Monday, July 25, 2011

What is it that I do?

I get this question from time to time from people wondering what it is that I do here in PNG. Often I spend my time making repairs to one of my many machines or in the office sending emails, ordering parts or talking with people who need to schedule work. However, recently I have been spending a large bit of my time putting together the new electrical vehicle. Previously we had a 20-year-old Toyota pickup with a ladder rack and some spot lights that only worked part of the time. The truck was constantly in the workshop for repairs and many times was just not reliable. A little over a year ago I began researching what it would take to replace this vehicle and how would we outfit it. I looked at many of the different vehicles available in country and I drew up some sketches as to what they might look like. I then put together a proposal for project funding through JAARS to help buy a new vehicle. Similar to writing a grant project, but on a smaller scale, I put together the needed information and figures for the proposal. The project was accepted and JAARS proceeded to fund raise half the needed money to purchase the vehicle. The PNG branch came up with the other half and a brand new Toyota Land Cruiser Troop Carrier was purchased. These vehicles are designed to haul about 10 people over very rough terrain and are used by the police, mining companies and individuals who want a reliable vehicle for work in PNG.

We started by having all the rear windows extra dark tinted to prevent people from seeing what was stored on the inside. Then we removed the standard bench seats from the right side of the vehicle. We installed a cargo barrier to keep items stored in the back from hitting the driver and shelving that could be used to store spare parts and tools. Both the barrier and shelves were custom kits that are designed for the Troop Carrier and were purchased out of Australia. We also installed auxiliary LED interior lighting so that when the electricians are operating at night then can see into the bins to get supplies and tools easily. We even wired it so that the lights will come on and off with the door switch. Before, the electricians would just throw their stuff in the back or the cab of their pickup (neither of which was secure) and head off to jobs. Often since they could not haul many supplies with them they made several trips back and forth to the workshop to gather items. This made for many wasted trips, so with installing the bins we will be able to haul stock on the truck and keep it organized while cutting down on trips to the shop.

On the outside we made a custom ladder rack to haul ladders and poles. Again this is something not seen much in PNG so we measured and fabricated to make a rack that was functional as well as looking nice with the vehicle. We added the reflective yellow safety strip down the sides to help for night visibility since it is a dark vehicle. There are SIL decals on the doors and twin spot lights mounted on the ladder rack. The spot lights are a marine grade water proof lights that are designed to be able to throw a beam of light through fog and rain and they are rated a 400,000 candle power each. By mounting the lights on both sides we can shoot at least one light 360 degrees around the vehicle.

The other thing that the Land Cruiser has over the standard Toyota pickup is that it has a six cylinder engine and a heavier chassis. This makes pulling our cherry picker for repairing street lights much easier and safer than the previous vehicle. In our testing we found that the Land Cruiser was able to pull the cherry picker up all our hills in two wheel drive where the pick-up struggled in four wheel drive. We also added wide off-road tires and wheels to help with stability and add traction for traversing rough terrain.

All in all we are very happy with this new vehicle and it was a fun yet challenging project to put together. It is something a bit different, but in PNG every day has something different in it.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

little visitor

This morning when we came home from church, we found this little kingfisher sitting on our porch right by the front door.  He didn’t fly off, and so we all went inside and I hurried to get my camera.  I went back on the porch and he was still there, but I realized that my battery was dead (must have accidentally left it on when I put it away), so then I went back inside to get the spare battery.  Amazingly, he was still there when I came back, and let me take several photos from about a foot away before he flew off.  We had heard a ‘clunk’ as we came up to the house, so maybe he flew into our window and was stunned.  Who knows.  But I’m glad I got the photo!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Another Birthday

There is another July birthday in our family… mine! July 18th, to be exact.

Brian made me the cake I wanted. Have you seen the movie Julie and Julia? You know that amazing chocolate-almond cake that the husband eats by the handful? Well, that’s the cake I requested for my birthday. The amount of candles on there is scary though. 30 years old! Yikes!

