Building a House in the Jungle–Stage 2 of House Building

The plans for our house

The plans for our house

Tomorrow, we will officially begin Stage 2 of house building. Not too long ago, we had more unknowns than knowns, more problems than solutions.

We hadn’t heard from anyone in the tribe to know if they would be able to hike out and help us like they did last time. We didn’t know whether we would even get all of the wood we needed from the lumbar yard. We weren’t sure how we were going to get everything into the tribe since there are many more components than just wood this time around.

But now—with just one day to spare—things are starting to come together!

Here is a brief description of what the second stage of house building will look like.


We will finish packing everything that will be going to the tribe for house building, along with everything else that we don’t absolutely need to live for the next two months…because we aren’t just building houses—we’re also moving! Hopefully, there will be enough space on our three trips in the Manam (the boat we’re using) to fit it all.

We also have some last minute things to finalize:

  • Manam: confirm again that the Manam can ship everything to Biliau (the closest beach to the tribe and our staging location for the helicopter) and that it will be available to load tomorrow
  • Dinghies: since the Manam is too large to pull right up on the beach, we have to schedule dinghies to shuttle things from the Manam to the beach in multiple, multiple trips
  • Trucks: confirm that the trucks we’ve reserved are still planning to help us move all of the lumbar and supplies and possibly an entire shipping container from the lumbar yard and the Lehman’s house to the dock where the Manam is located
  • Supplies: do a final inventory check that we have all of the remaining items to finish building the houses (i.e. window frames, water tanks, window louvers, a large pipe, etc.)

Tomorrow (Thursday, the 26th for us)

The truck we rent to carry our lumbar from the lumbar yard to the dock

The truck we rent to carry our lumbar from the lumbar yard to the dock

The truck meets us at the lumbar yard where it picks up as much timber as it can hold. Well — maybe not that much. The Manam can hold 14 tons of material, but it’s limited on its volume. But the more we can get in on the first load, the easier it will be for the subsequent two loads.

Truck goes to the boat dock with the timber and we load it all onto the Manam. Hopefully, we’ll finish in the afternoon, and have our first load (accompanied by one of us!) off to Biliau.

Our kids in front of the Manam (from left: Susanna, Mary, Onesimus, and Benaiah)

Our kids in front of the Manam (from left: Susanna, Mary, Onesimus, and Benaiah)

The good ship Manam, unloading their cargo of cocoa before loading ours

The good ship Manam and its crew, unloading their cargo of cocoa before loading ours




Whoever is with the Manam will meet up with some guys from Mawarero who are planning to hike out and together they will unload the Manam in the morning. They will first unload all of the cargo onto the beach and then carry everything to the field where the helicopter will pick it up the following day.

The guys from Mawerero who hiked out last time to help us carry the supplies from the Manam to the helicopter field

The guys from Mawerero who hiked out last time to help us carry the supplies from the Manam to the helicopter field (plus myself and Gavin the helicopter pilot)

The field to which all of our supplies are carried by hand once unloaded from the Manam and where the helicopter then picks them up to fly into Mawerero

The field to which all of our supplies are carried by hand once unloaded from the Manam and where the helicopter then picks them up to fly into Mawerero

Once unloaded, the Manam will head back to Madang for the next load. The person who came with the Manam for the first load will stay with all of the items we unloaded in Biliau.

If the Manam makes it back to Madang on Friday afternoon, we will start to load it with the second round of supplies. If not, we will load the following day.


The truck picks up another load from the lumber yard which should not be as much as the first and takes it to the docks where we load it onto the Manam again along with the beginning of the rest of the supplies.

The big question in our minds at this point is — will it all fit? The hull of the Manam is pretty big, but we’ve got some awkward shaped items like four chest freezers, rectangular bins filled with supplies, solar batteries that weigh 160 pounds each, and fragile items like solar panels.

The goal for this day is to load up the Manam with enough supplies that we only need one more load to get everything to Biliau. Assuming the loading goes well, our hope is for the Manam to leave Madang Saturday afternoon—again, with another one of us onboard.


