Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Week in Review: 6-12 May 2013

 “Any idiot can face a crisis – it’s day-to-day living that wears you out.”  ~Anton Chekov

… our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”  ~2 Corinthians 4:17-18

"I'm not sure what people expect a sacrifice to feel like but I think it feels hard sometimes. I think it feels like not being sure you will get through the day." ~Rachel Jones 

Living overseas can be difficult.  I agree with Rachel Jones who, in her blog post (link above) says she will not say, “I never made a sacrifice.”  It is a sacrifice to be here.  It is a sacrifice to walk away from the conveniences you’re used to, to walk away from family you love, to walk away from the life you are comfortable with.  And when things are happening back home that you wish you could be there for, it is a sacrifice to not be able to go (just as it would be another kind of sacrifice to pay $5000 for a round-trip ticket.)  But, in that sacrifice, are also blessings, as you fix your eyes on what is unseen, what is eternal, and confide your concerns to God in prayer.

But when crises are happening on both sides of the sea, it can seem even more overwhelming.  For me, this week in particular has seemed like an exercise in crisis-response. 

After two long weeks of standardised testing, I was faced with quite a number of students who had not finished their tests, and several others who had yet to start, namely new arrivals from POC who missed testing with their classes.  (Can you say, “good timing?”)  My crisis-response plan included creating a schedule, communicating it with the teachers, and committing to four more early-morning lab set-ups. 

Crisis response plan, successful. 

By 9:30 Friday morning, I was able to declare our testing season complete.

Another crisis, one that the school administration has been working on for many weeks, is an impending teacher shortage. By way of perspective, the Primary Campus has 18 teachers slotted for this coming school year (which isn’t quite enough to offer what we have traditionally offered), but we know of only 9 (nine!) for the 2014-2015 year.  We completely trust that the Lord can provide, yet we feel compelled to plan rationally as well, to make sure that we don’t set ourselves up to burn out our teachers ... an attempt to head off crisis-response with crisis-prevention. 

After weeks of brainstorming and planning, we proposed a change (of schedule and class offerings) to the teachers, and later to the school board.  The Board offered a unanimous vote of support and acceptance, so on Monday we issued a letter to our students’ parents explaining that this change would be happening and that on Friday afternoon we would be having a meeting for anyone who had concerns. We anticipated that from this meeting would emerge any complaints and concerns that were hiding out there.

So fast forward to Friday noon and the next semi-related crisis.  My boss and I realised that we had forgotten to put together a slide show to help explain the rationale behind the change.  I had about two and a half hours to put it together, but was also scheduled to teach two hour-long computer classes in that time. 

Back up to before Christmas, and yet another crisis.  I still remember the email from my boss asking if I would teach the computer classes upon our return as our computer teacher would soon be leaving the school.  With some amount of trepidation, I agreed.  The next teacher, a Finnish woman with lots of rolling R’s throughout her name, was due to be here by the end of March.  Crisis solved, right? 

After a work permit/visa crisis of their own, she and her husband were finally able to arrive at the end of April, meaning that this past week she has come to observe for the first time.  I am so grateful!  And was also very grateful when she agreed to take over the Grade 2 class on Friday afternoon (after I taught the lesson and got them set up) so I could work on the PowerPoint slideshow for the afternoon meeting.

Crisis averted.

Uh … with the convergence of crises, I almost forgot what I was writing about.  :)

So, I left her in charge and 40 minutes later, just in time for the meeting, the slide show was finished and safely transferred from my office computer to the auditorium laptop. 

Crisis averted.  Again.

Now we awaited the influx of unhappy parental units and the next crisis.

The meeting was attended by exactly one parent, a thoughtful member of the school board who had already heard our spiel, expressed her complete enthusiasm, and only decided to come to the meeting in case we needed backup.

Bless her!

And we thanked the Lord for this non-crisis.

On Thursday evening I found out about a situation at the secondary campus that, fortunately, I did not have to personally deal with, but which left our grade 8 play without one of its cast members … one week before the curtains opened.  I made some calls to ensure that the director was informed, and the next several hours included much brainstorming. In the end, that cast member’s parts were divvied out to others.  We shall see this coming Thursday how effective was this crisis response.

I was double-booked on Saturday, with play practice and set work scheduled at exactly the same time as a pre-Mother’s Day preparation party for the Tok Pisin Sunday School kids.  Not a huge deal, but after a week of running interference with various difficult situations, this too felt like a crisis.  An hour after those were scheduled to end, Evan’s birthday party was scheduled to begin at the Teen Centre.

Normally this time of year it is especially difficult to book the Teen Centre because of all the end-of-school-year activities that are going on.  Two years ago we tried in April to book it for a party in late May, but there was no availability.  This year, learning from that situation, I started the booking process in February.  This, more than two weeks before his actual birthday, was the closest we could get, but get it we did.  This crisis was avoided completely, and Evan and his friends were able to scooter and rollerblade and ripstik to their hearts’ content.

There was one more coulda-been-a crisis related to the birthday party that I can’t forget to mention.  Evan is not a cake and frosting guy, and had told me that he wanted brownies and ice cream for his party.  However, for nearly a year the store has been unable to stock ice cream.

Now that is a crisis!

Evan informed me early enough, though, and I was able to make two litres of vanilla ice cream in the days leading up to the party.  Problem solved.


Perhaps the biggest crisis on this here island is the fact that there are 300 language groups still remaining (in PNG) that do not have a single line of God’s Word translated into their mother tongue.  The national translation organisation, BTA, has said that by themselves it would take 150 years to get projects going in every language that needs translation.

How do you solve a crisis so immense?  Truly it is a God-sized task. 

This past weekend, BTA met with SIL and other parachurch organizations as well as churches representing a number of denominations.  The end result?  Signing of the “Bible Bilum Covenant.” 

A bilum (bee-loom) – a traditional PNG string bag worn over the shoulder, neck, or with heavier loads, slung across the forehead and hanging down the back – is in its own way a crisis response tool.  Do you need to carry 30kg of fresh garden produce to market?  Put it in your bilum.  Do you have a few cords of firewood to haul?  Grab the bilum.  Need to put the baby to sleep?  Put her in the bilum and hang it in a tree.

Bilums come in a variety of styles, sizes, colours, and patterns.  They are as unique as the people who make them, and many of those who make them still do not have a Bible in their language.

300 language groups need the scriptures.  300 language groups have never heard God speak their language.  They need God's Word before thousands more die.

They need a Bible in their bilum.

This is a crisis.   

But, I believe it is one God plans to solve.

“After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. … and they cried out in a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God!’” ~Revelation 7:9-10

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We are missionaries serving God and the task of Bible translation by serving the missionary community in Papua New Guinea through Personnel Administration and MK Education. We thank you for your prayers!

For the Bibleless Peoples of the World ...

(Updated 13 April 2013)