Monday, October 26, 2009

Praise to the Lord!

We now have even more things to praise the Lord about. First, on Sunday morning, a husband and wife both made professions of faith. Their names are Tu (the man) and Wari (the lady). Wari is pregnant and has been coming regularly to the prenatal clinic and listening intently to the devotional at that time. They have also been coming to church for several weeks. It was a real blessing to see them come forward at the invitation. Please pray for their growth and discipleship.
Also on Sunday, Ben Ritschards, the 17 year-old son of GFA missionaries in Goroka, developed appendicitis. They initially hoped to fly him to Australia for surgery but ran into a lot of red tape. With his urgent need for surgery, they instead flew him to a hospital here in country that has a number of foreign doctors. He had surgery on Sunday evening and was up walking a bit Monday morning. Please pray for a complication free recovery for him.
Yesterday, Monday, Dale Crawford arrived in Kiari via helicopter. He is one of the directors of GFA and has come for a couple of weeks to operate the bulldozer on the airstrip. His willingness to come and safe arrival are a real blessing. Please pray for him as the work on the airstrip starts today (Tuesday).
Last evening, we had a special time of praise and fellowship for the many things that the Lord has done. The church people wanted to do this just to rejoice over the goodness of the Lord. The people cooked a meal in the ground that we all shared, then we had a testimony service. One man read a prayer request list from 1998. It was really neat to see the requests that the Lord has answered -- a bulldozer, a Christian school, a clinic, and even an airstrip (soon to become a reality). At the bottom of the list was names of people that they were praying would be saved. Some of those very people were present in the service and are now faithful Christians, raising their families for the Lord. What a blessing!
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name. (Psalm 103:1).

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

School Heavies

The word heavy is a very versatile Pidgin word (although it's spelled hevi in that language). It refers to just about any difficulty you can encounter from illness to a car breakdown to a broken relationship. As such, it's a good word to describe the situation with our Christian school at the moment.
As I think I mentioned a few weeks ago, we had to expel some students for their conduct over the summer months. One of the student's parents has taken it very hard and is causing numerous difficulties. First, he is trying to say that we don't actually own the land on which the school is built. He says that when a previous missionary bought the land, he actually bought a different plot of land and paid a different individual. (Land ownership is always a challenge to figure out here.) When this man brought the problem to the missionary's attention, the missionary suggested that he and this other man work it out. The two land owners worked out a deal that when we purchased the land for the airstrip, we would pay the owner of the school land (who just happens to be the upset dad's father) for the purchase of the land owned by the man who was originally paid for the school land. (If you follow all that, you deserve a prize.) At any rate, the man who was originally paid has since died, and his son either didn't know about the deal or didn't want to mention it, so we paid him for his airstrip land, not this other family. So the first "heavy" of this student's father is that he wants to be paid for the school land.
His second "heavy" is that he wants 800 kina compensation from us for expelling his son from school. 800 kina would be around $300 and "compensation" is the PNG equivalent of suing for "pain and suffering." Of course, we cannot pay him as it would set a terrible precedent and defeat the purpose of the punishment altogether. Unfortunately, this man claims to be a believer which makes his behavior all the more difficult.
Until this situation is worked out (the timing of which is anyone's guess), we will be holding school at the duplex where Tiffany and I live. We have converted both of our living/dining room areas into school rooms. My house has 3 2-person desk and Tiffany's (as the main classroom) has 6. It gives a whole new meaning to the term "home school."
Please pray that school will go well (starting October 19th) and that the students will continue to learn well despite the new surroundings.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Broken Bones

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

Land Purchase

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.