Creative Support Raising #2: Rural $1 Rent

Ryan and I are gearing up for REV at the end of the month and we know that the next big step is starting the financial support raising process.  This is, of course, a daunting task in general but it’s made especially difficult because of the high cost of living in Australia.

Australian Countryside

While I was raising support back in 2013 I received a few creative suggestions to offset the high costs including Banana Smuggling.  At this point banana costs have gone back down so that strategy is now obsolete.  However, I found an article recently boasting $1 a week rent in Australia.

Rural Home 

Since a good portion of our monthly costs will go towards rent, this sounds like it could really help our budget.  Too bad the closest town offering $1 a week rents is about 4 hours away from our desired area.  But in all seriousness, I love this idea that some rural Australian towns have implemented.  They offer very reduced rents in exchange for people to come out, live in old houses, fix up the properties, send their kids to the local schools and contribute to the small town economies.

This has evidently been going on for a few years in Australia and small towns in the east and west have had various successes because of the new life being breathed into the countryside by the families.  Because 4 hours is a bit too much of a commute, Ryan and I won’t be able to take advantage of the $1 a week rents but I am looking forward to living in the Australian countryside a little closer to Perth.  And I know that Ryan and I are excited about contributing to the local town and being a part of country life.

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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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Update on Osa and Other Onobasulu Prayers and Praises

I’m happy to report that Osa is doing well after her snake bite last week which you can read about here: An Urgent Prayer Request From PNG.  She’s back in Walagu and there is no venom in her system.  This is a huge praise!  There are a lot of reasons they did not find venom even though there were bite marks on her leg, maybe it wasn’t a death adder that bit her, maybe the bandaging worked or the snake that bit her had already bit something else recently so the venom wasn’t strong.  Whatever reason, the prayers worked and we are glad that she didn’t have to have the full anti-venom shots which can often be very hard on the body.  Her husband Wabele (pictured below on the computer) was with her at the hospital which is also a praise.

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Another praise is that we think the cost of the helicopter and treatment is going to be covered by the oil company’s community affairs fund.  This is basically money that is set aside to help the communities that they impact.  This is a huge praise because the cost of helicopters alone is astronomical.

While we’re praising God, let’s praise him that it seems like the Onobasulu airstrip is open again after two years of being closed.  It has had major work done on it by the Onobasulu people and the first SIL plane will land there next week to check it out.  Praise God that the Onobasulu may be able to use their airstrip instead of walking from another airstrip or paying the high cost of helicopters.  Having the airstrip open greatly benefits the work of Bible Translation as well as the community in general.

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Please continue to keep the Onobasulu people in your prayers.  Work on the Onobasulu Bible translation and other scripture use materials is happening, people are hearing the gospel and learning more about the Bible.  All of these things invite spiritual warfare.  Another one of the workers named Hauwo (pictured below) has also been in the hospital with ongoing back pain, after a bad fall last year.  He has been involved with the translation and literacy work from the beginning.  Please pray for a full and quick recovery.

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These three pictures in this post are of the 6 main Onobasulu workers- Joseph, Yobe, Jack, Wabele, Jeffery and Hauwo.  Please pray for them by name and their families as the work pushes forward.  Please pray for safety.  Please pray for good health.  Please pray for protection and care for these families as well as the entire Onobasulu community.  You’re continued prayers support the work of Bible translation.  Thank you!

Community Development Devotions

While I was in Malaysia, I attended a couple seminars on Community Development. The speaker was a woman, named Lois, who had worked in Africa for almost 40 years. Her presentation was super inspiring and even though Papua New Guinea is very different from Africa, there are lots of similarities when it comes to community development and issues that people face. Basically I was encouraged to see Lois’ focus be on helping people to view their lives in a holistic manner, revitalizing the links between God, Self, Others and Creation and helping people to move forward with their dignity in tact, making changes in their community from the inside out. I can’t possibility do her true justice in a short blog post but I hope to just give you all a little taste.

