Sunday, September 24, 2017

Typesetting Matthew

Well, it wasn't really on my radar of possibilities to be printing a book of the Bible during my first term on the field.
Just so you know, this doesn't usually happen...
Really, Matthew has been in the works for 6 years now, and I just so happened to step in at the 11th hour to give it a solid push over the finish line.

But now we're in town and before I've ever done a draft or adviser check or any other checks normal people do first, we're typesetting. 
This has resulted in confusion at times where people think that because I'm typesetting, I should be intimately familiar with every thing translated and every decision that's been made on this project. 
My catch phrase is, "Hi, I'm new here." 

But it's been a fairly smooth ride and a fun process that is ALMOST OVER!

At first it was fairly work intensive as we finished up spell checks and making sure they and key terms were consistent throughout the book. There were final read-thrus of everything we sent to typesetting and then we were just waiting. 

It was actually very convenient and the sort of office days I can get behind! We would set up our head translator on the computer to edit and revise Acts until we had something Matthew related and I would run around collecting cargo and working on dehydrating food and all the other sorts of tasks I have to get ready to go back to the bush for 2 months. 
I just needed my cell phone in hand. When I got an email, everything was dropped so that I could give our typesetter a response as soon as possible. Many I moment, I stood typing on my cell phone in a parking lot with my toddler hanging out of the car as he tried to shimmy himself in the car since Mommy clearly wasn't helping. 
Sometimes, we'd drive across town back to the office to get something printed and run up to the head translator to approve. 

But Friday we signed the paperwork we have affectionately dubbed: no.more.changes. 
Matthew will not be receiving anymore changes. We're not messing with it anymore. Typesetting is free to do the meticulous formatting without us changing a letter and throwing all the work after that into chaos. 

I have been told that this is a very big deal, but as far as I can tell I'm sending more emails back and forth now than before!
In fact, Saturday I was up at 3am (Friday 10am PST) answering emails and going back forth with our typesetter trying to dot all our i's and cross all our t's. 

She's thinking that we might be able to send this off to the printer's on this up coming Friday (PST)!

So we're nearly done with the Matthew text, but there's still a lot to do. The study guides need to be translated. The audio version needs to be finished (not everyone can read! and Jesus didn't just come for the literate!). The audio and text will be synced to "play" together via Scripture App Builder. And the Matthew dedication needs to be planned. 
Our date is marked as July 25th 2018!

Meanwhile, the translators will be getting Acts underway! 
Now that they have an adviser who's only work is this work, they should no longer be taking 6 years to finish a book, but the New Testament should be hustling right along!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

What's it like...?

"What’s it like to live in the village?"
It's a multifacted issue and there are many correct answers.
But here's a one of many.

There are many kinds of missionaries and they range the scale of … hardcore.
I, myself, would probably be in the middle range.
There are some missionaries who eat bush food every day and have no problem using an outhouse day in and day out. Missionaries who have come to terms with nature and take all of its forms in stride.
I am not this hardcore.
There are some missionaries who want all the amenities of home in the village. Missionaries who pack shipping containers from America with all the luxuries that will fit. No form of nature is permitted in their house.
I'm not that refined.
I don't use an outhouse, but I don't have a flush toilet. I don't care for bush food but am not stressed by dehydrated food. I don't appreciate bugs and pests and dirt in my house, but I'm not on a crusade, and most only invoke a sigh rather than distress, and geckos are always welcome in my home.

I'm at a nice middle place.
But you can only push someone so far.

I know how to make a roof in such a way that it keeps the rats out. But knowing and being present and equipped to direct others are two separate things. The chicken wire was in short supply and they only just got it spread out beneath the insulation. They didn't have enough to wrap it up to the tin. So all around my house, there's a gap between the insulation and the tin, gaping and inviting to any mouse or rat looking for a warm place to nest up with a kitchen down below.
And so, we have rats. They scurry around in the roof and we hear their scampering against the insulation. Occasionally, a neighbor's cat climbs up there and we hear him cull the residents.
Even this wouldn't be so bad if they didn't figure out how to leave their home and enter mine. But when the lights go out, the rodents come out.
And while this is less than desirable, I took it in stride.
We set out the one trap we have and each night we catch one rat and, at this rate, the ceiling will cave in under the weight of their rapidly reproducing coven. Horde? Murder?

