Wednesday, April 29, 2009

markets and kittens

So, really, the markets have nothing to do with the kittens, but I just wanted to talk about both...
Markets first. This morning I went to the local markets (not many white people do....and those that do stand out very clearly amongst the sea of entirely black people) with Ashlyn. Now, that is always quite the feat. You have to understand that I buy my weeks worth of fruit and veg. On top of that Ashlyn is only 3 so she is kind of a bit clingy - she understands that she has to walk and cannot be carried, but she is forever pulling on my skirt. Then you have to understand that it is always hot and sweaty and often very crowded. And then you have to understand that, especially as a woman you always feel a bit vulnerable out there.
So here I am with Ashlyn, carrying 5 bilums (bags) full of heavy fruit and veg, dodging people, and food and puddles. And then as I walk around I notice this strange man following me. Everywhere I go. Whichever way I turn he is there. It makes me nervous, but it is hard for me to hurry with Ashlyn and all that stuff. He is freaking me out a bit. Every now and then someone tells him to back off, but he keeps returning like a bad smell. I am not too worried about him doing anything to me in the markets as I am pretty sure that if I started yelling a horde of people would come to my rescue. My nervousness is more based on the worry of him following me to my car where there would not be quite the same protection.
Anyway, I was feeling myself getting a bit shaky and in the end that really frustrated me so I started getting annoyed and angry. Why should this fellow be making me feel so nervous? SO I don't know why, but I decided to turn the tables. When I was purchasing a broccoli and he stood a mitre away staring at me, I decided to follow him instead. I turned around, stared at him and then walked right up to him, looked at him with no fear in my eyes (at least I tried to act that way) and said loudly enough for all close to us to hear (but not so loudly that I was shouting): "No ken bihainim mi! Mi les long yu bihainim mi!" Which translated means: "You may not follow me. I am annoyed/upset/angry by you following me (and I want you to stop!!)." Don't know where that came from as I don't usually do stuff like that. All the sellers looked at me and at him in surprise, and then looked ready to get rid of him for me. He looked surprised and then hung his head in shame, and quickly disappeared and I did not see him again. Phew!
I spoke to Julie about him (the lady who helps me in the house a few times a week) when I got home and she said he often hangs around the market and looks out for "rich" people and tries to intimidate them so that in the end they give him some money. Hopefully I showed him that he was not going to intimidate me!!
And then to the kittens: The gardener's cat (The mother of our cat) decided to have her kittens in our house. She does like our house (as do all the gardener's cats) as they all realise that there is food to be had at our house (they rely on catching mice and bugs to survive). And Ashlyn seems to think it is her duty to share all our cat's food with all the cats. So anyway, the mother cat is familiar with our house and just the other morning came running in and hid under our stairs where she gave birth to two kittens. Our cat (Moonbeam) was also born in our house in a similar fashion. That's the reason we received him for free. The gardener decided that since the mother cat had chosen our house to give birth, we deserved a cat. Hence we got Moonbeam. And you guessed it! Since we were the privileged family which his cat decided to use as hosts to her kitten birthing, we get to have another cat. The kids are excited, we're not so sure... but then it seems we feed all the cats anyway...mmm.
There is one male and one female kitten. This time if we take a cat, we will be opting for a female. And the female one is definitely the cutest! We will see. Anyway, while they are both in our care we will continue to enjoy them. Check out the photos below to see just how much they are loved!!

today Ashlyn decided to make them a bed and treated them like babies

there they are - all tucked in and sleeping - even with a toy!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

sunday stories

Well, sadly I was not able to attend church this morning. Not because I was sick, but because Kirilee vomited during the night (all over her bed!!!). It was a night of little sleep. Firstly we were barricading our front door, not to protect it from criminals but from the rising flood waters resulting from the blocked drain a few meters outside our door. This happens from time to time and if we are not quick it floods our downstairs with dirty, smelly drain water!! Well, when the rains burst in torrential style from the heavens at about 12 midnight, I raced downstairs to pull inside some things and to fill the gap under the door with towels and more towels (Being a Saturday night - the day before preaching – I did not want Andrew to be disturbed, though the rain had already awakened him too). I just managed to plug the gap when it happened. The drain blocked (rubbish and leaves and logs and everything else coming from a neighbouring property unable to negotiate the security grate in the drain before it continues to another neighboring property) and the waters rose (this drain is over a mitre deep!!) and before long the raging waters were filling our front veranda and precariously heading up to the level of our floor. Thankfully the towels worked. By the morning they were smelly and soaking wet, but the water did not come inside. The water did manage to pick up our broom and wooden rocking chair from the veranda and dump them elsewhere, and it did manage to wreak havoc on our tiny veggie patch, where we have a bunch of growing cucumbers (but we’re hoping they will fight back and survive). Anyway, by the time the gardener got the drain unblocked it was about 2 am, so I headed back to bed only to be awoken by Kirilee at 3 am having vomited all over her bed…. Sigh!!!
Anyway, she was not fit to go to church in the morning so only Andrew and Shiana went. Andrew came home with two interesting (?) stories which I thought I would share with you. They are the real purpose of this post, but I thought I would just share our night with you first.

Firstly, apparently two criminals cut the fence at Kamkumung on Friday night, obviously hoping to steal something. Thankfully they were scared off by the security guard who Reformed Ministries employ to work every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night. These kind of events are common enough, but what made the story interesting was the comment that a brother in church who actually lives at the property (the father of the family taking care of it at present) made. He told Andrew that he wanted to chase the criminals down. When Andrew heard that he thought that the brother must have been wanting to catch them to administer his own kind of justice knowing that the police do nothing. However, the brother added that he wanted the chance to share the gospel with them and to show them some love so that they would realize that there is a much better life to be had than a criminal’s life. What a testimony to the working of the Holy Spirit!
The second story was from an incident Andrew heard about/witnessed as he dropped off the Biwat people at the Bumbu settlement after church. He saw an elderly man, the father of one of our church members, walking up the road being helped along by relatives, covered in blood coming from a wound to his head. When he stopped to find out what had happened and to see if he could do anything, he was told that he had just been attacked by drunken youth from the settlement (high on home brew) with rocks for apparently no reason (except trying to protect his property!!). The victim was enroute to the hospital via the police station. Home brew causes so much trouble in the settlements as it is very cheap and potent and they get drunk very quickly.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

a few more days of ups and downs

WARNING: Long post ahead!!!
It’s been a week of ups and downs…
Last Sunday there was frustration as one of the Sunday School teachers did not show, even though it was his turn to do Sunday school. The thing that made it more frustrating was that a while back he had asked to go on the Sunday School roster again. He is a faithful member who actually does a great job with Sunday School, but was left off the last couple of rosters because of not showing full commitment by not showing up when it was his turn and not making a change with another teacher, thus leaving us in the lurch. But he had been showing more commitment again, and really wanted to go back on the roster. Anyway, he has done it a few times and showed up consistently, so I was really happy about that…until last Sunday. He had everything ready but then at the last minute on Saturday morning was called by work to go to another town for the weekend. Rather than pass on a message to someone else (he had every opportunity), he just up and left and the other Sunday School teachers did not find out till Sunday morning.
Then when I asked about another faithful member who was not ready at Biwat to be picked up for church on Sunday morning, I was told that she had some problems with her husband again. When I pried a little further, I found out that her husband had bashed her the night before so she was not up to walking. This is the same woman who’s daughter was badly bashed a few weeks back (I wrote a short blog about it) – seems like her husband is on a rampage again. So I was feeling pretty down as we arrived at church on Sunday. Just not feeling like singing for joy. It’s wonderful, though, how the Lord always sends things to cheer you up and it wasn’t long before the singing and worshiping had me rejoicing in all the blessings we see around us in church life too. And then there was this bunch of new faces, too. Now, even though they may never return, it is always a blessing to see new faces – we never know how the Lord uses the preaching of His Word. And there was one woman in church who returned for the 3rd week in a row (from Biwat – a sister of one of our members). And then the other Sunday School teachers managed very well to wing the Sunday School lesson considering the situation (they wanted me to do it instead, but I politely refused – I don’t want them to think that when someone does not show up that I will just fill in. I want them to realize the consequences of not showing up and also to take responsibility for the work. After watching them do it rather well, I was glad I had refused – they did it just as well, if not better, than I could have anyway!)
On Thursday the woman who was bashed on Saturday night, was the first to arrive at our place before we headed off to literacy class. As I had her alone I asked her how she was doing. She showed me her leg – badly swollen. She could walk on it a bit though, thus she had come for the literacy class, but last Sunday she was unable to walk very much. Apparently her husband had used his hard hat (you know those safety helmets which construction workers use) and had hit her extremely hard right in the centre of her head 3 times. She said she counted them, then she felt a strong pain in her neck and her eyes closed as she semi-blacked out and tried to run away. As she tried to flee, she fell in her confusion (after receiving such a heavy blow to the head) and landed heavily on the ground which caused her leg to swell. She still has a lot of pain in her neck too. “He often does that kind of thing,” she tells me, “I am sleeping at someone else’s house at the moment, but when he calms down again he will call me to come back home for a while again.” You feel so helpless in such a situation. What choice does a woman like that have in this society? And then I have to remind myself (and her) that our Heavenly Father is there, and that He cares and loves her. She is accepting and matter-of-fact, but I can perceive as she tells her story that, though resigned to the life she is forced to live right now, she is full of pain and suffering.
Oh, and then I had to chuckle to myself as we drove to the literacy class, past the Kamkumung markets. There on the side of the road was a young (6-year-old??) boy walking from bus to bus selling smokes. Not packets of smokes. Just one or two per driver or passenger from the one packet he had. One way to make money…and I do think that it is actually officially illegal (at least I am presuming it is, but I could be wrong) to sell smokes to underage kids in PNG too – does that count for underage kids selling to adults??
Then there were ups in the literacy class. I love to see their progress. Oh, true, sometimes I am frustrated and feel like yelling, “I’ve told you that before, and you still don’t get it!!???!!!” (Don’t worry I never say anything or do anything to show my frustrations….I think???!! least I try not to). However, there is progress. And on Thursday I took great joy in noticing that I now can write a couple of letters on the board (the start of a word) and ask them to suggest the final letter if we a trying to write a certain word. And this will be a new word, one that they have not learned, so they are adding the letter simply because of understanding the concept of sounds and phonetics. E.g. I will put a t and o on the board together: “to” and then ask them what letter we should add to write “tok” (the Tok Pisin work for talk). And they will be able to say that we should add a “k.” Now that may not sound like a great achievement to you, but let me tell you – it is. Though they are able to recognize many words, the actual concept of sounds and phonetics has been a lot harder to get through to them. But it is slowly getting there…I think!
And there were ups on Wednesday night when Andrew went into Biwat for fellowship. He commented on the woman who I mentioned has been coming to church the last 3 weeks. She showed great interest at fellowship, which is encouraging. Also, another newcomer (a male, grade 12 student), who is very keen and also quite wise and knowledgeable, showed a desire to do some mid-week singing and Bible storytelling with the young children in Biwat. Whether it eventuates is another thing, but seeing that desire and interest is a real blessing….
And then there were ups at the youth group this morning. A fairly large core groups seems to consistently come each time, and we are thankful for that. Most of them are present on Sundays too. Of course there are others who we know could be there, but choose to stay away….but God knows what He is doing also in the lives of the youth!
So there you have it. Our week. Ups and Downs, no doubt just like you have experienced in your week wherever you are. It’s wonderful that God gives us the ups to keep us going through the downs. He is good.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

another few days

So our wonderful visitors have left and I thought I would sit down and post a few more photos with some explanations:

On Easter Saturday we had a youth gathering, during which we had some Bible Study and then soccer and Table Tennis on the newly built Table Tennis Table.

Elijah and Ephraim busy writing answers at our youth fellowship on Saturday (Easter Saturday)

Enjoying a ride in the ute on the way back from the youth gathering.

On Saturday afternoon Andrew headed out with Jack and the boys and Shiana for a hike on the mountain next door to our compound. How green is that!!

On Sunday we were able to witness the baptism of Little Louisa, daughter of Alosinda. Here you can see Janel and Ashlyn spending a short time on the mat with the kids.

Mum and baby

The beautiful sacrament - a testimony to the faithfulness of our Heavenly Father!!

A special Sunday (baptism) means a special treat - donuts!

Ashlyn Elise

Robert made a great new friend - Ephraim - and they spent so much time together!!

A great pic of Agnes

Wherever baby Louisa is, Kirilee will be close by to cuddle her. I think she's her self-appointed babysitter.

And on Monday and Tuesday we headed to the highlands for a refreshing couple of nights of cool air and quiet and tidy surrounds. We spent two nights at the SIL guesthouse in Ukarumpa:

view from the guesthouse towards the store

beautiful scenery on the road to Ukarumpa
We had a great time with our guests...may be some of you will be hearing more stories from them soon!
That's it from here today!!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

easter joys

So, our visitors arrived and we have been having a wonderful time with them. On Wednesday night we all walked into Biwat settlement for fellowship and Bible study:
in Biwat, all ready and waiting to start

Andrew leading a Bible Study on Daniel

our visitor's daughter Janel, enjoying some singing

And then on Thursday we went to Kamkumung for the day, where I ran the literacy class...
Ashlyn cuddled the puppies...

The other girls cuddled baby Louisa...

And the men worked on making a Table Tennis table....

....which they completed in the afternoon after a lunch break back at home....

...while dinner was prepared by many helping hands....

Robert (above) and his Dad (below) trying their hands at scraping a coconut

All the ladies sitting around preparing the food joining in with Alo, though I only managed to peel the kaukau at about half the speed of her.
On Good Friday we returned to Kamkumung for a special church service and Sunday School (or is that Friday school?) with a special craft activity for the kids....

Today (Saturday) we went to Kamkumung once again for our fortnightly youth gathering during which the new table tennis table was greatly enjoyed by all!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

a happier post

Just a quick post with some pics of Kirilee’s birthday which was last Friday. She had a slumber party and we had five girls sleeping over. They were all very well behaved and, although they didn’t sleep that much, they had a great time!!

opening presents in the morning before school!

Birthday hugs....from her baby sister (shhh, don't tell Ashlyn I said the word "baby" in relation to her - I'd never hear the end of it!)

birthday hugs with friends and ready to blow out the birthday cake. And, no, it is not two pink blobs on top of a blue slap - they are supposed to be shoes (ballet shoes, or whatever the technical name is!!!). She was meant to have a butterfly cake, but I couldn't find some of the neccessary ingredients in the store. And then I was going to improvise, and had everything ready to do so, when she changed her mind. mmm...

having a "gourmet" dinner

playing games

opening birthday presents from party friends

And today - a couple of pics from church:

Kirilee and little Louisa

Our musicians during church! They do a fantastic job!
Oh and one more thing:
We are looking forward to a visit from Jack and Teresa VD and their 3 children. They will arrive on Tuesday, DV and perhaps soon after you will see some photos of what we are doing with them….

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Praying for God's hands to protect a family

Two days ago a distressed church member came to see us. Her daughter had been brutally bashed by her father and brother (our church member's husband and son). The reason (as if there was any reason that would justify this!!) - they decided that she should not be going to school anymore. We are not clear on the exact reasoning, but either way a teenage girl was bashed so badly that she has not been able to walk, thus ensuring that she is unable to go to school, and that when she recovers (it looks like she will after some time), she will be too scared to ever go back. Stories like that make me so mad, so angry, so ready to scream. Sin is so strong, so sick, so totally corrupting, and so ugly. And to think that we are all so attracted to it!! May God protect this family, may he pour out his love upon them and if it is His will, may he change the hard hearts of these men! Will you join us in praying for them?