Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Highlights Part 2

Some other stuff happened unrelated to building, but just as significant. Some people from outside villages came to visit. This guy came from a place called Yano. They have been asking for missionaries for 20 years. When we first visited Hewa, a man from this village came in to beg us to come to his village instead. He said his grandfather died asking for missionaries, his dad died asking for missionaries and he is old now and afraid that he will die asking for missionaries as well. Our plan is to disciple the believers in our village and then one day go with them to reach the people in Yano.

This guy, Mas, found out about that plan. He came to the village to help my husband, and told him it was because he knew that he was going to one day bring God's talk to his village. He was actually sick with two boils and in a lot of pain, but he worked very hard the whole two weeks.

Some other people came into the village as well. They are from the original village where our coworkers entered and presented the Gospel. There were some people there that listened and believed, but there were some who didn't. There were some people that were angry, controlling, and violent, and eventually made it unsafe for the missionaries to be in there, so they moved into another village. And some of those people came to visit. And started rumors that when John Michael left he was not coming back. This was totally untrue of course, and my husband cleared it up as soon as possible.

But the people of our village got angry. They told them to stop trying to cause trouble, and leave if that is all they were going to do. Mas (first picture) told them that all the Hewa people in all the different villages would have the gospel by now if they hadn't forced the missionaries out the first time.

The village leaders stood up and stood their ground, which is something they were always afraid to do before.

But you see Mas lost his wife and children because they were marked and killed as witches. He knows that there is hope. He has seen it in the believers in this village who are changing. Who are no longer in darkness. Who don't fear spirits or witches. Who can love each other enough to stand up to people who only want to cause fights and dissension. And he wants that for himself and his village as well. So much that he was sick when he came to help my husband and worked tirelessly until it was time for the guys to leave. He wants the Gospel. He wants Good News.

Its stories like these and experiences like this that make me think that if no one were to go to these people that even the rocks would cry out. The people are that ready.  I mean I know that would be easier. The rocks wouldn't have to build houses or learn different languages. But God doesn't love the rocks. He didn't breathe His breath of life into the them. He loves me, though, and He wants me and my family to experience real life. Abundant life. Life that is a small foggy glimpse into the real true life that is His Kingdom. Thank you, Jesus, for loving me enough, to allow me to be a part of Your Kingdom here on earth.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Highlights Part 1

3N1 came back with so many pictures and stories that I am having a hard time deciding which ones to use and tell you about here. So I will do this in two parts to make sure I get it all in. This one will be mostly pictures and their explanations. Here goes...

Remember the purpose of the trip was to cut down trees and then cut them into lumber for the building of our house. Here are the guys that went in to help us, doing just that.

This tree fell down the side of a mountain. The guys had a hard time trying to work with it on a slant. Notice the locals had no such trouble.

Just getting to the trees (that are usable for house building) everyday was quite a chore.

This is the Hewa line of swimwear. This has nothing to do with the slabbing, sorry, just thought it was cute.

My coworker, Susan, prepared meals for the village guys who helped. She also cooked for the missionaries who came in to help too. I owe her my life now.

This is where my house is going. It is only partially cleared. 3N1 cleared the rest...

And now it looks like this! Yay! The sticks mark out the area for the house. It looks tiny to us, but the people said it looked huge.

Seriously, these guys were amazing! I cannot thank them enough for all the hard work they did, so that we could have a place to call home in the jungle!

They got a little dirty in the process.

These guys are also key in EVERYTHING we do. One is the airplane pilot, and one is the helicopter pilot. It takes both to get us into the tribe. That is what working with one of the most remote people groups in the world is all about!

By the end of the trip, 3N1's three quarter thumb was healed enough for him to use the saws! Thank you Jesus!

This is our septic hole. It is a lot of work digging through all those rocks! A guy and his sons from a neighboring village came in to help John Michael. He told John Michael that he knew that he was eventually going to help bring God's talk to his village too, so he wanted to come help.

And finally this is the reason for all the time, money, and hard work put into this trip. The fellowship and teaching of the believers! Also know as church.

Monday, August 13, 2012

When My Husband is Gone

When my husband goes away on trips into the jungle, I look forward to the first couple of days of him being gone. That sounds bad, I know, but we have the kind of life and the kind of job that has us together ALL.THE.TIME. It is one of things I love most about missionary life. But every now and then I enjoy a little alone time (please notice the emphasis on little).

