Saturday, February 25, 2012


Some friends of ours here in New Zealand took us to a farm fair, the A&P fair (Agriculture and Pastoral). I had a little conversation with a man who had an old hit and miss engine that was made in Australia in the early 20th century. It was very similar to the one that I have at home, except his was completely restored. And of course, the one we have is not made in Australia, but in Wisconsin.
Nevertheless, I was able to ask him many questions about the engines. They were designed to run on kerosene, since in those days, that was the cheaper fuel. He said that they would use petrol to start it, since that made it easier starting, then ran in on kerosene. These days, since petrol is cheaper, that is what he uses. I told him I couldn’t get petrol at home and wondered if gasoline would work.
Sometime this year, I hope to work on ours, which is now sitting in our barn back home. I have had the piston soaking in solvent for about four years, trying to get the piston rings unstuck. Since being home four years ago, I have not been back long enough to be able to work on it. That is soon going to change.
The following essay is something I wrote some years ago about our old hit and miss engine

We called the old gasoline powered machine a PUM fui-fui because that is the sound that it made when it ran.  The old engine had a single piston about eight inches in diameter and two huge flywheels about four feet across, one on either side of the engine, connected by a gigantic crankshaft.  The piston did not go up and down as one would normally expect in a gasoline motor, but it ran horizontally – back and forth.  On the top of the engine, there was a squared reservoir that looked as if it must be some kind of smoke stack, but really, it was for the water that cooled the piston and cylinder. The engine had one wire that led to one ancient looking spark plug, and a pulley on the side from which a belt of about six inches wide could power an equally ancient threshing machine or other implement.
I do not know where Dad got this wonderful engine.  I seem to remember when we got it, but I was just a small boy.  Dad mounted a buzz saw to it and we used it for sawing firewood.  The massive iron motor was bolted to squared timbers, which sat on iron wheels.  The whole machine was perhaps twelve feet long.  Every fall, it was the annual project to get the PUM fui-fui started and saw the firewood for the winter.
It was far from a given fact that we would get it started.  Everything had to be just right and there seemed to be as much art and feel to it as pure mechanical theory.  The valve that fed the gasoline into the carburetor had to be opened just enough to feed an adequate amount of gas, but not too much or the engine would flood out.  I called it a carburetor, but the PUM fui-fui did not really have an actual carburetor.  It was more like an ancestor or a precursor to the carburetors of today’s engines. It was a proto-carburetor.  The old PUM fui-fui instead had a set of iron pipes that took the place of the carburetor.  In a way that I never completely understood, the configuration of the pipes mixed air in with the gasoline and fed the gas and air mixture into the cylinder so that the antiquated spark plug hopefully would ignite the mixture to drive the engine.
I remember that the electrical system seemed to cause trouble quite often.  It seemed not to be always faithful in sending a hot spark to the spark plug.  The timing of the spark was also a little touchy.  This was controlled by moving a lever and listening to how the engine sounded.  Of course, this adjustment could only be done once the engine was running.  You first would have to take your best guess at where the lever should be placed, and hope that it was near enough to the right spot to fire things up.
When the PUM fui-fui finally did get fired up it was a circus of movement.  The two huge flywheels would rotate vigorously as if they hoped that they could go somewhere.  The bottom end of the piston (which as I said was really lying horizontally), was visible so that you could see it turning the crankshaft and the two large iron flywheels.
