Thursday, May 29, 2008

some brightness!

Had a great time at the literacy course today. I left the class on a bit of a high, which felt good! One of the ladies that is struggling to make progress, actually appeared to be making real progress today. I pointed to various pictures and she was able to point to the letter which marked the first sound of each picture. It was only using three letters, but this is a big step for her. She has been getting so frustrated and discouraged, especially since some of the other ladies are streets ahead of her, but judging by the smile on her face today, she got a real boost. Hopefully this will be the start of her "catching on". Another lady, however, who joined us late is still struggling majorly. Watching the first lady appear to catch on to some things today, gives me hope that she too will catch on in due time.

Then there are some of the other ladies who continue to do really well. They are also encouraging. And then there is Gami, a lady who comes almost every week to help me out. I am so thankful for her commitment and dedication. She is always willing to help students that are struggling, to do some extra work with some students where it is needed. What a blessing she is!

Anyhow, thought I would just share the days joys with you all.

BTW, Andrew went back to the dr on Tuesday morning as his ear was getting sore again and the other ear was sore as well. I told him that he was not allowed to wait another day before going back, and given the way his ear turned out last time, he did not argue. Turns out the bad ear is still infected and an infection was creeping inside the other ear too! So back on the antibiotics and he's doing okay. Doesn't feel 100% but good enough to do work as per normal...

Monday, May 26, 2008

a highs and lows weekend

Let me start with the highs...

We had a wonderful visit with Uncle Hans and Aunty Margaret! They arrived on Friday as the volunteers left. On Friday night they treated us along with the Wildeboers to dinner at a local hotel. Then on Saturday they ate dinner at our house and on Sunday night we had a BBQ together at the Wildeboers. We took them around a little bit on Saturday afternoon, just to some of the "touristy" places in Lae, and this morning before they flew out we all went to a local coffee shop together. Check out the photos below as proof they were actually here!

The two pictures above are at the Lae War Memorial

At the coffee shop waiting patiently for our refreshments!

Ashlyn and I went along with Andrew for the drive to the airport this morning to say our goodbyes. It was great having family over in Lae. And they really came on one of those weekends! It was a stressful weekend, due to the ongoing problems in one of our churches. Saturday morning (and into the early afternoon) was taken up with meetings and then on Sunday we hurried home from church (at about 1/1:30pm) for Andrew and Ian to have a quick lunch before rushing off twenty minutes later for another meeting which lasted till about 5:45 pm or so. Meeting Marathons and very stressful meetings at that.

Consequently there has been many nauseous stomachs and headaches in the families here on the mission field. As the stresses go on the waves of nausea and sleeplessness come and go. But was know our sleepless and ever watchful Lord is in control and even though sometimes the stress and problems seem to pervade all the work here, we do see evidence of God's goodness around us too.

Stress, however, was not the only thing causing sleeplessness on Saturday night. All night our neighbours over the fence were make noises, dragging something along the concrete floor outside. We could not figure out what they were doing, all we knew was that it was waking us up continually. Then suddenly at about 4 am a loud wailing began. I looked out the window and could just see the feet of someone they were moving to the ground, obviously who had just died. The wailing continued until daylight and into the next day, ending our sleep for the night. And last night we managed to drown out the wailing (it was way quieter last night) by shutting the windows and turning the fan up, but then at about 3am we were awakened by loud clanging and banging. We looked out the window again and saw that men were walking around the house loudly banging objects, obviously scaring away evil spirits. That went on into dawn of this morning! And then tonight they have a huge bunch of people gathered around singing praise and worship songs. Such a contrast to last night, but so common here. There is often such a mix of religious traditions. Many believe in the Power of God, but at the same time will practice more traditional rituals "just to make sure" that the evil spirits are truly kept at bay. We hope tonight will be more restful...but these haus krais (house cry) sometimes go on for some time. As long as it is subdued crying (as it is often during the day) it is not really disturbing us, and we are really enjoying the hearty singing tonight!

Anyway, I think that's about it from out here. Good night all.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Just a short update

The volunteers are leaving tomorrow. They have done great work and the people here are so grateful. As they leave we welcome Uncle Hans and Aunty Margaret (a brother of my Dad) who are currently in Port Morseby visiting Wayne and Cheronne (Cheronne is their daughter!). They are coming to Lae just for the weekend to visit us and the Wildeboers. It will be wonderful to have them here for a few days and we are thankful that they will make the extra flight to see us all.

I thought I would just update you on a few other things too. Andrew's infected ear is doing much better for which we are thankful. It is still slightly swollen and sometimes is a little bit painful, but overall it is doing well. Some people have also asked about Andrew's eye...that is doing fine now. We contacted some specialists in Australia and they felt that because the pain was gone and his sight was good, there was no urgency for an appointment to look at his corneal scar. So we are very thankful for that too!

Anyway, Ashlyn is grumpy and needs her bed. I was thinking about posting a few more photos, but maybe next time...

Monday, May 19, 2008

volunteers and ears

...even thought they rhyme, the two parts of the title have nothing to do with one another.

The first one is good the second is not. Yes, we have volunteers here from Australia at the moment. There was 5 of them but now the number is down to 4 as one returned home early due to health concerns. It has been wonderful to have some new people around. They have done, and are still doing some amazing work. They concreted the floor of the Kamkumung church and are now working on a room for one of our elderly members (under the manse). They are also doing some other bits and pieces. As far as we can tell they are having a great time. Apart from work they have been experiencing many new things, getting to know the locals and enjoying many other experiences. Here's some pics:

Working on that floor

Korinda and Andrea came to the literacy course and helped out (as best as they could without knowing the language!)

On Saturday Andrew took the volunteers for a pretty drive and also to a village to get a bit of a taste of village life. Here Andrea is practicing peeling cooking bananas!

And then there's the ears. Ashlyn has been suffering from yet another ear infection (wakeful nights and grumpy child who yells when anyone even gets near her ear), but thankfully the antibiotics seem to be working and she is doing much better. Her Dad, however, is a different story. Andrew had an ear infection which caused his ear drum to burst and then a boil resulted inside his ear, and then he got fevers and pains all over his body and a very swollen ear lobe and around his ear on the side of his face. You can kind of see it on the picture below, but it is a lot redder in real life. I think the flash changed the colouring. Anyway, he went to the doc this morning and got an injection and is on antibiotics (strong ones). The doc is worried about the burst boil draining fluid into the now perfurated ear drum - tomorrow he will go in for another injection. Meanwhile, I need to try and stop him running around everywhere, instead of giving the infection a chance to heal.

And the last pic is the cutest. Ashlyn went up to Julie today and asked her to braid her hair. Julie obliged and this is how I found them on my kitchen floor. Cute hey!!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

If it's not a rat...'s a fight!!

Last week as Andrew was preaching I heard a few people sniggering. Right behind Andrew, on the church wall (made from woven bamboo) a rat was descending. I caught Andrew’s attention, and pointed behind him. Not so he would do anything about it, but just so that he would be aware of the reason for the large scale sniggering in the congregation. Andrew paused briefly to look at the rat and then made some joke before calling the congregation to focus back on the sermon. They all did so pretty quickly, but I had a bit more trouble. It was a large rat. However, it only graced us with its presence for a short while. It sat briefly on top of the blackboard at then slowly sauntered to another hiding place.
Then this morning, a week later, we neared the church gate. People were everywhere. It was immediately obvious that some fight was underway. We (and the Wildeboers) drove into the church property. Fights always attract a big audience. However, we were not happy with our children being the audience to people getting beaten up and loud angry rock throwing, so we took our children into the library so they would not watch. They, of course had seen some of it already, but we were not sure how it would turn out. I am not sure what the members think of us trying to shield our children. To them this life of violence and tempers flaring is just a natural part of their daily lives. But it becomes the cycle of life here that so many of them learn. The adults do it, the children see it, and when they get older they emulate it. Anyway, although our children are aware of it the “rawness” of life here, and we have to be pretty matter-of-fact about much of it, we still do not want them growing up thinking it is the norm, at least we want them to be clear that it is not the norm God wants of his people. Anyway, the fight was soon forgotten and we were able to hear a Pentecost sermon. May the Holy Spirit work mightily in the hearts of God’s people here in this land.
It has been more than a week since I’ve updated this blog. Sorry! This is not because nothing has happened. Many things have. It’s been a stressful week and this morning the stresses continued, not just in the fights outside church (they were not threatening to us, personally, just not nice to watch), but because of problems within the church which, it is becoming more obvious, will probably not go away easily. The Devil wants to make life hard for all of those who wish to worship God. But we know God is stronger. The Victory has already been decided. May he give all of us his people the strength to endure and persevere!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Something dawned on me and them!

It was a literacy class yesterday. I have been struggling with a number of them trying to understand why they find it hard to articulate one sound. I would point to the letter "p" but they would not just say the "p" sound they would add a destinct long vowel behind it so it would sound like "pa". The problem with this is that in reading and writing it makes it hard to formulate words phonetically. So finally I realised that we had to talk about vowels and consenants. We called the vowels "op nois" or "open sounds", and then I went through the vowels and showed by making the noises, how different they were from the other letters. Wow! You should have seen some lights switch on!! Unbelievable! It baffles me over and over again how I take so many things for granted, the fact that letters together make different sounds and so many other things. It's when I get blank stares that I realise I've missed something. But boy is it great to see people catching on. A real blessing!

Not everyone has caught on though. I have a couple of ladies who really, really are struggling. But they are still determined and that's a big part of the battle. I keep telling myself that even if they don't become good readers or writers, if they can read even a little bit and even write their name, then they are steps ahead of where they were before we started. And that is a blessing in itself.