Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas eve day ride

One of my favorite things to do here in Papua New Guinea is go motorcycle riding off center.  This afternoon myself and 4 others went on a ride and tried a road we had never been on before.  The road quickly turned into a foot trail then disappeared all together. 

We ended up on a hill where we couldn't turn around.  As we stopped a crowd of people gathered and offered to guide us down the deep grassy hill. 

I kept having to tell them not to grab onto the exhaust of the engine or they would burn their hands. 

We ended up at a barb wire fence and couldn't get over it.  Some of the kids offered to break some of the fence posts and push down the barb wire so we could get across. 

We finally got out of the deep grass and thought we were out of our predicament but realized we had to ride down a slippery gully and cross a stream and ride back up again.  Again there we lots of people offering to help push our bikes out of this gully.  When we finally got to a regular dirt road we felt bad about the men breaking down their fence for us.  One of the guys offered his nice Buck knife to the village leader and they all seemed happy with this. 

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Friday, December 17, 2010

A gift

A friend of ours named Mesley brought us a Christmas gift the other
day. He makes bamboo carvings and sells them as a way to earn money to
pay school fees for his kids. He cuts pieces of bamboo, blackens them
in fire, then scrapes the black away to make designs.

Last names or surnames do not have as much significance here as they do
in America. Typically a woman will use her father's first name until
she is married. Then she takes her husband's first name for her last name.

Papua New Guineans have a hard time pronouncing Laura so he wrote here
name like it sounds to him, "Roula". As you can see from the picture
Mesley assumed Paul was Laura's last name.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Kainantu Hospital

Some of you may remember our friend Liwai had a baby in February 2010
and they named her Laura or "Rola" after Laura. She came to us last
week very upset and baby Laura looked horrible. A few days later we
learned that she had been admitted to the nearest hospital about a half
hour drive away.

There is a clinic here on the center that provides excellent medical
care but it is outpatient only. When nationals need overnight care they
go to the "haus sik" in Kainantu. We would never dream of going there
for medical care. No food is provided and even worse there is no
running water!

Friday Paul drove there on his motorcycle to see little Laura was doing
and bring Liwai some water and food. Laura has improved quite a bit but
still has a ways to go.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Hauswim roof

The house we are living in now has a hauswin (a building without walls) that needed a new grass roof.  Our friend Kasona needed some work and knows how to put a do grass roofs so we had him do it.  This is a skill that has been passed down though generations and probably the technique and materials used have not changed in a hundred years.

Here are pictures of the project.

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Yopno: Where Once the Boulders Stood

For the past 27 years, Wes and LeeAnn and their children have had to either hike three hours or use a helicopter to reach their isolated village. In 1995 the Yopno people began to construct an airstrip, using hand tools and muscle. By early 2009 they had nearly completed the strip, except for many large boulders which were too heavy to remove. They were dependent on God to solve this problem, and he helped them in unique way.
When God created the animals, He made a very special kind of tree kangaroo and placed it in the same area as the Yopno people. Several years ago an animal conservation organization from the USA began studying these tree kangaroos and helping the Yopno to set aside a safe habitat for them. To show their gratitude for being allowed to study the tree kangaroos, the organization helped complete the airstrip. They obtained funding for equipment and dynamite to blast the many large boulders. Now in the place where the rocks once stood, airplanes are able to land...just in time to deliver God's Book to the Yopno people.

The Kodiak aircraft arrives on Dedication day, where once the boulders stood.
Photo by Karen Weaver

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Saturday, October 2, 2010

Strawberry Wars

There has been a lot of drama and grief over strawberries these past couple of weeks. Three days a week there is fresh produce market from 6:00 to 8:00 am. This is the only place to get any fresh food unless we grow it ourselves or buy it from friends. As a result, pretty much everyone here rolls out of bed at least one morning a week and makes the trek to market.

Most of the food at the market will be eaten in the village if it isn't sold to expats with one exception...strawberries. Strawberries are grown for expats alone - the only cash crop sold on center.

Women are basically in charge of preparing and selling the produce with one exception - men sell strawberries. In the past some men were sneaky, putting the big, beautiful strawberries on top and the small, bruised berries on the bottom. Several expats stopped buying them at market and started purchasing from their national friends or the people that worked in their yard or home. If the berries aren't bought they generally won't be eaten by nationals and all the labor goes to waste. Sometimes national ladies buy them at the end of market time at a greatly reduced rate and then go sell them to their personal friends. Thus the beginning of the strawberry wars which have led to...

heated words
guards called one at least one occasion
Sam - the community mediator between nationals and expats has received personal abuse
Apa, strawberry grower and our friend, has received personal threats
Koto - banned from center for three months for trying to intimidate people into buying his strawberries

Who would have thought that a small, sweet fruit, the symbol of happy summers in the US, could have caused such conflict!

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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Unique house

Friday I went to a friend's village. I've been to this village before to pick up bags of coffee and drive them to the market.

I saw this house and stopped to talk to the owners about it.  I asked them why they built it on one pole and they said basically they just felt like it.   People everywhere like to be unique, even in PNG.  This house has a glass window which you seldom see.