The PUM fui-fui had a little rotating and gyrating mechanism toward the front of the engine, (why I call it the front, I do not know – there really was no front or back).  This little device was called the governor, because it governed the maximum speed of the engine.  The twirling top of the governor had two small iron spheres that hung down from it, and as the engine ran faster and faster, these two little orbs would be thrown out further from the center by centrifugal force.  When thrown out to a preset distance from the center, the iron balls would hold the exhaust port open.  When this exhaust port stayed open, the gas-air mixture would not explode inside the cylinder. If it did, the force of the explosion was lost since much of the explosion was vented through the opening.  This had the effect of slowing the engine down.  It was at these missed strokes when the engine gave the “fui” sound.  There must have been one “firing” stroke to every two that did not.  Our old engine fired on the “PUM” and missed on the “fui, fui.
The belt that ran off from the side of our PUM fui-fui powered our buzz saw.  As I mentioned, the old engine had one purpose on our farm – to saw our firewood for the year.  The work involved with getting the engine started seemed like victory enough, but that labor was only the preparation for the real work ahead.  The evidence of the real work ahead lay obvious there in our yard.  It had as its appearance a small mountain of dried logs and sticks, ranging in size from almost a foot in diameter for furnace wood, to limbs as big around as walking cane, for kitchen wood.
Dad was the sawyer.  We boys would untangle the logs and sticks that laid in the yard like giant pick-up sticks and placed them, one by one, on the carriage that held them to be sawed – one end of the log on the carriage and the other end held by one of us boys.  Dad fed the wood into the saw and one of us boys, who was not holding the other end of the log, would grasp the sawed-off piece and throw it into the firewood pile.
We each had our task as we sawed the firewood.  Hours would pass. “PUM, fui-fui, PUM, fui-fui.”  The saw also gave off its regular and methodically ringing sound as it sawed through the firewood.  The log pile ever so slowly became smaller and smaller, and the sawed firewood pile slowly grew larger and larger.  With each cut, the saw would send out its vibrating ring.  Sawdust blew around in the air and arms and backs got weary.  A tedious task. “PUM, fui-fui, PUM, fui-fui, ring, ring.”  We picked up the logs and put them on the carriage, holding the other end and slowly advancing as the log became shorter and shorter with each cut.  We wrapped our hands around the stick being sawed and watched as the teeth of the saw were fed into the wood.  When the log was severed, we rotated our bodies like a baseball player batting a ball and threw the stick into the pile. “PUM, fui-fui, PUM, fui-fu, ring, ring.”
I remembered seeing a movie as a boy (maybe it was Ben Hur) where they had a Roman galleon with many rows of slaves sitting at the oars.  They faced a man who was beating a drum meant to set the pace of the rowers.  “Bum – bum – bum.”  The rowers did not have to think, in fact, it was preferable to the Romans that they did not.  All that the slaves had to do was row in cadence to the drum.  “Bum – bum – bum.”
“PUM, fui-fui, PUM, fui-fui - PUM, fui-fui, PUM, fui-fui.”  Our taskmaster set the pace.  We methodically went through the motions of our task.  Hold the log, step forward, hold the log, step forward.  Grasp the stick, rotate and throw, grasp the stick, rotate and throw. “PUM, fui-fui, PUM, fui-fui.”
But sometimes something happened.  Sometimes the PUM fui-fui decided to give a boy a break.  It would stop its rhythmic cadence.  I do not remember what would occur exactly, but I think the coil would stop working properly or something like that.  I did not dare voice my happiness for these minor tragedies, but I felt like a slave of the Romans who was for a little while set free from his bonds.  When the old engine stopped, I lifted my head and was gone.  Dad and the older boys would start looking at some wires or something and try to make some adjustment here and there. But I was free.  The air was clean and the taskmaster was silent.  All that stood between me and complete freedom was the field that was between me and the woods.  As one recently unshackled and as quickly as I could, I ran toward the trees.

