Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Lousy Christmas

Actually we're having a wonderful Christmas celebration here in Mibu! Though we discovered and are trying to treat a lice infestation (hence the title... got your attention didn't it?).

We've been enjoying some visiting and fellowship with Mike (our helicopter pilot) and his wife Kelly and their kids over christmas here. It's been wonderful to have them in here!

We wanted to write to tell you that we hope you have a wonderful day remembering the birth of our Savior!

We also wanted to say a special thanks to all of you who support us through prayer and finances each month. Your prayers and your generosity have been a huge part of another year of fruitful ministry here in Mibu!

Merry Christmas to all you, our friends and family!

Geoff and Shannon
and Skyler (8), Maddie (6), Abby (3), Ethan (20mo)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Ongoing Evangelism Lessons in Mibu

One of the things we're praising God for is to see new cycles of God's truth moving through as those who mature in their faith do what they can to pass it on to others. In this case we're seeing bible teachers faithfully teaching through another round of evangelism lessons. This time, not away in another village, but right here in Mibu where it all originally started.

It may seem strange to us to hear about evangelism lessons, especially ones that take months to go through. We might be more used to the idea of the sharing the gospel message being constrained to one time encounters, maybe on a train, in the park, or in a church service. Here, the gospel message is presented starting all the way back with the creation story, the fall of man and his sinfulness and resulting need of a savior. The lessons progress through the story as God has revealed it in his word, weaving in the theme of the promised deliverer. The final handful of 55 lessons brings Jesus front and center as the perfect solution put forth by God; the one he promised all the way back in the third chapter of Genesis.

These are the teachers who have been sharing the workload of teaching through the lessons one week at a time, teaching every morning for a week, then taking the next week off, and then resuming the next week to make it through all the lessons. It's exciting to see their resolve as they persevere through the time consuming task of teaching all these lessons, not just once, but twice; Once in the morning, and then another in the afternoon at the school. From left to right: Nooka, Nokone, Devit, Roifo, and Jep, and not pictured is Keteng.

The workload is great enough that they barely have enough time to collect and cook and eat their meals through the day. So the church has been encouraged to them out by gathering and cooking food to provide for their needs. How awesome is that!

Each day there are consistently 50-60 people gathered to hear the teaching. Among them are a number of folks who either have not heard this message before or who heard but have yet to place their trust in what Jesus accomplished on the cross. Some of those attending have actively persecuted the church here.

Right now, they're not quite half way through all the lessons. Soon to come will be the lessons talking about the law. This is often a make it or break it point on the path to understanding their need for Jesus. It's easy and natural for folks to get hung up on the idea that following some set of rules is going to make them acceptable in God's eyes. The law was given with the intent of showing God's holy expectations, which much like a mirror, shows us just how much help we really need. "Who can follow these laws perfectly?! God help us!" Should be the sense one walks away from God's revealed law with. For those who realize they can't possibly meet God's expectations on their own, there tends to be a readiness to accept the truth that Jesus takes care of all that for us. This is the point the Mibu teachers are hoping to bring folks to here in the next couple weeks. You can be praying for this.

Please continue to lift up the Mibu church in their efforts to share the message of God's perfect provision in Jesus. Lift up the teachers as they feel exhausted at times and certainly struggle with doubts about continuing and with feelings about just giving up. Pray for those who might be hearing this message for the first time, that God would be softening their hearts and germinating seeds of faith. Pray for those who already believe, that the basis of their faith is strengthened, providing a foundation on which strong conviction in the power of Christ leads to more heart level change in their lives.

And thank you so very much for your continued support for us, both prayerfully and financially as we serve the maturing church here in Mibu!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Back Into Fellowship

This last Sunday was a real treat to witness! You may remember about a year ago we told you about how the church here in Mibu was being obedient to the mandate to distance themselves from a man and a woman who were continually involved in an adulterous relationship and showing no signs of repentance.

We're praising God that recently the woman has been expressing how painfully aware she has become of how wrong and hurtful her relationship with this other man has been. This last week she was graciously brought back into fellowship! We're praying that the excitement and joy of the church to have her among us once again is more than evident and that encouraging, godly relationships are rekindled quickly.

You can also pray for the man too. Though it begs another issue that needs attention, social norms here made it much easier for folks to avoid the woman than the man. Putting the wrongness of this aside as a separate issue, the result still was that the woman was in a place to truly feel the effect of being an outsider. This had it's effect over time, bringing about serious reflection and remorse. Not so with the man, toward whom only a handful have acted on the need to keep the dangers of unchecked sin out of the church. While he doesn't participate in any regular church meetings, many believers still 'fellowship' with him on a regular day to day basis. He continues in his sinful behavior and we're praying that folks would be able to see the need to not associate with him in hopes of seeing him turn around.

But for now, we are so grateful for God's grace to bring this dear woman back to himself. The church leaders chose to read the parable of the lost sheep after they officially welcomed her back in. Perfect choice!

What an encouragement it is to us to see the church maturing as they go through these interesting challenges. Thank you to each of you for your continued prayers for these dear brothers and sisters.

Friday, December 6, 2013

General Update

We continue to press on here with the ministry God has given us here in Mibu. Heavy on our minds (heavier than usual, at least) is the need for the development of leaders in the church to elder readiness. Right now the Mibu church does not have elders. There are potentials for sure, but just not quite ready to take on the full responsibility of the care of God's people. No, we're not discouraged that they're not there yet. We see God working amazing growth as they sense this need and learn to depend on God for the grace to invest themselves further and further into the task. We're hoping soon after the new year that we can begin a study with the leaders here to process and apply what God's word says about shepherding his people.

