I just wanted to take a moment to praise the Lord for another great year of Vacation Bible School and to ask you to be praying for the numerous kids that put their faith in Jesus Christ this week. On average, there were more than 300 kids per day that came to play games, sing songs, see puppets and dramas, and hear the Word of the Lord in the midst of it all. I had the pleasure of shuttling the kids and teachers out to the VBS site via truck again this year, and Nori helped the teachers out and made new friends. Thanks to the many families that gave untold time to see the Lord change young hearts across this region!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from my guys at CAM (Construction and Maintenance)! Thanks for all your prayers and partnership this last year that allowed us to serve in the many areas that we do!
For those of you that are trying to keep up with what I, John, am currently doing here, here's a breakdown:
We live in Ukarumpa in the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea (PNG). Ukarumpa serves as a central hub for the numerous Bible translation projects across PNG—a unique land of over 800 languages. Do the languages sound similar? Well, I'm sure that some of them might, but here's an example of my regular morning greetings: Banram (in Gadsup, which a majority of my CAM guys speak). Wanram (still Gadsup, back side of the mountain). Doa'i (for all of the Tairora guys). Rondai (for Joseph and Mavis). Yangam (in Engan for Angie). Avi'ai (in Fore', I think, for Nonte and Aaron). And of course, Moning Nau for everybody else in Tok Pisin. Whew!
I work at CAM where we look after Ukarumpa in all its many facets so that the Bible translators can do their work to the fullest. Within the CAM department, there are multiple sections including Housing, Maintenance, Industrial, Building, Utilities (Electrical and Plumbing), Agriculture (cows and trees), and Sales (Hardware, Joinery, and Sawmill). Why so much? Well, we are in the middle of the jungle really, so we either have to make stuff ourselves or order it and wait months. I've worn many hats since arriving here, but for the last year-and-a-half I've been looking after the Maintenance and Industrial sections, and working as a community liaison for contract work under my Assistant Manager title. The Maintenance section is responsible for everything that's NOT a building. That includes roads, grounds, fencing, and drainage (keep in mind that our annual rainfall can be over 100 inches per year!) among other things. I've been pushing to change our section name to Terrestrial Section, but it hasn't caught on. My Industrial guys (Amos & Lemech) take care of our all our CAT equipment down to our lawnmowers and weld everything in between. As Assistant Manager, I work with all of our neighboring villages and leaders to distribute help via contract work (extra jobs that our employees don't have the time or capacity to do), and do it in the most amiable and equitable manner.
I wanted you all to see these guys because even though we are here to support Bible translation, I see them as my greatest ministry. The discipleship work that we do here reaches out into their villages and and is affecting change in their families, churches, and communities across PNG to the glory of Jesus Christ. In this new year, please remember to pray for Ete, Poi, James, Lloyd, David, Marcus, Michael, Andison, Willie, Tama, Nonte, Amos, Lemech, Joseph, their wives, and 39 children. Your prayers and partnership are going to great lengths here in Papua New Guinea and we want you to know it.
May the Lord bless your families and ministries in 2018 in incredible ways!
John, Kristi, Nori, Banner, and Millie
So I (John) just got back from a trip to Enga Province this last week. It was about an hour west (by plane) from where we are in the Eastern Highlands Province. Marty Driggers (Youth Director), Tony Romito (Bible teacher), and I (Builder) went to do some reconnaissance for the high school mission trip that will happen early next year. Our first stop was Wabag where we stayed with the Boyd family who are a translation team. Our second stop was Kompiam where the Mills family operates a hospital and school. I thought you might enjoy some pictures and stories from the trip and these should also give you some ideas as to how to pray for what God's doing here in PNG. Enjoy!
Everyone that we met was eager to meet us and sit down with us to talk for a bit. I tried to learn as much of the Enga language as I could in a few days, and people always seemed pleasantly surprised and happy to teach me as much as I could handle.
It's hard to put into words all that we saw at Kompiam. Dr. David Mills and his family have worked among the Papua New Guineans there for more than 18 years. They run the hospital, school, and radio station among many other things, and support numerous clinics scattered throughout the nearby jungle. Many of those clinics are only accessible by foot.
