Sunday, August 31, 2008

bumpy rides!

Seems like Sundays is becoming a blog day...guess that's as good a day as any to blog!

Thought I would just post a few more pictures - these photos were taken in the last couple of weeks....birthdays in the family (Ashlyn's last Sunday) sometimes means some packages - and usually we all get spoilt at the same time. And, boy, packages are so much fun!

our avid reader gets another book to devour (and a new shirt which she is wearing for the photo)

Shiana showing off two new shirts

Ashlyn showing off a new dress

Ashlyn showing off some of her new "little people", some of which came in the post from AUstralia! She just has taken such a love to these toys, and her sisters don't mind joining in either!

Ashlyn has been so fun this year when getting cards for her birthday (and she got quite a few this year!). She just thinks all mail is for her at the moment and has lined all her cards up inside the house and regularly counts them all (okay, she starts getting mixed up past ten, but she thinks she is counting them all anyway.) This morning when I said it was Church day, she was convinced it was her birthday again (just like last week), so we had to explain to her that birthdays only come once a year.

Lae has been well and truly living up to its reputation as Pothole City. We have had a lot of rain of late and the roads are just terrible. And I mean terrible. There is no way to avoid them. We just have to go through them, but it sure gets tiresome sometimes driving around in them. And of course the potholes are instrumental in increasing the number of armed hold-ups on the roads. The other day we ((some ladies and I) had to bump our way to Kamkumung. They are working on the road close to the church (major revamp which has been and will continue to take months) and at the moment the road is a disaster. As we tried to come back home again after the Bible Study we were stuck on the main road going back behind a line up of cars. Kamkumung is a notorious area for holdups (especially at the moment), and I wasn't particularly happy sitting in a car line up for ages. Up ahead we could see that a truck had got stuck on the bridge (huge pothole as you come onto the bridge) and it appeared that a bus had tried to pass the truck but got stuck too. SO it didn't look as if the traffic would be moving any time soon. So we turned around and took the back road home (a road I usually avoid as it is even more notorious for hold-ups). What a drive home!! The road was almost a river and the potholes were more like craters - actually there were more potholes on the road than bits of road methinks! But, thankfully, we got home without incident. We need to pray for patience on the roads here and also for trust in God's providence. I'm reading a great book at the moment which reminds me that to be overly anxious is to mistrust God. We all need to trust in his Control and Guidance in everything that occurs in our life, even the "minor" details.

Yesterday I went to Kamkumung again to hold a short training course for our Sunday School teachers. We talked about many things and I was very happy with the meeting...we pray that Sunday School may really flourish here in Lae.

This morning Andrew preached a wonderful sermon on Jonah 4, speaking about the amazing Grace of our Heavenly Father! None of us deserve God's Grace...we must humbly receive it and live our lives in thankfulness to him. A message many of us know so well, but it pays to be reminded time and time again.

Oh boy. As I type right now our house is trembling...another earthquake (just a tiny one this time). Yesterday Lae felt a fairly big earthquake (not as scary as the one we had last year - then the house just shook so badly it felt for a moment like it was going to topple, and I grabbed the kids out of the bath to get them downstairs and outside...), but because we were driving in the car this time it just felt as if the car was wobbling and Andrew thought the wheel was falling off or something. So this treomor just now must have been an after tremor or something. I hope. Small tremors are okay (they happen fairly regularly here) but when they get bigger it is a little disconcerting (another chance to remind ourselves that all things are in the Lord's Control!)

Anyway, was about the sign off when I felt the tremor, so I thought I would include something really current in my blog.

We hope your Sunday was a blessed one wherever you are in this big wide world!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

another few days

I think I’ve been meaning to blog every day this week but somehow it just hasn’t happened! Never least I’m doing it now!

Let’s go back in time a few days... to Tuesday morning, which is Bible Fellowship for the ladies of the church. Last week we met in Kamkumung at the church, so this week we fellowshipped in the Biwat Settlement. I always find there is something so nice about having Bible Study right in the heart of the settlement, as it feels like a “presence” in the local community. Due to other “work” commitments (typing/translating for a church song book, literacy course preparation, preparation for Sunday School and a Sunday School training session coming up next Saturday...), I had thought about staying home this Tuesday to try and catch up a bit. But come Tuesday morning it was pouring rain – and you have to understand that in this tropical climate often when it rains it really rains! Now you might think that this just added to my resolve to stay home, as we don’t drive to Biwat – we walk (a short ten minute or so walk).