As always, the need for translation continues. Having recently finished Ephesians and completely readied it for the final check with a translation consultant, I've moved on into 1 Corinthians. I'll be rounding the corner into chapter 4 here soon, hopefully. While the need for translation is great enough to warrant all our effort, there are so many other needs remaining for the overarching task of church development that translation still doesn't get all the time I'd like to be able to put into it. However, I think I'm starting to see that God knows what he's doing here with me (duh!), and continues to use our efforts to accomplish his purposes here.

Shannon continues to spend time with the ladies here as she finds the time, in between keeping the home, homeschooling and managing 4 young kids. Recently (thanksgiving day actually) some women came from all around, from the various areas where the Mibu church has done outreaches. They wanted to spend the day being encouraged in areas such as family life, purpose in the church, and organizing prayer and study meetings among themselves as part of their desire to know God better. Shannon and her good friend Wunjo took the meeting under our house (my workshop) because of the weather. Shannon was really impressed as Wunjo led the meeting with such humble confidence. She's clearly grown in her leadership abilities and love for God. How awesome is that!

We also recently had a visit by one of our church development consultants. Gary Smith lives and works in Dinangat, just over the other side of the mountain range from us. He was able to bring in a couple guys, Felix and Lucas from the church there. Felix and Lucas were a real blessing to the church here as they connected with the Mibu church. It was a big encouragement to them... and to us. And to top it off, the logistics worked out just right that Sesi and Tima, two leaders here in Mibu, were able to accompany them back to the other side of the mountain for the night. This firmed up the connection and gave Sesi and Tima some ideas to bring back here. The Dinangat church even blessed the socks off the church here by putting together some money to send back with them to help the Mibus with the need to buy printed literacy materials. Wow! It's so great to see the sense of being one body together result in two totally different groups of people with different languages and cultures, but who share the same Spirit, connect and serve in this way!

You may remember a while ago we asked for prayer for the evangelism lessons (teaching from creation through the death and resurrection of Christ)that the church was to start up again. That teaching continues to go well. The teachers seem to be sustained in their strength and desire for the Lord to be glorified through this, and so they press on. I'd like to devote more to this in another update sometime soon, after I get some more recent information and stories about what has been going on at the lessons. Maybe some pictures too!

Thank you so much for your prayers and financial support that helps us to be able to serve here in this off-the-beaten-path place. We carry on encouraged and joyful to see God's Spirit at work in the lives and community of the Mibu people. I know it may be hard to feel it sometimes, but even from over there on the other side of the world, your partnership makes a huge difference. God's call for us to serve here is so strongly affirmed for us through your support!

Blessings from the Husas in Mibu

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Pray... for Email

The last couple weeks, we've wanted to ask you to pray for the situation with our only way to communicate with the outside world - email. Our email system fouled up field wide and we were unable to send emails (though we were able to receive them) since Nov 2nd. So while we needed prayer for this, we were unable to ask until now.

You might not think email is such a big deal, but when you live in the middle of the jungle with no phones, no internet, and no cell phone service, email becomes essential for day to day ministry and meting out of logistics. Supplies, flights, and other communication related to church development and translation, as well as keeping in touch with our friends, family and supporters back home... we do it all on email. We're thanking God that even though our IT guys were unable to fix the problem (though they were indeed putting double time hours into fixing it) the problem finally went away on it's own. Nobody knows what happened or if it could happen again. We regularly have problems like this, though on a much smaller scale.

While we're thankful for the fix, the problem has highlighted once again just how helpful it would be to somehow be able to have an internet connection out here in the bush. Satellite internet has been on our 'list' for some time, but remains prohibitively expensive at $5000 initial setup and $400 a month for service subscription. God knows our needs and what is best. Whether he intends for us to keep things the way they are, with a somewhat reliable email system, or to upgrade, we trust his perfect provision and plan. Would you join us in just lifting up this need (reliable communication) and let's just see how God answers.

Another note... One other thing that we were unable to report during our email outage was the result of the last fundraising garage sale. The garage sale managed to raise an astonishing $3400! No joke! Wow, God really pulled out all the stops on that one! What a huge blessing that is as it helps us take care of ministry expenses as we continue to serve here in Mibu. Thank you so much to everyone who donated items to be sold, helped transport items to the sale location, helped set up and price the items and then sell them over the weekend! Really, you're help made a difference! Late as it is now, we wanted to send a big huge thanks to all of you who helped make it happen.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Fire and a Spark

Last Friday, Jems and his family finished eating and went to their garden like any other day. Only this time, when they returned all three of their houses in their little hamlet had been reduced to ash. Nothing was left except a few metallic remnants of what used to be useful tools. Even their cooking pot was molten. Clothes, money, hundreds of kilos of dried coffee they had planned to sell... everything except what they took to their garden was destroyed.

What would your expectations be in this situation? Jems' family's expectations were blown out of the water as the community around them, many of them believers, rallied together that very day and were able to put together some of the bare essentials for survival; blankets, clothes, dishes, pots, etc. and present it to them to help them get started out again.

