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.

Matthew to the Mum

We're going to be printing Matthew soon!
This is a definite bonus to working on a project already started! The book was pretty close to being completed. You may recall that I helped in village checking in Feb 2016, but I totally had no part in drafting or revising or advisor checks or anything, but it's nearly done and I get the honor of helping it over the finish line!

So here's the deal. The dedication is scheduled for the end of July 2018.
The missionary who worked with the Mum before me has agreed to come be the guest speaker at the dedication! And that's when it fits into his schedule!
Now if you know anything about the printing process (I certainly didn't), you know you should never never set the dedication date before you have the printed book in your hand (whoops!) as that just invites everything to go wrong and stress and freaking out and so on and so forth. (We'll be needing a lot of prayers.)
So here's what needs to get done:
We need to finish the part where the Scripture gets read aloud to the community to see if there are any problems with the naturalness of the language used. We need to discuss all the suggested changes.
We need to check spellings and renderings on the maps, glossary, and list of New Testament Books going in the preface.
We need to pick all the illustrations and caption them. 
That's it!
THEN, we need to get it to typesetting. We're hoping to do this in August. We'll only be spending two weeks in town and it can take a month, so we're shooting for two weeks and will resume in October if we need two more.
THEN, we send it to the printers in Ukarumpa. That could take 1-3 months depending on what other orders the printers have pending.
THEN, we need to get it to Katiati. That could also take a month.

So we have a year to finish a process that could take 5 months! That's PLENTY of time!
Right? Right?

So here are the current challenges.
We need our house tobe done before we can go back to the village and it's NOT!
The PLAN was to get our pre-typesetting to-do list done in 4 weeks, before the translators went out to celebrate the Mborena Kam dedication during the last couple of weeks of our village stay. (Which is awesome! They should totally celebrate and be encouraged by the completion of the Mbore's New Testament!) But the delay on our house will put a delay on the trip which will trim that 4 weeks down…
Are you starting to feel the panic!?!
It's not a deal breaker, but it's certainly cutting into my buffer zone.

So let's be in prayer about this going smoothly.

In the GREAT news, the publishing of the Gospel of Matthew, the shipping to Katiati, the dedication feast, the sd cards for the audio recording, the study guides and pencils, the course on Biblical reading literacy, everything has been fully covered by The Rising, a church in Norfolk, VA! Praise God! Now we just need to get to a place to put that money to its intended use. Prayers please!

Also, what's not fully funded is us. These helicopter rides to the village are a pretty penny. Can you help bring Matthew to the Mum by sending us out to the village?

Helicopters, Finances, and Faith

So the PNG economy was maybe going to collapse last year and the finance department said they were going to put a hold on bringing funds over for a while. They suggested that individuals in the branch could put a hold on their own funds for a while (so it didn't get put into the branch's pot, which was chillin Stateside until the crisis passed) if they wanted to hold out longer than the finance department did. I, however, trusted the finance department would be wise, so just let my money go into their pot until they deemed it appropriate to bring it over.
However, since everyone was getting deeper and deeper into the red, no one was raising red flags. Which is how we just recently came to find out that we were in the red. As it turns out, our deficit is equal to the cost of the helicopters and house we just built. Which is good… If it was more than that, we would need to take a super serious look at our spending habits, which would be hard because we live pretty frugally. It's major expenses that's keeping us from the black. Unfortunately, those major expenses can't be avoided if we intend to do our job…
So that's kinda stressful…

When we came here less than 100% funded, it was hard, but also amazing… It was like, God opened the door for it to happen and so He was going to be taking care of us and we just had to trust Him. Marissa… According to the calendar, it shouldn't even be possible that she exists. So many improbably crazy things came together at just the right moment and while it wasn't in the budget to live in Australia for three months to have her, it just seemed like the Lord's business to sort that out. I mean, there's no way everything would have happened just so if it hadn't been His design.  There's no way she would have come to exist when she did. She is from the Lord and He would make the way for her. Even when our free housing fell through 2 days before departure, I knew that the Lord would sort it out. That afternoon, the free housing fell back in. It's so liberating to just leave everything to Him.
However, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. As evident in my response to our current standing with the Branch. I was not … as full of grace as one might hope.

So I was… tumultuous. We're going with "tumultuous". In my head, I knew I needed to not worry and be chill and let the Lord sort things out, but in my belly, there was fear, and panic, and worry. So let's heap on financial stress: mental/emotional battle warring for dominance. "I do that which I do not want to do, but that which I want to do, I do not do." That applies to thoughts, too. Fury at the ineptitude inherent in my human nature. Yeah, let's add that, too. Why not?

