Katie in PNG

Final PNG Update–For Now…

Posted in Uncategorized by Katie Phillips on September 13, 2010


I just wanted to share with you some highlights of my summer in PNG and a little bit about what I’ve learned and what’s next for me. As always, your comments, prayers, and encouraging words mean so much to me. Thanks for sharing this time with me!

The tropical sun sets while a village boy watches an evening soccer match.

The Place

  • Tropical island just north of Australia.
  • It has beaches and rugged mountains.
  • Over 800 language groups, most have no vernacular Bible.
  • Nominal Christians, sorcery still strong.

The People

  • Friendly, helpful and generous.
  • Life is slower and relationship-based.
  • They work hard—life is dangerous and difficult—but have fun too.
  • Love sports and competition.
  • Fight tough and stick together

The Village

  • In the East Sepik province
  • Received a traditional welcome
  • Learned weaving baskets, making bags, and more.
  • Shared my testimony in Tok Pisin with my village family

The Course

  • First of its kind
  • Included 9 of 11 PBT language projects in PNG
  • Trained national translators
  • New friendships and leaders for language groups.
  • Super-intense volleyball games
  • Best movie nights ever!

The Hard Parts

  • Food poisoning in the jungle
  • Being sick all summer
  • Team conflicts and tensions
  • Never feeling quite safe
  • Not knowing the language
  • Tough living conditions
  • Culture stress

The Best Parts

  • Getting adopted by my PNG papa and family.
  • ApMa Bible study in a stilt village reached by dugout canoe
  • Listening to the translators sing vernacular songs under the stars.
  • Relationships with people

The Lessons

  • God is bigger than my greatest fear for overseas missions (getting sick).
  • He has given me a gift for learning languages.
  • In Christ, I can endure hardship.
  • Sometimes you have to just do what is right and leave the results to God.
  • I have been given a gift for interacting cross-culturally.

The Next Step

Please pray for:

  • Job-hunting
  • Writing my novel
  • Wisdom for God’s leading. I may go back to PNG for a 2-year short term trip.

Please consider:

  • Meeting with me to hear more stories!
  • Donating toward the $300 support I still need for this trip.

The Details

Send checks (made out to PBT) to:

Pioneer Bible Translators

Lindsay Davenport (Katie)

7500 West Camp Wisdom Rd.,

Dallas, TX 75236.

Contact me:


Check out my other blog:


Boy fishing in the ocean.

A sunrise in the village.

Girls race on the village airstrip during a school carnival.

Burning scrub lends an orange glow to this PNG sunset.


Photo Blog

Posted in Uncategorized by Katie Phillips on July 31, 2010

Hey folks,

We’re getting ready to finish up the course here. It’s so exciting to see the national translators encouraging each other, building relationships, sharing knowledge, and really taking ownership of their language projects!

As for me, I’m still doing LOTS of typing. I typed from about 9:30am to 5:30 pm yesterday with a few breaks to eat and stuff. But that’s exciting, because it means they’re turning out tons of material!

Since I’m really tired of typing, as you can imagine, I’m just doing a photo blog this time around. 😀

This is a Dynah truck, also known as a PMV. It's how I got up to the course.

The "hauskaikai" for the translators' course.

Here I am, working hard to type up back-translated materials.

One of the beautiful (and short-lived) PNG sunsets.

We have PNG worship music in the mornings and late-night jam sessions under the stars.

Movie nights

Posted in Uncategorized by Katie Phillips on July 23, 2010

There is nothing quite like watching Planet Earth: Ice Worlds/Caves/Shallow Waters with a bunch of guys from the steamy jungle who have never seen ice or snow before. Imagine thirty or forty men, as tough as they come, staring with gaping mouths at spouting humpback whales and cheering on hungry polar bears taking on massive walruses. They even called out helpful advice to the poor bear—“Em i bikpela tumas! Painim liklik!” (That one’s too big, get a smaller one)

In the evenings we have been projecting movies onto the wall for the enjoyment of our national translators (and your hard-working interns). They really get into them, much to the amusement and cultural enlightenment of the “whiteskins.”

