Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Vacation Bible School in Aiyura Valley, Papua New Guinea

Many adult and teen volunteers from our mission center joined hearts & hands with two national churches to hold a Holiday Bible School January 2-6, 2017.

Eli and I joined the team that headed out to the Lutheran Renewal Church in the village of Ba'e. Each day began with a short drive to the Ba'e River, where we would ford on foot and then take hike a short to the village church. As if often the case during rainy season, the river was too high and fast for crossing on three of the days. That circumstance required a bit of a longer drive around to cross and a bit of a longer hike. But, we really enjoyed getting to walk through some other villages that we haven't had the opportunity to visit yet.
Our team crossing the river

I tried to keep my skirt dry!
There were lots of muddy feet
The theme of the VBS was "Stand Strong Like Daniel". The children were encouraged from stories from the Book of Daniel to keep their lives clean, to become people of prayer, to humble themselves before the Lord, and to trust God in all circumstances.
The children who attended were very enthusiastic to hear the Bible stories, sing loudly, and play some wild games.

What a blast we had!! And what a privilege to bring the Word of God to these children and work alongside our national brothers and sisters!

LOTS of Muddy Feet
Me with the Grade 2-4 Blue Team

Eli in the front row

The Limbo

Children entering the Kingdom of God

Life in the Land of the Unexpected: The Story of a Truck Rollover

Joel went out as truck driver with a building team from the Construction and Maintenance Department (CAM) which will be building a home for the Boyd family, Bible translators in Enga Province. The trip that should have been about 12 hours’ drive on difficult roads, spread over two days, ended after just a few hours. The truck hit a pothole, causing the passenger-side tires to fall off the edge of the road and the top-heavy truck to turn over onto its passenger side in a grassy ditch.
Thankfully, there were only two very minor injuries. The construction materials loaded in the back of the truck shifted, but were undamaged. The truck itself was only slightly damaged. EVERYTHING and EVERYONE came out essentially unscathed, except maybe Joel’s pride. If you were going to have a trucking accident, you would want it to happen like this one did.

Our mission center dispatched personnel and security resources, and a private tow truck arrived several hours later to upright the vehicle. A trucking company was hired; the CAM team spent 12 hours the next day transferring the load from our truck to the commercial truck. That vehicle and the building team headed out to the village the following morning, and it looks like the build will begin just 24 hours after it was supposed to.

But if you’re like me, you start to ask, “WHY?” God, why did you allow this to happen? Why all the extra stress, worry and work for so many people? Why the extra manpower, vehicles and financial resources? Just to have the build go on as planned, if only a little delayed???

Then, I saw this photo…

That white face under the baseball cap in the midst of all of those earnest, dark faces is Bible translator Adam Boyd. He’s sitting in the shade of the upturned truck which carries the makings of his family’s home (for which they’ve been waiting for YEARS)… and he is sharing about the work of Bible translation and the importance of God’s Word in the language people understand best. Making the most of every opportunity.

*THIS* is the GLORY of God.

Sometimes God doesn’t show you what He is up to in the midst of your difficult circumstances. Sometimes He does.

“For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:5-6

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Baking Monster Cookies in the Village

During the month that our family lived in Awalmade Village, Papua New Guinea, I learned many things about cooking over an open fire. It's not really knowledge that you can explain verbally, you just kind of get a "feel" for it. For example, knowing how hot the fire has to be to cook but not burn, and when do you need to start "turning down" the heat in order to finish things well.

We made a village pizza by cooking the dough on the first side, then flipping it over, adding the toppings, and covering the skillet to melt the cheese. I have a feeling that if we'd been served this pizza in the U.S., we might've turned our noses up at it. But, in Awalmade Village, it tasted great!!

This is a pot oven. You put about two inches of sand inside and then set some clean tuna cans on top of that. The sand spreads out and holds the heat from the fire so that there is a more consistent temperature inside the oven. Keep the lid on to hold in the heat and you actually have a pretty decent baking apparatus! It takes a pretty hot fire and some experience to know when it's too hot. That experience comes by trial and error: some of my banana bread loaves were burned on the edges and still raw in the middle. But I eventually caught on.
Baking Bread
When you're baking in a pot oven, you want to do a lot of baking at once, because once you have the fire right and the oven heated you really want to take advantage of that! Imagine trying to line up all your ingredients and your mixing station on a couple of thin, rough board counter tops. You have to find something to cover all of your dishes with because the flies want to land on everything. You've got sweat dripping from every limb because it's more than 90 degrees and very humid. There's no washing water handy, so you're going to end up using almost every dish you own in the process.

On this day, I made three loaves of banana bread, one loaf of sourdough bread, and a batch of my husband's favorite cookies--monster cookies. You can see that the two loaves in the containers have all of the sides and bottom cut off because the edges were burned by the time the middle was done; the pot oven was too hot. I do not recommend baking cookies in the pot oven because you can only bake about 8 at a time so it takes a LOOOOONG time to get them all done. And the chocolate chips were already melted from the climate before they ever went into the oven! 
But, my boys loved them (even without M&M's), so I guess it was worth it!! Thinking back, I think that round of baking took about 6 hours (thankfully, I could fit 2 loaf pans in my oven at once).