So I did what you do. I piled on the praying and Scripture reading and fasting. (I hate fasting. I avoid it at all costs. There is nothing remotely worshipful about me hangry.)
And I read:

    6 When I was prosperous, I said,
      “Nothing can stop me now!”
    7 Your favor, O LORD, made me as secure as a mountain.
      Then you turned away from me, and I was shattered.
Psalms 30

Um… Yes! Remember that one time, like last week, when I was all busy going on about how magnificently You provide and how we just need to trust in You and it's totally going be awesome. And there I was, totally trusting and praising and glorifying and so on and so forth. And then, what? You're just like nah… nevermind…

    11 Do not strike them dead suddenly,
    because then my people might forget the lesson.
    Use your power to make them homeless vagabonds and then bring them down,
    O Lord who shields us!
Psalms 59

No! I want you to strike financial stress suddenly! I mean, I see… I get it… You look way more awesome every time You save the day… But wouldn't it look more awesome if You were just like, 'BAM! Open the floodgates!' No? no… ok…

    10 For you, O God, tested us;
    you purified us like refined silver.
    11 You led us into a trap;
    you caused us to suffer.
    12 You allowed men to ride over our heads;
    we passed through fire and water,
    but you brought us out into a wide open place.
Psalms 66

I really really hate this. I mean, I get it. Because CLEARLY I had not been totally purified the LAST time You did this. But still, I really really hate this.

    24 The LORD directs our steps,
      so why try to understand everything along the way?
Proverbs 20

9 “But watch out! Be careful never to forget what you yourself have seen. Do not let these memories escape from your mind as long as you live! And be sure to pass them on to your children and grandchildren.
Deut 4

What have I seen? I remember the last time we didn't have money to move our feet. We were on a PD trip that seemed to be getting us nowhere and we didn't have the funds to continue. There was the obvious next step but no money… And no obvious next step. But we took the next step anyway. And we received a unexpected gift of $10,000. The Lord provides.

23 “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.”
24 The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”
Mark 9

24 I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.
Mark 11

    16 Come and listen, all you who fear God,
      and I will tell you what he did for me.
    17 For I cried out to him for help,
      praising him as I spoke.
    18 If I had not confessed the sin in my heart,
      the Lord would not have listened.
    19 But God did listen!
      He paid attention to my prayer.
    20 Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer
      or withdraw his unfailing love from me.
Psalms 66

It was in the 24 hr of my 24 hr fast that peace settled over me. I didn't really learn anything new, did I? But I was reminded. I had asked the Lord for peace and He gave it to me. I had asked the Lord for funds and He's given $250 through His children and I'm assuming He's got a plan for the rest. The how is not my business.
It's my business to take the next step.
And that step is to get on a $1500 helicopter even if I don't know how I'm going to pay for it.
update: $1450 has been provided by the Lord thru His children

Now, while I write this to encourage (in a crazy twisted, look at my agony, doesn't this make you feel better? sort of way…) and I certainly hope you are encouraged (we came out to a side of peace, right?), there's also another bit of this.
See, God can work in miracles. But it's not really His style to drop a huge pile of money into a bank account with no source. Even that $10,000 had a source. He uses His children to give $10,000 and two coins and every figure in between.
God has a plan to get us back in the black and fully funded and I think it involves you.
You, who are reading this right now, maybe because you always read my blogs, maybe because on a whim you decided to give it a click and see what it said, maybe because someone shared it and it ended up on your newsfeed, but you're here. You're reading this. And you can help us reach our goals. Maybe you can't throw down $1500, but you can throw into pot. And that money will be used to get us out to the village to work fervently to get Matthew to the Mum.
Will you join this work?

Monday, May 22, 2017

Coffee Time with Elizabeth: Dead Puppies

I'm afraid this isn't like our normal coffee times, full of light hearted whimsy. I'd like to think that there's some good stuff in here, but it's heavy stuff. And there's content that's depressing and disturbing. So if dead puppies and birth are things that are hard for you to read… I guess you have a choice to make.
But this is real life.
And right now, it's my life.

