Kingston Bridge Update

20 days ago I posted that the Kainantu Bridge had fallen down.  Many of you probably don’t realize how much of a problem this actually is for people who can no longer cross or get the supplies they need.  A friend still living in PNG wrote this great post detailing more of the situation including a map of why this bridge was so important.  If you’re interested you can check it out here: What’s the big deal about the bridge?

Kingston Bridge Repair- 1But today I’m happy to report that the bridge repairs are well under way and light traffic can now pass as they continue to fortify and strengthen the bridge.  This has been an extremely fast repair and according to Facebook accounts from my PNG friends, they are all surprised and grateful.  Things like this can take a long time in PNG.

Kingston Bridge Repair- 2However, just because the bridge is up doesn’t mean the battle is over.  Heavy supplies like fuel and other trucks still can’t cross the bridge and that’s still a big need at Ukarumpa.  Keep praying that the project will be completed fully and that the bridge will be better and safer than before.  Thanks Steven for the pictures and keeping us all updated!

The Kainantu Bridge has Fallen Down

We’ll get back to the Wisconsin recap in a bit but I figured I would share the latest and not-so-greatest from Papua New Guinea.  The bridge that connects Ukarumpa to the rmain road has finally fallen down.  It’s been out of commission a few times and precarious at all other times since before I was even in PNG.  The bank holding up the bridge on either side was eroding away so it was inevitable that the bridge would fall and this is what it looks like now (thanks Kelly for the picture).

Kainantu BridgePlease be in prayer for everyone in Ukarumpa and the Papua New Guineans in the surrounding area.  This is a main thoroughfare and it will impact food prices, travel and work for many people in addition to countless other inconveniences.  There use to be a ford a bit upstream but even if that reopens it still limits the types of vehicles that can cross and when, due to weather and time of day.  Hopefully the local government will be able to provide the materials and labor needed to fix the bridge sooner rather than later.  There are a lot of area politics that impact the decisions regarding what will or will not happen.  So pray for wisdom as the leadership in Ukarumpa participates in this discussion.

Getting to Know Camarillo

Each place I move has a different feel, a different sense of community and a different way of celebrating their uniqueness.  For example: Ukarumpa has Hamburger Night, community theatre and Banquet.  Sacramento has 2nd Saturdays, art walks and the Capital.  Santa Barbara has both the ocean and mountains, State Street and 1st Thursdays.  And now I’m getting to know Camarillo.

Concertinthepark2Camarillo has the Outlets, old town where they have a weekly farmers market, and concerts in the park.  Concerts in the park are held during the summer and they are free for the community.  They have a great variety of music and it’s fun for all ages.  This summer they have everything from a tribute to Elvis, to the Rat Pack and last Saturday was country night.  People put out chairs and blankets starting Thursday night to save their spots on the lawn at Constitution Park.

IMAG0005I definitely felt like I was getting into the summer feeling when I went out early Friday morning to put down my blanket.  A lot of people had already staked out their spots and saved them with chairs and blankets.  We chose a nice Starwars blanket to save our space for the country concert 🙂   Since it’s in the neighborhood, Ryan and I just walked over.  And the park people bring in porta-pottys, designate walkways on the lawn and generally make it a pleasant experience for the crowd that gathers.

Concertinthepark1And a crowd certainly gathers.  Starting late afternoon on Saturday people bring picnics and start hanging out in the park.  There are families, couples and groups of people just enjoying the good weather and fun atmosphere.  Some people go a bit crazy and bring tables and we even saw a couple flower centerpieces.  But I guess that’s just how Camarillo rolls.  And because Saturday was country night, people came in their boots, hats and ready to dance.  There was a lot of two-stepping and line dancing going on by the stage.  It was a lot of fun and I am looking forward to more concerts in park!


He is Risen!

But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. Acts 2:24

EasterCrossThis is the lovely flower cross that was made in Ukarumpa this year.  The residents bring flowers to the sunrise service and decorate the cross.  It looks different and amazing each year.  Thanks Laura Dokken for posting this great picture.  It’s a beautiful reminder of life after death.  Christ is risen indeed!


