Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Oh, how I had planned to update this blog so many times during the past week and a half but you know how it goes....
Last week we had Annie and Jerry and Christina over for dinner to farewell them....yes, that’s right!! Yet another family has left Lae, another family who have played an important part in church life here in Lae. Jerry always accompanied our church music with the guitar, and does such a fantastic job. We will really miss his musical talent in church. And he was also a leader in the church here. And the family was/is a loved part of our church community here in Lae...but once again a family is moving away to Port Moresby to study at the Bible College. Jerry has the desire to one day become a pastor of our Reformed Churches here in Lae. What a blessing – may our Heavenly Father bless this family and their many plans!
Christina, Jerry and Annie
The girls playing with Annie and Christina
I am trying to remember what has been going on the last week and a half. Maybe if I start with today I’ll remember as I go backwards in time. Today Andrew spent mostly at home in his office studying, typing, preparing and he just returned from another meeting...I was out this morning at the library at Kamkumung. Last year the girl’s school donated a few hundred books to our church library, which is fantastic, but of course it means a lot of work getting them into the library!!! So we will spending a few more mornings there yet. It is also hard because it is necessary to explain a lot all the time, as many of the ladies do not really understand the operation of a library. Nevertheless, it was fun and it was good to get together to do it and to involve the ladies (and Rumenasen) too. We hope to continue on Thursday morning and then next week again. I took a stack of books home tonight which I hope to work on tomorrow.....

On Monday, among other things, Andrew had to take Annie and Jerry and Christina (and as many other people as could possibly cram into the car – and I mean cram!!!) to the airport. I did some shopping and some preparation work for a course I am working on for a youth program and women’s study... Julie came over in the morning to work and arrived with a story... Apparently over Christmas she, and many other women, had bought some chickens from a relative to eat. Now, actually, they did not buy them but they took them as they were ready to eat and the relative said they could pay him back when he returned from his village in May. So no one was too worried yet about collecting the money until the relative suddenly arrived home on Sunday, a few months early and demanded his money by the next day. Apparently he was heading back to his village, but had run out of money so decided to come back early and collect his debts. Well, though Julie had been paid on Saturday she had decided to go and buy some sheets, a towel and a pillow (as they had been stolen many months earlier when she was forced to move house – but that’s another whole story). SO of course she did not have the 50 kina left to pay her part of the debt. The relative (her uncle-in-law) threatened them all that he would get his highland friends to come and beat them up if they did not pay up on Monday (oh, and this is no idle threat – many people, including women, who we know have been bashed up for not paying back debts)... so of course I leant Julie the money (it will just come off her pay for the week anyway....)...oh the stories we hear, not just from Julie but from many others in her position too.

Sunday was a day of worship....and then we had guests over at night....manager’s at the SIL guesthouse here in Lae. We had a lovely evening!
Enjoying good company around the dinner table

Friday and Saturday were crazy days for some reason (in a good sort of way), church members coming and going all day on both days, plumbers trundling through our house all day Friday (fixing a few taps and toilets) - so the water was off most of the day - Andrew working upstairs in between the visits from church members, me preparing this and that, Kirilee had a school friend over on Saturday and then some good friends popped in from their village in the Markham Valley on Saturday afternoon (they are SIL translators). They returned a few hours later to join us for a BBQ – since they were only here for one night we had to enjoy it!
Our girls and their friends (the ones who came over for a BBQ)

....and last week, well that’s just too far in history to remember everything... we had a good and busy week. I spent a lot of the week organising the Sunday School program, Andrew worked on Sermons and the like and we had a lot of church members popping in and out, trying to organise this and that!
The Sunday before we had these wonderful people over for dinner. L is the manager of the security company we use at our Kamkumung church site and his wife runs a local coffee shop/cafe, which we love to visit from time to time to get an hour or so off our regular activities!!

I really don’t think we have anything really exciting to blog...we continue to be blessed with good health and strength to do our daily task. We are still trying to organise and restart all the regular weekly programs.
Oh, and we decided to vanish/seal (or whatever you call it – make the wooden floor shiny again) upstairs, to try and make it easier to keep clean (it was pretty worn and was always dusty!!!). We had decided just to do one room/area per week as we had time, but we failed to read the instructions in their entirety first which said that once the two pots were mixed it would have to be used within a few hours or it would start to harden (especially in over 20 degrees celcius - well we are constantly many degrees over that). Oops!!!! - So it was frantic – moving everything out downstairs and on top of cupboards, etc; grabbing changes of clothes, and other essentials to come downstairs, and the whole lot was done!!!! One way to get a job done quickly!!

For the rest we continue to sweat and sweat some more. We continue to plough through potholes. This morning I (with some other ladies in the car) had to do a big detour on the way to Kamkumung as the road is being fixed (hooray!!!), but the detour was right through the bumpiest of bumpiest roads – huge potholes (more like craters), and not the safest of areas to travel (right through the heart of the settlement!)...but we got there and back later on the same way, ever kept safe in Father’s Hands.

Ashlyn enjoying her new bike which we managed to fit into one of our suitcases (it was still boxed) when we recently returned from Australia


















Friday, February 6, 2009

good bye joel and gami and vanessa and robert (plus some other bits and pieces)

On Thursday we had to farewell a wonderful family, members of our church here in Lae. They are off to Port Moresby where Joel (and in some ways Gami) hopes to study at the Reformed Bible College there. We, and many others, will sorely miss them. God used them in many ways over the past year and they gave their heart and soul to serving the church here. However, we know that for the future of the churches here in PNG it is so important that local, indegenous men be trained as pastors, so it is with joy in our hearts that we farewell them too. Our children will also miss them - the girls were good friends with their daughter Vanessa, and Ashlyn loved Robert. So that we as a family could farewell them personally, they came over for a meal on Wednesday night. Here's a couple of photos:


Gami, Robert, Joel and Vanessa

playing together for the last time for a while


The girls have settled back into school well. We attended their assembly today and Kirilee had to introduce the item that her class was presenting:



...and another thing. We recently found out that while we were in Australia the gang leader of the criminals that broke into the Kamkumung property some months back now, was killed when he was run over trying to hold up a local bus. The fact that he was the mastermind behind the terrorising break-in into the church manse only came out after his death. He died because of his criminal activities. His family hid him all that time, not giving him up to police, even though they knew he was constantly involved in criminal activity. That kind of "stick up for your family no matter what" runs deep through the culture here. The sad thing is that if they had handed him over the the police, he would probably still be alive today. Very, very sad.

Apparently two other young men involved in the Kamkumung church hold-up have also since been killed due to some family arguments and violent retaliations. The story is just too common around here. We pray that the gospel will reach many more young men such as these, so that they may turn from their way of life which only leads to physical and spiritual destruction and death!

Monday, February 2, 2009

home

Sweltering heat, potholes galore, smiling and welcoming faces, roads covered with people walking, green lush vegetation, and familiar sights and sounds all served to remind us that we were back home!
...but we almost didn’t make it... When Andrew called last Thursday (while we were still in Cairns) to confirm everything for our flights (making sure there were no delays, etc) he got the surprising reply that we had cancelled our flights. When he told them that we had done no such thing, he was told that obviously our travel agent in PNG had cancelled our flights. Anyway, the point was that regardless of whose fault it was we were no longer booked to fly out of Cairns and back to Lae. The lady in Cairns contacted Lae and was basically given the run-around being told they were prepared to do nothing about it. Anyway the lady in Cairns spent 5-6 hours sorting it all out and managed to somehow reinstate our tickets and get us on the flights. We were so thankful for that! Guess the Lord was slowly preparing us for getting back into the way things work in PNG.
...and then we almost did not make our connecting flight from Moresby to Lae. The Air Niugini flight from Cairns was delayed by over an hour due to some technical problems, so by the time we arrived in Moresby we had to rush our way (as much as possible) through customs and then rush to the other terminal, and as we walked into the departure area we basically boarded immediately. Phew!!! It was nice, however, to not be delayed and arrive in Lae on time!
Our house was so full of dust that when we walked in the girls came back yelling that their feet were completely black with dust from just walking inside. And so they were. So before any unpacking was done we had to sweep and mop all the floors (no carpet here!). And then that night and the next day were basically spent unpacking and reorganising the house, while Andrew also did a lot of running around for paying bills, etc,
Sunday was a beautiful day – so special to be back with our brothers and sisters in Christ here! They welcomed us with beautiful smiles and hugs and it soon felt as if we had never been away - the kids walking around, the dogs wandering in, the dripping sweat and the brother reading the sermon wearing thongs (not the American/Canadian thongs BTW – the Australian kind!). And we were so thankful to see and hear that things went really well in our absence – there is even a bunch of new people from the Kamkumung area who have been coming regularly! A humble reminder that God is in control and he is able to do anything without any help from us!
And today we are back to getting into the swing of things. People coming and going, errands to run, children to school, and trying to get our heads around what we need to start organising for the coming weeks and months.