Friday, February 27, 2009

Back to Michigan

Six weeks.  It sounds like such a long time, yet goes by so very quickly.  We are aboard our flight from Auckland to LA as this is being written.  It was a great vacation and mission trip, and I have a mix of feelings about coming home.  I will miss my New Zealand family and friends we leave behind.  There is always a sense of loss and grief with our departure.  Yet, there is an anticipation of seeing our family and friends in the US and getting back to “normal” life.  While it is impossible to be in more than one place at a time, it is very possible to have your heart in more than one, or in this case two places.  I am leaving some of my heart in New Zealand and Bougainville as I return home.  

If you have been following along with my adventures in B-ville, you haven’t heard much about life in New Zealand, so I’ll take this day to catch you up.  To the shock of many, I didn’t get much bike riding in.  There were several reasons: I wasn’t in great shape for the hills they have around here; There were lots of projects that needed attention around the house and also giving time to help Marcia with the kids so she could do some projects as well; but the reason I haven’t told Marcia yet was that the first Saturday I rode, there was a car-bicycle accident that I came upon shortly after it happened.  The rider was laying in front of the car with a broken collar bone and the bike was midway under the car.  The group of riders were going through a round about and the car didn’t give way.  The rider should be alright, but it affected me more than I expected.  I don’t think it will slow me down back home, but it will make me cautious.  

The projects around the house kept me busy as well.  It seemed like there was something to do almost everyday.  Brett and Kristen have bought a really nice home that is about 20 years old.  It’s probably about 1,800 square foot three bedroom ranch.  However, it hasn’t had anything done to it since it was built, so a lot is out of date and seriously needing maintenance: enter Marcia and Chris.  

Marcia had a nearly daily project of “clean kitchen - do laundry - help Rhys pick up toys.”   She also did quite a bit of painting.  The lounge (living room) is quite large (18 x 24) with a nice crown molding that was painted a silver grey and the walls were done blue gray with a dark taupe grey accent wall.  She painted that room while I was in Bougainville and then did the dining room with the same theme the last full week we were in NZ.  It was a challenge to paint while the two children were either having naps, in bed for the night or otherwise distracted (where I came in from time to time.)

My first project was removing a really 80's chandelier over the dining room table and replacing it with something much more contemporary.  We made the mistake of letting Rhys seeing the project in progress.  Rhys doesn’t handle change well, in fact, he originally was not planning to move with the rest of the family from the apartment to the new house.  While I had the fixture down and bare wires hanging out of the ceiling, Rhys came out, observed the damage and said, “I don’t appreciate it when people destroy my roof!” to accent his displeasure, he later came out and said, “This makes me very angry!”   I expected it to be a very long six weeks.  Fortunately, other projects were more warmly received.

Before leaving for Bougainville I put two more light fixtures up in the lounge which really updated the look in there.  Then we began work on the guest bath and toilet (two separate rooms) - very common in NZ.  The wall paper was a yellow vinyl that was curling up on the edges.  The idea was to remove the wall paper and paint.  Unfortunately, the builder had wall papered over raw drywall board, so removing wall paper also removed layers of the underlying board as well.  We tried our best to do as little damage as possible, but even after patching as best one could, the walls are still rough, but not too bad.  I also had to replace and repair trim around the base of the shower.  Building is really different in New Zealand.  They make great use of MDF (multi-density fiberboard - aka dense paper) in the trim.  After being exposed to water for 20 years, the trim was swollen and really nasty looking.  It has been replaced with real wood that should last a bit longer.  

Another part of the project was replacing aged flooring.  We went to the lumber yard and found a really nice looking self adhesive vinyl tiles.  They look like dark granite tiles with lighter grey grouting and really are pretty convincing.  The best part was they were on closeout and so we did the floors of both rooms for about $70 NZD (or about $35 US).  It took me a full day’s work to get them in, but the effect was so dramatic it was really fun.

After the paint and flooring were in, both rooms looked so much better, but we also wanted to update some of the fixtures with a more modern, nickle plated or chrome.  They found a nice towel bar on line and had sharp looking handles for the cabinet.  The big surprise was trying to find nickel or chrome hinges for the cabinet doors.  We looked literally everywhere.  They are not to be found in New Zealand.  We will buy some - probably at Lowes or even Meijer and have them ready to take back with them on the next trip.  It was unbelievable how much time and energy went into searching for something so simple.

