Sunday, November 27, 2011

My First PNG Friend

In 1974, I participated in Student Mission Corps, a Summer ministry program for college students in the Church of the Nazarene.  I was assigned to the Philippines, where I was involved in music for evangelistic services.  While I was there, 2 teen age young men from PNG had a layover in Manila while traveling to Switzerland for NYC (Nazarene Youth Congress).  They stayed the night in the home of the missionary I was staying with.  One of those teenagers was a Missionary Kid, one of the Blowers boys, possibly Larry.  The other was a national named Tarp Goma.

When I came to PNG, I was anxious to meet Tarp again.  When I asked around, I learned that he had been a pastor and an educator.  I even learned that our neighbor Tundai Goma was his little sister.  Our paths didn't cross for some time, but eventually I had a chance to visit with him briefly.

This morning, I attended the graduation of Melanesia Nazarene Bible College.  Among the graduates were members of the first class of a new Master in Ministry program.  This is an extension program from Asia Pacific Nazarene Theological Seminary in Manila, Philippines.  I knew that some of my friends would receive their Master's degrees (that was a big part of why I was there).  Tarp was one of the Masters graduates.  I visited with him briefly, and had someone take a quick photo.

The kina shell hanging from his neck is not part of the MNBC graduation regalia: it's a traditional PNG symbol of honor and prosperity, and was given to him by his daughter Grace, as he stepped off the platform after receiving his diploma.  Grace serves as secretary to the national board of the Church of the Nazarene in PNG, and works here at Kudjip.

In a few days, I'll tell you more about the graduation.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Baby Allen Has A Name

In PNG, babies are often not named for several weeks after birth.  Most babies are named by the time they are about 6 weeks old.  Once in a while it takes longer.  The reason for this isn't completely clear to me, but it may be that in the country with the highest infant mortality rate in the Pacific, and one of the highest in the world, people wait to see if the new one will survive or not.  Maybe, without a name a baby seems less like an individual, and it is easier, or people anticipate that it will be easier, if the baby dies.

I've seen the parents of babies with and without names watch their babies die.  Believe me, it doesn't make it any difference if the little one has a name or not. 

Or maybe the reasons are lost in antiquity, and now it's just the custom.  Sometimes, however, a specific reason comes to light.

A few weeks ago, I cared for a little one on the ward.  He was listed on the chart simply as "B/O Anna"--Baby of Anna.  He was almost 6 months old, so I asked his mom why he didn't have a name.  Her answer stunned me.  "His father has left and is with another wife.  He doesn't care about us."

"Well, he needs a name," I replied.

"You can give him a name." 

When I looked up at her eyes in surprise, I knew that she meant it.

"Really?  You want me to give him a name?"


"I'll have to think and pray about it."

To be honest, I didn't think about it much.  When I have been in a similar position before, a name turned up in by Bible reading the next day that I suggested.  Other times there was an immediate inspiration, like a medical student, or a volunteer from America.  There is a little Christiana, named after our recent student.  But no name turned up in my readings for the next couple of days, and no other ideas presented themselves.

The next time I saw him on the ward, and thought about it, I got an inspiration.

"My father's name is Allen.  He is a good, kind man, a man of God."


And so it was settled.  The little one was Allen.  I took a photo of him, and after a couple more days he was well enough to be discharged.  There were several photos of moms and babies on my camera, and when I downloaded photos a few weeks later, I couldn't remember the significance of the cute little guy with the pretty young mom.  Just one more CLK, a cute little kid.

Then a few days ago, I was doing rounds, and saw a newly-admitted baby.  His name was Allen.  "Oh," I said.  "My father's name is Allen."

"Yes", the young mother replied, "you gave him his name."

I was embarrassed not to have recognized them, but if you saw as many cute babies as I do all day every day, you'd understand. 

He had a mild pneumonia.  He wasn't as sick this time as last time, and was able to go home after just a few days.  I remembered to get another picture this time, which helped me sort out which picture was him before.  You can see that he has grown and thrived.

Bless you, little Allen.  I pray that you grow to be the man that your namesake is.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Weekend Away

Mondomil in the distance
This weekend we went up to Mondomil for Saturday and Sunday.  This was for a little R&R, and because I was invited to preach at a church near there, at a little place called Kamang.  Kamang has been a favorite place of our son Sam, since it is the home area of his "PNG Mama", Esther Tausi.  Sam has spent a fair amount of time in and around Kamang, and refers to Esther's male relatives (at least the adult ones) collectively as "The Uncles".  The Uncles is a diverse group.  Some of them have been Jesus followers for a long time, some are notorious sinners.  At least one has been a talented marijuana farmer.  A good number of them have made commitments to Christ in recent weeks.

I'm telling this story out of chronological order, in the spirit of "most important first."  In the service this morning, we heard testimonies from 2 people who mentioned that Sam was influential in their coming to Christ.  One is one of the "Uncles", and the second is the wife of another.  The first is the local Councillor, or elected village leader.  He said that Sam's influence contributed to the planting of the church there.  The second was Kunje the wife of Wilson, a nephew or cousin of Esther.  They had named their new baby Sam, in honor of Sam Bennett.  One day when Baby Sam was learning to walk, he toddled into the fire, badly burning his legs.  At first they intended to try to care for this at home, but Big Sam talked to them, and urged them to take him to the hospital, even giving them some money to pay bus fare and other expenses involved in going to Kudjip.  Then later at the hospital, Sam talked to Wilson about the importance of Christian fathers, and his need to turn his life around, for the sake of his son, if for no other reason.  In the next few days both Wilson and Kunje gave their hearts to Jesus.