Jems and his family are wildcards. Nobody has been really sure where they're at spiritually. It is guessed that, nice as they are, that they are not believers. But Jems, reduced to tears over the help that the community gave them, was heard saying that before God came to Mibu, this kind of gracious help would not have happened like this. God's grace, shown through his people here has brought honor to his name in Jems' eyes. Perhaps this could be the spark that flames up genuine seeking, and we know that God is faithful to show himself to those who seek him!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Evangelism in Mibu - Please Pray

In Saturday's team meeting the big topic of discussion was the start of a 4-5 month stretch of teaching which aims to make the message of the gospel clear to those here in Mibu who either haven't heard or haven't yet put their trust in Christ. There are a wide range of folks who we anticipate will come; some who have heard but have rejected in the past and who have actually participated in persecuting the church, then those who previously just kept their distance, and then even those who believe but just love any chance to hear about God. Along with the community wide evangelism lessons, which are scheduled for the weekday mornings every other week, there will also be lessons geared more for the youth after school. If you remember there are many children sent here to go to school. They're living here away from their families, and most have never really heard clearly the message of God's grace.

The lessons are scheduled to start TODAY! So please be in prayer for the teachers and the hearers. There are two teachers, Weng and Nooka, who are heading up the lessons. They will be working with a small group of teachers-in-training who will be teaching most of the lessons under their guidance and supervision. This is an intense time of teaching. It is hard, after not too long, to feel the pressure of the busy-ness of it all. It's easy for the teachers to feel burnt out. Would you keep them in your prayers please? Pray for a pure motivation for what they do to drive them forward so that they find joy in their service and not a burden. Also pray for those attending the lessons that they might hear God's message to them for the first time, and for those who believe already to be strengthened and encouraged as they hear the basics of the gospel laid out for them once again.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Something Good in Store

There is an effort here, failed in the past, which we're currently trying to resurrect. Along with their literacy skills, the Mibu people need a regular venue through which they can be supplied in all things reading and writing. There also needs to be a way to generate enough funds to help subsidize costs of printed literacy materials in the future. A simple store seems to be the best solution. It's something we've tried in the past, but it flopped and has lain there dead for several years now.

Keteng is being trained in bookkeeping and will be given charge of running this small literacy supply store. He struggles with certain of the concepts related to keeping track of stock and of finances, so it will take some time and personal investment to get things running smoothly with minimal mistakes. We just purchased a small supply of the needed materials and are looking forward to getting this going again. Someday here Keteng's efforts should be able to significantly reduce or even completely cover the costs of a long term literacy program that carries on from generation to generation.

Please pray for faithfulness borne out of an eagerness to see more people literate so they can better learn about God.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Mibu Ministry Garage Sale

It's that time of year again. There is a fund raising garage sale planned for Saturday, November 8th and 9th. Garage sales of the past have been a huge success, having raised significant finances to help us, the Husa family, as we continue to serve the young church in Mibu, Papua New Guinea.

Do you have things you've been looking to sell or get rid of? Or maybe you're feeling bogged down by the 'too much stuff' syndrome many of us constantly find ourselves in. This is a great chance to go through and make that stuff matter. You can donate it to the fundraising garage sale to benefit the Mibu Ministry. We live in a remote tribal location in a 3rd world country where there are many costs associated with living and doing Bible translation and training leaders. Your stuff can help! Please, no clothes though.

If you'd like to help, you can contact Gary Husa at (480)980-3854 to arrange a drop off at their address in Tempe. The garage sale will be held at 245 W. LaVieve Ln., Tempe, AZ 85284.

Sunday, September 22, 2013


We just got the final numbers from Macayo's yesterday! The fundraiser was a hit, and someone was relating to us that it seemed that people were constantly pouring in who were there to support the Mibu Ministry! Thanks SO much to all who participated! There were folks from as far as Casa Grande! The effort helped raise over $500! In addition some specific donations were given totaling $200!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Reminder - Sept 8 Macayo's Fundraiser

Just wanted to send a reminder about the Macayo's fundraiser coming up this Sunday. Macayo's is hosting an all afternoon fundraising event (lunch and dinner). If you print the attached flyer and present it with your bill, 20% of your food bill (minus drinks) will be donated by Macayo's to help cover ministry costs for us as we live and serve full-time here in Mibu, Papua New Guinea.

Please note that if you want to participate YOU NEED TO PRINT OUT THE ATTACHED FLYER and give it to your waiter or waitress.

Also note that this is only good at the Macayo's at 1920 S. Dobson.

If you have other friends and/or family who you think might enjoy having a restaurant meal with a purpose, feel free to invite them too! The more the merrier! Be sure to print out duplicates of this flyer to give them.

Hope you can make it!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Please Pray

Please remember to be in prayer for the work here in Mibu. There is still so much to do... much more than just this one family can do. Often times when it comes to missions, the goal stops at sharing the gospel message and seeing new people come to faith. It goes way beyond that though. What about the resulting church and their continued growth into a mature body of believers who are faithfully leading and teaching and taking the message to the next generation and to other places?

That's where we're at in the Mibu Ministry. We're trying to train and develop leaders who will continue to lead the church forward. Again though, it's so much more than just our family can handle and so we're constantly playing a juggling game... and, to be honest, feeling like we're dropping balls. This is where we need your continual prayers.

The Mibu church is at a critical stage of early growth right now. Leader types have emerged, but it's a constant struggle to see them encouraged and consistent in their roles, moving ahead with a strong vision and sacrificial love for the church. There's no magical formula that just makes it all happen. There's no perfect strategic plan which, if we'd just follow it perfectly, would give us the results we're after. We're working with very real people here with very real struggles and problems. We don't pretend that these instantly go away as soon as they become believers. It's a process of learning and growing and seeing faith worked out. The pool of dependable servant leaders tends to cycle, waxing and waning between around 15 and as low as just 2 or 3.

