Sunday, December 28, 2008

blessed new year

Okay, so it's a bit late for Christmas wishes, but we hope your Christmas was a blessed one wherever it was and now that it is a new year we also wish you God's many blessings in 2009. So comforting to know that wherever we are in this world, the Lord is with His children!

This blog has been rather quiet, but the days are just flying by. On Monday Andrew got sick, and is suffering from malaria again. He started feeling really unwell on Monday and on Monday night had a very high fever which left him with sweats and chills all night and unable to sleep for more than a few minutes at a time before nightmares/etc awoke him. He also had nausea and bad headaches. On Tuesday morning his fever was still high so we took him to the doctor. However, by the time we could get an appointment his fever was down (malaria does that - the fever comes and goes a bit in cycles). Anyway, the test came back negative, but that is probably because he did not have a fever at the time of the test, which can result in a false negative. Anyway, the symptoms have persisted and he has also had some additional symptoms which have left the doctors and us concluding that it is malaria. We took our own treatment for malaria with us from PNG, so we started him on that already on Tuesday. Tuesday was his worst day so far, and with Panadeine the fever is kept down a bit, although at nights he is still very restless and feverish. The sheets are just drenched in his sweat. Andrew is able to plod around the house a bit when he gets tired of just doing nothing, but he quickly tires and needs to rest again. We hope the headaches (very painful) and fevers subside and ease soon (during the day the fevers aren't too bad but at night it gets high) so he is able to at least sleep a bit more.
We are just so thankful that he did not get this while we were still in PNG. At least here he does not have work pressures and can hopefully take his time to get better (he is not very good at doing that!) The doctor did say that if he does not improve or if other symptoms develop then Andrew will need to get further bloodwork done.
I thought I would just post a few more pics, some still from our trip from Cairns to Brisbane and the others here in Albany:
hiring a big bike in Hervey Bay
Hervey Bay beach
Opa exploring his gardens with his grandchildren


...and again






















Friday, December 19, 2008

hi again

This will just be a quick blog to let those of you who want to know that we are now in Hervey Bay which is our last stop before heading to Brisbane on Monday and then flying out to WA, the Lord willing, on Tuesday!
We left Airlie beach on Tuesday and drove to Mackay. The weather has definitely cooled down. Actually it hasn’t cooled down if you go by the temperature – in the low to mid 30’s but we can so tell that the humidity is much less. From Mackay we went to Rockhampton. Rocky, as locals call it, is a really nice city – nice streets!
And then from there we drove to Hervey Bay. We took a bit of a detour via Bundaberg (where Bundaberg Rum is made). This is also a nice place, with a gorgeous main street. However, we arrived there at lunch time and the traffic was so badly congested down the main street. It took us forever to get through. Very beautiful main street, but not very well designed for the lunch time traffic! And we found out that Ashlyn does like cheeseburgers at Macdonalds even if she doesn’t like their icecreams – I think I would prefer the icecream.
Hervey Bay is a lovely place. And you can actually swim in the sea here! Yes, the stingers stop at Rockhampton apparently. No more box jellyfish! Probably has to do with the temperature of the water and humidity. We were actually cold here in Hervey Bay, and it was still 30 degrees, but there was a sea breeze...we had better get used to it I guess since we are headed for the south west!
We checked out the beach and jetty and marina today. Hervey Bay reminds me a bit of Albany – beautiful coastline, but the weather was definitely warmer here – though the wind certainly reminded me of Albany - we don't get much wind in Lae . We also had a look at the Botanic Gardens.
Anyway, here’s some pics of some bits and pieces we’ve been doing:


this pic is back in Airlie Beach - we hired a cart thing from the caravan park we were staying at - Ashlyn looked quite the part!


