Saturday, January 25, 2014

Something in Store for Mibu

Part of our job is to see the church here in Mibu mature to a point where they are self-sustaining and reproducing themselves in others. There are several things that need to be in place for this to happen. One of those is a strong literacy program. If people can't confidently read and comprehend God's word, then how will they possibly carry the teaching from one generation to the next.

Currently one of the hurdles in the race to keep literacy moving forward is the lack of finances to cover costs of much needed new literacy materials for course itself. Every so often these materials get worn out and have to be replaced. After working with the Mibu folks for more than a year to try to put together the funds for these materials (as a side note, they've come up with about 75% of the funds!... almost there!... Praise God!) it's become clear that they need something in place that will help generate funds to aid the literacy program in the future.

You may remember a couple months ago, we reported the startup of a literacy store, where almost all the profits generated would go toward the literacy program. We're thanking God that though Keteng (who is being trained to manage the store... and to train others to help) struggles with the math, he's been doing very well at tracking all sales and inventory. He's also enlisted his oldest daughter at home to help, and is considering who else might be brought on board. The store has even grown beyond just selling supplies specific to literacy, such as pencils, pens, rulers, chalk and paper. It's become more of a full fledged general store with many of the things that people generally have a hard time getting their hands on in this off-the-beaten-path kind of place; Bush knives, ramen noodles, rice, salt, sugar, batteries, second hand clothes, sewing supplies... The list is extensive and we wouldn't want to bore you. But suffice it to say that as well as beginning to generate funds for the literacy effort here, it's also providing the benefit of putting a sustainable system in place that brings many of the hard to get goods closer to home for people to purchase. These are things that folks typically go all the way to town to buy. So far, Keteng has managed the sale of almost 700 Kina (about $270) worth of inventory, which is a lot here.

Once the store is able to repay it's debt (we put up the initial capital) the hope is that enough funds would be generated to fund costs of literacy here in Mibu primarily, but also to be able to bless some of the outreach areas by subsidizing some of their literacy supply costs.

While things are going well with the literacy store, there are still many things that still need to be in place before we can say with confidence that it has become something truly sustainable to keep the doors open to God's word for subsequent generations.

We would appreciate your prayers for all the work that is still needed for the literacy program here in Mibu;
- for people to be convinced of it's importance and for interest to be high
- for people to actively work to improve their reading/comprehension skills
- for faithfulness to keep teaching and training in literacy skills
- for faithful management of the store to generate funds for future literacy efforts

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Build That Dam - Part 2

Considering how much preparation and work went into it, the resulting dam is small and unimpressive (not that great looking either). But we think it should do the job. None of us really knew what we were doing, though I did try to learn about it beforehand by reading about stone and mortar walls. It was very difficult to do right, using less than ideal materials in less than ideal conditions. It's going to be all God's grace when the thing proves to last!

We were so thankful that God saw fit to give us nice weather during the construction. The first day we finished most of the actual dam. The second day we finished the remaining bit, and then built a kind of make-shift flood diversion system above the dam. It sounds more complicated than it is. It's just that there needed to be something to slow down and divert flood waters and debris to minimize damage to the actual dam below over time. Literally, as we mortared the last stone in place a massive downpour began, very quickly flooding the stream, and ruining that whole diversion system whose mortar had not yet hardened. It was all we could do to keep the water out of the dam so as to let that mortar cure properly. We still thank God for all his goodness despite the ruin of a full day's work. We're also thanking him that there is just enough cement leftover up there for the folks to rebuild the diversion system.

Skyler did extremely well on the difficult and slippery trails. And she was a huge help with the dam too. What a trooper! She enjoyed the 'camping' experience, saying that one of her favorite things is how everyone helps each other live out there, cooking and eating, hunting and fishing, working together to build shelter, and more. She enjoyed the whole thing immensely!

I wish I'd been able to see the dam in action before we left, but we wanted to let the mortar harden for several days before letting it fill with water.

Thank you all for your prayers for us while we set about this project. Overall we feel it went very well! Just one more step in the construction of the airstrip here in Mibu. Now we just need to get the pipe purchased and hauled up.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Build That Dam, Part 1

Since last Saturday, the Mibu people have been working very hard out in the bush, in a place called Sigeng (SEENG-geng) spring. They've been preparing a site for building a permanent stone and mortar dam which is the first key element in providing water to the ongoing airstrip construction project. The water is needed to aid in earth moving. The first part of the water project is to build this dam. The second part, which will hopefully begin next month, is to buy and haul up 1.5 kilometers of pipe which will bring a continual stream of water down from the dam to the airstrip.

So starting this last Saturday, many people have been out in the 'big bush' preparing the site by clearing all debris, diverting all the water, and digging out all the sand, mud and stones until the huge stones which will be the dam's foundation are bare. Others have collected stones and hauling sand up in bamboo from the river below. They've also prepared a temporary shelter to stay the night while we're building. It's been a massive undertaking so far, but all the work so far has been just the preparation.

This morning (just a few hours after this email shows in your inbox) Geoff is planning on taking a break from translation and taking Skyler up there to help build build the actual dam. The site is far enough away in the bush that we'll plan on spending the night since we expect it to be about two days of work to do all the stonework.

If you remember, the airstrip project is an element of our work that helps the community here in Mibu. These kinds of projects provide some amazing real-life opportunities for putting into practice the many things they're learning in God's word. It's also a chance for other lessons to take root that in the past may have just been shallow 'book knowledge'. We're all excited about the possibility of having an airstrip in here someday... hopefully soon. And of course, if we build this dam to last, once the pipe is installed and the airstrip finished, the year round water source could be the basis for improved hygiene and health for the Mibus.

Skyler is excited to go on a hiking-'camping' trip with her daddy. Please pray for safety not only for us out in the bush, but also for Shannon and the rest of the kids who will be at home alone during those two days. Also we're in the middle of a MEGA rainy season right now. Can't do cement and mortar work in heavy rain. So would you please pray for good weather today and tomorrow.