Saturday, November 15, 2008
Beginning in the 1980’s, NTM brought major improvement in medical treatment and training to the Nakui area. An aid post was first established in Iteri, and later in Nakui where indigenous volunteers were trained in first-aid and basic medicine. The result is that infant mortality has been cut from 50% to below 5%, and fatalities from malaria is now exception and not the rule. People in all directions cross mountains and wade through jungle swamps to receive treatment from these trained volunteers. Populations are growing, and the sound of groups of children playing can once again be heard in these villages.
But the question always remained … what happens to these medical programs after NTM moves out of these areas? With no official certification, how will these remote villages gain access to medicine and supplies? Who will help train the next generation of medical volunteers? There have always been more questions than answers. Until now.
This past year, in cooperation with the Sepik provincial health department, NTM began organizing and sponsoring a 6-week village health volunteer (VHV) training program. Upon graduation medical volunteers in these remote villages are certified to receive medicine and supplies from the government and to perform basic medical and neonatal treatment. Presently a VHV course is in full-swing at the Iteri airstrip, with approximately ten medical workers in training, including two Nakui men (Auiyo and Kibo). Though this may seem like a small development, this is the very first time these tribes have received ANY kind of medical education or training from the government. More importantly, this program puts these remote people groups on the health department’s radar, and means access to free medicine (although the airplane freight cost sure isn’t free!) and ongoing government-sponsored training. Windows of hope like this are rare for the Nakuis … I hope and pray both they will take full advantage of it.
Saturday, October 4, 2008
One of the keen Nakui believers who has showed promise as a Bible teacher is struggling. This man has been a key figure in the church and was very intstrumental in the outreach to Yabu village last year. After many months of accusations, it has finally come to light that he has been in an adulturous relationship with another woman. To make matters more complicated this woman, who is another believer, is his wife's very good friend. There is now pressure on this man (from her family) to take this woman as his second wife (polygamy is not only common but a sign of status in Nakui culture). This man's wife is beside herself and making life miserable for everyone around her. What a mess. When God's people live according to the world's ways and not surrendered to the Lord, there is always a cost. In this case the Nakui church is paying a heavy price.
Another struggle in the church has to do with the death of Tunawe's daughter Sien. Although Diana spent much time in June nursing her back to health, she died in July of a mystery illness. I'm sure Tunawe, who had just recently lost his father Imo, was devistated. Nakui animistic beliefs require someone or something be blamed for death, and this time the blame was cast toward Yabu - the very village the Nakui church did their outreach. Relationships with Yabu had already been strained. Now they teeter on the brink of war. A few days badk a band of Nakui men left to attack Yabu, but were talked out of it by a man who lives in a village half-way village. During a church meeting the following day it sounds like Greg was able to initiate some healthy discussion centered around 1 Thessalonians 2 where Paul describes being holy, rightous and blameless among they young Thess. believers. This is indeed a key time in the life of TWO churches in the Nakui language group -- they need our prayers.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Not that fear and anxiety are laughing matters. I recently read where nearly a quarter of the adult population in the US will have an anxiety disorder sometime in their lives. That's a lot of stressed out people. Fear certainly isn't unique to our corner of creation. In the Nakui world it's an overwhelming theme in the lives of men, women and children. Fear of the unseen world ... fear that even a close friend from outside the village could be a sorcerer sent to attack ... fear that an unsuspecting illness could take the life of a loved one ... fear of a recently diceased relative roaming the village at night looking to take someone with him. It's no wonder that when Nakui believers meet, it's not long before the subject of heaven comes up. There is a genuine longing for what God has prepared for us once we trade in these imperfect bodies living in this fallen world. In their prayers, as well, it's a major theme. Below I pasted a recent prayer by Tuti, one of the Nakui believers and up and coming leaders, before sharing the Lord's Supper.
