Friday, April 24, 2015

The Rat Pee Diet

Yes, we are alive in the tribe. Our email hasn’t worked since we got here, so there has been no way for me to blog or write any of you back. We can receive email, and we truly appreciate everyone who has written us to check in, and we have sent multiple responses to all of you telling you how wonderful you are and how much we love you! But…you just haven’t received them yet. You may never receive them- who knows. They may have been eaten by the invisible monster that plucks radio waves out of the sky and devours our data for breakfast.

 

I am sending this from my co-workers email address that is currently- as I am typing this- working.

 

Anyway, so we made it in just fine. The flight in was good and I was only slightly terrified and not in full-blown panic attack mode, so that was a huge answer to prayer for all who were praying. Thank you!!!

 

We came back in to a wonderfully clean house thanks to my coworkers and a lot of broken stuff thanks to the jungle. Our email, our radio, our generator, and then not soon after arrival, our front door knob (we were actually stuck in our house for a while). Also pigs and humans have been using the spring that brings water to our house as a toilet. So life has been interesting to say the least. Actually, it has just been pretty typical tribal life. I am covered in bug bites and have already had one skin infection.  So yeah…right back where we left off. We were definitely annoyed at all this stuff but not surprised. The jungle is just welcoming us back with an embrace in its giant arms that don’t know their own strength. It tells us it loves us to death and then proceeds to slowly crush the life out of us. Sometimes I call it Lenny as a term of endearment and sometimes I imagine shooting it in the back of the head.

 

But the one good thing that happened with all this negative is that I discovered an amazing new diet. When I was in the U.S. (um that was a month ago, people. ONE MONTH AGO I WAS IN AMERICA) and trying to lose all the weight I gained from large Sonic Dr. Peppers, I saw all kinds of ideas for diets and weight loss. Most were ineffective, but this one works I promise! So feel free to make up your own picture since I can’t add one over email and pin it all you like. Are you ready to get skinny?  Ok Here goes:

 

You leave your house for a long period of time, and make sure there is a way for rats to get in.

 

Next, make sure they have access to your oven. They will live in it for a while like it’s Barbie’s dream house and pee all over it.

 

Finally, move back into your house and every time you cook a delicious and fattening meal for your family you will have stood over that oven for an hour smelling rat pee and lose your appetite. You won’t be able to even look at the food you cooked, much less eat it. It works wonders!!! I would add before and after pictures, but once again…I can’t do that over email.

 

There you go. A fast and easy way to loose weight with no exercise involved! You’re welcome!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Second Term Me

We made it!!

Almost.

We have been on six planes and seven airports and made it all the way to Goroka, PNG.

Our six hour layover in LAX that ended at 2 am our time.

Getting ready to board our 6th plane in 5 days.
It was a loooonnnnngggg but very good trip. We even stopped in Australia to pet kangaroos and hold koala bears.



We spent a couple days buying supplies and reconnecting with missionary friends here on the base. We also spent some time reconnecting with a few enemies.

Ants
Everything was going really well. The flights were smooth with no delays, we got all our luggage, we even got an extra flight to bring in food supplies so we would have to starve our first 3 weeks in the tribe. And on that flight, a family with two women and five children that have been marked as witches and on the run for years, were safely evacuated to another tribe.

Then April 1st. Came and we just had to have our own little April Fools joke from Papua New Guinea herself. The whole family was loaded up and buckled in the little mission plane, and just as the pilot was climbing in, our flight coordinator came out to tell us that our co-oworker radioed in saying that our village was completely clouded over and we couldn't come in.



So we unloaded and waited for a better report.

It never came. From 6:45am to 12pm we waited. The weather only got worse in Hewa. It started raining and never stopped. So went back to the guesthouse to try again the next day. (Today. In just a few short hours after I post this)

Yes, we were a little disappointed, but very thankful that we got the news BEFORE we got in the air. And I have to say, that this is a great example of what a furlough can do for a person.

First term me would have been all upset and stressed out about it, but second term me just laughed felt like PNG was just welcoming us back saying, "I haven't changed at all while you were gone."

First term me would have gone down to tribal supply and pulled some clean clothes out of storage grumbling the whole time, but second term me just dug the dirty clothes from the previous day out of the bag we were carrying and made everyone put those back on. (All the girls- including me- only had one skirt and those had to be worn into Hewa, so I couldn't risk someone spilling a huge cup of milk or something on them- sorry to everyone here for our smell yesterday). 

First term me would have thought about all the things that could go wrong the next day if we didn't fly in and what we could do about it, but second term me was just really glad that everything was already done and now I am just "forced" to sit here with nothing to do. (please imagine my sheepish grin here. I don't take selfies because I can't figure out how NOT to have a double chin in them, so you have to use your imagination.)

