When the cat’s away, the mice do not play …

Keith flew to Ukarumpa for three weeks on Friday 3rd May: two weeks to familiarise himself with the Finance Office as he observed what happens and when, and the middle week for meetings and catch-ups with various people and departments ahead of moving there in September. (see 2019_03 Newsletter) This left me in charge of the Lae Regional Centre. Seeing we had already been here for more than 4 years I thought I would do a good job of filling in for Keith as well as doing my own job. Boy was I in for a steep learning curve.

Saturday 4th May

With several power outages over the weekend, I appreciated how Peter, our groundsman, made sure that the generator was full of diesel on Friday before he finished work.

There was a water pipe burst somewhere in or out of Lae so the Centre had low water pressure for three or four days but everything came good about Wednesday or Thursday.

Sunday 5th May

I discovered the pool was losing water and the pool pump was struggling so with some telephone advice from Keith, I made sure all things were good.

Our Sunday afternoon Bible study group met at our place for study and afternoon tea.

Monday 6th May

Peter had to fix the leaking pool liner and adjust things for a faulty pool pump.

The gas technician came and fixed the manager’s house hot water system. No more boiling the gas kettle for a hot bath.

I’m guessing that due to the multiple power outages on the weekend, the uninterruptible power source (UPS) device decided it was not going to start. This certainly made things interesting for several days. (A UPS is used in places that experience frequent loss of mains power) This particular UPS is used to provide consistent power to our internal computer programs, phones and internet.

Tuesday 7th May (continued to work on UPS’s)

The day started with a 7.2 earthquake about 50 kilometres from Lae. All ok. No damage as far as I can tell.

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Wednesday 8th May (continued to work on UPS’s)

Peter and I with Larua, our office manager, installed a new commercial dryer for the guesthouse. Joel, a Wycliffe worker based in Ukarumpa, had 3 assistant apprentices as he showed us how to hard-wire a clothes dryer into the main electricity.

Thursday 9th May (continued to work on UPS’s)

2 new UPS batteries arrived from Ukarumpa which I then installed into the UPS.

Friday 10th May (continued to work on UPS’s)

With the UPS charging overnight, most of the computer system is now working but not the wireless internet. Never mind, I learnt a terrible lot about UPS’s this week so the next time Keith is away I’ll be that much more knowledgeable. Really I could say that about everything this week.

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Saturday 11th May

Took a translator out to Aigris Wharf to catch a banana boat to go the village. He is going to say thank you for building him a translation village house which will make it easier and more comfortable for him to work in the village.

Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Please pray…

  • thankful and grateful for our fantastic staff who worked with me to sort things out
  • thankful for the experienced computer staff in Ukarumpa who were able to explain to me over the phone what to do to almost fix our computer and telephone systems
  • Keith is in Ukarumpa observing how things happen in the Finance Office for three weeks. Please pray for us as this is the longest time that we have been separated in our marriage, and pray that Keith will profit from his time in Ukarumpa.
  • Thankful that the centre could continue to provide accommodation for Wycliffe and other church missionaries in spite of our ‘momentary problems’.
  • One expat church missionary staying at our guesthouse had a medical test that came back for malaria and typhoid. Please pray for Luther that he rests and will renew his health and strength.

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A crucial need …

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In mid-2017, a Wycliffe Australia contact filmed everyone’s favourite mission couple for a promotional video calling for managers to commit to mission roles. We just received word that the finished product is available, and can be viewed either on Vimeo or YouTube .

The message could not be more appropriate to our present situation here in PNG. As part of the regular mid-year exodus, with many families having children graduating from the international school system, fourteen senior department managers and directors are leaving the country. Six of these are ending their term of service in PNG.

Many of these roles have been internally filled – or temporarily filled – though this often leaves a vacuum in some other area as existing mission staff step up into management. We ourselves are leaving a role in Lae we have thoroughly enjoyed over the past five years, for Keith to fill a desperate need in the finance area.

We truly need people with general management experience, that can apply their skills to a range of situations including administration, IT, finance, aviation, construction & maintenance, workplace training, education, and children and youth services.

Please pray….
 for immediate vacancies to be appropriately filled
 that more people may join us to share the load
 that those having a much needed break will be renewed and equipped to continue serving
 for the graduating students from mission families, as they adjust to a future in their ‘home country’, and for those families who will be returning to the mission field after settling a child into education or employment

Getting down and dirty …

As we begin to think of our work at Lae Regional Centre in terms of finishing well, one aspect of this is to see that several maintenance projects are brought to a conclusion. This week was all about getting our septic systems in good order, bringing the infrastructure up to an acceptable standard.

