Thursday, November 27, 2008


As I sit here in our bedroom/study (Andrew has his study in our bedroom, not always ideal but we make do), I check out the digital temperature guage in our room and it is still 31.7 degrees Celcius in our room (and that is 8:30 at night). The weather has really heated up the last few days and we are back to sweating continually. Actually the weather has really been bothering me lately. I don't know how many times a day I hear myself utter - "I am so sick of this heat". It always slips out before I manage to hold it in. I really don't want to complain all the time, but is sooh hot! Funnily enough, as I finished typing this blog Andrew arrived back from a school board meeting and said that everyone was commenting (and some of these people have lived in Lae for years) how extremely hot it was at the moment! So it is not just me! And the heat sometimes gets so oppresive and tiring too.

Okay, enough complaining - at least we have fans in our house!

I don't really have that much to blog about. No fancy, brilliant, exciting stories. Except...I finished the DVD for our presentations in Australia. I do enjoy the job, but it takes such a lot of work. And then, when I look back at the final copy...I just realise how unprofessional it still is! Ah well, that's what you get when most of the videoing is done on an unprofessional camcorder with an unsturdy arm which usually has kids hanging off it when it takes video!! But if feels good to have it done anyway. Okay, that wasn't an exciting story, but it's exciting for me!

And then there is Shiana and her recurring ear infection. She had one a couple of weeks ago, and we thought it had cleared up, but she just can't seem to kick this one. She has been waking up at nights again and complaining during the days too - Painstop helps for the pain and we pray that this time the antibiotics may clear it up fully. And so it feels that the kids in this family spend half their life on antibiotics. Ashlyn has just finished another dose of Amox for an infected toe. She hurt it a couple of months back and it got badly infected, and an injection and the doctors and a dose of antibiotics cleared it up. Now, the nail fell off and for some reason it got swollen and bright red again - so back on the antibiotics again. Well, at least we help keep the chemists in business anyway!

And then this morning was another literacy class. It is always good to hear the ladies reading, even it if it only a small amount. It always gives me some encouragement as progress sometimes seems to be so slow. But what can you expect when teaching middle-aged ladies how to read, and only for one morning per week? I am thankful that there is progress, as it always motivates me to continue... I am a little worried about how much revision we will have to do, though, after our return from Australia.

I can't believe it is soon time for our holiday in Australia. After the taxing and stressful past year, we are really hanging out for it...aah..Australia means: visiting with family and friends, Mum to spoil us, white sandy beaches, babysitters around to look after the kids, freedom, freedom to shop, chocolate, droppies, crumpets, yoghurt in many different flavours, cereals in all sorts of flavours and shapes, instant meals, frozen nuggets, tasty corn on the cob, brie and camebert cheese...aah the list could go on. Why is it that when I think of Australia that so much relates to food? Oh, and some of those things you can buy here, but are way outside of our budget (would you buy a small box of cereal for the equivalent of AUD $20?) Okay, we do buy Weetbix...but it's not my favourite!

Anyway, I think I might go for another shower. At least I will be cool for a few minutes. If I don't move and sit under a fan the coolness may last a few minutes longer...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Tabloids, Toilets and Teeth

That was my wonderful witty husband’s suggestion for a title and I guess I had better explain the relevance. First the Tabloids…

There was a Letter to the Editor in the National Newspaper yesterday and this is how it read:

Lae is fast becoming a haven for thugs and ruffians who have no respect for the citizens, visitors or tourists. It is sick to watch innocent people being harassed in broad daylight and the city authorities and police doing nothing to combat crime.
Adding to this, the potholes are getting deeper and bigger. The government has already set aside millions of kina to patch up Lae Roads. What is happening to the money, Governor Wenge? There is dust everywhere and it is like walking into a dust storm in the Sahara Desert. Can somebody do something about raskols (criminals), dust and potholes?

