Thursday, February 17, 2011

a new blog...

For those of you who are interested - I have begun a new least I am going to give it a go and see how long it lasts. Click here for the link. Hope it works....

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A chapter really closed...

It's hard to imagine it still. It's hard to think that we are not going back. It seems so unreal. As we flew out of PNG, it was hard to believe that we would not be returning any time in the near future.

It was a busy and emotional few weeks. It was difficult, but it was good. It started with the mad, mad packing of our things, which involved lots of very frustrating moments (tiresome!!!), but the Lord saw us through. On our last day in PNG we managed to finally get our last piece of paperwork for the transportation of our things - just in the nick of time!

Here are our boxes packed and ready to be picked up (except they weren't picked up - we dropped them off!!!):

And below you can see that our room of boxes was also the sick room - packing and sick kids wasn't the best combination, but it all got done!

The hardest part of our time in Lae, was the goodbyes. Thankfully, our good friends from Tasmania (Gerald and Rosita VanAsperen) could join us for our farewell Sunday, and that was wonderful.

There were goodbyes to this beautiful little girl - dear Louisa - how we all will miss her special, smiling face:

I lead my last Women's Bible Study in PNG, which was followed with a farewell feast for lunch. Here are the ladies (and some kids) who attended the Bible Study:

Ashlyn and Karlyn did their share of hugging and playing. Yes, goodbyes to our colleagues were pretty difficult too, though thankfully we are now seeing them in Cairns and will, DV, see them in WA too!

Our farewell Sunday was a very emotional day. Andrew preached for the last time - a beautiful, emotive message from Matthew 13:44-46.

After the church service there was a special program to farewell us. First we were called to stand up at the front of church. Then member, by member, our brothers and sisters in Christ came to the front to give us gifts and to say their farewells.

The tears and the hugs were very difficult to go through, but also very necessary....Here are just a few pictures to let you get the feeling:

Then different groups performed various items. The women's fellowship group sang psalm 23 which was one of the psalms I translated, and the "whole" congregation below sang psalm 134 beautifully (this was one of the translations I did just before we went on furlough). It was beautiful to hear them sung, and sung so well!

Below is the group that attended on our farewell Sunday - a big day like that always draws some extra people!

After our emotional farewells we were blessed to be able to take a few days in Madang and Ukarumpa with Gerald and Rosita. It was a special time we could have with them (even though we squished both our families - 12 people in total - and our luggage into our 10 seater Nissan Patrol, and travelled across some pretty rough and bumpy roads!!), and also allowed us to farewell some other people and places which are dear to us.

Don't you just love the way that Andrew and Gerald stand so much taller than all the locals?:

We got to go back to "our" village in Madang where we did our training and see our loving Papa and Mama there:

And we were blessed to be able to share good times of fellowship, also over some great meals with our friends:

We also got to go to Ukarumpa where a dessert evening was organised by one of our friends there, for us to farewell some fellow missionaries who we knew especially from our time of training as we entered PNG some 4 years ago. And now we are still enjoying a few days of relaxation in beautiful Cairns.

Here we are on the church property on our last Sunday in PNG:

The chapter is closed. Really closed. Hard to believe, but how good it is to know that the Lord will be there as the next chapter begins. He is the Rock, the Fortress, the Stronghold who sustains all his people throughout the world. May He continue to bless His Church and our dear brothers and sisters in Lae, PNG. May He sustain and bless our dear colleagues (I think I can still call them that...) and friends (that they will remain), the Wildeboers, and also guide and bless the Sikkemas as they prepare to work in Lae. What a comfort to know that God is Faithful. Always faithful and that never changes.

As for us...I am not sure what will become of this blog. At least it will undergo a name change...We will still be serving an Awesome God, just not in Lae, PNG! I am not sure if I will continue to blog, and if I do how it will go.... However, we do want to take this opportunity to thank you for following with us the work that God has been pleased to do in Lae, PNG. We thank you especially for your prayers and also for which ever other way you may have supported the work and us personally. God bless you all and please continue to support and pray unceasingly for God's work in Lae, PNG, for your missionaries there, and for His Kingdom building work all over the world.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

We are really, truly in Lae...

It's been one of those weeks where it has been made abundantly clear that we are really and truly back in Lae. Lest we forget. Lest we begin to think (as some may do when they come here for a short time) that life in Lae is actually pretty "easy" and not really that hard and difficult.