Apparently, I stop and "smell the roses" too much. I was always the straggler on hikes because I was taking pictures, and Kristi made fun of me (in a nice way, of course!) for all the valleys, mountains, trees, flowers, moths, etc. that were included in my slide show night when I got back. This small sampling has been seriously edited down for your enjoyment.
Not only do I smell roses, but I'm always on the lookout for new orchids (which grow like weeds here).
These pictures are from the Sunday that we went to the Baptist church at Kompiam
The school at Kompiam serves the children of hospital staff including the Mills' own children. It's currently grades K-10, but could go up to grade 12. Please pray for Mrs. Mills and her leadership of the school, for teachers for the school, and for the students who hear God's Word every day.
The morning that we were leaving, we had the privilege of being interviewed on the radio by Kairu. He graduated from the Ukarumpa International School (that's our school, y'all) back in 2016, and is now the station manager (and artist extraordinaire! yeah, that's his work) at the radio station in Kompiam. The station broadcasts throughout the area and offers Christian music and programs as well as health information and news.
Please continue to pray for this upcoming mission trip (probably March 2018). Pray for wisdom and strength for Marty and Sara Driggers as they bear the bulk of the preparations. Pray that God will direct the students and provide for them to go. Pray for safety as we will travel and do many construction related tasks. Pray for peace in these areas to which we will travel. Pray for the Boyd family and the Mills family and their ministries in these areas in Enga Province. Thanks for praying for all this and more!
I thought that I would just share this picture that I snapped of Opa this morning at church. She and Naomi (sitting next to her) regularly sit together and read their Bibles with their reading glasses on. It's always exciting for me to see this because it was well over a year ago that I came to their Tok Pisin Literacy class at the Training Center with my Glasses for Missions kit and made them some reading glasses. Thanks to the Training Center that they can read, thanks to Glasses for Missions that they can see the words in their Bibles, and thanks to the Lord who made all of it possible. He continues to use these tools to change their lives and their communities. Thanks for your prayers and support of what God is doing here in Papua New Guinea!
So, as was looking for a picture to go with our monthly prayer update, I found more photos that I wanted to share from the month past. I hope you enjoy them :)
This is our second Christmas Season in PNG. Our second year without you to celebrate with. There are many things that are different about doing Christmas overseas, but we have found that we can still hold on—even if ever so slightly—to some of our old family traditions. We used to go to Christmas Town, USA (McAdenville, NC) every year to see the whole town lit up with twinkly lights. Now we have a puzzle that's a painting of McAdenville by Thomas Kincade that we are putting together. We used to have our community group over for a Christmas potluck complete with caroling and the reading of the Christmas Story from Luke (but in a pop-up book!). This year I took my 7th grade girls group caroling in the community here. We used to be with family and attend Church at Charlotte’s Christmas Eve service. This year we will be joining our friends tradition of clam chowder and attending the community church’s Christmas Eve service. We used to attend the live Nativity down the road from our home. This year we hosted a live Nativity for anyone in the community to come and hear about the true reason for this time of celebration (it was dark, but we had over 300 people attend!). John used to have 2 weeks off for Christmas to relax before a new year started. This year he will be building us a sofa so that we have somewhere to sit, and will be volunteering with the Vacation Bible School that some from our community put on for the local villages here (over 600 PNG kids came last year)!
Things might look different, but God is still breathing life into each moment and reminding us of Christ's miraculous birth and sacrifice. We miss you all so much and our hearts are with you this holiday season… but we are so thankful to now call this our home. So thankful that God has a place for us in His plans and in His glory shining here in PNG.
Thank you for being willing to miss us! Thank you for your prayers and support that make you a part of His light here too! Merry Christmas and we love you!
Blessings from PNG,
John, Kristi, Nori, Banner, and Millie Craig
PS: There's lots of work here and we pray that God will allow us to stay and do it. If you are looking for something to bless with your end of year giving, would you prayerfully consider our Wycliffe ministry?
