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Saturday, June 07, 2014

A Great Day for Flying

Today (Saturday), is a very special day here in Papua New Guinea.  It’s not the first day of its kind and we pray not the last.  As I write this, 80 people are being flown from the SIL translation center here in Ukarumpa to Long Island (about 120 miles by air) off the north coast (of PNG, not east of NYC) to attend the Arop Lokep NT dedication.  These guests are from all over, including some friends from JAARS.  Even though we have four Quest Kodiak planes serving here (praise God), the aviation department enlisted help from MAF (Missions Aviation Fellowship); and their plane came over from Goroka to help ferry people to the island. Each plane will make two trips from here.

Click to zoon
We awoke this morning to the usual fog and low clouds hugging the mountains surrounding Ukarumpa.  While this normally burns off before 8 am allowing our planes to begin their normal flight schedule, the heavier cloud cover delayed today’s marathon ferrying schedule until 5 minutes before 9 am.
Saturday’s are full of catch-up chores, one of which is doing laundry.  Everyone uses clotheslines. (I, yes, Jon, sometimes do laundry!) While outside several times doing said chore, it was great to see the planes go, return, go, return.  In December 2010 Julie and I attended the Malei NT dedication; and, while every celebration is different, we know everyone there this weekend will be blessed. We’re looking forward to sharing the excitement when people return on Monday.

Yes, it’s a great day for flying—especially when it means bringing the Word of God to people who are hungering for it.  Getting there any other way would be both difficult and hazardous.  We’re grateful for people who provide financial gifts and to the generosity of Quest Inc. (manufacturer of the Kodiak) who make missions aviation possible.

Friday, June 06, 2014

What is the church?

We were invited to attend the graduation of Translators’ Training Course 2014, a 6 week course held at the Pacific Training Center here at Ukarumpa.  50 national translators from 14 language groups completed the first level training or had returned for levels 2 or 3.  The amazing commitment of these (mostly) men is evident.  Most are unpaid as translators. Wives and families demonstrate their support by staying behind on their own in their villages during the six weeks.

Some students singing to the Lord
At the graduation, there was time for worship, encouragement and prayer.  Among the speeches was a devotion by the director of PTC, Max Sahl.  His message focused on the church and was really clear. “The church is not a building, and the church is not a denomination. The church is people—believers in Christ,” he said.  These translators had been selected by their church to come and prepare the Word of God in their heart language.  Their job was not to finish it and put it on a shelf for themselves, but to bring it back to the church and ensure it was effectively used there.  Some of these translators would return home, see something in their church they didn’t like and abandon the church.  Max challenged them to not do that.
What struck me, not because Max said it, but because God reminded me once again, is that church is those believers that surrounds me no matter where I am.  Much of my life has been spent moving into new communities (college, Navy assignments, new jobs in new locations, joining Wycliffe, overseas assignments, etc).  The body of Christ has often been my closest “family”, closer to me than my geographically dispersed parents and siblings. (Sorry, family.  I do love you.)

I immediately feel at home here In Ukarumpa because I’m surrounded by family.  Even in a ceremony with many men and women that I’ve never met, who exist in a culture vastly different than mine, and whom I may never see again on this earth, I am connected.
What is the church?  People connected because of Jesus.
And some day we will enjoy another celebration.  We will be the bride of Christ, gathered around His throne.  People from every tongue, tribe and nation … the church.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

i no stret

(pronounced “Ee No Straight")

Life is neither dull nor slow around the SIL translation center.  That’s one of the reasons we’ve had such difficulty finding time to post blog entries as often as we’d like.
The police came for me the other day.
Over many years, the center has had to implement all sorts of security measures to protect the center’s property.  Each missionary family has also had to take serious steps to keep “raskols” (hint: sound it out) from stealing electronics, tools and other desirable items.
All missionaries are rich, don’t you know.  We have so much more than the people we live among; and, if something is broken or stolen, it’s only a couple of months before we replace it.  (Of course, it’s our friends and supporters who come through for us at great sacrifice).
The CTS (Communications and Technical Services) department where I work has two separate buildings, obviously with a lot of equipment in them: telephone system, radios, computers, servers, satellite equipment, and a small store for computer accessories.  In addition to bars on the windows, curtains (to keep outsiders from seeing inside), and double locked doors with deadbolts, the two buildings have separate alarm systems.
The last person to leave my building is supposed to alarm the system. A couple of times I assumed wrongly that I was the last one out.  The building I work in has three work areas.  The IT manager and the telephone guy are in the other two areas.  As I engaged the system one day, the IT manager heard the panel beeps and yelled out that he was still there.  That worked.
Our workday ends at 5:00. On Thursday, I left around 5:15.  I walked out the door to check the other offices.  Manager’s office empty?  Check.  Telephone office empty?  Check.  I went back to my office, grabbed my bag, and was about to set the alarm when I heard the sound of an alarm going off!  At first I thought it was the alarm for the other building; but I checked and it wasn’t.
Just then, the telephone guy showed up and told me he had alarmed the system from the other panel, not knowing I was still inside.  My hearing is obviously not good enough because I didn’t hear the panel beeps as it became armed.  Leaving my office to check the other two offices actually triggered the alarm.
Then the police showed up.  The explanation to them?  i no stret” which, in Tok Pisin, means, he goofed (literally, a mistake or “it’s not straight”).
I guess that’s what I get for working late.  Now, like the other guys, I try to leave with or before everyone else.