Yes, we got our packing done in two days (all excited to have it done!!!), only to have them not come and get our stuff that day or the next. After countless phonecalls, we discovered that their truck had broken we brought our own stuff to the transport company (all 55 boxes/items). Only to find them "dumping" our boxes in some strange dusty place, open to all the elements (including rain, if it would rain - thankfully it didn't). When we "demanded" that all our things be put somewhere else, they found some empty container to lock them up in. Andrew spent (and is still spending) many hours trying to track down what is going on, meanwhile watching our boxes being wrapped with not much care. And then the proper packing staff were all off drunk, and, well, let's just say we were/are very frustrated.

But that is just our stuff.... material things. Friday night, as we were thinking of getting the girls ready for bed we just stopped suddenly as about 6 loud gunshots went off right near our house. We told the kids to get away from the windows and Andrew ran upstairs to look out of our window which has a great view to all the dramas on the street (and we sure have seen some in our time!). Apparently some criminals had hi-jacked a car and the police were busy "shooting" them off the road. Just another day in Lae.

Saturday was another day of dealing with "hevis" (burdens). As Andrew went for a walk at about midday he went past a small group of men on the corner of the entrance to the Biwat settlement. He waved and said "hi" to them as he always does when he passes people, but they looked a little sheepish and only acknowledged him briefly. He soon found out why. No sooner had he passed them (about 10-20m past them) when he turned to see them holding up a passing car. A group of men, armed with guns surrounded the car, and when the man wouldn't get out they pulled him out and proceeded to bash him. He staggered off, bleeding, as the criminals raided his car after emptying his pockets. Andrew followed the man who made it to a nearby police station.

Then, as I was preparing dinner in the afternoon I suddenly saw the face of Julie (our house help) at the window. She was shaking and disheveled. I rushed outside to her, only to have her tell me that her daughter, Katherine, was dying, after being attacked by her husband in a jealous rage. She kept saying (but she wasn't particularly cohesive) that Katherine "died" (but that also means to be unconcious in this language), but she wanted Andrew to come and get her (she has no access to a car for transportation). I first asked if she needed us to bring her to the morgue, only to have her tell me that Katherine was still breathing (but "just a little bit"). She rambled on and on about Katherine's husband attacking her straight in her heart and Andrew and I were both just picturing him stabbing her. Anyway, of course Andrew went straight out there with her. He arrived to find Katherine okay. She had been beaten and one of her husband's blows hit her straight in the chest and knocked her unconscious and also taking the wind out of her which was why Julie reported her only "breathing a little bit." When Katherine was knocked unconscious, Julie had run to our house (not just up the road - it's a least 5km) in panic and fear to get help. Julie also had a huge bump on her head where she had been hit. Well, we were so thankful to hear that Katherine was alright, but Andrew spent over an hour there opening God's word to both Katherine and her husband (yes, he had calmed down by then), as well as many others around them. However, Satan still has a strong-hold in this family, and this morning Katherine has been "rescued" by her father and brought back to her village, as her husband continued to abuse her the following day.

Then, after church yesterday, as we were cooling off in our pool after a long and very hot service, enjoying the company of our colleagues, a phonecall came through to Nadia from a member of our church who was being attacked by her husband. Ian and Andrew decided to walk into Biwat together. They arrived to find her husband heading up the ladder into their house with a big knife. What ensued was a crazy confusion of Ian grabbing the man and pulling him away from his wife and Andrew getting the knife from him. After the man went down the stairs again, Andrew "stood gaurd" at the base of the steps, and Ian at the door, hoping to keep the man, now armed with an iron bar and rocks, away from his wife. Eventually they managed to escort the woman away to safety. What baffled Ian and Andrew was the way others around them just ran off and kept away. They must have looked quite the sight - two white men standing up to this enraged and dangerous Papua New Guinean, to protect his wife. This goes on all the time in the settlements. Women are bashed, even to death, and no-one does anything. No-one wants to get involved, lest the abusive man turn his anger on them, and continue to harrass them in the future (this is a real fear). But meanwhile the abuse just continues and continues unabated. Even many pastors accross this country seem to feel that it is okay to hit your wife if she does something wrong. How desperate is the need for Christ's love to penetrate deep into the heart of this country, for His Word to be expounded in all its truth!

This is PNG. This is the life that missionaries here deal with on a day-to-day basis, and this doen't even touch many other stressful elements of the work. Pray, pray and do not stop praying. Although we know that it is our time to leave the work here, there is a sense of grief in this area too, not because we enjoy this kind of pain and heartache, but because we see how much work there is to do, and how great a need there is to support eachother in this work. We know the hardship of "being on your own" on the mission field, as the Wildeboers soon will be (for some time, thankfully God is preparing the way for the Sikkemas to come!) It pains us, and yet we know that God Almighty is in control and He will do as He sees fit. He will sustain, and comfort and provide.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Back in the Land of the Unexpected and the Land of wonderful people

We are back in Lae, back in the land of the unexpected! How is it unexpected, you ask? Well, take hopping onto an Air Niugini flight and watching a man board holding a Coleman lantern (you know those kerosene ones? We presume it still had kerosene in it because the air hostess took it off him after looking into it - thankfully someone was alert!)...and he got through security??? Or take getting from the airport in Lae to our house in a Guard Dog Bus, and then just when we are almost home (after an hour and a half - it was airconditioned, so not too tedious) the driver decides to ignore a "road closed" sign down a steep and stoney hill, only to find it was really, truly inaccessible this time, meaning a 3 point turn, in a bus, on a hill, with steep sides, and only loose stones for tread! Then there's a newly erected stop sign at the entrance to a roundabout (circle, for you Canadians) - A stop sign, at a roundabout?? Then there's Andrew going into some companies early Monday morning to arrange the transport of our earthly goods to Australia, only to call me a bit later telling me that "the packing needs to be done by tomorrow afternoon, as the ship is going soon, and else we'll miss out if we don't do it now as a ship is going soon"!!!

So a mad pack it was - 2 crazy days, also crazier as a stomach bug hit our family. Shiana threw up in Cairns airport, in Port Moresby airport, and twice back here in Lae. Kirilee fainted in church on our first Sunday back whilst standing for the first songs - she had succumbed to the bug too. And Monday night Ashlyn spent the night vomiting, keeping our already tired bodies up when they so wanted to sleep, and she still is struggling to get rid of it, with a fever lingering on.

But, the packing is now done, and that is great, and such a blessing (though we are still waiting for our boxes to be picked up - um, they didn't get around to it today even though we were told it had to be done by today to make the ship!!!)

And this Land of the Unexpected just has such a beautiful side to it that it just pulls at your heart strings. Sunday was a beautiful day. Hugs of joy at seeing eachother again and some tears, knowing that our time together will be short. A beautiful Profession of Faith service. What a blessing. Shiana was super excited that dear Louisa ("her" little girl here in church- she's a bit over a year and half old) still remembered her. She actually came walking straight up to her and put her arms out for Shiana to pick her up!! It was so nice to be back in the Church Family here. How we have missed these services! There's something about them that we just miss when we are in Australia! Of course, I forgot my Camera (hello, Natalie, you have 3 Sundays here and you forget your camera!!???) So if you want to see some photos of our Sunday, you'll have to check out our colleagues' blog here .

The girls have been enjoying the Wildeboer children so much again. I think Ashlyn and Karlyn spent most of the Sunday Service hugging eachother (in the sweltering heat!!). And we have been enjoying the company of our colleagues again too, though it is hard to imagine that the special bond we have is coming to an end (well undergoing a great change, anyway!!)

So it is good to be back, albeit for such a short time. Andrew and I commented to eachother that we are glad that we did not have make the decision to leave the work here, whilst we were living here. The decision would have been the same, but it would have been so much harder to come to the decision whilst we were here. But God knows all of that too, and He has given us everything we have needed, and we know He will continue to do so!!

Friday, November 5, 2010

presentations and parties

Our dear second daughter asked me quietly a couple of days ago, after scanning over our blog (the girls often do that, and it is a great way for them to remember our life in PNG), "Mum, how come you blogged about Ashlyn's birthday and not mine?" OOPS! And now she will probably read this one day soon and say, "Mum, you shouldn't have said that". But, hey, you didn't hear it from me, okay!?

But I'll start before her birthday, actually even before the last post, when we headed to Tassie to present the mission work in Lae to the churches and school there, and where, incidently, I also celebrated my birthday in Hobart.

At a park in Hobart where we could "celebrate" my birthday with Andrew's Uncle and Aunt and cousins and their children.

In Hobart we could also catch up with good friends, DongWoo and Joy and their gorgeous children:

We also managed to head up Mount Wellington and see some snow. I, for one, had no interest in the white stuff, having had my fair share in Canada, and not particularly fond of the cold and messy stuff! Ashlyn, however, was insistent. She has always thought it rather unfair that even though she was born in Canada, she has no recollection of snow like the rest of the family does. So this little Canadian finally got to see some snow and remember it:

We also were blessed to visit with Andrew's Grandma. She is 95 and is still living on her own. It was good to see her again and we are thankful for that opportunity.

We did a mission presentation in Hobart, and also in Launceston. Turnouts were great and people responded really well. A blessing indeed! A few days after our return to WA we were able to do a presentation in the Albany churches and the school, with great turnouts and lots of enthusiasm again.

A week after we left Tasmania, Andrew's parents could visit us in Albany. Dad had to come for a classis meeting anyhow, so Mum decided to join him. They stayed with us for a short 6 days, but we had a good time nevertheless. While they were here we decided to celebrate Shiana's 10th birthday a few days early with a party in the park with her class mates and cousins:

And here's a couple of photos we took while Andrew's parents were here:

Kirilee and her grandpa

Our family!

