Papua New Guinea 2011


Dates:  June 10 – 24
Ministry Partner:  Grace Missionaries David and Shari Ogg; New Tribes Mission
Ministry Focus:  Missionary encouragement, Maintenance on airstrip and mission compound

The Oggs live in the highlands of Papua New Guinea, and are planting a church among the tribal Simbari people.  This team will support the Ogg’s ministry by repairing their bush airstrip and performing maintenance on the missionary homes and possibly at the mission headquarters.  

Team PNG: Pete Mahoney, Marion Morey, Jessica Rand, Greg Vitali, Babette Lary, Kirill Gillis, and Charlie Davis

Wednesday, August 17
"Rain Changes Plans" - by New Tribes Missions. An encouraging new article about our Papua New Guinea Short Term Team was published just this week by New Tribes Missions: "church team stays flexible when visiting tribal church plant." Read more.  

Updated Monday, June 27
Team PNG arrived home safe and sound on Sunday morning, full of wonderful stories about team unity and effective ministry on the island and with the Oggs.  Thank you so much for praying them through their experience.  You went with them on your knees!

Updated Thursday, June 23
E-mail from Charlie Davis - Journal entry #8
Only two more nights for us in PNG.  The time has gone altogether too quickly.  

We did some ‘sightseeing’ today.  However, the word sightseeing is in quotations because the sights that we did see were intended more as instructional to the team that the usual interesting entertainment.   We did have a small tour of the Lapilo center.  The reason that this was important is because Lapilo is the main support network hub for the whole New Tribes Mission operation in the country.  The Lapilo complex holds missionary kids schools, administrative buildings, a medical and a dental clinic, guest houses, permanent houses, dorms, a service station, a supply building, an information technology center and a grocery store among other things.  All of this is amazingly critical for the work of church planting and Bible translation in the Simbari tribe.  

I’ll give you a couple of ‘for instances’.  When the Oggs need a trip to the grocery store to pick up staples, they’ll put in a radio call to the supply store at Lapilo.  There someone will take their order, shop for them, assemble a shipment, take it to the NTM aviation hangar and the order will be flown in to the bush.   If the Oggs need a doctor visit, they will radio a call to the doctor on standby at the Lapilo center.  Most of the time, the ailments are diagnosed right over the radio from a secondary infection to Malaria, and proper medication is prescribed.  The Oggs have a storehouse of prescription medication right in the tribe for their convenience.  If the malady is more urgent, arrangements are made for the patient to be flown to Lapilo for treatment.   I am hoping that as our team sees all of this support network, they will be challenged to perhaps think about being more a part of it, or perhaps be a catalyst in sharing the vision of the ministry here with friends, family and supporters at home.  

 And now, one final picture of the reason for all of this.  It is for children like these that we come.  It is for people like these that the Oggs are here.  It is for tribes like these that NTM and places like Lapilo exist.  Not just to make life better and a little easier for them, but to share the great news of the gospel with these people that they might know the fullness of God, their savior and that we may all live together for all eternity.

Updated Wednesday afternoon
E-mail from Charlie Davis - Journal entry #7
Is there anyone who thinks that being a short-term missionary is a glamorous endeavor?  Let me tell you, glamor has nothing to do with this business.  

After spending a week in the mud in the tribe, I was glad to finally be able to wash most of the mud stains off of my feet in the shower at the guest house that we were all staying in at Sobega.  But my newly cleaned feet did not last long as Greg, Pete, Kirill and I began helping to dig the foundation of a concrete slab that is destined to become a new basketball.  As I began digging, my feet quickly became encrusted again with sticky mud oozing through the holes in my quickly removable shoes.  I have to admit, I am beginning to get tired of this.    


Still, between shovel fulls, the team found a lot of people to talk with as we worked.  There is a lot that happens in a mission center such as this.  Many of the missionaries here have a lot of stories to tell to an interested ear.  We were happy to be the recipients of many of these tales.   The ladies began working with missionary Jeanne Best on sewing furnishings for the homes of future young missionary families.  (Jeanne Best and her husband Dennis were the first missionaries in the Simbari tribe, paving the way for David and Shari.  They are a wonderful couple very worth getting to know.)  These furnishings just might be used by Dave and Katie Walker and their young family as they will be moving here in just about two months.  It is kind of neat to be a part of this.    