Also, first term me would have individually crushed everyone of those ants with my fingers because it's personal.  But second term me just took a picture and let them do their thing.

So, there you go. A little break from the crazy can do a person A LOT of good.

We're going to try to fly into the tribe again today, and if email is working, hopefully my next post will come to you FROM HEWA!!!

Monday, March 16, 2015

T-Shirts and Goodbyes

We are saying lots of goodbyes (yet again) and it is not fun. We leave in exactly one week to go back to PNG and while I am excited to go back- I am not excited to leave the people I love.

Many people have asked me if it is harder or easier to go this time and the answer is: Yes.

Is is harder to leave. But easier to go back. I know that makes no sense, but it's the truth.

It is much harder to leave my family after going three years without seeing them and only getting a few shorts months of hugs, and conversations, and smiles, and meals, and laughter before we leave for another three years. It is like giving one bite of prime cut steak to a starving person. It is perfect and heavenly, but simply not enough. They need more...I need more.

However, it is easier to go to PNG this time. We aren't traveling into the unknown. We are going home. Our house is there, our job is there, and our friends are there. Yes! We are going back to friends instead of total strangers- that makes a HUGE difference!

So now that you have the answer to that question, I have a question for you...

Who wants a t-shirt???

Look at my handsome husband!! He was not too thrilled about being my model as you can tell, but I think he could switch careers if he really needed to, don't you?



I know many of you have followed and prayed for our witch situation, so what could be better for a shirt that supports Hewa ministry?? I really wanted it to say "I love Innocent women and children who are wrongly accused of being possessed by evil spirits and causing sickness and death, and are therefore murdered" but that wouldn't fit on a t-shirt so this is what you got.

The selling of this t-shirt has two main purposes. I will list them below:

1. To make money to maintain our airstrip which we use to evacuate those accused women and children and get them to a safe location.
2. To raise awareness. When someone reads this shirt, and gives you that squinty-eyed head tilt then you can tell them all about the Hewa witch situation and help shed some light on a very dark practice. Hopefully, the more people that know about this tragedy the more people will fight to stop it.

So, if you would like one you can send $15 via paypal to john_george@ntm.org with the size you want and your address and we will ship it to you (shipping is included in that price unless you order a ton of shirts. A ton is very heavy and therefore very expensive to ship)Sorry, but we are no longer selling shirts. We will try to do this again on our next furlough. Thank you to everyone who bought one!!

The catch is that you have to do it QUICKLY because I am super lame and did this at the last minute and in case you missed it above- we leave in ONE WEEK. But it's worth it- I promise because my college friends Josh and Kelsey Dennis helped me get these done (Josh designed the whole thing) and they look AMAZING.


Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Rich Young Ruler


 Mark 10


As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.  You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.”
“Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”
 
The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”
 
As typical twenty first century Westerners, we love to focus on the "rich young ruler", his wealth, his refusal to let go of it, and what that means to us. But to the first century Jewish audience who witnessed this first hand, it had a much deeper meaning. 
 
It wasn't a serious lesson on the dangers of loving wealth. It was a theology shattering experience. A common belief at the time was that if you were wealthy, then you had found God's favor. You were blessed and almost certainly guaranteed a place in heaven. 
 
So when Jesus says that it is hard for the rich to enter the Kingdom, the disciples were "amazed" and even questioned "If it's not the rich who are blessed, then who are? If the rich can't be saved, then who can?"
 
Personally, I have a hard time understanding how this belief came to be in the first place. Sure there are some instances in the Bible where God blesses people physically, but He makes very clear that it doesn't always work like that. The book of Job for example is basically saying, "I'm God, and I allow what I allow. I created the Heavens and the Earth and I have understanding that you don't. Trust me when I give. Trust me when I take away." 
 
But, I guess they simply took a few verses and stories that they liked out of context and ran with it. (sound familiar??) 
 
Anyway, it doesn't really matter HOW or WHY.  It just matters that that is what they believed. And Jesus just rocked that belief. In the words of some of our PNG brothers and sisters, He "broke their heads open" or "changed their thinking". 
 
Earlier this week I read Hebrews 10. In verses 32-34 the author talks about the persecution and suffering of the early Jewish converts to Christianity. I didn't miss the fact that they had all their property taken. Once again, rocking this belief that God blesses the faithful financially.
 
I also didn't miss the fact that their Jewish persecutors were probably feeling validated as they held onto this belief. "See, God must not be happy with these 'Jesus' people. He is taking away everything they own. This must prove that we are right and they are wrong."
 
And I could be totally wrong, but I imagine those early Christians thinking something like this, "Why God? Why are you doing this thing that validates their unbelief? We still believe you, but don't you want them to as well?" 
 
