Archive for October, 2010

Mission trip

28 October 2010

I asked you last week to pray for our mission trip to Yowai. It went very well– thanks so much for your prayers! It was not like any mission trip I’d ever gone on before… no team picture or prayer card or t-shirts… BUT how many of you can say that you’ve been on a missionary journey with Paul and Silas??? πŸ™‚ Actually in Pidgin you would spell that Pol and Sailas. They and Jems (James) are three of our four Kiarian church leaders (the fourth is in town since his wife just had a baby), and it was a joy to get to know them better on the trip. The rest of the team was made up of Aira, Tu, Jeff Owens, Pol’s wife Ketrin (Catherine), and myself.

It really was a short trip. We left church at about 8:30 on Tuesday morning and hiked slowly to Yowai. (PNGers walk really slowly… which at least part of the time, namely the longest up-up-up parts, I was really thankful for!) We stopped at several “waters” (streams) to rest in the shade and fill our water bottles. (The Smiths had given me some iodine– a drop in a bottle of water makes it safely drinkable after 15 min. so I had no trouble at all.) I didn’t pay attention to what time we arrived, but it was somewhere in the middle of the day. The village of Yowai is stretched all along a long ridge, and we walked all the way to the last hauslain for our afternoon service. This is when the throngs of children started gathering to look at the white meri… I don’t know if they’d never seen one before or if they’d never seen one with long hair, but they were thronging all around, touching my skin and pulling my hair and chattering in their Tok Ples (village language) and giggling… it really was kind of funny, and when I laughed at them they thought they just giggled all the more! We finally got to the end of the ridge and started our service. We sang, I gave my testimony (my first time to do that formally in Pidgin!), and one of the men preached while Ketrin and I took the children a little ways off for a Bible club-type thing. One of the things I loved about the trip was that the blackskins (their own term for themselves) were in charge, and we whiteskins (what they call us) were in support roles. My job was to lead the songs, and so I taught them Jonah and the wordless book song and some others, really emphasizing Jonah’s theme of the importance of “bihainim tok bilong God” (obeying God’s Word– which Jonah DIDN’T do) and trying to really get them to think about and learn all of the songs so hopefully they’ll remember them later. Then Ketrin taught the Bible lesson. I wish you could have heard her– she really is an excellent teacher. An additional plus was that she’s from that area and knew the Tok Ples, so she was able to switch back and forth and explain things so that the kids could really understand. She was so delighted with how well they listened. I guess on previous mission trips the kids haven’t been nearly so well behaved. What a huge blessing!

The next part was probably the hardest for me, because unbeknownst to Catherine I had by this time acquired a pounding headache from all of the excitement, plus probably from walking and sitting in the equatorial sun for so long. So, knowing how excited the kids were about the white meri, when she was done teaching she suggested that they ask me to “story” them. Whoosh– all of a sudden there was a wall of 40 kids pressing around me where I was sitting off to the side! So I thought of all the stories I could– which wasn’t many– and we sang all the songs again and as many more as I could find in the little song sheet that I knew! I talked to them a lot too and was really thrilled at the opportunity to explain all of the songs really well, work on the memory verse some more and really talk about what it meant, and generally just share the gospel in detail. I really hate that the kids were probably there more because of my white skin than any desire to hear God’s Word, but I kept thinking about Paul’s comments in Philippians 1 and doing my best to use the opportunity to proclaim Christ. After all, how many of us who are believers actually had a burning desire to hear God’s Word before we were saved? So many of us went to church for other reasons… maybe to see friends or because it was just what our family did… but God used His Word in our hearts anyway. I hope this will be the case for the children of Yowai.

Well, this is getting long so I’ll try to tell the rest quick. πŸ™‚ We had another service in the evening, and it was really neat how the sermon covered everything I had told the kids earlier and filled in lots that I hadn’t told them. Pol also picked two of the same songs I had taught them. I’m really praying that they will remember and think about the things they heard so clearly.