After I returned from Bougainville, the next big project was repairing the deck.  They have a very nice deck that is 15 x 18.  However, it too, showed many signs of neglect.  Some boards had broken down so much that there were holes right through them.  I spent a day in the sunshine powerwashing the deck.  Several more weak boards showed up.  When all was said and done, 36 linear meters of new boards were required.  Brett and I went to the lumber yard to get the boards and found out that the deck was made of an Australian wood called kwillia.  It is very beautiful with a tight grain and costs $7.50 a meter.  Pine was $1.50 per meter and won out.  Bringing the 6 meter long boards on top of the Honda van was quite a process but after they were stained and installed the deck looks much better and is certainly safer.  Rhys helped me with the deck and it was a lot of fun.  To remove the old boards, we had to pry them up bit by bit using a claw hammer and a couple large screwdrivers.  As I would lift the board with the hammer, Rhys would put the screwdriver in the gap so I could move the hammer and begin the process again.  He also collected nails for me and helped me so much.  We had fun and later walked down to the market to buy an ice block (aka popsicle) as a reward.  

There were several other smaller projects, but we sure kept busy - going home to rest?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Homeward Bound

Saturday, February 7, 2009

We went to bed around 11 and had to be up @ 4:30 to catch the PMV (Public Motor Vehicle) down to Bukatown.  So we were up very early, dressed and finished packing in the dark and were out to the road by 5:15.  The stars were out when we first got up and very beautiful, but I could see some clouds moving in to block the view.  A few minutes after getting to the road it began to rain.  We waited under an overhang for about an hour and 15 minutes before our 5:30 ride came @ 6:45.  

A PMV is a flatbed truck with short side rails.  Planks are laid across the rails and then there is a canopy frame work overhead with a tarp attached to keep out the rain and/or sun.  There were 6 rows of planks on the one we flagged down.  (The PMV in this photo is not the one we used - it actually is much nicer and ours had a canvas/tarp roof, but no sides)  

We bid our friends in Tanamalo goodbye and climbed aboard.  I sat in the middle of the truck and was greeted by the scent of unwashed bodies, “fresh” fish wrapped in taro leaves and other pungent odors.  The great thing about smells is that you quickly grow accustomed to them and they blend in.  

The plank we were sitting on was about 5 inches wide and polished smooth by innumerable buns sliding all over it every day over several years.  This made staying in one place a bit of a challenge, further complicated by the lack of anything to hang onto.  So I set my feet solidly, arranged my center of gravity and held on for a two hour+ ride.  The roads get proportionately worse the further you get from the government center (some things are the same no matter where one goes). So they started out as abysmal.  There has been quite a bit of rain during these two weeks and so the combination of constant traffic and wet roads have led to further deterioration.  In other words, it was a very long ride.  We were thrown side to side, up and down and forward and back as the PMV tried to avoid the worst the road had to offer.  

The passengers were interesting also.  It wasn’t long until the truck was fairly full.  Some were still drunk from the night before.  Two young girls got on and one was busily chewing away on her betel nut.  I got an education in how they add lime to the betel nut to get a stronger narcotic reaction from the nut.  

The passing scenery was very interesting as we traveled along.  The countryside is breathtaking.  A drop off into the ocean on one side and the jungle encroaching on the other with coconut palms all along the way.  At one point I leaned over to Jeff and said, “I’m having a ball!”  It really was a great experience.

We arrived safely (but sorely) in Bukatown around 8:30 a.m. and were taken to the Kuri Lodge where we had a breakfast of four! slices of toast with butter or peanut butter, sausage (aka - hot dog), baked beans and two runny eggs, chased by instant coffee which I tried to improve with a creamer that refused to dissolve.  However, the view was magnificent - over looking the channel and the barrier islands, we sat on the veranda and watched boats go back and forth.   The water was amazingly clear and the most beautiful aqua color.  Fish of several types were easily visible.  
While we were there, Dudley, the pastor in Bukatown came to sit with us and keep us company.  He was a very entertaining guest.  He told us many things about the days when he worked in the mines as an assayer (chemist).  He said that at that time he lived just like we do, houses just like ours with carpet and air conditioning and food like ours - T-bone steak....wait a minute, Dudley, you lived better than we do.  

He told us many stories and filled us in on some of the on going controversies the people of Bougainville face.  I asked him if he knew what the name of the island was before it was named after a French explorer, but he didn’t know that but he did have a great one about how Buka island came to be named.  The explorer, Bougain, came to the island and saw two women fishing on the reef.  He asked them in English, what is the name of this place.  One looked at the other and said, “What did he say?”  Which in the local language is “Buka?”.  And so the explorer wrote down, “this place is called Buka.”  

After staying at the lodge until 11:30 we made our way to the airport.  Checked in - security was interesting as they went through our bags and then used a hand wand on every passenger.  We waited around in the airport until about 2:15 and then a quick flight into Port Moresby.  We didn’t stop on Raboul this time because the airport was shut down due to volcanic ash.  