Sitting in the soft chairs that let you sink into a cozy embrace, we cuddle our coffees as a summer storm rages outside. Being that I am capable of uniting us in a Starbucks despite thousands of miles of displacement, I've decided I'm also capable of changing the seasons and deciding the weather. Call it artistic license. It's befitting of my mood, the storm. Dreary. But summer adds a bit of warmth to it, doesn't it? It's a good time to laugh in the face of it and dance in the rain. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
I suddenly bark a humorless laugh, "Today started as a great day, my friend! A little too early… But I got in the car to head to the office with a to-do list and high spirits! I didn't see Regina under the house though… So I went to look for her. And I found her with two little puppies!!"
The clouds on my face fade as the memory takes me back. I squeeze my cup in enthusiasm. But not enough to pop the lid. That's a mistake you only make once.
"She let me get right up close!" I lean in, mirroring my memory. "And then she had #3!! It was amazing!" I lean back a little. "Ok, it was a little gross… But it was amazing!!
"After number four came 45 mins later, I decided I couldn't throw off the whole day's to-do list waiting on her, and she didn't really need any help anyway. So I went to the office."
I take a sip of coffee, leaning back in my cozy chair. Basic triple grande latte is my summer drink of choice since Starbucks doesn’t invest in creative hot drinks for summer.
"It was a good day of puppies. She had gotten a little testy, but eventually let me come bearing gifts of pizza and water and ice cream. I read ice cream is good for dogs in labor! Refreshing and high in calcium!"
I take another sip and the clouds on my face return.
"After nine, she kept having contractions, but got up and started walking around and letting us pet her and became way less protective. OK, she's done. Labor's over. 9 puppies. And the contractions are post-partum. That's normal. Gotta shrink that uterus back to size."
I shake my head.
"We were about to leave for a special premiere of Rouge One on the big screen! (By big screen, of course, I mean the projector in our friend's living room). I went down to check on her and the puppies one last time before we left. Because I'm such a mother hen. I had been checking on them about twice an hour!"
We laugh. Me, in delight, you, less so as you still don't know what's coming and that has sullied your delight.
I pause and take another drink of coffee to strengthen me.
"There was a paw sticking out of her."
I pull my hand down my face and turn to look out the window. The rain was pounding directly against it. Nothing could be seen beyond. It flashed a prismatic yellow with the lightning.
"Our duplex neighbors were leaving to go to the movie too. Our across-the-street-neighbors had come over at that moment, too. One to watch our kids, one to join the movie. We had an audience."
"'You're probably going to have to help it out,' said one."
I give a small smile.
"Giving words to the obvious. The inevitable. But in doing so, initiating action.
"My thoughts had been in the how. Push it in, turn it so it's head down, she should do the rest, assuming she lets me help, assuming she doesn't bite me, Jacob should sit by her head to comfort her, I don't have any gloves, I'm packed for the bush, everything's packed."
With my coffee nestled in my lap, I run my hands through my hair until my head rests in my hands. I turn to you and smile.
"My neighbor had gloves. It's good to live in community."
"So I got to work," I said matter-of-factly before bringing my coffee toward my mouth.
"I certainly didn't wake up that morning thinking that I would be sticking my hand inside my dog! But here I was."
I take a sip and then swallow quickly to hurry into the thought that just occurred to me.
"You know! They don't tell you how hard it is to flip a baby! Maybe it's easier on a baby… But that puppy… Any time I tried to pushed it in past the initial … area, Regina pushed out. I couldn't get it in far enough to get the head into position. And I was dealing with a foreleg here! So I wasn't about to get the butt in position if I couldn't get the head!!"
I drag my hands down my face again.
"Ugh! Just as I was thinking about how dismembering the puppy was the dumbest idea that had ever popped randomly in my head, I found another paw."
I lean back and stretch away the tension that slipped back from the memory.
"Gah, I was there for 10 minutes with no progress at all? That paw was a tiny sharp beckon of hope."
I pause, letting the hope sit in the room. Thunder crashed.
"The head was still bent back… I had to keep telling myself that this puppy was dead and I couldn't worry about hurting it, I just had to get it out. But she did it. She finally pushed it out. And two more, still in their sacks gushed out afterwards."
I took a deep breath.
"I thought… that maybe… They were still in their sacks… One was the runt, the other… The other could've been a healthy boy. I kept rubbing it thinking that maybe… I remember thinking, I'm holding a dead thing. I'm holding a dead thing. But I just kept rubbing it. They did it in 101 Dalmatians. Disney sets you up for such failure. First the hair thing! Such perfect hair… Then the crying thing. I've looked at myself in the mirror while crying. It's not pretty. Prince Charming… well, that worked out all right for me…"
We chuckle.
"Still, there was no valiant steed. Unless you count that ugly stray poodle who wandered into our house one day."
We chuckle some more.
I took another long swig of coffee. It was getting cool enough to manage that without searing my mouth.