It is said that a picture says a thousand words. We hope these pictures say thousands of thanks, love, and appreciation to our brothers and sisters in Christ who contributed to making this dedication of school books possible. Thank you to all our friends and churches in Hendersonville, NC who gathered and shipped the books. Thank you to all of our prayer and financial team mates for being our backbone this past year so that we could be a part of moments like this.
Our village family and the families of their village, Tararan, will be forever changed by the opportunities provided to them through literacy. They are already blessed with teachers who love them and love the Lord. Thank you for further equipping them to lead future generations to read and understand God’s Word in an even greater capacity.
So without any further ado we will let the pictures tell their story.
We can't believe that our littlest sunshine turned 4 years old today. It seems like she has gone from baby to toddler to little girl in the blink of an eye. When she woke up this morning she was crying. We asked her why she was crying, because it's her birthday and she should be excited. She said, "Look at me, I'm still small. I thought when I'd turn 4 I'd be a teenager." Praise the Lord that didn't happen! ;)
Here's a little glimpse into her special day…
And be sure to scroll all the way down; we saved the best for last ;)
It's become a tradition over the last year that the birthday girl or boy gets to go to market and pick something special out. Millie had her heart set on wooden pigs and a pepper (a girl wants what a girl wants…), and she was not disappointed!
Thank you Gems at Church at Charlotte! Millie got her birthday present in the mail yesterday—you all are amazing!!!
This girl loves her brother and sister!
Mama's little twin.
I'll huff and I'll puff!
I've thrown a few random pictures in this post for you, but it's really about the song. Everyday I'm delighted to join my Papua New Guinean brothers and sisters in honoring the British/Australian custom of stopping for tea (coffee!) at 10am and 3pm. And everyday that I have the sense to abandon my desk (and my American workaholicism) and head over to the industrial shop, I praise the Lord—literally! This is one of my favorite songs lately. Amos and Lemech are playing guitar and singing, and I'm playing the cajon (a box drum) in the background. Jose Bena composed this song in Tok Pisin (our regional trade language), but the second half of this recording was translated into Gadsup by Amos and Lemech, which is their tok ples (the language of their people group—could be an entire region or just a village).
Well, we have been in Papua New Guinea for over 8 months now. We have had our entire perspective of life as we knew it turned upside-down in that time. We gave away most everything that we had previously toiled to collect, and transplanted our family to the other side of the globe. Many of you got excited with us from the start, and many of you struggled with "Why?". Well, here is a small glimpse at what I (John) have been up to, and why we jumped through all the hoops that we did to be here.
We are their support team. You are their support team!
Please pray for them and their work in East New Britain. We will miss them dearly! (as you can see from Millie's face below)
They too are why we are here.
God is changing people all over Papua New Guinea through His Word. These are two pictures from a baptism that I went to in a nearby village where one of my CAM guys lives. My friend, my brother, Naneka was one of over 100 people that got baptized that day. God is stirring the hearts of this community now with His Word. He wants to redeem this country for Himself. We long to see this happen in this place—our home now. That's what we are doing and that's why we are here. Thank you so much for being a part of God's work way over here in PNG!
We hope that God blesses your families as you pause to remember how he breached the chasm between Heaven and Earth to be our Savior in the most vulnerable of forms. As usual, God's way was not our way and was better than anything that we could have imagined. We praise Him and thank Him for the example and eternal salvation that he gave us through Jesus.
Thank you for all your gifts and prayers that have allowed us to serve the people of Papua New Guinea these past 7 months. Having God's word in a language that you can understand is powerful; and God is moving His word deeper into the hearts of His people here!
We had the chance to witness this firsthand today. Our village church hosted a Christmas Day service that included three other churches from neighboring communities. Two of the villages had not worshipped together for over 6 years—since there was division and bloodshed within one village. Note that they don't live in communities of strangers like us, these were brothers fighting brothers. The pain goes deep.
This Christmas Day service was one of reconciliation though. They even admitted that they didn't know how it was going to go, but they all gave God the glory for the healing that He brought. God did it!
Praise the Lord that they have His Word in their language and through it He is changing hearts and healing families and communities. He is redeeming the people of Papua New Guinea for Himself!
