Thursday, December 31, 2015

300!

This year's Christmas tree...it looks like something from Dr. Seuss!
I’m into my 6th year of blogging with over 155,000 views from all over the world...and as I hit my 300th post, I thought it was time to look back on some highlights, both since the blog’s inception and this year in particular!

Interestingly enough, the most viewed post, rocketing over 1800 views is “Greetings from Mars—or what to do when your missionary returns home.”  Apparently you like knowing about how to handle Martians. Another all-time popular post is "Beyond Bless the Missionaries” (a how-to pray guide perfect for your Sunday Schools and small groups). My sister’s writing always makes me chuckle, and you agree with over 1200 views on her article “Are you the artist?” which refers to her challenges growing up as my younger sister... My adventures when on home assignment have been chronicled extensively, but you all find “When Moses comes to church”  to be one of your top reads.
In the tropics, time flies. Without having the change of seasons, it's hard to mark the passing of months...and now here we are at the end of 2015!

My chronic fatigue continued to be a major player in my life this year, but the causes were finally explained when I traveled to Australia in August, where I was diagnosed with Lymes Disease, along with a bunch of other random illnesses. Thank goodness I now have treatment options and am on the road to recovery! I've reflected on some of the challenges here in the blog as I've wrestled with my identity and purpose here in Papua New Guinea as a perpetually sick person, as well, as how God has chosen to fill my strength with His.

But, the Lord has been faithful as I've taken it one day at a time. In June I was healthy enough to begin working with the Kamano-Kafe, a large language group here in the Eastern Highlands Province, on Old Testament translation where I encountered Leviticus and such questions as how to translate the fingers of the man cow pig!  And, have you ever heard of an Anti-Radiation Mysterious Mouse Evil Spirit pad? 

The rest of my year filled up with workshops, teaching at the horse paddocks, various veterinary adventures, writing for our Communications Department, and the general excitement of daily life both with Papua New Guinea culture as well as missionary life (many of you liked my musings on singleness).

It's been a remarkable year, but I'm definitely looking forward to 2016! What have been some of your 2015 highlights?

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Bluetooth it to my phone!

Michael, a sixth grader, pleaded with his friend.  “Please, bluetooth it to my phone! I want to watch it, too!”

Shrugging Michael off, his friend stared transfixed at the video of Jesus translated into Kamano-Kafe. “No, I can’t do that. But my cousin [Lani] sells these SD cards. You go to her house and buy one of your own like I did.”

Michael craned his neck, “Please, send me just one song! Then I’ll go buy it!”

“No! Get your own!”

Early Monday morning, before school, Michael sprinted across the village to Lani’s house. Lani was sitting by the fire, cooking breakfast when he arrived, panting. “Please,” he begged, “Do you sell these SD cards?”

Lani grinned up at him and laughed, “Yes, I do.”

Michael frowned, “No, I’m not being funny—I really mean it. I want to buy one. I really need one!”

Lani nodded, “Yes, I can sell one to you. But it’s 20 kina [Papua New Guinea currency].” Before she was done speaking, Michael had bolted from her yard, back to his parents’ house to ask for the money. He returned in a rush with the kina and left clutching his precious SD card.

Many schoolchildren watch the videos about Jesus on their phones.
As Michael watched the videos about Jesus and listened to songs, all in his own language, the rest of his classmates began asking questions. Lani soon found herself selling SD cards to many schoolchildren, and was asked to sell them on the school grounds during lunch hour. “You must come!” they said. “There are lots of students from other villages, and they keep asking about these videos about Jesus in our language. They need SD cards, too!”

Later, Lani shared about the importance of the audio and visual recordings. “The young men and women need these SD cards so they can hear God’s Word and worship songs in their own language. When they see the videos about Jesus, they become interested, and they [understand because] it’s in their language.”

 ----------
Lani is the wife of one of the translators, whom I have the privilege of working with every week. Her joy as she told her story was absolutely infectious! I originally wrote this article for the The PNG Experience (our publication site for translation in Papua New Guinea).

*Names changed for security

Thursday, December 10, 2015

When nakedness is...relative

I took a deep breath, looking at myself in the mirror. You can do this, Catherine. Everyone is doing it. It’s fine. You’re fine. I walked toward the door. See? You can do this. Down the hall...were they looking at me? No...no, wait? Yes? They were!!? I glanced down, AGH! How do people do this? I just feel so NAKED! 

Let’s play a game. Which picture was I so worried about looking like?

A.
I'm on the right in a carefully draped sari.
B.
Here I'm going hiking.
The answer is....B! I was in Australia this last time around and was trying to convince myself that wearing jeans with no fabric to wrap around my waist wasn’t going to mark me as an escapee from the red light district.

Modesty is dictated by culture. In Papua New Guinea (PNG), a modest woman is careful to cover herself from her waist to past her knees, not allowing any outline of her thighs or curves to show....but in some places, as long as she’s married and has had kids, topless is quite acceptable!

Traditionally, women wore the grass skirt, or purpur. Nowadays, the purpur is only used for special occasions, like this dedication of a maternity wing at a local hospital.

These purpur are very fancy! (photo taken in Madang)
A classic woman’s dress in PNG is a laplap (a wraparound skirt, like a sarong, that goes to mid-calf or ankles) and a meri blaus (a large baggy shirt that reaches somewhere between the hips and the calves).
Here I am in a meri blaus and laplap

However, with 830 different language and culture groups in PNG, fashions also vary throughout the country.  Out in the islands, it’s common to wear white to church, and sleeveless is reserved for only garden work—puffed sleeves should be worn in the classroom or formal occasions. Out in Western and Gulf Provinces, women skip the meri blaus entirely and wear baggy shirts with skirts or loose capris (or culottes—which is basically a separated skirt). With the influx of Western culture, some towns are a bit more daring—women are starting to wear wide trousers with a short meri blaus just past the hips.


Various styles...from loose capris to culottes to skirts (and we're complaining how our boat driver didn't get muddy at all!)

Appropriate horseback riding attire means I either tie a laplap around my waist or wear a long meri blaus over my jeans or breeches. When I go swimming, I start with a swimsuit...but then I generally throw on a t-shirt (for sun protection) and a pair of men’s board shorts (baggy, down past my knees).

Here's my friend sporting a lovely laplap!

A long meri blaus does the trick.
Men’s clothing rules are a bit freer. Traditionally, men wore only a malo or a loincloth. Nowadays, as long as the clothes aren’t tight (and shorts are around knee length), they can pretty much wear anything (or nothing...), including pajamas, bathrobes, and women’s bright pink blouses! Formal events, like church or workshops, usually find the men wearing button down shirts and long trousers (and in the outer islands, men will even wear a laplap).  Shoes and socks are always optional, of course (most people here wear flip-flops/thongs or just go barefoot).