A few days after Dad and Mum VDH left we (Andrew and Ashlyn and I) headed to Perth for more presenations and meetings. From Monday to Friday we did 3 presentations in various churches, 3 school presentations, had a board meeting and a homevisit, as well as another more informal meeting. My parents came along as a babysitter for Ashlyn. As Ashlyn is still working on adjusting to the changes in her little life, we thought this was the best arrangement for her (she wasn't ready for us to desert her for a few days just yet), and it did work out well. It was a full but wonderful week! Doing the presentations was in some way hard, as we know that the Lord has closed the chapter on our work there, and that was really brought home to us. However, at the same time the presentations worked to help us "debrief" somewhat and it was beautiful and rewarding to see that people have a real and genuine interest for God's work in PNG!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Closing a chapter

As most of you probably already know, we as family have come to a decision that we are no longer able to work in Lae, PNG. This decision was not an easy one for us to make, and it is one we made with great sadness, however, it was the decision we felt the Lord was leading us to make. Due to our recurrent miscarriages, it is not feasible for our family to be in Lae. For this reason we will not be returning to PNG to work (though we do plan to go back for a very short time to say our goodbyes and pack our things). In many ways it just seems so final. True, we would have had to say our goodbyes one day, we just had hoped it would not be so soon, and we know that one day we will share eternity with all of our brothers and sisters in Christ from all over the world. And yet it is difficult.

Yet God has taught us once again that His ways are higher and our plans are just that - Our plans. And if His plans are different from ours, then who are we to try and resist? And so we trust that He will provide, not only for us but for our dear colleagues and friends, the Wildeboers, for our beloved brothers and sisters in Lae, PNG, and we know He will continue to work. After all, God doesn't need us (His work will continue, regardless!), He is just sometimes pleased to use sinful human beings. And we are so thankful for the privelege of working in PNG, we are so thankful for the friends we have made along the way (both in Canada and PNG, both "white skins" and "black skins"), we are so thankful for all the experiences we could have (both the good and bad), for the support from the home front we felt, and especially for the abiding faithfulness of a Loving God!

Friday, September 3, 2010

We are alive and Ashlyn is Five!!

A title that rhymes! So, so dull and tacky, but sometimes a title is the most difficult thing of writing a blog - and then dull and tacky has to do!!

We are still here, albeit in Australia. Sometimes I want to get back on this blog and write more often, but then I just wonder what I will write about... Sure we check in with the PNG news via their online newspapers....but that's just it. When you read about the fire and looting near the girl's school (which caused the school to close....and Shiana thought she was ripped off as she still had to go to school in Australia, and "if I had been in Lae I would have had a day off!!); or you read about the major fighting going on at uni-tech leaving a couple of students dead; then life seems pretty "normal" over here.

But "normal" is good too, so let me share our "normal" at the moment:

The girls are at school (Grade 6, 4 and pre-school) and here they are dressed for school on their first day way back in early July:

Andrew has been doing lots of gardening and met a few friends like this one I think large lizards are quite cute (yeah, I know, kind of strange!!) I kindly volunteered to relocate it for him so it would stop hissing at him every time he tried to dig near it. Poor Lizzy, he was just trying to catch a little winter sun...

yeah, i know, I like lizards, but I wasn't sure he liked me as much so I decided protect myself with a garden glove, just in case (though it was pretty thin, so I am not sure it would have helped if he decided to bite me...)

I have spent many hours behind the computer working on a DVD for our presentation. And it is done!! Well, I still need to make a few more copies and make some labels, but I am so glad it is done as it is always a big job (but it is fun too!). I also just finished making some photos posters to bring along to presentations, too!

And then, our dear youngest daughter turned 5! We are so thankful for this little girl, who is such a blessing in our lives. She was so excited to have a birthday in Australia, and I tell you, it is much easier finding birthday presents here!! Actually, I had to really reign myself in on the birthday present is so much fun, and there are so many great toys to choose from, and Ashlyn is our youngest, and she has very few toys here in Albany (they are all in Lae)...and, well, lots of reasons and excuses when you are walking through a Target or a Kmart!!!!

Ashlyn had a party last Saturday with her school friends....It was a gorgeous day - beautiful sunshine all day.

....waiting for her friends to arrive...

...lots of smiles...

...blowing out her candle...

...some of her friends getting ready to play a game...

And below are some shots of the group of party kids - the one boy is my nephew, Nathan (he was more than happy to be there with all the girls!!)

So we are alive and Ahslyn is Five!! Blessings all round!!