No, glamour has nothing to do with this.  A better word might be eternity. 

Updated Wednesday morning, June 22
E-mail from Charlie Davis - Journal entry #6
Amazing travels!  Even though I have been here three times before, I am still amazed at how difficult travel can be to the bush and back. 

We were scheduled to fly out of the tribe on Tuesday, but the weather leading up to that day was very discouraging.  However, come Tuesday morning, we were greeted by the most beautiful sunrise with high clouds in the distance.  In short, it was a perfect flying day.  We were even able to see the high waterfall on the cliffs behind the Ogg’s house.  So, with light hearts, we radioed the base to see if a plane could be sent in.  Then we were told that the base was fogged in and that no plane could take off from there.  So we waited…and waited…and watched as our beautiful morning began to fade into a cloudy mid-morning.  Finally, we got word that a plane had been dispatched and was on the way.  When the plane landed we quickly loaded it and got our first four travelers, Greg, Babette, Marion and Kirill aboard and buckled in.  Then we got word that the base was fogged in again so we got out of the plane and went back inside the Ogg’s home for some more time of fellowship.  It was about an hour later that we got word from the base that the fog was lifting.  So the first four were off again and this time we watched them disappear into the sky.

It was about an hour and a half later when the plane came back for Pete, Jessica and me.  We loaded it up quickly and were about to climb aboard when the pilot informed us that we were not going anywhere anytime soon.  It seemed that right when our backs were turned, the fog came in with a vengeance and we were socked in.  So the rest of us and the pilot went back into the Ogg’s home and had lunch and a little more time of fellowship.  Shari and I took this time to play a little music together.  Pete, Jessica and the kids played video games and the time was well spent with our friends. 

Then the rain began coming hard and strong.  It was so strong that you could barely have a conversation with the person next to you because of the sound of it hitting the metal roof above us.  Our pilot continued to watch the cloud patterns from the window and the porch and after a couple of hours of waiting, right when the rain was as loud as I had heard it, announces that we could go.  So through the rain we ran, climbed into the small plane, buckled our waist and shoulder straps and we were off, spiraling higher and higher into the clouds that seemed to reach the sky above us.  We never lost sight of the ground and at one point, while crossing a very high mountain range, our wheels seemed to clear the trees by about 50 feet.

We arrived safely.  It was a special blessing to us to be re-united with the team again.  We prayed, told stories, laughed and ate and were basking in the special blessings that God had so abundantly bestowed upon us.

Updated Tuesday, June 21
E-mail from Charlie Davis - Journal entry #5
I would like to share with you the wonders of the Simbari Home Shopping Network.  This is the handiest shopping that I have ever been a part of.  There is no traveling necessary.  There are no technicalities like needing a computer or even a television.  The network comes right to your door, whether you want it or not.  


In our case, we wanted it.  The local Simbaris saw a chance to make a few bucks on us and we were willing accomplices.     So if you have the sudden need for primitive weapons, interesting decorations, or the latest fashions, the Simbari Home Shopping Network is exactly what you need. 


Just come with us the next time and you can experience the wonder of the Simbari Home Shopping Network.

Updated Monday, June 20
Excerpt of an e-mail from Marion describing yesterday's worship service

...We did get a beautiful sunny Sunday morning, and the people from the close-by village were able to come over. The new church building was packed and we had a most inspiring time of worship, testimony, prayer, and drama, followed by preaching.

Three of the guys preached: Peter, then Rison, and Raymond. It was very evident that these people are really “getting it”. Raymond has a powerful presentation using pictures (Solomon’s temple) and a model piece from the Tabernacle furnishings, which we brought over with us. David and Shari had ordered it delivered to his dad’s house. We actually didn’t know what we were carrying along with us till we saw the pieces today. Raymond used only the Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy Seat. The lesson today was Eph. 2:18-22.