Last night we watched the Shallow Waters section on rivers, etc. You should have heard them holler when the crocodile shot out of the muddy water and grabbed a drinking wildebeest. The big, bat-eating constrictor snake on the Caves section elicited an animated response as well. Even my stout-hearted village papa (he walked around for two days at the course with malaria) freaked out at the snake. And with good reason—snakes in PNG are either deadly poisonous or constrictors, and they grow huge crocodiles on the Ramu river.

The best movie night yet, though, was watching Castaway, a movie who was stranded on a jungle island and had to learn to fend for himself. All the translators kept up a running commentary that went something like this:


MAN SETS DOWN WASHED-UP CARGO ON THE BEACH TO GO INVESTIGATE A STRANGE NOISE: “Nogat! Yu mas putim em long gutpela ples. Solwara bai em kisim katan.” (You must put it in a good place or the ocean will wash it away)

MAN FOOLISHLY PADDLES HIS RUBBER RAFT TOWARD A HUGE WAVE: “Oh, yu dai pinis nua!” (Oh, you’re dead meat!)

They coached the longlong white man (crazy white man) through starting a fire with sticks, spearing fish, making rope, etc. When the man lost his friend, Wilson the volleyball, over the side of his escape raft and nearly drowned trying to save him, the translators kept shouting, “Em bol tasol, yu mas lusim! Yu bai kisim narapela.” (It’s a ball, that’s all. You must let go, you will get another).

The funniest part, though, was when a big ship came steaming by the man, lying unconscious on his raft, and they all started yelling, “Sip em kam! Sip em kam! Kirap! Kirap!” (The ship has come, get up!) Another replied, “Em nogat stronpela,” (He has no strength) and another explained, “Em no kaikai gutpela kaikai. Em nogat strongpela.” (He didn’t eat good food, he doesn’t have strength). Fortunately for the man, the ship did see him and he did get to go home after all.

Beating Around the Bush

Posted in Uncategorized by Katie Phillips on July 12, 2010

Well, there’s certainly been lots of water under the proverbial (small-high-log-over-a-creek) bridge since we last chatted.

I have since learned to make different designs of string bilums (woven bags), wash saksak pulp after it has been pickaxed out of a tree trunk, identify several kinds of plants and their respective uses, scrape coconuts (sigarapim kokonas), make a rubber bouncy ball from a rubber tree (it involves fire, to the pyros among us) and make a vast collection of items from coconut leaves, including balls, roofs, decorative fringes, baskets, etc. I have had my first canoe ride in crocodile waters (thankfully I didn’t find out there were crocodiles until a week later) and prayed with missionaries for a woman bitten by a python. I have also eaten guava, random fruits and nuts, crocodile (pukpuk), fish, red sea bass, and lots of Australian bush biscuits.

Between us on my team we went spear-fishing from a canoe (and hit one 35 feet away–Nathan’s a rockstar), hiked twelve miles in deep bush, danced in a singsing, wove a shell headband, and ate fish we speared that morning. We learned how to open coconuts with machetes and went on a four-hour one way trip for Coca-Cola in a 50-foot motor canoe.

The living conditions were definitely hard. Really hard. Thanks to the generosity of Jesse and Karie Pryors (resident missionary family) we had water from a rainwater tank. However, it had not rained in the vilage for almost a month by the time we left, so there was only a little, highly-rationed water for cooking, bathing, drinking, etc. Add blazing heat, cramped quarters, noisy nights, little or no privacy, and an overabundance of dirt, rats, spiders, bats, mosquitoes, and any other critter that could worm its way into our lives. Literally.