Unload the second shipment of the Manam onto the beach in Biliau and move to the staging field. Again, whoever came with this second shipment will now stay in Biliau. So now there are two people in Billiau and one left in Madang.

The Manam heads back to Madang for the third and final shipment.

Sunday afternoon around 4pm, 12 guys and 1 lady will arrive from the U.S. to help us build our houses—bringing tools and everything! The one guy left in Madang will help our visitors get situated at their SIL guest house flat.


A truck will come to the Lehman’s house to pick up the final load of supplies. The guy remaining will load up the Manam for the third and final time and head out to Biliau.

The house building team from the U.S. will catch a Kodiak plane on Monday morning and take it to Saidor (or Nankina…it depends on which airstrip has its grass mowed). From there, they will get picked up by the helicopter and shuttled into Mawarero—our future home.

Before and after the U.S. team gets flown in, that same helicopter will start shuttling in the supplies from the staging field in Biliau to Mawarero Monday morning.

Flying into Mawerero. See that patch of green? That's where the helicopter lands its cargo.

Flying into Mawerero. See that patch of green? That’s where the helicopter lands its cargo.


Our friends from the U.S. are now, Lord willing, in Mawarero and will start working on the houses even as the house building supplies and materials keep getting shuttled in from Biliau. One of us will remain in Biliau to help with shuttling everything in from there and fly into Mawarero on the last day (probably Friday…hopefully Friday) to join the others in building the houses.

Saturday-Friday September 11…or Monday September 14

The rest of the week will be spent building the houses. Right now, they are built up to the trusses. So first, the flooring will go in and then the walls will go on top of the flooring and then roof, electrical, plumbing, etc.

We really aren’t sure how far we will get, but hopefully (I’m praying) that the houses will get to a point where they are “livable”. Roof, walls, plumbing and electricity—so that our families can move in, cook, bathe, and survive.

We will all leave Mawarero Friday or Monday, depending on how things are proceeding. If the weather isn’t so good, or everyone is totally worn out, or we have completely finished both houses and have nothing left to do, then maybe we’ll leave on Friday, but if the weather is good, and everyone is feeling good, then maybe we’ll leave on Monday…we’ll see!

The house building crew (and my mother in law, who has been here for 7 weeks now to help during this time) will leave on Tuesday, September 15, and that will conclude Stage 2 of house building.

Now, this is a rough sketch of what we are planning to do.

Things could change, things could happen on totally different days, but either way we’re hoping to get all the house building materials into the tribe by Friday, September 4th and get as far as we can in building the houses with our friends from the U.S. by September 15th!

In case that didn’t give you enough to think about, here are some things you can be praying for!


  • Pray that all the above will work out! Last time, we prayed often that God would work out the things we weren’t even thinking about because we knew we weren’t thinking about everything.
  • Pray that we will get everything ready for shipping to Biliau by tomorrow.
  • Pray we won’t forget anything!
  • Pray for the unloading everything and storing it at Biliau. The last time we were there, some in the community weren’t so happy with us being there and we left it in the hands of some of the people from Mawarero. Please pray that everything will work out here. That no “heavy” will come up (as we say).
  • Pray for all the materials we will be loading. We aren’t totally sure how everything is going to fit in the Manam and we’re hoping that we can fit it all on in three trips, but it’s just difficult to estimate these things.
  • Pray for the actual house building. That we’ll have enough supplies, that everything will fit together, that we won’t run out of anything, that the weather will be good. Pray that we can get really far on the houses.
  • Pray for the house building crew. That everyone would be healthy, that God would give them energy, and that everyone would have a sweet time.
  • Pray for the people of Mawarero. Pray we can move in, learn their language, and preach the Word!

1 Comment

  1. Matt, It is so good to see what you are doing and photos of your family. We are proud to know that you have chosen such a wonderful, worthwhile venture. As your hearts are right, God will continue to bless!!! Bruce & Bev Bilbrey


Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: