Please Pray- Drought in Papua New Guinea

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California is facing serious water issues but most of us aren’t seeing any major impact other than dirtier cars, shorter showers, dry yards and some higher priced food items.  Of course it may get more serious but hunger is not an eminent threat for the great majority of us.  However, Papua New Guinea is in a serious drought and for people who rely on gardens for food and life they need rain.

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These pictures are from a few years ago when I was in PNG.  But you can see that the hillsides are covered in gardens.  Main gardens are usually further away from the village but these gardens provide food for a quick snack or an easy meal when needed.  However, drought means that gardens are not growing, water sources are drying up.  This means people are starting to go hungry and if no rain comes, it will get worse.  Here is an article from the UNDP: Frost and drought strikes Papua New Guinea.

Please pray for rain.  Please pray for rain in California and please pray for rain in Papua New Guinea.  Thank you!

Comparing PNG and Australia

I’ve done a lot of thinking about the similarities and differences between Australia and Papua New Guinea.  These countries are close together and both have a special place in my heart.  Australia and PNG are, of course, very different countries but they have many similarities.  They share some of the same unique animals; cassowaries, tree kangaroos, wallabies and other marsupials.  They are also both common wealth countries.  Papua New Guinea was under Australian control until 1975 when Australia freely gave PNG it’s independence.  This is another reason for some similarities in certain laws and governmental practices.  But there are also many differences, starting with size.

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Papua New Guinea may be much smaller but it has significantly more languages being spoken.  Australia has some aboriginal and immigrant languages spoken in addition to English but Papua New Guinea is the country with the most languages spoken in the world.  There are over 800 languages spoken in PNG in addition to English, Tok Pisin and Hiri Motu which are the three official languages.

I did a quick search for other similarities and differences and found some really interesting information.  Papua New Guineans make 93% less money and they are also not high energy consumers using almost 88% less oil and almost 95% less electricity than Australians.  In our world of very high consumerism, Papua New Guinea is doing pretty well for our planet.  This is consistent with my experience while living there.  I was less of a consumer, bought most of my clothing second hand, relied more often on my own feet for transportation, ate more locally and organically and much more.

Each country I have lived in is very different.  I look forward to discovering more about Australia once we are living there:-)

Flashback to 2011- Life in Walagu

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4 years ago today, I was in Walagu (the main Onobasulu village in PNG) fighting with the sun for power and trying to get curriculum work done with the Onobasulu despite many setbacks and crazy things happening in the village around us.  My co-worker Beverly and I were joined by a student named Jenny who was completely surprised at the wide variety of tasks we needed to do on a daily basis that had little or nothing to do with the translation or literacy work.  It makes sense that we would help the people we were serving and working with in a wide variety of areas but working as an electrician and a nurse were not on my resume.  But sometimes you just have to make it work.

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In this post from June 29th, I wrote about learning the difference between “bulk and float voltage” as well as connecting batteries with solar panels.  Taking care of big batteries and connecting solar panels is not a normal task in my life now but it was just a part of village life in PNG.  Who knows, maybe this will come in handy again some day:-)

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In the post, I also wrote about all the medical issues we were dealing with (ear infections, terrible boils and sores as well as a broken arm).  At this point we didn’t realize that Beverly would eventually set the broken with directions I was getting from an emergency phone call/radio session with a doctor in Ukarumpa.  Despite all the health care issues in the US, nothing compares to the problems that arise when people lack basic things like soap and access to the most basic medical care.  Seriously, how do you keep a little boy, who lives and plays in the dirt, clean when his bathtub is a river with muddy banks!?

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Although I don’t miss the wet feet, odd infections and strange stresses of life in PNG.  I do miss the people and the part of my job description that read “play with small children every chance you get”.  The pictures in this post were taken from a July 30th post that happened once we got back to Ukarumpa.  Since we were using HF radio to send emails in the village, posting to the blog with pictures was practically impossible.  But I was thankful for the power we did have to send text only blog updates via email.

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Even though I’m now back in the US, the Onobasulu people are still living and working in their communities in PNG.  Please continue to pray for the Onobasulu people.  Pray for health, community unity and successful, continued work on Bible Translation, literacy and education.

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Selling PNG and Other Onobasulu Changes

The Onobasulu Bible Translation program is once again going through some changes.  Progress is being made with the Bible Translation and Literacy among other important steps for the greater Onobasulu community.  But there are challenges to face and hurdles to overcome.  These cover the gamut from logistics to finances and even emotions as these changes impact all parts of the greater Onobasulu community.

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The main factor at the forefront right now is the decision for the main ex-pat Bible translator, Beverly, to change her assignment and work from Texas, this means selling her home and car in PNG.  Anne also works on the translation away from PNG, so now the two main expat Bible Translators will be primarily living and working in their home countries, the USA and the Netherlands.  There will still be a home in the village, the Walagu Lodge, but Beverly will (pending the sale) no longer have her Ukarumpa house.  Please be in prayer for Beverly because selling her home is a huge emotional step and it means saying good-bye to a big part of her PNG life.  Please pray that both the house and the car sell quickly and that she has the time and energy to clean out her house and take the things she needs to back to the US and store what needs to be stored in PNG.

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This is Beverly in her car, in front of her house, filled with the Onobasulu co-workers.  You can see Joseph’s pink jacket in the back.  Beverly loves pink (did you notice the pink house!?) and the Onobasulu guys also have an affinity for pink.  It definitely makes Joseph easy to spot in a crowd.

