So last week we told you about how maintainance issues with NTMs helicopter meant we weren’t able to get into Kovol as planned and so we got started on ordering building supplies at a hardware store in town. The process has proved to be more frustrating and time consuming than we ever would have guessed. 2 weeks now after putting in an order we’ve had a third of one of our deliveries actually delivered – and that delivery was filled with mistakes. Things we didn’t order were sent back, things we were very specific about (like a toilet that has a waste pipe pointing downwards to the floor, NOT sideways into the wall) arrived totally wrong and were sent back and perhaps most annoyingly of all the 100m of earth cable that we ordered came – but instead of just delivering us a complete 100m roll they brought 2 partial rolls which they unspooled, measured and cut to length so that we have 2 unspooled lengths of wire that (according to the delivery guy) add up to 100m. I had to spend 40 minutes in the evening respooling our 2 partial wire lengths onto the plastic spool. Why couldn’t they just deliever a single spool!? Since that failed (or should I say partially successful?) delivery no replacement has come for the items like the toilet that were wrong – even though they have them in stock because they want to deliver everything in one big order when the stuff they don’t have in stock comes from Lae. Apart from of course a bridge on the way to Lae has gone down so trucks aren’t coming. We’ve been to the store multiple times to try and get an invoice and failed.
It’s just taking ages. Then yesterday we find out the store is closed for an investigation because they had a break in.

It’d be too easy if they simply delivered what you ordered…

With it taking multiple times longer than we ever dreamed it would we’ve come up against a problem – there was to be nowhere for us to stay in Madang. The interface program was to begin and would be taking over the entire Madang centre and we’d have to go and had had no luck finding alternative accommodation. We still needed to paint our plywood sheets with more coats of varnish, the hardware store needs constant encouragement from us to keep processing our order and when they finally do deliver we need to be around to take delivery – but we’d run out of time.
We were fretting about this, but unknown to us the Interface team were fretting about being short on teachers.

It was a perfect match. We needed to be in Madang and we wanted something to do while we wait for helicopter flights (and Hardware Haus), and Interface could allow us to stay in the very house we’ve been staying in as long as we come on as Interface staff. So 2 days before the program started we signed on as teaching staff and now we’re balancing preparing for classes with pestering Hardware Haus.
Interface is a 6 week program where young people come to PNG to get a taste of tribal church planting. I (Steve) am actually a graduate of Interface so I know exactly what it’s about. This year we have 22 students who have come for a month of classes on missions and Bible, alongside learning about language learning, linguistics and translation all here in PNG with opportunities to get out and about in PNG villages to put some basic language learning training into practice. It’s been a challenge to switch gears from preparing to build a house to being school staff all of a sudden, but listening to the students sharing their stories of how God provided for them to come on the program over campfire really helped us to mentally switch gears. My first class is tomorrow evening on ‘Decision making and the will of God’ and having just made big decisions about which tribe to minister in and having made a bunch of on the fly changes of plan to unforseen circumstances I feel like I have a few experiences I can share. For the next 3 weeks Gerdine and I will get to teach classes, get to know the students and be their guides as they visit PNG villages and try learn a new language and culture.

In other news the NTM helicopter is now fixed! It came as a bit of a surprise to us, but the downside is that we still won’t get any flights until August. With operations being suspended for a month the heli has a full schedule to resupply the tribal locations that NTM is currently working in. We’ve got missionaries in the bush dependent on the heli for their supplies and they are first priority – we can wait comfortably here in Madang after all, if we run out of flour we can buy some more – not so for our missionries already in the bush. Catching up on their backlog will take the helicopter up until July; at which point it will go down for it’s schedlued maintainance – a radio upgrade that’s been planned for months now. All that means our next Kovol flight will be on August 5th.

Look what dropped in at Madang! Unfortunately it’s not for us 🙁

So untill then we’ve got 3 weeks as Interface staff and then we’ll take that 2 week break we’ve been promising ourselves. Plan G. I’m going to stop counting…


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