"And then it was time to go to the movies!
"It was hard to concentrate… I just kept thinking about how stupid I had been."
You pull your cup away from its course to interject, "It's not your fault!"
(I have thus far been very polite during our coffee times to not put words into your mouth, but everyone says this. Everyone. So I will presume.)
"No!" I interrupt your efforts to assign blame to the nebulous cosmos.
"No," softer this time, "It is my fault. I knew, I knew that if she goes more than two hours without delivering the next puppy, that meant there was a problem. I had thought that another puppy was coming. But then she seemed to stop. She got up, she walked around, she changed her behavior to be more amicable. And I just figured it was over. I figured that she was having post-partum contractions to get the uterus back to size. That's a thing! But I didn't check. I didn't think to check. And that was stupid. I knew better, and I failed to think. It is my fault."
You begin to speak again.
"I know. I know. Here I forever am preaching about good self-talk. But there's a difference here. Having good self-talk doesn't mean that you never tell yourself anything that's hard to hear. When we make mistakes, it's important to own our mistakes. When we own them, we can learn from them. I learned I have a tendency to act overly confident in what I know when I don't actually know enough to be overly confident. Bad self-talk comes in when you switch from saying, I screwed up, to, I am a failure of a human being, I always screw up, I can't do anything right, I make a mess out of everything. That's bad self-talk. And I'm not saying that.
"What I am saying is that, I made a mistake. I did something stupid.
"And to top it off, someone came over and was like, 'it looks like she's pushing something out still!' and I said, 'no, no, she's just having post-partum contractions.'"
I face palm in the most literal of ways in shame.
"I acted like I knew what I was doing when I didn't." My words come out a little muddled as my lips are firmly pressed against the heel of my hand.
"And then, then!" I raise a finger to your small sympathetic smile, "someone else came by and said the same thing! And what do I do? The same thing! Will stupid never cease!?"
You raise an eyebrow.
"Yes, yes", I wave you off, "that was toeing the line of bad self-talk, but I was being hyperbolic."    
I took another drink.
"So there I sat that night, on my porch with the cool night's breeze caressing, staring blankly at the black foliage, vibrantly green where the security lights hit it. And it occurred to me another thing that I advocate for. Joy, in times of stress. I believe this joy comes from the power of the Holy Spirit inside of us, that gives us the strength and the presence of mind to perceive the world in such a way that we can react in joy when the world would do otherwise. But I also believe that we can choose to reject the manifestation of this joy. And that's what I was doing in that moment. I was focusing on my mistake and its consequences. I was zoning in on my mistake and its consequences. And I wasn't leaving any room for joy. I was rejecting the fruit of the Spirit. So I opened myself up. What can I be joyful about? There are nine healthy puppies. A smaller litter means a better chance of survival for the others."
I lean in.
"But more importantly… When I went to the movie, my neighbor and the hostess, the two ladies in the room, huddled in with me. They listened to me. They heard me. They shared their own stories. And as I saw the tears glistening in their eyes, though I loathe to cry (have I mentioned how ugly I look when I cry?), I felt like I had a safe place to do it.
"I've had friends I could cry with before! But… these people were my colleagues. They're my co-workers. And I had never before, and never thought I would, feel so safe to be vulnerable with a team of people I was thrown together with. I've had so many bad experiences. Times where my being vulnerable got me judged at least and, at worst, condemned. But in that moment, it became very very clear, that I was a part of a team, an amazing team, who I could feel safe with… 'Friends' used to be a closer relationship than teammates, but now…"
I stop, raise my eyebrows and look up at the ceiling. For some reason that helps stave off the tears.
"Hold on, I need to regain my composure. You don't want to see me cry. Happy tears are way less ugly that sad tears, but best to just avoid that all together."
After I get sorted, I look back at you, my eyes still wide and my eyebrows still as high as they can go, and we laugh.
"So, yes, I found joy. The Lord can use every situation to His Glory. We're a motley bunch, this team I'm a part of. Unified only by our passion for missions and love of the Lord. But it seems like the love of the Lord can do amazing things in a situation like that. And He proved that to me last night."
"There was another one when we got back, she must have had it shortly after we left. She wouldn't let us take it away. I betrayed her trust when I didn't return the last three puppies. She's been testy with me ever since. Let's say it's because she's feeling better, strong enough to be defensive and protective. That's a better reason.
"But she's doing much better and all the other puppies seem to be alright. All but two are pitch black except for tummy markings, which makes it really hard to tell who's nursing and who's getting neglected, but she's not letting me close enough to do more.
"So I guess now, we'll just wait and see how it goes!"
I finish my coffee and look at the window. The storm had turned into a spring shower.
I'm not sure when the seasons changed….