Thank you for being a part of what God is doing here!
Much Love and Merry Christmas,
John, Kristi, Nori, Banner, and Millie Craig
And for those of you that are interested, here are a couple of pictures of me making some temporary repairs to the church building prior to the Christmas Day service.
The roof is in the process of collapsing, but we were able to slow it down for now. We are currently gathering resources to replace this building as early as possible in 2016. We will use as many local trees and materials as we can, but we will still need to get other things like concrete and metal roofing. If you would like to help, send me an email: email@example.com
The biggest thing will be prayer though; we will have some distinct challenges with material transport that we need God's wisdom for in particular. Thank you!!!
So I thought that while John was away on a building repair trip on the coast that we would document what a typical day looks like for the rest of us here in Ukarumpa. Maybe in one of the next posts we can do what a day for John looks like. Waking up to the mountains — starting to peek their sleepy heads out of their blanket of clouds.
I take a moment with God and my coffee to enjoy the beauty and quiet before the day gets underway.
Millie is usually the first up, and comes to help me hang out the laundry.
Next we are off to the market to buy our produce from some of our Papua New Guinean neighbors.
This is the hill we have to hike up and down anytime we leave the house. There have been many a child to just lay down and cry on this hill... we have been here for months now and I still feel the burn as we hike it.
At the top of the hill we take a moment to catch our breath and to say, "Hello!" to one of the Guard Dog staff, the security force here on center.
And even higher up the hill we reach our house (note the joy!). This is the home we are renting from a family who are back in the states right now. (still praying that God provides us a home of our own here!) That strange thing on our roof is our solar water heater (yes, cloudy days = cold showers) and the giant tuna can in our front yard is our rain water tank (half of it is buried).
Our loot from market, ready to be soaked and cleaned. All this has happened before 8am, and now we are ready for breakfast, which is usually oatmeal and whatever fruit that we have on hand.
Millie goes to a preschool class two days a week and on most days we walk with this awesome family. Meet the Wades (all but Aaron, the dad). The Wades went through our recent Pacific Orientation Course (POC) with us and they are Bible translators. They were even on the same flight as us from Los Angeles to Australia, but we didn't know it! We have partnered with the Wades as a support team for their translation work (in a nutshell, we will help them with all kinds of needs and details that they can't handle when they are coming/going and living in their village), so you will be seeing much more of them in posts to come!
Time for school for the bigs now.
At 10am we stop for tea, popcorn, and language lessons from this sweet lady, Rose, whom we adore. She lives in nearby Ukarumpa village.
We pick Millie up from class, come home for lunch, and take a rest time. Then it's time for some fun! A favorite pastime for the kids is "sledding". Just grab some cardboard, head to the nearest hill, and go for it! There are plenty to choose from here. Who needs snow?
Most afternoons Nori ends up making something creative... that girl just drinks up craft supplies.
I just started ukulele lessons from Katie, another former POC student with us, who works in language survey. I know you appreciate this great photo I got of her, LOL.
This is Mesley; he takes care of the yard at our house every week. He also happens to be an amazing artist and teaches some special classes on wood carving at the upper school. Banner likes to hang out with him in the afternoons when he is here.
Normally this would be part of John's day, but being that he has been gone we still have to take care of this dirty business. The girls are excited because i finally got the trash lit and burning... and then we took the food scraps to the compost pile. It's amazing that even in the middle of a drought the flowers grow like weeds in PNG!
Millie helps me take the bread that has be rising all day and pop it into the oven. Then we shake up the yogurt we made, so it will be ready by breakfast.
As a wonderful treat, Sam and Marita made us dinner! It was this super yummy Aussie dish that all the kids had seconds and thirds of. Sam works with John and is pretty much a genius with big diesel engines, welding, and can make or fix anything. Marita works down in the clinic and anything that comes from her kitchen tastes great. When we want fierce competition for game night, they are the ones we call. They are serving a 6 month term here which is dwindling down, so we cherish the time that we get (which exemplifies every relationship in our missionary life now...).