I got some nice gifts, but the best by far is my new Kindle e-book reader. Brian and both sets of parents all pitched in to buy this for me. It will be great for traveling, and if there is a book I really, really want to buy, now I can just download it, instead of waiting 4-6 weeks for it to be shipped to Papua New Guinea.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Public Apology

Below is a letter from the SIL Director about something that happened here recently – a really neat picture of God’s grace at work in the lives of Papua New Guineans. Our family didn’t actually attend the ceremony – we were in Lae the day that it happened. This type of public gathering, with an exchange of food, is a very cultural way for Papua New Guineans to seek reconciliation.

God began something great on Easter Monday that took another major step last Saturday, 2 July. Backing up a bit before that – through most of last year, the SIL centre at Ukarumpa was under significant criminal activity – house break-ins and invasions on an almost nightly basis. This calmed down some in October 2010 when a security guard was murdered, and the valley was crawling with additional police.

However, real change began at Easter 2011. One of the Ukarumpa village pastors conducted an evangelistic crusade, resulting in these young men, most of whom had done jail time, wanting to publically apologise to me, on behalf of all of SIL. The village pastors recognised that even if the former criminals had done jail time, and even if they had apologised to me, as director of SIL, they still needed to make a public apology to the people who were impacted by their former criminal activities. That happened last Saturday.

On Saturday a number of us went over to Ukarumpa village. The local pastors led in prayer and gave a message from the Bible. A drama was presented demonstrating their former criminal ways, culminating in them turning their lives over to Jesus, with a closing song in their local language, in Tok Pisin and in English, speaking of Jesus being their only friend. Then, each former criminal publically apologised for their crimes and the hurt that this caused. A few of them made a particular point of going to the owners of houses they had broken into, to apologise – including one young man who broke into my house in April 2009.

The community then gave a gift of lots of garden food, as a practical element of their apology. The size of this wonderful gift caught us a little off guard! We decided to use two vehicles to bring it to the meeting house for church on Sunday – to enable all to see the outworking of Ukarumpa village’s apology, and to receive some of this gift to SIL. They also gave several hundred kina in cash!

The former criminals were very conscious that a number of people have already left Ukarumpa on their furloughs, or left finish, and likely are still harbouring hurts. These former criminals would have liked to give their public apology to all who were impacted, but their hope, and my hope, is that this letter telling of what these former criminals did last Saturday will go some way to helping others begin to heal from the hurts of their criminal activities.

Church the next day was a testimony service! A few of the testimonies were related to these security events – people recognising and repenting of our own lack of faith and belief in the power of prayer; people commenting on a lack of balance between justice and grace and forgiveness. We are all on a journey, us in SIL and the Ukarumpa village community. My prayer is that this report will be an encouragement and help for you, along that journey.

In Him,

Tim Lithgow

Director, SIL-PNG

The gift of food that the people of Ukarumpa village gave to our commmunity.

One of the former "raskols" apologizes for his former crimes.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Greg is Growin'

Happy Birthday Greg! I can hardly believe our little guy is a year old already! He is so much fun right now.

Here is the last of the tiger photos:

Just to compare, this is the first one that we took, when he was 2 months old. (We were in the US and the tiger was in PNG at one month, so no photo):

We celebrated his birthday a bit early before my mom left. Originally mom planned to be here for his birthday, but then my brother and sister-in-law announced that they were expecting their third child in mid-July. Mom wanted to make sure that she didn’t miss that, and since Jess has the tendency to have her babies early, Mom arrived back in Colorado the evening of July 5. It’s a good thing too, since she got a call at 4am on the morning of the 6th saying that the baby was coming! Poor mom, jetlagged and with only a few hours of sleep under her belt, had arrived home just in time to greet Greg’s new cousin Rylan. I’m super excited that Greg will have a cousin just a year younger than him.

Greg got this awesome Carhartt jacket from Grandma and Grandpa Frey. He needs a little time to grow into it…

Grandma Bordewyk brought Rody with her – an inflatable bouncy horse. Here dad is showing Greg how it works.

Dad, you’re so embarrassing!

This is the first ride on Rody – and the only one so far. A few seconds after this photo was taken, Greg got “thrown.” He has since carefully avoided the green horse. He hasn’t yet learned that you need to get right back in the saddle! We’ll give it a little time.

Mom helped me to make this train cake for Greg. This is a photo when it was freshly made and not leaning yet.