Lois also chose to share her notes and workshop outlines and lesson plans with us at the conference. And as I made my way back to PNG I figured that what I had learned would make some great devotions and food for thought for my Onobasulu co-workers. Usually we divide up and share the devotion time but the guys were more then willing to give me as many mornings as I needed to share with them what I had learned. As I worked through Lois’ materials, I realized that she had a wealth of things that weren’t even touched on in the two short seminars she gave. And so I worked through her materials adapting and customizing them to fit the Onobasulu situation. I knew that a lot of the concepts would be difficult but I wanted my co-workers to come away with knew perspective and knowledge that they could use and share with their families and other members of the community.

We had a couple weeks of morning devotions and then two whole morning set aside just to work through the material. I did my best to balance letting the guys talk and internalize the information while still keeping us moving forward and not getting bogged down in the details. In very brief summary (well relatively, this was a couple weeks worth of devotions) we discussed the relationships that were established at creation and then what happened when sin came in and distorted those relationships. But that Christ and his work in us is part reconciler and our ability to work on this earth comes from God himself but we are to be ambassadors for him and ministers of reconciliation. We can’t fix these relationships, that will only happen when Christ returns again but while we are here on earth we can work to restore and heal these relationships.

We also discussed the idea of community and strength within a community. The Onobasulu and many other language groups in PNG have a unique situation where their community has been chosen for them. They live and work with their family and clan. Most decisions people make here are not individual but instead effect everyone around them. And so when we started to speak about transformational development it was inevitably not focused on the individual Onobasulu but instead the entire community. We talked about the difference between relief, development and transformational development using this extended Proverb and what it meant for the Onobasulu people.

Give a man to fish and he will eat for a day (relief)

Teach a man to fish and he has food for a lifetime (development)

Empower a man to think about fishing in new ways and his life will be changed forever (transformational development)

Being made in the image of God is also an important principle. From the beginning, God created man in his own image and this in a way is a great honor but it also is a great responsibility. Sin has once again distorted this image and so we must remind ourselves that although we are a reflection of God, we ourselves are not God. We only bear some of his characteristics, only He encompasses them all. And for the Onobasulu they have to work at finding these reflections. It’s like taking a fire where the hot coals are buried deep in ash and all the ash (the distorted image and sin) has to be cleaned away but once the coals are found they can be revived again into a fire.

These coals are inside every community. Even communities that think they have nothing, have been given gifts. It’s up to the community to use the resources wisely and to be good stewards. I asked the Onobasulu what resources or gifts that have received from God that exist in their community and they came up with this list:

· Pigs, Animals

· Life

· Ground

· Food, Gardens

· Water

· Sun

· Minerals, Gold, Oil

· Strength

· Family

· Work

· Community

· Air

· Minds, Thinking

· Language

However, once again sin distorts what we have that is good and we find ourselves enslaved and bound. Our thinking is blocked and we can’t possibility see the good and perfect things God has in store for us until our minds are transformed and we are set free. We are set free in Christ and God begins his work in us transforming us into a new person by changing how we think. Set free from the burdens of this ground we can then truly act as his ambassadors and begin our work as ministers of reconciliation. We have a new identity in Christ.

With this as a foundation my co-workers then talked about the community. What things they were proud of, how people use to solve problems in the past, what new challenges they face, etc. This was a time for them to accept the reality of the challenges but at the same time searching for those coals, those hot embers that are there just below the surface. These concepts continued to be explored as we looked to the Biblical account of Feeding the 5000. We examined how Jesus solved a problem by working within a group of people. He took the 2 fish and 5 loves from a little boy in the crowd and used it to feed everyone. The disciples were ready to send everyone away to find their own food but Jesus saw the potential within the people themselves.

We also discussed the topic of change, the challenges and the ways to help create sustainable change. And we discussed the issues of true Christians versus those who simple pay lip service to God and how this looks for the Onobasulu church and community. And finally we finished by talking about being the salt of the earth. What makes salt so amazing and so precious anyway.

I started these devotions thinking that I had something I wanted to pass along to my co-workers but I finished the time as the one being blessed by their answers and interpretations. Community Development isn’t easy and these changes don’t come quickly or without pain. Despite our efforts and even with the work of Christ in us, we all still remain sinners living in a fallen world. But God truly can do an amazing work in us because we are His reflection and that transformation in us can then work to transform communities. I hope and pray for the Onobasulu community to embrace the transforming power of Christ and that I would be able to embrace it in my life as well.