Papua New Guinea


Dates:   July 26 - Aug 11

We are excited to partner with Grace Global Partners David and Shari Ogg.  This GO Team will be encouraging the Oggs after a one-year home ministry assignment in the USA and helping them prepare their home to live in again, after being away for a year. They will also be able to interact with the Simbari tribe and be the light of Christ while they work.

Updated Monday, August 11
The health issues mentioned in Saturday's update mostly improved during the team's overnight stay in Brisbane, Australia, allowing the team to have a more comfortable second leg of their return flight.  They arrived safely in Los Angeles this morning, tired but glad for all that God did in them and through them on this trip.

Be sure to set aside the date of
Sunday, September 7, to come to the GO Team Celebration at 12:15 in the F Mod to hear a report from this team and our Jordan team.  See you there!

Updated Saturday, August 8

Several of our PNG team members have needed treatment at the medical clinic in town for illnesses that they brought with them out of the tribe.  They are preparing for the long flight home today, and ask for our prayers for healing and comfort as they travel.  Thanks for coming alongside them!

Updated Wednesday, August 6
E-mail from Charlie
Have you ever had one of those times where everything that could go wrong didn’t and what you got was way better than what you were expecting?  This is that way that this trip has gone for us until this point. 

We have pretty much accomplished our goal of getting David and Shari moved and settled in.  We have spent a lot of time with the believers being mutually encouraged.  We have done well in hanging together as a team despite being exhausted most of the time.  

This morning we got to experience shopping Simbari style.  Now the team was pretty well prepared for this.  We let word out among the Simbaris that we wanted to have the chance to buy anything that they wanted to sell.  So at around 9:30 in the morning our team went shopping.  

Picture an open field lined with dark skinned, face painted people squatting behind their handmade wares in two rows facing us as we walked between them.  Now understand that the members of our team were the only ‘customers’ for miles around.  Now imagine that all of their solemn looking faces followed our every move.  This is what Simbari shopping is like.  You feel like fish in a bowl except fish are stupid. 

By now, the team was quite used to being watched (they watch us whenever we do something outside anyway) and we all moved happily from ‘vendor’ to ‘vendor’ snatching up billums, spears and other various items that are the coolest things that you could imagine.  If all goes well, we will have a lot of this stuff on display for you to see during our celebration in a few weeks.  

Last night we had a very memorable time with the believers.  We sat in their roundhouse (a largish, grass roofed hut with grass woven walls and bamboo woven floor), lit a fire and sang and sang and sang together.  

We also had a few good laughs.  One thing that the Simbari believers had a good laugh about was about their weatherman here.  Now a Simbari weatherman is not like the weatherman that we have that tries to predict what the weather will be.  No, this weatherman supposedly has ‘power’ over the weather, kind of like a witchdoctor.  He has the local people pay him to make the weather wet or dry or whatever.  This man reportedly wanted the believers to pay him for dry weather so David and Shari could return to the tribe.   The believers told him that God was in control of the weather and not this weatherman.  So, the weatherman promised them that he would see to it that the weather would be too wet and foggy for David and Shari to return.  Well, the weather here has been unbelievable!  There has been more clear sky during this trip than I have ever seen.  Truth be told, there are many, many people praying about this trip and this team to the very God that the believing Simbaris put their trust.  This local weatherman didn’t stand a chance.  The local Simbari believers thought this VERY amusing!  

Another thing that they found extremely amusing was when I reminded them of a name that they gave me on one of my other trips.  I had been practicing this name but I got it wrong when I sprung it on them.  One of them, it was Ellen, said that she thought that I was speaking to them in an African tribal tongue.  They all roared with laughter while I sat there wondering what the joke was.  As usual, it was on me.  

PS.  Since we are flying out of the tribe tomorrow morning, it will be a while before I can contact you via e-mail.  Please stay posted.  I will let you know how this whole thing comes out.

Updated Tuesday, August 5
E-mail from Charlie
Today, our team was invited to a Mumu.  Let me stress that a mumu, here in Simbari, is not a fashion show of large people wearing brightly colored, Hawaiian style garments draped over them like loose tent flaps, so get this picture out of your mind.  

