as a short term teacher for the
Christian school. We are praying that she will get her visa approved and
support gathered in time to join us for the new school year in September.
The 2008-2009 school year officially finished Friday and we are having a
party and closing program today. Then Tiffany will be going for home about
six weeks for her sister's wedding. She plans to return in early August to
prepare for the next school year.
Thank you so much for your prayers for all the various ministries here. I
know they make a tremondous difference!
Friday, May 22, 2009
hours (leaving 8:30 am Wednesday and returning 9pm Friday), but it was
packed full. We were able to hold 3 Bible clubs and 5 preaching services. We
weren't able to go to all the places that we had hoped, but we were able to
give the gospel to numbers of people both through preaching and tracts. 3 of
the services were outside in the center of a village and 2 were in house
mans (sort of a community center/guest house). There were anywhere from 20
to 75 people present at anyone service. The Bible clubs ranged from around
20 to around 50 kids. It took about 7 hours to get there and about 9 to hike
back. (I think I was more tired on the way back:) It is basically 3500 feet
down to the river, than another 3500-4000 feet back up the other side. All
the villages here are built on top of mountain ridges. The nationals can
make the whole trip there and back in one day. (Yet another reason to train
the nationals to reach their own people:-)
It is an interesting thing. Somehow I think that we Americans have a mental
picture of third world countries that they are all pagans and that the
gospel will be completely new to them. But I am finding that is really not
the case. In most cases, they are just like people you try to witness to in
America. They go to church and believe in God, so they think that they are
all right. A good case in point is a lady named Rose that I spoke to on
Thursday morning. It was after one of the preaching services, so I asked her
if she was familiar with what had been preached and what she thought about
what she had heard. She said something like, Oh yes, I go to church. I asked
where she went to church and she said the Seventh Day Adventist church (a
group that believes you need to keep the Old Testament law, worships on
Saturday, doesn't eat pork, etc.). Knowing all this, I asked her what she
thought a person had to do to have eternal life. She said that they needed
to believe in Jesus as their Savior. I then asked if a person did that but
didn't worship on Saturday and live a good life would they still have
eternal life. She said definitely not. I then tried to explain to her that
she wasn't really trusting in Jesus to save her. She was trusting in Jesus
plus her good works, and that wasn't really trust at all. We were
interrupted then, but I walked away thinking how typical she is of the
people here. They are very appreciative of us and of our efforts to give
them gospel, they will listen attentively to preaching, but only the
illumination of the Holy Spirit will show them their true needs. Otherwise
they will continue to complacently think that they are doing okay because
they live a pretty good life. Please pray that the Holy Spirit will continue
to use the Word given in spoken and written form to bear fruit in the hearts
of the people of Elimbari.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
preparing for the upcoming mission trip, so I thought I'd give you a few
more details about that. There are 3 men going and 3-4 ladies, including me.
Basically, it breaks down to two preachers, a song leader, two-three
children's teachers, and one children's song leader. We plan to leave
Wednesday morning and hike to Elimbari, reaching the first area around
2-3pm. The ladies will then hold a children's Bible club. That evening we
will hold a service in the haus man (sort of the neighborhood community
center). We will sing a special as a group, one of us will give a testimony,
and one of the guys will preach. We will sleep in the haus man that night,
then leave around 8am for the next area. We will hold a service there with
the children being dismissed to a Bible club midway through the song
service. Then, we will hold a service/Bible club in the market of another
area over the noon hour and another in the afternoon. That evening
(Thursday) we are hoping to hold a service at a high school. Many of the
students live at the school and so will be there in the evening. We may also
hold a simultaneous or later service at another haus man. We will sleep at
the haus man on Thursday night, then go to another area early Friday morning
and hold a service/Bible club. Then we hope head to head home and get back
sometime Friday evening. If all goes as planned, we will have six preaching
services and five Bible clubs during the trip. We are praying that the Lord
would bless with a harvest of souls for His glory. If we do see a number of
people come to the Lord, we hope to send one of our preacher boys back every
week or two to disciple them. Please pray with us that the Lord will be at
work in the hearts of the people, bringing them to the services, giving them
a clear understanding of the gospel, and bringing them to the point of
convincement of the truth.
Monday, May 11, 2009
have been telling a missionary story to the students at our Christian school
every Tuesday. Last Tuesday was the last week of the particular story, so I
presented the Gospel very clearly. Then I invited anyone that had not yet
made that decision to talk to me or Tiffany (the other teacher) at break or
after school. I had really been praying that the Lord would work in hearts,
so I was thrilled but not surprised when one of the school girls came to me
later that day. They are all rather shy with us, so that took a lot of
courage for her to come talk to me about it. What a joy to go through the
gospel again with her in Pidgin. (I had spoken in English earlier as that is
supposed to be the national language and therefore used for education.) She
prayed a sweet prayer, giving herself to the Lord for whatever He would have
her to do. Please pray for Sanange's continued growth in the Lord.
It looks like a group from the church here will be taking a mission trip
next week to another village in our province, called Elimbari. Lord willing,
we will leave Wednesday morning (May 20th), hike to the village (about 7-8
hours), then hold preaching services and children's Bible clubs in 6
different neighborhoods starting Wednesdsay evening and continuing through
Friday. Then we hope to return home Friday afternoon/evening. Please pray
that the Lord will be working now in the hearts of the people in that
village and also that He will be preparing the hearts of our people who will
be ministering during the trip.