Because Beverly will no longer be in PNG full-time, the Onobasulu program will have to rely even more heavily on the Onobasulu people themselves.  This is a very good thing but it also means the translators need more training in order to prepare themselves for the work.  Beverly is currently in PNG helping Wabele, Joseph, Yobe and Jack get through another important training course.  This course will give them key knowledge in order to do more of the translation work on their own.  They of course know the Onobasulu language but Bible translation requires knowledge of Greek, exegesis, hermeneutics and many other difficult concepts.  These four men have been attending these courses for years now, slowly learning and working along the way.  However, this was an extra course that they had not planned on attending for awhile so they are currently underfunded and need another 90% of their costs.  If you feel led to give please donate at Wycliffe.org, every little bit helps.  This money will go directly to fund the national Onobasulu translators and help them become more prepared for the huge task of Bible translation.

Most importantly please pray for the Onobasulu program.  Please pray for Beverly as she is transitioning to a home assignment.  Please pray for the Onobasulu translators: Wabele, Jack, Yobe and Joseph.  And the Onobasulu literacy guys: Hauwo and Jeffery.  Please pray for their families.  Pray also that God would raise up another generation to help them translate and continue the literacy program for the Onobasulu people.  Please pray for a smooth transition and for God to provide people on the ground in PNG to help with communication and some logistical challenges with having no full-time expat co-workers in PNG.  And finally please pray that God would continue to be glorified through the Onobasulu language and that people would come to know Him because of this life changing work.

Where were you 7 years ago?

Evidently I was registering on WordPress.  Even though I didn’t post my first entry until August, I remember working on designing the blog, choosing the layout, banner picture and even the title.  I sent out a text to a group of friends asking for ideas and one friend wrote back with “Finding Joy in Papua New Guinea”.  Since then the base title Finding Joy has stuck with me and the end has just changed as my life and circumstances have changed.

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I’m thankful for this platform that I’ve used to share my life over these past 7 years.  I love that people can read as they want, wherever they live.  I know some people who read just as I post, others who log on once a month and read through what they’ve missed.  But if at any point you’re wondering, What is Joy doing now?, this blog is a great place to come and find out.

From Papua New Guinea to California, from singleness to marriage and now our life here and looking towards Australia, this blog has helped me document the journey.  Thank you everyone who has read this blog.  Thank you everyone who has prayed over this blog.  Thank you to everyone near and far.  I look forward to the next 7 years:-)

Not all Earthquakes are Created Equal

Living in California and also in PNG I’ve felt quite a few earthquakes.  I’ve even posted about the earthquakes (mostly the PNG ones).  If you want to go back and take a trip down memory lane you can see my first PNG earthquake post here: Seismic Activity in PNG or read about a crazy day in the village that included an earthquake here: All Before 8am or even what could have been the end of the world earthquake but wasn’t here: The End of the World.

So needless to say that I’m not a stranger to earthquakes but I have wondered why the earthquakes that happen often in PNG, the ones that make the international news, don’t really cause much damage and are sometimes not even felt all over PNG.  This is especially interesting in light of the 7.8 earthquake that just happened in Nepal.  There was a 7.4 earthquake that happened in PNG yesterday and it didn’t cause any damage that was worth reporting and didn’t even trigger a tsunami.  So what’s going on here?

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I know that PNG is located on the ring of fire and that there are a few fault lines that run through it (the picture above is also on Jesse’s post which is explained below).  I also know that the tectonic plates in PNG move differently than the plates in California and I’m assuming here, Nepal as well.  And from personal experience, PNG quakes just don’t cause as much damage which is a good thing for PNG otherwise with the amount of earthquake activity, it would be practically unlivable.

Well there are indeed many factors at work and a friend in PNG just wrote a great post that is definitely worth reading if you’re interested in why the earthquakes in PNG are different from those in Nepal or California.  Jessie has been working in PNG for a few years now (her time overlapped with mine) and I’m even cooking my rice paper wrap recipe this week which was inspired by a recipe she shared with me.  Anyway, back to earthquakes, whether you are a geologist or not Jessie’s full post On Earthquakes and Tsunamis is an informative and interesting read.

Konai Bible Dedication

One more New Testament is complete.  One more language group has the word of God in their hands.  One more Bible is definitely worth celebrating.

I once landed at the airstrip that serves this language group on my way back to Ukarumpa from the village.  I don’t remember exactly what the couple Soren and Britten Arsjo had requested but it was a small package and it was important.  They payed for the plane to go out of its way into Western Province and my co-worker and I were along for the ride.  The hot, dense air from this lower area hit us as the doors of the small plane opened.  We stepped outside for a few minutes while they opened the package and confirmed it’s contents.  Then we flew away and left them to continue their work.

Konai New Testaments

Over Easter weekend, the fruit of that work was finally seen in hand.  The Konai dedicated their New Testament.  This picture is thanks to Brian Frey who attended the dedication.  You can read more about it as well as see more pictures and video on their blog: Following the Freys.  Two things stuck out from reading about this dedication.

One: The Konai have a similar Christian story to the Onobasulu.  Both were evangelized, not by westerners or other foreigners but instead by another PNG tribe.  I love that when the gospel took hold of hearts in PNG, the people didn’t just keep it for themselves but spread the good news to other neighboring people groups.

Two: This is Soren and Britten’s SECOND New Testament translation.  One is already a lifetime of work.  If you’re interested in more of the story of how they came to translate a second New Testament check out the Frey’s blog.

There is still a lot of work Bible translation work to be done in PNG but let’s celebrate another huge milestone.  The Konai have the word of God in their language!