Banner helping me clean the dishes from the day... we try to only wash them once a day with the drought going on still... please keep praying about that!
Nori replenishing our water so it can be fresh and filtered for the next day. Then its off to bed, so we can get up and do it again tomorrow :)
It’s been two months now with so little rain. We got a drizzle last week and that is all we have seen in over 60 days. The grass is brown and the earth now hurts your feet if you try to roam without shoes. There is less and less food to buy at market, and the river that we pump water from is dried up.
It’s hard to be faced with your own fragility and neediness, especially when you are taught your whole life to be independent. But it’s true, we all desperately need God for everything. We need Him for our rain, we need Him for our relationships, we need Him for our vitality.
Please join us on our knees before the throne of the Creator and Giver of all things. Pray that he blesses Papua New Guinea with lavish amounts of rain. Pray that His glory will radiate from us as we strive to love and serve the people here generously, even as we feel the strains of our own needs.
P.S.- just a side note to say we miss you all dearly! And it has come to our attention that a vast number of emails we sent in the last few months were not received. So know if you haven’t heard from us, It’s probably because your email is floating in space somewhere, and know even without the words we meant for you that you are loved and thought of! Please forgive us for this; we have already forgiven you for not writing us back ;) Also please add our foreign and often filtered out email address to your approved sender list: firstname.lastname@example.org
Well, Kristi and I awoke last night to a strange sound that can only be described as your grandma beating her rug out with a broom at hyper speed. It continued every 30 seconds or so and would stop and start again at random.
Well, in the course of much theorizing and some investigation Kristi remembered that she put the bananas on our porch to keep the flies outside. I looked out the window and witnessed a bat repeatedly swooping at the bananas. But not just any bat, it was a flying fox (as they call them here) and was seriously the size of an adult goose! With much trepidation I ran for the bananas when the coast seemed clear and brought them inside!
Thanks in advance for reading this massive blog post about our recent stay in Tararan. If you get tired, feel free to visit again another day to finish reading ;)
This time concluded our Pacific Orientation Course to prepare us for our work here in Papua New Guinea. Thanks for all of your prayers and support!Read More
Learning Tok Pisin together! Many thanks to Mavis and Crystal (John's left and right, respectively) for all of the grace and patience over these past few weeks. John's excited to be working with Mavis in the CAM (Construction and Maintenance) department on the other side of our orientation.
A picture of Katie taking a picture of us on our 2+ hour hike to Ama Munta for the night. We hiked the whole way, but the kids got dropped off closer to the village and just hiked the last little bit. Everyday is either beautifully sunny or beautifully rainy in the Eastern Highlands.
Mama Jenny and her husband hosted our family in Ama Munta over the weekend. She had this kau kau mumu waiting for us (in layman's terms, sweet potatoes cooked in the ground).
We drew a crowd at the house.
We drew a crowd when we visited their church building too (which is the first thing that Mama Jenny wanted to show us, pretty cool!). Apparently I said "wow" a couple times as I was looking around. This nice entourage reportedly began saying "wow" a bunch as they followed us around.
Banner made friends fast.
The kids played many different games that all had one common denominator: throwing mud balls. The smiles were enormous all around.
The village girls decorated the pulpit before church on Sunday and it was surely picture worthy. An Australian short-term missions team erected their church building over Easter this year. It was exciting to hear the story of God's provision repeatedly from the proud and grateful people in the church. They still need to finish the concrete for the pulpit (in the picture), paneling for the walls, windows, and hook up the lights, but they are content to wait until God provides for these things. God has been tugging on my heart to help with this; please let me know if you want to help too.
It was a joyous surprise to run into Steven (and his wife, Tina) who we befriended at the Translators Training Course in the previous weeks. We had no idea that this was his village!
See anything lurking on my hot sauce?
What about now?
Nori found this flower and wanted to share it with her friends back home :)
And this one...
So Friday morning we will be leaving the Training Center at Ukarumpa to spend 3 weeks in a village with a host family. We may go radio silent for this period or we may have great mobile phone service, it's hard to say at this point, so please forgive any lapse in the blog. Also, please forgive this picture of a projector screen, but I wanted you to see this great visual representation of all the different languages in just a small section of Papua New Guinea. We will be down in the Wampar region.