After a quick check through with our luggage, we were in a cab and back at the mission house that has two controls on the shower.  Wow - a hot shower feels great after two weeks.  Dinner is soon and then off to bed and another day of travel tomorrow.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Finishing Up

Friday, February 6, 2009

Today we finished up classes.  The last three messages were preached and the guys did a pretty good job.  Jairus hit a home run with his and pulled himself up to an A- So I ended up with two A’s one A-, a B+ and two B-.  Not bad and I think it was a fair reflection of their work.  I met with each of the three students and had a good exit interview with each of them.  

Part of my coming here was to see if this is something I could do and would like to do in the future.  The answer is,a yes.  I gained confidence as I gained experience and really enjoyed being with the students and learning more about this place. Jeff is talking about seeing if I can come back to do it  again and I looked at the curriculum for the Church History and Spiritual formation classes.  I could also teach a Bible class without too much difficulty.  

I spent tea time with Nathaniel Sulis who is the national outreach director.  They do preaching in the markets sometimes and are talking about doing a revival where the speaker would go from place to place and have a special program.  Another opportunity for experience here, although I am more of an encourager than and evangelist.  We shared several different ways of doing outreach and I explained servant evangelism to him.  I also took him into the library and we went over the better books in it.  Most of them are pretty old: Master Plan of Evangelism and Out of the Salt Shaker were newer books.  I’m going to pick up a copy of Servant Evangelism and send it over for him and one of the Library.  

In the afternoon I finished scoring the grades, took a brief nap and then spent a bit over an hour with the interviews.  After that I went to help Jonathan with the door and table he was building.  Because he was working on those things, I did some of the rough prep for dinner - peeling kaukau and getting onions ready.  I also made a pot of coffee with the last of our store.  I’m looking forward to a good cup when I get back to NZ.

After dinner we went up to the classroom for a final meeting, took some photos and ran the videos of the guy’s preaching.  Several giggles, as they watched each other.   

Our final entertainment was watching “Glory Road”.  It was much more meaningful to Jeff and I since it was set in the US in the mid 60's.  A sad but glorious movie.  Jeff had never seen it and was very impressed.  One of my favorites.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

What a Coincidence!

Thursday, February 5, 2009 

Today was the first day of preaching.  It went well.  Japeth, the youngest of our students was first to go.  He had never preached before today.  When he started out, I was blown away.  This clear, concise voice came out of this young man.  Each word well spoken.  He is clearly gifted to speak.  His content was good for one so young and though there were issues with eye contact, being tied to the notes and hand gestures, the over all impression was very favorable.  

Raymond was up next.  He had a great theme and illustration, but really missed bringing it home.  It wasn’t an awful message - I’ve preached far worse, but it just fell short of what it could have been.  He also was not prepared to speak when it was time, he was still filling out his forms for the observers.  This provided a teachable moment to talk about being ready to preach and not being distracted by last minute details before the sermon starts.  

Moses, though hard to understand at times, clearly hit a home run with his message.  The content was clear and right out of the text.  I found almost nothing to criticize.  He did a masterful job of bringing out the best in the story from Daniel 1.  He got an A for the sermon and for the class as long as he finishes up his practicum.  

After class, I worked on getting ready for the afternoon meetings and then relaxed for just a couple minutes.  Rev. Joe and Rev. Nathaniel (the District Superintendent of East Buka) showed up and asked if I could help them.  It turns out that the President and Vice-President of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville (AROB) will be coming to church this Sunday.  Joe will be doing the preaching and they will then tour the college facilities after.  

Joe and Nathaniel needed to write a letter to both men letting them know they had accepted the invitation to have them present this Sunday.  They wanted help typing the letters and it also involved recreating their letterhead and updating it.  We had already printed the letters and were getting ready to send them when we discovered the address still said N.S.R. P.N.G. - (North Solomon Region - Papua New Guinea) the old designation for Bougainville before gaining autonomy.  This would have been a very big gaff since the fight for independence.  Fortunately we caught it.  They also needed a program printed up, so I did that for them as well.  

I finally got a late lunch and then it was time for my three interviews with the men who had preached that morning.  I really enjoyed my time with each of the men.  I showed a video of them preaching to each of them, and gave them their grades.  

Once finished there, I went to help Jonathan with some wood working.  He is building a table for the laundry room and a screen door for the flat.  I’ve been helping him by being an extra pair of hands.  I also took some more photos of things around the area - animal and human.  