At the same maternity wing celebration, men wore traditional (and very fancy) dress.

So, you can imagine, after living in a place where my knees haven’t seen the light of day in public for years, wandering past the beaches of Cairns or Hawaii is a bit like diving headfirst into the waters of Antarctica!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

"I'm just a man from the village"

“I had been praying for five years that that a revision of the Tok Pisin [Papua New Guinea’s trade language] Bible would happen.”

James, the audio-recording headphones around his neck, leaned back in his chair. “So when I heard that Rich, the translation adviser, requested we come and look over the old Kamano-Kafe New Testament [to see if it needed revision or re-translation], I came to find out. He smiled faintly in remembrance—he had never dreamed that God would answer his prayer through a retranslated Bible in his own language!

For these women, just like James' cousin,
 the audio recordings speak life!
“At that time, my prayer was, ‘Please, God, I don’t have lots of knowledge. I’m just a man from the village. I’m not able to do great ministry among policeman or criminals or doctors or soldiers or men who have lots of education and knowledge or those who live in towns, or even those who live in villages. I’m not able to do that. But, Lord, if I was able to help translate the Bible, well, then the Bible can go to all those corners and meet those people and fit their needs.”

For the last ten years, James worked closely on the translation team, re-translating the New Testament and finally dedicating it at Christmas 2014. But the task isn’t over yet, and now he’s determined that his people will have the Old Testament too, and in this fashion, they have just completed recording the book of Exodus. So, when James’ cousin, an engineer with a big company, called him the previous week and shared with him how much this Kamano-Kafe translation had impacted his life, James’ heart was full.

“When this man shared with me, it confirmed in my heart that what I had prayed for so many years ago has happened. All this work hasn’t been a waste...[God’s Word] has gone out to all kinds of people and it has reached them directly and settled in their hearts. I rejoice how God has answered this prayer!”

-------------
I have the delight of working with James every week on the Kamano-Kafe translation of the Old Testament. I originally wrote this article for the The PNG Experience (our publication site for translation in Papua New Guinea).

Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Anti-Radiation Mysterious Mouse Evil Spirit Pad!

"This verse offers no problems for translators," my translation commentary program blithely remarked about Deuteronomy 1:14

Obviously they had never translated this verse with the Kamano-Kafe...as we were now over 10 minutes into an animated discussion with no signs of ceasing (were the Israelites actually *answering* a question or were they merely *responding*?).

In translation, we work hard to make sure every sentence is clear (understandable), accurate (communicates all the meaning from the source), and natural (sounds like a native speaker). Some days, this process trips along merrily like a cheerful little brook, and other days it swirls and churns, catching on every snag, fallen tree branch, and sand bank that you can imagine.

But, for the translators who developed the promotional materials for my housemate's new mousepad (shipped from a neighboring Asian country), I think the water went off a cliff.

Introducing the High-level anti-radiation mysterious mouse evil spirit pad!

According to the manufacturers this mousepad:

The illustration was added afterwards...
  • Conforms to hte national environmental protection standard, the mysterious mouse pad also considering the human body engineering. which function May reduce wrist wearily,protect radiation and increase blood circulation with using it.
  • random curl with non-deformation.
  • the soft material has the strong adsorptive attraction to the table facet and not easy to move.
  • its using-life is very long and suitable for


Apparently Jessie is in the high-working pressure group!
In case you were wondering who could use this mousepad (like teenage mothers?), check out the list before...

The Mysterious Mouse pad is suitable group
  • the longtime uses the office computer
  • asian healthy condition, easy weariness
  • the long time computer players
  • high working pressure group
  • pregnant, underage group



Look at all the benefits of the mousepad!

Mysterious Mouse pad effect
  • alleviate teh ache, effective to prevent weary
  • muscle changes soft, relaxes the muscle-bound
  • blood flowing to be smooth and circulates
  • the anoin, titanium raw material may protect radiation
  • the anoin may purify the air, effectively to absorbs in teh waste gas in theair to make the operational site to become fresher

You know you want such a mouse pad for your computer!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Translating "kingdom"...with no king!

Miskum leading the discussion (photo courtesy of Jessie Wright)
 How do you translate “kingdom” when the language has no word for “king?”

Recently, the Tigak people of New Ireland Province discussed this very issue, along with several other key terms to be used in their translation. “Key terms” are words in the Bible that are especially important for understanding its message, such as grace, forgiveness, and salvation, and they are often difficult to translate.
 
This past May, my two housemates Jessie and Rebekah along with one other translation adviser, joined with Miskum, the primary Tigak translator, to hold a key terms awareness workshop in several Tigak villages to get the people discussing what words are most appropriate for translation, including kingdom.

(You may remember, I worked closely with Miskum and the Tigak language during a Sunday School workshop last year as well as a hymnbook revision a few years back.)

“What about galon?” Miskum suggested.

In traditional Tigak culture, the chief built a house inside a fenced area far away from the village. This fenced area, called the galon, was a secret, sacred place that no one from the outside was allowed to enter. Here, the chief's son would be born and raised, and would only leave the galon under secure circumstances, when it was certain no one could see him. Once he was old enough to marry and take leadership, the village would hold a big ceremony and feast to mark the occasion when he was finally allowed to leave the galon.

Discussing the possibilities! (photo courtesy of Jessie Wright)
After discussing galon, the community was led in a long discussion about the biblical meaning of “kingdom” in both the Old and New Testaments. Together, they considered whether this word was appropriate for the younger generation (as galon is no longer practiced in Tigak culture), whether its specific cultural meaning could be used metaphorically, and whether it could be brought back into usage with a slightly different, biblical meaning. They also pondered borrowing a word from a different language or using several other Tigak words, depending on the meaning of the text.

Although a final decision was not reached during the workshop, the community was energized to continue talking about translation, and how to best communicate key terms like kingdom in their culture and language. 

Thanks to Rebekah Drew for sharing this story with me.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Letters to a New Missionary: Not a Nun (singleness part 2)


“Wait, so you’re not married?”

I shook my head as the man, two seats over from me in Port Moresby international airport terminal, leaned forward incredulously. “So, does that mean you’re one of those....oh, you know...women who wear long black and white dresses and, you know, what’s the word...”

“A...nun?”

“Yeah! Yeah, that’s it. A nun! Are you a nun?”

