Sunday, March 30, 2008

another Sunday

Hi everyone. It’s been a while since I’ve updated the blog…but sometimes the days just pass and before we know it another weekend is upon us. The week has just been busy with this and that. This morning we went to worship in Tent Siti. Last night Ashlyn was awake a fair bit and she woke up with a slight fever and was just unwell. However, I decided to still go to church, as I figured that if she was feeling unwell, she might just sit still on me quietly for a change. But as we neared church (about a 15 minute drive from our house), Ashlyn suddenly began to vomit in the car. Andrew quickly pulled over and I hung her out the door and she vomited the rest on the grass. However, she got a lot of it in her hair and also on her dress. It stank!! Well, we continued on to Tent Siti and I cleaned her up as best as I could (thankfully they do have a tap there, so I could wash her a little bit.) I ended up pulling her dress off, washing it and then putting it back on her wet. She was not very impressed with that , but at least we live in a warm climate, so she didn’t freeze. She was a bit grumpy for a while, and had a good afternoon sleep, but for the rest seems to be okay again. Weird.
Yesterday Andrew and Ian went to Biwat to talk and pray with a group of people. Apparently they were worried about the clothes/belongings of a brother who had died some ten years before. It’s all pretty complicated, but basically traditionally these clothes could hold some evil spirits. They could not simply get rid of the clothes but would need to hold a big feast to rid themselves of the clothes and belongings (to appease evil spirits?). The husband of the woman who came to see Ian and Andrew (she is a member of our church), has periods of extreme anger and lashes out, and they were worried that these clothes of his dead brother had some bad affect on him. But they really wanted to deal with it all in a Christian manner and did not want to just do the traditional/cultural thing. So Ian and Andrew went, but they also made it clear that although removing these clothes could bring closure to the man’s death and thus in some sense give some healing, the clothes (or evil spirits in them) had nothing to do with sin. The actions of anger and aggression are a result of sin, and only coming to Christ in Faith will change the heart of a man. It was also made clear that these clothes and belongings are just that and that they have no power in themselves. We still see so much of this here… a mix of the old and the new, a real desire to do things “in Christ”, but at the same time traditional beliefs still trying to keep a hold of the people. This also requires so much understanding and wisdom from our part, something that only God can give, and therefore we pray for an extra measure of wisdom in these situations.

Monday, March 24, 2008

chilli adventures

Kirilee and Shiana had a sleepover night last night. Shiana went to sleep at her friend's house and Kirilee's friend came here (they are daughters from the SIL family looking after the Lae guesthouse at the moment). They had a really fun night, but at our house the fun really started this morning - not!! They were up nice and early and by the time we came downstairs were outside playing. They were pulling off leaves and bits of plants and I knew they had pulled of a few small chillies too (we have a chilli plant in our garden). However, the girls have often played with them before just for a bit and never had a problem. The problem this time was that they decided to pull all the chillies appart and squish them and squash them and put them in water and make soup which they soaked their hands in as they mixed it. Well we were unaware as we sat inside of what was going on until Kirilee's friend came running inside saying her mouth was burning. I washed it and gave her some milk, but then she touched her eye and that started stinging. Then Kirilee came in screaming and it was full on after that. In the end their hands burned and burned and burned because they had been exposed to the chillies the longest. The rash and stinging on the faces only lasted about half an hour but the hands were just killing the girls. Kirilee was hysterical half the time, her friend was crying - boy were we a miserable sight. I went online madly looking for remedies. The we tried them all - I rubbed their hands in salt and then let them soothe them in cold yoghurt. This did the trick for Kirilee's friend, and after a couple of hours she could relax and smile again. Not so for Kirilee though - her hands burnt and burnt until about 3:30 this afternoon (though getting slowly better all the while, with burts of yelling). We tried everthing from Bicarb-soda, to yoghurt, to milk, to alcohol...but in the end I think it was time that cured it. Well, we all were well enough to go on our scheduled visit to the family at the guesthouse for dinner and we had a good night. Guess the girls learnt a valuable lesson: Don't play with chillies....it's a lot like playing with fire!!!
Goodnight.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter

Firstly, we hope and pray that your Easter was a blessed one and that the knowledge of Christ’s death and resurrection may comfort and strengthen you, whatever your circumstances. Here in Lae we celebrated Easter too. We had a large combined service in Kamkumung with all the Biwat, Tent Siti and Kamkumung members. We enjoyed a time of fellowship with some refreshments after the service too. Sister Ruth Bouway (wife of Pastor Bouway) is currently here from Ekoro, visiting her children. She is an amazing woman. She made 10kg of flour into donuts. I spoke to her again today about it and she told me that she (along with some other family members) worked from early Thursday evening till 3:30am on Good Friday, then slept for a few hours before continuing the work. She is a very giving person in this way and we have benefitted many times from her abilities and tireless efforts. A true blessing. We had a wonderful Friday and a wonderful Sunday too, worshiping with God’s people here. Andrew was supposed to be preaching this Sunday but due to his eye injury was unable to prepare a sermon. His eye does continue to get better, for which we are thankful, though his vision through that eye is cloudy and blurry still, which does put some extra strain on his good eye. We hope and pray it will continue to heal and heal completely.
Julie, the lady who helps me in our house sometimes, had planned to come to church on Good Friday, but she lives out at 4 mile so must take a bus to come in to church. She never made it to church and she calmly told me the reason why. She was waiting at the 4 mile bus stop when a man and his wife were seen having an argument. The lady was sitting on the ground as she was selling produce at the market located there. Anyway, apparently as she sat there her husband, in a fit of rage, grabbed a whole coconut and broke it with full force on the base of her neck (back) which made her fall back and killed her instantly. Just like that. In the open, in front of a crowd of many people. It happened so quickly. Then a huge fight broke out between the members of the woman’s family and the man’s family, so Julie hurried back home to get away from the fight, unwillingly to be caught up in it. The man has since been locked up by the police, and Julie assured me that this was for his own good, because if the police hadn’t locked him up he would have been killed by now in retaliation. How I love having Julie around, not just for her fantastic help in the house, but she is the one I often turn to when I want to understand a cultural incident. She is the one I often turn to when I need to ask how I should approach a certain incident or deal with a certain cultural problem. And her stories that keep on coming continue to make us understand and know more fully the lives of the people we are ministering too.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