I had fleas in my sheets, so I ended up with tiny bites every couple centimeters all over my feet and ankles and up my legs and arms (my team leader played connect-the-dots for fun, but soon gave up. Too many dots). If it should ever come up, rubbing damp soap on bug bites helps to relieve the itch…for a while.

By far the worst of the physical challenges of my time in the bush, though, was getting food poisoning from undercooked fish my last night in the village(thankfully!). I threw up every 45 minutes from 1 am to about 9:30am on a pallet on the Pryor’s kitchen floor (literally the only space available in the house). Thankfully Karie, Bonita (Jesse’s mom who was visiting) and my team leader took great care of me. The plane came on time at 10:30 and Jesse brought me down to the airstrip on their four-wheeler. By some miracle I didn’t throw up on the hour-long ride in the little plane to PBT’s home base (though I came close…very close) and they had a car and a doctor’s appointment waiting at the airport. I survived, though I was sicker than I’ve been in years, and learned that God can take good care of me and is enough even when I encounter my greatest fear on the mission field–being sick.

Despite these and many more difficulties, my relationships with the people in the village made it all worthwhile by far. Not only did I have the opportunity to encourage and help out the missionaries there, but I formed strong relationships with my village papa and mama  and with a little girl who taught me 3/4 of the Tok Pisin I know, along with a host of other things. God definitely gave me the supernatural ability to pick up the language, because by the end of the first week I could hold/understand basic conversations and make inquiries, and by the end of the second week I would go sit and talk to my village parents about their testimonies, about how the Lord called me to PNG and about my thoughts for the future.

I definitely felt much safer in the village and was very well looked after. I don’t think I could have gotten lost even had I tried. I had only to look in the direction of the bush and some 6-year-old with a machete would appear at my elbow and take me anywhere I wanted to go. 🙂 When the time came for us to leave the people showered us with presents–baskets, bilums, carved wooden storyboards, etc. All hand-made, mostly from bush materials, and beautifully crafted.

It was tough to leave the village, especially without really a chance to say goodbye. However, I’m excited for the next three weeks where the interns will be helping put on a translation course for national translators. This course will enable people groups who are still waiting on trained missionaries to come help them to continue the work started by previous missionaries and stalled when they had to leave, for one reason or another.

Even more exciting, during this course I have also been given the opportunity to interview these amazing national translators and tell their stories, find out their needs, etc. and write up materials for PBT to use. Both myself and the PBT staff are super-excited! It will be a really busy time of long days and lots of language-stretching experiences, but it will be worth it to help these dedicated men and women get the scripture in their heart language.


* That I got over the food poisoning without complications

* For incredible, God-given proficiency at the language

* For amazing relationships with God’s people in PNG


* For the course to run as smoothly as possible–it’s a logistical and technological nightmare

* For much work to be accomplished and good learning and understanding for nationals

* For complete health–I still have bad sinus and chest cough problems

* For the rest of my support needed

My awesome team waits to head to the MAF hanger beside the truck holding our supplies for the bush.

The Problem with Paradise

Posted in Uncategorized by Katie Phillips on June 21, 2010

Hey folks!

Well, it’s been a crazy busy week of planning menus, making shopping lists, running around town, packing, etc. We hop on planes soon to go to the village/bush and will be there for a couple weeks. So, we had to prepare everything we would need to survive in the jungle. A teammate and I were assigned to the shopping–my head exploded every time I looked at our lists. Assigning people to buy supplies for 16 different people in 5 groups with 4 money pools at 6+ stores and 1 open-air market (I lost track) in mostly 12 hours when you need at least 1 national/staff member/one of 2 men with you at all times = a logistical nightmare. You can do the math. Add the fact that PNG stores rarely have the same supplies a few days in a row (translated: when you need it) and stir well. But, God is good and it all worked out.