I bit my lip, trying to choke back the laughter. “Uhh, no. Actually, I’m not a nun!”

Welcome to Part 2 of our discussion on singleness! Today we’ll look at a few tips from your fellow single workers on what helps those of us who are not married (nuns or otherwise...) thrive on the mission field.

Accept your status and the accompanying challenges. Singleness on the mission field is not like singleness in my home country; it impacts life much more significantly here on the field. Part of thriving means accepting that I live in a culture that has different rules and values (whether they are right or wrong) and learning how to operate with new parameters instead of clinging to my home country’s expectations.

Accept that you probably don’t fit cultural norms.  In Papua New Guinea, women are supposed to marry, have children, and work in the garden; many never go to school. For me, a single, childless, educated woman working in job alongside men...well, that’s not really normal, and I never will be.

Start with today. God has asked you to be a contented single right now—and you really have no clue what He’s going to ask you to do tomorrow.

Cyclical grieving is normal. God intended for humans to marry (after all, He invented hormones...). Fellow workers of all ages agree—decades of unquestionably content celibacy is a myth.  So instead of judging yourself as pathetic, immature, a bad Christian, or desperately lacking in willpower if the thoughts of marriage or raising a family dare to cross your mind (or even if they don’t and you think they should!), allow yourself to be human and grieve the loss.

Strive for selflessness and self-care. We singles often seem to fall into one of two traps—either we become really selfish (since we aren’t forced into the self-sacrifice required by marriage or parenthood) or we completely reject self-care and burn out spectacularly. Avoid both.

Give others grace. Kind people with good intentions are going to say stupid things to you. You’ll be told that you “just need enough faith” (and a purity ring) to “marriage doesn’t guarantee happiness” or even that you’re “lucky” since singles can do so much more for the Lord (followed by marriage horror stories). You’ll be asked when you’re returning to your home country to find a spouse, and you’ll be told that you can’t understand love/holiness/God until you are married or have a child. You might even get a package filled with Crosswalk articles on singleness (followed by a note about missionary so-and-so who finally married in the nursing home). You’ll be lauded for your supernatural celibacy, and at the first sign of weakness, you’ll be bombarded with examples of awesome singles like Paul, Ruth, and (don’t forget) Jesus!

Remember, though their words may slice deep, and you might feel like forging that ridiculous purity ring into the One Ring of Power, it’s not really about them and their misplaced guidance. You’re in a battle, my friend, and this may just be the latest attack. Stand firm, for it has been already won!

-------------

“I’m not a nun,” I tried not to laugh.

The airport man leaned back and fiddled with his ticket. “Not a nun? Well then....uh, what are you?”

In many cultures around the world, unmarried is akin to worthless, and for the solo global worker, it is easy to be dragged down into those same lies. How do you thrive in such a world? The number one tip among all my friends is merely this: know without a doubt who you are—a precious child of God, the one for whom Christ died.


Thursday, November 5, 2015

Letters to a New Missionary: Praying for Husbands Club (singleness part 1)

Alone...but never alone!

My housemate sat on our porch with some of our Papua New Guinean friends as they expressed their concerns. “We’re worried about you girls,” they shared. “Since wives have to listen to their husbands, when you get married, your husband might tell you that you can’t be friends with us. We’re going to pray that your husband will be friends with us too.” They nodded vigorously....and so became the latest members of what we jokingly refer to as the “praying for husbands club” that seems to take a special interest in our household. ;)


Recently, I was asked to share about what it’s like to be a single woman working cross-culturally. Each gal’s experiences (and each field) is different, but here are some things I’ve learned from friends and personal experience over the last four years in Papua New Guinea (PNG). (I’ve broken the discussion into two posts, so stay tuned!)

Note: My discussion is from the perspective of a single woman, and thus, it’s aimed at single women. This in no way is to belittle the challenges faced by single men on the field!

Point 1: Being single on the field is harder than being married.
  • The life of a missionary is one of continuous change and transition (I moved 24+ times in my first two years). As a single, although I have friends everywhere, apart from Jesus, there is no one who has shared even half my experiences on the field. 
  • Singles get to balance two full time jobs—daily life (which just takes longer on the field) plus their normal “work” or “ministry.”
  • The hundreds of major decisions that come with crossing the planet are made solo. 
  • Some jobs (like translation) require a close co-worker. Marriage provides one; singles search one out (some call it “marriage without benefits”). 
  • When a culture says that a woman’s value comes from bearing children and her protection comes from a husband, single women can face lies of worthlessness as well as can be a target for harassment (not to mention marriage proposals and green card seekers!). 
  • In a culture like PNG, single women often need to ask for help from our married male friends in everything from travelling to negotiations in conflict. Not only does this make us feel guilty (pulling him away from his family when he’s got enough to do at home), but there’s the pressure not to put extra stress on marriages (always trying to be culturally appropriate for our host culture, missionary culture, and home culture)!

Point 2: Being single on the field is easier than being married.
  • Because singles have more freedom with time, energy, and resources, they can more easily engage in direct ministry, organizational leadership, language learning, time spent building relationships, hobbies, and even living in rough or remote situations than a parent might feel with young children at home.
  • Some young mothers report that they struggle with feeling a lack of purpose and value that they didn’t when they were single and able to be more directly involved in “ministry.” 
  • Singles can often be completely flexible and spontaneous without having to work around a family’s schedule (e.g. travelling companion for a medivac or a last-minute kitchen manager for a workshop).
  • Life in general is a lot less expensive (less support to raise!)! 
  • Singles pull much less baggage through the airport... :)
  • Singles can develop both greater independence and a wider skill set than they might otherwise not have attempted.

Conclusion: It’s not really harder or easier to be a single on the field. It just is.
 
But being able to make a cheesecake (like my
aweseome housemate) doesn't hurt!
The only way to thrive on the field, whether you are married or single or red-haired or can bake a cheesecake or can walk across coals barefoot, is to have full confidence that you are exactly where God has called you to be. After all, we know that if He calls us somewhere, He will enable us to be there—and that includes our marital status. The choice before us really is not whether to go to the field single or married, but whether we are trusting and obeying exactly what we are supposed to do in this moment. And then the next.


Thursday, October 29, 2015

Banana Leaf Bible

A rope of bananas
Would you associate the Bible with bananas?

 The other day, I was sitting with the Kamano-Kafe men before we began team checking, and Pastor Tuas began telling the rest of us about the recent adult literacy graduation he attended. Read more about his story about the Bible and bananas in my newsletter!

