Papua New Guinea 2012


Dates:  August 3 - 19
Ministry Partner:  GBC missionaries, Dave and Shari Ogg
Ministry Focus:  Encouragement, Maintenance on airstrip and mission compound, servicing Nolambi medical clinic.

We are always excited to come alongside Grace missionaries. We are thrilled that both the Oggs have requested a team to come alongside them and serve in the highlands of Papua New Guinea. The ministry to the Oggs will include maintenance to their airstrip and around their mission compound, but could also include service at Nolambi medical clinic, as well as encouragement to them and to the Simbari people among whom they minister. Music will also be a vital component of this trip.

Updated Sunday, August 19

After a long trip that included one cancelled flight and a little suspense regarding their ability to get home on schedule, the PNG team arrived home this morning as planned.  Thank you for your faithful prayers as they encouraged the Oggs and the Walkers and served among the Simbari.

Be sure to mark Sunday, September 16 on your calendar.  The GO Team Celebration will begin at 6:00pm that evening in the Worship Center.  You will be able to hear from the PNG Team and the other teams that brought God's grace to the nations this year.

Updated Friday, August 17 (1 of 2)
E-mail from Charlie

Have you ever been in a place so disgusting that you feel like cringing as far away from touching anything as you possibly can?  There are a few places like that here in Goroka.    One of those places is in the rest rooms of the Goroka municipal airport.  I have often joked to the team that they have bacteria in there that is advanced enough to vote.

Sorrowfully, another place like this is the hospital here in Goroka.  As soon as we landed here from our trip out of the tribe, it was decided that we should go and see our friend, Rison and his son who were flown out on the same plane on which we came into the tribe.  They had spent a week here in this hospital with Gwandambi’s life hanging in the balance with a severe bone infection.

We were incredulous as we entered this hospital.  All around us were not the sights, sounds and smells usually associated with any hospital of which we were accustomed.  It seemed more like we were experiencing a third world marketplace.  The floors were tiled with a good quarter inch of dirt around each square, the walls were dirty, paint was chipped, infirmed people were sitting along the bottom of each wall, fly screens were flapping, windows were broken and the smell of a really sweaty, dirty shoe permeated every room and hall that we entered.

We were directed up a flight of stairs, being careful not to touch the handrails, and went into a kind of ward that was divided into six cubicles with eight beds in each cubicle.  In one of these beds was Gwandambi with his father standing right next to him.  Our whole team positioned themselves around the bed.  Rison and Gwandambi were very glad to see us.

One team member made it a mission to try and keep the flies off of Gwandambi’s head.  The rest of us stood there and tried to smile and show compassion but we felt at a loss.  We were shown Gwandambi’s affliction.  His little knee was swollen beyond recognition and yet we were told that it was a little better than it had been.  He had an IV dripping an antibiotic into him and was going to be on this for quite some time.

After a little while, two of our team members were overcome by the smell and the conditions of the infirmary and had to leave.  Laura went with them and they waited for us by our car outside.

As it stood, when we left, Rison and his son were there in the hospital together.  There was no hospital food served here so it was up to Rison to scavenge what he could for his son and himself.  Rison also slept next to his son right on the hard floor with only a wadded up shirt for a pillow.  David slipped him a 20 kina note and told him to use it as best he could.  We all then prayed and left.

On the following day, the team was up to the challenge.  We went to two stores to buy supplies for Rison and Gwandambi.  Elisabeth and Bobbie really headed up the charge.  They worked and planned with a compassion that I have rarely seen in anybody for this special father and son.  When they were finally done, they and the rest of the team had compiled a care package that included a bedroll, pillow, blankets and lots of non perishable food items that would last for several days for the two of them.

Elisabeth had a picture printed that Bobbie had taken in the tribe that featured the rest of Rison’s family with Elisabeth and Bobbie.  When we returned, she presented all of this to Rison.  To say that it was greatly appreciated would be the understatement of the year.

However, the biggest blessing was yet to come.  Rison began to explain to David and then in turn to us that he knew that ‘heavies’ as they call them, are a part of this life.  He is looking forward to a time that he will be in heaven and the heavies will be no more.  This man was so well grounded in God’s word that he wasn’t questioning God about this unbearable ‘heavy’ at all.  He was trusting God and looking forward to a better time, a time when there will be no more tears.

Then he looked at me and told me that he was sorry that he missed the opportunity to play guitar with me on this trip.  I told him that we would do that together later and gave him a tearful hug.