I went to the market for the first time Friday with a little national who works at the PBT office who is about 4 feet tall. She’s the nicest, most godly little woman you’ll ever meet. She took my hand and walked me around town and I had a blast talking Tok Pisin with her. I got a beautiful handmade bag (nicepela bilum) and learned a very valuable phrase: “Lukluk, tasol.” It means “I’m just looking” and is quite helpful with overzealous vendors.  Thanks to everyone who has been praying for my integration and language learning, I feel I’ve been making much better progress than expected. Besides the normal everyday phrases I’ve also learned a couple phrases that would be helpful in case of incident (the ever-present hecklers, etc): “Pusim mus bilong yo.” (shut your mouth) “Mi no meri bilong yu” (I’m not your wife/woman) and “Yu tenk mi no savve tok bilong yu/Tok Pisin” (You think I don’t know what you’re saying/Tok Pisin). Good times.

We did get to take a break and go to one of the resorts here (which is at the end of a long road of potholes, sketchy houses and mini-lakes, lol) one afternoon. We got to swim in the pretty blue water and 7 out of the 9 interns managed to sustain some type of tropical injury, ranging from sea urchin punctures to jellyfish stings and coral scrapes. Apparently this is unprecedented. I was a victim of the sea urchin and the coral (which then tries to grow inside of you. Also good times). It was a beautiful time anyway, though.

I’m looking forward to going to the village and getting to interact more with the people and do language learning. It is actually much safer for us in the village because the people in the village are very warm and welcoming and watch their “white skins” like hawks to make sure they stay out of trouble (aka don’t do anything stupid). 🙂 Hopefully I will be much farther advanced in my Tok Pisin skills by the time I return. Word on the street says I might get to take a trip in a motor-powered 15ft dugout canoe, which would be awesome.


* We somehow managed to (hopefully) get everything we need for the bush bought and packed in time for the plane     * Our teams have been working well together to get things ready                                                                                                              * Awesome interaction and language learning


* Health (that none of the injuries will get infected; also, I’ve been fighting a cough since I got here)                                       * Safety flying and while in the bush                                                                                                                                                                        * Physical strength (life in the bush is very physically demanding and unless it rains, we will be hauling all our water for bathing, cooking, etc. about a mile and a half)                                                                                                                                             * Rain                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    * Awesome relationships with team and nationals, great culture and language learning

Thank you so much for all your prayers, it makes SUCH a difference! And if I happened to come back to an inbox flooded with encouraging notes and comments, I wouldn’t mind that at all. 😉

Lukim yu!


“For I have learned to be content in all circumstances. I know what it is to have plenty, and I know what it is to be in want. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether living in plenty or in want–I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Phil. 4:11-13

NOTE: For some reason this website is messing up the formatting for my beautiful bullet points. It looks fine when I write it, but posts funky. My apologies!


Posted in Uncategorized by Katie Phillips on June 17, 2010

Well, I’ve already eaten a strange food and I’ve only been here around 12 hours. Passionfruit tastes kinda sweet, but has the most disgusting texture ever. My encouraging team leader helped by comparing it to monkey brains or eyeballs in jelly while I was downing it (love you, Lindy). My teammate ate one of the edible ants off the tree outside our house this morning, but I didn’t feel quite that brave yet. I did enjoy the fresh pineapple, though.

At any rate, I’m glad to make it here after being in five different airports and either in an airport or on a plane for the past about 28 hours. We only lost one bag out of like 22 plus carry-ons and no interns, thankfully. (Although we did lose Tuesday, thanks to crossing the international date line). We even had a stray goat by the runway to welcome us to Madang. I feel a little bit like I’m in one of those adventure movies like Sahara.

I did get to drive by a beautiful ocean and palm tree view this morning on our way to the PBT office…and then hopped and skipped across a mud-puddled street on our way to buy converters from the corner market. This afternoon we’re going to the market with my team leader, so I’ll probably have lots of fodder for my next update.

Until then, please pray for:

* Health (been having lots of headaches and the moist heat is unbelievable).