The drama was sort of a review from last week’s teaching on the wall of partition between Jew and Gentile, and how Christ has made us one in Him. Church was dismissed and we all stood up and stretched before the graduation ceremony for those who had recently completed the Bible literacy course. I took lots of pictures then. At the very end another man, Jason, from the other village got up and admonished these not to put the certificate on a shelf to gather dust, but to take the good news of Jesus out to the many other people in their area. He said it is not just the missionaries’ job; they are all needed to share it and to live it. For a very new bunch of Christians, they are really being challenged. It just thrills me to see this, and to see how encouraged David and Shari are as they see the Word bearing such beautiful fruit in the people. David told us at lunch time, that Raymond is such a gifted teacher that he would go hear him preach in the States if he were there rather than here.


Updated Sunday, June 19
E-mail from Charlie Davis - Journal entry #4
It is time for another installment of the popular TV show, “Greg vs. Wild”.  In this week’s episode we join up with our favorite survivalist, Greg Vitali, as he traverses some of the most exotic terrain on this planet in the small country of Papua New Guinea.   We have dropped Greg off in the Highlands region where he soon will have to find water and food.  Although there is plenty of water, it has been raining constantly for about a week, it will be very difficult to find palatable water in the bush.    

Having found a stream Greg heads down it in search for drinkable water.  He hopes that he will find ample food for dinner as well in the form of tiny edible frogs.     Upon reaching a small bamboo pipe, Greg does find good drinking water, and gets a little more for later.    


Frogs are abundant in this region and are a good protein source.     A fire is started and dinner is prepared.     Mmmmm…  Tasty frogs are delicious.    

Thank you for joining us on another episode of “Greg vs. Wild”.

Updated Saturday evening, June 18
Excerpts of an E-mail from Marion to her husband
...Jason was relating to us at breakfast about the videos they make as part of their curriculum in home school. David teaches that subject. He is incredibly talented, and our admiration for our missionaries is growing greater all the time.   

Really it’s incredible how the Lord has sustained us all, and I thank Him for all He’s done in bringing us here. Just to sing with Rison and Charlie playing guitars and the children and several adults—men and women—and babies, and to see the joy on their faces singing about Jesus is worth it all.

We had a meeting with David telling us the projects needing to be done. The airstrip is way down the priority at this point, especially considering all the rain. (Yes, it rained all night and has continued lightly till now at about 11:30) If we hadn’t gotten in yesterday, we could not have come in today or probably not tomorrow because of the schedule at Goroka hangar.  God wanted us here YESTERDAY. I have been using a huge “guillotine” cutting the glued bindings off of a bunch of children’s little bible story books. Then Babette and Shari are in the house punching and putting spiral bindings on the books. These should stay together much better. The glue evidently cannot stand a combination of humidity and children’s handling. Shari says the kids call this their little Bible, and they just pour over the pictures—from Genesis to Revelation.    The guys and Jessica have been working on extending the drain pipe which runs under Lori’s house. You should see them. They are muddy as they can be but I can hear them and they sound happy to be getting these things done. They also have shelves to build, both for literacy materials and at Lori’s in her work/ ironing/ quilting room. (Quilting is what she does for a hobby and for gifts for family back home. Beautiful work!) 

Later in the week we will be working to clean up and paint in the clinic building, which the Oggs built for the gov’t health person who is to care for these people. Shari still does most of the medical treatment...

Updated Saturday morning, June 18
E-mail from Charlie Davis - Journal Entry #3
We are finally starting to settle into a routine here in PNG.  I use the term ‘routine’ very loosely in that the rain here will take time to get used to for all of us. It is very wet and cold here.  When it is not actively raining, there is a thick fog that hangs about that gives you the feeling that you are seeing the whole world in ‘black and white’.  Because of all of the rain recently, the water table is so high that springs are forming at the tops of small hills.  Any grass that has been walked upon is quickly reduced to slippery mud.  This makes it an interesting adventure to just attempt to walk down a slight grade.

Still through all of this, our Grace PNG missions team strove to make the best of the situation by doing good work in and around the houses.  Babette and Marion spent time working indoors by helping to improve the bindings on some of the Simbari children’s reading material.  Marion worked the paper cutter and Babette spent a lot of time punching binding holes.  They both worked together putting on the spiral bindings.