 

WARNING – recommend not reading the following while eating! ]

After cutting access points to one of several septic tanks on site – which happened to have a half-size basketball court laid on top – Peter ‘got down to business’ [groan] and stirred the pot so to speak, mixing in some material to break down the sludge so that the tank could be pumped out later in the week. We’ll spare you a close-up of the foaming contents as the 50 kilograms of caustic soda does its work. It is difficult to say when this was last done, but the 2 metre diameter and 1.5 metre deep pit was filled up to around 30 centimetres from the top!

Simon busied himself digging out root-infested pipework and unearthing a broken pipe here and there, and the whole system has been upgraded with improved inspection points. Keith can now produce drawings locating all of the below-ground services and leave instructions for ongoing maintenance. The initial career experience in civil engineering certainly comes in handy at times.

There are many options for projects to undertake – a deck extension to our workshop and conference building, electrical repair and roof replacement to the main office, upgrading several bathrooms, and replacing a solar hot water system to a staff residence. It will be a challenge to fit all, or perhaps even most of these projects into the four months we have left in Lae.

Please pray

  • That we effectively prioritise tasks over the coming months
  • For ‘finishing well’ in terms of relationships not to be overwhelmed by the many projects
  • That we be content with the end result of our kingdom service in Lae

There goes another one…

DSC01997_1280x853The end of a year brings with it certain accompaniments – celebrations, resolutions,…. and missionary newsletters! You can find our December 2018 edition here.

Another common New Year sighting is ‘The Year in Review’, so we have posted a few of our highlights for our regular followers to remember with us.

 

Hannah became Mrs Boyle in April, pleasing Corey no end, and we got to climb a volcano during a holiday in Rabaul on our way back to PNG.

 

Visits from Keith’s Dad and a family friend were closely followed by a volunteer work party that constructed us a new playground.

2018 bibles_1280x860To see our organisation celebrate forty-one Scripture resources produced in 2018, reaching twenty-nine different PNG languages, was a true highlight. These included full New Testaments, individual books such as a Gospel of Mark, audible Bibles and dubbed translations of the Jesus Film.

It has been quite a memorable year in our family life, our ministry work here in Lae, and in the wider work of Bible translation that we are here to support. Thank you all for your ongoing prayers and encouragement.

Check out our final newsletter for 2018.

 

Hands wide open…

Much has been said these past weeks on the subject of international financial aid, with suggestions that it is being given and used inappropriately. It is apparent that some consider that such aid comes with limits and conditions, as though the help is held in a closed fist until certain assurances are made. Thankfully, when we look to God’s perspective on giving aid, the issue is enveloped in terms of grace and generosity.

You shall give to him freely, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him, because for this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake. For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’  (Deuteronomy 15:10-11 ESV)

Note that this passage, taken from the numerous laws given to Israel through Moses, does not specifically target the affluent within a community. The command is to be generous within the context of lending freely (15:8) whatever is needed by a poor brother, without thought of when you may be repaid. No-one would ever think of repaying a philanthropic millionaire! The situation here is one of helping a brother in some small way when they just don’t have the means of helping themselves, even when it may be tempting to consider your own limited pantry, or the fact that you planned to use that cordless drill on the weekend and he probably won’t return it in time!

Here in Papua New Guinea, there are frequent calls on us, both personally and through our role in Lae, to give financial aid or to provide resources at our disposal. These even come from opportunistic strangers, who respond to our explanations that we just cannot help them with a “Mi traim tasol.”….. meaning “I just thought I’d ask.”

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Northeast Old Testament Cluster Project workshop in Ukarumpa
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Taitus & Mila Bauyang

What gives us great joy, however, is helping the locals who are giving over and over from their only real resources – their time and energy – as they commit to translating Scripture into their tokples (vernacular language).

Today, Taitus and Mila, a husband and wife translation team, came into our Lae Centre to upload their latest work to the Wycliffe server via internet so that it could be prepared for consultant checking in November. Does not sound much…. until you understand that they travel over several days to get from their village in the Finschhafen area to Lae, and then learn that they arrived with broad smiles and warm greetings for us. This godly couple are not looking for what they might gain from this association with the Western translators, but for God to be glorified through their efforts.

