Living…Where Resources Are Finite

One of the bigger adjustments that came with moving to Papua New Guinea from the US was learning to live somewhere where our resources were limited.For thirty years, my knowledge of running a household did not include contingency plans for things like running out of water. Our resources were seemingly infinite with the electricity, water, and gas all supplied by various companies, limited only by how much we wanted to spend every month.Elsewhere in the world, take PNG for example, life does not function that way.In Madang, we had two resources that were more or less limited: water and propane. For all of our water needs (drinking, dishes, showers, etc.), we had water tanks that we shared with our co-workers, the Canns, that God would graciously fill from time to time with rain. And for all of our propane needs (cooking on our gas ovens and stoves, heating water for showers, etc.), we used good ole’ propane tanks–items that, before coming here, I had been pretty terrified of and only associated with our BBQ grill which we used maybe once a week.But in the city of Madang, there were contingency plans that the town’s infrastructure already had in place should those resources run out that looked much like our every day life in the US.Electricity was solely supplied by the city and we just pre-paid for a certain number of units and kept an eye when it was getting close to running out. When we ran out of water in our tanks (which we definitely did during last year’s drought as God saw fit for it not to rain for two...

A Cooking Class in Mawarero

I went to a cooking class today. What’s that, you say? A cooking class in a tribe in the remote mountains of Papua New Guinea? Yes.My language teacher has been talking to me about teaching me how to cook like a tribal Papua New Guinean and today was that day.After market, I strolled on over to her house (and by ‘strolled’, I mean hiked, because, let’s be honest, that’s really more what it is and by ‘house’, I mean her area, a flattish piece of ground with several huts on it).She took me to a small one in the back and told me to hang out and rest while she got everything. So I climbed up into the hut and waited.Then she came in, followed by a bunch of other people and kids who either sat in the small hut with us or looked in through the doorway and/or windows. She spread out a tarp-ish looking bag on the floor and brought in a bowl filled with sweet potatoes, cabbage, green onions, and other greens.Then she grabbed a vegetable peeler and began peeling some massive sweet potatoes, dropping their peels onto the bag on the floor. After all the sweet potatoes had been peeled she cut them up and put them in a bowl, pouring water on them.Moving onto the cabbage and greens, she cut them up and put them in another bowl.All the while, she’s telling me how if I eat like this, with all these sweet potatoes and greens, I’ll get fat (which is a good thing here!) and then my mom will see how fat I’ve...

Earthquakes, Landslides, and a Falling Tree Branch

 We knew that living in the mountains of Papua New Guinea would be different from living in the town of Madang. But there is a point where, having lived in Madang for the last year, I began to think that on a large scale—a seismic one, perhaps—I had seen what there was to see about living in Papua New Guinea.I was wrong. In three–ahem–groundbreaking ways.Nature Experience #1: the earthquakes. Now maybe the fact that our house here is built on stilts has something to do with it, but while we felt one definite earthquake over our entire year in Madang, we have felt several in just the first few weeks of living in the tribe.Now that I have gotten somewhat used to what an earthquake feels like (coming from Arizona, my previous experience with earthquakes was, well, nil), it has been a sweet thought that it is God who shakes these mountains! They do not shake of their own accord, by chance or whim, but are rather shaken the One who made them.But that has not been the only event of nature that we have been privy to up here.Nature Experience #2 among these inaugural happenings? Landslides.We haven’t actually seen a landslide, but we have heard two.Have you ever heard a landslide? It sounds pretty much as you might expect it to sound, rocks tumbling and crashing and echoing down a mountain. It’s actually kind of a crazy sound. We’ve heard them only at night thus far and woken up to see the evidence of them on the surrounding mountains in the morning (see the picture above).Now, has the nervous thought ever flitted through my...

Hello from the Tribe!

We last posted on our blog eleven weeks ago.Have you wondered where we’ve been? What we’ve been doing? Why we haven’t written?Here is a brief breakdown of what has been going on!We spent the rest of February packing everything we own and, by God’s grace, on February 25th, we officially moved into the village of Mawarero! After years and years of training with our home church, God brought us–one by one–people and churches who wanted to see the gospel go to the mountains of Papua New Guinea through us and, in November of 2014, we arrived in the town of Madang, PNG.Months were spent acclimating to this new environment, language, and culture. Then we were ready to begin the search for a remote tribe in the mountains that might want us to live among them. Months of surveys followed. We traveled by land, sea, and helicopter, fueled by prayer and support from back home, looking for a remote tribe in the mountains that might want us to live among them for the purpose of one day preaching the good news of Jesus Christ in their language!God answered the many prayers that were prayed when we found the tribe of Mawarero in the Finisterre Mountains.This monumental decision of where to go made, we spent the next eight months building two houses on this remote mountain ridge.We did not do it alone.We were accompanied by dozens of dedicated friends from the US who flew out to help us build, as well as multiple church bodies who walked with us and cared for us month after month and hundreds of individuals and families who prayed for us and gave...

Help Wanted

         Since we decided to go and take the gospel to the nation of Papua New Guinea, our journey has been a bit like the waves of the ocean, sometimes rolling with the current from task to task as we make progress, sometimes cresting into a wave when whatever we’ve been building toward nears completion.We are at one of those cresting points now. A year and a month after our arrival here in PNG, we are finally ready to move into the village of Mawarero in the mountains of Papua New Guinea!  Being in town for the past year, we have learned the trade language of this country, established our organization here, found a tribe to move into, and built two houses within that tribe. The houses are not yet finished and more supplies will need to be purchased and flown in later on, but there is enough done in both houses for us to move in.Every step forward here has felt hard-won and precious, as most have been met with obstacles of one kind or another. And as we approach this next big step, we find ourselves facing obstacles once again.So, we’re hanging our Help Wanted sign here on our blog.One of the sweetest things we hear being here is when people back home ask us what they can do to help us. What a sweet thing to be asked! Sometimes, the answer is to pray because only God can fix the problems we’re facing. Sometimes, the answer is to send some much-needed supplies in a package. And sometimes the answer is to give for any who are able. That is what...