For about two weeks, this was life, until my breaking point.

I woke to a rat scampering down my calf.

Mosquito nets are good for keeping out a lot more than mosquitos, but I found that at the foot of my bed, there was an unfortunate gap, between my mattress and the floor.
Our bedframe hasn't been built yet. Nails are short and the election is causing a lot of delays in getting people to and from town for more. So our mattress is sitting on the floor. This wouldn't be so bad except that I'm a very light sleeper and unfortunately, while mice can be quite quiet, rats can be very very loud.
With my head on the ground, they run back and forth inches from my face. They also like to run between the head of the bed and the wall. All that protects me, all that keeps my body from getting scampered on, is the mosquito net. And today, it failed me.
And now at 11pm, I'm at a breaking point. I can abide by this no longer! They have crossed a line! It will not be tolerated!
And yet…
What options do I have?
We can get more chicken wire to stop them from getting in, but that won't be here any sooner than the nails. And even then, how will we get them all out? I certainly don't want them stuck and dying up there! We can't poison them because we can't risk poisoning our neighbor's cat.
And besides, what can I do now? The rats are just as active in the living room and the couch isn't hung with a mosquito net. My two children won't be keen on me going nocturnal. It's only 11 and the end of this night is a long way off.
I can abide no longer. And yet, I have no alternative. And somehow, I don't spontaneously die.
I wake my husband shamelessly. (He has an unnatural ability to fall asleep in seconds, rats or otherwise.)
I convince him to empty the trap into an empty water bucket, assuring him we can wash it and we filter all our drinking and cooking water anyway, and set it again. We'll get more than one rat tonight.
And that's all I can do.
So I lay my head back down, separated from the raceway of rodents by a gauzy sheet, and pray.
I ask the good Lord to send another rat into the trap.
He answers.
I wake Jacob.
He resets the trap.
And falls back asleep.
I pray for another rat. I remind the Lord that the Lord gives sleep to those He loves (Ps 127:2). I remind Him that He loves me. I make explicit the connection and implication.
And somehow, despite the circumstance, I fall asleep.

And that's what village living is like.

It's living in circumstances that are outside of our home culture's normal until the stress gets to a point where you can't tolerate it any longer. And then, through the infinite power of God to strengthen you, you keep tolerating it. 

Monday, September 11, 2017

Faith in the Jungle

"Why do you have to say 'man's grave'? Why not just 'grave'?" I ask.
"There's other kinds of 'graves'," they explain. "Food grave…"
"Food grave? Oh like you put food in the ground so it will grow. Yes, I see. That's different. The food still has life and will grow. The man is dead."
They laugh.
"No, the food is dead, but new life will come up."
The head translator smiled at me with a twinkle in his eye.
"Man, too. We put a body in the ground, but he will come up again with new life."

I've heard it said that things are different here. That even a man who's been a Christian a long time is still what we would consider a baby Christian. That PNG is lacking in mature Christians. I don't know who told me that. But I haven't seen that.
Yes, there's some wacky theology here. I recently heard a sermon that spoke of the assembly Satan attended before God in the book of Job. It said that man wasn't at the assembly because of the sin of Adam so angels had to attend in the place of man. In conclusion, angels are watching everything you do so you better be good or an angel will snitch on you.
Maybe they meant baby Christian as in faith of a child.
My village mama is a woman of prayer and moves and breathes with an expectation that God will hear her.
And He does.
She prays for rains to come because the ground is too firm to plant her garden.
They come.
Then she tells God, thank you but that's enough rain, I need to burn a new garden now.
The rains stop.
She prays for us to come and live in Aringina vs the myriad of other villages we could live in.
And we do.
Though I told her straight up that having her as my village mama is an answer to my prayer, so maybe we shouldn't count that one.
The fruit of the Spirit is evident in every one of her actions.
I don't know if her book smarts leave her thinking that angels are reporting back all of her behavior, but I know she has the sort of faith that can move mountains.

