Sunday, December 19, 2010

We are really, truly in Lae...

It's been one of those weeks where it has been made abundantly clear that we are really and truly back in Lae. Lest we forget. Lest we begin to think (as some may do when they come here for a short time) that life in Lae is actually pretty "easy" and not really that hard and difficult.

Yes, we got our packing done in two days (all excited to have it done!!!), only to have them not come and get our stuff that day or the next. After countless phonecalls, we discovered that their truck had broken down....so we brought our own stuff to the transport company (all 55 boxes/items). Only to find them "dumping" our boxes in some strange dusty place, open to all the elements (including rain, if it would rain - thankfully it didn't). When we "demanded" that all our things be put somewhere else, they found some empty container to lock them up in. Andrew spent (and is still spending) many hours trying to track down what is going on, meanwhile watching our boxes being wrapped with not much care. And then the proper packing staff were all off drunk, and, well, let's just say we were/are very frustrated.

But that is just our stuff.... material things. Friday night, as we were thinking of getting the girls ready for bed we just stopped suddenly as about 6 loud gunshots went off right near our house. We told the kids to get away from the windows and Andrew ran upstairs to look out of our window which has a great view to all the dramas on the street (and we sure have seen some in our time!). Apparently some criminals had hi-jacked a car and the police were busy "shooting" them off the road. Just another day in Lae.

Saturday was another day of dealing with "hevis" (burdens). As Andrew went for a walk at about midday he went past a small group of men on the corner of the entrance to the Biwat settlement. He waved and said "hi" to them as he always does when he passes people, but they looked a little sheepish and only acknowledged him briefly. He soon found out why. No sooner had he passed them (about 10-20m past them) when he turned to see them holding up a passing car. A group of men, armed with guns surrounded the car, and when the man wouldn't get out they pulled him out and proceeded to bash him. He staggered off, bleeding, as the criminals raided his car after emptying his pockets. Andrew followed the man who made it to a nearby police station.

Then, as I was preparing dinner in the afternoon I suddenly saw the face of Julie (our house help) at the window. She was shaking and disheveled. I rushed outside to her, only to have her tell me that her daughter, Katherine, was dying, after being attacked by her husband in a jealous rage. She kept saying (but she wasn't particularly cohesive) that Katherine "died" (but that also means to be unconcious in this language), but she wanted Andrew to come and get her (she has no access to a car for transportation). I first asked if she needed us to bring her to the morgue, only to have her tell me that Katherine was still breathing (but "just a little bit"). She rambled on and on about Katherine's husband attacking her straight in her heart and Andrew and I were both just picturing him stabbing her. Anyway, of course Andrew went straight out there with her. He arrived to find Katherine okay. She had been beaten and one of her husband's blows hit her straight in the chest and knocked her unconscious and also taking the wind out of her which was why Julie reported her only "breathing a little bit." When Katherine was knocked unconscious, Julie had run to our house (not just up the road - it's a least 5km) in panic and fear to get help. Julie also had a huge bump on her head where she had been hit. Well, we were so thankful to hear that Katherine was alright, but Andrew spent over an hour there opening God's word to both Katherine and her husband (yes, he had calmed down by then), as well as many others around them. However, Satan still has a strong-hold in this family, and this morning Katherine has been "rescued" by her father and brought back to her village, as her husband continued to abuse her the following day.

Then, after church yesterday, as we were cooling off in our pool after a long and very hot service, enjoying the company of our colleagues, a phonecall came through to Nadia from a member of our church who was being attacked by her husband. Ian and Andrew decided to walk into Biwat together. They arrived to find her husband heading up the ladder into their house with a big knife. What ensued was a crazy confusion of Ian grabbing the man and pulling him away from his wife and Andrew getting the knife from him. After the man went down the stairs again, Andrew "stood gaurd" at the base of the steps, and Ian at the door, hoping to keep the man, now armed with an iron bar and rocks, away from his wife. Eventually they managed to escort the woman away to safety. What baffled Ian and Andrew was the way others around them just ran off and kept away. They must have looked quite the sight - two white men standing up to this enraged and dangerous Papua New Guinean, to protect his wife. This goes on all the time in the settlements. Women are bashed, even to death, and no-one does anything. No-one wants to get involved, lest the abusive man turn his anger on them, and continue to harrass them in the future (this is a real fear). But meanwhile the abuse just continues and continues unabated. Even many pastors accross this country seem to feel that it is okay to hit your wife if she does something wrong. How desperate is the need for Christ's love to penetrate deep into the heart of this country, for His Word to be expounded in all its truth!