vision

It’s been quiet on this blog for a few days…not because nothing has been happening. In fact, quite the opposite! We’ve been on an unscheduled trip out of town. But this morning we arrived safely back in Lae. So what was the unscheduled trip about?....I will start at the beginning. On Saturday, while brush-cutting at one of our church blocks, a stone or something flicked into Andrew’s eye. By night time it was extremely painful and Andrew could do nothing but lay with his eyes shut. On Sunday morning we tried to do something in Lae by visiting a doctor, but the doctor did not even look in his eye, just gave him some antibiotics. It probably was good that this doctor did not play around with his eye, as you really don’t want someone untrained in the area to play around in an eye.
The pain, however, was continuing to worsen, to a point where Andrew could not eat or do anything but stay in a darkened room. Even strong painkillers did nothing. In PNG there is a SIL village/centre in the highlands called Ukarumpa. We knew that there was a good clinic there with medical doctors from the US. So using some contacts we had through Ian and Nadia, I spoke to one of the doctors and she said we should be seen sooner rather than later. The Lord provided and there “ just happened” (Of course it was Providentially planned) to be a MAF pilot in Ukarumpa for the weekend (we know the pilot as he used to live in the same compound as us in Lae with his wife), and he was willing to fly to Lae to pick us up. So I had 15 minutes to pack before Ian took us to the airport ( a long 50 minute or so drive) and then we (Andrew, Ashlyn and I – the other girls stayed with Ian and Nadia) flew on the tiny Cessna to Ukarumpa where we were immediately picked up and taken directly to the clinic. The people were all so good to us. The doctors really showed us much care – a real reason for thankfulness. The doc looked at Andrew’s eye and reported a very large scratch right across his line of vision (one of the longest scratches he had ever seen) which is why it was so painful and why Andrew couldn’t use the eye at all and was very sensitive to light. Anyway we were seen again Monday morning but at this time they were not yet happy to let us go home again. So we stayed and saw the doc again on Tuesday. The doctor explained to us that we should really see him again in the morning (Today) before our flight out (at 7am with pick up at 6am). He also said that we should see him again in the next few weeks if possible. Well the girls have school holidays in 3 weeks so we booked to go back to Ukarumpa (hopefully by road this time – it’s a 3 ½ hour drive from Lae).
Apart from infection (which does not seem to be setting in which is something to be very thankful for, especially in this climate), the other worry is scarring. Sometimes an abrasion like this one in the eye will leave scarring and if the abrasion/scratch was not across the line of vision this would not be a problem. However, because Andrew’s scratch goes directly across his line of vision, scarring could damage his vision and this would mean laser surgery by an eye specialist There may be one in Goroka (near Ukarumpa) who would be able to do this, but if not we may have to travel further afield. However, this is only a possibility that this may be necessary and our sincere hope and prayer is that it will heal completely and not leave any scar tissue.
So now we are back in Lae. Wonderful people in Ukarumpa (the Sommers) organized carefully our passage out of Ukarumpa again. So this morning we flew on a Cessna again this morning, this time an SIL plane which was able to fit us in. They really have been good to us. It is so amazing flying on a little plane like that over the mountains. You actually really get to see something. Sometimes the mountains were even higher than the height we were flying at. On the way back to Lae we stopped in a small out-of-the way village to drop off a national pastor. It was a new experience for us to land on a bumpy overgrown “runway” in the middle of the jungle of PNG. Anyway, at least on this trip Andrew wasn’t in so much pain and could even enjoy it and see a bit out of his good eye. We truly were amazed at the wonderful creation here in PNG! Flying over vast expanses of mountain, watching from the sky as cascading waterfalls thunder down the mountains – an awesome sight truly the handiwork of our awesome Creator. Ashlyn was a bit grumpy, however, as she developed a fever on our last night in Ukarumpa (last night) and kept us awake most of the night, but since we arrived in Lae she has been doing much better – maybe she was home sick???
We were so happy to be back home, and see Kirilee and Shiana again. Ian and Nadia did a great job of caring for them and we are so thankful for their willingness to do this. The girls are so at home there anyway as we live so close to each other. Andrew is just taking it a bit easy. He still can’t read or look at the computer (small amounts at a time is okay, but any longer causes a lot of straining and pain again, also on the good eye because it is overworking.)
Anyway, a few days of more new experiences for us! It brought home to us again how easily accidents can happen and how different it is when they happen in a place where the availability of medical care is not always what it would be “back home”. But God is good and he is caring for us all, wherever we are. Sleep well!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

another death...