When I think of baby Christians, I think of so many people I know back home. People who the book of James refers to, those who look in the mirror and forget what they see, those who go to church Sunday morning and live the rest of the week adhering to a policy of American morals, as if Jesus called us to being good people instead of picking up our cross. People who just don't get that there's something more.

There is power in our God.
There is power in His followers.
There is power in us.
Jesus promised that we would do greater things that He did.
My mama doesn't forget that. She takes for granted that the Lord hears her prayers.
She doesn't question the command, ask, and you shall receive.
And in all she does, she glorifies God.
And after all is said and done, she'll get her reward.

"Man, too. We put a body in the ground, but he will come up again with new life."

Saturday, September 9, 2017

The God of Crazed Chipmunks

Our house exceeded its budget and its timeline. But it also exceeded expectation like whoa! Sitting in our house on our couch, we would look up in the evening and admire this masterfully crafted bush house and be so overwhelmed that we had to verbalize for the umpteenth time how much we loved our new home.

See, the plan was, we would throw some sticks together and build a place to live for a couple of years and during our home assignment, we would raise money for a permanent residence. This residence would be "Americanized", meaning we would purchase and ship in milled timber, masonite (you can't use drywall here because it's too humid), and flooring. When you consider that we get in and out of the village via helicopter that can only carry about 700lbs, and each helicopter is $1600, just the transport of materials amounts to a pretty penny.
But looking at this magnificent bush house… We don't want an Americanized house. And so while this house ran us about $22,000, waaaay more than expected, we've spent waaaaaaaaaay less than we would have.
Now raising money to pay off a debt is a lot less attractive than raising money to build missionaries a home, but we could breathe a little easier knowing that, in the end, we actually saved money.

You may remember than I did not initially respond gracefully to our financial predicament. But I rested easy now. Because if I could trust God to raise A TON of money for an Americanized home, I could certainly trust Him to raise a portion of that for my exquisite bush home!
But my Lord my God is proud as only He has a right to be, and raising less money doesn't display His power and faithfulness in quite the same way.
So He did something that truly displayed His power.

We received this message when we got back from town.
"[We] did some serious praying about giving because we knew God was asking for more than what makes our little human selves comfortable. We think you guys are doing really amazing work and we are so proud to know you! God made it clear to us that we should pay off your house for you so we are. … We really are just being obedient to God (and we were honestly pretty slow to do that). If it was up to me, I would hoard all of our money like a crazed chipmunk. God made it clear that we needed to give and give sacrificially, so we are. All credit goes to the One who makes the plans."
It was accompanied by a gift of $22,000.

How mighty is the God who can lead a crazed chipmunk to give away his treasures?
How mighty is the God who moves to equip one of His children with what another one needs AND! AND! who cultivates an environment, The Church, a body of believers who shuns the norms of this world and does things crazy and countercultural like giving $22,000 away?
How mighty is the God who grows my faith?
How mighty is the God who provides for my needs?
How mighty is the God who grows generosity past the comfort of our little human selves?
How mighty is the God who turns this world on its head?
How mighty is the God who inspires humans to turn on their sinful nature, to spit on egotism and embrace the efforts of the Kingdom even if there's a price to pay, even if that price hurts?
How mighty is the God who came to earth to pay the ultimate price to take His Kingdom back, to take us back?

Praise God. Glorify His name. Let nothing He's done go uncredited to Him.

 "All credit goes to the One who makes the plans."

Friday, September 8, 2017

Our New Home!!!


How are you?!
I would offer to take your coat, but we're in a tropical rainforest, so you don't have one…
Come in, come in! Let me give you the tour of our new home!