A mumu is, quite simply, the Simbari version of a Hawaiian luau, but without the pig.  What the people do here is dig a hole, about two feet deep and four feet across.  Over this hole they build a fire with the logs going across the top and layered to make the fire burn slowly.  On top of this, they place a lot of rocks.  Now as the fire burns, it heats the rocks through and then the hot rocks fall down into the hole.  

All the while this fire is doing its thing, the people are preparing the food of the mumu.  They are grinding tapioca roots and spices, preparing sweet potatoes, taro roots and a number of other things to be cooked in the mumu fire.  The ground tapioca and spices are carefully wrapped in banana leaves and placed on the hot rocks that are in the hole.  Then the other vegetables are added on top if this, more banana leaves are used to cover the whole thing and then it is buried for about an hour.  

My team came on over to the Simbari village twice to see this thing.  We saw the lighting of the fire and the piling of the rocks and then we came back to see and participate in the uncovering of the food.  We were given a few sweet potatoes, some taro roots and a couple of banana leaf wrapped packages of cooked tapioca and we sat down to eat with the Simbaris.  It was a special treat to have the Simbaris share this with us.  This unusual feast is to be compared to our Thanksgiving celebration.  We were happy to participate with them even though it began to rain while we were eating.  

We had been working hard before we went to the mumu and after we returned we finished up what was possible and spent the rest of the evening resting and sharing stories amongst ourselves.  We are coming to the end of our time here in the jungle, just two more nights here are scheduled.  We are tired, but it’s a good tired, like when you’ve worked all day in your garden and are sore but happy with what you’ve accomplished.  

Pray that we finish strong.  Pray that we continue to love one another with the love of Christ and that this love will spill out and wash over all who are near.

Updated Monday, August 4
E-mail from Charley
One of the reasons that I like to take these trips is to be challenged in my own faith.  This challenging happens on a continual basis while I am overseas and responsible for the well-being of my teammates.  We had a great challenge today but your Grace GO team met it well.  

All that was scheduled this morning was devotions, breakfast, church, attend baptism, take the rest of the day off.  Sounds easy.  Right?  I guess that honestly, if you’re doing this with a family with young children in Santa Clarita, CA, it might not be as easy as I am letting on.  

However, my team got the devotions, breakfast, and church part of the schedule down pretty well.  Church was a special treat, as usual, here in Simbari.  Imagine beautiful native people, sitting, standing, playing musical instruments, singing, dancing and giving their all in wonderful praise to their God.  They even had a spontaneous, unison choreography that they did while playing their tambourines.  The movement was so beautiful that I really cannot even describe to you except to say that two young girls played and danced with a smoothly flowing unison accompanying all of the congregational singing.  

After church, it was time to attend the baptism.  The team came back to change for the hike to the baptism pool.  Now this baptism pool was only about ½ mile from our little guest house.  However the last ¼ mile of the hike was on the steepest trail that I am guessing you have ever seen.  Seriously, if this trail was any steeper, it would have required 3 point climbing for most of us.  One wrong step would have sent one or all of us on a three hundred foot tumble to the jungle floor.  One of the team asked Babette if she had done this trail on her previous trip.  She said, “No because if I had, I sure wouldn’t be doing it now!”  
Babette, Tami, Real and I took our time getting down and getting back up and I am here to say we did make it all right though I am not looking forward to rediscovering all of my little used muscles tomorrow.  The youth of our team, Simon, Gianna and Morgan bounded down and up like a threesome of Jackalopes.  

The Baptism itself was a sight to behold.  There were 15 new Simbari believers making public declaration of their new faith.  The water was cold.  You could see this by the way the people were breathing as they all went in.  They were baptized three at a time with each person individually hollering their story over the thunder of the water.  

After they were immersed, they were doused with flower petals and the sound of jubilant singing.  (The guitar players stood nearby, waist deep in the stream with their guitars hovering only inches above the swirling water as they played with all of their might.)  I just could not believe I was so privileged to be able to see this first hand.  

As far as I am concerned, you can have your ‘Concerts in the Park’, your soccer games and sports, your movies and your theme parks.  But I will take this deep jungle stream Simbari baptism over all of it and I think Heaven would agree.  Thank you for letting me do this and share it with you.