From one of our great discussions preparing us for our village stay. There ended up being many goals, but the first one seemed to be the most significant.
Thanks to David Howard for these two great pics of our future bush house in Tararan!
And thanks to the Lord for the big mango tree to give us shade in the heat. We are going from an elevation of around 4,900 ft. in Ukarumpa down to around 400 ft. in Tararan, so hotter and stickier it shall be.
And Millie didn't want to miss out on this post, so here is one for fun :)
Thanks for all of your prayers and support!
Much love, John & Kristi and the gang
To prove that Banner is still around having fun, here are a couple of Banner pics to kick things off. The first picture came with much excitement because Banner met one of our teachers for the day, Samuel, from the Numanggang language group. God speaks Numanggang is one of the books about Bible translation that we read the earliest and the most to our kids; and it single-handedly formed their perception that they would be climbing trees and eating fruit with their village friends everyday here in PNG.
Now I would have been fine burying these photos for all time, but it was surely a landmark event of the week. We learned how to "process" a chicken (there are live chickens behind Banner and we ended up eating them for dinner; I'll let you fill in the blanks...).
In the future, if given the option, I will choose to have vegetables only.
Wendi was way too kind to jump in and help me out at frequent gross intervals throughout the process.
Nori, on the other hand, had a delightful time plucking the chicken. She will be an all-star in biology class one day!
Preparing the mumu pit (think underground BBQ). The fire is built in layers over and with the rocks that become heated and provide all of the cooking power.
The raw ingredients are placed in layers between many banana leaves over the hot stones.
And it feeds a village! Our mumu included chicken, kumu (greens of many kinds), kaukau (sweet potatoes), cooking bananas (a banana that tastes more like a potato), taro (another potato-like root vegetable), African yams (the largest root vegetables you've ever seen; ours looked like a Yeti foot), and probably something else I am forgetting.
Wendi made Millie her own little bilum :)
Learning about traditional construction methods.
This is our Ukarumpa waspapa (watch father), Sam, talking about how to properly split bamboo for use in construction.
I find it incredible that this is all done with an ax and a bush knife. The roofing material, kunai grass, is tied to the "rafters" with a rope grass and the roofs will last 5-10 years (or longer if they build fires inside, because the smoke will further protect the roof from bugs and moisture). The center post is ultimately cut out and the roof supports itself.
Looking at our pictures from back home with our Ukarumpa wasfamli (watch family).
This is a great example of a bridge in our area, but I took this photo because it was built over (and probably with parts from) an old airplane from World War 2. Abandoned remnants from WW2 can be found in many places across the country.
You can kind of make out the nose of the airplane in this photo.
We went on a nearly 6 hour hike around area villages and rain forests on Saturday. Here are some of the highlights...
The above shot is looking down at the Aiyura Airport which serves Ukarumpa and surrounding areas.
I even took a video of this tree to try and capture how massive it was (maybe 80-90 meters) but it couldn't do it justice.
There were quite a few of these trees that looked upside-down. This is me and Nate with Yafuka. He and his mountain shared the same name, pretty cool.
We ended the bulk of our hike at Yafuka's home where we got to meet his family, eat, and pray with them.
Banner gleaning wisdom from Joy in the kitchen.
These piles of rocks appeared overnight at the river, much like a crop circle, and left Millie (like the rest of us) wondering what and why.
Well, we have spent much of the last week trading stomach illnesses from person to person and family to family, but here are some of the highlights from the week still. Kristi took these first few photos on a hike that John missed out on :(
Sorry in advance, but it looks like Banner succeeded in eluding the camera again this week. We promise that he is still alive and having fun!
Nori with fellow missionary Mike Oak on her first ride back from Kainantu, our closest town. Her prize find was this stalk of sugar cane for 40 toya (about $0.15).
Millie loves wearing Nori's bilum (BEE-loom) around just like the other Papua New Guinean ladies. They are both stylish and functional!
