Archive for November, 2011

November 26, 2011

Last thankful post…Happy Chicken Day!

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Here’s a typical PNG chicken, like the ones we cooked today. We got ours from pastors who are raising money for their children’s school fees.

Many of us here in PNG celebrate Thanksgiving on Saturday because we don’t get a long weekend like we would at home in the U.S. It gives us the chance to cook our yummy traditional food and spend time hanging out with friends afterwards.

Earlier in the week, I felt a teeny bit down because I had really wanted to make an apple pie to take to our gathering but there were no apples in the store. Somehow I remembered someone saying that they had tried a zucchini mock apple pie and found a highly rated recipe on allrecipes.com. It went over really well, some saying they didn’t even know it wasn’t apples! I guess that goes to show that the really important part is the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Thank you, Lord, for little blessings like “apple pie” in Papua New Guinea.

As I prepared food this morning, I remembered how my mom taught us to cook when we were young girls. I could hear her advice in my head all those years ago as I was rolling out the pie crusts and was wishing we could have done that together today.

In the absence of family, though, we had a wonderful time with friends…eating, playing touch football, having dessert and then playing table games. The best thing, I thought, was watching our kids laugh and have a good time with their friends playing the hilarious game of Quelf. Also our two year olds did well, and only started to get fussy when we were getting ready to leave for home. If you have twins, you will know the huge sense of relief I felt for that. 🙂

On another note, with the multicultural course in mind, the thing that struck me today was how smoothly the food was served (no concerns about who would go first and how much they could take), how easy it was to converse (not worrying about offending someone by saying something ‘American’) and how easily we did the dishes together afterwards. I am facinated by cultural differences in eating, visiting and cleaning habits. I spend a lot of time here feeling concerned about people from other cultures and being careful not to offend, but it was nice today to be able to revert to my home country’s way of doing things and be able to relax at my friend’s house.

Thank you, Lord, for a holiday focused on giving thanks and for good friends to share it with.

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November 25, 2011

Thankful for our team!

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We came to Papua New Guinea to work with John and Bonnie in the Aitape West Translation project in 2002.

Beth joined the project as a translation advisor in 2004 (now she is the Scripture Use coordinator) and Jessie joined us as a translation advisor last year.(not pictured: Arlene, our administrative assistant, who is based in Ukarumpa and helps us with all kinds of tasks related to running the project)

In 2000, we spoke with the Papua New Guinea branch director and asked him if he knew of any teams requesting help. We wanted to join an already functioning team, to learn how to assist national translators and then to move on to a new location later. He put us in touch with John and Bonnie and after learning about the Aitape West Translation Team, we felt God leading us to join them. A few years down the track Ben and I both felt God telling us that we needed to stay in Papua New Guinea to continue with training our PNG colleagues until the day when they could move on to other projects without our help. What a privelege and blessing to work with a team on the task of Bible translation!

I love working on a team because…

  • we benefit from each other’s expertise.
  • Just a few examples: John knows how to program computers remotely from the U.S., Bonnie is great at thinking through ideas, Jessie has put together amazing spreadsheets for printing books, Beth has a ‘can do’ attitude about trying out new Scripture Use methods and Arlene takes care of ordering and scheduling things for us….these are only the tip of the iceberg for these talented people we work with.

we support each other when times are difficult. we encourage each other to excel in our work. we test out and generate ideas for the project.

  • If I were left to my own devices, I don’t think I would have produced any literacy materials. Whenever I have had an idea, my teammates say “go for it!” and help me figure out how to accomplish it. Jess and Beth spent hours helping me reprint literacy materials ordered after the Luke dedications.

we share common goals of training Papua New Guineans and seeing them move forward in leadership positions. all of these people are ‘family’ to us. Thank you, God, for putting us with a great team!

November 24, 2011

“It Used To Be Just Me…”

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Since I’ve already put our most recent pictures up here, I thought I’d share one of our first family photos that included the twins. This was taken in the fall of 2009. (R-L Ben holding Jenny Beth, Ellie, Noah, me holding Jacob and Josiah)

As I planned this post, I thought “everybody is thankful for their family, aren’t they?” and “who is going to want to read another post about family?” I am still going to put this out here, however, because I think I need to say it ‘out loud’. I am grateful for my family. As I look at this picture here, I remember a time when there were just three of us.

This was our first missionary prayer card photo, taken in 1999.
It reminds me of the little song Ben wrote when Josiah was born:

It used to be just me
And then there was ‘we’
Now we’re a family
This makes me happy

Every Thanksgiving, I think about my parents and sisters and Ben’s parents and brothers and wish that we could be together for the holidays. The last time my side of the family was together was Christmas of 2008. Don’t get me started on my aunts, uncles and cousins–I miss all of them too!