Soon enough they would get the PUM fui-fui started again.  I would hear it from the woods.  As much as I loved my freedom, I was not irresponsible.  When I heard the drummer, I returned to take my place at the oar.  In the end, I knew as well as anyone that the wood had to be sawed.
I never ever really could understand why the PUM fui-fui would sometimes quit working.  The reasons varied.  Dad and my older brothers would talk about carburetion and loss of compression.  I think it was usually another reason.  A boy can only stand the toil so long.  The taskmaster did what no taskmaster should do – he looked into the eyes of the slave.  He saw in the little windows of this young soul the need for a few moments of freedom.  The PUM fui-fui decided to give the boy some well-deserved time to breathe the freedom that boys live for.  In that cold iron of the old gasoline engine perhaps there was also a small beating heart – an understanding of a boy’s need to be free.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


     In my experience of working with many denominations of churches, I have encountered various views on the inspiration of Scripture. I personally have very few prerequisites for setting up pastor training classes in churches, but one that I do have is that the church with whom I am working shares my view of the absolute inspiration and inerrancy of the Scriptures.
     I will not go into all of my reasons for taking this view since it is a very long subject, but I will say that it did not come to me without thought and investigation. Some people say that they believe that the Scripture contains the word of God, but they will decline to say that it is entirely inspired. This small difference actually is of considerable consequence, since it puts the individual in the place of authority over the Scripture. The Scriptures themselves are instead relegated to a place of being subject to our own ideas and judgment of what is true. It is for this reason that I feel that it is important to work only with those who hold to a true inspired view of Scripture. If they did not, so much time would be spent merely on sitting in judgment of which parts of the Bible are inspired and which are not.
     It may be good also to have discussions and classes on the inspiration of Scripture, but that is for a different forum. The classes with which we have worked for many years are for training pastors and church leaders. We feel that at this stage, we want to be past the point of discussing the issue of the inspiration of Scripture so that we can move on to deeper things. I do not intend this short essay to be a complete dissertation on the inspiration of Scripture, but only mean to point out a single aspect of it. In all, it is a very broad subject.

     I will concede that there are places in the Bible that are extremely difficult and even impossible to understand, and also places that seem contrary to what we would naturally say is correct. Many of these have been pointed out to me in the course of the last several years, and here in the Pacific regions, one of the passages of Scripture that has been shown to me a few times as a reason to believe that there are some portions of the Bible that cannot be inspired by God is that of Psalm 137.
     This actually is a Psalm that I have related to in the past, especially the first part. It is written from the perspective of the Israelites during the time of their exile and Babylonian captivity when they were away from their homeland. I did not relate to it because I was ever in captivity, but as I have lived in other lands, I have sometimes lamented my separation from our home and little farm in Wisconsin. The Psalm begins:

     By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion.
     Upon the willows in the midst of it we hung our harps.
     For there our captors demanded of us songs, and our tormentors mirth, saying, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion.”
     How can we sing the LORD’s song in a foreign land? (Psalm 137:1-4 NAS)

     In the experience of these exiles, they felt extremely homesick when they remembered their homeland. Their captors wanted them to sing some of their joyful Israeli songs to them, but because of the sadness that the Jews felt, they could not sing. This is not the part of the Psalm that is controversial. Rather, it is what these Jewish captives said at the end of the Psalm:

     Remember, O LORD, against the sons of Edom the day of Jerusalem, who said, “Raze it, raze it, to its very foundation.”
     O daughter of Babylon, you devastated one, how blessed will be the one who repays you with the recompense with which you have repaid us.
     How blessed will be the one who seizes and dashes your little ones against the rock.
     (Ps 137:7-9 NAS)

     This last verse is especially shocking and is particularly difficult for us to understand or accept. In fact, this is the verse that has been quoted to me as an example of the impossibility that this could be the inspired word of God. “Surely this could not be something that God would say,” I have been told.
     In point of fact, what they say is correct, but their conclusion is faulty. If we read this Psalm carefully, we see that these are not the words of God. Some people, when they read the word “blessed,” assume that this must be something from God. After all, Jesus used the word blessed a lot. He used it when He spoke the beatitudes, didn’t He? This last verse is worded much like a beatitude of the dark side.
     But these are words spoken by exiles in captivity and in deep distress. Just because they spoke them, it does not mean that God condones this attitude of vengeance. As a matter of fact, the Scripture instructs us not to take our own revenge. This is not to say that those who have done evil can expect to get away with it, for in the final days of this age all will be put right. But this is in God’s hands, not ours. (Romans 12:9).

     One thing that I appreciate about the historical record of the Bible is that it does not try to make the characters seem more righteous than they actually were. Even in the case of King David, who is called “a man after God’s own heart,” the record is very honest in dealing with his failures and his sins. We do not usually see this in other religions. Normally, the faults and weaknesses of heroes of other faiths are ignored, and the ancestors of the faith are made to appear to be some sort of super righteous people. The Bible is more honest than this. It shows the true thoughts and deeds of the people of God, whether these things are righteous or not.
     I appreciate this because I see that these people had the same struggles that I have. I have never felt like striking anyone’s head against a rock, but I must admit to some dark thoughts of revenge for some injustice done to me. When we read about the people of God in the Bible, we know that they also struggled with dark thoughts. It helps us to see that our problems are common to man, and that we all are in need of God’s grace.
     There are several reasons that some individuals and churches do not accept the inerrant nature of the complete inspiration of the Scripture, but in my experience, one of the most common reasons is that people simply do not read the words carefully. In the case of Psalm 137, some assume that it is saying that this is a command or desire of God. It is not.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