Update: 6 puppies are still with us. And I am ready for them to be sold. And so is Regina! We're just waiting on the middle man to get back to town. Pray that that happens quickly!!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Back from the Village!

We just got back from the village!
We spent the full seven weeks out there this time (though truth be told, I could've done with the helicopter coming just a few days sooner).
During that seven weeks, we anticipated our house being finished and moving in. That didn't actually happen… The illness and death of my village papa slowed and at various points halted progress. Currently the progress is quick, but not quick enough to move in before our next trip June 16th.
Without our permanent solar power system installed, our ability to use our laptops and thus accomplish much work in language collection and learning was severely compromised.
I did meet with the translators weekly and we worked to finish the last check due before the printing of Matthew! As our progress was dependent on their work in their respective communities (and much quicker than said work), we also began reviewing and editing the rough draft of Acts.
Jacob began meeting regularly with the local literacy team. While much of their work was discussion on what needed to happen and how to go about that, they also translated 30 shellbooks (short picture books) for the preschool curriculum.

Right now, I'm in the process of uploading photos from our trip. 
Next to post are Marissa's smash cake photos and one year mini photoshoot!
A few blog posts will be forthcoming as we turn our attention to getting ready for our next trip on June 16th!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Life for a life, Ruin for an offense

I remember a comedy sketch where a comedian went on about the phrase "dying suddenly".
"Of course he died suddenly! Is there any other way? You're alive, you're alive, you're alive, bam, you're dead."
"No. no. I mean, he didn’t die of natural causes."
"What? Of course, he did. If you get hit by a bus, NATURALLY you die!"
Oh man, I was in stitches!
But there's a similar distinction in Papua New Guinea about natural deaths vs unnatural ones.

See, in Papua New Guinea, a natural death is one where a person lives to be so old that it's honestly a surprise that they're not dead yet. And then they die. This is good. Long life. Not really contributing to the community anymore. It's a good passing.
Any other death, ANY other death. Is unnatural.
And (in my understanding) unnatural deaths are caused by one of two things. A conflict. That has disrupted the feng shui of the village. Or sorcery. Someone has hired a magical assassin to put a hit on the victim.
(Obviously, these are not their terms. I'm using terms you probably know to help you get an idea.)
In the event of the first cause, you sort out any existing conflicts. If you don't know of any, you give a generic apology to the village and give a platform for anyone who has a problem with you to speak up. Once the problem is solved, you'll be healed. If that doesn't work, it's sorcery.
So you can try to get some sorcery from someone else to counteract the sorcery done on you. (Or you can, you know, pray.)
But if you die, then your family is pretty much obligated to retaliate. So they use sorcery to figure out who used sorcery so they can hire a magical assassin to take that guy out.
Wanna guess what that guys family does next?
And the retaliation cycle continues.

This is horrific to us, isn't it?
Killing someone because they killed someone (plot twist: it isn't always the individual responsible, sometimes it's family, like his son.) And what if there was no sorcery? In their worldview, it's always sorcery. But we know that just sickness happens sometimes. So what if there was no attacker? Then someone gets killed as a scapegoat.

But we do this too, don't we?
We, as a culture, may not condone murder, but we seem to have no qualms ruining someone's life.
Someone says something offensive on the internet. And the response is to do everything possible to make them rue the day they first turned on a device with wi-fi.
After ripping them to shreds on the comments, sending direct messages, and cyber stalking them to find more fodder, screenshots are taken to share on the internet so that others can join in this lynching. Whether or not this person was being malicious or just said something utterly ill-conceived (a mistake we've all made at one point or another) is irrelevant. Sometimes it doesn't go far, and it's just an awful day to week of being mercilessly attacked. Sometimes it goes viral.
I recall one woman who posted a poorly conceived tweet to her small following of 100 people just before boarding an international flight. By the time she landed, she was an internet sensation, she had lost her job, friends, and become a social pariah. Because she is really really bad at satire.
I watched a documentary that followed up on her a bit later. In a world that googles everything, she can't find a job or a date. The internet didn't ruin her life, the people using the internet did. It seemed perfectly reasonable retaliation for posting something that was found to be offensive.