We were fed really well. πŸ™‚ Before the evening service we went into the building where the service was going to be held and someone brought a put lid with kaukau (kind of like a white sweet potato), kumu (greens), and little chunks of meat for all of us. Then a lady brought a bunch of bananas and Ketrin put them on the fire to fry. This kind of food is really filling, and it was all I could do to finish my portion. Then we went to the house where we were going to sleep to leave our bags, and lo and behold our hostess started passing in plates of rice with Maggi (like ramen noodles) on top. And plates in PNG aren’t like plates in America– they look more like what we would call a pie pan, and they’re always heaped up high. I was really glad to see Ketrin pass what she couldn’t eat to Pol and him pass the extra on around, and since this was a team of mostly men I didn’t have to worry about finishing everything on my plate. But then on the way to the service someone gave Ketrin a package of food for my supper, and when we got back after the service yet another lady (the mother of my language helper Susan, who I told you about last week) had brought us a pot of rice! Needless to say, I was really glad again for all of the “mountain men” (who had been joking earlier that being a mountain man means you can eat a mountain of food!) because I couldn’t eat another bite. Even they could barely finish it all!

We slept in the house of a man named Timothy. Ketrin and I had a little twin-sized foam mattress in one little room, and the rest slept in a similar small room next to us and in the little hallway where we had sat earlier to eat. I didn’t see them obviously, but it sure must have been cramped! I wasn’t uncomfortable and rested well, but I don’t remember actually sleeping. I do remember lots of other things though… like pigs moving around under the house and the rooster that started crowing at 3:20 am just outside and continued at regular intervals until daybreak! πŸ™‚

In the morning we woke early and I wish you could have seen the sun coming up over Mount Michael. I had my camera along on the trip but already had enough attention and didn’t want to attract any more by getting it out. (If you’ve ever taken a camera to a third world country you know what I mean!) We had an early service– before 7:00 I think– because people were up anyway and we wanted to catch the kids before they left for school. The numbers were much smaller though. Attention still was good, but after the service when I walked back over to where the adults had met there were all kinds of people standing around shouting at each other over various grievances… something about a guy who had borrowed some pigs to pay a bride price and never paid for them… something about an old grievance from 2003… then a guy yelled that the missionaries were still there and they should discuss all of that later. πŸ™‚ I think we left about 9 or 9:30, and Mr. Smith met us with the truck a little ways down the road. We got back to Kiari a little after noon.

Please pray for the Smiths as they head out to Goroka tomorrow to meet Karen Hall, our new team member. She’ll be doing Bible clubs and literacy work. I think they’re all coming back to Kiari next Wednesday.

You made it to the end– thanks for reading this far! πŸ™‚ Hope you have a great week.

Elizabeth

“O use me, Lord, use even me, Just as Thou wilt, and when, and where….” -Frances Ridley Havergal

To check email in Kiari, I carry my computer about a mile down the mountain to church and stand holding it on the edge of a windy overlook where a fitful cell phone signal connects me to the outside world. ☺ Due to this limited connection, I have to limit the file size of my incoming mail. To ensure your message will reach me, please don’t send pictures or attachments. It’s also helpful if you delete the text of previous messages. In other words, leave off all the β€œextras”—but do still write! ☺

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Rolls without an oven, fighting between two hauslains, and a mission trip

23 October 2010

The past week has been relatively normal. Last Saturday after I finally got my last post to send, I went over to the house of Julie, one of the ladies from church. Her husband, Benson, was actually the first person from Kiari to get saved, and if I remember correctly it was because of his influence that our mission station was founded in Kiari about 10 years ago. Julie had invited me to come watch her make “buns” (rolls). People here don’t have kitchens like we think of: no counters, refrigerators, ovens or stoves, just a fire pit in the middle of the house, so I was excited to see how she did it. She sat on the floor the whole time, taking pieces from a big pot of already-risen dough and putting them down into another big pot. When all the rolls were down, she put on the flat lid and put the pot over the fire with more fire piled on top. As soon as she heard sizzling, she pulled the fire underneath down to just coals. The fire on top kept going strong. From time to time she lifted the lid to watch how the rolls were doing, and when they were brown she took them out. They were yummy as they could be– just like Mama’s, only with a hint of ginger.