It has been a long trip and I am ready to get back to Marcia and the family.  I miss them, but I will miss Bougainville also.  This morning I came across Marcia’s study notes for her Bougainville presentation for WKFM from 2001.  In it she mentions to pray for a community leader who is trying to overcome betel nut habit.  His name is Ezekiel - Yeah, that would be chief Ezekiel who I have come to love and who is free of the habit, and whose son, Lesly, is one of the star
 students in the class.  Then there was a story by Frank Midivane, the former missionary here, about a boat trip they took.  In it is mentioned the church secretary, Dudley (see photo) - who I have also met.  He is now pastor of the church in Bukatown and former National Superintendent.  Who knew I would meet all those people or be here when she studied that back eight years ago.  What a coincidence!  (Funny how many of those happen to those who follow Christ, isn't it?!)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I Dream of Abdul

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The meal and the birthday party were very enjoyable.  The chicken was very good!  Cooked with noodles over rice it was quite enjoyable.  I tried the fish, but out of courtesy to those who really like fish, gave up a major portion of mine to others (I am so considerate!)  We finished with coffee, tea and Milo (like ovaltine) I introduced them to mocha by suggesting chocolate in the coffee.  They tried it, but didn’t seem overly impressed.  However, since I had introduced it, from now on it will be called Michigan Style coffee.  

Whatever I ate, must have really set me off, however (this bit is written the next day).  Last night I had the most vivid dreams I’ve had in a long time.  Something about an Islamic messiah who was being raised from the dead, but instead of a tomb, it was my camping tent in the back yard.  It got stranger than that, but you get the idea.   I think it was the spirit of the chicken haunting my dreams.  

The rest of the day has gone well despite the strange rest overnight.  I finished up my lecture section of the class and tomorrow come the sermons.  Three Thursday, Three Friday.  The men turned in their outlines and I must say I was very favorably impressed, especially with the ones by Japeth, Raymond and Moses.  The three that preach tomorrow.

In the afternoon I helped Jonathan gather lumber and then rip and plane it down to size for building a screen door for the flat.  We had a good time working together and the wood is beautiful.  It has a mahogany / teak quality to it.  Very beautiful.  I also made the walk down to the store with Jeff later in the afternoon.  All in all, a fairly relaxed day.

A joke from last night told by Lesly: 

There was a man from the highlands of PNG who had the traditional hole through his nose for keeping a bone in it.  He had the bone out, just the hole.  A fly was buzzing around his head and kept passing through the hole in his nose.  The fly did this several times when the man had enough.  He waited for the fly to come toward the hole again.  Plugged one side of his nose and blew his nose through the other nostril.  Then he said to the fly, “Do you think I am your shortcut!?    

This, apparently is uproariously funny to Bouganvillians.  It is, admittedly much funnier when told by Lesly and acted out rather than put on paper.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

World Famous in Bougainville

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

This morning started out with a nice compliment.  Joe told us before devotions that he had heard from the wife of the President of the Autonomous Bougainville Region that her husband had heard that they had a very good preacher at Joe’s church on Sunday.  The President had heard of the topic of trusting in God instead of our own strength and wanted to come hear it this Sunday.  It won’t be happening because we are on our way back to New Zealand that day, unless, of course, the President pulls strings and won’t let us off the island.  (Just kidding).  

The new president is a strong Christian and has just taken office.  Still, to be noticed by someone of that stature is quite an honor.  Apparently, someone from the church here works in the parliament house and was talking about the principle of the message on Monday.  While this is a great honor, at the same time, I couldn’t help but think, “Who am I that anyone would notice me or what I have to say.  Only because the Lord has blessed me with the possibility of doing the things I get to do.  How the Lord has led!

The class went very well today.  The topic today was delivery of the message.  I felt like the teaching was right on target with what I needed to tell the guys and they were very engaged.  Jairus came in late because he has a bad tooth that is causing him a lot of pain.  Raymond also had a migraine today.  Today is also Lesly’s 29th birthday, so he was a bit distracted, but it still went well.  

We have been invited to Lesly’s birthday party.  They have killed a chicken and Jonathan has pulled enough ingredients to make a couple small cakes - banana cake of course.  We are bringing along the fresh fish and rice we were planning for dinner.  So it should be an interesting experience.  Details tomorrow.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Appy Noon!, Monday, February 2, 2009

There was a big storm last night.  Wind, heavy rain.  Didn’t know if I should be worried or not, but we are in a strong building.  The trees were blown around a bit and one of the students said that people would make a lot of money today by going around and picking up coconuts that were blown off.  So, it’s not all bad.  The ground is well watered and everything will be growing rapidly.  A couple of the children were out collecting mushrooms very similar in size and shape to our white toadstools.  These are edible so they may be similar to the Portobelo mushrooms.  

After class Jonathan and I went down to a store about a kilometer to the west.  We had a pleasant walk, stepping around mud puddles and a new crop of dead toads in the road.  We got close to the store and found a pond just loaded with toads in the heat of passion.  (Enough details).  We shielded our eyes and passed by to the store.  

The little enterprise was just one room tacked on to the end of the house but fairly well stocked with everything from potted meat to ready to wear.  The store owner was very friendly and the children in the area came around to check out the tuntalala (white men).  The people are very nice and we are always greeted with bong bong! (Morning!) Or So Hasa (hello) or Che bong (good evening) or Appy Noon! (Good afternoon).  