We read this letter and thought: well that about sums up the way many people feel here in Lae!
Some days I get that feeling, too. The feeling of - what is going on in this country? The other day was one of those days. The day began with a very stressful meeting for Andrew, where violent threats and the like were made (thankfully, the next day a resolution of sorts could be reached). This meeting involved long standing problems in part of our church group.
Then, as I was driving to pick up the girls after school I saw a man running on the side of the road (in the direction towards us on the side of the road). I immediately thought, “I wonder what he has done wrong to be running away so fast?” Sure enough, about 50 meters down the road I saw a car on the side of the road with heaps of people around it yelling and screaming and kicking and hitting the car. Traffic had come to a bit of a standstill, and I wanted to turn the car around and go another way to school, as we try to avoid fights as much as possible as you don’t know how crazy they can turn out to be. But by this time I was wedged in by two busses. Thankfully, however, someone eventually caught on that the man who they were seeking (for doing whatever was making them angry) was actually running away. Suddenly, as many people as physically possible crammed into the car and it skided off after the man who I saw running down the road. Sure feel sorry for that guy if they caught up with him!
I breathed a sigh of relief as the traffic started moving again, expressing a prayer of thanks to God, when another 50 meters down the road I see an old man stooping over a rubbish bin and rummaging madly through it for some hidden “treasures”. By this time I have tears in my eyes. Strange maybe. These incidents are common enough around here, but sometimes when you’re having a “bad” day they affect you more than usual.
On a happier note:

We had an enjoyable week with Sean Eikelboom. He really did well with the people here and was very easy to have around – even cut up the pumpkin for me when I was making pumpkin soup (boy, was I glad about that because I hate that job!). Ashlyn loved having him around and I think he got to play all sorts of things from Playdo to dolls!! The older girls played a few games of Settlers with him too and loved it.
…and now this is where I get on to the Toilet bit…while Sean was here he got together with some brothers in the church and they renovated the toilets (outhouse) at the church. They have real swinging doors on them now, and metal sheeting for walls (they used to be made from bush materials but were a little worse for wear!). Everyone has commented on the great improvement. So even in the short week he was here, he still got a bit done, and on top of this got to experience many new things!

And then to the Teeth… On Wednesday afternoon Kirilee was swimming and somehow managed to bang her teeth on the bottom of the pool and completely broke off a piece of one of her front teeth!! I could not believe it. And that when we live in a city like Lae where there is only one dentist (there used to be another one, but no more - he was scared away by criminals holding up his store), and this dentist does not even have an x-ray machine or an assistant (not because he does not want to, by the way, but simply because he hasn’t been able to afford them yet).
I could not get hold of the dentist, so I decided to call the clinic in Ukarumpa (for those who don’t remember – the SIL base about a 3 hour drive away). As per usually they were extremely helpful and wonderfully let me speak to the American dentist on staff. He asked me some questions and then I emailed him a few photos. By his estimation the break did not go all the way down to the nerve, so although it needed to be fixed relatively soon, it could wait till our trip to Australia (I, however, neglected to tell him that it was still a number of weeks before we woudl be able to see a dentist). It is still another 6 weeks or so before we will be in WA and then it will be Christmas, etc, etc, and poor Kirilee was just so loathe to have to show her face in public (and she’s only 9!! “But Mum, the boys at school will laugh at me!!).
We so did not fancy another trip to Ukarumpa as life is just too busy right now, and we would have to take the girls of school again (though we would have if necessary), so I called the brother of the dentist and finally got through to the dentist that night. I thought I would see what he could do the next day, and it turns out he specialises in Cosmetic Dentistry! He is a national but has also been in NZ for two years, especially working with Cosmetic Dentistry. About an hour later and Kirilee’s tooth was looking pretty good again. Okay, so the tint is not quite right – the dentist apologized as he only had one tint (in Australia they would have more tints and could get the colour perfect..), but we’re not complaining. We are just so thankful that we could get it done. It’s when little mishaps like this happen, that we are quickly reminded of the fact that we do live in a 3rd world country and it is much harder to come by the specialist help you need. But the Lord sure provided for us in this mishap!

I only have a before of her tooth…maybe one day I will snap an after shot!!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

another visitor

I have been very quiet on this blog again, but as per usual there is a good reason!!! On Thursday we welcomed Sean Eikelboom (son of Rev Eikelboom in Tassie) here in Lae! When he emailed us to say that he would like to come, we mentioned to him that he could perhaps get the church members in Launceston to donate some board games and then bring them along.