Updated Friday, August 1

Two e-mails from Charlie 

Second Update  

As I sit here in front of my computer, Shari and Tami are discussing dinner for the team in the kitchen, Babette is vacuuming in the family room and thinking about laundry, Real, Simon, Gianna and Morgan are out with the Simbari children in a wacky game of volleyball.  If you could hear what I am hearing, you would hear children cheering outside.  Volleyball is great entertainment here.

The day has been sunny for the most part.  I could not believe how much the sun held out today.  God is good.

The team has been really working hard.  To put it shortly, Shari said that in the last 24 hours since we arrived, we have accomplished about two weeks worth of work for them.  This has been very encouraging.

When we arrived just yesterday, aside from our long greetings with the Simbari believers, we were basically in survival mode.  The two things that we immediately took care of were our shelter, where we were going to sleep, and our food.  When we got into the guest house, we peeled the sheets that had been left on the mattresses there (they were strewn with cockroach droppings) and cleaned everything even before we brought our personal belongings into the building.  Morgan and Gianna were fantastic with this and shouldered most of this cleaning load for the team.

We brought all of our supplies into Shari’s house from the plane and Tami got right to work disinfecting the shelves where the supplies were to go.  After about two hours cleaning and putting away, we had the pantry stocked and ready to go.

David, Simon and Real worked on the utilities here.  There is water, electricity, gas and internet to get running and there are no companies or technicians that are anywhere around to help.  David is his own gas guy, electricity guy, internet guy, radio guy, trash guy, plumbing guy and all around handyman.  Here is the amazing part, all of the utilities came right back on with minimal effort from us.  Everything that is but the internet.  David put the satellite dish back up on the roof and had to aim it all over again (the thing that you hire people to do at home) and when he was finished, no internet, no e-mail, no nothing.  It took a short wave radio call to another missionary to relay an e-mail message to the internet company to get them to turn on the service.

We are starting to settle in now.  Please keep up your work in praying for us.  As we work together in love for one another, we will be the winsome witness that we need to be in front of these precious Simbari people.

First update

Cockroaches, spiders and mold, Oh My!

It is nine o’clock in the evening right now and the ladies on our team are doing serious battle.  I was getting ready to turn my computer, sitting and minding my own business when Tami came up to me and hit me in the back of the neck with her cell phone.  (It’s a good thing that she was able to use her cell phone to hit me with.  In the tribe, the team’s cell phones are not good for much else.)  She claimed that there was a large cockroach on my neck.  I did feel something but wasn’t paying much attention until she hit me.

We rectified the situation with the standard jump, flail, strip and stomp procedure of cockroach removal.  Once everything was under control we began to notice other cockroaches springing up in various locations around our little guest house.  This is the reason of the flurry of battle around me.

Needless to say, my team has made it to the Simbari jungle.  We had another astonishing flight in with holes in clouds and spiraling descents.  At one point, we were turning so tight that it really felt that the plane’s wing was completely vertical.  I was looking out my window straight down into the jungle below.  Only minutes before this, we were passing limestone cliffs that were merely 50 yards away from our wing.  It was better than any thrill ride in any amusement park because with amusement park rides, the danger is an illusion!

While I was gripping my seat, the rest of the team was excitedly chatting about the various points of interest and then we saw it, the Norambi airstrip that was to be our final destination.  We had an amazingly smooth landing on the grass strip and quickly pulled up to the place where the local people had gathered to celebrate our arrival.  What a celebration it was.  There was tribal face paint, music, dancing, flowers and tears.  More than 300 locals had gathered to be a part of our arrival.  As I stepped off of the plane, I heard them cheer my name, “Sharlee!” and was covered with about 100 flower petals.  Each member of the team was treated with equal enthusiasm.  But the big deal was when David and Shari Ogg stepped off of the plane.  After more than a year of absence, the Simbari’s mentors had come back to finish their work.

We took a good long time with all of the people but we were not forgetting the monumental task that was lying before us.  We needed to clean and supply the houses that we were to be staying in.  I have already told many of you what was in store for us.  Imagine going on vacation for a year and not having anyone look after your house for you.  If nothing is missing or broken, you will at least return to a thick layer of dust.  Now imagine that your house is in the middle of the rain forest jungle, where agriculture can grow in one afternoon in your dirty laundry.  This is what we were moving into.