The Complexity of Culture by Amanda

My friend and former roommate wrote this beautiful blog about culture and the kids she teaches in Ukarumpa.  I have been praying for the Aiyura valley this week because of the recent fighting and I was challenged and encouraged by Amanda’s viewpoint as a Missionary kid who has returned to serve in the same community now as an adult.  She took the terrible fighting and turned it into a beautiful teaching moment.  Check out the original post and other posts from Amanda here on her blog Wulff Where Abouts.
Now for Amanda’s words:
When I was here in Papua New Guinea as a teenager I had quite a narrow view of PNG culture. With my impressive two weeks of language and culture training, living in a community of mostly missionaries and their kids, and my many years of third-culture experience, I believed I had it all figured out. A girl at my school was hurt by a Papua New Guinean man and all the sudden I deemed everyone in this country to be mean and bad. I even developed a fear and frustration toward Papua New Guineans so much so that I right out told God I never wanted to return.
As you can see…God and I worked some things out. In January of 2011 my plane landed in Madang, a small town where I would spend 16 weeks attending language and culture training. Though nervous, God walked me through my fears, misconceptions, and frustrations. The last day of our training, my group was waiting to leave our shopping trip when one of our leaders got robbed. Catching him in the act, I screamed at the top of my lungs “STILMAN”, which means just that…man who is stealing. Startled, he backed up quickly and began to run. I’m sure he didn’t anticipate my continual screams and pointing. As I was screaming a mob of people who didn’t even know me tackled him to the ground and proceeded to take him to the police.
On the way home, I realized something. I realized that I no longer believed as I did when I was a teen. When one person sinned, he was the sinner…not his whole family or his whole country. Something inside of me had changed during this time of training. I had been welcomed into a Papua New Guinean family’s house, into their village, and lived with them for five weeks. They had sheltered, cared for, loved, and protected me. They had become my friends. There were Papua New Guinean helpers at our training course who had helped me learn the language over tea every day. Instead of seeing them as “different,” I saw them as children of God, as fellow Christian workers. This thief helped me notice the goodness of the Papua New Guinean people around me. He was stealing, but everyone else was helping us…even though we were strangers to them. They didn’t want this guy giving them a bad name just like I don’t want thieves in my country giving the United States a bad name.
I was reminded of these things this morning when my eight Papua New Guinean students came into class laughing about a fight that had occurred between two neighboring villages. They were obviously not aware of the consequences of such fighting and its seriousness . Changing my morning plans, as teachers often do, I decided to sit them down and give them a chance to talk through the situation.
We talked about the way of our cultures and the way of God. I explained that as Christians we need to look closely at the way our families and relatives have done things and ask ourselves, “Is this the best way?” I told them that there are many things in my culture that I don’t feel like God would be happy with me doing: drinking too much, I told them, or neglecting children – things I thought second graders would understand. As followers of Christ we can’t always follow the ways of our culture. If the Bible doesn’t agree with how our culture and family have always done things, I told them, then we need to make a decision. It might be pretty hard.
 And then we talked about things in this country that are contrary to the will of God . We talked about fighting and why people fight. Often a lot of little things build up and finally it all comes out. Sometimes they are not “walking in the way of the Lord” as Jeremiah says. I reminded them of Joseph’s brothers. They didn’t start with hatred…they started with jealousy and it slowly built into frustration, anger, and then hatred.
We prayed, and I told them that the desire of my heart is to see them grow into godly men and women who think of others above themselves. People who serve the Lord no matter what their job is, who seek peace and offer forgiveness. After praying, my students shared other stories of things they had experienced or heard. I was given the opportunity to tell them about the power of Jesus’ name and encourage them to follow the examples of the godly Papua New Guinean men and women that work among us here in Ukarumpa.
My talk with them lasted about forty-five minutes or so. Afterwards we went on with the day, but my heart remained in our discussion. Every good teacher wants their students to succeed and grow in wisdom and discipline. Working in a different culture has challenged me. What will become of them? Their culture is very different than mine. Opportunities are limited. But I don’t care as much about their academic abilities as I do their hearts. Will they choose to follow “the way of the Lord”? Will they study the Word? Will they proclaim peace, forgiveness, and love? Pray with me that they will.

September 16th- PNG Independence Day

Yesterday was September 16th here in the US.  But on September 15th, on this part of the planet, my facebook newsfeed was filled with pictures and prayers from people celebrating Independence Day in Papua New Guinea.  Papua New Guinea became independent in 1975 and so this year was the 38th anniversary.  There are celebrations on this day all over the country but usually the Ukarumpa center doesn’t host a big celebration.  However, this year was different.  People dressed up in traditional costumes representing the various language groups and everyone else was wearing red, black and yellow.  Those are the colors of the PNG flag so it’s very similar to people wearing red, white and blue on the 4th of July.  Look at these sweet kids all dressed up and ready to celebrate!


This picture came from my friends, the Freys.  If you want to see more pictures and read more about some of the festivities that included multi-language Bible reading and traditional dancing, check out my friend’s blogs: Following the Freys and the Pennington House.

My Bug Eating Remembered

Today I woke up to my friend’s blog post from Papua New Guinea.  She writes about the lovely protein that so often graced our food and there is even a picture of me enjoying a type of buggy protein that I don’t consume on a regular basis.  Thanks Lynn for sharing your market adventures!


I bought veggies this morning at the fresh fruit and vegetable market at which valley people sell the things they grow in their gardens. They grow things they wouldn’t be caught dead eating, but which they know we white-skins love: tomatoes, eggplant, lettuce, broccoli, etc. I bought three small eggplant. I see some eggplant parmesan in my future. Yummm!

I also bought some lettuce. Since I hadn’t been to market for a while I hadn’t had any salads and was looking forward to a nice Chinese chicken salad. I made the dressing with some aromatic sesame oil, pineapple juice and other tasty ingredients and gathered all the components for my salad. I had dutifully soaked my lettuce in bleach water to kill all things nasty like typhoid and hepatitis. We also hope it will kill other nasties that shall remain nameless. As I was tearing up the lettuce I was thinking of other things and suddenly hit a spot in one leaf that was especially hard to tear. I almost had to yank it and then I looked down. It didn’t want to tear because it was wrapped around a BIG worm. Eeww! Then I was digging through the bits I had already dropped into the bowl. Not wanting to throw away the precious lettuce, I picked through, examining every little bit.

I must admit that my appetite for Chinese chicken salad has diminished a bit but I’ll still eat it. Hey, I’m a missionary. We don’t waste anything! Well, mostly. I’ve never been one to enjoy the roasted grubs that my friend here is eating. Now, that I could gladly waste!!!