If you don't yet receive my newsletter by email and you want to, be sure to sign up on my Newsletters page (where you can also see all my archived newsletters from ages past). I also send out a monthly prayer update by email--if you want to receive that, sign-up on my Prayer page.



Thursday, October 22, 2015

Peace Like a River

It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since armed robbers broke into my house while I was home alone.
I didn’t write about the incident a year ago because it was only 10 days before I was supposed to leave on a nearly month-long village trip. When suddenly you’re filing police reports and attempting to replace stolen items and meeting with counselors and reassuring family (in addition to planning workshop lessons and packing and making month’s supply of granola...), well, blogging is kind of low on the priority list.

I’ve tried quite a few times to write about it in the year since then, but each attempt always seemed to fall short—they turned out too graphic or too lighthearted or too serious or too blase or even, too holy.

So I’ve just skipped it, just like I skip talking about most of what we might consider dangerous situations that I encounter here, because I fear misinterpretation, responses blown out of proportion, and that you may take on burdens that may not be yours to bear (after all, when God gives us trials, He enables us to bear them with His strength, and this was my trial, not necessarily yours). Without having enough beautiful, God-ordained, glory-filled experiences in this country to glow white in your memory, the presence of darkness could be overwhelming. (And since major events stick in our memory, you might start to think this sort of thing is normal and forget the vast majority of life here is made up of (relatively) uneventful days of laundry and cooking and dishes and translation.)

But whether or not I know how to write eloquently about it, the break-in was real. The scars I bear are real. The battle that you and I are both warring against a crafty Enemy is very real. And so, if I do not write, how are you to know how to pray?

 So instead, let me merely say I was home alone, watching a TV episode, and two masked men broke into the house, waving knives. There was a fight that included physical contact and my throwing a ridiculously heavy rosewood chair across the room into an attacker (adrenaline is an amazing thing); eventually, I escaped out of the house and down the road to the safety of some neighbors. I walked away with only scrapes and bruises; the robbers took my housemate’s computer and a few other things, but all things considered, the damage was minimal, and for that we praise God.

I also praise God for those days after—for the support and love that poured out from my prayer team, from the missionary community here, and my Papua New Guinean friends. I also praise Him for His peace. The night of the break-in, after our security team had left and all was quiet, I lay awake, the attack vividly playing over and over in my mind. But, instead of debilitating fear, I found myself sinking deeply into this most heavy, tangible peace that I’ve ever known. You are not alone. I love you. I am here whispered over and over and over into my heart. As I lay in those Arms, I saw again one image in particular—the rolling, panic-striken eyes of the younger robber peeking just above his mask. He was just a boy utterly terrified, trying to shush me and his fear into silence. And I found myself crying on his behalf, praying desperately, not from hurt or anger or fear, but from a deep wracking pity. For on this terrible night, I was the one wrapped in peace—and he was not.

The year since that night has not been all sunshine and roses for me—I’ve had to grieve and forgive and choose to trust again and claim that promise of peace over and over. But that’s why we’re here, is it not?  That’s why we choose to stay in the midst of trials and hardships, when the unexplainable happens and everything wants to scream retreat! Because we have been offered life, given peace when we never deserved it...and that boy, he doesn’t know Him yet.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

How beautiful are the feet that bring good news...and donuts!

Lani and her sister-in-law hiked up mountains like these!
“My sister-in-law wanted to take the bus, but I said, ‘No, we have strong legs! We can walk!’ So we slung our bags onto our backs, and we hiked over those mountains.”

Lani couldn’t stop smiling as she told about selling audio recordings of the Kamano-Kafe New Testament, worship songs, and translated Biblical videos, which were loaded onto SD cards for cell phones and Audibibles (solar-powered players).

“We went straight to the market to sell the items. Because we were new, everyone wondered who we were and what we were doing. Once they saw the materials, many of the older men and women told us, ‘It is very good that you have come and brought these things. We desperately need them. We want to hear the talk of God in our own language.’

Many of the older women can't read--but they can listen to 
  audio recordings and hear God's Word!
Without friends or family in the village, neither woman had a place to stay, but God provided. “I’m very happy about this work you are doing,” a woman called out to them. “Please, come eat and sleep at my house tonight.”

As Lani and her sister-in-law hiked from village to village, they encouraged everyone they encountered to meet them at the local market, and sold a great deal. “My husband is a translator,” explained Lani, “and I want to help him in this work. [The translators] work hard translating the Word of God, but [they] can’t distribute it...So it’s my work to sell it as part of the Kamano-Kafe team.”

Now Lani and her sister-in-law have many requests from villages to come sell the audio recordings. When she’s not travelling, Lani heads to the road near her home, selling her homemade donuts next to the translated materials. “The donuts are a great way to draw in customers!” she laughed. “Before I go, I ask God to send at least one person to buy His Word...and He helps me, and I always sell a few...and so many people who can’t read or write get to hear God’s Word in their own language.”


 ----------
Lani is the wife of one of the translators, whom I have the privilege of working with every week. Her joy as she told her story was absolutely infectious! 


I originally wrote this article for the The PNG Experience (our publication site for translation in Papua New Guinea).

*names changed for security

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Streams in the (Rainforest) Desert

This is what our hills should look like.
It rained briefly today. After months of drought, this tropical island is finally dripping again, diamonds falling off the pine tree needles. The world is rinsed, washing off the months of smoke and ash and dust from mountains charred black by villages, who hope water might want to condense on the rising smoke. Within moments, the hillsides are greening in excitement, but the gardens still wait. It’s not enough, this brief shower—it dampens the topsoil, but can’t heal the cracks that spiderweb across the earth, can’t soften the ground that traps the muna beetle from hatching.

Today, the clouds pile into our harbor, scraping their hulls on the mountaintops, and we hear their cargo tear loose in thunder and capsize upon us. Where do you come from, you treasure ships of the sky? How did you sail past the Pacific, cheating El Nino, who hordes our rains in his windstricken hands?

Drink eight glasses of water a day,
and so in our home countries we journey to our fridge or pop open a bottle (from crystal-sparkling springs in the Alps). But here, trustworthy water—water without typhoid or cholera—is gathered daily from ever-flowing springs or ever-pouring rain trickling into water tanks, metal drums, clay pots, tarps and cupped leaves. (Wells are too contaminated by the plethora of outhouses and roaming pigs.) Rules guard its cleanliness—upriver for drinking water, downstream for places to wash clothes, dishes, men, and women. Sanitation is the rush of water into the Pacific.
Here is a photo of the same hill now.