And then yesterday we had a big youth gathering, well in the end it ended up more like a church picnic because many whole families came. The youth have been trying to get together a bit lately, but struggle with things to keep them interested. Hence we thought we would try the board games. Sean came with a suitcase full - thanks Launceston! - but we only took a few to teach this time and hope to continue to introduce more as time goes one. The youth gathering actually turned out really well, and the games worked really well. I did not know people could play Boggle and Uno and Yatzee for such a long time!
Anyway here's some pics:
volleyball is always a highlight

some youngsters enjoying Trouble

Kirilee explaining the rules of the game
getting the food ready

Ashlyn and Yoniche

Rebeka, Julie and Ashlyn

Sean chatting

The girls lending a helping hand preparing the greens

Sean trying his hand at scraping a coconut

enjoying the food
cleaning up afterwards

Monday, November 10, 2008

musings and reflections on a sports carnival

Can’t believe it’s such a long time in between blogs at the moment. At nights, when I usually blog, I am working on the computer putting together a DVD for our Mission Presentations in Western Australia. And that is always quite a bit of work. I do enjoy it, so it is not a chore as such, but it takes time, and there are always things to figure out and frustrations when things don’t work, or stress when the computer crashes and has to be brought in for repairs (a few days ago)! But tonight Andrew is still working on the computer at the moment, and I can’t do it on this laptop as it doesn’t have the programs (or a fast enough system) to do the work. So I am forced to wait to continue with the I thought I would blog.
A few thoughts first of all: Sometimes it’s so hard dealing with the fact that we have so much and others so little. Always a constant tension, a constant struggle. The tension between wealth and poverty: always kind of feeling guilty when I shop (and I rarely buy anything extravagant by Western standards); knowing that I have so much more, and being powerless to change this country, it’s injustices, it’s sickness, it’s physical poverty. It was brought home again to me today. I came back from buying groceries only to have one of our church members walk up to our house at the same time. I discreetly took the bag containing fresh meat inside so I could put it in the freezer, but I left the rest in the car until he left half an hour later. It’s so hard. And we can’t give to individuals (though we do support them through our church offerings, and sometimes we will give people some things in certain circumstances) as a general rule, as then the giving would never end and we don’t want to perpetuate the notion that that we are here to bring physical wealth rather than spiritual riches. I think that’s one of the things I’m looking forward to in our upcoming trip to Australia...just to be away from that tension...Sounds kind of selfish I guess, and really it is good to live in this constant struggle, as it reminds us over and over again to be thankful for what blessings we have. But sometimes, it is nice just to be away from the tension, to feel that we can go to a store and no one cares for a moment what we are buying.

Anyway, that was my thought for the day. I really was thinking that I should blog some photos from last week, when the girls had their athletics and swimming carnivals over two days. Their team, yellow, came first (out of four) in the athletics and 2nd (by one point), in the swimming. It was a fun time, with generally good sportsmanship, which I was pretty impressed with.

Kirilee preparing for a swimming race
Waiting to do discus throwing

Ashlyn watching Shiana in the pool

Shiana and her friend Jean doing the three legged race. They won, but they practiced for about half an hour before the race!!

Shiana doing egg and spoon race. She lost this one, as she was concentrating to make sure the egg didn't fall off. SHe was indignant to find out that others had dropped it and just got to "pick it up and put it back on the spoon." She thought they would be out if they dropped it - I can't remember how we used to play?
long jump
Andrew joining in with the Tug of War on the last bit of the carnival. He also did the parents and teachers baton relay - they won the first race.

Waiting in anticipiation for the score - Kirilee with friend Rena Joy

As the winning team for the athletics part of the carnival, yellow, was announced Shiana and friend Jean hug in excitement!
That's all for now - goodnight!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Guess I have been fairly quiet lately....just a matter of trying to get around to blogging...(Okay I could have done it the last two nights when the kids were in bed, but I had to finish some reading books I got sent to me for my birthday...I hardly ever read novels anymore, and the last two days reminded me why! I am hopeless at putting books away when I am in the middle of reading them!)
But they are done now, so I am trying to catch up on those things that got left behind (don’t worry I did not neglect my main duties – we did eat, the washing did get done, the kids got to school and got helped with their homework, etc!)
I thought I would just post some pictures of Shiana’s party last Saturday. She had a craft party – actually kind of a card making party. I had made some examples and put little kits together for them to make their own, similar to mine but they could be a bit creative. Most of the kids hadn’t done anything quite like it before, not in anyway because they are underprivileged (some of them are far more wealthy than we are!!), but simply because Lae doesn’t have stores which sell that kind of stuff (nice papers, punches, stamps, etc, etc!). Thankfully, I still had some papers which I took from Canada for scrapbooking (but since then I have switched to digital scrapbooking), and then some things which have been sent to us, or I have bought in Australia. Just made me realise that we will be stocking up again on craft things next time we are in Australia, DV.