Here are just a few of the areas currently needing the most help and where we try to focus our attention.

Unity among the leaders and believers. It seems there is always a schism somewhere. It's no surprise that Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, makes a direct correlation between the issues of unity and the maturity of the church. It's a constant battle, and divisive attitudes emerge with so many different flavors.

Family life is another area needing much attention. The struggles many families face here are very real. Abuse, neglect, apathy, and even immorality... it all threatens the well being of the family. It also fails to reflect God's will for the family. Most emerging leaders struggle with family issues, sometimes having to withdraw from service so they can focus on the family. While the escape of divorce, while possible, is almost unheard of here, the settled nature of long standing unresolved relationships often permeates a family. Not only between husbands and wives, but between children and their parents.

Community life. Within the last year or so many children from other areas have been sent to Mibu to attend the school that was started here recently. This means there are more than double the amount of children here. Many of them come from non-believing families, and are now here without their parents. They stay here with a host family. There's been a huge increase, since their arrival, of theft and destruction of property which has caused a lot of bickering and heartache among the believing community here. It's important for them to recognize the need, if they're going to have a school here, that they're going to have to take on parental responsibility for the children they are hosting. Right now the visiting kids pretty much just roam free and can do whatever they want. This is a golden opportunity for these kids to learn about their need for a savior and to hear about God's provision for that need. Unfortunately the idea of taking responsibility for these children that are not theirs is taking a while to instill. But recognition of the need is being expressed more and more. We're starting to see the church leaders take action here.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Macayo's Fundraiser - Sept 8

Mark your calendars! On Sunday, September 8th, Macayo's is hosting an all afternoon fundraising event (lunch and dinner). If you print the attached flyer and present it with your bill, 20% of your food bill (minus drinks) will be donated by Macayo's to help cover ministry costs for us as we live and serve full-time here in Mibu, Papua New Guinea.

Please note that if you want to participate YOU NEED TO PRINT OUT THE ATTACHED FLYER and give it to your waiter or waitress.

Also note that this is only good at the Macayo's at 1920 S. Dobson.

If you have other friends and/or family who you think might enjoy having a restaurant meal with a purpose, feel free to invite them too! The more the merrier! Be sure to print out duplicates of this flyer to give them.

Hope you can make it!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Passing of Something Good

For years now, the Fry's gift card program has provided a huge blessing to the Mibu Ministry. It has been generating around $150 a month to help with the expenses of living and serving here in Mibu. We really appreciate that so many have wanted to help us through this program.

Unfortunately, the workings of the Fry's gift card program have changed in such a way that it is no longer possible to benefit the Mibu Ministry. Please know that as of this month, using your Fry's cards no longer benefits the Mibu Ministry.

Thank you so much to all who have been so desirous and faithful to help support us in this way! We rest assured that despite a continually changing financial situation God does indeed take care of ALL our needs each and every day, month, and year.

As a side note, you'll have to forgive our future updates for a while. You may have noticed in the right column of our updates that we keep a reminder there about the use of your Fry's cards. We are unable to remove that reminder until we are out in town with access to the internet, hopefully toward the end of September. Please don't be confused by the fact that it's still there!

Blessings from Mibu!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Mibu Service Crew

We want you to meet this most wonderful Service Crew...

These ladies, for the last several months have been serving others in the church, specifically those who give their time and efforts to teaching and other jobs that take a lot of their time. We've noticed over the years that those who give much of their time to the church often cannot give as much time as they need to their homes and gardens and livestock.

These sweet ladies have decided to spend every Thursday rotating through different teachers' and church workers' gardens, helping to weed, plant, clear bush and other tasks pertaining to general upkeep! In a mostly subsistence economy this is a huge blessing to others in the church. Thanking God for those taking initiative based on a growing sense of what it means to be part of Christ's body in Mibu.

Their names from left to right are as follows; Biop, Noonoye with son Roman, Gosen with Wunjo's daughter and Skyler's friend Nines, Wunjo with Noonoye's son Josai, Nancy with daughter Jemima, Eni, and then her mother Eson.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Update on "Spirit Connection"

Today, the church meeting in Mibu (before, during, and after) was abuzz with the sad goings on in the neighboring village where we recently reported there was some strange cult activity. The small delegation who went to try to dissuade those smitten by the anti-gospel weirdness going over there had returned a day early, having actually been run off with their lives being threatened!

Before the church meeting started, quite a few people gathered and listened as Sesi told the sad story, saying they were barely given a chance to speak. They were expected, and when they arrived, Gero, the village big man, tore into them. Gero is a very vocal person who loves to speak (and to be listened to). He went on for quite a while, sharing many scary details of his organized cult that utilizes young children to prophecy in their sleep, and how God has made him 'king' and determiner of who goes to heaven or hell. He went on expressing his anger toward anyone who gets in his way. He even managed a public attempt at calling down fire from heaven to burn up the Mibu delegation right there on the spot. No joke! People watched... then waited... then waited some more... but nothing happened. Then in anger, he and a number of his followers started threatening to hurt and kill those who had come wanting to help.