But here, in this 5-month drought—the last of this magnitude over 40 years ago—springs shrink to a trickle and no cloud-ships come and dock in this valley. Mamas walk further and further to fill their pots. Some become desperate and slosh their bottles full with stagnant, untrusted sources and hope for the best—for in the village there is no money for bleach, fancy bucket filtration, or those magic drops you buy at REI for your camping weekend.

Just boil your water, strain out the grime. Drink—and suddenly dry clouds mean more than just waterless. Precious gardens have withered in the heat or destroyed by the frost, and the greenlife has drained from seedlings supposed to provide the next harvest. Now breakfast, lunch, and dinner must be purchased...money usually earned by selling surplus produce at the market or perhaps mowing lawns or landscaping houses (but dead grass and flowers don’t need tending). Schools close (money for fees goes to buy food). Jobs are let go. Prices rise. Water levels at the dam drop, and electricity flickers.

And so those of us who have an income (which means, a responsibility to employ others who don’t), struggle to help our friends in acceptable ways, buying their crafts and their chickens, finding extra jobs. Employment in this country is far more than a financial contract but an agreement for the employer to step deep into the lives of his or her employees, from education to marriages to grief to dying gardens. Together, we conserve every precious drop—cooking water into dishwater, dishwater into gardens. And together, we look up at the sky and pray.

I will make streams in the desert and waters in the wilderness. Oh Lord, even the deserts of a tropical rainforest?

Right now should be rainy season, which means heavy downpours almost daily. This is the same hillside pictured above, almost a year ago, after some heavy rains (at the fenceline, the height of the pouring water is above my head).
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To read more about this incredible drought that is expected to last into next year, check out this article from the UNDP in Papua New Guinea and a video from Australian Broadcasting News.


Thursday, October 1, 2015

If My Life Was Recorded Like the TV Show "24"

The clock in the TV show counts down the seconds...
A while back, my house was watching the TV show 24. It’s an action adventure show starring federal agents who are always trying to avert major disasters reputed to hit Los Angeles (remind me never to live there). The show’s quirk is that each hour-long episode is supposed to be in “real time” and so the entire season of 24 episodes is only 24 hours.  It’s a fast-paced show, where a clock continually ticks down the seconds and minutes left in the hour (which is filled with car chases, explosions and our intrepid heroes who never get stuck in traffic, never eat, never drink, never sleep, and never go to the bathroom).

One day, Rebekah, Jessie and I were discussing what if our lives were made into the show 24. I recall one particularly stimulating day a couple of years ago when I was concluding a workshop on the Rai Coast.

Waiting at the airstrip...
Episode 1: 6 am
Get up and get dressed. Eat some granola. Pack up last minute stuff.

Episode 2: 7 am
Walk to airstrip hauling luggage. Expected departure is at 7:30 am.

Episode 3: 8 am
Wait at airstrip. No sign of plane.

Episode 4: 9 am
Wait at airstrip.

Episode 5: 10 am
Wait at airstrip. 

Episode 6: 11 am
Wait at airstrip.



Episode 7: 12 pm
Wait at airstrip. Eat snack.
Hooray! It arrived!

You get the picture. The plane didn’t arrive until 1 pm (unavoidable delays), where it then took the first load of passengers to their village, while my team and I waited until about 4 pm, when we finallly boarded, flew back to Ukarumpa, got home, ate a quick supper, and was in bed by 9 pm.

Contrast this with my recent trip to Australia, where everyone not only wore watches and carried smart phones with alarms, but planned events down to the minute, packing more things into the day than I would have put into my entire week in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Efficiency, productivity, speed were key. People talked fast, walked fast, zipping from one thing to another, eating meals on the go, with barely a pause. Navigating the streams of racing passengers swarming over the Flinders Train Station in downtown Melbourne was definitely not a feat for the faint-hearted (I barely made it out alive!).

I’ve joked with my family that their one day in the US is equal to my one week in PNG at our centre (which in turn is equal to about one month in a village setting).  I don’t respond to your email in a week? Well, just pretend one day passed for me (also, similarly, our shortest measure of time that is really worthwhile is the day. Seconds, minutes, and hours just don’t have a lot of purpose...)

More waiting for the airstrip...
Life moves slowly here because it both takes longer anyway (remember my 42 steps to a dinner party?) and because PNG culture shows respect and value by spending as long as necessary with the person or event at hand (even if the person showed up at your door unannounced while you are walking out to go to a meeting). On the other hand, in Western culture, respect is demonstrated by the value you place on the next upcoming event or person you are planning to meet, so in the proposed situation, you’d be expected to respect the time of person you were meeting for the appointment and would not be late.

Both time orientations have their merits, of course, but the transition from one to another is always a bit of a shock, especially when I come from a place where an entire TV series could be spent waiting at an airstrip...

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Fingers of the Man Cow-Pig

“Sister, we have a question.”

I was slouching in my metal folding chair in the tiny room at the back of the shed, my mind drifting as the five men on the Kamano-Kafe translation team waved their arms in a deafening shouting match in a language I didn’t know, impaling sticky notes and thumping Bibles onto the table until the computers shook. We were checking the second draft of Leviticus, deep into the many repetitive verses dealing with sheep’s entrails and fat covering the kidneys and the lobe of the liver and the specific rituals and rules of sin offerings and guilt offerings and peace offerings.

There are some concepts of that everyone expects to be difficult to translate. Guilt, for example. Consecrated. But more often than not, at least for the book of Leviticus, it was things like the distinction between skillet and frying pan for the grain offerings that was causing more challenges (not having the words in Kamano-Kafe).

And now they all were staring at me.

“Okay,” I said, “What’s that?”

“When the man cow-pig’s body is dumped outside the camp, do they throw away his legs or his fingers?”

A few man cow-pigs I saw when visiting a cattle station in the Markham Valley

(In traditional Kamano-Kafe society, they only interact with one large mammal: the pig. Thus, “pig” is also the word for “large mammal.” So, when they have to translate terms for other large mammals in the Bible, they tag on “pig” at the end, to indicate this animal fits in the same class as a pig; hence, they have horse-pigs and cow-pigs and goat-pigs and sheep-pigs.)

“What do you mean by fingers?” I had a pretty good idea of what he was referring to, but it’s always wise to confirm we’re on the same page.

Nathan stood his arm on the table, curling his fingers into the shape of a cow’s hoof. “This part, the bottom of the leg.”

“Okay, well...they dump both his legs and his fingers. It’s the whole thing that gets burned.”

They nodded and looked at each other. Loud arguing erupted for a few more minutes, as they continued to gesture emphatically. Obviously there were now two sides to this discussion.

Suddenly it all went silent, and Nathan turned to me. “Are you sure?”