After we got back Jonathan tried his hand at coconut shelling.  It wasn’t entirely successful, but   we did get to the meat of it (lost most of the milk).  It is really good and makes a nice snack for between meals.  

Jeff and I are missing out on the Superbowl.  Jeff is missing it more than I since he’s from Ohio and still a Cardinals fan.  It does bring home the remoteness of this place when I can’t get on line to find out what the score is.  I miss missing out on the new commercials more than the game, but we’ll both catch up when we get home.  

Our entertainment this evening was a little less enjoyable, but more important by far.  We watched the documentary “The Coconut Revolution”.  If all is to be believed, the BRA were totally in the right and the cause very just.  I think that was mostly true, but the documentary seemed a little too good to be true.  However, Jeff was quite impressed by it and said it opened up his eyes to many things he had not known before about the conflict.  It was very powerful.  I had watched about half of it back home before coming.  They were very resourceful in overcoming the blockade and the leader, Francis Ona said the blockade had forced them to find their own resources and resourcefulness.  

Go to: or Google "Coconut Revolution" to watch the video (almost an hour) 

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sunday in Bougainville: February 1, 2009

A new experience.  Preaching in Bougainville.  The clouds cleared out for the first time in several days and it was a very warm morning (and I have to dress up!).  

Church was fun and interesting. Several different things going on and both Pidgin, English spoken with the local dialect thrown in from time to time.  The singing was typical of island singing, ragged beginning as one person starts it out and people join in a few at a time, but by the second verse, the harmonies (and dissonance) are in full bloom and it is wonderful.  The Wesleyans in Bougainville do not use instruments because that is what the Pentecostal churches do and we won’t be as worldly as they.  There is a push among the young to introduce instruments and so there is tension in the church over how worship music is to be used.  Sounds way too familiar.  

When it was my turn I got up to speak with not a little nervousness.  Stepping into something strange is always a bit scary.  I shouldn’t have worried.  God was right there to help.  I should 
mention here that one of the things I have been stressing with the men in class has been the importance of prayer for the preacher.  Ten minutes before class was to start, I gathered with the students and had them pray for me.  It was a very special time.  They are good men.

The message went well.  I told the story from 2 Chronicles 20 where a choir defeats an army.  The choir sang just before I got up to speak, so it was very timely and the people seemed to be with me throughout.  I had to speak very loudly, so my voice is a bit tired tonight.  Fortunately, I only had to preach it once, instead of the usual 4 times I would at Faith.   

After service there was “refreshment” which is really Sunday dinner.  It was good and the foods
 are familiar by now: kaukau, green vegetables, baked pumpkin, there was a fish and a chicken dish that I passed by and lots of rice.  The greens were a bit different than I had had and were quite bitter.  Otherwise, it was very tasty.  I am becoming a big fan of kaukau - the white sweet potato they have here.  The flesh is very similar to the consistency of boiled potatoes, but had that hint of sweetness so they can be eaten with nothing added and be quite enjoyable.  

When I arrived for refreshment, one of the women in the choir - a very outgoing sort - said she was sorry that she had kept her sunglasses on top of her head when she came forward to sing.  I joked with her that I thought she had four eyes and needed them and everyone laughed very loud.  Then I let her know I had not even noticed, but it did not matter.  The choir was good and we had a good day of worship.  

Chief Ezekiel showed me the drums they use for celebration and for communication with other villages.  They are very large, made out of logs.  They are dug out but only have a small slit open on the top through which all the material must be removed.  The Chief told me it takes many months of work to make these drums.  There were three there, each larger than the next.  They really follow the four part harmony pattern with these with the smallest being the highest and so on.  The bass drum was not there - Chief Ezekiel said it was what we would call a “woofer”!  (See yesterday's entry for a photo of Ezekiel and the drums)


Saturday, February 14, 2009

More Culture Lessons: Saturday, January 31, 2009

A hard working Saturday in the morning.  We had class today to catch up from starting on Tuesday.  It was strange and made it feel like Friday.  I taught the last section on sermon structure and received their first major assignment on the text, proposition and purpose of their sermon.  Mostly they did very well.  I had two that I needed to have improvements completed.  Mostly they were very good and I was able to find positive things in each of their assignments.  