As the cake settled, we were really afraid the engine would fall over. Luckily it make it to the table in one piece. Greg didn’t hesitate at all when we sat him near it. He went straight for the Skittles!


And here are just a few more shots of Greg looking all grown-up (sorry, no smiles today):

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Bola Bible Dedication

The Bola Bible was dedicated on June 25. Six of the Old Testament books and all of the New Testament are in the Bola language. The remaining portions of the Old Testament are in the trade language Tok Pisin. The Bola people preferred to print a whole Bible rather than just a New Testament, even though the Old Testament translation is still in progress.

We had to walk a few kilometers down the road to get to the dedication. Typical for PNG, we woke up that morning not knowing when it was supposed to start. We finally reached someone that we knew by cell phone around 9:00, and they told us that things were starting to happen, and we’d better start walking!

We found a crowd at the side of the road getting ready. They were “decorating” their special guests, including the Wiebe family (the expat translators who have been working with the Bola for years on this project).

There was a group dancing and singing while people gathered for the procession.

As the only white baby, Greg was pretty popular.

When the procession finally got started, this lady just picked him up and joined the parade. But hey, it freed me up to take photos!

We all marched slowly down the road for a while, led by the dancers. Finally we reached a big open area where a grandstand had been constructed. But first, the procession had to be handed off to two other groups of dancers.

After lots and lots of dancing and singing, the guests were finally seated at the grandstand and the rest of us scrambled to find any shade that we could. It was hot!

There was a drama that told the story of how God’s Word was first written in Hebrew, and then explained how it traveled around the world and finally reached Papua New Guinea. And then, of course, there were lots and lots of speeches.

Greg kept getting whisked away to be held by different ladies. He didn’t seem to mind it too much.

After the ceremony was finished, people could go and buy their own copy of the Bola Bible. They sold a lot of copies, but another hot item was the reading glasses that were being sold along with them. I heard lots of people talking excitedly about the reading glasses, which were selling for only two kina (about 80 cents).

We were given a huge bundle of mumu tapioca and pork meat, which we tasted and then passed on to another group nearby.

It was a great day, but we were happy to be back in our bungalow with ceiling fans and cold water that afternoon!

West New Britain

While my mom was visiting, we had the pleasure and privilege to travel to the island of West New Britain to attend the dedication of the newly-completed Bible in the Bola language.

It was my first trip to the islands, and the first time for all of us to see West New Britain. We flew in one of SIL’s Kodiak airplanes, and we all had to wear life vests since we were flying over the ocean.

We stayed at an environmental research center called Mahonia Na Dari, which was about 1.5 kilometers down the beach from where the dedication took place. Our bungalow was right near the ocean (Kimbe Bay).

A sunrise view in front of our bungalow.

We stayed for 4 nights, and so we had time to do some other things as well. Right next door to where we stayed is Walindi resort – a very nice place that was a little out of our price range. We did have dinner there two nights, and we took advantage of their dive boats to book an all-day snorkeling trip.

We thought that this sign was pretty funny.

Greg taking a nap on the boat. Brian, mom and I all took turns staying with Greg in the boat while the others snorkeled. We got rained on a bit, but overall the snorkeling was awesome!

For a kid who loves his bath so much, Greg wasn’t too interested in the water at the beach. He was very into the rocks and sand though!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Grandma Kathy

Sorry that we haven’t updated the blog in a while! We’ve been busy because my (Susan’s) mom Kathy came to visit us for 2 weeks. She hadn’t seen Greg since he was about 6 weeks old (and I guess she was happy to see Brian and I too…)

I wish I could say that this was a photo of Greg running to hug grandma when she got of the plane, but the truth is that he took about two days to warm up to her. He would enjoy playing games with her, but wouldn’t let her hold him for the first few days. Having my mom here made me realize what a big sacrifice it was for our parents to let us take their grandchild halfway around the world. But I’m grateful that Greg and Grandma Kathy were able to have this special two weeks together.

And as you can see, they soon became fast friends.

It was a lot of fun to show her around PNG. Now when she reads our emails, she'll have a much better idea of what we are talking about.

Mom left early this morning, so now we’re back to our normal routine. We did lots of fun things with grandma – more pictures to come.