Pete and Kirill spent the day in a workshop under one of the houses by building a table that is to be used as a teaching table in a new church located two miles down the valley.  With this table, they intend to make some cupboard shelves that will be used to house the teaching materials in this new church as well.

Greg and Jessica had the dirty job.  They elected to dig and plumb a new sewer line for Lori Morley, the Ogg’s language helper that lives in a separate house on the compound.  Every time I came out to inspect the work, the two of them had become dirtier and dirtier.  They were working in a steady light rain in ground that was wet, soft, slippery and sticky all at the same time.  The ground was slippery in that it was hard to get good footing without sliding and it was sticky in that when you did fall on it, it would not come off of the part of you that made contact with it. Still, the job got finished and I was very proud of the work that they did.

I am proud of this whole team.  They have traveled far, waited a long time, prayed hard, loved and cared for each other, loved and cared for the missionaries and the Simbaris and have basically worshipped God, their Creator and Sustainer, every step of the way.  They have represented Grace Baptist Church well and have represented Jesus well.  Please pray for them as they press on while on the path that God has put before them.

Updated Friday, June 17
E-mail from Charlie Davis - Journal Entry #2
Right now it is Friday, and the team has had 24 hours in the Simbari tribe with David and Shari Ogg.  It is with great relief that I write these words.  We were waiting for more than two days for the weather to clear so that we could fly into the tribe.  It was rather tiring doing all of that waiting. Ordinarily, if I have to wait for something at home, I find something important to busy myself with.  This is not the case here.  We had enough time to read novels as we sat in the tiny room adjoining the Goroka airfield.  Our stuff had been packed and ready to go for hours just in case we got word that the weather was clearing at our destination.

Yesterday morning, we finally did get word that the weather had cleared in the Simbari jungle, so it was decided that we should risk the flight in.  The only problem was that at this time, the only pilot who could fly us in was on an errand to a port city and wouldn't be due for another hour. When our pilot, Brent, did arrive, we still had the weather 'green light' so we put it in high gear and got the first four members of our team loaded into the tiny plane and watched them take off.  (There was not nearly enough space for our whole team of seven, and all of our belongings to fit into just one of these little planes.)  On the first flight were Jessica, Babette, Marion and Greg with Jessica in the co-pilot seat. I was relieved when I heard that they touched down a little more than a half hour later and the plane was on it's way back for Kirill, Pete and myself. At least half of us were in.

As Pete, Kirill and I were loading up and flying out, clouds and fog were quickly filling the Simbari airstrip area.  As we approached from above the fog, we were greeted by a sea of white below us.  All of our eyes were straining to catch a hole in the layer that would allow us to descend and still maintain a visual which is so important to this kind of flight. Finally, a small, dim hole opened up and our pilot decided to go for it.  We turned an amazingly sharp turn, the G forces made me feel like my weight at least doubled, and we descended into the white.  We finally got below the cloud cover which was almost at the same elevation of our landing strip, flew up the canyon, made another violent turn, cleared the tops of some cut bamboo by mere feet and touched down. During this flight, my prayer life was reduced to interjections.  "Oh God! Oh God!  Please!  Oh God!"  I later found out that the team on the ground was doing the same thing.  Shari called it a miracle landing.  The Simbaris cheered as we rolled by. Pete said that it was better than any ride at Magic Mountain. This was not in my plans but I still knew that we were in God's hands.

Updated Wednesday, June 15
Facebook post from Shari Ogg

Great news!  The team arrived safely in the tribe today!  Here is Shari Ogg's Facebook status from tonight:
"We praise the Lord that both flights made it in today. The second flight almost had to turn around and go back because of low cloud but the Lord did a miracle and helped them get in. To God be the glory! We thank everyone for praying! Now we would appreciate prayer for good weather while the team is here as well."

Thank you for your prayers for the longest trip in the history of our summer missions ministry!  Now continue to pray for the team's ministry with the Oggs among the Simbari.

Updated Tuesday evening, June 14
The patience of our team, and of the Oggs, is being tested today as the team went through another day of waiting for the weather to clear.  Thank you for praying for patience for all, and for good use of their time as they await God's moment to be reunited.