This is our living room! Our living room set also came with a single chair but there wasn't really any place to put it without it totally closing off the room so… We put it in another room! We tucked the coffee table back in the corner there… When the translators come, we pull out a couple camping chairs and place them around. Our floor is limbum with is the bark of a palm and we covered it in linoleum because there are huge gaps between the limbum… so it keeps the bugs out. The insulation you can see above our rafters, helps with the heat from the tinroof. The chicken wire keeps the rats out. Though they didn't wrap it all the way up to the roof at first, so there was this huge gap between the tin and the edge of the insulation! Huge! An owl got in there one night. Insane racquet. Anyway, we sent for more chicken wire from town, and wouldn't you know, the holes were too big! So they put it up anyway. At least birds can't get in now. Maybe it'll keep the rats out. We didn't have much time before and after to tell really before we went back to Madang…
To your right just out of view is, of course, the front door you just walked in, and that door there is the bathroom. Let's check out that next…

Ok, to your left you see our bucket! That's it! Our toilet! We hope to upgrade to a flush toilet with a septic tank one day, but for right now… Bucket! So Jacob empties that regularly… Toilet roll holder… because this is long term living! Mirror… which is never really used because we don't have a sink or vanity area in here.

 We'll be putting the sink/shelf/counter/vanity area in this corner. Oh! Look, you can see the limbum here. We didn't have enough linoleum for the whole house. Here, the pantry, and the storage closet are left open. So pretty major gaps there…

So to the left is the shower and our half-finished storage closet. They had a wall that went from the purple towel that just reached out about as far as that wooden post beside the tub. It was to separate the shower from the toilet. It's an Australian thing even to go so far as separate rooms for the two! But it made the space very tight… So we tore that down and used the timber for the storage closet there! The padded bucket I sit on when bathing the kids.
So here's our shower/tub. The shower curtain keeps the water off the bamboo walls so they won't rot out, it's taped to the linoleum at the bottom. Later, we'll replace that with laminate Masonite… and then seal the tub to the masonite so we don't get water just sitting under there, which is probably happening right now, but I can't really check without messing up the plumbing. So here there is actually plumbing in the house!! A hole cut through the floor and a PVC path to the back of the house! The gray shower curtain goes all the way to the wall to protect the things on the shelves and there're nails it can hang on to either shut or to hang it open like it is now.
Bucket shower! Fill it with water, use the pulley to haul it up and there's a handle to open or shut the valve. This half mast is great for washing the kids. From sitting on my bucket, with my feet in the tub, I can reach the handle and the soap and wash clothes on our shower caddy and, of course, the kid. This tub! Is remnant from the missionaries who preceded us which is why it's a little rough looking… But it was free! And I didn't have to pay to get it out here, which is great because it's HEAVY.


Backing out and turning around… Yes! There's our kitchen! And yes, the front door. We tore down that wall in the bathroom and made that little half door to keep the kids out of the kitchen. We don't have cabinets, just shelves, so things are just oh so grab-able! High chairs.. We're going to put a little breakfast nook in the corner but haven't quite gotten there yet. So far we're just eating on the couch.

Pantry door over there… The blue and pink basin is for dish washing. The white bucket above the blue basin is our  water source. It's got a little spigot so we can pretend we have indoor plumbing. Kindle on the coffee cup to keep the flies out. The flies can get irritating… Our French Press. A gift from our friends Adam and Jessica. I asked to use his Starbucks employee discount and when he saw what I wanted, whipped one out of his closet and gave it to us! Thanks! We love it!

Here's our little stove from Liberty Baptist Church. That's a five gallon bucket next to it. The counter is dwarfing the stove but really it's just a tall counter. But comfortably tall. It's nice to work on. The tops are laminated plywood. Our tech services team did that for us in town. I'm going to ask them to laminate our breakfast nook top and a piece to build that bathroom sink/vanity area… Water filter is compliments of The Rising, a church in Norfolk. It's so amazing it can filter out food coloring. Seriously. It keeps us healthy and we do all our cooking and drinking with it, hence it's convenient location by the stove. You see my shelves… 8 feet long. I don't really have enough stuff to fully utilize these… Kitchen stuff at least. But I'm sure the longer we live here, the more stuff we'll find ourselves with…

Ok! The bedroom!
(We have to be in night time now, because the sun from those windows ruins the picture.)
Here's our room! So this is to the right. The wall on the right is the shared wall with the bathroom. The two doorways on the left are the kids rooms. Jacob built the bedframe for us. We needed to factor in the lack of box-springs in the height…  It's maybe a little bit higher than ordinary, but we'll get used to it.
You can see the door to the back porch just in the right corner there. It's supposed to be a porch… but really it's a funny shaped room without screen wire on the window. We might be busting out some walls later…