So, for the last three days I have enjoyed not wearing make-up, and not trying in vain to look attractive in a culture where only mumus are appropriate. I have enjoyed not spending 10 minutes of everyday trying to figure out how to make a ponytail look cute (please notice the emphasis on everyday)! I have enjoyed wearing granny panties, not shaving, and not holding my stomach in so I don't look pregnant under my mumu.

I have also enjoyed watching chick flicks at night after the kids go to bed without someone asking, "Why are the pants magic? Did they get some sort of chemical spilled on them? Or was the jean factory built on some sort of meteor crash site?" " Wait. If they are magic why do the girls have to mail them to each other? Why don't they fly or teleport or something? "So what are their powers, exactly?" "What? their only power is that they fit four different girls?" "I'm sure they fit lots of different girls, especially if they are sisters!" WHAT? The girls are not sisters?!" "I don't get this movie. I am going downstairs."

So yeah. For the last three days, I have been comfortable. But now I am getting to the point where I really miss my husband too much to care. I am now willing to shave, and put on make-up and wear ridiculously uncomfortable underwear. Come home, please. Come home!

But really, as much as I want him to come home, I know that what I really want deep down is for him to stay there and get as much work done as possible so that the girls and I can join him soon. And I am reminded in the note he left me in my Bible to find after he's left that it is also what God wants for our family...

"I really hate being away from you and the girls, but I am so excited to build our house so we can start what God has given us to do together."

Love sigh. Not much hotter than a man who loves Jesus. And the fact that he is building our house from scratch with his own two hands (minus one quarter of a thumb) isn't hurting him either.

Another love sigh. Build, baby, build. Then come home to me. I promise to fix my ponytail just for you!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Is it worth it?

My husband and the guys who volunteered to start cutting the wood we need to build our house made it into the tribe safely on Friday. There was a brief scare with a broken down plane two days before they were supposed to leave, but the plane was fixed and everything went smoothly from there.

However, things seem to be going not-so-smoothly in the bush. The guys are working really hard to just cut the trees down that will become our house, and have yet to start actually slabbing it into lumber. But that is the way things go when you build a house in one of the most remote places in the world. I mean, where is Home Depot when you need it?

Anyway, so I have been talking to him through email and through short wave radio. Yesterday, when I listened to see if he would come on, my new coworker, Susan, said that they have to fly a man out of our village into another village...

Because he had a tooth infection.

And would probably die.

Yeah. Die. She gave him a course of antibiotics before she left to go on break, but as soon as she was gone, he stopped taking them. He now has gangrene, and probably will not make it. It is very sad, frustrating, and heartbreaking.

What is even more frustrating and heartbreaking is that he had to be flown out because he is not from our village and if he died there someone would accuse one of the teen girls in our village of being a witch.

Then they would kill her.

On my first trip into Hewa Susan pointed out a skinny young girl in a red necklace and told me that one day, she would be marked as a witch because her mother was marked as a witch. Thankfully, they helped her mother escape to another village. I haven't been about to stop thinking, "will she be as lucky?"

All I could think about when I heard this story, was the skinny girl with the red necklace. And although, my heart goes out to this man who will die because of a tooth, my heart is relieved knowing that this precious girl is saved...for now.

One of the biggest challenges with this work is the Hewa people are so big and so spread out that reaching all of them with the truth of the Gospel will be very difficult. Most of the people who live in our village are believers and are done with witch killings, but all the villages surrounding are still ruled by darkness. For them, someone has to pay for every sickness... someone has to die for every death.

Is it ever going to change? Are we going to make any difference at all? Are these guys out in the middle of no where busting their rear ends for nothing? Even if we disciple these believers, so that they can reach the neighboring villages, what about the villages even further away that our people cannot even communicate with? They are still called "Hewa" but the dialects are so different, they might as well be foreign. And even if those villages get reached what about the neighboring tribes? Tribes that are known to be dangerous and violent, and missionaries are advised to not to go there. Will it ever end? Will these people ever not live in fear?

The truth is probably, no. They will always live in fear of death of the body. If not by murder, by disease, accident, hunger...who knows.

But the truth is also hopefully, yes. They will no longer have to live in fear of the second death. Death of the soul which is separation from God. They can have hope through the precious blood of a Savior who loves them. Hope that to be absent from the body is to be present with the One who created them and knows them by name.