the girls having fun


and again




in Hervey Bay - the jetty



and again



checking out the turtles in the botanical gardens in Hervey Bay



again in the Botanic gardens








Sunday, December 14, 2008

So we are still here – alive and kicking and having a wonderful time! At the moment we are in Whitsundays area at Airlie Beach, and we purchased some internet time so now I can blog. But let’s back track a little...
We left Cairns on Thursday morning and drove through to Mission Beach (about a 2 hour drive). The kids did pretty good on the travels, though Ashlyn continues to beg to come and sit with me in the front (on my lap), as she always does in Lae. She mutters and groans and cries a bit and then gets over it fairly quickly. We stayed right near a beautiful beach only to find out that at this time of the year you cannot swim at it (except where there are stinger nets – they are few and far between), because there are dangerous stingers and jellyfish in the water, one type of which can apparently kill you in half an hour. Such a pity! We met some tourists from Holland and Germany in the pool at the caravan park, and ended up talking a bit about what we do in PNG. They had no idea what mission work was at all, but were very interested to hear about it and kept asking lots of questions.
On Friday we drove through to Townsville and stayed at a nice caravan park there. Once again the kids did well, though it always seems that they manage to argue about everything when they are in so close quarters in the car!! The Townsville waterfront is decked out beautifully for swimming, with a great small water park for kids and a saltwater lagoon free from those nasty stingers.
And on Saturday we drove through to Airlie Beach, where we are now and hope to remain till Tuesday morning. We really noticed the change in vegetation as we left Townsville – the greenness and palms were replaced with spindly bushes and brown land. The temperature is also less humid, though still high temperatures, though even the humidity even in Cairns and Townsville is nothing compared to what we are used to in Lae. It is nice not to sweat and feel sticky constantly. We were surprised to notice that the roads had quite a bit of rubbish thrown on the verges (not in the cities but on the rural roads) – and here we were thinking that in PNG people litter but not in Australia...okay, true, there is still nowhere near as much rubbish in Lae, but still...
We’re really finding that Ashlyn doesn’t like a lot of the fruits and other foods...not interested in a Macdonald’s ice cream, won’t eat Kiwi fruit, or nectarines, etc! And all those foods are things that the other girls really love and are excited to keep buying! Though Ashlyn sure does not object to eating things like chocolate and potato chips!! Also, every time we enter a caravan park Ashlyn will ask, “are we going to stay in this compound?” She thinks that any group of houses is a compound! She continues to ask about where the black skins are and tends to find a quiet area of a playground to play in – she really does not like there to be a lot of other kids around. Hopefully a stay in Albany with all her cousins will cure her of that!!
The caravan park that we are staying in now has a beautiful pool with waterslides and a great playground – so the kids (and we) are having a great time here. It is so nice to drive and walk around without the same security stresses as there are in Lae. A real blessing!

And here are some pics not in order of occurrance:

townsville lagoon



water front park in Townsville




Water front park in Townsville - the big bucket on the top dumps water



Kirilee at Mission Beach


Kirilee and Shiana at the non-swimmable beach at Mission Beach

Ashlyn can't get enough of playing


the girls

Ashlyn and Shiana having fun on the big jumping pillow (inflated) here in Airlie Beach (Caravan park)



the pool here at Airlie beach caravan park


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Cairns...

Here’s a blog from Cairns...
Wow! Back in the land of smooth roads, curbs, unsmashed up cars, nice buses, fancy houses, shopping centres that go on and on... Ashlyn’s mouth dropped as we walked through Cairns Central (a shopping centre – mall). She walked along pointing at things and then when we went to a kid’s clothing store she promptly pulled almost everything she saw off the shelf and said: “this fits me mum?” When I said it would she presumed it would be bought for her and loudly let everyone know that she wanted it. This went on and on and she wanted to try on every shoe in sight and buy it. Finally it dawned on me what was going on. Our little girl can’t remember going clothes shopping or any shopping the Western way. She only remembers going to second hand stores to buy clothes, in PNG. And when we are in Lae, if there is something nice that fits her we buy it without fail, as those times are far and few between and the price of the item will invariably be very cheap. So dear Ashlyn presumes that if we are shopping and something is nice and would fit her, well naturally it will be bought for her, and in her three year old mind any change to this norm is cause for a yell or two. And then there are all the toys!!! It was just too much for her, though I must say that overall she is doing pretty good.
One of Shiana’s first comments when we walked around Cairns was, “Mum, look how short that lady’s skirt is.” I think she echoed many of our thoughts – the fashion here is just mind boggling after coming out of PNG where women are so careful to expose nothing, and their dress is anything but sexually oriented. It really throws us for a few days trying to get our mind around these kinds of things.
Oh, and how exciting to go into a huge supermarket! I was thrilled, crazy as it might seem. And once again so excited about how cheap everything is (I know, prices have gone up in Australia, but when you compare it to PNG, everything seems soooh cheap). We bought chocolate and yoghurt and potato chips and fresh milk...how yum!
Anyway, it is good to be in Australia, though Ashlyn is obviously missing PNG (though having lots fun!) We went to a playpark today (Muddy’s for those in the know), and she was so timid and scared first of all especially. She wanted me to hold her hand, not because she was scared of the toys, but so overwhelmed with all the white kids. IT was not long before she found a group of “black” kids (from Thursday island we found out – they look a lot like Papua New Guineans), and was happily playing with them on a toy. They were the only children she actually interacted with all morning!
Then we spent some time at the lagoon. Tomorrow we hope to drive off on our way to Brisbane, though we are only doing 150km tomorrow.
Sean Eikelboom flew with us from Port Moresby to Cairns and has been spending these days with us here in Cairns. He hopes to fly back to Tasmania tomorrow.