After class I talked with Lesly for a while then came down to the flat.  Jeff introduced me to
 Ezekiel Roman - Lesly’s dad and the clan chief.  It was good to meet him - a very intelligent and strong leader.  He works with co-op of farmers to help raise the standard of living on Buka Island.  We talked about many things and I learned a great deal about agriculture here on the island.  Their biggest cash crops are coconut products, mostly oil and copra (roasted coconut) and cocoa.  They send most of their cocoa raw to Samoa to be processed.  He would like to have a processing plant here on Buka, but there is the problem of finance and a greater problem of reliable electricity.  He estimates that the cost of setting up a plant would be about 2 million kina (something just under $700,000.00 USD).  It would allow them to give the farmers more for their raw cocoa and still make more profit for the processors.  Shipping would cost less also.  He
 said the processing plant on Samoa should be here because Samoa produces something like 5,000 tons of cocoa per year and Bougainville produces 80,000 tons.  I’m sure that part of the reason they don’t have it here yet is that the country has been politically unstable.  There are also some issues of culture to consider.  If one clan gets ahead of the others, the others will sabotage the first to bring them back in line with the rest.  The genius of the co-op is that all benefit, therefore no one needs to feel left behind.

(The picture is of Ezekiel Roman showing me the tribal drums.  Each takes 3 to 4 months to make.  He is holding up his hand to show the size of the largest drum which he called, "the woofer".)

After I spent time with Ezekiel, I went over to the office and finished off the message for Sunday and printed out enough copies for the students each to have a copy.  My hope is that they will see the things I have been teaching them in action and be able to understand better by example than they would by pure lecture.  Because of this, I had to be very careful in writing the message to follow the homiletical rules I have been teaching - what a pain!  I haven’t intentionally  written a proposition, purpose and transition statement in years.  But, on Monday we can use the message as a teaching tool.  Anything to help the team get better.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Telling Time in Bougainville: Friday, January 30, 2009

This morning was a fairly quiet morning.  Up around 5:30 had a shower, devotions and caught up on my blog from yesterday.  Breakfast with the guys and then off to class.

Today was chapel and I was surprised to see Alex being the one to bring devotions.  He did ok but his lack of experience showed.  It was brief, but also gave me some material for helping explain things later.  I also found out that I need to find the right words for people to understand what I am saying.

The first indication of it was when I was telling the class that we could take a break and start again at nine ten (9:10).  They all looked at me blankly and I tried again with ten after nine.  Someone got it and said ten past nine and then they all got it.  Seems simple, but if you are working in another language, it would be very difficult and nuances would make a difference.  Later I was teaching about a proposition statement.  Lesly asked the difference between a proposition statement and the theme.  I’m sure there are some differences, but not enough to count in this situation - it is now called the theme and they are all moving forward more easily now.  Then we got to the purpose statement and that became, “goal”.   Having the right word is so important here.  

Did a lot of resting today - it has been raining quite a bit, so not much chance of going out to explore. I did stop over to the student’s kitchen to see how they cleaned out and shredded coconut.  A really ingenious way using a bench with a round metal protrusion off the end that is serrated.  It works very well but still looks like plenty of work.  

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Bougainville Update: Thursday, January 29, 2009

A full day.  The class went very well as I shared various types of preaching with the men.  Rev. Joe gave me a very good example in the devotion time and it was useful for tying things together.  The examples seemed to help the men connect, but it was not the only benefit; several times as I was sharing truth while sharing the example, the Spirit of the Lord settled down upon us.  They really connected when I shared the story style of preaching.  It was fun and lively and we are beginning to connect with one another.  

During my morning break, Rev. Joe came over and we talked at length.  It was a very good give and take.  He taught me much about the culture and students that was helpful to understanding.  He also shared several things with me about the struggles they face here and how he became national superintendent at such a young age.  He is very capable and is a tremendous asset here on Bougainville.  At the end of our time it was amazing to me how much our problems are alike though we have very different cultures.  

Most of the students had not made much progress on their inductive study, so in the afternoon study hour I spent 10 minutes with each of them.  It seemed to be good study and we shall see today if it made any difference.  Today begins the study of a proposition (big idea) statements.  

Jeff and I took another short walk after study and before dinner.
  It was a bit cooler (not cool) but considerably more comfortable today.  The jungle areas here are very dense.  Jeff says that if anything is left alone for a year or so, the jungle takes it back over.  When we got back, Alex and Lesly were working on the garden plot.  They are growing all kinds of interesting vegetables including broccoli and bok choi.  Lesly’s sister went to agricultural college and has passed her knowledge on.

Jonathan created another masterpiece of a meal last night.  We are eating far better than I imagined we would.  I took a picture of the meal just because it was so nicely presented and was quite tasty.  We had canned beef over rice (better than it sounds) kaukau - a sweet potato that is more white than ours and not as dry, various veggies as a garnish and the mystery spinach/asparagus bush that we have had most nights.  There was pineapple and mango for dessert - the tropical fruit here is amazing and will ruin me for ever eating mangos from Meijer.  

I decided not to use the message from Daniel on Sunday since Moses is using chapter one from Daniel for his sermon. So I will be writing a new one this week.  That will be better anyway.  So I worked on that for a while last night and then went to bed.  