Some mama cow-pigs and pikinini (baby) cow-pigs
Oh dear. “Yes I’m sure. See, right here where it says legs?” I read the passage aloud again. “In English, that refers to the entire thing, including the fingers.” I pointed down my arm, then my leg. “The whole thing, shoulder to finger. Hip to finger.”

I sat back down as the discussion flowed around me in very exited Kamano-Kafe. Was I explaining this wrong? What was the problem?

James leaned across the table. “Please, look it up in your translator notes. Are you sure they throw out the fingers of the man cow-pig?” The others nodded vigorously.

I clicked through the translator help commentary on my computer program, but for some reason, the authors had neglected to discuss at length if it was the legs or the fingers from the bull that were burned...compared to the lengthy discussion of atonement a few verses earlier, which had been a piece of cake for us.

I turned back. “Umm, well, it’s definitely the WHOLE THING. The only things not burned are those kept for sacrifice by the priest. Everything else, hip, shoulder, leg, fingers, skin....all of it gets burned. Can we say that in good Kamano-Kafe? Do we need to reword it?”

“No, no, we can say that.” The guys chatted a bit more, trying out a few different phrases. James typed a few notes into the computer.

“Okay, Sister,” Nathan folded his arms on the table, “We’ve said the whole leg including the fingers..... but now we need to know, do they throw out the arms of the man cow-pig too?”

You never know what discussions might come up when dealing with the complexities of translation!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Happy Birthday PNG!

Happy, happy birthday, Papua New Guinea (PNG)! Today, September 16th, is PNG's 40th anniversary of independence!

Check out this awesome video showcasing some of the beautiful people and scenery of this young nation!


Thursday, September 10, 2015

An Australian Holiday from A to Zed

  A is for my accent which slides and changes based on who I’m with. So far, I’ve been pegged as an Australian, New Zealander, American, Canadian, Brit, and even a generic “European!”

B is for tasty treats we can’t get in Papua New Guinea (PNG) like blueberries, sliced ham, peaches and grapes!

C is for clean! The stores were clean! The roads were clean! The sidewalks were clean! Even the train station platform was clean!

I even got to improve my in-hand dressage skills.
D is for dressage, my favourite equestrian sport, and the focus of ten days of my trip, where I helped out at an upper level barn and was able to take lessons, watch clinics, and be in a lovely horsey environment!

E i is for etiquette on a train. Rule 1: Don’t acknowledge the existance of any other person. Ever. Rule 2: Always stare at your smart phone. If you accidentally look up, remember Rule 1.

F is for my being oblivious to Western-style flirting after not being exposed to it for years...

G is for eating successfully gluten-free eating during my entire time (quite a feat while traveling)!

H is for hay bales. We don’t use hay bales to feed our horses here in PNG and so getting to hang out at the horse barn, with their gorgeous fences, beautiful water troughs, elegant stalls, perfect arenas, awesome shavings pile, and of course, their shed of hay bales, made me very happy!

I is for the icy cold weather in Melbourne (well, compared to my home state of Minnesota, it was nothing, but compared to my life in PNG, I was shivering under 5 layers!)

J is for the jolly and beautiful countryside of Australia that is a lovely change from PNG jungle!

See the baby in the pouch on the left?
K is, of course, for the many kangaroos (and don’t forget the wombats and wallabies) I saw roaming around the various parts of Victoria. The babies were pretty cute!

is for the scary left turns that happen when you’re driving on the left (or right) hand side of the road. I can’t remember anymore and so midway through the turn I’m panicking WHERE DO I END UP??? WHERE AM I?? AHH!

M is for the many medical appointments which finally shed some light on my several years of chronic fatigue—there are multiple underlying viruses and parasites in my system that need to be eradicated. Yay for treatment plans!

is for traveling at night which we don’t do in PNG...and so it was very strange!

O is for being overlooked when I’m wandering through town. For once, I’m not a celebrity!

P  is for visiting cool paintings at the Melbourne Art Museum (even more fun, their exhibit was “The Horse”)

Q is for how quickly everything happens in Australia! After living at a much, much slower place, I was rather taken aback by the speed at which everyone lived and spoke and shopped and travelled and planned...

R is for restaurants; we don’t have many restaurants in PNG, and we get to visit them even more rarely, so it was fun to go out to eat with a friends a couple times and enjoy Greek and Argentinean food!

S is for “sticky beak” and all the other fun Aussie expressions!  (And no, it does not mean a giant bird beak covered in honey...but to take a look out of curiosity.)

T is for all the travel challenges I experienced this time around. Ah well, I made it, and flights and departures and customs can’t all go smoothly every single time!

U is for the apparent unconcern people have for security issues (which are constantly in the back of our minds in PNG)—for example, no extra locks on doors, no bars on windows, no alarm systems in houses and no security guards checking your bilum (PNG string bag) as you enter and exit stores!

Melbourne from the sky!
V is for the cool view of Melbourne from the tallest lookout in the Southern Hemisphere!

W is for the wide aisles in the grocery store.  I know this sounds weird, but aisles in PNG are usually really narrow and crowded, and so this made me really happy...

X is for both eXpensive and ineXpensive...which is what prices look like when you keep trying to filter too many currency exchange rates in your head....

Y is for when you look like you ought to belong, but you don’t, the global traveler’s conundrum.

Z is for the zillion lovely new friends I made!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Pineapple Skills

Sometimes, I really like channeling food bloggers. They make scrumptious meals with TONS of step-by-step pictures (in case we don't know what a bowl looks like) and can get you enthusiastic about the most mundane of things like...oh, I don't know, brussel sprouts (which my housemate actually cooked the other day and I had them for the first time... and they weren't so bad! Why do they always get such a bad rap, like the epitome of disgusting vegetables? But I digress.)

On today's food blogging episode, I will enlighten you to a skill set every tropical-living missionary needs to learn...chopping the pineapple (later, I'll walk you through The Mango). I actually earned lots of "cool foreign points" when I sliced a pineapple like this in Australia for my hosts.

The Pineapple
Step 1: Get the pineapple...this may include wading through a spikey garden to wrestle it off the plant...(Signs of ripeness vary between kind of pineapples, but generally you want a nice pineapple-y smell and golden shades in the skin.)


Step 2: Remove the pineapple's crown by twisting it off the fruit. Proceed to plant the crown in the garden for more pineapples.


Step 3: Slice off both ends of the pineapple so that it sits upright on your cutting board.