I think about the twins and how much they are growing and long for just a few minutes to show them off to both sets of grandparents. Jacob would make them laugh with the way he mimics everything you say to him, and Jenny Beth would charm them with her little smile. They would enjoy watching Josiah play the song he wrote on his guitar, Noah dribble a basketball at one of his games, or Ellie create something beautiful with a paintbrush and paper.

As I was talking to my friend Brena this morning, I remembered how thankful I am that both Ben and I come from Christian homes. Both Ben and I learned godly principles from our parents that we carry with us and pass onto our own children. I am thankful that I have family to miss. All four of our parents are still living and are healthy. I am thankful for Ben and for the five beautiful children God gave us to love.

…and I look forward to heaven, when I can see my family all the time.

November 22, 2011

Thankful for partnerships!

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Our family is pictured here with the scripture portions published in PNG by our organization this year. All of the yellow books are copies of Luke printed by our project. (R to L: Ellie, Noah, Ben Jacob, Mandy, Jenny Beth and Josiah)

After our last two village visits, Ben visited district pastors for the denominations represented in the Aitape West area. He gave them copies of the books of Luke that we had translated. Every time he visited one of these pastors, they welcomed him and showed appreciation for the translation work that is going on. Not only this, but some of these pastors have already expressed an interest in working together. Next summer, we hope to run a Church Engagement workshop with their help to promote the books of Luke and Acts. Without their help and interest, it would be difficult for people to know about God’s Word in their language. Thank you, God, for new partnerships with church leaders!

November 20, 2011

Our two support teams!

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Scott and Sarah met here in Ukarumpa just after we first arrived in PNG. Scott teaches at the high school and Sarah stays home with their children.

We met Kurt and Johanna on our first furlough when they were preparing to come to Papua New Guinea. Kurt works at our computer support services department (CTS) while Johanna stays home with their children.

We’re thankful for our support teams!
We village teams end up staying in the jungle for weeks at a time, sometimes longer. When we are far away from access to supplies and medical needs, we have a support team standing by ready to help. Every translator family has at least one other family looking after them…we actually have TWO so that it isn’t a burden on any one family to help us. Sometimes we don’t need any help during a village stay, but other times, they work hard to help us out!

Here are some of the things our support teams have helped us with in the past:

  • buy food at the store and put it on a plane. Or buy food for us if we are scheduled to arrive after the store is already closed for the day or weekend.
  • look after our son if he is in a hostel (children’s home)
  • help us with travelling plans
  • send out our e-mail updates
  • go online and help us do financial payments or make online purchases in time for a shipment
  • look after our kids while we’re packing
  • provide meals for us either when we are coming or going
  • pray for us. They are the first people we write if there is an urgent need, and they pass on the info to other friends.
  • organize things that need doing while we are gone (example: take our truck to the autoshop)
  • troubleshoot problem with our dog if the dog-sitter needs help

We also have other friends here who help us out even though they aren’t an ‘official support team’ and we are grateful to them too. 🙂

Thank you God, for our support teams!!

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November 20, 2011

Confessions of a missionary wife: the hard times…

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Our first week in Papua New Guinea with Joe (age 3) and Noah (age 1). August 2002.

“Thankful for the hard times?” you may ask? Yep. James 1:3 says, “…because you know the testing of your faith produces perseverance…”

When we arrived in Papua New Guinea, we were the typical bright eyed and starrey eyed new missionaries. Another older and wiser colleague warned us not to be ‘high maintenance,’ before we left the U.S., so we came here thinking that we would be the strong capable ones. We soon found out that we were not strong. Or capable. Or as culturally sensitive as we thought. When our village neighbors repeatedly threatened us or attempted to extort money from us, (sometimes sucessfully) we wondered if we had made a mistake in coming here. The theme for our first furlough was

2 Corinthians 1:8
“I think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and completely overwhelmed, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we learned not to rely on ourselves, but on God who can raise the dead.”

Although we had never been physically harmed, we could relate to Paul’s words, “crushed” and “overwhelmed.” We struggled in our marriage because we both handled the stress differently.

The story doesn’t end there though. By the end of our furlough, we began to see how much we had focused on our own pain throughout the whole ordeal. We had cried out to Him but in the process, we didn’t notice all of the pain around us. It dawned on us that if we were feeling this way, our Papua New Guinean colleagues had even more things to deal with. Not too long ago, one of our PNG translators lost everything in a fire, deliberately caused by an enemy of his. Other translators have lost family members to sickness because of the lack of medical care out in the bush. Most of our friends are dealing with ongoing land disputes with their traditional enemies.

We realize that Christ may ask us to suffer even more than we did those first few years. The difference between now and then is that we have those experiences behind us, so we know where to go (God) and how to talk about what is happening. But I look back on those times and am thankful for each one of those gut wrenching experiences, because as Paul said, “we learned to rely on God, not ourselves.” Thank you, God, for the hard times.

November 17, 2011

Confessions of a Missionary Wife: Like a flood

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Day Day 5: Amazing Grace

Tonight I was listening to Chris Tomlin’s version of Amazing Grace. These words jumped out at me…

Like a flood
his mercy reigns
unending love
amazing grace!