Updated Tuesday morning, June 14
E-mail from Charlie Davis - Journal Entry #1
After a long but rather uneventful trip, our team finds itself in the city of Goroka, Papua New Guinea, in a compound that is named Sobega.  It has taken us a long time to get here, utilizing four flights with a total of more than 20 hours in the air and about 24 hours in layovers. 

Our team is tired but in very good spirits as we seek to find what God has in store for us as we try to serve Him in Papua New Guinea.  Our mission’s primary focus is that of missionary encouragement.  We are going to see the Ogg family in the heart of the Simbari jungle.  So far, rain has prevented us from making the final leg of our journey, a ½ hour Cessna flight from Goroka to the Simbari.  Please pray with us that the weather will permit us to make this final flight to go and be with the Oggs.

However, even though we have been delayed for more than a day, we have seen God provide for us and use us in some remarkable ways.  The missionaries at the Highlands Region Sobega compound have been very gracious to us.  They are truly excited to have us here.  They are getting to share a little of their LARGE world with us.  On one occasion last night, I was talking to a dear missionary couple, one whom I had prayed for at times during the year last year.  We had a good conversation.  Then they asked me what we were planning on doing when we got to the tribe.  I said that there were some things that needed to be done but that the main reason for our coming was to be an encouragement.  At that point, I looked up and there were tears coming into their eyes.  I continued.  “We have a couple of able-bodied, competent guys on the team that will fix a few things, and I have a young lady with us who intends on being a missionary.  But mostly, our idea of ministry here is to just go out and be with our people.”  I told them about Marion who intends to spend the whole time with Shari Ogg just to talk and I told them that I was planning to just spend hours and hours playing my guitar with the Simbari believers.  At this point, this missionary couple really did shed some tears and told me, "I wish that we had a sending church like yours!  "I assured them that they were precious to us as well, and that I counted the time that I was spending with them just as valuable.  I think that they were encouraged by the fact that even though we were primarily there to see the Oggs, they were very glad just to know that someone from their country cares enough about their ministry to come and be a part and take an interest in them personally.  I was just happy to be able to let them know that they were truly in my prayers at different times last year.  I think that this meant a WHOLE lot to them. 

I plan on writing again when I get into the tribe.

Updated Monday, June 13
Weather kept our team grounded today in Goroka, unable to make it safely to the tribe.  The team's disappointment was nothing compared to the pain experienced by the Oggs and a family in their community.  These Facebook posts from Shari Ogg bring home the importance of this ministry, and the fragility of life in the jungle:

"So sad though, ...that a little boy they brought this morning for medical treatment didn't make it. I gave him two strong injections hoping to keep him alive until he could get out to the hospital on the team's back flight but he was too far gone. I pray God will use this sad situation to draw people to Himself. It's been an emotional day! Thanks for praying."

"The Lord brought that same story (of Jesus calming the sea) to mind today and I was just sitting on the porch sharing it with one of my Simbari sisters who was feeling sad because the team didn't make it today. She said something like "We just need to keep trusting the Owner of the weather." So true!"

Keep praying for our team, and for the folks they hope to be able to encourage soon!

Updated Sunday evening, June 12
Phone call from Charlie Davis

The team has arrived safely in Garoka, in the Highland Region of Papua New Guinea, and they are staying at a guest house awaiting the opportunity to fly out to the Simbari tribe tomorrow.  Two Cessna flights will be required to get the whole team out to the tribe.  Pray for good weather and safe travel - and for unforgettable and safe landings on a jungle air strip!

Updated Sunday morning, June 12
The PNG team has arrived safely in Australia, and is resting to prepare for the flight north to Papua New Guinea today.  Getting into the tribe is highly dependent on weather, which has not been encouraging lately in the Highlands region of PNG, so please pray that the team will be able to get to their final destination safely and quickly.

Updated Saturday, June 11

The PNG team was prayed off from the church parking lot yesterday afternoon, starting their long flight to the South Pacific.  Spirits are high, and they are eager to meet the Oggs and their Simbari brothers and sister>