Now, admittedly I considered staying home as, especially because of the rain, that option was a whole lot easier than going, and since one of the ladies from our church leads the Bible Study at the moment, I had no real “need” to be there. However, many is the time where we have been disappointed about church attendance, or fellowship attendance on a rainy day – people tend to stay home rather than brave the rain (this includes staying home from school as well sometimes!), though many of them have umbrellas and it would not always be impossible (though sometimes it is almost impossible!!) for them to still attend. But we always feel kind of silly – how can we suggest to them that they should still try harder to attend in the rain, when we often (though not always) get to stay completely dry in a car? So with these thoughts in mind I decided to brave the rain with Ashlyn and go, if not just to prevent them from thinking that I do not value fellowship enough to be prepared to get a little wet for it!

So off we trundled armed with a big umbrella and Ashlyn in her gumboots! Along the road it was pretty simple walking but by the time we hit the settlement we had to splash through rather large puddles (actually the walkway kind of turns into a mini river!). But, thankfully, Ashlyn did really well walking, and as always was a great morning and I was really thankful in the end to have gone. Not just simply for the fellowship (though that is always heart warming), but also because a number or ladies from Kamkumung had braved the rain, too, to come all the way to Biwat for fellowship! That was so marvellous to see (and shame on me, in my scepticism I did not expect them to show!) and gave me a real lift – God is good!

The rest of the week was filled with our everyday activities – Andrew did a fellowship in Biwat on Wednesday night and did a couple of home visits. He also did the usual sermon/fellowship preparations and the usual running around (which in this country can take such a lot of time), sorting things out, including some building work and electrical work at Kamkumung (we now have fans in the church!!), and continued work on organising security at Kamkumung because of the troubles in this regard at the moment.

I spent Wednesday organising Sunday School things. I am trying to make it simpler and easier for our Sunday School teachers and at the same time show them practical ways to become better Sunday School teachers. Next Saturday I hope to run another short training session (Nadia and I have done one before together), also to stress the importance of the work and to explain some of the minor changes we are implementing. One of these changes is also getting a mother on board to help the teachers. It will be her responsibility to ensure the teachers are aware when they are supposed to be teaching the class, and to talk to them if they fail to show up. I am hoping that this will work well, as I much prefer to have her talking to those who are not pulling their weight (when it happens) rather than me. The problem with me doing it is that as a white person they may just agree with me and also am often loathe to come on too strong (though maybe I sometimes should when they neglect preparation or even do not show up) simply because of the white skin/black skin/superior/inferior mentality that I do not want to perpetuate. Coming from one of their own will hopefully help in a positive way.

Thursday was a literacy class with a difference as we were forced out of our usual “classroom”, the library at Kamkumung church because workers were working in the library. So we went upstairs and because I had no whiteboard we did a bit more of a reading-only session, and we worked on talking loudly and clearly (trying to give them confidence to speak out in public for things like Bible Study), and also worked on some comprehension type exercises, which proved very interesting – as I continue on this course it is so evident that literacy is not the only problem, although it is the underlying problem. Lack of education often results in lack of understanding/analysing/thinking/summarising, etc, etc. When sitting with these ladies it makes me so thankful for the opportunities we and our children have in regards to education. Something not to be taken for granted! It also makes me more determined to do all I can to work hard with these ladies to do what we can to help them improve in all these skills. However, it is much harder for them, at their age, to learn – there’s a reason we usually go to school when we are young, and of course there is only so much that can be done in one morning a week. But we go forward in this together in God’s strength...May He continue to bless us.

On Friday I suddenly had this crazy idea to sew some curtains for the girl’s room. It was crazy because, as my husband reminded me, I am busy on a few other projects at the moment...but the thing is that sometimes it gets tiresome doing the same thing over and over (e.g translating songs, and typing songs for our song book), so it was time to do something else for a few days. Besides which, I suddenly woke up one morning with an idea of how I could revamp the curtains very cheaply...I decided to buy cheap material (that is not curtain material) for about 4 kina per meter. But because it is not curtain material, but instead it is dress material so it is very thin for curtains so I just sewed the new material onto the old curtains and it is just like thick curtain material, for a fraction of the price!

Saturday I took a break from curtain making to make Ashlyn’s birthday cake and do some other household chores, but thankfully at 10pm I actually finished the curtains. Yay!! In time for Ashlyn’s birthday!

And today was Ashlyn’s birthday. We are so thankful for our precious youngest daughter and we can’t believe she’s three already!! After church we had a little party with some children in our compound. Here are some pics:

starting on the presents

more presents

friends for the party

cat birthay cake

blowing out the candle

getting the junk food fill!

the curtain revamp -when opened up

...and when shut!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

God's plans

A week or so back I began to bake a loaf of bread by hand, (as I do most Saturday mornings) but was distracted in the process. So much so that the liquid was too hot for the yeast and it killed the yeast and the dough did not rise. However, I still got to use the dough for pizza base and for another pizza roll-up thingy, which really turned out quite yummy. While I was doing this and mourning my rediculous mistake, it got me thinking. And philosophizing - a dangerous thing, I might add.

It was about the time that we were dealing with the knowledge that Ian and Nadia were leaving and the responsibility this put upon our shoulders. And then in this yeasty, failed bread thing, it got me thinking how our Heavenly Father is in control and we are but weak instruments in his hands, but instruments nevertheless who he can use in his purpose. We, in our sinfulness, try hard to do things our way and control and plan and in the process we make so, so many mistakes. And yet somehow, God reminds us constantly that he is in control and his plan will be carried out regardless of our mistakes and humble efforts. Now, I know the analogy thing is a bit far-fetched and everything, but sometimes just little things in a day serve to remind us of the way our Heavenly Father works. We make mistakes and yet somehow he uses this in his plan, to further his Kingdom.

That knowledge goes with us. With us all. God is in control and in Him we trust.

It's been a good week as I reflect back. Sad with the departure of Ian and Nadia, but still God has been there uplifting and strengthening.

Andrew has been busy preparing sermons, fellowship evenings, homevisits and running around for finance/practical kind of things. And the last of these sometimes takes forever!! Just one funny story. We had to get new number plates made for one of our vehicles as one was lost (too may potholes here and they eventually fall off!!). Andrew called in the morning to see if they were done and he was told they were - just come in. Andrew asked them to actually check (as he knew that just coming in could mean waiting in line for an hour or so and he did not want to do that all for nothing). Then, after they checked they changed their mind and said they were not ready. Later on in the afternoon Andrew called and after checking it was decided that they actually were ready. The office closed at 3pm so Andrew went there at about twenty to 3 only to find the office closed already. Andrew was not going to be put off so easily, so he banged on the door. When someone came to the door they said that it was too late they were closed. Andrew asked what time the closed and they said 3 pm (this being 2:45). Andrew pointed to his watch and told them the actual time at which point they ushered him around the back and gave him his new plates. One problem. THey wanted the old ones back. Andrew told them that one was lost (which is the reason we got a new one), and the other was bolted on to the car and he had no tools to get it off. SO they suggested he come back on Monday. Once again Andrew was not going to be put off so easily as he knew if he returned on Monday it would mean waiting in line possibly for hours, so he managed to get the other number plate off with the car he got his number plates, and it is the shortest time he has ever had to wait at the registration office!! He might have to try that one again!

It's been a busy week all round, but that's okay. Thursday for me was the literacy course in the morning (enjoyable, as always), home for lunch, to the girl's school for a Book Week assembly, home again for a few minutes and then off with Andrew to Biwat (to be a "presence" on his home visits!), home at 6pm and dinner. On Friday mornings I am going into the girl's school at the moment to help out with the performance of a drama (helping the kids practicing lines and actions!!), which I love as I always love drama and I think it is such a great thing to help kids to come out of their shells and learn to have confidence in speaking publically. So that is fun too. I am also desperately working on mainly Tok Pisin Song book for our church, which involves lots of typing and sorting through things, but it is really needed. It will contain many favorites of the people here, as well as some songs translated from English. I am only wanting to publish it into a "file" at the moment so that it can be added to as more translations are done. When I have typed up the ones we have at the moment I want to sit down with our church guitarist to finalise the chords to some of them...

Today is Sunday and that means a day to meet together with fellow believers to worship our King. Always a tiring day out here on the mission field (we go from 9am till 1 -2 pm in one stretch - which includes to services and Sunday School), but always a wonderfully blessed day too! There was a blackout today so Andrew's voice did not have the benefit of the microphone. We were all fine as his voice carries well, but his voice is a little worse for wear...
Anyway, I was going to just make this a short post as it is time to get the older girls ready for bed! Will leave it at that and wish you all God's blessings.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Lonely, but not alone

As many of you know, our colleagues, Ian and Nadia have left us for an extended furlough in Canada. This of course was quite a shock to us (and them too!!), as they had not planned to go on furlough yet, but due to health/stress issues they were forced to go early. It was not an easy decision for them to make, but it needed to be made and we support them whole-heartedly in this. They need our collective prayers – we pray that Ian may be restored to good health and that he and Nadia and the children will be given the strength they need to deal with the Lord has put on their paths.
Needless to say, we will miss them! Last night we said our goodbyes and it was sad to have to do that. The girls too will miss their family, and Kirilee was rather upset about it all. Also, as I was driving today with Ashlyn she said to me, “Today, Nadia come back to Lae?” and I needed to try and explain the concept of a “long time” being more than a day. When she kind of gathered that a “long time” meant more than a “short time” she said sadly, “but my (I) will miss Jono and Karlyn a long time.”
But we know we are not alone, though at times we may be lonely. Our Heavenly Father is always with us. He will be there to guide us through the difficult days ahead. And then we have our national brothers and sisters in Christ here in Lae, and some other friends too.
Tonight at about 7pm we returned from fellowship in Kamkumung (we left home at about 4:30). It was a nice evening. I don’t always go along with Andrew for this as it just gets too late for Ashlyn to go out at that time, especially trying to keep her relatively quiet if she is really tired! But sometimes it is nice to go along and it worked today because Ashlyn fell asleep in the car when I went to pick up the girls after school. Andrew has begun to go through the book of Daniel!
This morning was spent with the church ladies for Bible Fellowship in Kamkumung too. I drove a number of Biway ladies there and we met with some ladies who live in Kamkumung (this is a weekly occurrence!) When we first arrived we were talking about the increase in armed hold-ups on cars especially in that area. The lady who lives at the house mentioned that early yesterday evening (around 7pm – the same time we were there tonight) men/boys armed with guns and knives were holding up cars in front of the church property, and then last Saturday in broad daylight the same was happening. We were discussing how the criminals just seem to have no fear, as police response time is not great at all (if they answer the phone – at night they usually don’t!). On Saturday night/Sunday morning rascals (criminals) were also men surrounding the church property talking about how they were going to break into the house. The property is already surrounded by a huge barbed-wire fence, and the house has deadlocks and barred windows as well. Andrew is in the process of organising more security doors,etc, but as per usual it seems to be taking forever to get done! The crime here is sometimes very disheartening. We know when we drive around that it could happen any time. We feel for the people here too who often live with this violence. We ask for your continued prayers for our Heavenly Father to protect not only us, but especially for the Kamkumung church area where some members of our church live and where hold-ups and violence seem to be on the increase (though it has always been pretty bad out there). Please pray that the people living at our church property will be kept from harm!
On a happier note, I was on a high after last week’s literacy course. It just went so well. It’s not that I usually don’t think it goes well, but last week I really felt this sense of: “Wow!! Look where some of these ladies are now, compared to where they were before!” I am so thankful to be able to do this and I do so enjoy doing it!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

friends and a welcome back

Would you believe it? Julie returned today looking so healthy and fit! Was I glad to see her looking so well. Truly an answer to prayer, especially considering how sick she really was. And she was back to working hard in the house today, so I actually sat at the computer for a good stretch today doing various work-related things. That was great to catch up a little! Julie is going to live with family in Kamkumung now. When I asked her the reason, she told me that she and all her family believe that someone at four mile must have worked some poison on her, which is why she was sick, so it would not be good to return there anymore. At the same time she truly believed that it was the Lord who had healed her, and it is so important for us to stress that the power of God is much more powerful than an evil forces present in this world. It is much better for her to live in Kamkumung than where she lived before, though, so I am thankful she is moving.

I thought I would just post a few pics. The first is of Vanessa, the daughter of two of our members from Biwat Settlement (Gami and Joel), who is pictured here playing Jingle Jungle (or elastics) with Kirilee. She came over for a number of hours on Saturday to play. Her three year old brother, Robert, got wind of her planned visit, and did not want to be left out, so he came for a while to play too! I do love seeing how our girls adapt to playing with people from many different cultures and also many different walks of life. A real blessing for them to experience this as a normal part of their lives.

And then of course there are familiar friends of a similar background...they are great fun to play with too as these pics of Ashlyn and Karlyn show. Karlyn came to play for a while while her Mum went with her visiting Canadian family to a nearby village for the day.