The men from Mibu left, thanking God that they hadn't been hurt. They were thankful too that they'd been able to at least encourage the three families who were not supporting the strange activities. In addition to that there was one family who had been participating in the cult who were convinced that they should not continue. Those who had been run off that day, stayed in this family's house for the night before coming back to Mibu the next day. While there the host family shared how their young daughter was one of the ones who was being used, along with the other kids, to do this weird stuff. After talking with the folks from Mibu and realizing they should not be supporting this activity they went quickly to retrieve their daughter from the hut in which these young children were being housed.

So today in the church meeting back in Mibu, Sesi shared their story. The church talked a lot about what to do for their friends over there who are full on into this thing. They talked about how the teachers who had been going from Mibu to teach over there need to continue, even if just for the four families. They need to continue to be encouraged and to grow in God's word. They'll have to find another place to meet, of course. Then it was unanimous that prayer is the only thing we can really do for those wandering in the dark right now. God is the only one strong enough to do anything about what's going on over there.

We were encouraged to see how the attitude was desperate instead of offended and that the instinct was to realize their need for God's help and power in all this. Would you join them in continuing to pray for the folks in this nearby outreach area? Pray for those who are holding fast to the faith, that they'd be able to stand strong and that God would use them as a beacon of truth over there. And pray that the truth would set them free from this deception, and that they'd remember that trusting in what Jesus did for them on the cross really is the ONLY way.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

"Spirit Connection" or Bad Reception?

The Mibu believers need your prayers.

There has been a lot of talk over the last month or so about some confusion in the church. We usually don't get all the information at once. It comes in waves, a little here, a little there, each time getting a fuller picture of what's going on. We have been hearing more and more about the beginnings of a cult here that refer to themselves as "Spirit Connection". The information has been building and we've been trying to do due diligence in preparing the local church leaders to be able to rightly handle God's word, and keep watch over the believing community, keeping people's eyes on Jesus. Here in Mibu, the leaders seem to have been able to get a handle on it for the most part. However, what's going down in one of our neighboring outreach villages is what's really concerning us. It seems to be on the brink of turning into a full-blown cult! Out of the believing community there, only three are reported to be standing against this movement. They've sent word for leaders and teachers from the church here to come help dissuade the many confused and to show that their activities and beliefs are strayed from what God's word teaches.

The cult identifies itself as being led by God's Spirit, hence the reference to themselves as "Spirit Connection." They consist primarily of young children and a few young adults with the full backing of the more influential folks in the village. A group of 10 young children are reputed to have died one night (all at the same time in the same house) and risen the next morning to tell of all that they saw in their death. They say they saw the road to heaven. They are foretelling the year of Jesus' return. They also claim to have seen many other dead people (in other words, their dead ancestors). They're proclaiming that those who oppose them (namely the believers in Mibu) will be turned to pillars of salt and dust. And the list of absurdities just goes on! Movements like this are not uncommon in our area, but what is really concerning is that what the young folks are reported to have seen and said directly attacks those in the church who strive to follow God's word. They have been effective at undermining the influence of the leaders in the church as well as plant much doubt as to whether or not Jesus is the ONLY way. They've gained so much rapid support from the local area residents that they've said they're going to begin organized outreaches to other areas here soon. They're presenting their own words as God's word, even writing some of it down and reading it as authoritative in the church meetings! Ughh! There's so much more that would curl your toes that we don't have space to mention. But suffice it to say your prayers are needed. Much of this has brewed for several weeks, just recently exploding into something big.

We need you to be in prayer for the church leaders as they prepare (and as we try to help prepare and encourage them) for going over to face this thing head on and make it clear that the church does not identify with this at all and to warn people against being distracted with fruitless talk which does not promote faith, a pure heart, a clear conscience and the love that God's true revealed word teaches. On the contrary, what they teach only produces confusion, arguments, and all kinds of other endless speculation. It's right out of 1 Timothy 1.3-5. Some of the leaders and teachers are planning on going over there this Thursday (Wednesday U.S. time) and staying through the weekend to try to deal with the situation.

Pray for strength of those over there who do feel the conviction but may struggle with the very strong social obligations that may keep them from acting on their convictions. The church there is young and immature, still very easily duped into chasing after things that take them away from Jesus.

Pray that the love that Jesus has shown for them would be all that holds their fascination. There are so many fruitless pursuits they can waste their time on. The love of Jesus is where it's at. Keeping their eyes on what Jesus did for them on that cross because he loves us will provide a lifetime of growth and maturing in their faith.

And then pray for the young folks that have fallen into this delusion. They are deceived and puffed up with self-promotion and, for the moment, getting exactly what they're after. Pray that they'd see the carnal nature of what they do and that trusting Jesus (a REAL trust in Jesus - because they use the phrase with very wrong connotations) is the only way.

Friday, July 12, 2013

New Booklets!

In a recent delivery of supplies brought by our helicopter, one of the boxes we opened had the long awaited booklets containing both the book of Romans and that of 1 Timothy, as well as the lessons for 1 Timothy! These aren't just any booklets. They're the end product of much hard work translating the bible and putting lessons together. It's such a thrill to get these booklets in folks' hands. Making God's word available to the Mibu people is one of the major strategic facets of furthering the development of the young church in Mibu.