Saw another cockroach last night when I got up to go to the toilet.  He was really fast.  And large.
  I had to be really careful where I stepped because even though I could see where he was, he moved so fast I almost had him run across my foot before I could pick it up for the next step.  GROSS!  Our friendly household gecko is getting more comfortable with us apparently, because he seems much more free to chatter in the middle of the night.  We have one large one as far as I can tell, and several really tiny ones.  It is more and more likely that the thing I had run across my neck the first night was one of these.  Jonathan saw one with a tail missing.  Could have been from being snatched up and thrown across the room.

lukim you behain  (see you later!)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Creepy Crawlies, Craters & Communication

I had an uneventful night of sleep, no creepy crawlies again, but each of us have killed a 2 inch cockroach in the last 24 hours.  The ants are under control and the flies are down to a few hundred.  

Class got off to a noisy start today.  Just as devotions were concluding it started to rain and when I got up to start class I had to shout to be heard as the rain beat on the steel panel roof.  

I’m not sure I’m getting through but I hope so.  They seemed to catch the concepts of the study tools and I wish I could get more to them.  It seems a shame that I have a library full of stuff I only use occasionally and they have nearly nothing.  Even the Bible school library is very limited.  There are lots of books, but many of them are very old and/or culturally irrelevant.  Several books I have used in the past and have cast off as outdated.  Others have done the same and so the books end up here.

I showed them some of the good classics that are useful - Halley’s Bible Handbook and Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance.  Moses asked if they were available - I doubt it - but I will look into getting some shipped here.  Bringing them here in the luggage isn’t really practical because of the massive weight.  I guess I’m just frustrated by the whole have/have not dilemma.  

I do love the way the team is working together and the easy camaraderie of the three of us.  There is a good spirit of doing whatever we can to work together to get things done.

After classes last night Jeff and I went for a walk around.  He pointed out an interesting feature of the campus.  In the main yard there are three large depressions.  They are bomb craters from WWII!  They aren’t all that deep any longer but are quite large around.  This area was an area of heavy conflict during the war and the locals hid in caves down by the ocean.

We made our way down there this evening - taking a trail that led down and I wasn’t really believing where we were going.  The trail got fairly steep as we descended over coral and then there was a place where you used a knotted rope to lead to an aluminum ladder set into the wall to get down another 20 feet.  Then it was still down hill over jagged coral until it finally leveled out.  The ocean was beautiful and I picked up a shell and a bit of coral as a souvenir.  

When we got back I stopped by the cooking hut of the guys.  They were making KauKau - a cross between potato and sweet potato. We got talking about crops grown different places and Raymond asked me to describe maize.  I told him how it grew on a stalk and had one ear that grew rows of large yellow seeds.  Jairus said, “sounds like corn”!  We had quite a laugh over that one.  

Then tonight after dinner Rev. Joe came over to talk.  We had a great time with him.  He is very helpful in understanding the culture and has explained many things to me.  He also has an engaging personality and great sense of humor.  I’m loving this place and loving the people.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Mmmm - Tastes Like Asparagus!

The green stuff from yesterday’s entry turned out to be very good.  It did indeed taste like asparagus, but a little stronger and a bit tangy - but good with no ill effects.  We have also been enjoying mangos - very delicious and refreshing.

Sleeping started out well last night.  I was wiped out by 9:00 and lay down and soon was out until about midnight when I had a yet unidentified creature crawl across my neck.  I instinctively grabbed it and threw it away from me.  I didn’t experience any poisonous bites or swelling, so I guess I’ve survived another adventure.  I did not, however, sleep that well for the rest of the night.  Any slight tingle or the curtain moving against my leg put me on high alert.  It was hot, but not unbearably through the night.

Jonathan has been taking great care of us.  The laundry was done and the meals have been very tasty.  He also is very inventive.  He made french toast this morning, but since we didn’t have syrup (not many maple trees on Bougainville) he made his own by boiling down sugar and water.  It really was quite nice - not over sweet as maple sometimes can be. 

The first day of class went well.  We only had three students to start, because three of the
 students thought class began next week.  They arrived mid afternoon.  The day began with devotions, singing and prayer.  Then introductions were made and I began my class.

With only three students, it went faster than I anticipated and we were done a bit early.  I hope I was able to communicate O.K.  One of the students was quite sharp but another was very shy and I’m not sure he understands English well enough to keep up.  Have I mentioned that it’s hot here?  By the end of class, my shirt was soaked through.  Clothes won’t last long here as I am going through a couple sets per day.  

I was reflecting on the remoteness of this place.  When I was in Zambia, it was backward and Haiti was oppressive, but both places were very advanced in the tools that can be put into the hands of pastors there.  Both places the pastors have computers and many have laptops.  They have access to books and other basic tools for preaching.  This country has almost nothing.  I am very glad to be able to provide the NIV study bibles for the students.  It will give them the most basic, but adequate starting place. On the other hand, almost everyone carries a cell phone now.  They only came in a year ago but most have them and have adapted quickly to the technology.  Texting is the choice of communication as it is cheaper here than talk minutes.  