Monday, December 8, 2008

oops..i forgot something

There was a major event happening in Lae today, and I forgot to blog about it....but now I am remembering:

Overnight there was a big fire in Best Buy one of the major stores here in Lae. This was not the worst of it, as before long looters moved in. Many of them started drinking all the beer and wine and soon Lae was full of drunk people. The people gathered in numbers and began looting everything in sight. Once that store was emptied they went on rampages in surrounding stores. The police did not show up until hours later in the morning (9:00am) Andrew drove past this morning and police were trying to take control shooting guns wildly. Mobs of people tried to run away and Andrew quickly drove away from the scene. As the day the wore on the looting continued, the police no match for the mobs of people. We think it has settled down now.

An "interesting" way to end our last day in Lae for this year....

photos and goodbye

Just a real quick one as I am still trying to get organised for our trip tomorrow (the bus comes to get us at 5am!!). We are all very excited!
Just thought I would quickly try and post a few photos of our special Sunday yesterday:








Helen and Augustina chatting before the service (they both professed their faith)



It was all too much for Nigeline...she was batpised (daughter of Helen)

Angeline, daughter of Helen being baptised - she has bad scarring on her head and face due to an accident with fire when she was much smaller.


Some of the children who were baptised receiving a children's Bible

And for now goodbye, though who knows - maybe we will get a chance to blog soon, but from Australia, the Lord willing!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

finishing off

In our last full week in Lae for this year things have been busy (isn't everyone busy at this time of the year??) finishing up this and that, attending end of the year things at the girl's school, getting organised to leave, etc and etc.

Here's the run down of our weekfor those who want to know (hey, that's the great thing about blogs, I'll never know if you exit this page right now!!!)...

On Tuesday our church's Women's Bible Study/fellowship group had its final gathering. I was asked to do the devotion/scripture study to wrap up the year, so I spent Monday preparing that. The day turned out beautiful. We had a special time of fellowship and prayer, and we also exchanged gifts and shared food together. The ladies arranged everything and it was all their ideas. That was very special for me to see and watched. I stayed well in the background throughout all the discussion in preparation for the day and I was just so thrilled to watch how well everything turned out (okay so we started an hour later than normal, but this is PNG!!). Some ladies from Tent Siti made the trip to come (especially invited last Sunday by one of the ladies), and I was so thankful to notice that some of the ladies from our Kamkumung group went out of their way to draw them in, to make them feel a part of us, and to encourage them to come and fellowship with us next year (With all the problems going on in Tent Siti this past year, it has been a struggle for some to continue to worship with us for more reasons than one). Each week we collect a small offering of money, and the ladies offered to share some of that with the Tent Siti ladies next year for bus money to help them come to Kamkumung or Biwat each week for Bible study. As a misisonary it is so exciting to see people themselves taking initiative and planning and executing their plans well. It was a wonderful morning!


Rebekah ready to fill up her plate



Robert enjoying his meal


Some ladies chatting


The delicious food - I, of course, was requested not so subtly to bring cake (none of the ladies have the ability to bake as they always cook on an open fire!!) which I was happy to comply with, as that's easy for me!


Then on Wednesday we had a small lunch at the girl's school, put on by the school to thank volunteers who help out at the school. As Andrew is on the Board of Governors at the school, and I help each week in Shiana's class on Thursday afternoons, we were invited to attend. On Wednesday night we had the Biwat fellowship in our compound (usually it is done in the Biwat settlement) as we wanted to show them the DVD which we prepared for our presentations in Australia. (Andrew showed it the night before in Kamkumung). It was so much fun to watch their reactions to seeing themselves on the DVD, and we just got so much pleasure watching that.


Then Thursday morning was literacy class, and then straight to the girl's school again for an award ceremony and graduation. Shiana was receiving a gold award, so we were invited for lunch again this time to celebrate this!



Then Friday afternoon I was back at school again for a fund-raising Christmas craft sale. I spent a part of Wednesday and Thursday baking slices for the cake stall! The kid's had also made some crafts and sold a few of them at the sale. It was fun, anyway. Shiana went to her friend Jael's (daughter of EBC missionary family) place for a sleepover on Friday night (they took her with them after the craft fair), and this afternoon we went to pick her up (and had dinner with the family!)


In between all of this my dear husband has been busy tying up loose ends, finishing off finance work, writing a sermon, preparing for our special Sunday tomorrow (Holy Supper, Profession of Faith and Baptism), preparing closing fellowship devotions, making some visits, and today he had a gathering at Tent Siti to try and put closure to the sad and tense events that have gone this year....and me I have been trying to get organised for our time away.


If I have time I will post a few pics tomorrow night after our special Sunday service.


Monday, December 1, 2008

congratulations Imelda!

On Friday afternoon an excited Imelda came to our house to show us her certificates. She recently was sponsored through Australia (though she did have to pay a percentage herself!) to complete her final year at a vocational school. It is a school geared to get them into the workforce, with very practical type skills being learned. And out of 43 students she got first place in Cooking/Catering and third place in Housekeeping. What a blessing! She’s a great girl and we hope she soon finds employment, as it’s a tough place to find a good job!
Imelda showing off her certificates (pic taken at our house)

Then an hour or so after church on Sunday (about 3pm) Imelda came to our house and asked if we could come and join her family and friends in a gathering to celebrate her graduation and good results. So off we went as family for a big meal of greens, rice, kaukau, cooking bananas and chicken and 3:30pm (and that only an hour after eating our own lunch at home!!)
receiving our food!

It was nice to be part of the gathering! Of course, being the weekend there was a lot of drunk people wandering about. So, so sad to see their hopelessness. One man was extremely drunk and he was some relative of Imelda. Her poor family was so determined to get him away from us, but he was determined to be loud and noticed. He stumbled and fell and shouted and carried on. Then suddenly he saw us sitting there and he got a cheeky kind of smile on his face. He came up, shaking hands and repeatedly saying, “sorry, sorry pastor, sorry”. Then he shook hands again and said (well here’s the translated version for you anyway): “sorry, pastor. I can’t lie to you. I did have a little bit to drink. Sorry pastor.”
Even in his drunken state – and believe me he was out of it – he still had some recognition that a pastor had something to do with God, and that drunkenness wasn’t a good thing. Sad to know though that he and many others like him, waste their lives away in beer and drugs, often to the point of destroying their brain and becoming permanently “longlong” (Tok Pisin word used to describe someone silly, stupid, foolish, or mentally retarded…in this case I mean that they sustain permanent brain damage). May the Lord work among all the drunkards in Biwat settlement too!
There’s one little girl (about 5 I would guess) who lives near Imelda’s house (some relation, though I am not exactly sure what relation), who I just adore. She is also “longlong”, (as they call her, which means in this instance that she has a mental disability. She is not majorly disabled, but you can tell that she is not normal, just a bit retarded). She is just so cute. She is so happy and full of smiles. She loves to hug all our girls and just loves to sit on my lap. She is so affectionate! It’s interesting to watch the reaction of the people, however. When she comes to sit on my lap, their instant reaction is to try and tell her to get off (they think that she would bother me!!), until I repeatedly tell them that I don’t mind at all. Imelda is so kind to this girl and it heartens me to watch the way most of the family treat Mercy (that’s the girl’s name) with love!
a group of kids enjoying the entertainment - watching the whiteskins eat! The girl in the green shirt on the far end (not on the left, but on the right) is Mercy!