Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Plethora of Passion Fruit, a Newsletter, and a Video

What do you do with 56 passion fruits?

When I returned from the Dedua dedication to Ukarumpa, I was hauling gifts of several plastic bags packed to the bursting with passion fruits! In fact, I’ve shared another amazing story about this dedication in my December newsletter, which you can access at my newsletter page HERE or you can email me to get on my mailing list.

So, we’ve snacked on passion fruits and I’ve made passion fruit cake with passion fruit icing. I’ve made passion fruit jam and considered how to make passion fruit juice. Recently I found a recipe for passion fruit yogurt panna cotta….

What would you do with 56 passion fruits?

As you consider that question, have you seen the video of the Dedua Audibible Dedication yet? I invite you to hop over HERE and see for yourself the amazing things God is doing there!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Rejoice and Sing! The Dedua Audibible Dedication

The procession of the Audibibles to the dedication tent
“Here’s your Audibible. God bless you.” I shook the woman’s calloused hand as I handed her the audio player. She stared down at it in amazement before suddenly throwing her arms around me and squeezing tight…thank you! Thank you!

Learning how to operate an Audibible
It was late Saturday morning of the Dedua Audibible dedication and after much singing, dancing, speeches, and explanations, the boxes that I had sealed back in September (see here) were finally being opened. The Audibible is a handheld, solar-powered audio playback device that can hold anything from speeches, songs, sermons, and Bible studies to oral recordings of the Bible—in this case, the Dedua New Testament and Genesis. In Papua New Guinea (PNG), the traditional time for storytelling and discussion is at night; after the work and heat of the day have abated, Papua New Guineans will sit around the fire for hours, talking until it smoulders into coals and the children have dropped into sleep. Because the Audibible is oral and solar-powered, it doesn’t require light to read by or generator power for charging, neither of which are very common in remote villages. In addition, it is able to bring Scripture into the hands of those who can’t read or are visually-impaired, allowing them to finally hear the Good News in their own language.

And now the miti mobail—the Scripture mobile—had arrived.

This was before the chaos of opening boxes and selling!
Hundreds of Dedua speakers surged toward the sales table, forming raggedy, lumpy lines like streams converging on a river. The sun filtered through the tarp roof, casting blue shadows and greenhouse humidity as the press of sweat and bodies trampled the dirt floor into mud. No pauses. Instead, an almost frantic, continuous tide of kina and Audibible tickets, wrinkled and dirty from hand-sweat, being shoved into my and the other four sellers hands, until the process became automatic—money, table, Audibible, turn, give, shake hands, God bless you! Next…

I quickly learned the tok ples (local language) words for their requests, as my teammate behind the table scrambled to keep up, slicing open boxes of new Audibibles as well as for sales of hard copies of Dedua New Testaments, Genesis, and Bible study helps.

Crowds of people overflowed from under the tent

Suddenly, I realized there was no one in front of me—the lines of waiting people were almost done! I glanced over at my teammates—hair is plastered over foreheads with sweat (no time to wipe it off), and one presses his lower back. We’ve been standing and selling for hours. Over 1300 Audibibles sold—one to every Dedua household; only a few players remain. Later, as we sat in our house and counted through the day, we realized that 1700–2000 people had crammed into that tent!

Studying the Scriptures
That afternoon and the following three days were filled with the a Bible conference, where preaching on repentance and confession crackled through the megaphone in Dedua (and, for our benefit, in Tok Pisin too, the trade language of PNG). Infants slept in laps as mothers poured over their Bibles, some with notebooks (and even highlighters!)as they perched on banana leaves, bits of cloth, plastic bags or half-sawn chunks of bamboo for up to eight hours a day. When the inevitable downpours came, we crammed even tighter together under the tarp, dodging leaks and puddles, and poking the fragile ceiling with umbrellas to keep water from pooling and bursting the plastic. Once the rain outshouted the megaphone, we’d switch to worship songs—several hours a day of indigenous Dedua music to kundu drums, guitars, clapping, and dancing, all at the top of their lungs until my whole body reverberated with the refrain—Jesus is with us forever! We need to give ourselves…as an offering!

Hundreds of people worshipped together!

As I prayed with men and women at the end of each day and watched their joy as many began or renewed commitments to Christ, I rejoiced with them in thanksgiving for the Truth of Scripture in their language and hearts. Night had fallen long ago, but still they sang on—Jesus, you say, “Repent and come walk with me!” Hallelujah!

Hallelujah, indeed!

Check out the following video about the Dedua Audibible Dedication!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

On Calf-Deep Mud, Clouds, and Colds

The village was down in the valley; we are halfway up the mountain and an hour into the walk. (You can see the ocean above the last mountain at the horizon line)

The mud came up to my calves.

I wrenched my foot out of the red, sucking goo and slid forward, bracing myself on a tree as I continued the descent. The eight-year-old girl next to me, Alice, grabbed my hand. “Be careful!” she warned. “It’s slippery!”

That’s the understatement of the year, I thought as I yanked my skirt free from the clinging branches and skidded forward, like a cross-country skier. Just think what it would be like if it had rained yesterday!

It was early Wednesday morning, and we were in the process of hiking out of the Dedua language group to the airstrip where the Kodiak was waiting to take us home. Only five days earlier we had made this same 3 ½ hour trek up and down the rugged Morobe mountains to celebrate with the Dedua the dedication of the Audibible—the oral recording of their New Testament and Genesis (I’ll tell you more about that later). Except this time, due to the extensive rain nearly every day in the village, the hike was taking even longer.

