Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Meeting Marilyn

Yesterday was a red-letter day for our family.  We finally got to meet a favorite “hero of the faith”—Marilyn Laszlo!  To learn why she is important to Jon and I, please go to our "Where We Began" blog page.

Marilyn is in Papua New Guinea to make a final visit to Hauna Village in the East Sepik province, where she spent 24 years helping to translate the Bible into Sepik Iwam.  Marilyn’s traveling companions told us of the enthusiastic reception she received in Hauna.  There was a spectacular “sing-sing” to celebrate her arrival and hundreds gathered to greet her.

We would have loved to visit Hauna ourselves and take part in the festivities, but we were grateful for the chance to meet Marilyn as she traveled home.  Our aviation team flew her to and from the village, so she spent one night here in Ukarumpa.  We stopped in the guest house where she was staying to express our appreciation for her and the part she played in our lives.  Both Jon and I have heard her speak many times, but this was the first time we had opportunity to personally thank her for sharing her story.

*A “sing-sing” is a cultural celebration that usually includes singing, dancing and colorful costumes.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The “Squatter” in the Hangar

The McEvoys work in an area much too rugged for an airstrip. Like many Bible translation projects throughout PNG, they rely on the helicopter to ferry supplies, materials and themselves in and out of their village allocations. Unfortunately, the helicopter is also very expensive to operate making it difficult for translators to afford the using the helicopter—even as vital as it is.

Translators aren’t the only ones to utilize the helicopter. Our helicopter is in high demand by customers outside the mission community. We’ve been asked to fly business executives to branch offices, sling-load materials for rural development, and even carry survey workers into the jungle to count crocodiles. The best part of this business is that profits from these commercial flights can be used to subsidize the cost of using the helicopter for Bible translation.

So a second helicopter was purchased and sent to PNG in hopes that it could do more such commercial work. Lack of manpower, however, kept the disassembled helicopter sitting in the hangar for two years. The skeleton maintenance crew had all they could do just to keep the active aircraft flying.

As the aircraft maintenance manager, I dealt with new obstacles to the helicopter project almost every day. Hard-to-find parts or ambiguous maintenance records threatened to keep the helicopter grounded indefinitely. But God has been our great provider, and those challenges became opportunities to watch God work.

In mid November, the maintenance team completed the helicopter assembly, and now it awaits final inspection by the Civil Aviation Authority. Once we receive the Certificate of Airworthiness and Certificate of Registration, it will be ready to be put into service for Bible translation.

Photo 6
(Photo of P2-SIH by J Rehm)

Friday, November 22, 2013

A Precious Treasure

Translators, Steve & Debbie McEvoy, recently returned to their home among the Migabac people of Papua New Guinea with a precious treasure. Debbie gives us a glimpse of the welcome this treasure received--

Photo 3

“October 13, 2013 wasn’t your typical Sunday in Kapawa village. On this particular Sunday morning, the Migabac people were gearing up for a mini Scripture dedication of four New Testament books -Matthew, Ephesians, Philippians, and Hebrews. For the first time ever, these New Testament books would speak directly to them in their heart language! Representatives from other Migabac villages hiked to Kapawa village to be a part of this momentous event.

What a joyous celebration followed as the Scriptures were ‘escorted’ by a group of people singing Migabac praise songs to God. Over 100 adults, plus children, gathered that day to join in the heartfelt prayers, songs, and sermons, many eagerly awaiting the chance to obtain their very own copy!

Audio recordings of these Scripture portions sold out very quickly. For many who struggle to read, Scripture audio recordings fill a huge gap. Praise God for the desire He is placing in hearts to know and love Him more.

As we looked around the church service on Sunday mornings, we praised God. People are reading and preaching from Migabac Scripture. Some Scripture books were well worn (Luke, Acts, & Galatians—dedicated in 2010). People huddled in groups so those without a book could follow along. We are thankful that God allowed us a small glimpse of the work HE is doing among the Migabac.”

Photo 5

(Photos by S&D McEvoy)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Drier and Wetter

Papua New Guinea has always had a wet and a dry season (or a wet and a wetter season, as some like to say). This year the dry season was more arid than any I’d experienced during my short history in PNG.  And looking back I realize there are several natural stages to our “drying out”.

First, the dirt roads get crumbly and it’s difficult to walk on them without twisting an ankle. Cars kick up loose stones and the dust lingers in the air.

Then I realize that I haven’t washed mud off the kids’ sandals in several days. All the shaded corners of spongy ground in the yard must have had time to dry up. I even stop reprimanding husband and children for walking inside the house with their shoes on.


