Thursday, November 26, 2009

It's already nearing the end of November....and that means that over here in Lae, too, things begin to wind down... This past Tuesday we had our last Woman's Bible Study for the year, and today was our last literacy class for the year. At the end of the year there are school meetings and graduations, etc, also for our church members...and often they do not know the dates that these meetings will be held until about when they are to be held. So last week we decided to finish up this week, and although I do enjoy both leading Bible Study and literacy, I can say that I am truly looking forward to a break!

I had meant to take my camera to the last Bible Study.... as we were having (at the suggestion of the ladies) a bung kaikai (kind of a pot luck lunch PNG style....I always do some baking, as they just love cake!)....but alas my camera refused to come with me (actually I forgot it, of course!). But it was a lovely morning. I had planned to do a new lesson for Bible Study, but because all the ladies were late (had to go to market first thing in the morning, then prepare their food, then cook over an open fire, then bring it along.....unlike my premade cakes, pulled out the freezer and pre-prepared rice, reheated in the microwave!), suddenly decided on the spot to change my plans and do a general review of the past few was either that or I would not have even been ready to come home before the girl's finished school!!!

We had a great morning, and it was a wonderful and blessed way to finish off the year!

Had our last literacy class for the year today. Usually I would have pushed on a bit longer, as I don't like the idea of them going for so long without "school" for fear they will forget!! However, for a while now I have struggled with the course I am using. I really don't feel that it focusses enough on phonetics, so throughout the past year I have been changing it so much that at times I feel as though I may as well throw the course out! I have often thought how much a new course needs to be written, but I have not been feeling up to trying! Then this past year I was thankful to learn of another course. I met with its creator recently, and I am so pleased with what it looks like. So next year I intend to use it instead, and to let some other students come in (a few new church comers have sometimes asked to join our class, but have been unable to do so because we were half way a course....but now I hope it will be possible). I feel very excited and am looking forward to continue with Literacy next year with renewed enthusiasm...why is it that enthusiasm is always higher at the start of the year than at the end anyway???

Thursday, November 12, 2009

As an answer to prayers our Heavenly Father gave much so that the newly installed rainwater tanks at school could be filled, and the girls could return to school the very next day after I wrote the last post! And they haven't had to miss a day since....what a blessing! The town water, on the other hand, did not do so well, but appears to be up and running again now.

Today at Literacy class, we only had a very small group (some of the ladies had other commitments and a couple of other just did not show....guess I'll hear the reasons later, or maybe not!). At first I was disappointed at the small group, but as the morning wore on I was reminded again that things that at first seem disappointing God can turn into a blessing. So, amidst some schooling we also had such a great time chatting. I just love times like this. Times to sit and talk and to find out more about these people we serve, what lives in their hearts and also more about the culture, which even though we have lived in for over 3 years, we still find so hard to fathom, and have only just begun scratching at the surface of some form of understanding it.

Today, among other things, the discussion turned to marriage and even giving birth. This discussion came up as in their settlement a "battle" of sorts has been raging between two families (also involving some church member families). The daughter of one family became pregnant by the son of the other family. The son and daughter wish to marry, the family of the daughter want the marriage to take place, but the family of the son do not (due to various reasons, but that's another story). And so it has continued for the last months. Well the day before yesterday the daughter went into labour but as the baby did not come after a full day of labour the family quickly went to visit the family of the baby's father and told them to hurry up and give their "blessing" or really to hurry up and stop being angry with the girl's family. And the reason? So that the baby could be born. Their anger was apparently stopping the arrival of the baby. And sure enough, their blessing was given and very soon after the baby son was born healthy and well.

From our western viewpoint we just scratch our heads. We find it so hard to understand how it is believed that someone's anger could hinder a baby's arrival. And yet it is so real, so normal to the people here. And this does not mean that they do not believe that God is in control. They would absolutely and readily confess that. Their beliefs and traditions just run so deep....

Anyhow, that's how the conversation moved on to marriage. Apparently, now that the anger has supposedly passed, a marriage between the daughter and son will be taking place this I took the opportunity to get the ladies to elaborate a bit more. I spoke about our western traditions of marriage first, and then they spoke about theirs. Basically when the time is agreed upon, on that day, the women's family and the man's family will get together. A community leader will be there as mediator. The women's family will name the bride price and if the man's family agrees, and if everyone is happy then they will thus be married. Now we will just have to see if all goes ahead this weekend. We pray that yet a happy marriage may result, also with God as the centre of it!

We also spoke about the problems that exist across PNG, where it seems that many a marriage happens in this way - when a woman falls pregnant, a marriage happens. We also talked about the Biblical way of marriage first! Then one of the ladies shared a great story of how her oldest daughter married her son (they are both church members now as well), and it was wonderful to hear how their marriage was not the result of a pregnancy!

So a morning of literacy turned into a morning of literacy and sharing. What a wonderful way to spend a morning!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Another long while between posts! Where does the time go anyway? Seems like before you know it another day has passed and another….and then well…you all know how it is!

Water problems continue in Lae. The girls have had to miss four days of school so far and we expect this to continue as a couple of pumps have broken down, thus town water is basically off (and is expected to be off at least till Friday). Without toilets and hand washing available, the school has been forced to close. At the moment they are desperately trying to install rain water tanks to service at least a couple of the toilet blocks, but then of course we need rain to fill them, and although we had some rain last night, rain has been pretty scarce of late. So, most of Lae (that is in the city housing) is without water. Many of our friends/acquaintances are taking bucket showers sometimes with store bought water. Washing/laundry is piling up and dishes hardly get done. We are so, so thankful to live where we do right now. Because we are down from the mountain where the water is stored, we still receive water, albeit with low pressure. It’s the people who need to have water pumped to them who are suffering - and that's most of Lae city! And because of lack of rain, the settlement dwellers have also been struggling to find suitable water. Because they never have town water anyway, that does not affect them so much, but the lack of rain does. Because they have no large capacity water storage facilities, they rely on regular rain to get clean water for washing, etc! So we pray for rain, we pray for the restoration of the pumping system, and we pray especially for patience for all affected.

It feels rather frustrating that school has to be closed! It seems like such a waste that due to water problems the schooling is affected. I have been trying to do extra work with the girls (printing work off the internet)…hopefully tomorrow we can go into school and get some work for them….but I might have to cancel Bible Study and/or Literacy this week if they don’t go back to school soon!

Thankfully, last Friday we could head up to Ukarumpa for a cool change! Actually the reason we had to be there was mainly due to me needing work finished on one of my teeth. It had been started over a month ago and was meant to be completed during the week of our conference, but because I didn’t go to the conference (due my unexpected trip to Cairns), Andrew rescheduled the appointment for me! So we headed up on Friday, and that same afternoon I had my tooth fixed….and then we were able to enjoy an extra night there too. We actually happened to be there on the day of their annual carnival (we didn’t know that until a few days before we went there), so that was fun for the kids (and we enjoyed it too!). The carnival was mainly organized by the high school students and they did a great job! Funds were raised for homeless children in Port Moresby, this year. Here are some photos of our weekend:

face painting at the carnival - Ashlyn couldn't help giggling - she was so ticklish

Kirilee got this cute fish!

Kirilee enjoying a horse ride! did Ashlyn

...and Shiana

The "homemade, manual" ferris wheel was a hit with Shiana!

hanging on!

fun with Daddy

Kirilee posing!

Ashlyn posing in her own way.....

Shiana doing her cartwheels!! Great fun in the cool air!

Our three girls....growing up so fast!