Dear Friends and Family,
I'm sorry it's been so long since we have been able to write to you. The short explanation is that our computer has finally, after two months of trouble, succumbed to hardware failure. We are glad that the hard-drive appears to be undamaged, so we haven't lost everything on it. In some ways the failure is a relief, as the intermittent problems caused a lot of stress, and now at least things are settled. As strange as it may seem, a computer seems to be even more necessary here than back home in the States. We are very thankful that we have been given another computer to use while we are here, although it is an older system. Please pray that we will have wisdom to know how to deal with this situation when we return home. Because of this, we haven't been able to complete a newsletter for some time, and now that our computer is completely out of commission, the work that had been done is inaccessible.
The last month has been eventful. I have stayed busy at the hangar with all sorts of projects. For the last two weeks another mechanic and I have been working on a rather involved repair to a Cessna 206 wing which was damaged several months ago. We replaced almost all of the parts in the outer half of the wing with new ones; riveting on new spars, skins, leading edge, rib, and stringers. By the time we leave the wing should be painted and back on the airplane, hopefully completely rigged and possibly even flying. When the airplane is serviceable it will be transferred to a missionary pastor and pilot who is beginning work in an otherwise inaccessible area.
Sarah has been staying busy as well. Along with the full-time work of a third-world wife and mommy, she has begun working in the linguistics department three mornings each week. Her job consists mostly of formatting and quality checking completed Bible translations for inclusion in a database-type website. While Sarah works, Abby enjoys going to the daycare here, where she gets a lot of good interaction with other kids.
Other than the routine of daily life and work, we have had some opportunities to get out and see Papua New Guinea outside of the center. I had the chance to go out to a nearby village with one of our friends and show the movie "The End of the Spear" in their church. Although the church building is visible from where we live, the twenty-minute drive was far from smooth, and electricity was provided by a portable generator. We went with prayers for protection from an infamous outlaw who was rumored to be in the area at that time. Due to these rumors, we decided to avoid driving at night, and instead stayed with one of the church leaders in a "bush house." For those of you who picture missionaries living in grass huts... that is an accurate picture in this case.
We also had an opportunity to visit the city of Lae, accurately self-proclaimed "pothole capital of the world." We enjoyed seeing what things are like down on the coast, and staying at the SIL guesthouse there. At these tropical latitudes the lower elevations are very hot and humid, so we really appreciated the swimming pool, especially Abby, who got to "swim" on her own with floatation "wings." On the way we also got to visit some translators in their "village house."
This weekend has been busy as well. Friday night we enjoyed a community production of the world-famous "Fiddler on the Roof" musical. When you live literally in the middle of nowhere, a bit of entertainment every once in a while is almost necessary to sanity, and everyone can be involved. Sarah and I actually spent an hour or two helping with the set construction. It differed from any other production I've been to, in that before they began the director came on-stage and prayed for the production and for the protection of our homes while we were there... there have been one or two break-ins and thefts each week recently it seems. Anyway, the talent and creativity that went into it paid off... it was an amazing evening.
Saturday morning I went on a new adventure, taking my first ride on a "PMV" (Public Motor Vehicle), which is the main form of transportation for Papua New Guineans. I went to the local center of Kainantu with a national friend from the hangar, Philip. Our ride there was in the back of a large flat-bed truck known as a "Dyno." As it was quite full (I counted 41) we rode sitting on the edge of the low railings. I was a bit worried about falling out, but arrived without incident. We spent the morning wandering through the various shops, most of which are owned and operated by asians and carry essentially identical inventories of food staples and cheaply produced electronics. One exception is the Christian book-store, where I bought a map of the country and large PNG flag. After a snack of heavily-breaded deep-fried sausage, we waited about two hours ("PNG time" I was told) for another PMV, this time a fully-loaded van, to take us back home.
Much more has happened in the last month, but most of those stories will have to wait until we get back. It's hard to believe that in only a little over a week we will be "moving out..." Two months have gone by so fast! Our time here has been everything we hoped it would be. We have learned so much and been able to serve in ways we had never expected. When we get back we will certainly have a lot to think about and pray about!
We will be flying out the morning of December 2nd to the PNG capital of Port Moresby, where we will wait most of the day for our evening flight out to Cairns. We are glad to have two nights in Cairns, at Treetops Lodge again, where we will be able to spend a little time with some friends who will be leaving here this weekend for pregnancy leave. Since before we even left the U.S. Sarah has been looking forward to holding a Koala, and so we will be planning to make a visit to an Australian zoo during our brief stay as well.
When we leave Cairns, it will be the beginning of the longest traveling time on the entire trip... We will go approximately 6 hours from Cairns to Auckland, where we will only have an hour before embarking on the 13-hour trip to San Francisco. After a three hour layover we are off to Portland, where we will almost certainly arrive completely exhausted. Twenty-four hours of travel with only brief stops, and against the time zones, is not something we are looking forward to.
Please pray for us as we pack up and say our goodbyes, and especially while we are traveling. Also, thank you for praying for Abby and her issues with obedience. It seems that prayer has been answered. Please pray for Abby as last night she came down with a croup sort of a cough and breathing trouble. Although this morning she seems to be feeling better, she still has the cough, and none of us got a lot of rest.
We are looking forward to seeing all of you soon! Thank you for your continued prayers. Please feel free to send e-mails... we would love to hear how all of you are.
May you be blessed as you work to bring glory to God,
-Dustin, Sarah, and Abby