"Thank you Papa, you are always helping us. You have given us your Word, it’s no small thing. It is the talk that opens up Heaven’s road to us. Our ancestors did bad actions, they went to the place of fire. We are glad we will go see you in heaven. Your talk of getting us back from the fire is good. Jesus didn’t come to this ground for nothing; he came to help us by throwing away our sins. He came and did this work, then he went back to heaven again. When he knew he was about to die, he called his followers together and he ate with them. He said the wine water was like his blood and the bread was like his body. He told them to eat like this over and over again so they would remember him. Oh God, this is very good. When we do this in Jesus’ memory it is good. Thank you to you, God, for sending Jesus to us. His blood spilled on the ground, his body got broken. He did this for so we can live forever and ever with him in heaven. We say thank you to Jesus."
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
For those needing our address, it is now 671 Corte Loren, San Marcos, CA 92069. Phone # is 760-597-0728.
Friday, July 11, 2008
It's great to be here and great to be with family. When I can connect on something more than dialup, we'll be posting some pictures from our recent Nakui trip.
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Wow! What an incredible three weeks in the tribe. It wasn’t always easy, but it was definitely worth every bit of effort put into the trip. After a lot of hours in the office, the Galatians translation finished to teaching draft. We were able to spend some good time re-establishing our relationships with dear friends. I did some teaching in the church, and was blessed to participate in baptizing four believers. I enjoyed some especially dear moments with Kibo and a few of the other key believers. It was a special family time to be able to spend some good time in our home after a year away. The cool, refreshing river floats on those steamy hot days were, as always, family highlights. As we pushed the limits of our physical, linguistic, emotional, and cross-cultural limitations, God met us and ministered to Diana and I both in very special ways. We praise God for the work He is doing of making his grace known both in Nakui lives and in our hearts as well. Now here in Wewak for three nights, we are wrapping things up and packing our bags. Next stop is Fiji for two nights and then LAX on July 8 (1:20 pm arrival). Soaring gas prices, floundering economy, rising cost of living and all … it will be good for our family to be in the USA again after 3 ½ years!
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Wednesday I went with one of my village friends out to get saksak. And it was quite the adventure. I could call it the Hike-Scrub-Carry triathlon. The first half hour of the hike section, we were surrounded by huge towering trees above our heads, peaceful shade underneath without thick underbrush. It was gorgeous. I was a little unsteady on the logs we were crossing… the higher they were, the more unsteady I felt. Then we got to the swamp. At one point, I missed the log (to my credit, it was about 3” in diameter) and sank down to my knee in “soup” as the Nakui’s call it. J I felt like I could easily leave my shoe there forever if I wasn’t careful. So I did the slow pull against incredible suction, and eventually I was free! After snaking around in mucky water for another half an hour, we arrived at our destination -- a downed sago tree with half its middle already chopped out. Linai pointed to some brackish water and told me to wash the mud off (were those my legs under all that?!). It was about then that I started noticing the amount of mosquitoes around. I think I could have literally lost every pint of blood I had to them by the end of the day! I’ve never been so thankful for bug repellant in my LIFE!!! Even with multiple layers of it slathered on me, they still swarmed around, trying to land, but not liking the taste. I shared my bug repellant, realizing these ladies came here several times a week without any.
