Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Real Broken Arm

Day 1: Mae is running and playing with our coworkers' daughter, falls in our church area and lands on a big log we use for seating. We look at it and can tell that it is obviously broken.

Day 2: The helicopter and pilot are already in Hewa because our other coworkers are moving in and we are also bringing in a tractor that was donated to us by Friends in Action for our airstrip. Mae and I fly in the chopper to a neighboring village (the nearest airstrip). Next we get on a plane and go into another village where our friends were flying out to Goroka that same day. A pilot from Goroka comes to pick us all up and we fly in. Mae and I go directly to the clinic. She is x-rayed and gets a cast. We spend the night with some sweet friends who were willing to put us up for the night on very short notice.

Day 3: Mae and I fly to Wewak. We spend the night and get to go in the next morning with our coworkers who are moving in for the first time. Fellow missionaries here prepare a place for us to stay and make sure we have meals.

Day 4: (tomorrow) We plan on flying into the nearest village airstrip and the chopper pilot will come pick us up later that morning.

In case you weren't keeping track that is two helicopter flights, and 4 plane flights in 4 days. Sometimes I think all this flying around for medical stuff is just God trying to get me over my fear of flying. I think He is tired of hearing me scream in my heart like the disciples on the boat in the middle of the storm every time we take-off. Tomorrow I am going to do my best on those flights, so that maybe this little lesson can be over.

Seriously, though. I do sometimes wonder why in the world we are having so much medical drama, and I realized that it is just life. Kids get hurt all the time. Over half the ladies I know have had to have some sort of lump checked. And a surprising number of people we know have cut parts (or all) of their appendages off. It is just that when you live in a remote location in a third world country with very limited medical care it becomes more complicated and dramatic than normal. But with all this I have truly come to appreciate the medical team that is here. Without them even a broken arm and severed thumb would send us to Australia.

I am also truly thankful for the pilots who work like crazy everyday flying us in and out of these remote locations. And I am thankful for the missionaries who run guest houses, so we have places to stay. And all the "support" missionaries who do crazy things just to keep us in the tribes. I am thankful for the Body of Christ. The Brains. The Eyes. The Arms. The Hearts. The Muscles. The Legs. The Feet. They help us everyday and show what it means to move and work as one. In One.

My dear friends and fellow missionaries have supported us and helped us have peace through every one of these little trials. I really don't know what we would do without them. I am so glad the Lord planned on us needing each other, and makes us dependent on one another everyday. It is definitely at a gateway to unity.

"And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful." Colossians 3:15

Yes, Lord. I will always be thankful.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


I get to experience many amazing things while living in the middle of nowhere. Life in this place is anything but boring.

On Monday, I got to witness my coworker, Susan, save a woman's life who would have most certainly died in childbirth without her intervention. It was thrilling and awe-inspiring.

Daily I get to see a group of about 50 men, women, and children carve an airstrip out of a thick web of rainforest with just axes and shovels. It is challenging and motivating.

Every weekend I get to listen as a group of people who can definitely be classified as those who live at the "ends of the earth" praise and worship a Savior who loves them. It is miraculous.

Honestly though, not everything I see is beautiful. I saw my chicken eat a rat fetus once. It was revolting.

And yesterday I saw a little girl playing with a pig bladder like it was a balloon. It was disturbing.

But one of the most profound things I have experienced here happened last week. It was not something that I saw, but rather something I heard. A man died in another Hewa village last week. Many people went to morn and show their respect to the family that lost him. And many of them heard the village leader say, "If Tiko* was still here, we would have killed her for this." When our people came back and gave us this report, it was so sad, but also such a relief. It was a relief to know that Tiko, her toddler, and baby on the way were safe in their new village.

The next morning I came across this verse that gave me confidence to know that we as a team are making the right decision to try and get these women and children out of harms way (even though we know it will probably be a never-ending battle).

"Give justice to the poor and the orphan; uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute. Rescue the poor and helpless; deliver them from the grasp of evil people." Psalm 82: 3-4

*Tiko is the lady we evacuated to another tribe where there are missionaries and a strong believing church. This tribe does not practice witch killing, so Tiko and her family are safe there. You can read more about this in, How to Save a Witch.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Fate Of The Chicken

I really had no idea how many people would become so concerned about my beloved little house chicken, Buckbeak. I mean I knew she was awesome, but I just wasn't sure I was conveying her awesomeness properly through the written word. Turns out...I was.

So many people have asked me about her fate that I decided to update all of you to let you know that, yes, she is still ALIVE!

She is still alive and still comes into my house every morning to eat moths and rain bugs that invaded the night before.

And more good news is that one of "my" (Susan gave it to me, but it refused to leave her coup before we left) other chickens had two baby chicks when we came back, and they now all stay around my house and sleep in my coup. The girls have christened them "Stars" and "Coco". I will post pictures the next time we come out (probably about six months). I am pretty sure mom will go back to sleeping in Susan's coup when she weans her babies, but those two babies will sleep in my coup forever! Now...
I am just praying that neither of them are roosters.