Had a brief walk around the neighborhood with Jeff this evening.  Saw a few interesting sights including a cocoa tree with pods on it.  MMMMM chocolate!  But it wasn’t ours to harvest.  A nice evening meal and a shower and I am ready to call it a day.

Tasol!  (That’s all!)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Day One - Arrival January 26, 2009

Day One - Arrival

I’m sitting in the kitchen of the Bougainville Bible College guest house, surrounded by half-naked men.  It is HOT - but a lovely hot.  We’ve arrived safely in Tanamalo - a small village on the north coast of Buka Island.  Buka-town is the main trade area for Bougainville and also where the airport is.  

We departed from Port Moresby this morning - leaving the house @ 4:50 a.m. and boarding our plane at 6:30 a.m..  We had a long wait in the line at the airport to check in and while doing it met a cacao farmer from Rabaul, New Britain.  He was a fascinating fellow and very friendly.  He said that he normally harvests 4 tons of cocoa beans per month - enough to keep all the women in Lansing, MI happy for about a week.  

Once again, our flight was on time and really a pleasure.  (Are you listening US air industry?).  We flew to Rabaul for a brief lay over.  The island of New Britain is gorgeous!  I took several photos from the air.  One of them is of an active volcano which also complicated our landing pattern since we had to go out over the sea and come back in to avoid the volcanic ash cloud.  The airport had been closed briefly earlier this week to sweep up the ash accumulating on the runway.  

We had to de-plane in Rabaul - and get right back on after going through security.  Then
we flew into Buka - our approach was again breathtaking.  Beauty, not scary - the flight was smooth and good.  The airport is really small, which is to be expected.  The interesting bit was the WWII anti-aircraft gun by the terminal.  

We collected our luggage and began meeting lots of people.  Rev. Joe who is the principle of the Bible School and National Supt. for Bougainville, Leslie, one of the students, Nathaniel who is National treasurer, National evangelism director and District Superintendent for the East Buka district as well as a local pastor and he is very young.  Pastor Wesley is the pastor of the church here in Tanamalo.  It wasn’t long before we warmed up and began having a great time of sharing.  

We caught a ride into Buka-town to do some banking and shopping and wait for our ride out to
Tanamalo.  The town is not very large, but very busy.  Market is each day and it is the place where most people come to do business because some parts of the main Bougainville island “do 
not have law and order”.  The main island is only about ½ mile away across a channel.  I remember Marcia teaching about the long boats that take people back and forth across the channel in the children’s mission class.  Today I got to see them in action.  Quite interesting.  You can cross for 2 Kina - a little less than a dollar.  

Leslie took Jonathan and I to do the grocery shopping while Pastor Joe and Jeff went to do some banking.  The store was very crowded - what no shopping carts!  And very hot - what, no air conditioning!.  But we found everything we need and tried a few local treats that were recommended to me by missionaries in Port Moresby the night before.  The beef flavored biscuit was really quite tasty!

Speaking of food, (kai-kai is the Pidgin word), we ate lunch at the local restaurant - it was interesting - but edible.  I had two sausages (luke-warm) and rice.  Also on the menu was a chicken curry where the chicken was simply chopped up bone and all & huge chunks of taro root on the side.  Taro is a staple here, but is about 120% starch and very dry.  Tapioca is also grown here and I look forward to trying it, but I understand it will be nothing like the nice pudding I enjoy so much.  Fun little bit: There was a sign on the wall informing their “valued customers” that the price of soft drinks is now 2.50 kina.  Then, “10 Q for your understanding”.  Pidgin is really a very logical language.  Say it out loud and often, you will have it.  

We stayed in Buka-town for most of the day waiting for our ride.  Part of the delay was a really impressive downpour which put a stop to most commerce and traffic in town.  It rained for about an hour and dropped a good 1 - 2 inches of rain.  

We started out for Tanamalo in the back of a Toyota pick-up around 1:00 - The three white men got the seat of honor - a board across the top of the bed of the truck up by the cab.  The others rode sitting on the top edge of the bed and seeming to not hang on all that desperately.  Our driver was inspired and we flew up the increasingly narrow road until we arrived.  

Our lodgings are adequate, though we are doing battle with flies and ants right now.  I have murdered easily 30 flies and another one just buzzed me.  The ants are all over the place.  We will deal with them in a bit.  But we are settled in and showered and shirtless and about to enjoy our first meal whipped up by Jonathan - Tuna, rice and some green stuff we picked up at a stand along side the road.   If I don’t write tomorrow......