I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned helping with choir in Catherine’s absence. Don’t worry, I don’t get up in church and lead music or anything, I just teach the choir their songs. They have their voices only– no instruments. We’ve recently started on “Jisas Em i Pren b’long Sinman”– “Jesus, What a Friend for Sinners”. Last Sunday I taught them the harmony for the first line. It’s really going to be beautiful– I wish you could hear it!

During the week I’ve been working on more school preparations. Just when I think I’ve got everything ready, I remember with a jolt something else really important! Please do continue to pray that the Lord would give real wisdom beyond my experience as I prepare for this school year. Only two weeks ’til we start!!!

Today Susan, my language helper, came for a lesson. She’s a dear lady who I’ve wanted to tell you about for a while, and today is the day. I even have a picture, taken just this afternoon (at least it’s hopefully attached!). Susan had planned to come on Wednesday, but her hauslain (group of houses) is in a fight with another one. It all started over a card game, and words turned to spears, unfortunately. Literal spears, that is. :S Susan explained to me that when the men are fighting, the women aren’t involved directly but they need to stay close by and keep an eye on things so that if the enemy decides to burn houses down, the women can run home quick and grab everything and run away. Thankfully only one man has been hurt (speared in the side), but as of this afternoon the magistrates were still trying to settle on appropriate compensation to end the fight. Please pray that the Lord would work in hearts through this. Apparently Susan had an opportunity to share with an unsaved girl her faith that the happenings of each day are in the hand of the Lord. Pray that this girl would come to Christ.

And finally, please be in prayer this coming Tuesday and Wednesday as a team from church goes on a mission trip to the village of Yowai. It’s apparently about a three hour hike away. I’m planning to go, Lord willing. We’ll hike over on Tuesday, hold an adult preaching service and children’s Bible club, spend the night, and come back on Wednesday (hopefully getting a chance to “outim tok bilong God”– share God’s Word– again in the morning before we leave. It will be my first time to do something like this here, and I’m really excited. Please pray that the Lord would be preparing hearts and that He would show Himself strong throughout the whole thing.

Hope you have a great week!

Elizabeth

Rolls without an oven, fighting between two hauslains, and a mission trip

23 October 2010

The past week has been relatively normal. Last Saturday after I finally got my last post to send, I went over to the house of Julie, one of the ladies from church. Her husband, Benson, was actually the first person from Kiari to get saved, and if I remember correctly it was because of his influence that our mission station was founded in Kiari about 10 years ago. Julie had invited me to come watch her make “buns” (rolls). People here don’t have kitchens like we think of: no counters, refrigerators, ovens or stoves, just a fire pit in the middle of the house, so I was excited to see how she did it. She sat on the floor the whole time, taking pieces from a big pot of already-risen dough and putting them down into another big pot. When all the rolls were down, she put on the flat lid and put the pot over the fire with more fire piled on top. As soon as she heard sizzling, she pulled the fire underneath down to just coals. The fire on top kept going strong. From time to time she lifted the lid to watch how the rolls were doing, and when they were brown she took them out. They were yummy as they could be– just like Mama’s, only with a hint of ginger.

I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned helping with choir in Catherine’s absence. Don’t worry, I don’t get up in church and lead music or anything, I just teach the choir their songs. They have their voices only– no instruments. We’ve recently started on “Jisas Em i Pren b’long Sinman”– “Jesus, What a Friend for Sinners”. Last Sunday I taught them the harmony for the first line. It’s really going to be beautiful– I wish you could hear it!

During the week I’ve been working on more school preparations. Just when I think I’ve got everything ready, I remember with a jolt something else really important! Please do continue to pray that the Lord would give real wisdom beyond my experience as I prepare for this school year. Only two weeks ’til we start!!!