The cyclone named Jasmine came into the southern islands of Vanuatu and left again, leaving some damage and flooding, but I believe left no one dead. As I wrote in the previous post, Vivian’s and my flight was canceled and rescheduled for three days after the original reservation, causing us to arrive in Vanuatu on Saturday night instead of the previous Wednesday night.
In some ways, this was a problem for us because we had scheduled the teacher training seminar for the Thursday and Friday. Instead, on those days the people stayed home as they tried to keep the water out of their houses, and Vivian and I were grounded in New Zealand. The problem was compounded because the schools in Vanuatu were to open on the Monday following the weekend, and many of the people who were to be at our training the week before were also engaged at the local schools, making a mere rescheduling or our seminar impossible.
There are many things that I could say on this subject of the delay and what God had in mind in the timing of the cyclone. I do not suggest that our small seminar was the most important event that would be affected by the cyclone, but it was quite important to me, since it has taken me some time to get to know people in that far away island. Also, our time in the work is now nearing completion.

In the end, we could not hold a full two-day training as we normally do, and those men who had committed to come on the Thursday and Friday before, could not attend any kind of a workshop on Monday and Tuesday. Alternatively, I had an extended meeting with the two key pastors who have expressed the greatest interest in beginning these classes. This was a very helpful time for both them and for me, as I continue to learn about the needs of the churches in the Pacific region. For their part, as they learned about the particulars of the training program, they saw a much wider application than they previously realized.
Our time in Vanuatu was one of those trips upon which I had somewhat ambitious plans but which did not turn out as I had hoped. Nevertheless, in the end I could see that God no doubt had other thoughts. Despite what I think are good plans, I also know that God’s timing is also crucial. It takes a movement of the Holy Spirit to bring in the fullness of time. I am quite sure that we have laid the ground for more extended training there.

While in Port Vila, I was invited to preach at the first Sunday morning service in a new church start-up that was in an area of the city called "Blaksan." I am not sure of the spelling of that name, since in the Pidgin English of Vanuatu, the words are often a phonetic spelling of English words. Blaksan may mean black sand; I am not sure. There is another area of town called Fres Wata, named that because of the fresh water found there.
By the way, if someone asks you "how are you?" you may respond, "I orate, tankyu" (I'm alright, thank you).
Sometime I should write a little explanation of the Pidgin English spoken throughout Vanuatu. It may seem a little comical to a native English speaker at times, but the Pidgin English of Vanuatu, which they call Bislama, has something other than a humorous origin. It arose from returning slaves from Australia, where they learned to speak the Aussie English just enough to be able to communicate. Also, the Bislama of Vanuatu has since served a very useful purpose in that it has given that country of 110 languages a unifying language. And anyway, shouldn't the word phonetic be spelled fonetic?
I was very honored to bring some words of Scripture to these people of Blaksan. Most are people who are from other areas and islands of Vanuatu (there are 83 islands), who have moved there for work possibilities. Many speak three languages and even four: The tongue of their own people, Bislama, and English or French. After church, one of the ladies there was trying to teach Vivian how to speak French.
It is a poorer area of town and the church is needed in that area to give the opportunity for the people to meet and worship together. Besides that, the people of Vanuatu, like all of the Pacific island people, are very family orientated. These people of Blaksan find themselves cut off from their families back home and have a need of a group of people who can fill the role of their own families. There is no better substitute for this than the family of God.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