And what was the objective of sharing it in the first place? What was that person hoping to gain?
I'm not against admonishing, educating, and edifying! But sharing on the internet seems to only have the purpose of rallying a mob for lynching.

While it would be splendid if the only things shared on the internet were good, and lovely, and pure, our world isn't so accommodating. And there is GOOD in sharing things that aren't.
IF it is edifying.
If an audience can learn from a post, if an audience can pray, if an audience can be moved to action, then that's edifying.
(given that we're not learning "don't post stupid things on the internet", praying that people use their brains, and moving to destroy this person's life)
Let us evaluate why we share things.
Let us forgive as we are forgiven.
And judge as we want to be judged.
Let us be counter-cultural, living in the world but not of it.
Let us not be so quick to judge another culture just because we do the same thing in a different way.

Our work in Papua New Guinea is to see transformed lives.
And in this case, that means a rejection of their cultural to retaliate and an immersion into Christ's culture to forgive relentlessly.
May we lead our brothers and sisters by example and reject cultural norms in favor of God's love.

Please pray the Nikolas stays strong in the faith, that he stands firm in the face of the temptation to turn to sorcery to heal his pain and that he makes clear his opposition to retaliation and his family stands strong against peer pressure to do otherwise. May God use his servant as an example to the community of His transformative power, that Nikolas' mercy and forgiveness (to his assumed murderer) is seen as a reflection of the Lord's and brings people to Him.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Helicopter Day CANCELED

What a crazy crazy week, you guys!

It was Tuesday.
The day before Helicopter Day.
Tense, you know. A lot of stuff still to get done, but ok.
We start loading up one landcruiser at 8am.
Done. All my cargo sheets are current.
Coke and donut break.
And back to work.
The second landcruiser won't start.
It had been moved 20 minutes earlier with no problem.
"Well, we live in PNG. Did you expect for this to go smoothly?" my buyer shipper person says.
"Well. I prayed that it would. So yes. I did," said Logistics. 
And then it was in the air. Tense. Palatable between us. The implication.
But honestly, I felt that implication long before.
See, when we booked these dates, Logistics told me that if there was bad weather on these days, there wouldn't be a trip until April. The helicopters were grounded for the rest of the month.
And being that when I moved the dates from Feb to March, the director told me that was fine but to not push it again, it seemed like such an easy way for God to manipulate our timetable without having me disobey the director.
So I knew. Somewhere in my heart of hearts. There was a solid chance this trip wasn't going down.

And things were tense before the landcruiser's battery suddenly gave up the ghost.
My village parents were still in town.
The head translator showed up in town the day before!
No one else knew we were coming!
The Director got struck with a stomach bug!

And then after sitting an hour with the jumper cables on (to no avail), my village papa walks up to say that the only translator left in our area is telling us: 1) we can't stay in the house we stayed in before, meaning we have no place to stay TOMORROW NIGHT and 2) we need to postpone the trip.

So after spending a number of hours agonizing over the decision, my toddler decided for us.
He was acting crazy. And we were not responding with gentleness and grace.
We were already at the stress level that concluded our last bush trip!
We could not go out this raw and have any hopes of succeeding at all.

So we called it.

At the beginning of the day, I had a goal of getting everything done in time to take a nap when the kids go down. The hour+ spent coaxing the landcruiser to life crushed that dream. But suddenly, nothing on my to-do list was relevant anymore!
Family naptime.
I was woken mid-nap, by Logistics letting me know the helicopters were canceled.
I felt a need to go to the office. So I left.
Amidst excellent social/de-brief/unwind time, the head translator walked in the office.
He was sorry about the complications but had prayed we would postpone our trip. It wasn't right that he not be there.
My village parents said same.

Our next possible date to go out is: March 24th (but that hasn't been booked yet)
The contractor believes he can finish the house before then. Great progress has already been made since he took over the project a few weeks ago.
So we'll be going out and moving directly into that house (yay) and there will be a celebratory feast which the director will be able to attend (yay).

And we have time to get really really ready (with a much smaller last minute to-do list) and be well rested at the same time.