Step 4: Now here's where it gets interesting: Slice off a chunk of the skin. If it's a Highlands pineapple, then the eyes aren't very deep and you can easily take the entire skin off with one fell swoop--like you see in this first photo. (Proceed slicing the skin off all the way around the pineapple.)


But, if it's a Lowlands pineapple, then the eyes are deep, and even after you have taken all the skin off, it still looks something like this:

Step 5: In order to cut out all the eyes, you'll need to make diagonal wedge-shaped slices from top to bottom of the pineapple, following the spiral of the eyes.


Step 6: You're almost there! Cut your pineapple into delicious slices (aren't they pretty?) and enjoy!



Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Third Conversation is the Hardest

image courtesy of freeimages.com
 Two years ago this month I was back in the US, experiencing the adventure and the challenges of "home assignment." While I anticipated conversations with friends after years away would be difficult, I never guessed that it would actually be the third conversation that would be the most lonely. Although I don't plan on returning to the US until 2016, many of my friends are currently in the midst of this transition around the world.




The Third Conversation is the Hardest
I see your blurry face through the glass, door cracks open, and years
are squashed in our embrace, as dogs and children squall
welcome back! A bowl of snow peas from your new garden, new baby on your hip, new
job, and best friends curl on the couch together between
pieced pillows, shuttling questions like a tennis match.
Tell me all about it!

A few weeks later, an apple orchard reunion—filling our mouths
with Honeycrisp and Beautiful weather, isn’t it?
Did you have a nice holiday? And I tell you about falling off
sidewalks, and forgetting how to use self-checkouts in Walmart,
laughing together, juice running down our cheeks.

A month and 20 minutes until the concert starts, and together, suddenly
silent.  What to say now—the weather
 is still beautiful, your kitchen remodel
is still finished, your child
is still crawling. Conversation springs from shared
life and we are walls built on a common foundation
no longer touching. 

An armrest and countries apart, I rehearse small talk in my mind
searching for that first brick. Maybe
next week, we can talk about the concert?

Thursday, August 20, 2015

I could trust it!

an Audibible!
One afternoon, James, a Kamano-Kafe Bible translator, received a phone call from his cousin, an engineer with a master’s degree who worked at a big gold mining company. A fellow Kamano-Kafe speaker had recently come to visit his cousin and brought with him an Audibible, a hand-held, solar-powered audio player that held all of the translated Kamano-Kafe New Testament along with Genesis.

“Where did you get this?” James’ cousin had asked.

“The team of Kamano-Kafe translators had made it,” the man had responded.

As James’ cousin listened to the Scriptures being spoken in his own language, he was amazed. “I’ve read the English Bible and the Tok Pisin [Papua New Guinea’s trade language] Bible, and I’ve not been able to understand. I wasn’t ever able to comprehend all the meaning.

“But, when I heard the Scripture spoken in my own language, I knew I could trust it. These words, they contained all the meaning of the Bible, and it was in my own language! It touched my heart, and I’m so happy.”

James, who is working with his fellow Kamano-Kafe translators to translate the Old Testament, and his cousin talked for a while longer. “God is doing a good work with this!” the man exclaimed, “It’s good you keep working on this task! I regularly go to church and worship and listen to a sermon in English or Tok Pisin, but when I finally heard it in my own mother tongue, God’s Word touched me deeply. It took its rightful place inside me!”

 -----------
I originally wrote this article for The PNG Experience (the blog that chronicles translation and language work in Papua New Guinea). Over the next year, I'm planning stepping into the Kamano-Kafe team as translation adviser while the primary advisers are in the US on home assignment. Stay tuned for more Kamano-Kafe stories and videos to introduce you to these remarkable people!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Choose Your Own Adventure--Part 2: Going Somewhere

Remember those Choose Your Own Adventure books that often seemed to involve capture by aliens and untimely deaths if you made the wrong choices? Last week we started our own Missionary Holiday version with Part 1. Once you make it all the way through Part 1, then I invite you to continue on this treacherous path with Part 2! 

Is it time for a shopping trip?
4. After trying the stay-cation for several years, you finally decide it might be worth branching out. You’ve saved up the money and remind yourself that mental health is important. Even Jesus went away up to a mountain to pray! Your vacation activities are simple--either you drive to a town with shopping or fly to a town with snorkeling. First you ponder the driving option.

Three towns are within driving distance (2-6 hours over very rough roads). However, you don’t own a car, so you either need to recruit some friends with vehicles or rent one. If you plan on driving, you need to not only make contingency plans for bridge wash-outs, criminal activity, mudslides, directions, motion-sickness, and fuel, but you also need to make sure you have a man in the car (not a given if you are a single woman).  Once you get to the town, there are a few more decisions to consider, all of which are equally complicated (housing, transport within the town, food, security issues). Do you...

...feel like your mind is going to explode and you want to devour an entire batch of chocolate chip cookies because of the stress?
    (Indulge your craving (though you might have to break up the melted-and-rehardened chocolate chips into dusty crumbs with a mallet) and begin to consider flying somewhere instead of driving. See paragraph 5.)


...decide to gather with a bunch of friends and do a whirlwind shopping tour that means you need a week to recover when you come home?
    (Pause for a moment to savor the new food you brought up, and then return to Part 1, paragraph 1, but add in all the work that piled up during the week that you were gone.)


You could be like Susie, waiting for a plane to refuel...
(photo courtesy of  Rebekah Drew)
 5. Five towns are within flying distance. You first will need to catch a flight out of your local airstrip (or you can drive to one of the local driving towns (repeat paragraph 4)). These flights can be quite expensive, and beware connecting flights and short time connections because often your home valley gets fogged in during the mornings and flights delayed. Once you get to the town, you now need to figure out driving transportation (repeat paragraph 4), along with all the complications of housing, food, and security. But, the water is pretty, you finally feel warm, and you see interesting coral. Do you...

...still feel like exploring this option?
(Read paragraph 4 to understand all the driving complications that you have taken upon yourself. If you still find yourself on this answer after reading everything twice, then enjoy your water holiday.)


...wonder if there is another place you could go where you could actually walk around at night and take public transportation without finding a token man to accompany you and where you could maybe do some shopping AND some enjoyable activities?
    (You are not alone! Continue on to paragraph 6.)


6. Suddenly, you find yourself opening up Kayak flight search engine and randomly putting in the names of cities in nearby countries. After you pull yourself off the ceiling when presented with the fares, your mind begins to race through a litany of questions—Which country? Which city? Which time zone? Where will I stay? What do I need to do—shopping? medical appointments? Which place accepts my insurance? Wait, how does the exchange rate work? Where is my credit card anyway? What time of year should I go to get the cheapest rates?  Will I know the language? How will I get around? Do I need a car? What’s my budget? How much luggage allowance can I have?  How many days of travel to get there? Where do flights connect? What do they wear there...do I even have the appropriate clothes? How cold is it?