We may, or may not see Rison and Gwandambi again on this trip.  But this I do know, I have a date to play guitar with a young Simbari father and son and I am not going to miss it.

Updated Friday, August 17 (2 of 2)
E-mail from Charlie

Dear PNG prayer warriors, I assume that you have already figured out that we have indeed made it out of the tribe.  When we awoke this morning, none of us had envisioned the special sight that awaited us as we each ventured to look outside out little team guesthouse in the Simbari jungle.  We saw, for the first time in our short trip, the beginnings of a beautiful jungle sunrise.  We could almost hear it as the first rays gleamed through the canopy on the far side of the valley.  The giant strand of a distant waterfall behind our guesthouse was illuminated for the first time since we arrived.

Shari commented, “You sure have a good prayer team.  The weather has not been this clear for a long time.”


It did not take long for us to get breakfasted and weighed up for our trip out.  We soon got word that the planes were due to arrive shortly so we quickly divided our luggage and supplies into three calculated piles.

Since there were only two planes available to us and we had personnel and supplies for three loads and clouds were quickly approaching, it had been determined that several of us would be shuttled quickly to another remote airstrip that was less likely to be closed by weather conditions.  So with this in mind, Elisabeth, Shari, Laura, Bethany and I boarded the first plane and took off for a ten-minute flight and landed in a tribe on the other side of the mountain.

With our gear in a pile, we watched as our plane took off again leaving us stranded amongst a growing group of natives.  The other plane that had come in just behind ours quickly loaded the rest of our team from Dave and Shari’s place and took them directly to Goroka.  Then the plane that had left us in the remote tribe went and got the rest of our supplies along with David Ogg and flew him out to Goroka.  After all of this was accomplished, they were able to send one of the planes back to retrieve us.  It turned out that this was a good move.  The Simbari jungle, where we woke up in the morning was socked in again but the airstrip that they shuttled us to was still wide open.

After nearly two hours with this remote people group, we finally saw and heard the plane against the mountain making it’s approach on the tiny airstrip.  Our time there was not a waste at all. Elizabeth and Bethany began sharing with the children there.  They used yarn and some bottled bubbles as entertainment.  Shari and I got out our guitars and did an impromptu concert for the growing crowd.  We shared songs that clearly presented the gospel in the Pidgin dialect including ‘Jesus Loves Me’ and a very good Pidgin song entitled ‘Jisas B’long Mi’ which is about the fact that there is nothing that we can do to earn God’s favor but have to trust entirely upon the finished work of Jesus.

The time went far too quickly but soon we were loaded up and waved goodbye to our newfound friends.  In just about ½ hour we were reunited with the rest of our PNG GO team.

Thank you for your prayers.  Thank you for being a part of this with us.  I really mean this… we couldn’t do this without your intercessory prayers.

Updated Wednesday, August 15
Facebook Status from Shari Ogg

Praising the Lord for opening up the clouds so that David and I and our church team could all make it out to town in three Cessna flights! After four days straight of foggy weather it was such a treat to see the sun and feel it's warmth again! Now we are at the school base for a few days until the team leaves to start their journey home. So special to have Rachel and Jason staying with us too! Thanks so much for your prayers! We have an awesome God!

Updated Tuesday, August 14
E-mail from Charlie

A big 'thank you' to all those who have indicated that they are praying for us.  It is the evening before we are scheduled to leave. We are continuing to pray for good weather tomorrow morning.

Today, our team finished up the work that we set out to do this week so we sent on a small hike. We were in high spirits as we set out and that soon turned into laughter as we got into some of the thickest mud that you have ever seen.  It was so bad, that I lost both of my shoes in the muck and proceeded to fall face down into the quagmire.  I only got my hands and knees into the mess but David was right there with his camera to record the incident.  The hike was good and we got to see some of the most beautiful, green, canopy jungle that I have ever witnessed.

After all of this we spent some time in the friendship hut.  I gave the believers about an hours worth of guitar lesson and they all took it quite seriously.  It was a beautiful time of mutual encoouragement and we hated to see it end.

We are now weighing up for the flight out.  We will have three plane rides to get all of us out, including David and Shari Ogg. Each plan can hold 400 kg so we are dividing ourselves up accordingly. I will do my best to keep you posted as to what is going on. 

Updated Monday, August 13
E-mail from Charlie

Today on this episode of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, we take you to the heart of the Simbari jungle in the Highlands region of Papua New Guinea.  We are here to experience what the natives there call a ‘Mumu’.

