We are still here - healthy! What a blessing good health is. The cholera continues in Lae, though we do not have any updated information re cases or deaths (though we are sure the numbers continue to go up). Thankfully, as far as we know none of our church members/families have yet been affected...well not directly by cholera, anyway. However, some have had their livelihood affected, as sale of road-side cooked foods is banned, which is a big thing when it is a major source of income, however meager that income may be. Children are still staying away from school, as schools remain closed. There is a lot of fear around. As we dropped some members off in the Biwat Settlement after church on Sunday, I commented that the place looked like a ghost-town. The track going into the settlement which is usually swarming with people walking, sitting, talking, and marketing, was bare. Not a single person in sight. A strange, strange feeling. Others at church are asking all sorts of questions, after having heard things which are not true relating to the disease. At the university here in Lae, a bit of a panic situation broke out as 4 students were sick, and all other students refused to sleep near them, or to use the same toilets as they were using, also demanding that the university be shut down. It turned out not to be cholera, but the fear is there and very real.
Julie (my house help) was at church yesterday, telling how they were told by health workers not to wash or do laundry in the river (as many people/animals contaminate the river). But where else will they wash? With no rainwater tanks, no town water, what option is there? Julie already collects bottles of water from our place to drink and cook with, but not enough to wash with. I encouraged them to get together and at least buy a big drum (pretty cheap) so they can collect rain water off the roof. Even if it still needs to be boiled for drinking, it will work for washing water and themselves. She took some money today to try and figure out what they can do. She is being very vigilant, however, with hand washing and boiling water....so we pray that she and her family may remain cholera free!
Then to some more light-hearted news....this Wednesday is Independence day here in PNG. The older two girls were supposed to be having a special celebratory day tomorrow, but it has been postponed due to the cholera out-break (brings extra people into the school). However, last week Friday at Ashlyn's "school" (which she attends 2 mornings a week, while I run Bible Study and the literacy course), they had a special celebration where the children sang a few songs. It was really cute. Here are some pics:
getting ready to sing...
Ashlyn and her friend Emily...
Then.....I've been meaning to share some funny stories for a few days but keep forgetting....Andrew had to spend a couple of nights in Moresby last week...and came back with some interesting incidents. First, since his meeting finished early, he thought he might try and come back to Lae early so he called the airline and they told him it was too late. When Andrew asked them how early you need to call to change a ticket, he was told at least 1 hour and 30 minutes before the flight you want to go on leaves. He looked at his watch and realised it was still 2 hours before the flight....how is that too late???? What's half an hour here or there in PNG? And then when he was trying to get to sleep that night, he couldn't because of loud construction noise outside of his window (they are extended the hotel). He eventually called the front desk to see when the noise would end, and he was told at 8pm (this was already 10pm). When he told the lady that it was already 10pm she said she would check what they were doing and would call back. She called back a short while later to say that they usually finish at 8pm but were working till 9pm that night!!!! (repeat: It was already 10pm!)
Also, when Andrew tried to book a bus from the motel to the airport for 8:30am the next day, and was told that he couldn't go on at 8:30 as someone had already booked for 8am (and it takes at least an hour for a round trip!). So he told them he would hop on at 8am. He was there waiting at 8am and hopped on the bus. They put someone else's suitcase on the bus, too, and Andrew presumed that it belonged to the man who had booked the bus for 8, thus preventing him from going at 8:30. But as they drove off, and no one else hopped on the bus, Andrew quickly asked the driver whose suitcase it was. They stopped quickly after realising it was not Andrew's and put the suitcase back where they found it. As they drove along to the airport, at about 8:30 the driver suddenly answered a radio call, telling him that the other man was ready now to go to the airport (you know that man who prevented Andrew from going at 8:30, but now was actually waiting to go at 8:30....what's half an hour here or there in PNG???). So the driver told him he would have to wait till he had dropped Andrew off....hopefully he did not end up late for his flight (because then half an hour here or there can matter, not if you are the airline, but if you are a passenger!!)
Oh..and please bear with me for one more story from Andrew's trip to Moresby. The hotel room he was in was rather noisy, so he had a hard time getting to sleep, and so when he was awoken at some unearthly hour (3am???) by the sound of a shower running and someone banging in the room next door, you could say he was a little annoyed. But he tried not to be too annoyed and just lay there patiently waiting for it all to end. But the banging got louder and louder, and the shower just didn't stop. Finally, he could contain himself no longer and politely got up and shut his bathroom door rather loudly (not enough to damage the door, of course), simply trying to remind the man next door that now was not the time to shower and bang away! Much to his surprise he opened his bathroom door and in the sudden quiet noticed that it was his shower that was running. Somehow, (strange things happen in this country!!) his shower had begun running (it was a little broken....), and the poor man next door had been madly banging all along to try and tell Andrew to turn his shower off. Needless to say, Andrew slipped by the poor man's door very quietly in the morning!
See, PNG is fun (some of the time!)....you need to keep laughing anyway!