It’s been a busy few days, so now I am finally sitting down to tell you about them. It hasn’t always been busy in a pleasant way. On Thursday afternoon we got word that a daughter of a member (Rebeka) of our Kamkumung congregation had died. So at 5:30pm Andrew and Ian rushed to be with the family (they actually had another meeting planned, but postponed that meeting till after visiting Rebeka). The daughter was called Nancy and she was about 19 years old. She had often come to church with her mother too. However, quite a few months ago (maybe a year ago?) she contracted tuberculosis (TB) and was quite sick, thus preventing her from joining us in worship many times. She also spent a long time in hospital. Towards the end of last year/beginning of this year she was doing much better, and went back home, basically living a normal life. However, a couple of weeks ago she got sick again with TB and was admitted into hospital again. She spent the last week of her life in a coma and toward the end of her life was put into ward 5c. This ward is apparently known as the 50-50 ward by locals, which basically means that a patient will be put in there if his/her life is hanging in the balance and he/she has got 50% chance of dying or living. Well, young Nancy lost her battle for earthly life on Thursday afternoon. Actually her breathing got really bad, and apparently the doctors were considering tubing her, but her mother said she would take her home. That she did, and Nancy died an hour later. Death just seems to occur so often here, from things which we know would often be prevented in our western society.
Please pray for Rebeka. She has had a hard life and lost her husband some ten years ago. She has an older daughter and a younger son, but does not see them much. Nancy was a daughter who was very close to her. Rebeka is an amazing woman, a hard worker who has a quiet strength about her. Also in her grief, her faith and belief in the wisdom of her Heavenly Father is clearly evident. Nancy, we found out, also left behind a husband. (In this culture it is not unusual to not realise that someone is married, unless you specifically ask, as men and women often do thing rather separately). He was also at the funeral, and obviously in grief. He needs our prayers too, especially because it would seem (as far as we know) that he is not a believer, at least not in the sense that Christ is Lord and Saviour of his life.
Because Nancy died at home, and Rebeka did not want to bring her body to the morgue, the burial had to be done very quickly. Thus on Friday afternoon we gathered in Kamkumung church to hold a funeral and then bury her body. Nadia looked after our children so I could go along with Ian and Andrew. We arrived just before 3 pm and waited for about half an hour before the body was brought in a coffin to the front of the church. I sat just up from Rebeka and as I watched her it moved me. There she sat with her bare feet and head bowed. Her grief was so obvious, but her hope in Christ was too. The church was full with family members, many who had never been to our church before. Andrew was able to open the gospel with them, comforting them with the riches contained therein. Please pray, too, that the Lord may have used this funeral as a way to reach others in Rebeka’s extended family who do not know Him.
After the church service we drove a short distance to park our car further into the Kamkumung settlement. This family group has their own “cemetery” on their own land (it is the family of Rebeka’s late husband). Then we walked for about 10 minutes, behind the coffin to the small family cemetery, where Ian spoke a few words, we sang and prayed and then the body was buried. We all waited for almost an hour afterward as they filled in the huge hole they had dug to bury her in. When it was completely filled in we walked back and then drove the short distance back to Rebeka’s house, where we were given some food (culturally this is their way of thanking us for being there for them). It was getting pretty late, and we did not arrive back home till after 6:30pm. I was getting a little worried about the girls, well actually I was feeling bad for Nadia, but they were all doing fine.
It was a long, sad day, but also an uplifting one. God is strengthening his people. He truly is a loving Father.
Oh…and to continue on the story from last time – the saga about the daughter of Julie. I found out on Friday from Julie that the husband had already found himself another woman/wife (only 2 days after Julie’s daughter left). Apparently even his own family were angry and upset by this behaviour of his and for this reason he has been forced to take up residence somewhere else for the time being. I always wonder what I am going to hear next…

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

where is the justice in this??

As I type this story, I know, and you must remember, that I am not privy to all aspects of PNG culture, I full far short of understanding their ways. So my interpretation of the events will naturally be coloured by my own western cultural experiences (that’s my attempt at a disclaimer….), and of course the story comes from only one source…
Let me explain – it may be a long story…mmm… You see, this morning Julie (the lady who helps me in the house a few times a week) came. I could tell by her face that something was wrong. Anyway, it came out that she needed a K200 loan. But the story goes back a long way…so I’ll start at the beginning. Last year Julie’s daughter was “taken” by a man. In other words a man, who had seen her walking around a few times decided he wanted her, so when she was walking alone and he was with his boss and another couple of men (thus being obviously stronger than her) he “took” her to his house and made her his wife (firstly in the physical sense and later by some other, more “legal” means). Julie didn’t know where she was first of all, but soon found out that this man had taken her for his wife. She didn’t like it, the daughter didn’t like it, but they were advised by their family to accept it or face the anger of the “husband” and his family/friends, which would probably end in violence.
So this “marriage” went on for a few months. However, this week, Julie decided enough was enough. The “husband” did not care for his wife. He didn’t hit or beat her (which is in a strange way is something to be thankful for in this society), but he gave her very little money, and wasted most of his pay on getting drunk. So Julie sent her daughter back to her village where her (Julie’s) parents will care for her and where she can work in her garden and provide for herself. Anyway, consequently the husband took Julie to the local settlement court (just a small community court) and she was subsequently instructed to pay the husband (her son-in-law) K200 (which is a lot of money in this country), because she sent his wife away. Can you get your mind around that? As she told me the story (about the court decision) this morning I could feel my anger rising at the injustice of it all, but she was just accepting of it. She said the court sympathised with her but suggested the amount to appease the husband, because they were worried that if she didn’t appease him, he would come after her in anger and would harm her (maybe very badly). So that is that. She will pay and continue on with her life. Sadly, all to often, that's just the way it is for many women in PNG. How we need the love of God to work mightily in this land and throughout the whole world!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Sunday in Tent Siti


