Soon, my turn to “scrub” came. Linai had split open the bark on an 8’ section of the trunk. I was handed the V shaped stick they use to chop the pith out of the sago palm. I was determined to try to keep up with Linai, if not in prowess, at least in stamina. J Watching her, I tried to copy her style. Her swings were even, coming down in a fine shave from top to bottom, her pith was fine, and she worked quickly. My swings were haphazard, my lines were choppy, my pith was chunky and my work was slow. I felt like a little child working next to a master. It was fun. J But it was so tiring. My hands started blistering. My back started aching. The mosquitoes kept attacking and then horseflies kept biting. All the while, she just rhythmically worked away like a sago scrubbing machine. About 11am, Linai, with a piece of sago pith hanging from her mouth, asked me if I’d eaten yet today. It was then I learned she hadn’t eaten since the day before. And on that day, all she’d eaten was saksak… the pudding they make from the starch rinsed out of the sago pith. No greens to go with it, no fish or meat. I couldn’t figure out what source of energy she was consuming to do all this work! By about 1pm, I was cooked. My back was aching, my hands were completely blistered and I had to tell Linai I was done. I’d scrubbed about ¼ of our 8 foot section and Linai was making quick work of the other ¾ of it. I put down my little stick with an intense feeling of relief that I didn’t have to do this every day. I thought the hard work was done for the day. J
Around 1:30, we started packing up. They drained the water out of the rinsing troughs and peeled the starch from the bottom, packaging it in leaves and vines for transport. That’s when I realized we had to get all this stuff HOME! Each of those ladies carried at least 70 pounds of starch, axes, bush knives, bark baskets, tools, etc on their backs. And not in a nice, easy to carry backpack with extra padding on the straps, but instead tied together with a vine and slung over their heads. I did what I could to help, carrying bilums, tools, whatever… thinking back to the long hike, the unsteadiness… wondering if I could manage the logs with a load on my back and no free hands. The hardest work of all was just beginning! We took a small detour up a mountain and Linai got some more betel nut to stave off the hunger. Then we turned toward home. It was a long hike and the ladies were puffing under their heavy burdens. Rosama, a girl of 12, all of 40 pounds and 4 ½ feet tall, had worked all day alongside these two grown ladies and was carrying at least 50 lbs herself. Never a complaint, always helpful. Every time the trail got tough, she was telling ME, “Sorry”, “Sorry”. Along the way, they stopped to rest briefly (usually just enough time for me to catch up J) and we were immediately swarmed by mosquitoes or horseflies. What a relief to finally start recognizing gardens near our village. I had survived! All I wanted was a huge glass of water. And then another. And then another. My whole body ached and still aches today. It sure gave me a greater appreciation for their version of the daily grind!
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Greetings from Nakui village! If you are reading this, that means the HF airwaves have successfully carried this posting to you. After email problems for our first five days and now horrible atmospherics, we are again reminded this is not a given! Yes, after a week of moving out of Lapilo and another crazy couple of days in Wewak getting organized, we arrived in Nakui last Friday. We were soon reminded that life in Nakui is no less crazy! Although the challenge of getting our house livable and all systems up and running was a major effort, we seem to have won the battle at least for the time being. Besides getting unpacked and organized, we have built a new front door, fixed a leaky roof, fought off lots of termites and plumbed in a new water pipe to the Greenlaws house. Having Josh in here has been a big help. I'll have no problem keeping him busy for four more days until he leaves. The Nakui village these days is consumed with politics and money making schemes and is now an important destination for outsiders with motivations of all sorts. Our first night one particular group deemed untrustworthy was "escorted" out of the village after dark. The Nakui church is going through a bit of a rough time. Yes, they are meeting and opening up God's Word together, but a number of unresolved conflicts are hindering them. One in particular involving Tuti and his wife Abelo has caused Tuti to withdraw from the church body altogether. Diana and I both spent time trying to encourage them yesterday, and will continue to try and help see this situation resolved. The good news is there are a number of people wanting to be baptized, and we are making plans to hold a baptism class and then baptize these ones within the next couple of weeks. That will be a lot of fun. Whenever possible, I am also trying to steal away time in my office to work on translation. I would really like to have Galatians ready for Greg to teach from later this year. Health-wise we are all doing pretty well ... Bri is nursing a nasty sore on her foot but otherwise we’re surviving fine. All for now … thank for your prayers.
Monday, June 9, 2008
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
- More laborers are needed. Of over 16,000 language groups worldwide, 6,749 (41.4%) of people groups are still referred to as "unreached" with the Gospel message. Even among the "reached", the need to see believers taught and discipled to maturity is staggering. As a mission, we constantly face issues that limit our ability to reach ideals we know we need to achieve due to lack of personel and attrition. We need to continue to pray God sends church planters, pilots, school teachers, boarding home parents, and mechanics this direction, for the work of planting and establishing churches to continue in a way that brings glory to God in PNG. For more info on unreached groups check out the info at http://www.joshuaproject.net/. For more info on the needs of NTM go to http://www.ntm.org/.