We're not the only ones doing the work here. There are many of you who have been faithfully supporting this ministry by praying and giving their valuable time and resources for the sake of the Mibu church. Little milestones like this are a great time to say, "Way to go, team!" and also to remind you that there is still much to be done here. We keep plugging away with all that God has given us and are thankful for the strong support we feel from those who have sent us!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

A Few Points for Prayer

We've been really encouraged the last few weeks with progress in the translation of Ephesians. Sesi and I are trying to finish up through chapter 5 by the end of the month. So far it's looking like we might make it! Please pray that we'd be able to keep our focus and be able to drive this thing forward. Then just one more chapter to go. Chapter six will take a while since Sesi, who is my main translation helper, is going to be working with some local level elections the following month. He's needing to bring in some income for his family since they've been unable to sell their coffee yet this year. The time he's away might be a good time for me to work out some of the checking process that doesn't require Sesi.

While we're excited to see translation continuing along (as well as many other great things God is doing here), we've been kind of sad to watch some of the decisions, or lack of action, of a few key church leaders (in training) recently which leaves the church in a discouraging place. We are thankful for a few who seem to be able to continue in God's amazing strength to hold things together. We long for the day when there are those qualified and willing to shepherd the church as elders. Growth can sometimes seem to happen rapidly and other times very slowly, or not at all for a while. Times like this highlight the years of work that are left to be done here, and also the fact that the work is more than just one family can do alone.

One area in particular that we would appreciate your continued prayers for is regarding the longevity of the literacy program in Mibu. While it started off with a bang years ago, two things threaten its continuation here. One is whether or not the church is willing to take the initiative, investing their own resources to keep the program going for the next generation. There are actually those who think now that they themselves are literate why should they invest for others to become literate. This is indicative of a much bigger problem than just literacy. The other is that the standard of literacy has been quite low here. Those who are literate are only moderately so. Higher literacy skills will result in leaders better equipped to lead, and also result in more encouragement about the importance of literacy and thus the need for them to continue it. Good plans have been talked about and even agreed upon regarding training to increase literacy skills. But no initiative is being taken by the church as of yet. Again, pointing to a bigger issue and hurdle that must be overcome before this can be called a truly indigenous church plant. The problem seems to primarily revolve around a mindset of 'waiting until someone else does it for us'. Undealt with, it is a church killer. But back to literacy... without it, God's word will fall back into inaccessibility for the Mibus. How can leaders teach others without being able to comfortably read God's word? How can the next generation of people ever hear God speaking to them without the ability to read his word for themselves? It's not a difficult or trick question. The simple answer is that they cannot. We've been working with leaders on this for nearly 8 months now with little to no movement. We would appreciate your prayers regarding how to move forward in this.

One other noteworthy area we'd appreciate your prayers for is that a few of the church leaders, in the name of 'diplomacy', are quietly encouraging that those who openly reject God's truth intermingle with the church. They lurk around the outskirts of the church meetings which are supposed to be about honoring and worshipping God together and fellowship and growing together. But these folks only seem to ever sow discord, anger, and confusion. It's not that these people don't need to hear about God's love too. But they openly reject His offer of grace. They're only there to throw rocks as it were. They've been getting more and more openly antagonistic as well. Please pray that the church leaders would realize together the need to maintain the sanctity of fellowship while still being able to hold out God's grace to those who do not yet see it.

There are indeed lots of exciting things that God has been and continues doing here in Mibu! But these are a couple key areas of concern for which we'd appreciate the ongoing prayer of all of you who care for the Mibu Ministry.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Failed Greetings

"Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ."

That sounds simple enough to translate, right? But it's worth noting that this little sentence found within the first two verses of Ephesians poses some difficult problems. The words by themselves aren't that difficult. Key terms such as 'peace' and 'grace' have already been ironed out. So what's the problem? The problem is that where Paul's purpose was to express a God oriented well wishing in the context of a greeting, it actually comes across in the Mibu translation as though he is already starting to teach or exhort. While I'm sure that Paul did want them to know about grace and peace, he certainly wasn't expounding on the ideas or even exhorting them to do anything here. It was simply a well wishing as part of a greeting. As it is now, this is not a faithful rendition of the text into the Mibu language.

Stepping back and looking at it some more, it's clear that the problem has to do with the whole of these first two verses which form the opening of the letter. You see, each language has it's own patterns and structures for communicating ideas. The Greek language had a certain pattern which clearly indicated the opening of a letter, with greetings, introductions, well wishings, etc. Well the Mibu language will have a different pattern for the same ideas to be communicated just as clearly. In the Mibu language, this will look very very different than the pattern for the same in Greek. Our job is to get these ideas restructured in a way that comes across the same way in the Mibu language that it did in Greek.

Add to the problem the fact that currently there IS NO standard letter writing genre in Mibu! It was only recently that the Mibus began to read and write in their own language. Patterns for letter openings and greetings are only just beginning to emerge. For now, we're mostly shooting in the dark here. With each attempt at translating a letter opening, and each process of checking and refining, the 'standard' gets better and better, communicating more and more clearly and effectively. Sesi and I have to 'invent' the right form to make this work! Since last week's first check for comprehension, we've revisited the section with this in mind and have what seems like the best letter opening yet, which further checking will either affirm or contradict.

Once this form takes the right shape and the letter opening and greeting come across clearly for what they're supposed to be, then the pieces within, such as, "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ," will be easier to iron out so that rather than come across as an abrupt jump into teaching, it will fit in the context more appropriately as the well wishing God inspired it to be.

We find it possible to translate all the words accurately, yet put them together in a way such that the author's purpose fades into ambiguity. Yet the purpose is fundamental to every successful communication. As you can see in the above example, we find that often it's not just finding the equivalents of words and phrases and ideas, but presenting them in such a way that the purpose is kept clear that presents the biggest challenge in translation.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Ephesians in Mibu

No, while we may live at the ends of the earth, we've certainly not fallen off the face of it! While there have been inspiring things to write about, putting pen to paper, or in our case, fingers to keyboard, has been a challenge. Call it writer's block or whatever. Regardless, God continues to work here in Mibu and we are committed to keeping you updated.