Our cheeky Ashlyn on Sunday Morning


Remember I told a story a few weeks ago about the death of a nephew of one of the members of our church in Tent Siti? Well, the body has been at the morgue ever since simply because the family was trying to get money together to transport the body back to his village to be buried. However, on Saturday they arrived at our compound bright and early to say that they were going to bury the body here in Lae as they could not get the money together. So Andrew transported the body in a simple plywood coffin from the morgue to Tent Siti where it would spend the night before the burial on Sunday. As they travelled along and neared Tent Siti more and more mourners jumped on the back of the ute (or truck for the Canadians….). Then on Sunday afternoon at 3pm, Andrew and Ian went out again to Tent Siti, this time to pick the body up and transport it to the cemetery where they also stayed for the burial which was lead by the national pastor at Tent Siti.


It was a busy Sunday. In the morning our family went to Tent Siti at about 9 am. It was the first time we (our family) had been there to worship in the new church building, and the second Sunday which they used the church building for worship. There were a number of newcomers (a break-off from the Lutheran Church) who came to join us. Because of this we had a bit of a welcome lunch afterwards with these people. As I have mentioned before, the Tent Siti group have been going through a rough time (Satan is busy trying to destroy Christ’s handiwork), so we pray that this congregation may grow in number but especially in faith and spiritual vitality. We arrived home after the service just before 2pm and had about half an hour to cool down and rest before Andrew and Ian left for the burial.


Here are some pictures from our Sunday:
The new Church Building










A mother and her three sleeping children after the service



A girl enjoying her meal




Talking after the meal



Sunday School singing

Friday, March 7, 2008

trying again



See if I can get the photos to upload now...


Just two shots of our beautiful (okay, so we're biased but parents are allowed to be...) daughters.

BTW as you can see from the photos the girls are all pretty happy and healthy again. Kirilee got better pretty quickly. Ashlyn is still having a bit of trouble with her ears (waking at night because of the pain from time to time and also screaming if she/we touches or bumps it), but she is happy and healthy for the rest. So we are very thankful for that. Health is another one of those things we often take for granted, but every moment of health is a blessing from God!

Andrew said there was a great turnout in Tent City last night for the fellowship/Bible Study which is another great blessing. The Tent City congregation has been going through some rough times (where God's Word is present the Devil works hard to destroy everything)...but the Lord is still very busy there. That's why the great turnout was an extra special blessing (it always is of course...but sometimes things strike us as especially wonderful!) May our Heavenly Father continue to perserve his people!!






Thursday, March 6, 2008

oh the things we take for granted

Oh the things we take for granted….as I stand at the front of the class and try and break words into syllables by clapping to show the breakup, as I teach the letter p and a (the “a” only has one sound in Tok Pisin – the “a” is like "a" at the end of the English word umbrella) and go over the sound again and again in many different ways, and then ask one of the ladies again the sound of one of them and she has absolutely no idea…I just think, “how wonderful to be brought up in a literate household where from day one our children are exposed to books and words and sounds”. Just imagine I could not read, to myself or to my children. Unbelievable. What a blessing to know how to read and write.
But… we got there in the end. The lesson was slower than expected but by the end of it all the ladies knew the two sounds and could form them into the word “papa”. So there is progress which is very exciting, but now I just need patience to match my excitement…mmm…
I just thought I would post some photos I took this afternoon of the girls, but my connection died halfway while uploading them, so maybe I will try tomorrow. We had an early supper/tea/dinner (whatever you want to call it depending where you live!!) as Andrew is at Tent City tonight to do a Bible study fellowship, so while it was still light outside we went out and got some snaps after Andrew left.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