- The church of the living God is the pillar and foundation of truth. The second half of the Great Commission mandate - making disciples - although sometime assigned lesser priority than evangelism cannot be sidestepped or overlooked. As the church grows deeper in its love and worship of Christ, the work Christ mandated in Scripture for all believers to accomplish will be fulfilled. But shepherding the church to this level takes time, and means the missionary task is prolonged by years and even decades before seeing the mature church established. Which is also why we need more laborers (see #1).
- Interdependence and fellowship within the Body of Christ is paramount to the success of the missionary effort. God's people must strive to conduct ourselves in a way that demonstrates we are Christ's disciples. The level of closeness and interedependence in which we live on the mission field often means freedoms are forfeited and personal rights set aside. When we function well in this, it is a beautiful thing. When not, the power and example of our witness and tesimony is undermined.
- God's will is to do as much in us as through us. As we see in the Bible, God's people are not immune to illness, hardship, dissapointment, loss, and setback even when (and maybe especially when) we are doing His work. Missionaries certainly aren't immune to this dynamic. Plans fall through. Computers crash. Co-workers go home. Government paperwork is lost. Hours and days can be spent making all these "wrongs" right again. Without faith in the Soverign One who has all such things under control, one very quickly can become disilusioned. We know God uses suffering to further the cause of Christ. We also know it is the training ground for rightousness and peace. To avoid frustration, it's good to remember what Paul wrote to the Philippians about believers having been "granted the privilege" to suffer. In each trial is born an opportunity to live out what God wants for our life instead of our own preference.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
As we began planning toward our 3-week trip into Nakui on June 11, one of our concerns has been the amount of work we face upon arrival to the village. It has been many months since our house has been lived in, and we have heard reports of a number of areas that are in disrepair. With Diana's back still an issue, at times we wondered if a trip into Nakui was too much to even attempt. But that's where the body of Christ comes in! As we have seen so many times before, God brings people along side who make what we do possible. The young man in this picture is Josh Verdonk, an MK from Belgium. As we have spent time with Josh this year, he began to express interest in coming to Nakui to lend us a helping hand. Not only a very hard worker, he is also very gifted in a number of areas (such as mechanics and electronics) where I can sure use the help. No twisting of arms necessary! While Josh is fixing washing machines, solar panels and leaky roofs, hopefully I will be able to spend that much more time with Nakuis in discipleship and Bible translation. It has been great seeing God provide enough funds and more for Josh to come to Nakui for 10 days in June. Thank you Lord for providing for our need once again.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
“A man from Sari village brought a very sick child to our village. The child had short-wind (asthma) and he couldn’t swallow. For days he couldn’t eat and had a very painful throat. When they brought him he was unconscious and we couldn’t awaken him. We all thought for sure he would die. His uncle brought him to Auwio and I to get medicine for him. When he brought him I told him, "Now, we’re not going to do ceremonies where we use banana leaves over the fire. You can’t do that that here. We are going to give him into God’s hands. God will help him, some of us Nakuis told him like that." The child’s parents and relatives wanted to bring him to Afuwitamu’s place (a jungle spirit they fear) and do a ceremony. But Tuti and I said to them, “No, this is God’s time, we need to give the child to God.” They didn’t carry the child to Afuwitamu, they gave him to us and we gave him medicine and prayed for him. Tuti and I prayed for him in the house, and then after going back to my house I couldn’t sleep so I prayed for him until 3:00 am. I prayed that God would help him and that the Sari people would see God’s strength. In the morning he was better, he was awake and eating food. God’s strength helped him. God's power is very big, we gave the child to him and he helped us. This is the second child the Saris have brought to us recently, both times we told them no ceremonies and we gave the child into God’s hands. Both children didn’t die. We want to bring God’s talk to Sari, and now they want to hear about this God who helps save their children.”