As I wrote a couple of days ago, Vivian and I were scheduled to go to Vanuatu where I was to have a training seminar with a group of pastors. Unfortunately, it turned out that we were not the only ones scheduled to go to Vanuatu on that day. A cyclone named Jasmine also had set her sights on the islands. A man whom I respect once told me to never pick a fight with an angry woman, so in the end, Jasmine won out. She made her schedule but I did not.
Actually, what happened is that Air Vanuatu canceled the flight and rescheduled us to fly up there on Saturday. So, if there are no further changes, we will be leaving at that time. I am not sure how the training will work out once we get there, since I have not been able to contact anyone in Vanuatu. Nevertheless, I guess these are things that are, like the cyclones themselves, in the hands of God.
As I have been looking at the satellite photos of the cyclones (there are actually two right now in the southern Pacific), and with these three days of unscheduled hours that have suddenly come to me, it has caused my mind to wander once again to think about something that I have written about before: The Coriolis Effect. What is the Coriolis Effect? It is that combination of certain laws of physics and motion that causes the cyclones that form south of the equator to turn with a clockwise rotation and the hurricanes that form north of the equator to turn counterclockwise (or as they say here, and anti-clockwise rotation).
What are these laws of physics? I once tried to learn the mechanics of how this all takes place, but my trouble is that if something cannot be explained to me using stick-figure people diagrams, I usually cannot understand it.
But I like the Coriolis Effect. I especially like that it involves the word effect, because the effects are very interesting. It is simply intriguing to me that the hurricanes and cyclones rotate in this fashion, as well as high-pressure and low-pressure weather systems. People who know about physics more than me (my brother Daniel and his boys) tell me that the Coriolis Effect causes large weather systems to rotate in this way, but the effect is not pronounced enough to cause movements on a smaller scale, such as water in a sink or a flushing toilet.
But I, in my own way, have also studied this effect. When we lived in Venezuela (which is north of the equator) and when I traveled to countries such as Peru (which is south of the equator), I regularly made a mental note of which way the water went down when I flushed the toilets. In Venezuela – counterclockwise. In Peru – clockwise. I told my nephew that if it was not because of the Coriolis Effect, then they must make the toilets different in the southern hemisphere.
I have also flushed toilets here in New Zealand. I must say that the results are not what I would expect. The water in the toilets that I have flushed here seem to have very little discernable rotation at all. I don’t know why this is but I think it is what physicists call a “geographical anomaly.” If physicists do not have that term, then they should.
Speaking of water rotation, I think that I once mentioned a little museum that is located on the equator in the country that is even named after the equator – Ecuador. With GPS measurements, they have determined the exact location of the equator, and have a line running down the middle of the grounds of the outdoor museum to show the visitors where the northern hemisphere meets the southern.
At the museum they have various demonstrations of physical phenomena that they say is only possible right on the equator, and little experiments that you can do. For instance, on the equator it is possible to balance an egg on its end on the top of a nail that is partially driven into a board. It did it. Even right on the equator it is a little difficult, but it can be done. I must confess that I have not tried it in any other part of the world, but I assume it must be impossible since that is what they told me at the museum. They even gave me an official-looking and signed certificate that shows that I successfully balanced and egg on a nail, and someplace I have a photograph of the egg on top of the nail. I have always meant to have the certificate framed (with the photo), but so far have not done it.
Another experiment that they have involves water rotation running down a drain. They used a basin for this experiment and not a toilet, so perhaps this does skew the results somewhat, but the demonstration was impressive nevertheless. The lady at the museum had a movable basin which she placed about two meters north of the line that showed where the equator was. She then poured in a bucket of water, and when the water stopped sloshing around, placed a single leaf on the top of the water right in the middle. Then, with her hand, she pulled out the plug to let the water go down, which it did, rotating in a counterclockwise direction – just what we all expected would happen.
She then took the basin to a spot an equal distance south of the line. Again the water and again the leaf. However, this time when she pulled out the stopper, the water rotated in a clockwise direction. Some audible “Ooo’s” emanated from several of the visitors.
Then the basin was placed directly over the equatorial line. This time, when the plug came out, the water went straight down without any rotation at all. This time some, in the small crowd, gasped. I did not. I didn’t want to appear to be a stupid tourist.
Even though I did not admit it, I was impressed by this demonstration and wondered about it. Since that time, I have decided that the lady must have started the rotational spin of the water when she took out the plug. Even a slight movement of the hand can make the water rotate in any direction that you want. I always hoped that I would be called back to Ecuador so I could again go to that museum to watch more closely, and perhaps catch that lady with her tricks. Sadly, I never returned and I now think the days of me visiting Ecuador are probably over. I am sure she is continuing with her fraudulent demonstration.

So now I am watching Cyclone Jasmine rotate in a clockwise direction and waiting for her to move off to the east so that I can go up to Vanuatu and do my training. In the mean time, I will occupy my mind with more deep and profound thoughts. I hope this has helped you all understand the Coriolis Effect.