Your vacation-planning has turned the corner, now rivaling the complexity of a quantum physics manual. Do you...

...consider flying to your home country?
    (Why not go see your family and save much of the planning unknowns? Trek onwards to paragraph 7.)


....decide to tack on your out-of-country vacation with your next departure  for home assignment (a year and a half away) and just stay put this year...(return to Part 1, paragraph 1).


7. You merrily begin to dream about returning to your home country (perhaps the United States)—why not take a full month? After all, it’s so incredibly expensive, that you might as well try to get as much bang for your buck for those thousands you’re spending on the holiday. But, you are worried a bit. You're 17 hours ahead of your hometown, which means you’ll have to cross a lot of time zones...and everyone knows that the jet lag is much worse travelling east. You might even lose a full ten or more days to foggy memory and strange sleep cycles. Add that into the week of travel, and you only have 13 days of holiday.

Subtract at least three days of culture shock, one day dedicated to doctor appointments, and two days to buying lots of things and packing them in luggage or shipping them by sea freight. Don't forget that since your friends and church haven’t seen you in years, you probably will be asked to meet a few for dinner and lunch and coffee and perhaps give a quick testimonial at church and a Bible study--at least two more days.

So now you have five holiday days left to spend with your family, which may or may not emotionally tear you to pieces because before you know it, only moments after you said hello, you are flying across the ocean for a departure of another few years. Do you...

...decide that it’s all worth it—after all, you’ll see family!
    (Congratulations! You’ve had your holiday! Now you’ll need another one when you get back to your work country...)


...shed a tear or two, and move on to a different holiday plan....perhaps somewhere like Australia—cheap flights, same time zone, and speaks English?
    (Don’t worry, you’ll find the perfect holiday someday! You might have to take some time off of work to plan your vacation...but it’s all worth it in the end, right?)


--------------------
Okay, well, it’s not always this difficult...but let’s just say the truth can be stranger than fiction! As for me, after five months of planning, I finally finalized my holiday plans for 16 days in Australia next month. Yippee! It will be an adventure!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Choose Your Own Adventure--Part 1: The Decision

Remember those Choose Your Own Adventure books that often seemed to involve capture by aliens and untimely deaths if you made the wrong choices? Well, today you can play your own version—by planning a holiday as a missionary! Don’t forget to stay tuned for Part 2 (if you survive that long!).

You might even feel like you have a cuscus on your head!
(photo courtesy of Rebekah Drew)
1. Your computer’s low battery light blinks, startling you out of your headache-induced stupor. Despite your living on a tropical island in the South Pacific, it’s been frigidly cold for the last few weeks and your uninsulated house has turned your fingers and toes into ice. You’re trying to understand the complex financial situation of the dozens of accounts that make up your translation project as well as problem-solve for your translators (in multiple languages—and who ever learns those words right off the bat?) the bugs in their translation program, when you hear the pitter-patter of rain on the metal roof. Bolting outside to try to salvage the laundry (which you’ve been trying to dry for a week), you sigh as you notice that all your reds and your greens are slowly becoming indistinguishable (thanks to river water) and your underwear has been stretched and ripped beyond recognition. As you lug your laundry basket into the house, you feel that weird cough rising in your throat (who knows what illness you might be fighting?) and you realize that you forgot to go to market this morning, and now your fridge is nearly empty. The power has been out for a few hours, but you do find some old bananas and dust off the fruit flies as you look around your home.

“Hmmm,” you mutter. “I need a vacation.” Do you...

...brush off the nagging thought? Holiday? Who needs a holiday? Missionaries don’t need holidays! I’m just fine!
    (If so, you’re not unlike most missionaries. Please repeat paragraph 1.)


...collapse into tears because you are so burnt out that planning a holiday is the most overwhelming task you’ve ever heard of in this universe?
    (If so, again, welcome to the club. Please repeat paragraph 1.)


...briefly wonder if it might be a possibility in this lifetime.
    (Congratulations! Continue on to paragraph 2.)


2. Over your supper of Maggi noodles and rice you found on a bottom cupboard, you tentatively bring up the topic with your (spouse/housemates). “Ah, a holiday!” one person sighs in ecstacy, “I went on a holiday once! But it’s just so expensive!” Your other friend looks up at you, “Do you know when you want to go? After all, there is that workshop next month and school doesn’t let out until July and who would take over your team’s translation needs? We better look at the next three year plan and coordinate this.”

As you sip your water, you feel your eyes glazing over. Quickly, before you go comatose, do you...

....forget the whole idea. After all, there’s a whole lot of work to be done here, and there really is no one else who can take your place, except for maybe Mary, and she’s busy with other important work and if she took over your spot for a few weeks, then who will take hers? Maybe next year someone will be here, and you can leave.
    (You’re in good company, my friend! Please return to paragraph 1.)


...begin hyperventilating about the expense. Money?! Of course holidays take money! I completely forgot about money! I don’t have any money! And what will my supporters think if I spend their money on a holiday! After all, the last time I put photos on Facebook of our family at the beach, we got some critical emails from a person commenting on the “[supposedly] poor, suffering missionary” and misappropriation of funds!
    (But, you have great resolve and faith—after all, God takes care of sparrows, and they don’t plan vacations! Decide you will consider a stay-cation. Continue on to paragraph 3.)


3. Staying in your home sounds like a cheap alternative—why pay for a bed, food, and roof when you have one right here? Also, no one would actually have to take over your job...maybe if you just spend one day a week in the office, you can push the other things off or delegate. After all, you could be emailed the notes for the department meeting and then read them in the evenings and answer a few more emails...you aren’t technically working, because it’s not happening during “work hours,” right? You keep it up for a few days, before the first medevac crisis hits and then your pet gets ill and then your translators need some money to buy a cell phone and then you offer to fill in as the community librarian for a few days. “Isn’t it good I stayed home?” you smirk to yourself, “Look at all this work I’m doing!”

Suddenly, as you run from one meeting to another, while still trying to do laundry that won’t dry and finish the shopping and make the yogurt and fix the blinking security light and chase down the escaping dog and help out your village friends with school fees, you realize...this probably isn’t a holiday. Do you...

...think, this is pretty close to a holiday?
    (So do we all, kemosabe, so do we all. Return to paragraph 1.)


...realize that you might want to think about leaving home.
    (Stay tuned for Part 2.)