Behind us we have…
Our desk space! The idea is to get a way of splitting this room in half so that when interns come we can make this another bedroom entirely, but when there's not NEED for another room, I like wide open spaces!
So you see our jackets hanging on the back door. The playroom door is just beyond that. Our desk is half a sheet of plywood. Again.. A bit too tall… But when we have desk chairs rather than camping chairs, it should work out all right. I installed little shelves between the supports for books and our clock… The doorways on the left are to our storage closet it's open back there but we have to entry points. We anticipated shelves in there to the point that it'd be hard to reach things with just one door, but we've no shelves and are thankful just the same.

This is Marissa's room. 4x4, it fits her pack and play well. Eventually, she'll move out of the pack and play and her room will be more like…

James' room! James also has a 4x4 room but it is lined with 5 crib mattresses! Three are tied to the walls and two on the floor. It's actually a super cozy nook and James just loves it. While I knew he loved nooks, I was worried he'd get that trapped in a closet feel… But we didn't actually get interior doors until a month into our stay! So James had a lot of time to get used to his room when it was impossible to get trapped in and then he was totally smitten with his door. It was his new favorite thing. He would frequently call me over to admire it and watch him open and shut it. Adorable.

AND the playroom in the left back corner of the house. Here's where that missing chair is, and really this room gets the best light in the house. The living room has the front porch on it so even though it's on a corner, it's front windows are well shaded from the porch's roof. But here! The light pours in! It's really nice until the sun is directly falling in the room and then it can get HOT. But that's usually during the kids' naps so it works out well.

The kids' camping chairs and toy boxes. We have a clothesline with some animal photos. Those were just ones that happened to be in the language learning photo pile…

The calendar and weather wheel. I'm going to paint the alphabet on the blue but I didn't have a paintbrush… I tried without a paintbrush and didn't like how it turned out, so I painted over it, though you can still see it a bit…

So yeah! That's our house!

We want to thank again, Liberty Baptist Church and The Rising for their contributions to our home. Not featured here is the solar panel that The Rising also hooked us up with. It's mounted on the roof and the system components are all tucked in the storage closet, but it keeps our equipment up and running and helps us do our jobs! Thank you!
Thank you to Adam and Jessica and all the individuals who have contributed a physical gift we can hold.
And thank you to the myriads of people who have made financial gifts to this ministry, both large and small, to help us get established in our home.

As I locked my door for the last time before heading back to Madang, I stifled a sob. I was not ready to leave my new home. And here in Madang, I am ready to get back. And THAT is what we want. For this village house to be HOME. For THIS to be where we want to spend our time. Because THIS is where we do ministry. THIS is where we translate the Bible into Mum. It happens HERE. 

Thank you.

And a very special thank you to… (to be continued)

Monday, September 4, 2017

Prayers, Bulldozers, and Cinnamon Rolls

Our road trip home needs a little background.
VERY recently, a logging company moved in to do work in the area. This logging company specializes in selective logging, so they don't level acres of the jungle, they just go in, pick their trees and fell them, and they do most of their work on or just off of their road. In order to get their timber out of the jungle, they have to have roads. And to get those roads, they make their own. So where before there was no road, they made a road. Now this road has no gravel, it is a dirt road. Straight up dirt road. But there are a couple cars that now chill in the area exclusively to pick up workers and bring them into the logging camp (and give free rides to anyone who wants to hitch).
A level stretch of the logging road

There is a limit in that there isn't a bridge that crosses the river. If we could drive to the other side of that river, then we'd be able to take the road on the other side straight back to Madang, a 4 hour road trip.
If only…
We've been under some financial stress recently and a road trip would save $1000…
Behold, there was word that a bridge was going up!
It was up!
It was washed out…
They're working on a steel bridge!
It's almost up!
So we figured we would try to drive.
We would go down to the river and wait. PBT would send a car down and if they couldn't get across the river, we would just cross the river, jump in, and head back.
If they could get across, we would jump in and come back to our house (ideal, since the car was loaded with our cargo!)
But here's the second problem.
To get from the logging road to our house involves a bit of off-roading, maybe 10 minutes. But there was a fissure in the rock in one spot just off the logging road, with the ground level on one side and a 3 foot deep pit right where the Landcruiser would have to put its tire.

