Sunday, July 12, 2020

Was Temple Grandin Right? A Cow Saga

What does wrangling 168 cows and trucking them across the country and building new structures based on Temple Grandin designs have to do with missionary work? Have you seen the movie Temple Grandin? I have to be careful here, because she has not signed off on or seen anything we have done.  However it is some of her proven methods that we are trying to incorporate. The idea is to calm the cows down and move them through quicker with less stress.

At first glance it makes very little sense. It seems like it would be a distraction from Bible translation. I had these same thoughts. Our missionary center now has 240 head of cattle! It all started at the beginning of our land lease more than 60 years ago. As part of our lease, we're required to do agricultural work in our valley. I can't be sure of this, as I have not read (or even wanted to read) the details of the lease. But what this has allowed us to do is to provide food for our members and staff, and to sell mature cows commercially. Additional income helps us with our core needs. Twenty of these cows are milking cows, so we get fresh milk and yogurt!

Cowboy work and tending cattle is not my work - we have a great team for that. Recently, however, we have needed some new infrastructure. That is my work. Whatever needs to be built, my team can do it!
We finally ran our first gaggle of 180 cows through our newly completed corral this week! Tagging new cows, recording them, and separating them out. It would normally take a day and a half but the cattle team did it in just 3 hrs! It wasn't without hiccups as these cows are rather wild. We are totally done yet but almost. Enjoy the Pics!

The entrance to our mission's farm.

One of our milking cows. In an effort to beef😜up our cattle program we recently purchased nearly 170 cows from 3 hrs away. While this was a huge change, it was needed to make our program successful.

Markam cows waiting to be transported.

We worked with these cattle wranglers from Tablebirds, in the always-gorgeous Markam Valley, to get 168 new cows.

These Markam Valley cows were fairly wild.
Cows were moved for days with at least 5 different trucks making multiple, full-day trips.

Our Pasture

The cows were moved from 3-4 hrs away.

Our current squeeze and corral is getting an extreme makeover!

Toby working cement for a large watering area.

The worst cement finish we have ever done, intentionally grooved to prevent slippage.
The completed trough, ready for action!

We are still working on the new cattle corral with curving walls based on Temple Grandin's designs. Dr. Grandin is a prominent author and speaker on both autism and animal behavior. She impressively designed corrals that calmed cattle down and made running them through chutes and squeezes much easier. We have yet to finish it, but soon we'll test it out.  Our carpenters and the cowboys are super-excited to see it all in action! Stay tuned!

We have finally completed it and run 180 cows through it! It works! It calms the cows down and helps the whole process. Of course there are some things that we needs to improve, but it a great start!

Friday, September 13, 2019

Earthquake Repairs!

In June we sent out a newsletter and in that newsletter we had a prayer request.  We knew that before too long we would need a new water tank.  Within 2 or 3 days of that post there was a 5.2 Earthquake 7.2 Miles away. We actually fared really well but our old water tank blew a hole in it.  

 Thank You so much to those of you who gave specifically for that tank!  We were able to get a new one installed the week that we got back. This is what that process looks like.

Grayson with our old tank.  You can't see the hole on this side but you can see all the rust spots on the side which have actually rusted through from the inside.  It was time.
"Dig Deeper Kids!" There is no child labor going on here.  Grayson, as well as our neighbors Benny and Josh were very helpful.
Two of my Carpenters also came by to help. Abel and Baffen (pictured with Benny). We had to dig it lower because it was a taller tank and we had to get it lower than the gutter.
Time for Concrete!
Luna (the dog) has upper management skills.

Finished! I also added a pergola and planted Passion Fruit to grow over it.  Jealous?  Come join us.  We've got water!

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Delicious Red Tree Ant of Papua New Guinea- by Matt

Two weeks ago I found my favorite the Markam Valley of Papua New Guinea. Widely known here as Kurakum Ants, but there are a few locals that call them Muli Ants. "Muli" basically means lemon or any citrus. The Oecophylla smaragdina AKA weaver ant, green ant, green tree ant, and orange gaster actually is a source of vitamin C and protein. Many people are surprised when I eat them (just a few) but they taste good, like a lemon.

To see more pictures and read more about this fascinating ant go to:

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Bilums are not boring - Read on!--Story by Matt

Matt- Could you pick a more boring subject? Now wait. What may seem like a non-subject is really quite interesting. When I first came to PNG, I noticed that there were bilums literally everywhere, but they really didn't catch my eye. I kinda thought that bilums were only to sell to tourists.  Bilums, however, are a way of life. So much time is spent making them and giving them as gifts. They may look like purses, but they are not just for girls.  No joke, guys wear them with pride!

Every Papua New Guinean knows that a bilum is special. They can tell by looking at it where it was made. They can be very specific in how they are made and used: design, material, size, for work, or for special occasions. Wearing a bilum really says: "I've been there, done that, I got the bilum." Being given a bilum likely means that you are loved.

Local bilums for sale at our market.

This bilum was made for me by a friend and given to me at a school opening.  Can you believe that I found a house to match?!
"Bilas" are decorations or pieces of flair.

Um.....I don't know that boy. Small bilums are worn on the chest to keep valuables close. You ain't gonna steal my money or my beetle nut.

Bilums for babies. So cute!

Babies are frequently seen in bilums hanging from tree branches or carried on their mother's back. (Photo: Vanishing Cultures Photography)

I think women may be the hardest-working in PNG. It can be an everyday thing to see women carrying heavy bilums on their backs, for long distances, filled with vegetables and even loaded up with firewood. The bilums are tightly stretched across their foreheads.
Say what?

A special, natural-fiber bilum given to Laura.

A "nambis" coastal bilum. These are made from nylon rope and are waterproof, so really handy at times.

A cloth one that carries lots of vegetables or a baby, if we had one.

These are only about half of the bilums in our house.  We feel blessed. Thank you ladies!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Gwahatike Survey Trip (The Story in Pictures)--By Matt

In October I got to do something different from my normal job. I went with a survey team to evaluate the use of the Gwahatike language Bible. The New Testament was finished about 17 years ago.  Jon Jagt currently manages this language group and several new translation projects in the surrounding languages. He asked me to go and evaluate the current translation office and its building needs. As a bonus, I got to spend the rest of the week doing personal interviews for the survey team.

In each village we discussed barriers that keep the Gwahatike speakers from reading their Bibles and strategies to overcome these barriers. Literacy levels and other factors can be real problems.  Sometimes surveys themselves can be a real catalyst for change.

"I can read it.  I understand it and I follow it." An encouraging statement from one young man.  He told me that he reads his Gwahakite New Testament twice a day!

I really enjoyed this break from building.  Pray for the Gwahatike people. Enjoy the pictures!

Personal interviews and lots of selfies because we were working alone sometimes.

Found some friends at the local market. Played soccer with these guys after work the previous day. The guy in red wants to be a doctor!

Joined by a local pastor.

God's blue ocean!

Some people make me feel tall. No, I haven't grown.
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I gave out balloons in one village.  After many kids tried to blow them up themselves they gave up and brought them back to me for help #whyaretheseballoonsallwet?

Rachel leads a discussion on Bible usage!