But isn't this the truth for us all? For those who feel safe and secure in America, that is really only a false sense of security. If you really think about it, don't you fear things everyday just as these people do? Don't you fear drunk drivers, and cancer, and terrorists? Don't you fear just walking into a movie theater now?

The truth is I cannot create for them a perfect life. I cannot give them material wealth or earthly security. And I cannot even give them eternal security. That is up to God our Father.

But what I can give them is myself. I can offer love and friendship and sisterhood. I can be there to walk, eat, garden, talk, and parent alongside them. I can cry and laugh with them, and show them love that does not come from my wicked, sinful self, but love that comes from a Father who loved me first. And whose Spirit fills me with that very same love.

I can spend my life with this little girl and hope that one day she knows that no matter what her neighbors call her... her Father calls her His.  And no matter what they do to her body...her Father will treasure her soul forever.

No matter what the outcome, I can be obedient to Him who gave me the honor and privilege of being involved in His kingdom. And that is definitely worth it.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Right now we are trying to organize the process of getting our house built. I know from many friends' experiences that house building in the US is very stressful.

Here it is stressful times a million. Times trying to disarm a ticking time bomb with 30 seconds before detonation.

First, my husband has to go in and "slab" lumber. That means that he flies in on a Cessna 206 airplane with some other guys that you owe your life to for leaving their homes, families, and a small degree of civilization to come help you for two weeks. Then, you land on an airstrip in the middle of nowhere to meet a helicopter to take you even further in the middle of nowhere. Then you cut down a tree. Then you cut that tree into nice pieces of lumber that will soon be your house.

Our friend Tony slabbing wood in the middle of the jungle.

Next you have to fly in a whole other group of guys who are willing to help you actually put those pieces of slabbed lumber together to form a house. And also, fly in all the other stuff you need for your house that you can't make out of stuff found in the jungle. Like a toilet...and a water tank so you can collect rain water or stream water in order to flush said toilet. 

It sounds complicated. But it sounds even more complicated when I tell you that NTMA has only 1 helicopter. And (right now, anyway) one helicopter pilot. So, you have to factor in the helicopter's schedule. It is currently busy for the entire month of September. And the helicopter pilot's schedule. He also flies missionaries around in the Cessna 206, and has a family. So all of these things have to come together to make this thing work. Oh, and then there is weather. There has to be good weather. And if there is too much bad weather then you miss your chance entirely and have to wait until October to even start chopping down trees that will eventually become your house.

We plan to bring another team in, in October when the other helicopter pilot comes back to PNG for one month. You see he is now in the US because his wife is going to have a baby. But they agreed that he could come back for October to help families move in to helicopter only locations (that's right- we are not the only ones crazy enough to do this...there are more! not many more...but some more). This family is pretty amazing! That is serious sacrifice, people! Anyway, this is a perfect opportunity to actually build and move into our house because this pilot can stay in the tribe with us. Meaning that we only pay the $3,000 positioning fee for the helicopter once! During that time he can shuttle our stuff from our container (like our freezer, stove, washer, batteries, etc.) into our house. So, if we do not get the wood slabbed this month, we will be set back a lot of time and a lot of money.

So needless to say... we are a little stressed right now. On Friday, 3N1 and a group of guys will fly into the village to start the slabbing process. Please pray for good weather and for safety (especially considering our track record as of late).

We would really like to live and minister among the Hewa people...soon. Really soon. Like yesterday. And we really would like to have a house. It would make life and ministry a lot easier on us.

You can help us with that by praying for all these pieces to fall into place. Because if it actually will be a miracle.

Speaking of miracles. Our friends, The Chens...remember them? All of Gail's tests came back with great news that the lump she found was not cancer! So they are returning to Biem island in a couple weeks to finish teaching the Biem people God's message of redemption for the first time ever in their language. That is a true miracle, that I know a lot of you were praying over. Isn't awesome to be a part of a miracle???

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

First World Problems

Right now, we live in a town and are still connected to the rest of the world through the internet. It is sort of strange in a way to learn of all the news and events going on in my home country and culture, but have to process them here in this new and very different culture. It gives me a weird perspective.