Monday, February 6, 2012


When I was home in Wisconsin this earlier this winter, an old high school friend of mine reminded me of a story that I told to him many years ago when I returned from living in India. I thought some of you might find it interesting. I also wrote this years ago.
Tomorrow Vivian and I leave for Vanuatu where I have a teacher training seminar. We appreciate your prayers. One more note, I just looked on the internet to see what weather we could expect, and I see that we are due to arrive in Port Vila, Vanuatu, about the same time as the Tropical Cyclone Jasmine. Hmmm...


The only reason that I can remember the date is because of the event that was occurring at the time.  It was July 31 of 1971.  Two American astronauts had just landed on the moon and were walking on its surface. They even had with them a little “Lunar Rover Vehicle,” which they were driving around on the surface of the moon.  It was the fourth-lunar landing and the first with the little car-like vehicle.
At the time that all of this was happening, I was in an area of the world where a mountain climber could get as close to the moon as is possible on foot – the Himalayan Mountains.  These mountains are called “the roof of the world” for good reason. But of course, despite their great height, the Himalayas cannot compare to a lunar landing, and while two of my countrymen were walking on the surface of the moon, my path was a more lowly one.  I was walking on the surface of the earth in these mountains.
And even with that, I was far from the peak of any mountain.  I am not a climber.  I am merely a hiker.  I stay away from scaling cliffs and do not listen to the call of mountain peaks.  The call of the river valleys and tops of wooded ridges are enough for me.
It may be true that these mountains reach higher toward the moon than any other, but the technological development of the area where I was hiking was almost as far as one could get from the advanced technology represented by lunar landing crafts and space suits.
I was sitting in a little tea stand in a tiny remote village in the mountains.  There was an old bearded gentleman also sitting and drinking tea.  His face was weather beaten and wrinkled from the harsh climate of the area. He was probably not as old as he appeared, but to me, he seemed like the original old man of the mountains. He and I exchanged a simple conversation. Our words were limited since I did not speak his language of Urdu and he only knew a few words of Hindi (I could only struggle my way with it myself).
Over our heads was the moon.  It was waxing toward being a full moon, as I remember it.  The old man of these mountains learned that I was an American and he had heard of the moon landings.  I remember him asking me if it were really true that there were, at that moment, men walking on the moon.
I had been in high school for the first lunar landing.  Of course, it captivated all of our attention.  We watched every moment of it on TV and listened to all the scientific explanations (made understandable for the TV audience) for every movement of machine and man.  The event was astonishing and even beyond comprehension, but none of us had any doubts in believing that it was actually taking place.  In our imagination, we could picture the American astronauts walking on the moon.
It was much different for me with this fourth landing.  Sitting in that tea stand, where perhaps the most technological advanced piece of equipment was a tea strainer (there was not even electricity in that remote place) the image of men walking and driving on the moon did indeed seem difficult to imagine.
There we sat, the old Himalayan gentleman and I, sipping our tea and gazing up at the moon.  It became obvious to me that my companion did not really believe that at that moment, there were men walking on the moon.  I must say that as I sat and viewed my surroundings, it was also very difficult for me to believe. In that place, the thought seemed a bit absurd. Nevertheless, I answered him that I supposed that it was true since I read about it in the newspaper. But I am sure that I did not sound very convincing.
We must have seemed an unlikely pair.  He and I were almost as opposite as two men could be.  A young (still teen-aged) American boy, and a very old Himalayan shepherd.  We both looked up at the moon and then at each other.  I do not know what my eyes revealed, but his had a look of skepticism and unbelief.  I cannot say that I blamed him.
He finished his tea, and after asking his leave, rose to his feet and started up the trail.  I supposed he was on his way home since it was late now, in the afternoon.  I sat awhile longer and thought about this old man.  I looked up at the moon and then at his back retreating up the mountain trail.  His life would probably be affected very little by the lunar landings.  Mine far more.  Which of us, I wondered, were the more fortunate?
I drank the last swallow of my tea.  Placing the glass on the table, I rose to my feet.  I took one more long look up the mountain trail. Then, with some regret, turned and started down the same trail to where I was to stay for the night, before returning to the city the next day.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


Many of you who have read other things that I have written or perhaps have heard me speak know that, ever since I came to the Pacific, I have been somewhat captivated by the thought of the plan of God in sending these Polynesian people far out of contact with the rest of the world at the very time when Jesus was walking on the roads of Galilee.
            Central to this thought is what the Apostle Paul said to the people of Athens, “And He (God) made from one, every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times, and the boundaries of their habitation, that they should seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:26-27 NAS).
            I greatly look forward to the time when we will be able to understand all of the historical movements of mankind over the face of the globe in the context of God’s plan for them.

