Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ashlyn is 4!!

Yesterday, Ashlyn turned four, and she hasn't let us forget it!! She has been looking forward to it for such a long time, and has been telling everyone about the upcoming event for such a long time too. We are so thankful to God for our dear daughter and for His protection of her the last four years (where has time gone???).

Over the weekend we had some missionary friends from Ukarumpa visiting, so we thought it was a great oppurtunity for Ashlyn to have an early birthday party while they were here. Here are some pics of our weekend and of her party and birthday!

Above Ahslyn is playing with her friend Kassia from Ukarumpa
and below she is swimming with her! What fun!!

For her party we had dinner together:

Followed by the birthday cake. Ashlyn loves snakes and so picked a snake for her birthday cake. I didn't mind as it involved lots of chocolate which we don't usually buy too often because it is so expensive here....but for a birthday cake, well that's a different story!!

For Ashlyn's birthday Andrew decided to make her a small oven/stove/sink kitchen.
Here are some photos of the process:

I was the designated painter:

...and Ashlyn just loves it so much. Nice hot pink, hey! The kettle and some other things came from Australia (she loves them - I have been getting cups of tea all day!!). The little pans and utensils I managed to find here in a cheap store (so cheap that a couple of pans fell apart the first day!!). I never expected to find them though, but just happened upon them. How's that??

On the actual day of her birthday, yesterday, it was so funny. She just did not know what to play with first, so she kept switching from one thing to the next. She played with her kitchen, then I had to sit and read her the new book she got from Australia. Then she would be back at her kitchen and then here she is playing with some new Little People sent from Australia ( boy, she loves those things!!):

We had to go shopping on the morning of her birthday to get a few things. When we arrived at one of the stores one of the check out girls came running up calling, "Happy Birthday, Ashlyn." (Ashlyn had told her about her birthday coming up the week before!). Then she told Ashlyn to wait and came running back with a present neatly wrapped up for her. It was a gorgeous Piglet teddy and Ashlyn just adores it. I thought it was such a special and giving gesture - the lady earns so little herself, and still just gave to Ashlyn like that (she does really love Ashlyn and every week when we go to the store she carries her around and shows her to all her friends - she's been doing that for a couple of years now, so I think she feels like Ashlyn is a big part of her life!). We will make her a thank you card and bring it next week when we shop!

When I put Ashlyn in bed last night she sighed heavily and said, "Can I please have some more presents tomorrow?" mmmm..... that's a four-year-old for you!!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

a short one

Just wanted to share another short story that Julie came to our house with the other day...
Her cousin (lady) died in her village a couple of days ago, but she wasn't going back for the funeral as her daughter is sick and her aunty is sick, so she is staying in Lae to look after them.
When I asked why she died, she told me the story. Apparently the clinic near the village sent the woman to Lae to go to the "proper" hospital. She had severe abdominal pain and was very weak and sick with diarrhoea. The doctor's at the hospital wanted to operate (open her up) as they suspected a problem in her uterus. The woman wanted the operation, the husband said no and took her back the the village where she died a couple days later. The doctor's didn't want to argue with the man for fear of him retaliating, and the woman's own voice was basically not even heard. Whata waste of life, which possibly could have been saved. The wife's family is very angry at the husband and are apparently considering bashing him up in retaliation.

I've been hearing of lots of stories of women dieing or being sick it seems with problems with their uterus. One of our church member's cousins (the woman that died was also a relative of another chruch member) recently died from problems with her uterus (though no-one ever quite knows what problem.)

These stories always make me realise that, despite all the complaints in the Western world about our own health-care systems, we really are very, very blessed by how well they usually work. Stories of negligence that make big news in Australia don't even rate a tiniest mention in this country - they just happen too often to keep up with them!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