House Building–Final Stage!

This was our fourth effort at finishing the houses and I’m happy to say that, with the help of four guys from the US, we were able to get them into move-in shape!  In all of our house building, the point has remained the same: to be able to move into the tribe, start learning the language, and be able to, Lord willing, present the gospel message in the heart language of the people!   On Thursday, January 14th, four guys, one lady, and a baby arrived in PNG to help us with the building. The team consisted of John Parker (a carpenter), Bob White (a cherry farmer), George Siegele (a car mechanic), Josh (a pastor from our church) and Julie Kellso with their youngest son Caleb. The remarkable part of this team is that two of these guys came out for the last house building trip in November and were willing to come back just two months later for this one! Julie Kellso stayed in Madang to help our wives while we were building. Our goal for this trip into the village: to get the houses “move in ready”, meaning for both houses to have at least some electricity, running water, propane (for cooking) and plumbing. Flying In We left Friday morning with the building team, building supplies, and our personal luggage.  First, we took a Kodiak from Madang to Saidor. Saidor is a small airstrip close to the coast and about a 20 minute helicopter flight away from Mawarero.  Here is where we loaded everyone onto the helicopters and flew in.And here’s us actually flying into Mawarero. Solar Electric System On each...

The Day that Changed My Life

          Eleven years ago, I fell off a cliff.Literally.Because that day had been impacting our lives ever since and will continue to do so for as long as we’re alive, we thought it might be a good idea to share this part of our lives to give you a glimpse of a specific challenge we face here every day.The story goes like this:August 6, 2005, Matt and I were newlyweds, hiking in Payson, AZ with a large group of friends in Box Canyon. By nature, we’re both pretty enthusiastic people and at that time, we were all about taking everything we did to bigger and better levels of enthusiastic-ness. If you know us now or knew us during that time, you know what I’m talking about.As we were all trying to pick the best path down into the canyon, our friend Nate decided to just go straight down. As I watched him navigate the steep descent, I decided right then and there that he was going to get seriously hurt or die with that kind of foolishness.I can smile at that now.We broke off into different groups and soon it was Matt, our friend, Joel, and me meandering along the river at the bottom of the canyon, following wherever it went by alternatively hiking alongside it, swimming across pools of water, or jumping over small cliffs into the pools of water on the other side. We were having the best time and when the rain started to fall, it was just one more adventurous thing to love about the day.The river led into a waterfall, dropping over another cliff, about 25 feet down, into a...

The Four Hardest Parts of Last Year

In the last blog post, I recounted the 3 best parts of last year. I started with the good because, really, remembering the good lends me perspective on the bad.Life here in Papua New Guinea is unpredictable and while sometimes that can be a good thing, last year for most of the time that just meant difficulty. Lack of infrastructure, logistical hurdles, and unreliable weather contributed to many of the hardships of 2015, but the hardest parts for me were more emotional than logistical and more personal than professional. Here they are: Being Away from Fellowship –Hypothetically, I knew this was coming. We moved 8,000 miles away from everything in Arizona, our church included. On the list of ‘Things I’m Choosing to Leave Behind Spiritually’ were things like sermons every Sunday, small group every Thursday, and gospel-centered conversations with other believers frequently. Yet, being without these things was harder than I thought it would be. For a large chunk of last year, I fought the reality that reading the Bible in the morning was one of my only sources of spiritual encouragement. Yes, we came here with other believers who love the Lord—but we were all struggling to adapt and adjust to life here and seemed equally stretched. It wasn’t until recently that I realized how much self-pity and discontentment I had invited to pull up chairs and sit down in my heart. Oh, the lies we can let creep in during times of difficulty! They promise to make you feel better, but they never do. But there is joy–real joy–in the truth found in the gospel. Namely, the truth that, first, I...

The 3 Best Parts of Last Year

Once again, it is January. A new year!Sitting down to write a blog post at this time of year got me thinking about beginnings. And the more I thought about beginnings, the more I saw them everywhere.In the 24 hours it takes the Earth to spin on its axis before beginning a new turn.In the 30 days it takes the moon to orbit the Earth before beginning again.In the closing and then opening again of every winter, spring, summer, and fall—(although here on the equator, not as much).And in the 365¼ days it takes for the Earth to orbit the Sun before beginning its trek all over again.And as I pondered all of these celestial and terrestrial realities, I thought about God. In His wisdom and, I believe, His mercy, God built into His creation new beginnings and I think one of the reasons He did so was to give us hope. Hope that in the midst of so many endings all around us, there is a new beginning somewhere close.I thought about how Lamentations 3:21-24 says: “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in Him.”Hope is what bookends this passage, but it is not hope in ourselves or our circumstances. Rather, it is hope grounded in who God is. That not only is He bigger and more powerful than our circumstances, but that He who is in control...

One Year in PNG Video

 We made a video summary of the last year in Papua New Guinea, and it’s linked below!We want to say thanks to everyone who has prayed for us, given towards us being here, come out to help us build houses, encouraged us with letters, phone calls, e-mails, packages and more prayers!Hope this video gives you a glimpse of the last year here in Papua New...
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