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Wednesday, October 24, 2012




     There is so much to say about Filus I’m not sure where to begin. We all know that it is wrong to have favorites among your children but is it wrong for your children to have favorites among your friends? I’m not sure if it is or not but my 3 and 5 year old definitely have a favorite and it is Filus. he might be the most patient and caring person in the world. Silas will stop him in the middle of work and ask Papa Filus to help him catch a frog. Filus never says no. He will sneak around a building to avoid them before he will tell them no. Little Evie thinks she is a workman too. She goes right into the workshop and sits right down in the grease and sawdust and falls right into what we are doing. Filus goes right along with her and involves her in what ever he is fixing. This is probably my fault. I have always encouraged all of my children to be involved in the work I am doing. I think it is incredibly important for children to see adults working and to know that they can do work too. I firmly believe that it will make them more productive later in life. I also think that it will help them to discover what they enjoy and where they are gifted. Filus is a lot like me in this regard. His kids will come up to POC and hang out and help when they have free time.

     In addition to being great with kids Filus is unbelievably gifted at fixing stuff. He can fix just about anything. He is our mechanic, electrician, and welder at POC but he is in no way limited to this. it seems like he has got his hands in just about everything.

      Filus lives just down the hill form POC and it is not uncommon for him to hear me working on something at night and come back up to help me. 

     Filus’ mom and dad died when he was young and he was adopted by Amat (Talad’s dad). He and Talad and his brother grew up together. Filus even took Amat’s name. He is Filus Amat.

     I spend a lot of time with Filus. He and I usually take care of all the more complicated problems at POC. I also just like hanging out with him.  He and I go to town together regularly as well. Being in town with Filus is a little bit like being in a parade. Everyone knows him and it seems like he has helped just about everyone, so you are always waving and shaking hands.

     Maybe my favorite part about Filus is that he is always teaching. If we are in the jungle he is teaching me some new tidbit about a plant we just went by. If we are in town he has just shown me some little hole in the wall where we might be able to get just the part we need. And if we are on the mountain he has just shown me something about Papua New Guinean culture that I totally missed.

     Next up Papa Ganig.

Saturday, October 20, 2012



    Today’s workman is Kui. He is the driver for POC. There are not many Papua New Guineans in our area who can drive and even fewer who can drive legally. Kui has two primary responsibilities. The first is to drive the vehicles (obviously). He and I do most of the driving when the course is in session. It is not unusual for us to take several vehicles to town in order to accommodate all of the students. When the course is on Kui is often the busiest workman.

     His second job is to drive the tractor and backhoe. He does an amazing job working on our road and keeping it passable. It is no small task to keep up a 60 year old dirt road that runs up the side of a mountain in the tropics. It sure makes my job easier to be able to tell Kui what I want and know that he will make it happen.

     The best part about Kui is not that he drives  the trucks or fixes the roads, it is that he always has something funny to say. We all work extremely hard to keep POC going and the days can get really long but Kui’s jokes always make the work go fast and the mood stay light. As many of you know humor is one of the most difficult things to pickup in a new language. Though I still have trouble catching some of the more subtle jokes, hanging out with Kui has moved me forward light-years in Papua New Guinean humor. Just looking at his picture as I am writing this post has made me smile.

Next up is Filus.

Friday, October 12, 2012



(Papa Miani and baby Miani)

    Ok, so Miani is not a full time employee of POC but he was in the picture and we love him so here goes. When we came to POC as students Miani and Judi (his wife) volunteered to be our “was famili”. First, they came up to POC and had dinner with us. I thought it was a disaster. We barely spoke any Tok Pisin and the parts of the evening that I didn’t fumble through trying to talk were spent in complete silence. Fortunately, Papua New Guineans are fine with silence. Though they love a good story, just being together is the most important thing.

     Our relationship continued to grow as we went through the course. We went to eat at their house just about every week and eventually even spent the night. I think Miani gave me the best advice about language learning I ever received. He said, “If you want to learn Tok Pisin you have to go hangout with Papua New Guineans and talk. You might mess up but it will be ok and they will help you get better.”I took his advice, I went out that weekend to a soccer game in the community and started talking to anyone who would listen.  I was afraid to mess up but once I started I realized most people wanted to help me to speak better and they were genuinely interested in what I had to say.

     When we returned to POC as permanent staff our relationship with Miani and Judi picked up right where it left off. We quickly became great friends. He even marked off a piece of their garden for us. Miani comes to our house all the time and it not uncommon for us to sit and talk for hours. We love him so much, we even named our youngest child after him. he has assumed a place as our children’s uncle. In PNG this is a place of great honor and responsibility. We are very privileged to have him as a friend.  

     Up next will be Kui.

Sunday, October 7, 2012



(Evie and Talad)

     As I have said in the past, Papua New Guineans are masters of relationship. Relationships bond communities together and provide stability. Though we have special relationships with all of the people that work at POC, our relationship with Talad and his family is particularly strong.

      Before we ever knew Talad we knew his father, Amat. Amat was our language teacher when we were students at POC. He is a wonderful grandfather type figure with an infectious smile and an amazing desire to help others. I (Matt) struggled in my initial language learning. Instead of giving up on me and focusing on the more promising students Amat took us under his wing and patiently pulled us along. In PNG the children take the father’s first name as their last name, although this is a relatively new development for the sake of the “white man”. Talad’s full name is Talad Amat, a wonderful testament to a great man.


    (Tisa Amat)

I think our friendship with Talad also grew quickly because we had so much in common. He has several children that are the same ages as our children and they became friends almost as soon as we arrived at POC. Talad is also a carpenter and he seemed to pickup exactly what I wanted him to do even when my Tok Pisin was not the best. Even when I was not able to communicate well he showed the same care and patience that his father showed us as students. But the thing I like most about Talad is he always has a good story to tell. I can’t begin to count the number of times the two of us have sat and shared stories for hours.

     Talad and Amat have told us many times that we are like family to them. We feel like they are family too. Shortly after we got back home Talad’s older brother died in a car accident. This was very difficult for me after just loosing my mother. We were able to call and talk to the family and to help with some of the things that they needed. This is one way we are able to maintain our family-like relationship even from half a world away.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Workmen

033     Well, I decided to start our blog again. Tiffany told me many of you have asked why we stopped. There are really several reasons for it. First, the internet and power are very unreliable in Papua New Guinea. So, it just became more and more difficult to find a time when it was working and we were free. The internet is also very expensive. We have to pay by the KB and uploading photos, even reduced size ones got very costly. The second reason was time. We got very busy with POC work, family responsibilities, and ministry in the community. Something had to give and so it was the blog. Maybe we should have set better boundaries but that was the decision that we made. For those of you who have missed it I am sorry we have not done a better job keeping it up. It is my goal to try to post several thing a week from now on.

     I decided to start by talking a little bit about the people that I have the pleasure of working with. The picture above is of all of the permanent workmen at POC plus my best friend who comes and works occasionally. From left to right their names are: Talad, Miani (my best friend), Kui, Filus (my 3 year old’s favorite), Papa Ganig, Hensen, Mauhak, and Ugal. I am going to write a post about each one of them over the next week or two.

    I’m planning on going from left to right, so the first up will be Talad.