Sometimes I become weighed down by my sin. Yesterday we looked at our sins in our multicultural course through the lens of our cultural judging system. I thought about the things I shouldn’t have said (and did!) or the judgemental thoughts I’ve had about others rooted in my own insecurities. Added to that, I have been overloaded by my own mundane daily tasks to where I don’t notice or ‘hand out life’ to others (Prov. 8) like I could. In short, it’s easy for me to live in darkness even though I am a child of the King!

Tonight I remembered that Jesus has taken it all to the cross. I am thankful for all of the years that His mercy covered my sins. I don’t even understand it well, but it seems that as I get older, the more I realize how sinful I am and the more it is clear how much He has done for me. Thank you, Jesus for mercy.

It seems that the simple truths I learned as a small child and know in my head need to be brought out into the open often. Thank you, Jesus, for the gift of music.

November 16, 2011

Auntie Beth

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Our teammate Beth with Arop translator Emil’s daughter and nephews.

Day 4: Thankful for Beth
In our time here, we have been blessed by deep friendships. Beth is one of those people who really knows what we are really like and still loves us. We met her during our orientation course in 2001, and she joined our translation project a year or so later. We have travelled many roads, sharing in laughter and good times and grieving together in times of loss. She is someone who will show up at my door and ask to take the kids…so often it has been at JUST the right moment, such a gift is so appreciated by this sometimes tired mom. Beth also eats any food I serve her and is always willing to chat when I need an adult conversation.

Last night, the kids and I made pizza as a special dinner for her, and she had everybody laughing and telling stories. Even little Jenny Beth didn’t want to leave her side when it was bedtime. She told me that while out on a walk with Mama Hana, the twins begged to see her. They know where the house is where they get candy from their beloved Auntie Beth.

I am feeling a bit sad today, as she left this morning to go on furlough for 8 months. I am also thankful for Bethy in our lives.

November 15, 2011

Our partners here and over there….

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Two Sissano ladies pour over the Christmas story primer I worked on last spring using text from the published Luke (photo by my teammate Jessie Wright). In this village, they ordered hundreds more of this 8-page booklet and were asking for more literacy materials to help them read God’s Word.

Day 2 of Thanksgiving: Our Prayer and Financial supporters: we can be here because of you!

Just last week I spoke with a new friend, who experienced life overseas as a child, similiar to me. There was a big difference, however, between his experience and mine. His family didn’t know Christ, and so he didn’t have people back home praying for him or supporting him. When he was sent back to his home country, he had no one looking out for him. He had to figure out what it meant to be a third culture kid on his own. In contrast, as an MK (missionary kid), I had all of those amenities. I remember sometimes being confused and even ungrateful at times for all of the attention we got for our special status. Now as an adult I realize how much our family benefitted from loving gestures and prayers of God’s people. I see God’s grace and mercy tangibly being handed to us daily by our partners and friends back home. For this, I’m deeply grateful.

Here are some ways that we have been blessed during our 10 years of missionary service:

  • prayer. I cannot emphasize how important this first one is. This is the BEST way you can support a missionary.
  • notes of encouragement
  • missionary support (our income)
  • tangible items needed for furlough: housing, a car, baby items, food for 12 weeks after our babies were born, etc., etc.
  • extra gifts for special needs: whenever we have had a significant need, it has always been provided for

I feel like Paul, when he says “I always thank God for you when I think of you.”

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November 14, 2011

A great place to grow up…

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Day 2: I love raising my kids in Papua New Guinea!

Jacob ‘talking’ with an Arop boy. No toys needed for fun with friends. Just dirt and rocks.

Jenny Beth watching a lady fill up her water jug outside our house. The twins love watching ducks, dogs and chickens go by as well.

Ellie playing with friends in the village.


When the Arop kids get together to play a game, Josiah and Noah often join in. This particular game was frustrating because the girls kept winning!

Josiah joined us in the village after spending one week in a children’s home (hostel) in Ukarumpa. Having him there enabled us to make it to the translation workshop in time.

When asked why they like living in Papua New Guinea, Noah said, “here you don’t have to wear shoes all the time.” Josiah added, “I don’t get to stay in a hostel in the U.S.” Both boys commented that they like living close to the majority of their friends (although they miss the friends they made while on furlough.) For my part, I am thankful for the simplicity of life here. Much of the time, our kids are out of doors. They are also really good travellers, going to and from our village to our mission community. Sometimes they have to wait 2-4 hours at an airstrip or in a town, waiting for a car without any entertainment but themselves. In addition, I love watching them with their missionary aunts and uncles and am grateful for the input these adults have in their lives. I think they are starting to develop good strategies for handling transition and relating to people of other cultures. Although “home” is a hard concept for a lot of MKs (missionary kids) I think our kids would agree that Papua New Guinea is where they are deeply rooted and they love it here.

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