A Mumu is similar to what people in Hawaii call a luau.  It is the traditional feast of celebration amongst the Simbari people as well as other language groups here in PNG.  The national diet here in the Simbari tribe is mostly vegetarian, so the foods usually prepared in a mumu consist of sweet potato, taro and tapioca (or as the natives here call it, ‘tapioc’).  Other things that are sometimes included in this feast are corn on the cob and roasted soy beans. But for most, the highlight of the mumu is the tapioca.  This item is grated and then wrapped in banana leaves to form a nice package for baking.

Once all of the food is prepared, a large hole is dug and a fire is built over this hole.  The fire is used to heat the cooking stones which are placed on hefty pieces of wood over the fire.  More fire is built on the top of these stones so as to ensure their proper heating. When the stones are thoroughly heated, they are placed in the fire hole and then covered with banana leaves.  The food items are then placed on top of all of this and then more banana leaves and stones are added.  Once it is all thoroughly covered, a layer of soil finishes it off.  The whole thing is then left to bake for about two hours.

But of course, the real test is in the tasting.  As you can see from the expressions on the faces of our tasting team, the food from the mumu gets a rating of A+. Thank you for taking the time to join us here on this episode of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives!

Updated Monday, August 13 (2 of 3)
E-mail from Charlie

Hello friends! Welcome to the 2012 season of the Simbari Home Shopping Network!  You’ll find this season filled with larger and somewhat more expensive items than in years before.  The best part about it is that it really is a home shopping experience.  For convenience, there is no TV, no computers, no credit cards and no traveling.  The whole entourage of vendors just comes right up to your door.

In all, there were about 300 Simbaris with something to sell us.  The volume of goods was a bit staggering but our bold shopping team was up to the challenge.  The vendors formed a large circle and let our team come into the middle to do our shopping. This shopping experience was truly advantageous to the vendors.  Including David and Shari Ogg, there were 10 of us altogether browsing around with no less than 300 sets of eyes surveying our every move.  I got to thinking that shoplifting would not be a problem here. Even if we were inclined to do so, we would have been quickly subdued with war clubs, spears, bows and arrows and every other kind of conceivable tribal weapon that was there for sale.


Along with the weaponry, there were also some very bold fashion statements abounding all around us. There were beads and billums and trinkets of all kinds.  It truly was a feast for the eyes. Rachel bought an authentic ‘used’ war club.  (Yes, you read that correctly.) Bethany bought an abalone kind of necklace and a bow and arrow.  Laura bought necklaces to share with Bethany’s Sunday School Class at home. Bobbie and Elisabeth bought other fashion items and Greg bought some more souvenirs that he says he did not need but looked cool.  Richard refrained from buying anything and said that he had enough of a collection already.


So, if you are in the market for really cool spears and clubs, or if your taste goes more for vividly colored fashion statements and jewelry that includes various kinds of animal bones and teeth, you should not delay and come with us the next time that we visit the Simbari Home Shopping Network.

Updated Monday, August 13 (3 of 3)
E-mail from Charlie

The GO team members who are with me on this trip are an adventuresome bunch. I guess that this would stand to reason in that only adventuresome people would be interested in applying for a trip like this. 

This fact was made clear to me today when our plans for leaving the tribe were discussed. I needed volunteers that were willing to be flown to a remote airstrip to be left there while other members of the team were shuttled out of the jungle. (We are thinking of this as a way to outsmart the weather here and take advantage of a smaller hole of good flying weather.)  Imagine my surprise when most of the whole team wanted to be a part of this.  Now I'm looking for volunteers to NOT be dropped for several hours in a remote location.  I just want to express my appreciation to you for your help in sending this group of people with me.

We had an unusual experience this morning when we got to see a tribal warrior with spears and a mask and everything come into our church service where we were worshiping together with the Simbari believers.  This appearance, however, was planned by the Simbari.  It was part of a drama presentation and I can truthfully say that no team member present will soon forget what was seen and heard this morning.

The drama was a presentation of how to apply our spiritual armor as illustrated in Ephesians chapter 6.  A Simbari believer would come to the front of the church and begin putting on the armor. When the believer thought he was ready, the masked tribal warrior would come in and attack the believer and find the area of vulnerability.  The area of vulnerability was any piece of God’s armor that was not put on.  One left off the breastplate of righteousness while another left off the helmet of salvation and so on. Only when the believer took the time to carefully put on all of the armor of God did he prevail against the evil one.  When the evil one was finally subdued, a loud round of applause erupted from all in attendance.  (Bethany was sitting by the door and told me later that she was startled when this warrior made his first appearance.)