I believe this because this is exactly what I thought in a similar situation.  "Why God? Why would you allow these deaths that "prove" to these people that their ancestral beliefs are true?"

Don't you want them to believe, God?
 
I am faced with this yet again, though, not with the tribal believers, but with some situations with my Western friends.  Plane and helicopter crashes when I have fought very hard this furlough to overcome my fear of flying.
 
Don't you want me to get back on a plane, God? Don't you want me to be able to continue to go to this place you have called me?
 
Inexplicable sickness and death that takes people off the field. 
Don't you want this work to be finished, God? There are already so few laborers, why are you taking away the ones who want to be here?

I desperately want God to prove Himself to the doubters. I want Him to prove Himself to the doubter in me.

But I was recently reminded through a sermon of my husband's that Jesus calls us to follow in His footsteps of suffering and death. Jesus calls us to follow in His footsteps of doing the things that don't make any sense to the outside world (sometimes they don't make any sense to the "inside" world of Christianity). He doesn't do things the way we do. He brings glory to Himself in ways that the world never would. 

He perfects us through trials and asks us to have joy in that. (James 1:2-3)

He brings beauty out of ashes, and turns mourning into dancing. (Isaiah 61:3 and Psalm 30:11)

He calls things that are not as though they are. (Romans 4:17)
 
And the strangest, most inexplicable, most wonderful of all...

He brings life from death. (the entire new testament)

So, though my flesh and my heart may fail in understanding, and even rebel in accepting. His Holy Spirit brings forth His Word in my soul. It bubbles over and covers all my unbelief like a healing balm. It "breaks my head open" and "changes my thinking."

James 1:3-4
 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

So let it grow.


Monday, February 16, 2015

Friends in (literal) Low Places

So we have a lot of friends in low places. Low, as in lower hemisphere. Papua New Guinea.

But we all come back to the Land of Abundance at some point for various reasons. And it is fun, but super weird when we can get together in cleanliness and comfort. Super weird, but super fun.

Our amazing friend, Layne, got married in California on Saturday and we were fortunate enough to be able to go. We wracked up a bunch of credit card points (buying things like plane tickets to and from PNG) over the last 4 years and decided to use them to see our friend on what was obvious to anyone lucky enough to witness this event, the happiest day of his life.

We just felt like we needed to be there for him. When you live the missionary life you are blessed to make deep connections and godly relationships, but those connections are usually for a brief period of time and then you find yourself separated by hundreds or even thousands of miles from those friend- many times for the rest of your lives. And when significant life events happen, you look around and realize all your friends are too global. 

Layne spent three years in Papua New Guinea serving other missionaries...serving us, and we just really wanted to be a part of something we knew he had been praying for, for a really long time.

Here are just a few pictures of Layne in Hewa. He was there so much doing multiple jobs for all of us that he even has a Hewa baby named after him....



Here is Layne setting up our solar/battery system. We would not have power without him!



Here he is covered in inches of sawdust from slabbing lumber in the middle of the jungle for our house.

This is actually for our co-workers house, but he was back again in the middle of the jungle, slabbing more lumbar.


Baby Layne, sitting in his Dad's lap along with my three.



And he was there for this moment. The moment when we were physically, emotionally, and financially spent. We had been in the jungle for 3 weeks trying to get our house up as fast as possible. Completely broke. Completely exhausted. And our two year old hurt her arm. We were looking at a $10,000 hurt arm. I actually think Layne took this picture.

(His witness to this event became even more significant to me later when we arrived at the medical clinic after our flight out, unwrapped her arm, and absolutely nothing was wrong with it. It was a horrifying relief. But, As Layne Is My Witness, the child was hurt.) *She was eventually diagnosed with nurse-maid's elbow.


So it was incredible to be a part of something so joyful together. Another significant and ubiquitous servant in Hewa is the third guy you see in this picture, Chad. Chad was there as much as Layne, and these two were a huge blessing to all of us. There are no words for how selfless and hard working they are (I am including that first handsome dude in this pic as well. Don't tell anyone, but he is my favorite. Wink wink)...

John Michael, Layne, and Chad

Yeah...these are the pics I have from the last time they were all three together...

Layne


John Michael

Chad

Oh the difference America makes! But I have to add a link to this video, just to show you that in spite of what is very hard and frustrating, they had great attitudes and a lot of fun...



On top of all that, we got to spend time with some other really great missionaries from PNG as well. It felt like a very strange, very clean, very dry, family reunion. In fact, I am pretty sure it was the first time any of them have seen me not covered in sweat.

But, by far the best moment was this one...seeing our dear friend and co-worker, the happiest he's ever been!


Congratulations, Layne and Jenna! Thanks for letting us be a part of your beautiful day!