So my facebook wall this week is blown up by Chick-fil-a. Which I immediately resent because I would really love to eat some Chick-fil-a and I have to watch everyone else doing it. But I decided to read all about what the big deal is, and I get it. Chick-fil-a is attacked because the founder happens to be a Christian and happens to see marriage from a Biblical worldview. Chick-fil-a never mistreated a gay person or even got involved politically or financially in the gay marriage debate. Basically they were attacked for no reason. That is pretty crappy.

Then you have Christians saying that all this support of Chick-fil-a isn't really doing anything. It isn't helping any causes or bringing the Gospel to anyone. It is just perpetuating more division. I get that too. These same people are astonished at how many people are rallying behind Chick-fil-a when you can't get this many people to rally for bigger issues or real problems. To that I say, "Really? It surprises you that a lot of people will "stand up" for what they believe in when all they have to do is sacrifice an hour in their air conditioned cars in the drive through. Or stand in line at a fast food restaurant that serves delicious food with excellent service?"

It is easy to take action when that action causes very little sacrifice and in the end benefits you as well.

I am not judging or condemning. I am just processing. I would totally support Chick-fil-a. When I lived in America I patroned their establishment quite frequently because of their great food and excellent service. I was a mom by myself while my husband was working, carrying an infant in a car seat, holding the hand of my two year old, and constantly calling for my 4 year old to stay right beside me. And a nice employee of Chick-fil-a would always carry my food to my table, help me get my kids in their seats and then bring them balloons! And when I offered tips, they always said, "No, it was my pleasure."

Um, are you kidding me? It was your pleasure? It was not even my pleasure and they are my kids! That is customer service and that is one of the many reasons why everyone should go to Chick-fil-a. Even if you are a gay couple with adopted kids. Seriously, go to Chick-fil-a! They will carry your food to your table for you and give your kids balloons!

That is the American filter processing this event. The new filter I have- the one that sees people dig through my garbage and watches as kids die of curable diseases processes it a little differently. It makes me realize how unfair the world is. That some people are mad because of what some guy thinks, so they are going to stop spending their money to eat his chicken nuggets and go to the restaurant right next door to buy someone else's chicken nuggets.  And here a chicken nugget is what you get when a guy kills one chicken to feed an entire village. For a special occasion. You can't just eat valuable chickens for no reason.

It just opens my eyes to First World Problems.  These are "problems" to us wealthy westerners, but seem ridiculous to the outside world. I recently read another blog about first world problems and the writers had people write in their very own problems to contribute. My favorite was, "The Starbucks drive thru is too small for my Yukon XL to fit through so I have to walk into the store." Funny. 

The weird thing is that I STILL have first world problems while living in a third world country. It is just way more in my face and convicting, but as much as I have changed my lifestyle to become a missionary to some of the most remote people in the world, I still live a cushy nerf life compared to my neighbors. You can take the girl out of the developed world, but you cannot take the developed world out of the girl.

Anyway, I thought I would share some of my personal first world problems here juxtaposed to my neighbors problems, just so you would know for sure that I am not judging or preaching on this post...again, just processing.

My First World Problems:

I have to wash way too many dishes, and do not have a dishwasher. My neighbors only have one pot, one spoon, and possibly one plate. 

I have to cook everything from scratch. For me that means starting with opening a bag of flour. My neighbors have to plant, grow, harvest and then cook everything from scratch.

Food here is really expensive, so I cannot afford *some* luxuries. Food here is expensive, so my neighbors cannot afford any of it. At all. 

The rats ate holes in my packages sent from America. Now, I don't get to eat that tasty chocolate that my best friend sent me. Rats ate chunks out of my neighbors feet last night when they were sleeping. Their feet are so calloused from not having shoes that they didn't even wake up. 

When I move into the tribe, if my kid gets really sick, I have to pay $5,000 to fly her out to a doctor. If my neighbor's kid gets sick, she dies.

Like I said, I have no idea what to do with all this most of the time. I have no idea why America is so rich and most of the rest of the world so poor. I have no idea why even though I live a meager minimalist lifestyle compared to most of my American friends, I still look like Donald Trump to my Papua New Guinea friends.

I know my wealth gets in the way of my ministry sometimes, but everyone tells me its ok, and that we are sacrificing enough. That we need a certain standard of living to make it out here. To be effective in ministry. To keep us from "burning out" so we don't go home. But is it true? Or is it just an excuse?

I have no idea. And I probably never will.

But at least we are recognizing the ridiculousness of some of our "problems" so I guess that is a step in the right direction.

So, what are your First World Problems?