They were so appreciative of our assistance, and we did so little really…. just sharing of our time and the ability that comes from our education and training. But those smiles and that brotherly embrace….. what an awesome repayment plan!

Please pray….

  • that the community would value the OT translation that Taitus and Mila are working towards
  • that the Lord would indeed bless them in all that they undertake
  • for the consultant checking process in Ukarumpa during November, for safe travel for all concerned and physical sustaining through the task

 

I don’t like it!

simon-the-leper-66a312e7-7f2c-4657-a617-3cc9ca6af8d-resize-750With PNG in the world news for what could be said are all the wrong reasons, I thought a comment from within may help to put things in context.

Sectors of the Australian political scene and media outlets are raising questions about providing financial aid to a country where wasteful spending appears to be the norm. APEC expenditure is just one issue, but it is a big enough issue to make a splash on the world stage and generate plenty of digital headlines.

Here within PNG, it is an issue being discussed at bus stops, in store queues, and over the counter at hardware stores. Many people are upset, confused, and generally frustrated at the divide between the have’s and the have not’s. In a society where many of the 8.25 million population struggle to obtain adequate health and education services, such a public display of affluence makes disturbing reading.

As debate continues over the reality of this particular expense being carried by the public purse or by private interests, the answer makes little difference in the minds of those caught up in the poverty struggle. The fact that someone, somewhere in the world, thinks it normal to enjoy a luxury vehicle that could feed, educate and care for an entire family in PNG for at least 15 years tends to run around your head for a bit, and gnaw at your heart.

However, perhaps surprisingly, Jesus put his fellow guests in their place when they were critical of the woman who came into a gathering and anointed him with expensive perfume, sighting wasteful spending that could have benefited the poor.

“Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me.” (Mark 14:6-7  ESV)

So how should we respond to waste and apparent apathy towards the needy? Jesus tells us to look inwardly, and to look to him.

Why are outside interests troubled by this? Are they heavy-hearted at the plight of the poor in PNG, or incensed that people with money waste it in a way that they certainly wouldn’t …… “Now, if I had $250,000 to spare…..”

In his gospel account of this event, Mark includes the statement, “whenever you want, you can do good for (the poor)”. So if you see someone in poverty and think “I don’t like it!”, great….. there is an opportunity for you to act.

So what form should this action take? The woman chose to honour Jesus with the best that she had…. equivalent to a year’s wages. Now, it’s between you and God what your best is, be it a care package as Christmas approaches, or regularly helping out at a soup kitchen , or making a life choice to shift from consumer to servant.

If you come to that decision point, Jesus says “Do it… now.” You may not have the opportunity again.

Next blog….. Hand’s wide open

A different outlook….

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This is a one-of-a-kind edition of our ‘Ramblings’…. as it comes from Wewak on PNG’s north-west coast. We are providing relief management of the Wewak Regional Centre for ten days, allowing the current managers to have a break. Wewak was on our list of places to visit while in PNG, so we can now tick that off.

Not that we have had much time to see the sights, as the past week has seen a steady flow of folk coming in to stay, together with meeting incoming mission aircraft, and dealing with routine needs on site.

There are four staff – two housekeepers, a groundsman and night security – so everything else falls to us, including caring for three cats whose purpose remains a mystery, as we haven’t seen any rats… perhaps they ARE doing their job!

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Physically there are differences to Lae – the surf beaches, small town centre, and less vehicle traffic – but the people remain friendly, interested in what we are doing in PNG, and they react positively to our mission role.

We have struggled to adjust in some ways to the change in pace, different methods and new relationships, knowing that we are here for such a short time. We did not realise the extent to which we have become accustomed to the ‘Lae way of doing things’. To do anything well in PNG takes time… and patience for God to work His will through the situation.

We have managed a few afternoon walks around our hilltop suburb, and did steal away for a few hours on Saturday to check out a local beach, savouring the change from the somewhat muddy brown river delta of inner-city Lae.

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Seeing the place will help us to connect with the many East Sepik people that we meet in Lae for whom asples (place of birth) is a significant thing, as it is for all Papua Niuginians.

Please pray …

  • For the Sepik area teams using the Wewak Regional Centre as a base.
  • For the Oral Bible Storytelling (OBS) workshop meeting in Wewak from 15-31 October
  • Thankful that our Lae staff – led by Larua – have been able to maintain the Centre operations in our two-week absence.