The team went into it with a full head of steam, Morgan and Gianna focusing their attention on our guest house, Tami and Babette helping Shari clean and stock shelves, Simon and Real on the roof with David hooking up and cleaning solar panels, starting water pumps and aligning satellite dishes and me helping out wherever I could.  At the end of the time, David and Shari said that we had done a weeks worth of work in just a day for them.

We are tired, but it’s a good tired.  Thank you for praying for the weather for us.  After we landed, it was only 15 minutes before the whole area was socked in with fog.  It has remained like this for the rest of the day.

Thanks for being a part of this with me.

Updated Thursday, July 31
E-mail from one of the Ogg's co-workers
This is Josh Simmons, Dave and Shari Oggs co-worker here in PNG.  I was asked to relay a message from them to you that the team made it into Simbari just fine.  The weather was clear.  Also, they’re waiting to see if their Satellite connection for internet is going to start up tomorrow.  They think the subscription doesn’t start until August 1st, which is why they haven’t emailed you guys yet.  Anyway, just wanted to pass on the message so you can sleep easy.  Thanks for supporting the Simbari Church here in New Guinea.  

Updated Tuesday, July 29
E-mail from Charlie

As many of you know by now, I and my PNG team are now sitting in the rain forest jungle on the outskirts of the little town of Goroka.  Because of jetlag, I find myself sitting here in my bed in the darkness of the morning typing this note to you.  It is just a little past 5:00 am, my two screened windows are open and the sounds of the jungle morning are pouring in.  Crickets, much louder than we have in the states, sing their continual song.  The most beautiful bird calls I have ever heard are punctuated by a distant rooster crowing.  

The rest of the team sleeps in the rooms around me.  We are in a guest house within the boundaries of the New Tribes Mission headquarters called Lapilo.  This is our second night in this beautiful place.  

Although by our standards so far, we have done nothing useful while we have been here.  Oh, on the way here, I delivered some papers from a new NTMA (New Tribes Mission Aviation) pilot in the states to some government representatives in Port Moresby, and our team helped bring a few more supplies here for the Ogg family, but other than these few things we have not done much.  Or so it might seem…  

 Let me share some of the little but big things that God is doing with this team here.  We finally stepped off of the plane in Goroka in a tiny airport that I am sure you would be amazed to see.  We stood on potholed, outdoor walkways and made our way behind some steel tables where we waited for our checked luggage to be personally handed to us.  Behind a chain link gate, a small crowd had gathered to watch us arrive.  One person in that crowd was David Ogg who had come to greet us and pick us up. 

However, to my amazement, another person was there to greet us.   Some of you might remember a young Christ following Simbari mother named Jeris.  Her son, Gwandambi, is the one who contacted a bone infection and was being surgically treated in a town about an hour’s drive away.  His surgeries are being paid for by funds supplied by the boys and girls of Grace raised at our annual Vacation Bible School.  

Anyway, this precious mother wanted to be in Goroka to welcome the team.  She was standing alone when I saw her dressed in the colorful Simbari fashion.  Her head only came up a little shy of my chest but she stood with arms outstretched to me and hollered, “Sharlee!”  (That’s what they call me here.)  She gave me a huge hug, which is very culturally awkward here, but because of her freedom in Christ, did not hesitate to do in the least.  I then had the wonderful privilege of introducing her to the rest of my team.  

Meanwhile, out in Simbari, where we will be heading tomorrow if the Lord wills (pray for the weather) Raymond, another Simbari believer, had hiked six miles through the jungle to be able to find a cell signal so he could call to see if our team had made it to Goroka.  When he heard that we were on the way, he shouted so loud in praise to his God that anyone who happened to be around him wondered what had happened.  

Thank you for sending us.  It is privilege to be representing you here.  Pray that God is glorified in all that we do and ARE.  There is a special emphasis on the ARE because who we are in Christ is a lot more important out here than what we do.

Updated Monday, July 28
The PNG team has arrived safely in the town of Goroka, and has reunited with David and Shari Ogg in preparation for the trip into the tribe later this week. They are tired, but glad to be almost to their final destination, and thrilled to be with David and Shari and Jason.  Simon Ogg, one of our team members, is especially thrilled to see his family!

Updated Saturday, July 26
The PNG team was prayed off the church parking lot tonight between services, on their way to Australia and then Papua New Guinea.  Thanks for praying for them!