a morning at home

Well, I am supposed to be at Bible Study right now with the ladies from Kamkumung and Biwat, but I am not…instead I am at home with Kirilee home from school. She was already sick on Sunday night. Ashlyn has been unwell too, complaining of a sore ear and awake a lot in the nights… Sunday night was lots of fun with Shiana awake because of the thunderstorm, Ashlyn with a sore ear, and Kirilee with high fever, headaches and nausea (she vomited in the wee hours of the morning!!) Anyway, since I wanted to bring Ashlyn to the doc to get antibiotics for what I was pretty sure was an ear infection, I figured I may as well bring Kirilee along as well. Because of her high fever and headaches they decided to do a malaria blood slide (standard over here with such symptoms) but thankfully it came back negative (I didn’t really think she had malaria but you can’t be too careful). However, they said that her blood showed the presence of some infection so she is on antibiotics too (not too sure about that one, but anyway, we’ll see….). Ashlyn is on antibiotics again, this time for her ear infection… Anyway, they are both on the mend it seems and last night Kirilee slept pretty well although Ashlyn was a bit restless and in pain after about 2 am… Whenever our kids are sick, I am so grateful that we have the means to go to the doctor and to buy medicines. We live in a country where many are not so privileged. How blessed we are!
Well an extra morning at home means that I can try and get organised for my literacy course a bit earlier . I am looking after Karlyn and Jonathan for Nadia (since I am home anyway), though, so she can do the Bible Study without worry about looking after them, but they’re happy kids so it will be fine. Anyway, if I don’t get it done today there is always tomorrow!!
The Bible Study/fellowship evenings are starting again in the churches this week. Andrew hopes to lead the Tuesday afternoon/evening one in Kamkumung and the Thursday night one in Tent Siti. The Tuesday one is at 5pm so if I can be organised I hope to go along with the kids most weeks, which is what I did last year and I really enjoyed it (although today I will have to give it a miss because of sick kids).
Anyway, I started this a while ago (and was interrupted many times in the process!) and need to get on with something else… Have a good day and God bless you wherever you are in this big wide world of His!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Another day, another srtory

Well, the older two girls are out visiting this morning. At the moment there is a young SIL family looking after the Lae SIL guesthouse. The are usually Bible translators in a village but are doing this job for a few months now while the usual managers are in Australia on furlough. Anyway, the nice thing is that they have two older girls, one Kirilee's age and the other Shiana's age. They get on really well together, so this morning they were invited over there to play for the day. Andrew is out at a meeting, and I am home with Ashlyn. So while she is busy playing I thought I would quickly blog since this computer is online anyway while I try and update our Norton!

In the last blog I wrote that Andrew was at a school meeting. He came home soon after and had heard at the school meeting that a small group of school teachers from the school were threatened by a gang of knife-wielding boys/men. Apparently the teacher who was shot a week or so ago was with them and was a bit shaken up again by this second incident in a few weeks. The attack occured outside a supermarket where I shop every week, but I gathered they were walking there and apparently no one was injured - I think it was broken up by others (maybe the security guards???). It was wonderful that noone was injured but it still is unsettling for those involved. I remember Kirilee saying something wonderful in relation to crime once. I think we were pulling up to a store and she noticed that there were no security guards out the front. She commented that this was not very good and safe (there are usually security guards outside most stores) but then hurriedly added something like, "but that's okay, Mum, because we've got the Lord and he's the best security guard." Don't kids just say things in complete faith...oh, to be more childlike in faith!!

Anyway, it's time to get going. My Norton has finished updating and I still need to prepare a few things as this afternoon Nadia and I are getting together with some church members to "train" some of them to teach Sunday School...

Must go....