Next, the local young men start burning grass in the fallow fields around our center. There are various theories as to why they do this: 1) The smoke will make it rain. 2) Burning the dead grass off makes it possible for fresh new grass to grow. 3) Boys just like to play with fire. I personally favor theory #3.

Although the fires rarely spool out of control we do have to endure ash covering everything—including clean laundry, kitchen counter-tops and the toilet seat in the middle of the night. (You can ask one of our co-workers about that one.)

Once the atmosphere is thick with smoke, we forget to carry umbrellas with us every time we leave the house.  In fact, after 3 weeks without rain we start intentionally leaving the house without an umbrella, or removing the dry laundry from the clothesline.  It’s kind of a dare to those dark clouds hovering in the sky to soak us and our clothes.


One of my local friends asks if she can fill 2-liter bottles of water from our water tank to take back home since her village’s tank is already dry.  And by the 4-week mark, we’re concerned about our own rain water tank.  We switch the plumbing in the house over to mostly river water. That means somewhat-brown water flows out of all our taps except the one we use to fill our drinking water filtration system. When it’s time to wash dishes we have add bleach to wash and rinse water and let it sit for twenty minutes. I confess I don’t always remember. Occasionally a load of laundry comes out dirtier than it went in and I have to rinse it again in our precious tank water.

After 6 weeks without rain, center administration warns everyone to go easy on the river water. Make sure outside taps aren’t left running accidentally, and no spontaneous after-school water fights with the hose. I begin to sing, “Let it rain. Let it rain. Open the flood gates of heaven…” every time I see a fat, gray cloud in the sky.

At the 8-week mark, just as the gardens need water the most, we’re told to use the river water sparingly. The creek is almost dry, and pumps are flown up from the capital to pump water from another larger but more distant water source.  We take speed-showers and resist lingering in the steamy, solar-heated water.

My local friend tells me her kaukau (sweet potatoes) have shriveled up and the ground is hard as a rock. Her children had to carry water from the river using buckets to soften the ground so she could prepare it for seed. Kaukau is the main staple in a Highlander’s diet, and our neighbors wonder where they’ll get food in the coming months. I feel guilty because I can still buy groceries at our store, so I slip visitors a bag of rice or two as a parting gift.

After 9 weeks, our center administration is asking people to pray for rain.  We send out an urgent bulletin to our prayer partners.

AND THEN…God turns the giant spigot in the sky to “ON”. The rain pours down from the clouds. The cracked, dry earth absorbs the water like a sponge and you can almost hear the flowers sigh in relief.  The kids and I dance on the verandah, thanking Jesus for hearing our prayers. The thunder of water droplets pelting the roof nearly drowns out our singing. Fascinated, I revel in the sound of water running down the gutters and watch it splash into our tank. The echo of the fall emphasizes how empty our tank really is.


Now it rains nearly every evening. The hills are green again, and the gardens are flourishing. There are dirty footprints on my newly mopped floor, and I’m regularly scrubbing muddy sandals and boots.  I’m smiling though as I lie in bed and listen to the precious precipitation on our corrugated tin roof. It’ll take me awhile to wish for all that sunshine again…at least another 9 weeks. <wink>

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Serendipity Down Under

We recently made a trip to Australia.  Got some rest and relaxation.  Saw a couple of doctors and basically just indulged.  Of course, indulgence means different things to different people and for us it included eating all the ice cream, grapes, apples, salami, rashers, English muffins and cold cereal we could hold.  Driving where ever we felt like going.  Walking around downtown after dark.  Lounging on the beach or alongside a pool, and drinking a “flat white” every. single. day.

Some of our favorite experiences were ones we didn’t expect…


The anticipation and excitement of going somewhere on the Kodiak!

DSC00676Enjoying a 6"-inch Italian BMT on wheat with all the toppings…AND a fountain drink

DSC00667Zipping around in a tiny, two-door with AC, a working…everything and a USB port for the sound system?!!

DSC00693First time in a car with the kids and no car seats required

DSC00714Smooth, paved roads




The Coffee Works:  “A sensationally scrumptious coffee adventure”






The Lego aisle at Target


DSC00684Watching clams dive for cover

Picturesque waterfallsDSC00745









“Freaks” of nature:  The Curtain Fig Tree






Sand, sun and nothing but time

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Flags of the World…

We love that our home school curriculum is very internationally focused.  Not only do we enjoy learning about different cultures, countries and people, this year we are praying our way through “Window on the World”—a book about 92 mostly unreached peoples or countries of the world.  Every day Isaiah asks what country we're reading about next.  While I read, he makes that country's flag on an A4 size piece of paper.  On days where the book isn't scheduled, he looks in our atlas for another flag to color.  Another fun aspect of our geography lesson is that here in Ukarumpa we live among people from 17+ different nationalities.  Sometimes we can match faces with flags.  Isaiah can't wait till we read about that exotic country of Papua New Guinea.  <wink>

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Hiking to Lone Tree

See that mountain in the center of the photo—the one with trees on top?  That mountain is what we call “Lone Tree” and I see it every day from our verandah.  But in the six years that we’ve lived here in PNG, I’ve never even gotten close to it.  Until today….