Wilson and Sam
Kunje then asked Judy and me to stand, so she could thank us for Sam's role in their salvation.  Well, anyone who knows me knows that tears were streaming down my face.  I can't take credit for Sam, for his salvation, his love for the Lord, or his love for his PNG family--it was God working in and through him, and he made the decision to follow Jesus.  But of course, we were proud, and happy.

I preached my Prodigal Son sermon--the second time in Pidgin.  Three people came forward, I think all three committed Christians just coming to pray, not new believers.  That's OK.
Well, more about the weekend.  We had wanted a little time away, and had thought to go to Mondomil, a place we love, and have been to numerous times before.  We invited Stephen and Amy Hollenberg to join us, as well as Dr. Steph Doenges and medical student Christiana Metzler.  We went up Saturday morning, and planned a hike up "Elephant Mountain" (named for it's shape), for the afternoon.  It was too rainy to try the steep, clay-mud trails.  So we enjoyed a warm fire, coffee, hot chocolate, tea, food and games in the holiday house.

Warm fire, good friends, good coffee, good food.
Stephen, Amy and Judy
They said that it looked like I was smoking something.  I am not.  I'm using a piece of pipe to blow air on the embers.  It worked well.
Steph is knitting, if you wouldn't have guessed!
This morning we had a pancake breakfast, then headed off to Kamang for church.  I preached, and Judy and I gave the congregation a Coleman lantern for use in evening services (there is no electricity in this area).  They had prepared a lunch for us (despite our telling them in advance that we could not stay), but we had to hurry away.

The steps were slippery.
This little guy was already asleep.  I wondered if he'd heard that I was scheduled to preach and was already bored!
The very young missionaries sat on the floor.  With Amy is Christina Metzler, a medical student from California.
Christina and Amy
After the service we went back to the holiday house for a quick lunch, packing, clean-up and a fast get-away to try to beat the rain, and the risk of an even muddier road.  We were home in Kudjip about 2:30.  Here's a look at one of the views we had on the way back down into the valley.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Sign, sign everywhere a sign. Do this, Don't do that. Why don't you read the sign?

This falls under the general category of mundane daily life on a mission station.  I have noticed these flyers posted on or near the garbage bins around the station.  Our maintenance crew is responsible for collecting the trash, so I suspect someone from Maintenance posted them.

Read my translation first, then go back and study the photo:

"Notice:  Please do not put dirt or plant material in the rubbish bins.  Only put plastic or metal (in the bin).  Whatever material you can make into compost in your garden, do not put in the rubbish bin.  Please pay attention to this notice.  If you continue to put these things in the bins, you will pay a penalty.  Inform everyone in your house."


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Big Party

We missionaries, we really know how to party.  And some amazing people show up for our parties!  Just look at this!

Dr. Einstein graced us with his presence.  He also brought a nice popcorn ball cake that was very popular.  I thought it was odd that he'd have to carry a reminder card in his pocket.

Who knew that Dr. Einstein was such good friends with Hawkeye Pierce?  Oddly, Randy Goosen was nowhere to be seen whenever Hawkeye was around!

The party was invaded by this band of pirates!  It turned out that they were quite friendly.  Notice that the smallest pirate (Ethan Goosen) wears his eye patch up on his forehead!  The medium-sized pirate is known as Jo Radcliffe in his other life.

I believe Quinton Schmelzenbach was a blind beggar.  Maybe he wasn't blind.  Well, maybe he wasn't a beggar.  I'm pretty sure it was Quinton Schmelzenbach.  We usually just call him "Q", so that we don't have to type "Quinton Schmelzenbach" as ofter, since "Quinton Schmelzenbach is long, and hard to type.

This medieval princess is sometimes known as Allison "Alley Cat" Dooley.

Can you read their name tags?  They are "Jean" and "Gene" and dressed in blue.  You figure it out.  Stephen and Amy Hollenberg.

There was even a concession hawker.  Lydia Radcliffe didn't manage to sell much.

This, I believe, is a Gypsy fortune teller.  I don't usually patronize fortune tellers, so I wouldn't know.  She does look a lot like Jessica Myers.

And my personal favorite costume, Karla Deuel as a refrigerator door.  It is decorated, as all good refrigerated doors should be, with missionaries' prayer cards, held on with refrigerator magnets!  I do notice that our prayer card is not there.

Every good harvest party needs games.  Bobbing for lemons didn't turn out to be the most popular.

And, of course, treats.  Each family brought something to cook for themselves on the fire (most popular were "hobo dinners"), and a treat to share.  There was enough.

The foil packets on the fire are the hobo dinners.  I wanted to include a few more missionaries, and this shows Jordan Thompson in the red shirt, Scott Dooley cooking 3 hotdogs (I'm sure he was helping his kids) and Tim Deuel in the white shirt.  And of course, Hawkeye Pierce on the far side of the fire.

As you can tell, we have a lot of fun together.  We are blessed to serve with a wonderful, compatible, congenial, godly, faithful group of missionaries, and we love getting together.  We thank God for them.  I'm sorry I can't show them all.