Posts tagged ‘cross cultural team’

September 17, 2015

Happy Birthday Papua New Guinea!

by mendibpng

Papua New Guinea (PNG) is home to our family.  We first arrived in 2002 as a family of four, and eventually grew to be a family of seven. Yesterday was PNG’s 40th birthday. I thought I’d dedicate this blog post to our home of 13 years.


  • Many of our happiest family memories come from PNG: going to the beach in Wewak, making fireworks out of steel wool, swimming in the river, etc.

    twins dancing

  • Since our kids have grown up here, our friends have become family, both PNG and expats. I love that I can get to a close friend’s house in a 5-10 minutes’ walk.
  • I love the relational aspects of Melanesian culture. Working together, sharing, reciprocating, and being with people are important here.
  • We have a purposeful ministry in the work of Bible translation. It is mind boggling that where we live people do not have access to God’s Word in their own language. Every Scripture portion that comes from The Aitape West Project is one more piece of God’s Talk for our neighbors to read and hear for the first time in their language. There is nothing like seeing the look on someone’s face when they hear it for the first time, as evidenced in the picture above, when Pastor Peter played the audio of the Gospel of Luke at the market one day.
  • I love the beautiful foliage, landscape and animals. (I admit I’m not too crazy about pesky insects though!) Every morning I wake up to a bunch of birds in the eucalyptus tree next to my house singing crazy songs.
  • We have freedom here to serve the PNG people in whatever way they need it.
  • PNG is the land of the unexpected. I am constantly learning from this that I am not in control of everything. It is a good thing because I tend to hold too tightly to my plans and my ideas. When we first arrived in PNG, other missionaries modeled being learners and respecting the culture and environment we are in; it has helped us walk into situations with open hands.
  • Our kids are growing up with lots of people from different cultures. They are learning to navigate cultural misunderstandings as well as value different perspectives. Ben and I have benefited from this too.
  • We live with minimal commercialism here. Being in a place where it’s difficult to get something (and it’s costly!) means that you really consider whether you want to buy it or not. None of us has it perfect, but I feel like our kids have a lot of opportunities to be in nature, to create, and to be free to play.
  • To sum it all up, the people here are the biggest reason I love PNG. God put them on our hearts years ago, and whispered to us that He wanted us to stay, even though we thought we’d only come for a short while.

We belong here.

March 4, 2013

Challenges and Advantages of a Geographically Diverse Team

by mendibpng

flying over Arop sm

Challenges and Advantages:
We now have a more diverse team culturally. I see this as a huge advantage because we have opportunity to learn and benefit from the richness of different cultural viewpoints. We’ve already seen this in discussions. On the other hand, having different cultural perspectives is a challenge because we don’t want anyone to feel marginalized or ‘put out’ if someone is unwittingly being culturally insensitive. I have grown from interactions I’ve had with Wycliffe’s cross cultural expert Sheryl Silzer, (whose book is available on Amazon) “Biblical Multicultural Teams.” She teaches that each culture has image of God behaviors but also has tendencies towards sinful ones. I am grossly simplifying here but what I have personally taken away from the two courses I’ve participated in is that I must  make it my first goal to understand where my teammates are coming from as well as process my cultural biases so that we can work together well. What that is going to look like in reality, I don’t know…but I’m excited to learn.

Answered prayer:
When we began crying out to God for much needed help last year, very few new people were coming to Papua New Guinea, much less language workers. We as a team worked hard to draft proposals for 10 new job positions and our leaders approved them. Not only did they approve the new positions, but they began steering people in our direction. We prayed and kept plugging away at our work. And then two by two and one by one, people began approaching us about joining our team.

We’ve talked about how grateful we are to have the help but we are also feeling badly, as other people are short staffed and in the same position as us, desperately needing personnel!  On top of it all, the people who have joined us are well trained and skilled, or as we Americans say, the ‘cream of the crop.’  They have expertise that we don’t have and the ability to do work that we don’t have time to do.

All this to say, we see that there is light at the end of the tunnel for us all: the addition of new team members will relieve the physical work but also provide some margin for us as a family [we hope: no pressure teammates if you are reading this!!]  We’re up to the task of navigating cultural differences and learning about each other’s personalities so that we can all live and work together well…thriving hopefully.

I’ll end with a prayer for my new team that I’ve stolen from the Apostle Paul: [bold and italics mine]

1 Corinthians 1:3-9 (The Message)

May all the gifts and benefits that come from God our Father, and the Master, Jesus Christ, be yours.

Every time I think of you—and I think of you often!—I thank God for your lives of free and open access to God, given by Jesus. There’s no end to what has happened in you—it’s beyond speech, beyond knowledge. The evidence of Christ has been clearly verified in your lives.

Just think—you don’t need a thing, you’ve got it all! All God’s gifts are right in front of you as you wait expectantly for our Master Jesus to arrive on the scene for the Finale. And not only that, but God himself is right alongside to keep you steady and on track until things are all wrapped up by Jesus. God, who got you started in this spiritual adventure, shares with us the life of his Son and our Master Jesus. He will never give up on you. Never forget that.

March 2, 2013

A Geographically Diverse Team: Collaborating Remotely

by mendibpng

free-world-map sm

Right now we have teammates in the U.S., Australia, Ukarumpa: PNG and Arop: PNG. The majority of our team travels between Ukarumpa and Arop for translation and other workshops (eg: scripture use/dictionaries/literacy) So far our team is comprised of American, British, Australian and Papua New Guinean members.

In the past two years, Ben has taken over the ‘team leader’ position in our translation project. We’ve added new expat members: some newer ones already making a contribution need supervision. We also have other more ‘seasoned’ missionaries who are (or will be) providing some much needed technical and ministry related support, who will not need mentoring as much. Looking at our team going from six members (three of whom were in the U.S. last year) to twelve at first was exciting but also a bit nerve wracking for Ben and me. Some of us are never in the same geographic location as the others…

Here’s the thing: we’re new at this. We have never worked with so many teammates before. Ben and I try to live realistically, which means ‘the ugly bits’ will eventually show to anyone working with us. But, we know that God is bigger than our limitations. So this is my attempt to ‘story’ as we say here in PNG about how it’s going.

Common Purpose:
I love it that we as a team are passionate about seeing the people of the Aitape West area translate and use the Scriptures. We long to see the gospel being lived out daily. We want to be living examples of people who are being rescued from sin and have a living relationship with Jesus. In other words, we do not want to appear perfect or self righteous, we would like to be the kind of people who freely admit that we can’t do it all ourselves, that God is the One who enables us. [this is my personal interpretation of our common purpose, but maybe we need to sit down as a team and actually work on writing one!]

We’re still trying to figure this out, but Ben emails the whole team as our main mode of communication. People reply to him directly or ‘reply all’ to the team. Ben added a ‘response desired’ at the beginning of some of the more urgent emails and that helps when need to decide something as a group. One of our new teammates helped us set up Google Calendars so that any of us can access the team’s calendar at anytime. Before, we waded through hundreds of emails to find information that we needed.

Additionally, we are able to contact most team members via skype or cell phone if needed. Having a VSAT [satellite connection] in the village makes this possible.

We host everybody who is here in Ukarumpa with us for lunch every week. In the past we’ve only had team meetings here on an ‘as needed basis’ but we’re finding that now with the larger team, we need regular fellowship and interaction to stay connected. In the village, we meet on Wednesdays as well. However, we see each other constantly throughout the week there…so it’s easier to stay in touch with what is happening simply because we live closer to each other and there are less community distractions.

Each week we ask our Papua New Guinean teammates for prayer requests and we also share our own. I send an email with them all typed up so that we can pray during the week and so that those who are remotely working with us can stay connected.

Stay tuned tomorrow for my next post about the challenges and advantages of having a cross cultural team working remotely.

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