Today Susan, my language helper, came for a lesson. She’s a dear lady who I’ve wanted to tell you about for a while, and today is the day. I even have a picture, taken just this afternoon (at least it’s hopefully attached!). Susan had planned to come on Wednesday, but her hauslain (group of houses) is in a fight with another one. It all started over a card game, and words turned to spears, unfortunately. Literal spears, that is. :S Susan explained to me that when the men are fighting, the women aren’t involved directly but they need to stay close by and keep an eye on things so that if the enemy decides to burn houses down, the women can run home quick and grab everything and run away. Thankfully only one man has been hurt (speared in the side), but as of this afternoon the magistrates were still trying to settle on appropriate compensation to end the fight. Please pray that the Lord would work in hearts through this. Apparently Susan had an opportunity to share with an unsaved girl her faith that the happenings of each day are in the hand of the Lord. Pray that this girl would come to Christ.

And finally, please be in prayer this coming Tuesday and Wednesday as a team from church goes on a mission trip to the village of Yowai. It’s apparently about a three hour hike away. I’m planning to go, Lord willing. We’ll hike over on Tuesday, hold an adult preaching service and children’s Bible club, spend the night, and come back on Wednesday (hopefully getting a chance to “outim tok bilong God”– share God’s Word– again in the morning before we leave. It will be my first time to do something like this here, and I’m really excited. Please pray that the Lord would be preparing hearts and that He would show Himself strong throughout the whole thing.

Hope you have a great week!

Elizabeth

Answered prayer and a different kind of day

16 October 2010

First I want to thank you all for praying for rain. The Lord answered right away! It appears that rainy season is finally starting, as we have gotten rain several nights in a row. Mrs. Smith was exulting the other day that we can now measure the water in our tanks by percents rather than inches. πŸ™‚ I just radioed Brother Randy to ask what the latest figure was, and he said we’re at about 34%, and if I really wanted to bore you with the details, our total capacity (for all the missionaries) is 23,500 liters. For those (including me) who aren’t as familiar with the metric system, if I’m figuring right that’s 5,875 gallons, which means we now have nearly 2,000 gallons of water. What a HUGE blessing!!!

Today was a different kind of day– lots of firsts for me. There was a mining show at the Kensa hauslain having to do with a gold mine somewhere, and at 7:45 a representative came to the Smiths’ house to ask Brother Randy if he would preach at 8:30. πŸ™‚ The Smiths called me to ask if I wanted to go along, and I most certainly did. πŸ™‚ When I got to their house I about fell over because Brother Randy came out wearing a tie– the first I’ve seen in PNG. πŸ™‚ We all piled into the truck and drove down to church (the first time I’ve ridden in a car in over a month if I remember right) and then walked the rest of the way to Kensa. (Yesterday when Jeff drove our poor old truck through there, Security (a combination of visiting policemen and regular Kiari guys with bows and arrows) told him not to come back because he was disturbing the peace! You have to hear our truck to really appreciate that– and you have to live in PNG for a while to realize how funny it is that they came up with that particular phrase!) There were loads of people, many of them prancing around all dressed up in their traditional leaves and feathers and paint– this is the first time I’ve seen that too. And I can’t fail to mention the THREE cars, which constitutes a definite traffic jam because usually ours is the only car in Kiari! Other than those elements, however, the whole thing reminded me of a standard hoopla in the States: groups of people sitting or standing on a hill facing the grandstand (though the grandstand was definitely different from any I’ve ever seen– I’m going to try to attach a picture so you’ll have to let me know if it goes through), many of them smoking (though here many of the cigarettes are homemade and likely contain something stronger than tobacco); little kids hanging on to big hands and looking around wide-eyed at everything; lengthy introductions of lots of dignitaries (including the governor, which was really a big deal) and lengthier speeches by said dignitaries, etc., etc. We left after those speeches because the next thing on the program was shouting and dancing in response to the speeches, followed by a “happy moment”, whatever that means. πŸ™‚ Plus it was past noon, and lunch was sounding mighty good.