* Quick integration/language learning


* Good conversations with team

* Safe arrival and no missed flights despite lots of delays and issues going through security

* Good sleep last night–not suffering the effects of jet lag too much yet

Thank you all so much for your prayers and encouraging notes! They make such a huge difference.



“Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in Him, for He shields him all day long and the one the Lord loves rests between His shoulders.” Duet. 33:12


Posted in Uncategorized by Katie Phillips on June 13, 2010


Well, soon I hop on a plane bound  for Papua New Guinea. Exciting times, but also stressful and bittersweet as we try to pack everything and say goodbye to the other PBT teams. We recently sent the West Africa teams on their way.

We also just finished up a week of Pioneer Missions Institute, which is Pioneer Bible Translators’ annual conference. I had classes during the day on everything from personality types and team dynamics to tech information on what kind of computers will survive in 100+ heat and jungle moisture (apparently the IT department has serviced computers growing green stuff. A whole new kind of culture shock). Some other topics covered included dealing with poverty, transitions, and incarnational living among the lost. One of the extremely special aspects of this time was getting to rub shoulders with seasoned missionaries and hear the branch reports on areas PBT is working.

Wednesday night we had “storytime” of sorts as a panel of the PBT president and three other seasoned missionaries spent the evening simply telling both funny and touching stories of life on the field.

Thank you so much for your prayers. It has been a hard two weeks and it’s just going to get tougher, so they are very much needed, felt, and appreciated.


*  Times of laughter with missionaries and interns
*  Discovering there is a huge need for someone with journalistic skills in the PBT ministries, both in Dallas and the overseas                                                                                                                                                                                                                              *  For how God is working in incredible ways around the world


* A clear path through customs and safe travel
* Resolution of any interpersonal issues within my team before we go to the field                                                                            * That we would be a huge blessing to a PBT branch that is the oldest, yet currently struggling

Thank you again, you mean so much to me! Let us see what the Lord will do and praise Him for it.



“Because of the Lord’s great love for us we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail; they are new every morning, great is His faithfulness!” Lam. 3:22-23

Pre-field Orientation

Posted in Uncategorized by Katie Phillips on June 5, 2010

Hey folks, just finished pre-field orientation! (cue cheers and clapping)

We’ve been having training all week in PNG culture, safety overseas, medical procedures overseas, language learning–you name it, we’ve probably learned about it. We’ve also gotten to work on learning the language (Tok Pisin) a little bit. They taught us a song that goes something like this:

Pusi i sleepim diwai,

Han diwai brukim na kilim pusi dai,

Frogi i lukim na kisim foto,

???? paitim paitim tel

Roughly translated, that means: the cat sleeps under the tree, the tree branch falls and kills the cat, the frog comes and takes a picture, and the lizard comes by and wags its tail. Yeah, kinda morbid.

The other one is kind of like it:

Mi lukim, lukim snek…ranawe, kisim stik na kilim snek dai…mi amimas. (Basically, you see a snake, runaway and get a stick, kill the snake, and then you’re really happy about it). Kind of morbid too.

But despite the morbid songs, language learning was really fun and not too hard since Tok Pisin shares many sounds/words with Australian English.

Next week Pioneer Missions Institute (actually the PBT conference-type event) begins and goes all week. So, lots more learning about linguistics and field situations and such. My vocabulary is increasing.

Please pray for:

* Unity and bonding of team

* Protection from spiritual oppression

* Health for all (several people have been sick and I got a bite on my toe that swelled up and turned red)

* Rest of support needed to come in

Praise God for:

* Unity and bonding with team

* Lots of knowledge gained

* Obvious answers to prayer

Thanks so much for your prayers! Blessings!

On the Air

Posted in Uncategorized by Katie Phillips on April 21, 2010

Welcome to my PNG blog, everyone. I’m excited to get to share with you about my adventures in Papua New Guinea and about what God is doing in my life and in the lives of the people there. I’ll probably have a weird food story or two as well.