Our hike with friends started in the opposite direction and took us down the road and through the National High School.  We passed this billboard just before we started climbing.  Was it a warning?  Actually, it’s a fairly common advertisement here in PNG.


The road/trail starts to get steeper and we pass hillside gardens and “haus kunai” (houses made with bush materials).


The road (yes, cars drive on it) is rock-hard clay.  Fortunately, it’s dry clay today.  I can imagine the slimy, slippery mess it must be during the wet season.


Impossible to keep the boys from running off ahead and blazing a trail.  They’re happy to reach the first crest before the rest of us.


From the crest we can gaze down in the neighboring valley.  It looks like a plain perfect for gardens or grazing cattle.  A few houses do exist around the edges, but the whole valley is actually one big swamp.  Makes me wonder if it were a lake long, long ago.


Remember those trees at the top of “Lone Tree”?  We ate our lunch among them.  Seeing these giant (6+ feet high) prehistoric-looking ferns made me wonder if dinosaurs might be lurking nearby.


The hike down is breath-taking and the perfect setting for flinging your arms out and singing, “The hills are alive with the sound of music!”


Had to stop for a Facebook cover photo.  <cough>  That’s Ukarumpa in the background.  It felt invigorating to be on the outside of the fence.


A closer shot through the smoke of burning grass.  The red arrow points to where we live.

At the bottom of the mountain we had to hike through some gardens, wade across the Ba’e River and stroll through a small coffee plantation.  Coffee plantations are scattered all over our valley and here are some unripe berries.


The whole trek took us about 4 1/2 hours.  That included stopping for lunch and a quick dip in the icy water of the Ba’e.  The boys, not me!  We all made it back with minimal blisters and bruises.  Claire even declared she’d do the hike again the next day…as long as she only had to walk downhill.  <smile>

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Flew the Coop

It’s been two weeks since our coop went from this…


…to this overnight.


All 17 of our broiler chickens flew the coop, or went “wokabout” [went walking] as we politely say here in PNG.  What we really mean is that they were stolen--right from under our noses, but we’re pretty helpless to do anything about it.

And so we process….

  • The carefully backed-out screws in the door locks, and scattered chicken feathers don’t allow us to linger in denial for more than a millisecond.
  • Our Christian/missionary training won’t allow us to dwell on angry thoughts like--this is why it’s so hopeless to try to do anything here.
  • So we move on to bargaining because maybe the security guys have a lead.  And maybe the culprits’ village will forsake the cultural value of clan loyalty to help some “rich” foreigners get justice and compensation for a few missing meals.  Or maybe not…
  • …and we’re sorely tempted to sink into depressionSomeone out there is laughing at our futile attempts to keep our chickens safe.  Yeah, that idea to put the coop near a light and the road so the night guards would have a clear view of it—that worked well.  Not.  What a waste of time and money…etc., etc..

I think that’s the hardest part of it for us—feeling like we’ve been duped, and wondering if it’s worth it to get duped again.  We still don’t know.  But the cord of truth that pulls us into acceptance is knowing that God is still on his throne.  He holds the “why” in his hand, and He alone knows what the final outcome will be.  That’s OK with us because we trust Him.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Good News in Migabac

Our friends, Steve & Debbie McEvoy, are translators working among the Migabac people of Papua New Guinea.  In July, Steve completed the typesetting of the Migabac New Testament books—Matthew, Ephesians, Philippians, and Hebrews.  These books are now being printed at our center’s print shop.

Co-translators spent ten days in Ukarumpa proof reading the completed NT books.   Four other Migabac speakers also spent twenty-nine hours making audio recordings of these four books.  They took turns reading in a small sound booth while Steve recorded them onto his computer.  The McEvoys anticipate taking the printed Matthew, Ephesians, Philippians and Hebrews books to the village in September, and  the audio books will also be available to share on audio players and mobile phones!

We are excited that the Migabac people will soon have access to more Scripture in their own language.  The McEvoys’ Migabac friends recognize the need for Biblical training in leadership, marriage and the family.  Please pray that God would prepare their hearts to receive His Good News!