Being the only expat family serving in a ministry where the workload could keep three families busy, takes some prioritizing to make things work. The big push for us has been staying in the background as much as possible as far as the church is concerned and focusing on bible translation. God's word in the Mibu people's language is foundational to all the rest of the church development efforts. It's easy to get bogged down in other details, important though they be, and see translation become one of those 'closer than they appear' objects in the rear view mirror. Our goal as the only full time family here right now is to keep the translation in the forefront of our efforts.

Since mid-January we've been working on translating Ephesians. Finishing the first half of the letter last week felt like a major accomplishment for Sesi and I. The task wasn't without it's great challenges what with seemingly impossible long sentences, difficult concepts and logical connections that seem far above my pay grade! Relief might be a word to add to how we felt when we finished; Not because we don't enjoy the work, but because of its difficulty, and because all throughout you're concerned that you're going to hit an insurmountable wall, or make a really bad mistake navigating through it all. When you do eventually finish, when you're convinced that God's word is accurately represented in the Mibu language, a sense of relief can certainly be added to that of accomplishment.

Now it's time for another step. It's time to put the text to the test. Yesterday we began checking these first 3 chapters of Ephesians for comprehension and possible misunderstanding. This involves working with several people, reading portions of the text and having them tell back what they heard, asking them questions about the main point, specific terminology used, flow of thought and other details that indicate the text is being understood. This is where we find that while the text might be accurate in the sense that it contains all the details of the original, it may not actually be communicating those things very clearly. There may be confusion or misunderstanding. The point being made may prove elusive. Or... what we really hope for is that the text is indeed communicating clearly, where large portions can be read, understood, and talked about clearly. It's a rare thing that all this comes together really well on the first check. But yesterday, when we checked the the first two chapters we found things going very smoothly with only a few places that needed corrections, and the few corrections that are needed were pretty easy to pinpoint!

Please pray as we continue the checking process, with chapter 3 today, and further checks with different people over the coming week or so. Also be in prayer as we begin to get ready to move into translating the second half of Ephesians. It's a huge and difficult process. We need your continued prayers for all the work that remains!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Can YOU Dig It?

An airstrip here in Mibu is something that the people here have dreamt of for many years now. About a year ago, the Mibu people decided they wanted to set out to finish the airstrip project they'd started so many years ago. The length of the airstrip was cleared, we measured it out, checked to see if the little strip of land allocated to the project has the appropriate length and grade and laid out the centerline. From there a map was made depicting areas that needed to be dug down and areas that need building up. It's a HUGE task requiring much labor. But the people want this airstrip, and to be honest, so do we.

The biggest and most obvious benefits of this airstrip for the Mibu community is a more consistent means of selling their coffee, and at a much fairer price. Currently the Mibus work all year on their coffee, only to be faced with the question after harvest of whether or not they'll even get paid. And if they do get paid, it's often not even half of what coffee is normally sold for. It's a rather hopeless situation, especially when faced with whether or not you want to hike over 11,000 kilograms of coffee on your backs, two days down the mountain! Other benefits include the possibility of selling their oranges (domestically available oranges are a rare find in this country and the Mibus have a huge harvest of them) and also increased ability to get seriously ill people to a hospital in town. There's no doubt an airstrip is a huge asset to the community. It's only a matter of actually building it. Again, it's a huge task.

Just the other day, we calculated that the people here have managed to move 300-400 tons of dirt in the last couple months! An astounding amount of work done with just 5 shovels, some bush knives, two heavy iron bars for digging out rock, and a whole lot of water. That's right... water! The Mibu people built two dams near the top of the area they're working right now. Each dam fills with around 3000 gallons of water or more. While it's filling with the runoff from the rain we get almost every day, people are digging and filling a ditch with loose dirt and stones. When full, the dammed up water is released, powerfully coursing it's ditched path down the mountain taking maybe 10-15 tons of dirt at a time and depositing it at the bottom, in a retaining wall. This method builds up areas quickly and with much less effort than manually lugging the stuff down.

While this airstrip, and the responsibility of building it, is entirely the Mibu people's, we support it as members of the community ourselves and are committed to providing some help while being sure not to overstep our bounds and making it our project. As part of this commitment Sun Valley Community Church has agreed to send a small team of people here to Mibu to work alongside the folks here in Mibu for about 10 days, helping carry out the plan that the Mibus have devised. It's a great chance to support their efforts, and also to be an encouragement to them. The details of the trip are still being ironed out. But so far it's looking like the trip is going to happen the last couple weeks of July.

While we may not be certain of all the details yet, there is one detail we are certain of... We need volunteers! We need people like you who want to invest some of their time and labor helping the community and the church in Mibu. Would you consider being a part of this team? It would be a great opportunity, say for a father and his capable son(s) to work together, or a single person, or a married couple. Whether you're younger, or older, maybe God has something here for you! It's a great chance not only to help with a real material need, but also to interact with the believers here with whom the people of Sun Valley Community Church have a long and fruitful partnership history. Can YOU dig it?