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Thursday, September 9, 2010

We're Green

Since we have been gone we have heard that it is popular to be green back in the States.

We started thinking about our life here and how we are pretty "green" out of necessity.  Here are some examples:

  • All our lights are fluorescent bulbs.
  • Our hot water comes from solar panels and when it is cloudy we build a fire that heats the water.
  • All our laundry is dried outside on a line
  • Our drinking water is collected off our roof and stored in a large tank.  Once a day we fill a header tank on the roof and then the water is gravity fed.
  • We don't have a car and walk almost everywhere we go. 
  • The fruit and produce we eat comes from local gardens that are grown organically.

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Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Daniel has a friend named Freddy in his class at school.  Friday night Freddy's sister, Betty, came home from youth group, sat down to eat and collapsed.  Her heart had stopped and efforts to revive her failed.  Betty was a 14 year old Papua New Guinean who loved the Lord.  She had a heart condition but was full of life so it was unexpected when she died. 

I've been trying to imagine her in heaven, with the Lord - seeing Him and all He's prepared for her.  This afternoon I went to her funeral.  The meeting house here at the mission center was packed to full capacity.  It was a wonderful service.

Her extended family has come from the village and friends and family have gathered for the 3rd night of mourning.  Her body is in her house and her immediate family are inside quietly crying and moaning.  They take a lot of time to say goodbye and it seems so good to take the time to let it sink in that she's gone.  Super long strips of bamboo were cut and placed in the yard to make a tall arch every few few feet. There were other pieces for support. An enormous tarp was laid over the bamboo arches.  There are over 100 people  there now and most will sit in there all night.  Betty's body will be buried tomorrow in her mother's village. 

This community has been touched by Betty's peace, happiness, kindness and helpfulness.

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Friday, August 27, 2010

When you win a pig...

A PNG pharmacy had a promotion to get people to come to their store.  The prize was a large pig, which is very valuable in PNG culture. 

The ad translated into English reads:

What can you do with this pig?

·         Have a big meal with your extended family

·         Buy a wife

·         Pay someone back for what you owe them

·         Look out after it and raise piglets!

Where can you get it???  The pharmacy!

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Pretty Dresses

Our national friend, Mesley, has six children.  One of them, his daughter Stephany, wrote this poem…
I was surprised when I read this.  Sometimes the national girls have pretty clothes, sometimes they’re plain and worn and sometimes they have gaping holes and tears.  I knew having money to buy clothes was an issue here but I didn’t realize that girls here thought of clothes as anything but functional.  What a sweet poem.  I wish I could give all the little girls pretty dresses. 

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A life changed

The progression of a miracle...

An expat couple friends of ours new a man who had a baby that was born with a cleft palate.
The man and his wife brought the baby to this couple to ask for help; they couldn't feed the baby and he was starving.
Jennie spent hours painstakingly feeding the baby and for quite a while he lived with her and her husband.
Eventually they adopted this baby boy.  He's had several surgeries to repair his palate and he's a healthy 2nd grader!

A young couple had their 3rd child in a village far from here and she was born with severe clef palate and other deformities in her face.
This young mom was on a public motor vehicle holding her baby, Jerolyn, who was carefully wrapped so others wouldn't see her.
The  kind lady sitting next to her used was a friend of Jenny!  She knew that they had saved their son's life and she told Rachel that she would take her to see them.

Rachel came to Ukarumpa and developed a relationship with our friends.  Jennie again spent hours feeding a baby whose life was on the line.  She contacted the Children First Foundation and they agree to fly Rachel and baby Jerolyn down for the complex surgeries she needed, all expenses paid!
The doctors discovered that Jerolyn's brain was protruding through the palate.  If she didn't have surgery, she would die.
The surgeries were successful and Jerolyn is a beautiful, healthy girl!



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Friday, July 23, 2010

Ax handle

Ax handle

Our ax handle broke and a friend of ours has a cousin who know how to make ax handles.  We contacted him and had him make us one.  He charged about 30 Kina (which is about $10).  It is made for a very hard wood and I'm sure he spent many hours making it for us. 

There are a lot of people who have specialized skills in how to make things here.

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Monday, July 12, 2010

Rough going

This afternoon I went on a motorcycle ride and after about 15 km the bridge was washed out so I decided to take a side road detour.

The road was really in bad shape and I was surprised to see another vehicle on the road.  As I got closer I could see that they were stuck, I mean really stuck.  I stopped and asked them if they needed help and they said they were all right and that they just had to dig the truck out.  

I was really surprised when I got to the top of a hill and was talking to some people I saw the truck moving and realized they had gotten out. 

I was really shocked to see that they had made it up the rest of the hill because I had trouble making it up on my motorcycle.

Here they are driving by as if it was a normal afternoon drive for them.

This is the only part of the road on my way up that I felt comfortable enough to stop and take a picture because it was so bad.

I stopped and talked with this family for a while and they seemed worried that I was on this remote rode and kindly told me that I should probably head back home now.

