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.

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(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--

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“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.”

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(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>