If you're even remotely interested be sure to take advantage of the chance this Sunday (tomorrow) to ask more questions about the trip. Look for Theresa Board and Lori Bastian out on the courtyard at the Sun Valley Community Church, Tempe campus sometime Sunday morning and get all your questions answered. Or if you're unable to make it Sunday morning, you can call Theresa at 480-299-8864.

(In the bigger picture, up toward the top of the hill is the double dam. Leading down from that is the ditch where excavated dirt is thrown. Toward the bottom are the retaining walls which fill with the dirt. In the other picture, a closer view of the retaining walls filling with dirt.)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Polarization... Finally

It's been a long time coming. A division that is. It may not be often... maybe never... that you hear of one talking about 'division' in the church as being positive. But that's what we're doing now.

Since God's word first began to move through the people here in Mibu and other nearby groups, the church meetings, at least here at ground zero, have always consisted of a mixed group. There have always been a number of folks who wanted to remain identified with the former religious system at the same time as being identified with the truth of Jesus as seen in God's word. This former religious system is very legalistic, teaching folks all the stuff they had to do to please God. Get baptized - go to heaven. Give offerings to pay the 'pastor' (who is nowhere around until he comes to collect, by the way) - go to heaven. Do communion just right, with a special person to officiate and only the special wine and bread - go to heaven. Follow God's 10 laws of the bible - go to heaven. And if you have 2 wives, you might as well not even try cause you're going to hell... but we'll take your offerings anyway. This is a system that masks itself as Christian, but is very anti-christian, going against everything that Jesus stands for. In fact, for those in Mibu who have tried to follow God's word for what it says, much of the persecution they've experienced has come from this supposedly Christian group.

Those who identify with this group are typically found sitting on the sidelines, listening but not hearing, following what's going on but never 'in', always commentators, but never experiencers. To them, meeting with the church is just a religious thing that you do. It's tradition. Nevermind that God is actually speaking to us through his word and is interested in a real, loving relationship. Just give us a list of things to do. These people invariably complain and cause doubt and division when the church wants to follow God's lead. A fair number of these sideliners are still involved in the talk and the fear of sorcery and such.

Over the years, a couple things have become clear. One is that there is a distinct fundamental difference between them and the church. The other is that, small as this group is, they have a detrimental effect on the church's ability to grow and mature in who they really are because of Jesus.

We've always been hesitant to push separation too hard, not ignoring the need, but not forcing it to happen either. When it happened, we wanted it to be something that arose out of the conviction of the local church... not just something they were told they need to do. Well the time for that seems to have come! Recent events have polarized the two groups in such a way that after several meetings with the leaders of the church, and a little encouragement from us, it was decided that the church needs to make a decisive separation from this other religious group. They met together with and communicated to those of the other group that they're seeing the other religious system does not accord with what the Bible communicates to us, and that the two groups meeting together is harmful. Those who aren't interested in following God's word, but some other system, should meet separately and not intermingle in the church meeting. The church leaders even stood strong in this decision when recently some big-wigs of this other religious system came in on a whim and just started doing their thing. The church, kind of taken aback by the distinct difference of these peoples' teaching and by the force with which they were trying to impose it, met with their leaders and flat out told them that they were not interested in having that kind of teaching here. Standing up to the big-wigs was something the church had always been hesitant to do in the past. But it clearly was time and they stood their ground, despite being ridiculed by the religious leaders of the other group.

This is a good move and a big step for the church here. It shows a growing sense of their identity in Jesus and an awareness of the things around them that blur that identity. We would ask for your prayers that this separation would remain relatively peaceful. The church leaders have been very graceful in how they've handled discussions with these other folks, and both sides are in relative agreement that it should happen. The church leaders haven't been angry or spiteful in the discussions. Just coming from a heart of wanting what's best for everyone and maintaining the peace. Our prayer is that with the church more clearly distinguished, they'd be able to move forward in their relationship with God without quite so much of the murkiness that that other legalistic system brings. The plan is that some time in the future here foundational gospel lessons would be taught by the church especially for those from this other religious group who might begin to show an interest.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Saying Goodbye

sWe said goodbye not long ago to our co-workers, Chris and Angie Walker and family and Joey Tartaglia after having three and a half weeks of working together in Mibu. We were really blessed by their being here and look forward to more similar opportunities in the future.

Please be in prayer that Chris Walker's plans to come back in sometime in February would work out.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

1 Timothy Taught in Mibu

Over the last few weeks, Joey Tartaglia has been visiting (along with Chris and Angie Walker and family :). It's been a real blessing to have him here to help by producing and teaching lessons through Paul's first letter to his co-worker, Timothy. It's a letter the church here needs to be familiar with as it deals with so many issues that hit close to home; false teachers, proper management of God's household and all that goes with that, an underlying concern for the witness of God's people, and much more. Suffice it to say there have been many challenges that have been taken home and will need some time and meditation. Great stuff!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Results of Literacy Testing

One of the decisions the teachers in Mibu made was to publicly reveal the results of the recent literacy tests. The picture painted by the tests wasn't the prettiest. Many, while able to work through texts are shown to have low comprehension levels and are generally slow, inaccurate readers. While this may sound discouraging, it is not. People had a great time kind of chuckling it up as score results were discussed. But more importantly people have real data to point to as they consider the importance of continuing on in their efforts to learn to read and write in their mother tongue. They're encouraged to be able to measure their abilities. This is an eye opener for everyone! We're hoping to see that these regular literacy evaluations will spur on excitement and motivation to get literacy where it needs to be in Mibu.

In the picture here Mootooke is talking about the test scores publicly after a recent church meeting.