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Friday, October 18, 2013

Best Shoes EVER!!!!


     During our first term in PNG Tiffany’s sister sent us a package. I asked for a good pair of flip flops*. It is impossible to find anything other than the cheap plastic ones here. I had gone through a series of different ones from the States and though they had lasted longer than anything I had gotten here they still pulled apart and broke before they were worn out.

      We opened the box and among the various other prizes she sent were the flip flops pictured above. They didn’t look like this when I got them. I put them on and never took them off again.They are Quicksilvers, I’m not sure of the style. What I am sure of is they are the best pair of shoes (running shoes, boat shoes, etc. included) I have ever owned.

      Flip flops are the favorite shoe in PNG, especially in the costal area where we live. I have worn these shoes every day for the last two and a half years. They are my work boots, my hiking boots, my dress shoes, my beach wear, and my sport shoes. I do literally everything in these shoes (as you can tell by the shape they are in). The only time they sat unused for any period of time was when we were home (in the US) in the dead of winter and even then I wore them around the house.

     Sadly, I am going to have to retire them soon. They have made several trips around the world, been in multiple countries, been used and abused in ways that I’m sure the manufactures never intended and they are still in one piece. It pains me to think about letting them go but the time has come. I hope my next pair (what ever they are) can preform half as well as these have.

* For you native American English speakers- much of the rest of the English speaking world call this type of shoe thongs. In Tok Pisin they are called tongs.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Transformational Truth


       Part of my job this course is to go out to different areas in our province (Madang) and find villages where our students can live for 5 weeks. It is a long process that involves multiple trips and various checks on the villages. I get the chance to meet a lot of people during the process. I have lots of great conversations in the process, many of which turn to spiritual things.

       A couple of weeks ago I was going through the villages and doing my visits with a Papua New Guinean friend when we came to Bawak village. We sat down with Smith (first name of the waspapa)and began to talk (he is the man on the right of the picture). My friend started to ask about all the cocoa dryers in the village (you can see one just behind Smith in the picture). We began to look around as Smith pointed them out and there was one for every 2 or 3 houses.

      This was quite striking because they are just now building the second one on our entire mountain. These dryers are important because dry coca beans are worth a whole lot more than wet one. So if they have a means to dry their beans they can make a good deal more.

      My friend mentioned the fact that they were just now building the second dryer on our mountain and Smith told the following story:

      Not too long ago Bawak didn’t have a church and most of the people in the community were involved in “Cargo Cult”. (Basically this is the idea that there is a secret that wealthy people with lots of belongings know and they keep for themselves. If you can find out “the secret” then all these things can be yours. It is generally believed that all westerners “white man” know the secret. It manifests itself in many different ways but “the secret” is always involved). Then 2 churches moved into the village and a couple people started going. These people started to change; they were different than anyone else in the village. Others in the village wanted to know why they had become so different so they went to the church to find out. They too started to change, and so it went. It was not a quick process but eventually there was no more cargo cult in the village and everyone in the village was different. But it didn’t just stop with the people the village started to change too. There wasn’t anymore stealing, the teenagers were better behaved, and various types of development (the cocoa dryers, etc.) started to happen. All of this change was not because they had learned “the secret” or because  God was happy with their obedience and showered all types of gifts on them (health and wealth theology- western cargo cult). It was because the truth of God had reached into their hearts and change who they were and those changes were manifested in the community.

       My friend was blown away by this story. It was so simple and so true. They had become the “city on the hill”. God’s transformative power was not limited to some internal thing that only effects the spiritual realm, never to be seen. If you allow it to permeate who you are and flow out of you it can not only transform those around you but whole communities.

       My friend kept coming back to this story all day and for days following we talked about it and what it means. Sometimes he lamented that our mountain has had the Gospel so much longer than this other village and we are still so far behind. In the end we came to the conclusion that there is nothing we can do about the past but there is plenty we can do now. What was not immediately obvious to him is that these changes are already beginning; I can see them and I am honored to be a part of the community as they happen.

      God allow every person in this community to have the overflowing bounty of you truth. I know that it is building even now. Lord help us to be your catalysts, help us to make this community your next “City on the Hill”'.