Our was papa (guardian father) LOVED banana bread! So for our last big bung kai (family potluck) in the village, he put out the word and people brought me dozens of bananas so that I could make a lot of banana bread and banana cake for our big get-together. Our PNG family had never done any baking because they didn't have the right utensils or an oven. So, I held a baking lesson in order to get all of that cake ready. They had never read a recipe or measured ingredients, so we had to start with the basics. Most of them took their turn reading the recipe I had translated into Tok Pisin, practicing measuring the ingredients carefully, and mixing things in the order & manner given. It was so fun hearing them give each other reminders and advice as they took their turns. They did a great job! 

Hopefully, they'll be able to remember their lessons because "was papa" told me that if they don't make him banana bread after we left, he was going to call me and tattle on them!!
The yummy results of our baking lesson

 After all that baking, you get to go cool down in the river as you wash every dish you own!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Some Things I Learned While Living in a Village in Papua New Guinea

I don't know how many items will be on this list.

It is in no particular order.

I reserve the right to add more items later after my brain has processed this whole experience for a little while longer.

1. It's amazingly easy to forget to brush your teeth in the village.
2. You know how when you feel like you have bugs crawling on you and then you can't NOT think about it...yeah...you DO have bugs crawling on you.
3. It gets dark quickly. Start cooking supper early (4:30 at the latest) so you don't have to cook and wash dishes in the river in the dark. If you try to wear a headlamp, humongous flying insects that you've never heard of before will be all over you.
4. Stop fighting the mud. Just stop.
5. Clean is relative. When you wash your self, your laundry, and your dishes in the same river...a stream, really...(see #4)
6. Life without refrigeration is possible. Not nice though.
7. When you finally give up on seeking comfort, you can sleep anywhere. For short, painful periods of time.
8. Fire ants do not care who you are. (See #2)
9. Women in this country are amazing!! and very strong!!

That is all. For now.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

We've Arrived in Papua New Guinea!

After working and praying so long toward this, it's actually kind of surreal to BE HERE FINALLY!!

Here are a few pictures to let our family know we are well and so you can see a little bit of what our situation is like (for a few days anyway), while we wait for training to begin on June 24th.
The three of us at Madang, Papua New Guinea

The Guest house where we are staying for a few days until training begins.
The view from our porch
Joel and Eli chillin'

Pizza with a view


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Our Commissioning Service & Send-Off Party

The past two weekends, we experienced new milestones in our journey to Papua New Guinea: our commissioning service and a send-off open house. We are so blessed to have so many people who care for us and serve us by participating in our Wycliffe ministry in these ways!

On June 19th, the Evangelical Free Church of Marshalltown commissioned us as the first missionaries from our own church family who will go out as full-time, foreign missionaries. Our pastors and elders shared some scripture and prayed for us as we "go". Though we are the first to go as foreign missionaries, we are not E Free's first efforts in making Christ known to the nations! We are so proud of our church family and their heart for the nations; AND we feel very privileged to represent our spiritual family as we begin our work in Papua New Guinea.

And, we were so grateful to have our grown children, Cady & Lucas (& wife, Alyssa); our grandchildren, Lily & Henry; Tina's parents, Sam & Karen Herkelman; and Tina's great-uncle & great-aunt, Delbert & Darlene Eakins; present to witness and participate in our commissioning. THANK YOU for supporting us and sending us with your blessings!!

When Pastor Bob invited anyone who wanted to join us on the stage to pray for us and symbolically lay hands on us...WOW! It was overwhelming and turned into a big bawl-fest!!

This past Sunday, June 26th, we had a "farewell" open house and ice cream party. We estimate around 150 people stopped by to give us a word of encouragement, a hug, and to send us on our way. WOW!! It was so wonderful to see so many friends, partners, and loved ones on one day!!

We were able to get a picture with almost everyone who
stopped by to see us. What fun! This is one of my favorites
because of Yohan's sideways look at Joel! :)
We were afraid we would cry a lot with all of the goodbyes, but, really, it was just such a sweet, sweet blessing to see everyone!

THANK YOU to everyone who attended. THANK YOU to everyone who donated ice cream toppings. THANK YOU to our small group, the Tweedys, and the Mattsons for their help in serving us and all of our guests.

Lily & Henry enjoying the party!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Good-byes and Good Hellos

Well, we have officially finished the first transition in our journey to Papua New Guinea! We have sold and moved out of our acreage home and have moved into a cute little rental home in Marshalltown. When we were at our Equip training in Orlando in June, they taught us the importance of saying good good-byes so that you can say good hellos. So far, so "good".

Here is a little of the photo record of this part of the journey:

We said good-bye to the swing set, rope swing, barn, camp fire and our house of 8 years.

Good-bye swing set

Getting ready to jump onto the rope swing

Good-bye camp fire
Wonderful friends from church helping us move
Good-bye acreage & home
We have enjoyed our hellos to our cute little rental home in Marshalltown. We get to attend last-minute programs at the library, 40 minute grocery shopping trips (as opposed to almost 2 hours), walks on a sidewalk, chatting with neighbors, and a 10-minute drive to church! We have already been able to host two different couples in our home for dinner, in just the past week!
Our temporary little place
Eli chatting with our across-the-street neighbor

Eli is enjoying long summer days playing with friends for the first time in his life. I think this is his favorite part of the move (and it blesses his mama's heart too). These boys are almost as crazy as he is!! He spends as much of every day as he can with them.
Eli with Charlie & Kyan...his nearly constant companions!

And...HE GETS TO GO OUT FOR FOOTBALL!!! That is one happy boy right there!

"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?"
Isaiah 43:18-19