Brother Randy’s devotional actually preceded all of the speeches. He chose to preach about three things even more precious than gold: God’s Word, the blood of Jesus, and the souls of men. I sat there listening with tears running down my face as I thought about how many hundreds of lost people were hearing the gospel so clearly presented and prayed for them to really listen with open hearts. Please, please pray with me that the Lord would bring these words of His back to folks’ minds again and again and give them no rest until they turn to Him.

My school preparations are basically finished now, and I’m hoping to spend time “rounding”, as they say, with the girls and ladies while I have the chance before the busyness of the school year sets in. Please pray that my Pidgin would improve, that I’d gain a better understanding of Kiarians’ thinking and way of life, and that the Lord would give me opportunities to minister to them even as they teach and help me.

Hope you have a great rest of the week!

Elizabeth

“O use me, Lord, use even me, Just as Thou wilt, and when, and where….” -Frances Ridley Havergal

Mercy drops round us are falling…

9 October 2010

…but for the showers we plead! And that would refer to both literal rain showers and spiritual “showers of blessing.” I thought of this tonight as the skies darkened and rain drummed on my tin roof (and I cheered!) for just a few minutes before it decreased to mere sprinkles, leaving me with only about 5 gal. of water from my roof. How desperately we need the rain, but how much more desperately we need the Lord to shower His blessing on our work here! So many times believers and missionaries alike have given forth the Word clearly to lost men and women with few to no visible results. So many have heard again and again but have not yet “turned heart”. Please plead with us for the Lord to work in these people and draw them mightily to Himself, taking away their hearts of stone and giving them hearts of flesh, sending us “significant rain” of blessing (and water too!) here in Kiari.

I’m most delighted to announce that our school meeting yesterday seemed to go quite well. Some of you could probably tell that I was kind of dreading it. After all, if I was in their place (many of them unbelievers) and someone told me that my child had to sit out of school for a year, I would probably be less than happy about it! However, God was good and as far as I could see there was no negative reaction whatsoever. The four students whose grade won’t be offered this year have two weeks to let Brother Randy know if they want to opt for the partial program of Bible, History, Vacation Stations, and a few extra weekly classes (Music, Health, PE). Please pray that they would if the Lord wills, and that either way they’d stay in Kiari and on the right track. Their names are Bandi (boy– about 14 and excellent in math), McGregor (boy– about 12 and a great writer), Esther (about 14 and a hard worker– academically “Most Improved” last year), and Sanange (girl– about 13– such a positive influence and probably our brightest student all-around). Also within the week Bro. Randy will be checking up on the summer conduct of all of the students to make sure they’re eligible to be re-enrolled before he officially accepts them for the new school year. Please pray that they will be able to be marked for the new year, but even more importantly that if there is any issue, the Lord would bring it to light and keep our school pure.

I do apologize for the delay since my last post. I was working on getting my prayer letter out, and it took three times (Wed., Sun., and another Wed.) before it finally went due to a faltering connection. So, needless to say, writing yet another update was about the furthest thing from my mind at the time. Then I just realized tonight that I left my little notebook at church where I record not only prayer requests but also daily events, so without that “cheat sheet” it’s harder to remember what’s gone on since I last posted. Let’s see… Last Friday the Smiths had a birthday party for their three girls and invited all of the church girls. I’d say about 30 of them came. I got to make cupcakes for it and was in charge of the games. That was fun. πŸ™‚ We played tug of war, jump rope, clothespin tag, dodgeball, steal the bacon, and several other games that I can’t remember, and we also had a three-legged race and a relay game. I think the three-legged race was best– I wish you could have seen the looks on the kids’ faces and heard their giggles as they all frantically stumbled towards me with their buddies! πŸ™‚

Well, it’s late and this is getting long so I’ll bid you goodnight. Have a great weekend!

Elizabeth

“O use me, Lord, use even me, Just as Thou wilt, and when, and where….” -Frances Ridley Havergal