Anyway, there you have it. My chicken is alive and I now have two bonus chickens as well. It was a very happy homecoming! And thanks so much for caring about my feathered friend. I will tell her she has fans.

Monday, April 1, 2013

It's Not About Me…Except When it is

Our time returning to Hewa was a little nuts. We attended our region's annual conference and it was a fun but very busy four days. We then had to attend meetings about starting our language learning process, buy the supplies we needed from town, and on top of all that I had to throw a birthday party for my girls.

This gave us very little time to pack and prepare to come back into the tribe. I think I have described this process enough in this blog, but just in case you didn't catch how much planning and work is involved I will tell you again. You're welcome.

First you have to find out how much weight you will be allowed in the flight. Then figure out what you need and how much of it you will use before your next flight, and list those things in order of priority in case you have to much weight for what you are allowed. Next you have to buy the stuff either from town or in the missionary supply store. Then you have to pack it all, tape it up, weigh it, and get it ready on a crate to be loaded on the plane. It is quite a lot to do and it has to be precise, especially in a helicopter only location, because if you get in there without what you need...well, you just don't have it. I am praying that I never forget toilet paper.

The day before we were supposed to leave we were half way into this process when we got the call that the battery was dead on the helicopter and it would take them two weeks to get a new one. This meant that the men would hike in and the moms and kids would have to stay in Wewak for another two weeks. We had already been out of the tribe for 5 weeks, and I was devastated at the thought of having to stay in town for another two weeks. I really wanted to get back to my home in Hewa.

Obviously we stopped the packing process and I even went down to where the boxes that had already been packed and weighed were stored and brought them up (there was chocolate in those boxes!). At about 7:30 pm later that night we got the call that somehow they "jumped off" the helicopter battery and we would be leaving in the morning.

I had a tiny heart attack and then and for a minute I seriously considered having a major emotional break down. With the surprise trip to Australia and all the moving and flying over the last few weeks (3 different cities and 2 different countries in 5 weeks) I was already at my maximum stress limit. This was just too much. I even told John Michael, "this is the crap that makes me want to quit and go home."

We pulled it together really quickly, though, and by about 11:00 pm that night we were done and ready to fly out that next morning. I then breathed a huge sigh of relief and got really excited that I was going back to my house and my friends in the tribe the next morning!

I then reflected on my previous words and laughed at myself because of how ridiculous they were, but also because of how true they were. There have been so many crazy, difficult, and potentially disastrous things that have happened to us since we started this journey of missionary service, but this was the thing that made me want to quit? Dumb. But totally me. I have never liked change (my mom reminds me of this often in case I ever forget), but I have gotten much better about it, since that is all my life seems to be about. But I am still not great with last minute change (in case that wasn't obvious from the story above).

Even though I really hate those situations, I love that I can throw a little temper tantrum in my heart, and I can hear the Lord say, "Are you done?" And I respond, "Yes, Lord", and He says, "Ok, trust me. I am with you." And when it is all over I can be relieved and excited and laugh at what a dumb-dumb I really am. I love that He wants to teach me, and grow me into a person that can handle what she thinks she can't when she trusts in her God.

All this got me thinking. When I was in the middle of my temper tantrum I began listing of all the crap we "need" to get to survive in the jungle. Planes. Helicopters. Food. Toilet paper. Schooling materials. Medicines. Etc. I began thinking about how everyone agrees that people can reach their own culture better than someone outside it, and I know that there are strong Christians in PNG who don't need all the junk that I need, and won't have to go through all this complication and why aren't they trying to reach their own people? Maybe I should just go home if someone else could do this better. But through this whole chaotic process I learned that sometimes it is not about them. It is about me.

Christian culture went through a big "It is not about me" phase a few years ago, and they were right of course. Their point was that our salvation was not meant to give us a perfect, wealthy, comfortable life, but is to be a life of love and service to God and others. But sometimes we can take things to extremes and forget that some things are about us. God loves us and wants to see us grow into mature believers. And sure a people group is best reached by its own people, but then why is God calling so many to go cross culturally to bring the message of the Gospel? Because it is partially about me...or you. He wants to see us give up our lives and trust Him to make them into something beautiful. He wants us to grow, mature and become more like Him, and that can only happen when our faith is stretched. He is working in me at exactly the same time He is working in the Hewa people. It is about them. And it is about me.

Would I have this many opportunities to trust the Lord and grow in Him if I hadn't followed Him into this life? I seriously doubt it. So I am thankful that even though some PNG person could probably reach this tribe faster, more efficiently, and certainly more cost- effectively, God is allowing a bunch of ridiculous white people to do it. Because He loves us just as much as loves the Hewa people. And as this group of American missionaries and this group of Papua New Guinea tribesmen mutually help each other and grow together-two groups from two very different worlds, we are learning what life in Christ is all about. It is about loving and serving people even when it is really hard. Even when they are very different. And it is allowing God to change you to be more like His Son through this life that isn't always easy. Life that is all about Him and He is all about us.