Sunday, May 3, 2009
group for clinic on Monday and Friday, but no one at all on Wednesday. We
were joking that I had cured the whole village, so there wasn't anyone to
come:-) Seriously though, some of the national believers say that everyone
is talking about the good medicine at the clinic. We are praying that when
they come for medicine for their bodies, the Lord will do a work in their
souls as well.
In recent days, we have several people acknowledge their need for salvation,
but they are unwilling to make a decision for one reason or another. Please
pray for Kelly, a middle-aged man in charge of the local government school,
and July, a teenage girl who cannot read or write. They are opposites in
many ways, but they both need to turn to the Lord in saving faith. Only the
Holy Spirit can accomplish in that their hearts. Please ask Him to do that
work which He came into the world to do (John 16:8).
Friday, April 24, 2009
afternoon (we meet at 4:15pm), they announced that it looked like there was
going to be a landslide and everyone living in our area should go home
quickly and not linger on the road. Apparently, a good bit of ground had
already broken loose from the mountain where our Christian school is
located, but the ground had come to a stop about halfway down the mountain.
Everyone expected it to come down the rest of the way at any time. We came
home without incident, but that night we had heavy rain that apparently
caused a landslide, or maybe mudslide would describe it better. More ground
came down both Thursday and Friday nights as the rain continued.
I first saw the results on Friday evening on the way to a church outreach
fellowship. There was a large mound of mud about 4-5 feet high, stretching
across the road for probably 20 feet. When I tried to cross it to continue
on my way, I sank in over my ankles in places. Right through the middle of
the mudslide was a small water that starts at the top of the mountain, goes
across the road and continues down the mountain. Apparently, this water has
been steadily weakening the ground, and it finally all came down. Besides
being across the road, the mudslide is also down the mountain, and the force
of it knocked over the fence of the garden of one of our church members.
I crossed it again on my way home from church prayer meeting this morning
(Saturday). There was more mud even than last night, but there were a number
of people out using shovels and their hands to attempt to dig a path through
it. Pretty crazy! Thankfully, no one has been hurt and there has been only
minor property damage (unless you count my very muddy legs and shoes:-)
The funny thing about it is that just the week in the missionary story I am
telling the school kids, there was a big landslide and a woman was killed.
Amazing how true the missionary stories can be to real life when you
actually live on the mission field:-)
Thanks so much for your continued prayers for our physical safety as we live
in this never boring land.
Monday, April 20, 2009
school went remarkably well. Much better than we expected, considering that
we basically have one teacher teaching 3 different grades simultaneously.
Please continue praying that the Lord will send more teachers in time for
next school year.
The missionary clan has been struggling somewhat with sickness this week.
Our short term teacher had a combination respiratory and stomach bug, and
others are struggling with respiratory infections as well. The Lord has been
abundantly faithful though, and all the ministries have continued as
I was able to start language lessons this past week. I can already speak
Pidgin, the trade language for Papua New Guinea, but each village has their
own language as well. The language of Kiari is called Siar. It is not
written down, so it is a bit challenging to learn. It is important though,
because many people either do not speak Pidgin or do not speak it well
enough to communicate about either medical or spiritual concepts. A good
grasp of this language would definitely increase my effectiveness in this
ministry. I am meeting weekly with Megan, a 16 year old girl in our church.
She has been through 6th grade in school, which means that she can read and
write well and has a basic understanding of English. This is helpful because
Pidgin has a small vocabulary and sometimes it is easier to translate
directly from English to Siar rather than using Pidgin at all. Please pray
that my language lessons will be profitable and that I will find the time
each week to review what I have learned and prepare for the next lesson.
Thank you once again for your part in this ministry. Your prayers make all
Monday, April 13, 2009
Monday, April 6, 2009
Monday, March 30, 2009
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Kundiawa. The road was reported to be open, so we decided to attempt the
trip. We left a little before 3am. About a half hour into the trip, we
arrived at the village of Dirma. We spent 3 hours there trying to make it up
a very muddy hill. When I say muddy, I mean mud so deep that you sink in
past your ankles when you walk in it. We had mud chains on the truck, but it
eventually took about 30 guys pulling on a rope attached to the front of the
truck to get us up the hill. (Men just come out of the village to help and
have a great time doing it. We gave the leader of the group 20 Kina [about
$7] to divide among those who helped. He gave us back 10 Kina, saying that
was too much!) In the process, of getting up the hill, one of our CV joints
broke. We continued on our way for another hour or so, then another CV joint
broke on the truck. I'm not a mechanic, but apparently the CV joint has
something to do with providing power to the front wheels when they are being
turned. With both of these broken, there was no way we would make it to
town, so we turned around and limped home. After getting pulled up a few
other steep and muddy places, we arrived home around noon. So much for our
trip to Kundiawa:-)
Lord willing, I will be heading back to Kiari on Tuesday. Erick and Kara
Duprey, the short termers who opened the clinic for me, are coming here to
Aibai for a week. They are praying for the Lord's direction for their future
ministry and want to see the ministry here. They left Kiari this morning
(Monday) with a couple of our church guys for carriers. They will sleep
tonight at a national pastor's home, then come the rest of the way on
Tuesday. I will meet them Tuesday at a river about 2 hours walk from Aibai.
I will then go with the carriers back to the national pastor's home for the
night, while one of the missionaries here drives Erick and Kara up to Aibai.
Wednesday morning I and the carriers will walk the rest of the way back to
Kiari.That's the plan at least:-)
I have enjoyed my time here and learned lots, but I'm looking forward to
getting back to Kiari. Thanks so much for your prayers.