After the service, our team had some special gifts to give to the Simbari believers who were present. Bobbie Morey had taken the time to put together little packets for each of the adult believers consisting of a waterproof bag, a calendar, a pen and a highlighter all to aid in Bible study. (Waterproof stuff goes a long way here in Simbariland.) Each of the children got a toy recorder whistle and a few pieces of candy. All of this was greatly appreciated.

The weather has not let up at all.  It is cold and foggy and drizzly.  The team is in good spirits but is getting a little down because of all the rain and the cold.  I ask your prayers on behalf of them.

Updated Saturday, August 11
E-mail from Charlie

Today is Saturday.  You might think, “Why is this important news from halfway around the world?”  I’ll tell you why it is important.  It is because of a certain religious group here in the Highlands.  They take offense if any work were to be visibly done on a Saturday.  So, even though this might seem like a hindrance, we are taking full advantage of the opportunity to spend a LOT of time just being with the local people here.

After breakfast this morning, we set off to the heart of the Norambi village where we met up with several of the women as they were working with their coffee harvest.  We were invited to get our hands dirty with them as we saw the stages that they took the beans through in order to be able to ship them to town.  We all had a lot of fun.  It was like a special coffee plantation tour. It was a special surprise to us that we were recognized from our previous visits.  It was as if old friends were getting together after a long absence.

Through the help of Shari, we were able to ask if any of the Simbari children would like to take us on a walk through the rest of the village. When Shari asked all of the kids if they were indeed interested, in one accord we heard the whole group of them shout in perfect English, “Yes!” So off we went. I was able to let the children take turns riding on my shoulders as we walked.  It was tremendous and they liked it a lot.  I am not sure whether it was because I was a big white stranger or because it is likely that they never had such a high ride.  Either way, it was really good.


After this we all got together for several volleyball games.  Do you want to know what volleyball is like here in the Simbari jungle?  I’ll tell you. Watching the Simbaris play volleyball is like watching a group of bats converge on a small bug.  They jump like gazelles.  They spike with ferocity.  They pour themselves out for the sake of the point and yet, when the point is over, they act like it didn’t really matter.  If a mistake were made it did not matter, they just went on playing. This was good for me as well as the rest of the team members brave, or stupid, enough to try to play.  Next to the Simbaris, I felt as agile as a rusted boat anchor.  Still it was good.

As I type this note, all of the ladies of our team are meeting with the Simbari lady believers to give them some special treats and things that they can use.  It is kind of like a spin off of vacation Bible School with crafts and stories for the children.  We hope that this will be an encouragement to them.

Update on the injured tribal members:  We found out that they all spent the night in the homes of some of their neighbors and relatives.  Most were in a great deal of pain but are not in danger of dying at the moment.  The clouds have been unpredictable and have not allowed access to the evacuation plane all day.  It might happen Sunday or Monday.

Thank you for your prayers and notes.

Updated Friday, August 10

E-mail from Charlie

Life in the tribe never ceases to amaze me.  It seems that we go from one extreme to another here with little warning. 

Today began beautifully with clear skies and sunshine lasting well into the mid afternoon. This gave the team plenty of time to so some outside chores. The day before, we had begun cleaning and fixing up the Norambi medical clinic that had fallen into disrepair.  When we began, beds were broken, screens were torn, dispensary shelves were open and there was need of cleaning and paint all around the little building. Our whole team began working in earnest and after a few hours, considerable progress had been made. Greg oversaw the project, Richard worked a lot on the painting and other things, I helped with screen removal and some painting and all of our ladies worked hard on cleaning and scrubbing. A few of the local Simbari believers pitched in but for the most part, many of the rest of the Simbaris just came to watch us as we worked.  You have to get used to being watched here in Simbari.


Today, we almost finished all of the work on the medical building when we were met with a surprise during a frappucino break. (Yes, we were having iced frappucinos right here in the middle of the rain forest jungle thanks to the amazing efforts of Shari Ogg.)  A group of Simbaris came up to us with a man who had been badly injured in their midst.  We quickly found out that there had been a tribal fight, a kind of turf war, a little more than a mile down the valley from where we were staying.  To put it bluntly, it was nasty.  This man had his left arm in a sling and was cut to the bone from a machete blade and had a gash in his head so large that you could see his scalp flap.  The injury was caused by a hatchet blow. He had lost a lot of blood but was still walking when we were approached.  We found out that there were more on their way and with even graver injuries.