Surely the saddest part of our week was seeing our friends from the Translators Training Courses (TTC) go, but we were proud of all the graduates!
We've been cooking a good bit lately in preparation for our 3 week stay in a village at the end of the course.
Fruits and vegetables grow like weeds here, it is incredible. The cabbages and carrots especially are the largest that I have ever seen (and with no fertilizer or genetic modification!). And yes, there is pineapple at every meal, seriously.
Believe it or not, we have a volunteer fire department in this little community—complete with an old Japanese fire truck (which is pretty cool, see below). We got to see them hose this van carcass that they set on fire for practice. Good clean fun! I think that they might try to recruit me...
If we are being honest, this is what the bulk of our days look like though. Lots of language learning and anthropology (which we love!). Our teachers have been a tremendous blessing!
Nori and her friends learning to prepare our food from the gracious cooks at the training center. Don't let the kitchen fool you; all this food went into pots over open fires.
Banner using some other non-traditional utensil to clean a coconut shell out. We all took turns scraping these out for the coconut grease. That's right, I said grease.
Some of you noted that Banner didn't show up in too many of the pictures last week. Well, he is typically off running around barefoot somewhere — embracing the PNG choice of footwear.
Just for fun :)
Kristi and Wendi out by our family fire.
I'm pretty sure that this was a picture of my "fire" right before Joan cleared it out and totally schooled me on how to make one properly, which was a nice slice of humble pie after all of the fires I have made (and apparently taken 10 times too long making) over the years. She had this thing blazing in what seemed like seconds.
Yeah, so 2 and 3 year olds have their own bush knives here; you just have to get over it.
Millie embracing Amira. Yeah for new friends!
Hiking around some local villages... This bridge was made out of a few logs plastered with mud to fill in the gaps.
Girls out exploring.
Yes, you guessed it; we are crossing the river on our way to church!
Millie lucks out and doesn't have to get her feet wet (or muddy).
Our hike to church attracts many onlookers along the way :)
Yeah, that's a pig alright.
Millie joining in at church.
Pastor Ham and all the people we met were warm and welcoming and we look forward to visiting them again soon!
The view from church is surely a divine experience!
This is the view from the front porch of the dining hall at the training center we are living at for the next 5 weeks. No photo we have taken really does justice to the beauty here! The rainbow is there all the time. Okay, that's not true, but it is some variety of beautiful all the time.
We get served this pretty much everyday... it's passion fruit (or suga fruit — that's soo-gah). The kids like it, John likes the flavor but not the texture, and Kristi has yet to taste it.
Millie playing in the river.
This was our first trip to the river; we will be going every week. Some Papua New Guineans were washing their dishes on the other side as we were playing. This week coming up we will be learning to how to wash our dishes there too in preparation for our village stay.
This is Matt, our POC director. He is giving us a lesson on food that we can find in the Highlands and how we might prepare it. We have been humbled and so blessed by the work and care He has poured into our training!
This is a photo of sugarcane. The kids ate it up!
These are examples of some fruit here and how everything we know about fruit is a bit different. The raisin is about the size of a prune, and the strawberries (at least the ones that we have had so far) are no bigger than a blackberry.
Kristi and Millie on the way to class... check out the PNG flag.
Nori with her Toc Pisin teachers wearing a meri blaus.
We have had the tremendous opportunity to share the training center with the Translators Training Course participants since we have been here. I can't put into words how encouraging it has been to live and eat beside these Papua New Guinean men (and some women!) that have traveled great distances and given up much (like missing their families!) to study God's word and train to translate Scripture into their own heart languages. What they delve into (like Greek & Hebrew exegesis) is no joke, and every conversation we have with them is a blessing. John has been particularly blessed and encouraged by his new friends here from the Kamano-Kafe group.
Choices, choices... Note to others: the Grass Jelly Drink is REALLY sweet and there's a ton of jelly bits that you will find halfway down that are a bit unsettling.
This is a photo from the hike we went on Saturday around the perimeter of Ukarumpa.
This too we saw on the hike... it's the bridge used everyday by the nationals to go to and from Ukarumpa village.
We love you and miss you... and will write more next week:)