Friday, June 27, 2008

End of school term and Lae "sights"

Gold Award Pizza Party



So today marked the end of the girl's second term at TISOL (The International School of Lae). On Wednesday we were allowed to attend a Pizza Party at school to celebrate with all the students who had received Gold Awards (about 15 students all up). Kirilee and Shiana both were blessed to receive these awards, so they were both there at the party. All parents of Gold Award recipiants were invited to attend. It was a nice afternoon, although in true PNG style the Pizzas arrived some 45 minutes late!


Now about those Lae "sights". This morning we were driving around in town only to notice a haggard looking dog running on the side of the road. Now, sad looking dogs on the side of the road are not an uncommon sight here, but this poor dog was more than just sad looking. The poor thing had been badly injured and he was hobbling along with a large part of his innards hanging out. It was rather disturbing to see...but not as disturbing as our afternoon "sights".


This afternoon we were on our way to the end of term assembly at the girl's school. We were driving near the local hospital when suddenly a man dropped to the ground landing terribly on his neck (he looked dead, but we are not sure how he fared. He would have had terrible injuries though we presume, judging by the way he landed on his neck), right next to the bus travelling directly in front of us. Initially I thought that the bus must have hit him, so I told Andrew not to stop. Sounds terrible doesn't it? However, often if someone is hit (even accidentally) by a vehicle a big fight occurs and I didn't want to be there for that. Also, the accident occured right in front of the hospital, so I knew he could get medical help immediately without our help.


On reflection, and after looking back at the bus, it appears that instead he fell/tripped/was pushed (???) out of the open door of the bus while it was still travelling and fell terribly onto his head and neck. Here in Lae the buses are virtually always crowded and people are often hanging on for dear life in open doorways while travelling. It was only the other day when I saw a crowded bus, with people hanging in the doorway, going through some potholes that I wondered how it was that they managed not to fall out of the door.


Anyway, it was a rather disturbing thing to see, and especially because you know that with added safety on the roads here, such things would be easily avoided. Some days just seem to go by uneventfully, but it does seem that many days have there fair share of events to dwell upon..

Here's some other pictures:



Shiana getting ready to paint



Ashlyn filling up the paints

Story time with Dad

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

attack

Just imagine waking up in the dead of night to a group of criminals (Rascals, as they are called here), armed with guns and knives breaking into your home and terrorizing you and your family. I, for one, shudder to think of it. But for some members of our church here in Lae this became a reality. It happened in the Pastor's house on the Kamkumung Church Property last night. At the moment it is not occupied by a Pastor, but instead by three of the Bouway girls, one who is married with a newborn, and also an elderly man (Rumanasen) from our congregation lives there too.

Already last Thursday night a group of rascals had attempted to break into the house, but this attempt failed partly because they were a little ill equipped to break through the security at the house (doors, and locks), but also because the Lord provided in the form of a drunk lady on the road who heard Rumanasen calling for help, and in turn called out to the neighbors on the road who chased the rascals away. The tenants of the house were all shook up by this attack, naturally, and the married daughter's husband returned home to be with them all (he works on a mine and is often gone for weeks at a time.)

Last night, however, the rascals returned with a vengeance. This time they were armed with guns and were able to force their way into the house, terrorizing the occupants, stealing many of their things and cutting Rumanasen with a knife. Rumanasen is an amazing man. He is elderly by PNG standards and is very small and frail. However, he was putting up a fight, making it clear today that he was worried about the girls, and he willingly put himself forward in an attempt to protect them. Truly selfless. He was basically cut on the head and on his arms. This morning Ian picked him up and brought him to the hosptial and Andrew joined them there after bringing our girls to school. He was pretty shaken up, understandably, but thankfully his wounds were not more threatening. He is now staying with another church member. The Bouway girl's have gone to their mother's village to be safe for the time being.

Truly a harrowing experience. Harder still because the police do not respond. When they attempted to call the police in both incidences the phones were not answered. Nothing. They also tried to call on our mobile, but we did not hear it. Actually, I am thankful we did not hear it and were not able to answer it. What could Andrew really have done against armed rascals, except put his own life in grave danger, meanwhile achieving nothing to really help them? However, how hard it would be to hear the urgent cries and not respond.

We are thankful to the Lord for protecting the lives of all involved, however, they need our prayers for emotional recovery after such a harrowing experience. Even I felt kind of insecure today and on edge, and that though even not actually going through the experience. This morning I was planning to walk into Biwat to do some singing with some of the members there (I have recently translated a couple of songs and we were going to practice them together), but instead Andrew dropped me off there on the way to Kamkumung. Other times I have walked the short distance just with Ashlyn, but today I just felt uncomfortable with it. It's upsetting to think that rascals can just get away with such activities, and knowing that it goes on repeatedly all around the country. However, we need to remember that God is always in control, no matter what! May this bring all the victims of last night's attack, and all of us, much comfort.

Friday, June 20, 2008

blessings

Somtimes I just get such a feeling of being closed in here in Lae. I just feel like breaking free and walking up the road, to a beach, to a park, anywhere really, just to walk. Then I dream of putting Ashlyn in a stroller and taking her for a wonderful morning in a park, and then my mind starts to romanticize and I imagine gentle breezes and gorgeous sunshine (that is, just pleasant, not too hot - a beautiful Canadian spring day, when the trees are just budding again and the heavy coats and snowboots can be tossed into the cupboard for another season!) Then I imagine children swinging on swings and laughter and fun, or walks on the beach with clean, white Albany sand squishing through my toes, and the whales and dolphins frolicking in the water nearby (yeah right, like how often did that happen???) ....and by about this time I have to stop myself and say: "wake up, woman!" The thing is that when we lived in Australia or Canada and I had heaps of opportunity to walk, most of the time just didn't. And then there was plenty of opportunity to go to a park, but life was busy there too, and the weather wasn't always perfect!

But sometimes here, when that lifestyle just isn't a possibility it makes me dream a little, wish a little...and eventually just get over it and be thankful for my many blessings. I have a wonderful husband, three beautiful children, a great house, a reliable car, clothes, an abundance of food. I only have to drive briefly out of our compound to be reminded that many of these blessings are not common to most of the people around us.

And then there is the greatest blessing of all...and the great thing about this blessing is that it does not descriminate between culture, race, or gender...Salvation in Jesus Christ! And remembering your blessings tends to put a positive spin on everything.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Bits and pieces

Well it's been a while since I blogged, so this is a bit of a catchup one! And finally I am posting some more photos...

Do you know what another great thing about the literacy class is? I get to learn so much too. On Thursday, during literacy class, as I wrote a story on the whiteboard for us all to puntuate (I am trying to drum the need for capital letters and full stops - periods- in sentences), I had my Tok Pisin corrected and then we ended up having a big discussion on cultural practices regarding some aspects of village life. I just love these added bonuses!

Then on Friday we went to the girl's school for the assembly (they have one every second week on a Friday afternoon). Shiana was receiving a "gold award", basically the result of receiving 40 merit awards, which are given for good work or good effort, or for working well. So of course we had to go along to see her receive her award. And then Kirilee ended up getting a 10 kina voucher from the tuck shop. She got this as her name was drawn out of a "hat". How do you get your name in the hat in the first place? You need to get a "caught you being good" award, and then you get to put your name in the hat. Well, she was pretty excited about that one, though I think she is going to share the voucher with her sister!
On a different note - today was the funeral for Ishmael, the boy who was killed in retaliation for a crime he committed. Ian spoke at the funeral and used the opportunity to call all his family and friends to rethink their lives and to commit themselves to Christ, the One who has conquered death! It is quite a different funeral experience to be sitting in the middle of a settlement, on the floor, with people scattered far and wide, and a coffin somewhere in the middle. Just sitting there, in the midst of the people, watching the family grieve just makes your heart go out to them. What a terrible way to lose a loved one. May God change many hearts in that community and may he bring comfort to the family, especially Augustina who faithfully comes to fellowships, worship services and the literacy course.
Now for the pics: Three cheeky sisters!

Hamming it up for the camera

Ashlyn with her best friends - Jonathan and Karlyn Wildeboer (Pic taken in our house)



Kirilee singing the National Anthem at the Assembly



Shiana up the front with her award and one of her classmates (who also received a gold award)

Well that's about it for tonight. Goodnight and God bless you all.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Another tragedy...

In Biwat a tragedy unfolded yesterday. Though there are varying stories of what happened, the long and short of it is, that a youth called Ishmael was killed (with a knife) in retaliation for him committing crimes. It appears that he was involved in violently holding some people up, but ended up on the other end of the violence, with his victims stabbing him and leaving him to die. He is the son of Augustina, a regular attendee at church and fellowship evenings. Although she is not as yet member, she has been very faithful in coming and participating of late. She also comes to the literacy class, and is a lovely, happy student.
What adds to this death is the great shame to family. Not only have they lost a son, this son has shamed them by his criminal activities. A lot of the people are very frank and say, “Don’t bother to cry too much for him - he got what he deserved. If you live like that you can expect to die like that. ” Now, there may be some truth in this but it is still very difficult for the family.
At the literacy class this morning (which of course did not have all the students because of the tragedy) we spent some time speaking and praying about the whole situation. We talked about the need for compassion to the family, the need for us to examine our own lives, that is, in terms of do we serve God in our lives? We talked about the need for grace, we talked about our need to strengthen our community, to support our youth, as parents to lead by example, etc. We prayed that the Lord would use this incident to His greater glory, that other youth involved in criminal activity may see this tragedy as a warning to turn from their lives of crime to a Life with Christ.
Please pray with us – that God will be with the shamed and grieving family. Pray that God will turn this event to His glory, that He may use it to strengthen His church, and also to show those who do not believe that He is the only way to happiness.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

reconciliation...

So often we see anger, violence and fighting in this country, which made our visit to Biwat yesterday all the more beautiful. We (along with the Wildeboers) were invited to attend a reconciliation “ceremony” in the Biwat settlement. One of our church members has been at odds with his younger brother. The fall out happened a few years back and ended in much anger and the younger brother doing some pretty nasty and destructive things to this family. The member of our church wanted to reconcile a while back, but the younger brother refused. So, as the wife of the older brother said, “we continued to pray for reconciliation and we left it with the Lord.”
Well the Lord heard their prayers and yesterday we saw the emotional reconciliation unfold. A community leader was called in to lead the proceedings and the extended family stood around in a circle holding hands as the younger brother openly spoke about his wrongs and apologized for them. Then the older brother agreed that they accepted the apology, and prayer followed. Then it was time for hugs and handshakes and we got to share in that too! After this a big meal was held together (which they had all spent many hours preparing) and we got to share lots of that too. Yum! Rice cooked in coconut milk with greens, chicken, cooking bananas, kaukau and taro. Pretty soon after we ate we headed on home, just before night fell! It was a moving afternoon and wonderful to see. Good to know, too, that these brothers will finally be talking and sharing together again!