The rabbit birthday cake which Shiana requested. Thankfully a couple of months back I had seen licorice rolls in the store and bought them there and then knowing that Shiana's birthday was coming up. Sure enough I have not seen them in the store since, and they sure came in handy for this cake!!

Today was one of those frustrating (but not terrible by any means), “only-in-PNG”, days. This morning was just a beautiful morning of Bible Study and fellowship with the ladies. Although afterwards we found out that while we were having our Bible study, while we were calmly and peacefully studying the gospel, the occupants of a car were held up by men wielding guns, right outside the church (the same road as we travel to and from church every time) – this is broad daylight, and we had been on that road an hour before!! It is not for no reason that we constantly thank God for being kept safe, and that we fervently pray for our safety on the roads, and for the Lord to turn the hearts of these rascals. Just today I read in the paper (and saw a picture) of a whole gang in the highlands handing over their weapons to the police. They have become Christians and have realised the error of their ways (they have been terrorising and brutalising people travelling the roads for many years!), and have handed over their weapons. We pray that these turn-arounds are real and lasting and that many more may follow suit in this land. These kind of stories are a little unnerving, however, and sometimes I feel as if I am driving while looking over my shoulder all the time!

This afternoon started with a visit to the dentist. Actually, I went yesterday already, as a small chip had fallen off my tooth and was causing pain. The Philippino dentist who we usually visit was away. I called his office and the office girl said he was in the Philippines. When i asked her when he would be back I was told that she had no idea as he had not told her. Mmm.... that’s good for business! They referred me to another dentist (dentists are extremely rare in Lae) who happened to be a PNG national, a brother of a friend of ours.

So we ended up there. He was capable and very friendly, but he is lacking many resources ( no x-ray machine, for example), though he is trying to build up slowly, but starting a business has extra challenges here (with the cost of things). He had heard that the Philippino dentist (he knew him) had left and may not becoming back, because he had experienced a number of armed hold ups in a row in his dental clinic, and was not coping too well with the stress, understandably!

Well anyway, I had to go back to the dentist this afternoon to finish off my filling, and we decided it was about time the girls had a check-up. So I picked them up after school and off we went for our 2:45 appointment. When we arrived he was not there (he had decided to go to the store and would be back shortly). That was fine by us, we are used to that kind of thing here. He arrived about 15 minutes later, and had just gone into his room when suddenly there was a blackout. The power stayed off and I was thinking, “great, no backup generator here. Guess that means we won’t be doing this appointment this afternoon.” After waiting about 15 minutes I decided to go and ask, as I did not feel like waiting for local power to come back on, as many times it is out for hours at a time. Anyway, I found out that actually there was no town blackout, but their Easy Pay meter had run out. Many houses/businesses here have pre-paid power, and I guess no one thought to buy some more before it ran out. So we waited another half an hour (or maybe more) for that to get organised before the girls got checked - and no, they did not need any fillings - thankfully!!

And then we arrived home to find that we had no water. And of course no one bothered to tell us that it was going to be turned off, or we would have filled some buckets up with water. Andrew said it had already been off for a couple of hours, and I came home later than expected hoping to get some dinner cooked and get things done! And I couldn't even wash my hands or anything. Well actually I did quickly wash them with some drinking water (thankfully we had some of that on standby), and continued to work in the kitchen, watching as the ants inconsiderately took great advantage of my inability to clean up after myself properly (I usually keep them at bay a little by cleaning up spills and crumbs). Then for about a minute the water came on again, and I madly started rinsing dishes, hoping it would stay on, but then it went off again, and I didn't even get my sink filled with water. the next time it came on I quickly filled up every container in sight. Anyway, at about 6:30 pm it came on again and is now working fine. Apparently they were working up the road on something.

And now? The house is quiet, blissfully quiet and since the water came back I even got the dishes done so I am looking at a clean empty sink. Aah.. wonderful.