Sunday, March 29, 2009

Always in God's Hands

We were on our way out yesterday afternoon (Saturday) at about 3pm, when we were once again reminded of the Lord’s care over us! As we drove out of our compound’s gate, the guard stopped us. Just a minute or so earlier he watched as a group of youths held up cars only about 50 metres from our gate (there is a section of road which is very badly potholed, which forces drivers to slow right down, thus giving a perfect opportunity for criminals to attack), using large bush knives. Their actions, however, apparently were thwarted when they tried to hold up a bus filled with people who decided to stop and attack them instead with their bush knives, their sheer numbers scaring the group away. Some they managed to cut a bit with their knives and hold, while some of the others escaped up a nearby mountain for cover. Thankfully, the youths were not wielding guns, or they may not have been overcome and scared so easily. We sure breathed a prayer of thanks, though, thankful that our family was spared the trauma of being held-up. As we drove past we could see the group of people from the bus as well as some other drivers parked on the side of the road and obviously discussing the incident and deciding what to do with the criminals they managed to catch. Andrew dropped me and the children off at the nearby stadium, so I could go for a walk while the kids rode their bikes and played, while he went off to briefly do something else. Andrew offered to stay with me while I exercised, as incidents such as these do put you on edge for a little while, but I told him to go, determined not to be fearful! I did find myself looking around me as I walked, though, realising that it would be so easy for any number of people to attack me and the girls at any time, if they really wanted to. After an incident even as small as this, your mind starts to get overly active!! It is a good time to reflect and remember, however, that nothing will happen to us that our Heavenly Father does not permit to happen, and I forced myself to think and remember this as I walked. And I still had an enjoyable walk!


We had the camera along at church today, so we snapped a few pics. Thought I would just share a few of them with you all:




piling people into the car




what a cute face




beautiful newborn Louisa, daughter of Alo



Ashlyn enjoying a cracker in church



singing before church


Andrew and little Louisa


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Another Snippet

So we were given the honour of naming this beautiful new baby (Alo’s baby). When I dropped them off at Kamkumung immediately after they came out of hospital, the family informed me that they would like our family to name the baby. They did so simply to thank us – a great privilege. They said there was no hurry, we could get back to them in a few days. So we had decided on a name (after great discussions with the girls) and this afternoon I went with Andrew to visit Alo and the baby (and Alo’s Mum, who naturally was there as well). When we talked about the baby’s name they were a little embarrassed. Another man living on the property (a wonderful man who has lived there for a while and who has been a very faithful member of our church, and who simply loves the family) decided to name the baby. They told us that we should name the baby, too, as it is quite common for a baby to have more than one name (I found out for the first time that their oldest daughter, for example, has three names -one they gave her and two names which other family members gave her!). There was no way, however, that they could inform this man who named the baby that they had already asked us to name the baby, as that would be disrespectful, and is just not done in this culture. We told them that we were more than happy to let the name which the older man gave the baby stand, and we were fine with foregoing our “honour”. This was especially more so because we love and respect this man (he has had a hard life and is a wonderful person), and further we found out that the name he gave the baby is Louisa, which is the name of his wife who he lost many years ago to cancer. Apparently she gave birth to a baby who died, and soon after she died from cancer. Given this man’s obvious love and affection for the family and the amount of time he spends with them, we were more than happy to let this beautiful baby bear the name of his wife whom he loved and misses dearly!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

watched in life, new life, school life, social life

Sometimes I feel Ashlyn’s frustrations. It really hit me again on Monday. We went shopping, to three different stores, and constantly wherever we went Ashlyn was touched and talked to. Her cheeks were touched, her hair was tussled, she was called “naispela bebi” (nice baby) over and over again, and everywhere we went she was greeted with “moning, Ashlyn” (they all know her name!). I am trying to teach her to be polite and say good morning back, but it is so hard as she really sometimes just gets annoyed with the constant attention. On Monday, as we shopped, she suddenly sighed loudly and looked up at me, “why does everyone want to look at me and touch my hair?” she asked. So I spent time explaining to her (as I have many times before), that she is white skin and has blonde hair, and so looks different to all the other people around her, so that is why they like to look at her and touch her. And I tell her that all the white people think the PNG babies are cute, etc, etc. Now, the attention given to us is not threatening or horrible at all – the people are just being curious and loving and friendly as well. They mean us no harm, on the contrary they want nothing more than to be our friends. As an adult we understand all these things, but as a child it is different. That being said, even as an adult I sometimes find myself wanting to yell loudly, “can everyone just stop staring at me!!!” Mostly, though, I am thankful that there are so many friendly people around me wherever I go...

And then to the new life - last night a member of our church, Alo, was blessed with the birth of a healthy daughter!!! You may remember (or not) some 5 or so months ago me writing about her parents telling us she was pregnant (outside of marriage) and the decision of the family for her not to pursue a marriage with the father of the child as he was not a Christian and was known for getting drunk fairly often. It has been wonderful to see how her family, and the church community, have rallied around her. It is also wonderful that the Lord has now given her a child and that she has a loving family around to help her raise this child. They were so thankful that all was well and called us bright and early this morning (6:30) to say the baby was born (they had already called us the day before to tell us she was in labour). I picked them up from the hospital this afternoon and brought them to their home, thus getting the privilege of holding a brand new baby!! Ashlyn came with me and was enthralled. As we drove up to their house the rest of Alo’s family all came running out excitedly to see the baby for the first time (they all stayed home from school for the homecoming!!). That baby is going to have many wonderful people to love her to bits!! Here are some pictures of her gorgeous baby!
Alo and her daughter

Ashlyn and Leanne (the baby's Aunty) look on in wonder

And in school life...recently Shiana and her whole class got to go on two excursions in two consecutive weeks. The first one Andrew attended - to the fire station - but he left the camera sitting on the bench at home!! The second I attended - to the local hospital - but I gave Shiana the camera to take the pictures.....hence the best shot is the one below!! They visited the Physiotherapy department and the Women and Child support centre and had a great time (they got to push eachother around in wheel chairs!)


...and then in social life... Shiana has another new friend at school (pictured below). She is the daughter of the school's new principal. They are from NZ originally but have spent the last few years in the UAE in the Middle East. Shiana's friend and her brother came to play for the day last Saturday (Shiana played at her house on Friday afternoon) and their parents came over as well at dinner time so we could all enjoy eachother's company...



This little girl pictured below lives in our compound and is a major part of Ashlyn's social life. Her mother is from PNG and her adoptive father is from Australia orginally. Would you believe that her name (I am not sure if it is her official name, but it is the name the call her all the time!!) is Blondie!! How far from blonde can you get? Anyway little Blondie is quite at home in our house and will wander in periodically looking for Ashlyn, always ready to play. She is a sweetie, though, and always politely calls "bye" and leaves when I tell her it it time for her to go!


And I thought I would just add this phot of Shiana, because it pictures her nicely.... smiley, happy and often a bit dishevelled looking due to her busy playing or crazy antics.


Sunday, March 15, 2009

pics and pieces

Yes, I know...you expect me to start this blog with a line about how it’s been a while since I updated. But I am not going to this time....or have I already? Mmm...
This time I think I will just give you a photo update with some explanations and maybe in that way you will get an idea of the last week and a bit (or is that more??) in our life!!

Now for some strange reason this blogging thing is misbehaving and when I upload pictures all I see is words not pictures. I am hoping that when I publish this post they will turn back into pictures, so presuming that is so I'll will go on and just explain what the pics are about. If all you see is a bunch of words, then I guess my hoping was not fulfilled and I apologize in advance


This is Ashlyn in the bean bag we brought from Australia. However, since beans are not particularly available here (and if they are they are very expensive), we filled it with foam which we painstakingly cut into small pieces after picking up offcuts from a local factory ...but it worked!!


Shiana practicing the piano - I am giving her and Kirilee lessons each week...


Shiana and her student-of-the-fortnight award


Kirilee way up the front at school leading an assembly




Kirilee decided to take lots of pics of me leading the youth gathering (see explanation below)...and it seems that on everyone I had my hands in some funny position...I had no idea I used my hands that much!!! I guess that photos don't lie. mmmm....have to do something about that.



The pics above are from a youth gathering yesterday. This Youth Gathering was the first one we had. It is the first of many (we hope). The plan is to hold them every other Saturday (for the benefit of my Canadian readers) or every fortnight (for my Australian readers) or whatever you call it (for any other nationalities that frequent my blog). Anyway, at this first gathering we had 20 youths present!! That is a great turnout, though I do not want to get too excited, as this number will most likely wane to less (going by past experiences). However, it was great to have this many for our first youth gathering! I had so much fun. I am teaching them a course which I am writing as I go, based on the Heidelberg Catechism (in Tok Pisin), and we are basically doing it as an interactive class with a number of fairly simple questions which if they are able to understand and answer it will mean they have a reasonable grasp on what is being talked about. We spend some of the time doing this and then some time doing other things like singing and games. This morning Andrew kept the girls with him, though he dropped Kirilee off there a little later and she just joined in. Andrew took the other two girls with him to make some visits to sick church members (Apparently Ashlyn just sat on his lap without moving!!). It sure was easier for me not having Ashlyn with me, though some other Saturdays I am sure she will come along. I am used to that, though, as she comes with me pretty well everywhere, and she is pretty well behaved usually. She has grown up doing it (everyone brings their children everywhere) so she is well used to it as am I.

Well, here it goes....I will try publishing this and see if the photos miraculously pop up....

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

matter-of-fact

So we are coming back from Bible Study this morning (see end of this blog for details on this) and a young woman (I estimate in mid twenties-early thirties) is walking right in the middle of the road. I turn to the lady next to me in the car and say in Tok Pisin, “she’s not looking out for cars very well.” I slow down and move around the woman in the middle of the road, as the lady next to me tells me, “she’s crazy. She’ll often dance in the middle of the road.” (the tok Pisin word is long long which denotes anyone with a mental problem really, but basically means “silly” or “crazy”.)
“Oh,” I ask, “was she born like that?”
“No,” the woman replies, “she was born fine. However her husband constantly bashed her up and in so doing caused her brain damage. She has a child, but her husband has left her now because she is crazy and he has married another woman.”
Then I am at the settlement and the women get out of the car. That is that. So matter-of-fact. Just the way life is for many women. But just because it is the way it is, and just because the women sound almost accepting of it (inability to do anything about it!) this does not detract from the terrible trauma and pain suffered by so many women. For one man to destroy a beautiful young woman like that and then just go off and marry someone else, just makes one shudder. Shudder and pray.
On a happier note, we held our first women’s fellowship today for the year. It’s a bit late in starting, but with the library to organise and other things to sort out, that’s just the way it turned out.
It was a good fellowship morning – Fellowship with women one in Christ. We sang, we prayed, we shared, we delved into Scripture. We missed one of our own, though. One woman, though she continues to come to Sunday Worship, is keeping herself from the other women in times of fellowship and the like. She has spoken to us (as missionaries) about the reason for her absence. She sees certain sins in some member’s lives (they live in a close community where everything you do is seen by everyone else), sins that they struggle to fight against, and this makes her heart cry (her words). She feels that they are being hypocritical and refuses to fellowship with them because of it. We have tried to talk to her, tried to speak about not judging, about taking the log out of your own eye first (Okay that one was said tactfully!), shared with her that while we are still on this earth sin will continue, and we will never find a perfect church with perfect members; encouraged her to speak with these members and pray for them; exhorted her not to stay away and thus hinder the work of the Holy Spirit in her life; exhorted her to come and share what gifts the Lord has given her with others; and we have prayed for her. But she feels so “heavy” so “burdened”, so “terrible”, that it keeps her away and apart (though thankfully she does worship with us on Sundays still). Please pray for this lady that she may come back to the rest of the women to fellowship with them, and for the other women that they may welcome her and make it easy for her to come back, and also that their (and all of our) struggle against sin may be earnest and strong!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

another few days

Andrew is sitting in his office. I am downstairs. Ashlyn is playing outside. We all hear a gunshot, not such an uncommon sound around here. It was loud and close, I could tell that much, but not so close that it came from inside the walls of our compound. I continue working. Later Andrew told me the story as he watched it unfold from his office (also our bedroom) window. A group of people were making a lot of noise and generally mucking about. Then a police car drives past at which the group of people decide to mouth off at the police and loudly yell at them. In response the police car stops, shoots a single warning shot into the air and drives off. That’s one way to shut them up. And it did for a little while.... oh, the interesting things we see and hear out of our office/bedroom window. (some things are worse than others – we are sometimes awakened in the night by loud bantering and drunken brawling on the same road)
...it has been a week with a difference, for me anyway. A week with a forced change from some of my regular weekly activities. Shiana came down with malaria a week and a bit ago, and Ashlyn was sick at the same time (some other virus...or who knows maybe even mild malaria). For a while they were both sick at the same time though Ashlyn was nowhere near as sick as Shiana of course and improved more speedily. Shiana was battling fevers, sweats, chills (shivering and freezing cold in our 30 plus temps), vomiting and more vomiting, sore eyes and headaches. The poor girl was so unwell, she just didn’t know what to do with herself, but thankfully the Lord allowed her to respond well to the medication and now she is back to her normal self, although her appetite is not yet back up to scratch.
So the sickness in the family forced me to slow down a bit...I had so hoped to keep working in the library at Kamkumung, but family comes first, so I was taught a bit of patience. So often we plan and plan and like to get things done on our schedules only to find that the Lord has other ideas. Little things like this can be good reminders of God’s overarching plan. All the extra time at home did give me a bit of a chance, in between attending to sick kids, to work on more for our Women’s Bible Fellowship and the Youth Group this year....so there are pros to everything.
For the rest our week has been filled with normal busyness, and thankfully mostly uneventful (by PNG standards). A teacher at the girl’s school said to me this week that she tells all new teachers that begin work at the school, “the only thing stable and predictable in PNG is its instability and unpredictability!” mmm...we’ll second that – makes for more excitement, that’s for sure!

another few days

Andrew is sitting in his office. I am downstairs. Ashlyn is playing outside. We all hear a gunshot, not such an uncommon sound around here. It was loud and close, I could tell that much, but not so close that it came from inside the walls of our compound. I continue working. Later Andrew told me the story as he watched it unfold from his office (also our bedroom) window. A group of people were making a lot of noise and generally mucking about. Then a police car drives past at which the group of people decide to mouth off at the police and loudly yell at them. In response the police car stops, shoots a single warning shot into the air and drives off. That’s one way to shut them up. And it did for a little while.... oh, the interesting things we see and hear out of our office/bedroom window. (some things are worse than others – we are sometimes awakened in the night by loud bantering and drunken brawling on the same road)
...it has been a week with a difference, for me anyway. A week with a forced change from some of my regular weekly activities. Shiana came down with malaria a week and a bit ago, and Ashlyn was sick at the same time (some other virus...or who knows maybe even mild malaria). For a while they were both sick at the same time though Ashlyn was nowhere near as sick as Shiana of course and improved more speedily. Shiana was battling fevers, sweats, chills (shivering and freezing cold in our 30 plus temps), vomiting and more vomiting, sore eyes and headaches. The poor girl was so unwell, she just didn’t know what to do with herself, but thankfully the Lord allowed her to respond well to the medication and now she is back to her normal self, although her appetite is not yet back up to scratch.
So the sickness in the family forced me to slow down a bit...I had so hoped to keep working in the library at Kamkumung, but family comes first, so I was taught a bit of patience. So often we plan and plan and like to get things done on our schedules only to find that the Lord has other ideas. Little things like this can be good reminders of God’s overarching plan. All the extra time at home did give me a bit of a chance, in between attending to sick kids, to work on more for our Women’s Bible Fellowship and the Youth Group this year....so there are pros to everything.
For the rest our week has been filled with normal busyness, and thankfully mostly uneventful (by PNG standards). A teacher at the girl’s school said to me this week that she tells all new teachers that begin work at the school, “the only thing stable and predictable in PNG is its instability and unpredictability!” mmm...we’ll second that – makes for more excitement, that’s for sure!