the tongue

It’s not for no reason that James says: “No man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” (James 3:8, Holy Bible). We have been dealing with that a lot this weekend: A message (gossip, which was untrue but simply sent maliciously) texted from one mobile to another (Digicel mobiles - only introduced a couple of years ago - are very cheap and almost everyone has one, as no one has access in the settlements to landline phones!). This message was shown to another and told to another, and before the end of the Sunday even Kirilee had heard the malicious gossip from another young girl at church. Of course the member who was gossiped about (and incidentally is sick with malaria and thus was not at church) was extremely upset, (she spoke to me yesterday about it, and I must say that she had a very loving, humble and forgiving attitude – more so than I think I would have felt in her situation!) and it turn her friends started badmouthing and making up stories about the person who was believed to have passed on the gossip. This morning was Bible Study morning and I was struggling and praying about how to deal with it all. Should I just leave it alone or should I say something? As some ladies drove with me in the car to Bible Study this morning, it became clear that I couldn’t leave it alone. The stories and gossip and the like seemed to be getting bigger and bigger.
So, I did bring it up this morning, for better or for worse. I just felt like I couldn’t start Bible Study with such a heavy feeling of tension. So, without mentioning names or situations we just talked about how our tongue can be such an evil thing, how Satan wants nothing more than to tear the church apart with our gossip, slander and hatred. We talked about how those that hear gossip (without stopping it) are as much as fault as those who spread it. We talked about how the sin of gossip is world-wide, that churches in Australia and Canada suffer much from this sin too. And we talked about the need for forgiveness, for reconciliation with God and one another and that was it. We prayed and moved on to Bible Study.
However, even as I was talking and even as I was thinking about the whole situation last night, and even as I was considering how gossiping and slandering is such a huge problem in God’s church all over the world, it dawned on me how much harder it is for the people here. Let me explain. You have to understand that many of our church members live together in one area. This does not mean in houses twenty metres apart from one another on a pretty suburban street. No way. These people live in make-shift houses (with bare openings for windows) a few metres away from one another. They all use the same toilets, they all wash in the same river, they all do their laundry in the same river, they all cook outdoors in open air “kitchen” (open fires on the ground). They know when their neighbour (usually their relative) is having an argument with her husband. They know when a husband is beating his wife. They know who is drunk and who is sober. They know who argues with their kids, and what the argument is about. They know everything everyone buys, or eats. They know everything there is to know about one another. No one has privacy. What a breeding ground for gossip to start in. What a way to be enticed to share another’s problems and sins with someone else. What a way to feel under scrutiny all the time.
And when I think about all this then I realise how the Spirit must be working in those members, or during those times when people do chose to be quiet. Then I am all the more grateful when after Bible Study today I received a call from a member who wants to go to the hurt woman and to start the process of reconciliation. Then I am humbled, too, when I think of all the times I have said or listened to hurtful, gossipy things said about someone else, and did nothing. We all need God’s grace and forgiveness so badly. May we all come to know more and more each day how much we need it, and so live Godly lives under His Grace.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Our last visitors have gone and now, after about 5 weeks of constant visitors, the house feels rather too quiet. We have had a great time all round. It’s been wonderful to show family the work we do here in Lae. As Andrew’s Mum commented, “we knew there were potholes in Lae, but until you actually feel them you have no idea how bad they are.” Or as Andrew’s Dad said, “I knew there was poverty in Lae, but I did not realise how bad it was.” I guess that summarises the sentiments felt, that you need to experience everything first-hand to get a real sense of it!
I had hoped to blog a bit more often while Mum and Dad were here, but we spent our time just enjoying having their company, and I did not really want to sit behind the computer. So I am doing it now. So here’s what’s been happening....along with some pictures:
Last week Monday, Andrew went for his usual daily walking after lunch (in the hottest part of the day!!), but he could not take his usual route. He was stopped by police who were in the process of removing the body of a woman found badly decomposed – apparently the body had been thrown down the mountainside, just near where we live. Over the next few days we heard many varying stories on who the woman was, and what had happened to her (the stories spread and changed amazingly!) But eventually the paper reported the story: it was a part German, part New Ireland woman who had been reported missing by her husband (I think of Asian descent), but was not found until sometime later. Apparently she had been dancing at a local night-spot before talking heatedly on her mobile phone to someone. She left behind a young child too! What a sad story.
Last week Saturday we organised a “Church picnic” for our church. Really, it was a kind of church “sports day”. One of the main reasons for doing so was that Dad and Mum had brought money (well actually they did not physically bring it, but rather it was sent through the right channels....) which was collected by the women’s fellowships in our churches Tasmania, specifically for youth work! So we went out and bought a new volleyball net (our old one had completely disintegrated), some good quality table tennis balls, some new volleyballs and soccer balls, a ball pump and a bocce ball set. These were presented to the church along with a card from the women in Tasmania. What a day we had!! Of course we shared a meal together, or the day would not have been complete. But this time we decided that everything would be cooked at home (as opposed to spending the day cooking at church), and then brought along and eaten later. This way all the ladies could join in with the games. And what fun they all had. We first split up into four teams (we had bought coloured ribbons to mark the teams), with a mixture of young and old and then we had fun competition in volleyball, soccer and the like (including playing the table tennis and sjoelbak (shuffleboard) that previous visitors had made!) I think the most fun of all was had with a game of tunnel ball. What a job organising it. Andrew was saving his voice for preaching the next day (after having used it a lot already in opening the day and then umpiring/organising/talking) so it was my task to try and organise them all into rows with equal amounts of people!! What a job! Every time I would start to count, someone would move off and I would be back to square one. And then the playing was just something else. A total shemozzle, but oh so much fun and laughter! Check out these pictures of our fun day:

Augustina and Cynthia (in the background) having a ball

Frank full of smiles

Andrew doing a great job umpiring

Rumenasen viewing the fun

Grace playing soccer

Mrs Makuba even gets in with the fun

....as did Dad

volleyball fun

...and again

...and that fun volleyball game

And then Shiana finally got to present her Science Fair project at school. We had spent weeks doing back ground research, writing a hypothesis, creating and conducting an experiment and then writing a research paper and a display board. Here you see her proudly displaying her work. She one a prize for the most interctive display board.

Shiana and her prize

And lastly a couple of cute pics of two of our girls: