Wednesday, October 29, 2008

How's this for a bedtime story?

While we were in Ukarumpa, Shiana had to write down one of the local myths, as they are studying myths and legends in her class at the moment. This is the one we managed to get from one of the workers at the guesthouse. Enjoy it (there are many more like it in PNG...):

Tumbuna (ancestor) Stori from Kainantu (translated from Tok Pisin)

This is a story Irami tells her children before they go to sleep at night:

"Once upon a time there was an old man called Kokibaro, and he was a cannibal, which means that he would eat people. He did not live near his people, but instead lived hidden in the bush a fair distance from his people.
One day 5 village boys decided to go out to hunt for birds. So they took their bow and arrows and off they went. Soon they came close to where the old man, Kokibaro, lived. One of the boys shot a bird that was flying overhead and the bird dropped down right near the house of Kokibaro. Kokibaro saw the bird fall and quickly grabbed the bird and hid it.
Soon one of the boys came looking for the bird. When he approached Kokibaro’s house it began to rain. Kokibaro saw the boy and said to him: “Why have you come here to my house?”
“Well,” said the boy, “I have come to find the bird that we killed.”
The old man said, “look, it is raining now, so why don’t you come and shelter in my house until the rain passes, and then I will help you look for it.” The boy saw that the rain was getting heavier so he agreed and laid down in the man’s house. Before long he became very tired and fell asleep.
Kokibaro worked quickly now. He lit a very hot fire and placed a large stone in the middle of the fire. When the stone was red hot, he removed it from the fire with some sticks and put it onto the boy’s chest, near his heart, and killed him this way.
It was not long before another one of the boys came to investigate why the first boy was taking so long to find the dead bird. Kakibaro did the same to this boy and to two more of them who came after him. Finally four of the boys were dead. The one remaining boy was suspicious and he decided to go back to his village, rather than to follow his friends.
When he explained what had happened to the adults in the village they were furious as they realised it was the old man, Kokibaro, who had killed their sons. So they began to plan a way to get rid of this man once and for all.
They invited him to a special party with lots and lots of food. When he came they asked him to help them get the food ready. They were preparing a mumu (cooking in a pit in a ground with hot coals and steam). After they had finished cutting up all the meat, and the fire had been made very hot, they asked Kokibaro to put the meat into the pit. As he was leaning over, a group of strong village men surrounded him and pushed him into the hot pit where the food was cooking. When he tried to get back out they poured boiling water all over him and then covered him up with leaves and cooked him. And that was the end of Kokibaro, the old man who liked to eat people!"

Sweet dreams children!!!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

we went away again....

ATTENTION, ATTENTION - this blog is excessively long - be warned - you may need to get a cup of coffee first!!!!

It’s been a while….
Well, that’s because I decided the last minute to go with Andrew (and Stephen who flew in from Moresby) to Ukarumpa this past week. They were going up for a conference/workshop on Dealing with Conflict Biblically, and I was going to stay home because the girls had school. However, I ended up talking to the teachers and they gave the girls a heap of work to do, so we all went along…
The SIL Guesthouse in Ukarumpa
goofing around outside the guesthouse
And this time we called some people in Ukarumpa to check on the bridge situation before we left – trying to avoid getting stranded this time. Well, we were told that, although the bridge was still out, it had not rained a lot so the river was crossable. So we arrived there safely – Praise God.
I spent the mornings, anyway, helping the girls with their work (while Andrew was at the workshop) , although Shiana was done rather quickly. Kirilee had to do a short project which included taking some photos…so of course she took heaps of them – I will post some in this blog.
One of Kirilee's photos which I thought was pretty good!
Then we got to visit with some of our friends in some of the evenings which was also lovely. While we were there one of our friend’s children (a girl a bit older than Ashlyn) had to be medi-vac(ed) out of the country, as she had fallen and broken her arm. It was not just a straight break, but a delicate one. The little girl (Kassia) and her Dad were flown on one of the SIL planes to Cairns where Kassia underwent surgery on her arm. What a dramatic day for them all, but also a day where they stood in awe of how God had guided all events. They just caught the SIL flight direct to Cairns. A half hour later, and it would have flown already, thus delaying their flight to Cairns. We had dinner with Kassia’s Mum (Johanna) and her baby that night as the accident happened on the day we had planned to eat with them, and since she already had the meal cooked, she decided we should still come.
We were really amazed to see how much love and support they receive from their community (Ukarumpa, for those that do not know, is a community in the highlands of PNG which is the SIL base in PNG, where a lot of ex-pats live together to support Bible translation work in PNG, e.g, with a school, store, Computer center, etc, etc.), and in some ways I had to curb my jealousy… Don’t get me wrong – we have lots of support from our churches back home with prayer, finance, communication…but distance makes that practical kind of help a bit harder!! Especially with Ian and Nadia gone, we more fervently pray that we may be spared any major illness or accident or emergency, as it would definitely be harder to deal with, without extra support. Anyway, it was wonderful that in their situation this family received so much help, and we pray they will continue to receive God’s blessings, also in Kassia’s recovery.
Little Kassia, two days before her accident
On Tuesday, 21st, we could celebrate Shiana’s birthday! We brought some presents with us for her, so of course that was exciting…The managers at the guesthouse put a candle in her cake (dessert) at night so we could all sing Happy Birthday to her.
Opening presents!!
The managers (a slightly elderly – 60’s – couple) there at the moment are only short-term, but they were so nice and cared for us so well (must be their Canadian heritage!!!)– they were a perfect couple for the job. They kept saying it was so good to have our children around, as it made them feel like their grandchildren were nearby. He gave us some small wooden tongs (which he made himself), perfect for getting toast out of a toaster, without the danger of electrocuting oneself. It’s a really nifty thing and it was really sweet of him to give that to us!

visiting friends and catching up!!

It was so nice to enjoy the cooler weather of the highlands - we actually did not sweat while we were there. It was nice to be able to walk around outside, to sit outside, and not get really hot. And there was a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle set up at the guesthouse which had been started before we arrived. I got stuck into that one - what fun!! It has been forever since I have done a puzzle, and it reminded me of how much I love doing them!!
While in Ukarumpa we got to go to their store – they get in a really cheap American brand for some food items, so we stocked up: Marshmallows, cereal, applesauce, tin fruit, taco seasoning, ranch dressing (acquired a taste for that one while we lived in Canada, and it’s great to have it again!!), and even some Hershey’s chocolate which was going cheap. It was fun and exciting to do this, as some of those things we do not buy in Lae as they are either not available or too expensive. Then on the last morning I went to the market in Ukarumpa to stock up on vegetables and fruit before heading home (since there was space in the car anyway). Now, Lae does have a market, but Ukarumpa market is just cleaner, more secure, the vegetables are cheaper and fresher and they have real strawberries (that’s right, real red, juicy – okay some were a little mushy – strawberries), and we had real strawberries and cream (okay, not fresh cream, but long life cream which still tasted pretty good) tonight for dessert. Funny how food can be so comforting!!
And yes, we did make it back home safely. We were a bit worried that if it rained heavily while we were in Ukarumpa, we may have been stranded there until the river came back down. But God was good, and He held of the rains, so that the river was safe to cross on the way back too, and He brought us safely back here too.
some cars crossing the river in front of us!
And I have just sat down from ironing a pile so high that I am about ready to sleep….but, despite all those things which always make you busy when you come home from time away, it is always wonderful to be back home again! Besides, the ginger ale/beer which I bottled just before we left for Ukarumpa worked, and according to my family ( not me, I don’t like the stuff), tastes great! IT is a recipe I received from a friend (who is from Switzerland), and it does not use yeast, and yet the ale/beer goes really fizzy – how’s that?! …and I was so happy because I have tried many other recipes, and although it was always finished, no one really loved it. Maybe I finally have a winner!
And here's a pic from last night (Shiana was begging to take some photos) - I babysat some children while their parents had a meeting with Andrew and Stephen re the Reformed Bible College...
Ashlyn and Robert

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


At women’s Bible study and fellowship today, as we were waiting for some of the ladies to arrive (we sat there from 9:15am till 10:30am waiting for some of them who had trouble getting the bus), I heard of another tragedy. Yesterday a small child (about 2 years old) drowned in the nearby river. The child had been playing in the water and her mother was somewhere nearby allegedly playing cards (though that may just be a story...but maybe not). Anyway, apparently a bit later on someone asked her where her son was and she said, “oh, he must have gone back home with some of the other kids.” However, when she went to her house later, he was nowhere to be found and some time later his small body was found by a dog at a nearby beach (which the river flows into). A tragic story. (Incidentally this child is a grandson of the husband of one of our church members - Augustina. It is not her grandson as it is through his second wife – he has two wives, which is not uncommon here. This is the second tragedy this family has had to deal with though, as you may remember that Augustina lost her teenage son a number of months ago in a payback attack for his criminal activities. And though this dead child is not her grandchild, she will still feel the pain as the child is part of her extended family.)
Often when one tragic story is told, there are more to follow and soon the ladies were telling the story of a young woman who drowned the week before in the same river – this body was found by a group of children playing in the water who thought it was a log initially until touching it.
Just another two tragic deaths in Lae. No one really knows how either death happened. There is no follow up by the police. There may be some consequences - the young, grieving mother who lost her child, albeit through some negligence, may be bashed by her husband as punishment.
And then one story usually leads to a discussion and soon one woman was commenting that the Papua New Guineans find it very hard to let go of their fears of evil spirits overpowering them, and to truly trust that God is more powerful than any force of evil. But this woman added, “now we know the truth! We are studying the Bible, we believe that God is in control – now we need to live it!”
As she said this I realised how true this was, not just for them but for me, for all of us. And I shared this with them. I reminded them that there is aspects in all of our cultures (theirs and mine) which serve to detract from the power of God. We talked about Satan and his cleverness. He knows that he can pull Papua New Guineans away from God by stirring up fear in them. He knows he can turn the hearts of Westerners away from God by filling their lives with money and entertainment and an abundance of food, by making them think that they don’t need God. I reminded them that we (as in, Westerners) struggle too to let go of our culture (those parts of it that pull us away from God) and to instead understand that God is in control and that we are totally dependent on him. And it’s in moments like these that it becomes clear to the ladies here and to me, that, though in many ways we are so different, in our Christian walk, in our day-to-day struggles to Persevere in the Faith we are so alike. We are truly One in Christ!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A long Sunday

Another Sunday has passed and what an eventful one it was. It started like any other Sunday. We got up and got ready for church. We had a beautiful service. Andrew preached a sermon on psalm 51 about our sin/repentance and reconciliation with God. I really enjoyed the sermon. However, it was not till later on in the day that we realized how the Lord had used the gospel message preached to really speak to a couple of members in the congregation. I’ll explain…

After church a brother and sister in the congregation talked to Andrew to say that they had found out at 6am that morning that their daughter (also a member) was pregnant (not married). They spoke of their worries and anger and frustration. The daughter came to see us this afternoon (about an hour after we came home from church -around 2pm) and we spoke with her, opened God’s Word with her and prayed with her, after which Andrew took her home to her parents and did the same. The father of this baby does not have a great reputation as far as women go, is not a Christian and on top of this is known to get drunk fairly regularly. Andrew spoke to them all about the Lord’s desire that those that marry should do so only in the Lord. The parents and the daughter herself say they do not desire a marriage to take place (especially after speaking about it and opening God's WOrd and praying about it), however, the father of the child and his family may try to force a marriage.
This situation will also bring great shame to the family, and a marriage is sometimes a way to end this shame. The parents of this girl also spoke of how this morning they had put all their daughter's things out of the house in anger and had basically told her to leave (because of their anger and shame). However, in God's perfect timing he ensured that this morning ANdrew woudl be preaching on psalm 51. IN this sermon ANdrew spoke about the context of the psalm a lot (David's sin with Bathsheba), and he spoke about how there was no sin that God could not forgive when heartfelt repentance was present. God's Word as brought in this sermon served to convict these parents that they had to be there for their daughter, to lover her despite her sin and to guide and lead her in love. WHat a blessing!! Please pray for the whole situation, that a marriage will not be forced. Please pray for this young woman who is pregnant, and for the road ahead for her and her whole family and this young life she is carrying.

I had a mad rush getting dinner ready tonight after all this, which would not usually matter, except that we were expecting guests (a couple - Bible translators from another area - who we have had over before, as well as her parent's who are also translating the Bible in a village near Goroka, and who have been doing this in PNG for the last 47 years!!). Kirilee was a good help, and I got everything done, and our guests arrived while Andrew was still out (he returned at about 5:30pm.

He returned home soon and we had a lovely time of fellowship with them. While we were eating dinner, however, Andrew's mobile rang and it was the father of the family who are now living in the Kamkumung house. He was stuck outside the property (he had gone for a walk) and his wife and the rest of his family were in the house. And the thing that was preventing him from going inside the property? Armed men (guns and knives), holding up countless cars coming down the road right in front of the church property (this is only 7pm). Apparently they had a pile of cars (20 or so) stopped and were smashing windows left, right and centre, and after stealing things ended up hijacking some cars. The man called to ask Andrew to call the police (he was hiding behind some tree). So Andrew tried about four numbers, to no avail - they rang out (emergencey numbers!!). Eventually he got through to one number but by this time the armed hold-up were over, and the father was back inside the property. He and his family were unhurt (the attack was in no way directed at them), but it sure is unnerving for them to live with that kind of violence around them all the time! Please pray for that area of town, as it is really bad for hold-ups and violence and we drive there a lot as well. Andrew sometimes travels that road at night too, as he will be doing tomorrow night after a meeting. God is always in control and we saw that again today in more ways than one.

So that was our Sunday - busy and stressful and tiring and yet a blessed day too! Isn't it wonderful how God has a way of mixing our pain and sorrow with joy?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Back home again

We’re back in Lae (arrived home yesterday), so I thought it time to update this blogspot. We had another couple of enjoyable days break before heading off to Jais Aben (about 20 minutes or so out of Madang) for our conference with the Reformed Ministries team from Port Moresby.
The conference was just great – it was so good to catch up with everyone and to meet the new Missionary couple (sent out by New Zealand) who will be joining the team in Moresby next year (they just came for the conference). It was a very beneficial time for everyone. I think I will just post some pics and you will get more of an idea of our time away as I explain what the photos are about.

Visiting with the Cravens - Ashlyn and Cory having fun!

The girls just had so much fun playing together!

In Madang we found a real park (no such thing in Lae) and the girls had such a ball as the pics show!

It was rusting out a little in spots...

But still loads of fun!

More park fun

Don't know why, but I just love this pic, so I thought I would post it.

At another park we found - the handles had broken off this see-saw, so Shiana was a bit worried about coming off - as her face shows!

Then on Wednesday we arrived at Jais Aben for our Annual Reformed Ministries conference - some of the participants listening carefully (the women are all hiding on this pic)

I celebrated my birthday at the conference, and Jeannette organised a suprise cake for dessert! The workers were turning out the lights for the candles and I kept asking what they were doing (noone would tell me!). Then the birthday cake came out with happy birthday being sung and I first looked around to see who the cake was for, before realising it was a surprise for me! Anyway, it was a lovely gesture even if I was a bit slow on the uptake!

The Birthday Cake

game playing

The Reformed Ministries team who are on the field at present

Shiana and Amy

Abeautiful sunrise

It is good to be home again, and we're so thankful for our Heavenly Father's gracious care over us while we were away from home.