(Photos by S&D McEvoy)

Friday, August 23, 2013

Go Red!

The kids have been training for the past 4 weeks, and waiting all year for this big day:  Sports Day!  Each year the Ukarumpa International School graciously invites home school students to participate in a day of friendly competition.  Events included an obstacle course, sprints, relay races, ball toss, sack race, target toss, oval run, long jump and the traditional tug-of-war.  Red against Yellow!  Guess what team Claire and Isaiah are on.  <wink>


Every family that serves in Ukarumpa or enrolls a child in the school gets assigned a team.  Some of Claire and Isaiah’s friends have even continued the red/yellow loyalty into the 2nd generation!

This year Red dominated and Claire and Isaiah did well in their own team and individual events.  Claire claimed 4 ribbons and Isaiah struggled home under the weight of 6 ribbons!

(Photo by K Weaver)

Monday, July 29, 2013

Goodbye from Afar

On 25 July, my maternal grandfather died.  With his rapidly declining health, we knew it was coming but somehow part of me kept hoping that he’d recover and allow me to see him again…in a year or so?  Sigh….

Saying “goodbye” from halfway around the world is a bit surreal.  Nothing changes in my life here to mark that he was here with us one day…but today he is gone.  I find that I’m most sorry for myself.  Is that wrong?  That I can’t celebrate his life with the rest of the family, and mourn the empty spot he leaves.

Actually, I think I began mourning 2 years ago when I said my final goodbye to in person.  We had just spent a wonderful month on the family homestead helping out and reconnecting with friends and family in the area.  We spent a lot of time sitting on that swing set talking and reminiscing.


And when it came time to leave, Grandpa asked us again why we had to go all the way to Papua New Guinea.  Did we like it better over there?

“No, Grandpa, home is always best, but the people of Papua New Guinea need to read the Bible in their own language.”  We hugged and said we’d be back in 3 years.  Grandpa commented that he didn’t think he’d be around when we came back.  I protested mildly that I hoped it wouldn’t be true…but I think we both knew he was probably right.

You were right, Grandpa.  But I thank God for all the wonderful memories and time spent with you.  You will be greatly missed!

Monday, July 22, 2013

First Day of Home School



Claire, barely able to contain her excitement to begin the first day of school, leaps out of bed at the break of dawn.  <insert dripping sarcasm>





The caramel apple cinnamon rolls Mommy made to celebrate the beginning of what we hope is another great year of learning together.  (Can’t forget the obligatory mug of Milo to wash down the anti-malarial meds….)




Claire’s math workbook assures her that “Math is a blast”!  (See the picture of the space shuttle launch pad on the left page.)  Somehow, I don’t think Claire is convinced.





Wow!  This lefty has amazing penmanship!  Keep working hard, Isaiah!  When you finish that copy work, you can have 5 minutes on the swing.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Upside-Down Refrigerators and Other Mental Drains

We’ve recently moved into this beautiful home.  I hesitate to even call it a move because we didn’t change states or countries…just transporting stuff from one house to another.  OK so maybe that’s moving, but as far as moves go, it was pretty easy. 

That is…until we got unpacked and I was reminded how much I usually function on autopilot during the day.  Repeatedly searching under the kitchen sink for the rubbish bin.  Groping uselessly on the wrong side of a doorway for a light switch.  Staring idiotically at the inside of the refrigerator because you can’t find the ice cubes.  (My opinion of freezer-bottom refrigerators has temporarily soured.)

Every transition requires re-learning those tasks we used to do “automatically”, and thus consumes an exhausting amount of brain power.  So although the house is excellent and I’m very sure I’ll love living here as much as the rest of my family, I’m still in the midst of my mini culture-shock.  Hey!  I just celebrated my 40th birthday and you know the saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

Be patient with me and when I spend an excessive amount of time on my new verandah drinking tea, remember that the key to thriving during transition is to focus on the positive and keep a thankful attitude.  And I am very thankful for this positively gorgeous view!  <wink>

Monday, June 17, 2013

Kodiak #4

In January, I mentioned how God had provided for a fourth Kodiak to serve in Papua New Guinea two years before we anticipated being able to purchase it.  That aircraft arrived here in Papua New Guinea on 4 June.


Its journey began in Kansas, where ferry tanks were installed in the cabin of the aircraft so it could carry enough fuel to make the long flight across the Pacific Ocean.  Then after a layover on the west coast, its solo pilot flew it to Hawaii, the Marshall Islands and on to Port Moresby—Papua New Guinea’s capital.  One of our own pilots flew it the rest of the way home where we were eagerly watching and waving from the ground as it made a “victory lap” around our mission center.