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Sunday, July 4, 2010

Wood powered sauna

Believe it or not there is a sauna here at our mission center. There
are a lot of Scandinavians here and they love to take saunas. Laura and
I took one for the first time today and really enjoyed it. We were
joking that the heat and humidity reminded us of our time in training
near Madang.

Being here you get to experience things from a lot of different cultures.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Story time

Today I read the story of Noah to some local kids. The girl in the
middle is baby Laura's (Rola) big sister. As you can see from the look
on their faces they loved it. I read it from our English Bible and had
to translate it into Tok Pisin.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Hauling Coffee

A friend of ours, Dariaso, grows coffee in her village and had no way to
get it to market to sell. She lives in a remote village and no PMV
(Public Motor Vehicle) will come get it because the road is so steep and

Dariaso spent hours picking the ripe coffee and dried it in the sun.
She waited until the road had dried out enough for a truck to make it
through and asked me if I would pick up the coffee and take it to the
buyer. Last week I took off early from lunch and went to her village.
As I went down an incredibly steep and narrow road I realized there were
no tire tracks; it was more like a walking trail. I picked up Dariaso's
husband along the way and he showed me the road to their place. We
would drive to where the road seemed to end and he told me to drive
between some village houses, which seemed odd to me. We finally showed
up and were greeted by about 20 kids that came running up when I got out
of the truck. Everybody wanted to shake my hand and several older
ladies were rubbing my arms. I don't think they had seen too many
"white skins" before and certainly most of them had never seen a car in
their village.

We loaded up the truck with about 7 - 60 kg bags of dried coffee beans
and were off. I had to put the truck in low 4 wheel drive and about
half way up the hill I got stuck. The front axle was completely stuck
in mud so there was no way we could move. We prayed that we could be
able to get out and after unloading the coffee bags and digging for
about 30 minutes we were able to. When we finally got to where they
wanted to sell the coffee the buyers had left for the day. We decide to
drive to Kainantu where there were other buyers. I hadn't brought my
license or any money with me since we hadn't planned to be going on any
main roads. Half way there a police officer stopped us at a road block
and asked me for my license. After a short lecture and a K45 (about
$17) ticket which had to be paid on the spot, (Dariaso had kina with
her) we were on our way. We backed up to a warehouse and unloaded the
bags where they gave our friends K1900 (about $700) for the coffee.
They were very happy to get this money because it is one of the few
sources of income they have.

I am really bummed because when I was loading the pictures onto my
computer I accidentally deleted them :(

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Yard Sale

We have been saving up clothes that either no longer fit any of us or we
no longer wear. Our friends Andrew is trying to earn money to go to
college so we decided to have a yard sale at his village to help him out.

Never having had a yard sale in PNG before we weren't quite sure how to
do it. We spread them out on a large bamboo mat and let the people sort
through them. We told them 2 Kina for the adult clothes and 1 Kina for
the kids clothes. 1 Kina is worth about $.36.

We sold a pair of cleats and socks to this boy in the picture and he was
so excited to get them. Just seeing the look his face made it worth it.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Wedding crashers

Paul and I were invited to a mumu; a ceremony/celebration to name our
friend's baby after me. Someone was going to come to our house to show
us the way to the village. They were to come around 10 am but we're
operating on PNG time here so we didn't hold our breath. After waiting
about 1 1/2 hours we decided to hop on the motorcycle and try to find
the village since we had a general idea where it was.

Paul drove along a dirt road through the coffee plantation - so
beautiful. We saw some women sitting by the road and told them we were
looking for a mumu. They pointed out the way and sure enough in a
couple of minutes we saw a lot of people sitting in little groups and
the smoke of a mumu rising in the air. There were even streamers and
balloons which was quite a surprise; these aren't too common in PNG.
The motorcycle was very loud and as they directed us to drive right up
through the people and park I felt a little awkward about our dramatic
entrance. Once we'd gotten off and taken a look around I realized "I
don't know a single person here!" Turns out we were not only not at the
right mumu, we were at a bride price ceremony which is the equivalent of
a wedding. At this point we saw 11 pigs penned up and two huge piles of
food - all part of the bride price or payment the man's family gives to
the bride's family. After an attempt at an explanation in Tok Pisin and
several "sori trus" we roared out of there feeling pretty embarrassed.

Before long we found the right village (banana block). Our friend
showed us around while her family prepared food for the mumu. There was
a chicken running around and next thing we knew it was headless and
getting plucked! While we waited for the food we decided to walk down to
the river. This was no easy feat; I lost my flip flops in mud halfway
up to my knees and our friend, Lewi, had to hold me up at times along
the way.

Later back at the village the family started talking very excitedly,
almost shouting. I thought something was wrong and asked Lewi what was
going on. She said they'd decided that her brother's newborn boy should
be named "Pole" after Paul. The mom and dad didn't really have a say in
the matter but that's typical here; decisions are made corporately. A
relative arrived and sat down next to me. She told me her name and
waited for me to say mine. If I said Laura it might confuse everyone.
No one can really say Laura so the baby named after me is Rola. I
decided it would be simpler if I just told her my name is Rola (nem
bilong mi em i Rola).

Papua New Guinea is called the land of the unexpected - I believe it.