Ok, now my village brother was coming into the village on the Landcruiser to show them how to get to my house. He came a few days early to scout the road, and the river was so dry that people were fording it with no problem! He also tasked some people with the work of filling in the fissure so the Landcruiser could pass, which they did. 
So, after talking to the driver, we decided not to expend the energy to come down to the river.
They forded the river and drove over the fissure and parked in front of my house!
But then there was some hemming and hawing about whether we should go with the plan and stay the night or just pack up and leave. We made the right call, too late.
By the time the car was loaded, rain had started to fall. We got in the car and drove to face the first obstacle.
The fissure was on a steep uphill incline, all covered in sticky wet mud.
We did not get up the first try.
We did not get up the second try.
We did not get up the third try, but!
We did get stuck on that try…
Which, honestly, was preferable to nearly sliding off the crest of the mountain which we toed the line of doing every time we reversed downhill to try again. Judging by the expressions on the people outside the car, we got very close indeed.
So guys came out to dig the Landcruiser out of its pit. And after about an hour, we were free.
Free to try again.
And they did. The men working on trying various solutions to make the road less slick.
But eventually we were too close to evening to get across the river before dark, so we just went back to my house to spend the night.

The next morning, at 10 am, giving the sun time to dry the roads, we tried again.
We did not get up the first try.
We did not get up the second try.
We did not get up the third try.
I got out. My stress levels were too high and I was afraid my stress levels would not help interpersonal relationships with the driver.
Standing at the bottom of the hill, I watched the truck fishtail back and forth, finding traction, then slipping out, until finally, amazingly they made it past.
I walked up the hill, towed by Regina who kept a helpful bit of tension on her leash.
And then we had to face the logging road. Luckily the sun had done a fair bit of work drying out this wide road with few shade trees. But there were still some areas dangerously slick, threatening to throw us in pits of soft earth that we wouldn't be able to get out of, or off the hill into steep gardens. But finally, we made it to the river.
Which had risen to dangerous levels thanks to yesterday's rains.
It was 11 o'clock. So we sat and waited and prayed.
Maybe the river would go down.
Maybe the bulldozer driver would come back from his post-payday trip to a small town.
Maybe. Maybe.
Meanwhile, I have two children who aren't quite at the age of reason. While it was probably James' favorite day of our whole trip (car ride, swimming in the river (until we got sunburned like whoa), playing with new friends, splashing in mud puddles, playing on his kindle, eating cinnamon rolls), Marissa was having a harder time of it. She wanted to walk around but didn't want mud on her toes. She wanted to eat but didn't want to sit in her carseat. She wanted to be held but didn't want you to be sitting. She wanted down but didn't want to get dirty. This cycle continued for the duration of the day.
For provisions, we had a loaf of bread, a third of a block of cheese, some apples, a box of cinnamon rolls, cheetos, and candy. 
So we just sat at this hamlet, by the river, trying to avoid the sun, bummed we couldn't swim more, munching on junk food, and trying to ration the water. 
And then it started raining again.

We started contingency planning. If we couldn't cross by the next morning, they'd send someone else from town to come and get us (the Smiths') and the Logistics person and we'd leave the driver with the Landcruiser until… Until he could get across or have to leave the fate of the Landcruiser to the mercy of the hamlet.
This wasn't a good plan as his wife was out of country and, when she got back in a few days, would probably kill Logistics (coincidentally their daughter), then kill us, then swim across the Sogeram to kill our driver for causing her that worry.
But there didn't really seem to be a good option.
So we sat. And waited. And prayed. And ate cinnamon rolls.

Finally at 5:00, our head translator came back with word that he had spoken to the bulldozer driver and he was getting the bulldozer and coming down to the river. But how long would that take? Could we go across at night?
There were three other Landcruisers waiting for passage with us. (Landcruisers are very popular here)
"Ambulance" Landcruiser getting prepped for a tow
It was 8pm before the first was towed across the river. Our turn was at about 8:45.
Image to depict width of the river


We were finally across!
And then there was the other side of the road.
No gravel.
Just after a rainstorm.
But we were caravanning with the other cars. We saw where they slipped and were careful there. Then, at a logging camp, two cars pulled abreast of each other and stopped. And we stopped behind them. Some peculiar activity was starting to happen, and before I could tell the driver to get us out of there, caravan or no caravan, a drunk was banging on our window demanding K50 ($16). Men were surrounding the car until finally our head translator, from the back of our Landcruiser, says something along the lines of, "Hey, it’s me."
The men backed off and a sober fellow directed us around the road block.
And we were off on our own with only the tracks of those who went before to warn us of the dangers of the road ahead.
After an hour, we finally reached gravel roads, and from there we were off like a shot.
Got into Madang at 12:30. Dropped off the translator at our dorm like facility for our national co-workers who come into town. Got home, unpacked, went back to the office for some freezer meals because man cannot live on cinnamon rolls split 6 ways alone. We fell into bed at 2 am after a quick shower. And were awoken the next morning at 6am by a hungry little monster/princess in the next room.  
A 21 hour day, a 5 hour trip made in 14 hours, and 4 hours follow up sleep! 

We will NOT take a PBT vehicle over the river without a confidence inspiring bridge again. Maybe, depending on cars on the other side of the river, we could meet a car at the river to carry us and our cargo back to our house. Maybe.
We will NOT take on that fissure again until some SERIOUS work has been done, not only on the hole but on the degree of the incline.
We will NOT take a road trip near or during wet season EVER unless gravel has been laid down on every inch of that road (which is unlikely).

So helicopters are still our mode of transportation and maybe next year there will be some exceptions. We shall see.

Monday, June 12, 2017

House Building in the Village

Building a house in the village has been a trip.
Like a rollercoaster.
I hate rollercoasters.

How exciting, right? To be able to layout your own floorplan and have things just as you want them, customized to your family's needs!
But then it comes time to actually build… and no one shows up…

The biggest issue has been the sickness of my village papa and his death. There's bad "ju-ju" in a place with a sick man and no one wants to be doing the already dangerous work of construction when there's bad "ju-ju". Those times that Nikloas was in town, his son Justin would be struck down with something or another and it was just bad "ju-ju" all up in that place. 
So work was minimal at best and usually only done by my village brothers, uncles, and cousins. So like 5 guys.
Then Nikloas died and the contractor was genuinely terrified that if he did work that it would be dishonoring to the deceased and he would be struck down and die and he had a family to worry about so that wasn't going to happen for the whole two weeks of the time of mourning. And my village family couldn't continue their efforts because they were under the prescripted time of mourning the dead during which they had to abstain from work.

So FINALLY all that was over and people were coming EVERYDAY to work on the house. But we're dealing with bush materials so every bit of frame work had to be cut down in the jungle and left to dry out and brought into the village and have all the knots whittled off of it BEFORE it could be cut to size and nailed into place. It was a week and a half of solid work before our helicopter came to take us away. By then the frame was pretty much done and half the rafters were up.

I have NO idea what's been going on for the past month but I have some suspicions based on the fact that my roof isn't up yet.
Today, Monday June 12th, they're supposed to finish(?) putting up the second half of my roof and communities are supposed to come to cut down bamboo from the jungle and weave our walls. (We're scheduled to go out June 16th)
So tonight, we'll get a phone call with a progress report and an evaluation on whether or not this is going to be done by Thursday. Then we have a decision to make.

So hopefully, when they put their hand to the work, they'll realize, "oh most of the external walls are windows and most of the internal walls are doors and there's actually a fairly modest amount of wall space that needs to be worked. Whoa! Look! We finished!"

Update: Yeah… No such luck. The roofing iron is supposed to go on Tuesday, June 13th and the community is supposed to come Wednesday June 14th. So we're delaying our trip until we get the word that they're DONE, which SHOULD be within the next two weeks. 
They broke ground on this project in November. It's been 7 months now. 7 long long months.

Please pray for this because the Matthew to the Mum project gets affected by changes to our schedule.