30 September, 2008

Branch Strategy Workshop and Stock Take

So this is it! My very own blog. Today I didn't get to work out in the shop. This morning was the second and last morning of what we call Branch Strategy Workshop. Over the past several months, all of us who work with Wycliffe in Papua New Guinea have been meeting together in small groups to discuss the future of the Papua New Guinea Branch of Wycliffe Bible Translators. I admit that at first I was skeptical of the whole idea of Branch Strategy Workshops, but now having experienced it, I think it was a brilliant idea--if nothing else, at least now everybody is aware of the challenges that we face as an organisation and what some of the possible solutions to those challenges may be. I actually enjoyed the strategy workshop much more than I thought I would.

Last night Clare was sick--34 weeks pregnant and she's never really gotten over morning sickness, but this was worse than "normal". She was sick again during the day. This is our first experience with having a child, so niether of us is really certain what to expect. Today in the afternoon, she went to the clinic just to make sure that things were okay. The doctor told her that there has been some sort of intestinal bug going around and that she is probably fine. I was relieved to hear that--I'm really not much of a worrier, but this is my wife and baby that we were talking about and so I admit that I was a little bit concerned. I felt a need to talk to somebody about my fears, so I got ahold of my friend Chad who has 2 kids and he told me that there was most likely nothing to worry about. He was right in the end.

After the Branch Strategy Workshop I went home to lunch and then to work in the afternoon, but at the shop we are in the midst of stock take/inventory, so I spent the afternoon entering numbers in the computer--sort of like this: "our records show tha we have 22 of part number 42-0025. Aka counted 12 in location 9B4 and Sep counted 10 in location 10E2, so yeah, we have 22" Gripping stuff, really. (Yeah, right! It's really pretty mind-numbing, but it is a break from the routine, so that's one good thing about it.) It's the business side of what we do--as a workshop, we repair cars, motorcycles, small engines of all shapes, sizes, descriptions,. and conditions--we also fabricate special parts and and do lots of welding repairs. We also stock parts for the more common local vehicles, (Toyota Hiluxes, Hiaces, Dynas, Mitsubishi L300s, that kind of thing), which we sell to the public as a service to the local community.

Anyway, every 6 months we have to count everything that we have in stock so that we can keep the finance guys happy. The only problem is that all of us who work in the Ukarumpa Auto Shop are real "hands on" kinds of guys who don't do so well with office work, so while we may be able to rebuild your Toyota Land Cruiser or Honda XR250 in our sleep, some times we struggle with basic office tasks, like navigating an Excel spreadsheet. So every 6 months we have to step out of our "comfort zones" (I detest that term), count fiddly bits and then poke and prod the computers until all the numbers get juggled into information that makes sense. I guess that makes it sound like we aren't quite honest with the numbers, but we are, really.

In other news, our preparation for travelling to Australia is moving right along. As a developing nation, Papua New Guinea faces some real challenges when it comes to medical emergencies, so Wycliffe policy is that we leave the country when it is time to have a baby. Our local clinic and hospitals aren't equipped to deal with some of the complications that can arise during childbirth, and leaving the country also helps to keep us from taxing an already burdened local medical system. So most Wycliffe members who are having babies go to Australia to have them. We chose to go to Melbourne for 3 reasons--1.) we were offered a place to stay with friends, (saves money on hotel costs for 8 weeks!), 2.) in order for the baby to get his/her US citizenship he/she needs to be "sighted" by somebody from the US Embassy, and 3.) I honestly don't know what I would do with myself in Cairns, (which is where most Wycliffe members from PNG go to have babies), for 8 weeks, but in Melbourne I might be able to help out at Wycliffe Australia. Plus I might get the opportunity to develop contacts at motorcycle junkyards, which could come in handy in the future when we need second-hand parts, (which we often do).

Going to Australia to have a baby is a bit more complicated than just hopping on a plane. There are medical visas to be obtained, arrangements to be made with doctors and hospitals, etc. Thankfully my wife is really good at that sort of thing! I'll give more details about that another day. I think I'm done for today...