            By the way, we had a very good teacher training seminar in Samoa last week, and now look forward to another in Vanuatu next week.


The young Polynesian traveler lifted his eyes
To the limitless ocean, the eternal skies.
People called him Toloai, “the seeking one.”
And his nature was formed by what his name implies.

He squinted into the blinding tropical sun,
If there were signs of other lands, he could see none.
But he was Toloai; his life was defined.
His family needed a home, and he must seek one.

He readied his canoe, the large double-hulled kind,
He had to take care to leave not one thing behind.
Water for drinking, they will also collect rain –
Full preparations, since they knew not what they’d find.

Foodstuffs for eating, and for planting, the seed grain,
Two pigs and four chickens in their cages of cane.
And also a dog, their dog of good behavior.
They thought everything through, lest their trip be in vain.

But never did their determination waver.
They only waited for a wind in their favor.
Two more families with two more boats joined in this quest
To find a new land they hoped would be their savior.

Then one morning they found, when they rose from their rest,
A steady gentle breeze had picked up from the west.
It was in this season when this westerly blew.
Of all chances to begin, this day looked the best.

They packed all their things, lashing them to the canoe,
The animals all in their cages of bamboo.
To those friends they left behind, they said their good-byes,
And pushed off from the beach, leaving all that they knew.

The first days were fine – gentle winds and sunny skies.
But on the sixth day out, the seas grew very high.
Black and angry clouds obliterated the sun.
For the first time on this trip they feared they would die.

So dark turned the day, and they all feeling undone,
They barely could tell when the night had begun.
All through the long night the storm continued to rage.
They cried for salvation, though they knew not the One.

By day-break the next the winds began to assuage
The storm lasted a day, though it seemed like an age.
In the end it was rather little that was lost,
Although two of the chickens had drowned in their cage.

The trip continued on, leagues of ocean were crossed.
Their canoe seemed so small, and so easily tossed
By the great waves of the ocean, throwing them high.
If they ever found land, they feared at what great cost.

In the seventh week their drinking water went dry
Not much rain had come, and they had no more supply.
They lay on their boats, at the mercy of the sea.
This time they truly felt that they failed in their try.

Again they cried for help, again voicing a plea;
When their dry eyes spotted, in some floating debris,
Something that would give to them a life saving drink –
Several sea-born fruit nuts from a coconut tree.

More times in their journey they stared over the brink
Of the chasm of death, when the sea looked like ink.
But they always were saved, the danger would recede,
And with each salvation, they continued to think

That someone, somewhere, wanted them all to succeed.
Someone, somewhere, was keeping watch over their need.
Then one day, they saw the seagoing pilot birds fly,
And they could follow their flight to where they would lead.

Finally they felt that land must surely be nearby,
And after three months at sea, their spirits grew high.
Pilot birds fly from land a hundred miles or more,
But the tired travelers felt that salvation was nigh.

At long last the day came when they heard the surf roar.
On that very day they placed their feet on the shore.
Finally they felt that they had found their new land.
And they felt that they would have to travel no more.

And as they stood looking, with their feet in the sand,
It was clear that this island was all they had planned.
They could see it was fertile, lush and green of leaf,
It would be a spacious home, prosperous and grand.

The Polynesian sighed a deep sigh of relief,
He could finally let go of all his past griefs.
But he thought of those times when they were saved at sea
And he had been challenged in some of his beliefs.

It was true that in many ways he now felt free,
But in other ways he felt there was more to see.
Not other lands. No – on this he would have his grave.
But he would search for the One who had heard his plea.

The sender of coconuts, the stiller of waves
The One who would calm him when inner voices raved.
And when he did wrong, and when no one else forgave
He knew there was One who could eternally save.

The man’s name was Toloai, “the seeking one,”
And in some ways his journey had only begun.