I paused on a ridge, trying to catch my breath. Hmm… the trees are sort of fuzzy up ahead. I squeezed my eyes shut, and looked again. Probably just the mist. Or maybe I’m a bit dehydrated. Better drink more water. I sucked on my camelback hose and climbed over the fallen tree, gingerly wedging my foot between the greased tree roots and the cliff that fell into fog to my right. The clock was ticking in my head—we needed to get to the airstrip by 11 am, or the clouds would close in over the mountains and the plane would be unable to take off that day. Keep moving!

The Kodiak!
It was just before 11 am when the first part of our group broke out of the jungle and was greeted by the waiting Kodiak. We cast anxious looks at the graying sky as we loaded our bags—please, Lord, let the clouds open up!—but it was only minutes before the all-too-familiar drizzle of rainy season began to soak our clothes. As the second half of our group trickled toward the plane, I realized, with a sinking heart, that we were in the middle of a cloud—for 360 degrees, I couldn’t see any of the surrounding mountains. No leaving today.

The plane clearing the mountain peak the first time it dropped us off.
But, our ever-optimistic pilot kept shoving our bags into the cargo bay. “Let’s see what happens,” he said. So we prayed and packed…and as he locked the last door in place, the clouds twitched, shuddered and opened. A window the size of my fist revealed the one mountain peak directly in front of the airstrip.
Time to go! As the Kodiak scrambled down the grassy strip and leapt through the hole in the sky, I twisted in my shoulder harness for one last look. Trees closed over the muddy paths and my friends’ smiles blurred into crowds; it had been a good week.

As it turned out, the timing was even better than I realized. Only a few hours later, I found myself very sick with flu-like symptoms and far too dizzy to sit up, much less stand or hike (no wonder the trees were fuzzy!). Had we needed to spend the night at the airstrip, it likely would have required an hour’s hike down the mountain to a local village, and then another hour’s hike back up early the next morning…which I would not have been able to do. Praise the Lord that He knew what I needed before I even realized I was getting ill! Although the flu has passed, the common cold has remained with a vengeance for the last two weeks, hence my silence on here. I’m slowly catching up on the responsibilities of life, and I look forward to sharing with you more about the exciting events at the dedication!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Ode to the Singles' Van

The lovely van! Here it was taking us to a party!
Ode to the Singles' Van

Yes, that's the back door falling apart. What fun!
 When the night starts a falling
And cockroaches start crawling
And we find ourselves far from our home,
We ladies don’t worry
or attempt to hurry
Because we know that wherever we roam--

The Singles' Van will find us
Collect and combine us
Packed onto leather-torn seats,
With boxes and umbrellas
And bilums* (but rarely fellas,
since its ladies who can’t be on streets**).

It’s rickety and rusty,
Holey and musty,
And the doors are falling apart.
We hang onto handles
And bounce in our sandals
And cheer for on-the-hill starts!

Despite mud on our skirts
(and jarred spine- and head-hurts)
Our delight for the Van does abound!
It’s a service so faithful
We are ever so grateful
To always come home safe and sound!

*A bilum is the traditional string bag of Papua New Guinea.
**Women aren't advised to walk around after dark without a male escort, so when we want to return home after an evening out in Ukarumpa, the Singles' Van is the transport of choice :)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Every 26 Seconds

Click. Clickity-click click. Click. My fingers tapped the command, then hit the return key. Next one! I swiveled my chair to the computer just to my right to repeat the process; three other laptops glowed around me as they tracked downloading progress. I glanced at the clock—just a few more minutes left! Only a little bit more… I typed faster and faster, plugging in the last of the SD cards…hurry, hurry, hurry!

GAH! The centre’s noon horn blared like elephant, and my heart smashed into my ribcage like a cardiac batting cage. 12:00. I gasped down my adrenalin and glanced at the numbers. Success!  I had beaten my record—70 SD cards programmed in half an hour (that's one every 26 seconds!), and just in time for lunch!

This past September, I spent several weeks working with vernacular media production, helping program and prepare 1340 Audibibles for the Dedua people group in Morobe Province. Vernacular (meaning the local language) media is a key component of getting accessible Scripture into the hands of Papua New Guineans. In a country where literacy rates are low, especially among the elderly or women, and where oral communication is highly prized, recordings of translated Scriptures can allow the love of Jesus Christ to be heard for the first time. For the Dedua people, this meant the entire New Testament plus Genesis programmed onto a mini-SD card which then is slips into this handheld solar-powered playback device.

My fourth computer sat even further to the right!
And so, I spent many mornings sitting in what felt like a command module—as if I was launching the space shuttle or coordinating international flight patterns or editing some major blockbluster film instead of downloading Dedua Scriptures onto SD cards! Four computers and 1340 mini SD cards later, I then assisted with programming, testing, screwing, and packaging the audioplayers so that they would be ready for sale and distribution at the Audibible Dedication and Bible Conference in November.

And guess what? It’s now November! Today, I and several others will be flying and hiking our way into the Dedua language group to participate in the dedication and conference. I’m excited for this opportunity to see my many hours of downloading be placed in the hands of people who will treasure them (and I look forward to sharing it with you when I return next Wednesday). Thank you for praying for us and for the conference!