DSC02921What an awesome thing it was to watch God bring together all the people necessary to build, fund, and transport this tool to this country.  On Thursday (13 June) the members of our branch gathered together to thank God for his provision, and to dedicate this aircraft to the Lord’s service.

As soon as we receive its PNG Certificate of Airworthiness and Certificate of Registration, (expected by the end of the month) this aircraft will join our existing fleet and continue to support Bible translation in Papua New Guinea. 

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.  --Ephesians 3:20 (NIV)

*Photo of aircraft dedication by B. Ingle

Friday, June 7, 2013

They Did It!

Another amazing school year comes to a close, and Claire and Isaiah proudly show off their Sonlight “You Did It” certificates.  They’ll be moving up to Grade 4 and Grade 2 respectively in July.


What did they like best about home schooling this year?


  • Learning to write in cursive
  • Reading “Clara and the Book Wagon” and “The Secret Valley” to Mittens (our cat)
  • Learning about ancient Egypt and Rome
  • Watching Sonlight science videos
  • Listening to Daddy read all nine of the “Little House on the Prairie” books at bedtime


  • Watching Sonlight math and science videos
  • Reading “Little Bear” and “Balto
  • Listening to Mommy read “Detectives in Togas
  • Learning about outer space and the planets in our solar system.
  • Riding my bike when other kids are in school

What don’t they like about home schooling?

  • Math (especially subtracting and dividing)
  • Copy work (Isaiah)
  • Mommy making them do school work when they’d rather play

Hmmm…well congratulations, Claire and Isaiah!  You’ve done great!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Permanent Flexibility?

Leaning on the door frame, I watched Claire warming up with the other girls in her beginner’s ballet class.  As they stretched, I observed their varying degrees of flexibility.  Some girls could easily rest their heads on their knees and others struggled to touch their toes.  I mused that I’d definitely be one of the latter group.  Well that’s what happens when you get older, I rationalized.  Moments later the girls’ teacher (who has about 2 decades on me, give-or-take) demonstrated proper posture while executing the stretch perfectly.  <jaw drops>

That kind of flexibility must take years of pushing muscles to their limit in order to keep them supple and pliable.  I find, however, that the older I get the more I say, “I’m sore in places I didn't even realize I had muscles!”  We all know what happens when we try an physical activity that we haven’t done in awhile.  The next day our muscles remind us that they need time to be retrained and, for goodness sake, take it easy next time!

SO, if I know it takes time and hard work to keep muscles flexible, why am I surprised that…

  • Planning meals around what you can find at the grocery store, not by what you want to eat…
  • And being just moments away from a medical crisis that requires you fly to another country to get help...
  • And having the finance office open from 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM and the post office from 1:00 – 4:00 PM, making it impossible to visit both places in one trip even though they’re across the street from each other...
  • And longing for sunshine during months of steady rain, only to start praying for rain (and drinking water) again after a 3-week dry spell…
  • And having no choice about what shampoo the family is using that week and coping with the fallout thereof…
  • And dealing with the mini-crisis, paperwork and last-minute travel that a forgotten expiration date in a passport can cause…
  • And relearning to wash dishes with or without liquid dish soap…

…make me emotionally weary?

This month marks the halfway point of our time here in PNG, and I find myself wondering if I have the stamina to make it another 18 months.  Then I feel guilty because one quick look around reminds me that I have it pretty good and definitely no reason to complain.  So I keep looking for the day when I wake up with a permanently flexible attitude—one that allows me to naturally adapt to change and not feel pain in the alteration.

It’s an unrealistic expectation, of course.  I wasn’t made to work that way, so I shouldn’t be ashamed that so much “stretching” might wear me down.  Flexibility is a key to survival when you’re living overseas.  Actually, it’s handy in marriage, parenthood, home schooling, the workplace and just LIFE in general.  We get too easily set in our ways, and sometimes forget that things CAN be done differently, or we WILL survive without such-and-such.  Sometimes change hurts in ways we never expected.

BUT maybe it can be a good pain.  A pain that reminds us we have muscles that need to be used…especially that “dependence upon Christ alone” muscle that gets weak when we feel like we’re finally in control.  So what’s been stretching your flexibility these days?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Do-It-Yourself Waterslide

Claire’s writing assignment for today was to make a poster to advertise a fictious event.  She chose to promote a waterslide party--which reminded me of a very cool pastime the kids enjoy on the odd Saturday.





Someone had the very ingenious idea to dig a trench down a hill and line it with thick plastic.  A garden hose sprays water down the slide and the kids land in a pool of (brown and muddy) water at the bottom.  As you can see it’s the wettest and wildest ride in Ukarumpa!