Before I realized what was happening, I saw that my daughter, Bethany, had seen the whole thing and was taking it all in.  She had a serious look on her face when she motioned me to come to her.  I immediately asked her how she was doing.  She said that she was okay but that she felt really sad for the man she had just seen. 

We watched as the people made their way to the medical clinic that we had been working on.  As it stands now, there are 4-5 people badly in need of medical help and waiting at the clinic for air transportation.  It does not look as if it will happen today as the clouds have engulfed the airstrip once again.  My guess is that they will try and evacuate them tomorrow morning.

Pray for these people.  They have heard the gospel in their own language. These were the ones that rejected it and were persecuting the people who had accepted the gospel.  Pray that God might use this situation to glorify Himself and demonstrate the foolishness of hatred and turf wars.

Updated Thursday, August 9
E-mail from Charlie

Sometimes I wonder what God is doing with the little delays that I sometimes encounter.  As I mentioned in my previous communication with you, two of our flights were cancelled because of destination weather.  In retrospect, I am beginning to se what God was doing when he gave us these delays that took our whole team two whole days off of our intended schedule. Because of our delays, God gave us some really cool opportunities that we would not have had if we had been ‘on time’. 

Our first delay allowed us to spend an unexpected night in Port Moresby where we were able to visit and stay with some friends that I had met two years ago during another visit.  Even though the team was stressed and tired from having spent the last twenty-six hours in flight, we had the opportunity to bless and be blessed by these career missionaries right in the middle of our travails.

Also because of this delay, we were forced to spend and extra night in Goroka at the New Tribes Missions main headquarters.  We were finally picked up from the airport by Dave Walker, one of the Grace Global Partners who is beginning an intended lifelong career as a tribal church planter and Bible translator. Because of this, we had the opportunity to share a meal with the Walkers at their temporary home here in the Highlands Region (see their picture below).  It was a tremendous treat to see how well this young family was doing as they were making preparations for their eventual move into a remote tribe. Katie Walker prepared a tremendous meal for the whole team as well as two other families.  The soup that she made from scratch ranks among the best dishes that I have ever tasted.

After a time of lively and informative conversation, we all gathered in their tiny living room for a time of prayer.  A few of us led out in prayer of praise and thankfulness for the apparent hand of God in course of the lives there and then Dave closed our time together. After we were finished, I asked Dave if we could do anything for them.  His reply was short and profound.  “You’ve just done it!” he said.

Updated Wednesday, August 8

E-mail from Charlie

After six airplane flights, two of which were unscheduled, we are finally here in the Simbari tribe in the heart of the Papua New Guinea rainforest. Weather has been a major factor here. Bad weather has been the reason for the canceling of two of our flights. What was a little unusual about the way that these flights were cancelled was that we actually flew to our destination only to be greeted with inclement weather that forced us to be flown all the way back to the point of origin. It would be just as if we would have taken a plane from Burbank to San Jose, flew over the San Jose airport, saw that the weather was bad and then returned to Burbank. Needless to say, this was disheartening to us because it not only happened once but twice.

Right now, I am sitting in the Simbari guest house in the late afternoon. The sound of a heavy rain is being made against the tin roofabove me. Most of my team members are taking a little rest in rooms around me. We are tired, but extremely glad to be here. Since we arrived here late this morning, we have had a rousing game of volleyball with the Simbaris, played games with about 50 of the children, spent some time singing and playing instruments with some of the believers in the Simbari Church and spent valuable time with our missionary friends here in the bush. Already the effort is well worth the trouble. 

Updated Tuesday, August 7

Our prayers have been answered!  As you can see from the picture below, our team was able to land today on the jungle airstrip, and the Simbari boy was safely flown out for medical treatment!  Thanks you for praying for this long-awaited moment.

Updated Tuesday Aug 7

The team has been delayed by weather, and is still in Goroka.  This gives them good time with Dave and Katie Walker, but they are eager to get to the tribe.

The Oggs have asked us to pray for a seriously ill Simbari believer named Gwandambi who they hope to fly out on the plane that brings the team in. 

Thanks for bathing this whole situation in prayer!

Updated Saturday, August 4

The team was prayed off by an enthusiastic crowd of friends and family last night, and started the long journey to the Highlands of PNG.  The Oggs have asked for prayer for the weather, as clear skies are necessary for the team to make it all the way to the jungle airstrip - David had to wait three days to get home last week.

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