This is PNG. This is the life that missionaries here deal with on a day-to-day basis, and this doen't even touch many other stressful elements of the work. Pray, pray and do not stop praying. Although we know that it is our time to leave the work here, there is a sense of grief in this area too, not because we enjoy this kind of pain and heartache, but because we see how much work there is to do, and how great a need there is to support eachother in this work. We know the hardship of "being on your own" on the mission field, as the Wildeboers soon will be (for some time, thankfully God is preparing the way for the Sikkemas to come!) It pains us, and yet we know that God Almighty is in control and He will do as He sees fit. He will sustain, and comfort and provide.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Back in the Land of the Unexpected and the Land of wonderful people

We are back in Lae, back in the land of the unexpected! How is it unexpected, you ask? Well, take hopping onto an Air Niugini flight and watching a man board holding a Coleman lantern (you know those kerosene ones? We presume it still had kerosene in it because the air hostess took it off him after looking into it - thankfully someone was alert!)...and he got through security??? Or take getting from the airport in Lae to our house in a Guard Dog Bus, and then just when we are almost home (after an hour and a half - it was airconditioned, so not too tedious) the driver decides to ignore a "road closed" sign down a steep and stoney hill, only to find it was really, truly inaccessible this time, meaning a 3 point turn, in a bus, on a hill, with steep sides, and only loose stones for tread! Then there's a newly erected stop sign at the entrance to a roundabout (circle, for you Canadians) - A stop sign, at a roundabout?? Then there's Andrew going into some companies early Monday morning to arrange the transport of our earthly goods to Australia, only to call me a bit later telling me that "the packing needs to be done by tomorrow afternoon, as the ship is going soon, and else we'll miss out if we don't do it now as a ship is going soon"!!!

So a mad pack it was - 2 crazy days, also crazier as a stomach bug hit our family. Shiana threw up in Cairns airport, in Port Moresby airport, and twice back here in Lae. Kirilee fainted in church on our first Sunday back whilst standing for the first songs - she had succumbed to the bug too. And Monday night Ashlyn spent the night vomiting, keeping our already tired bodies up when they so wanted to sleep, and she still is struggling to get rid of it, with a fever lingering on.

But, the packing is now done, and that is great, and such a blessing (though we are still waiting for our boxes to be picked up - um, they didn't get around to it today even though we were told it had to be done by today to make the ship!!!)

And this Land of the Unexpected just has such a beautiful side to it that it just pulls at your heart strings. Sunday was a beautiful day. Hugs of joy at seeing eachother again and some tears, knowing that our time together will be short. A beautiful Profession of Faith service. What a blessing. Shiana was super excited that dear Louisa ("her" little girl here in church- she's a bit over a year and half old) still remembered her. She actually came walking straight up to her and put her arms out for Shiana to pick her up!! It was so nice to be back in the Church Family here. How we have missed these services! There's something about them that we just miss when we are in Australia! Of course, I forgot my Camera (hello, Natalie, you have 3 Sundays here and you forget your camera!!???) So if you want to see some photos of our Sunday, you'll have to check out our colleagues' blog here .

The girls have been enjoying the Wildeboer children so much again. I think Ashlyn and Karlyn spent most of the Sunday Service hugging eachother (in the sweltering heat!!). And we have been enjoying the company of our colleagues again too, though it is hard to imagine that the special bond we have is coming to an end (well undergoing a great change, anyway!!)

So it is good to be back, albeit for such a short time. Andrew and I commented to eachother that we are glad that we did not have make the decision to leave the work here, whilst we were living here. The decision would have been the same, but it would have been so much harder to come to the decision whilst we were here. But God knows all of that too, and He has given us everything we have needed, and we know He will continue to do so!!

Friday, November 5, 2010

presentations and parties

Our dear second daughter asked me quietly a couple of days ago, after scanning over our blog (the girls often do that, and it is a great way for them to remember our life in PNG), "Mum, how come you blogged about Ashlyn's birthday and not mine?" OOPS! And now she will probably read this one day soon and say, "Mum, you shouldn't have said that". But, hey, you didn't hear it from me, okay!?

But I'll start before her birthday, actually even before the last post, when we headed to Tassie to present the mission work in Lae to the churches and school there, and where, incidently, I also celebrated my birthday in Hobart.


At a park in Hobart where we could "celebrate" my birthday with Andrew's Uncle and Aunt and cousins and their children.


In Hobart we could also catch up with good friends, DongWoo and Joy and their gorgeous children:



We also managed to head up Mount Wellington and see some snow. I, for one, had no interest in the white stuff, having had my fair share in Canada, and not particularly fond of the cold and messy stuff! Ashlyn, however, was insistent. She has always thought it rather unfair that even though she was born in Canada, she has no recollection of snow like the rest of the family does. So this little Canadian finally got to see some snow and remember it:





We also were blessed to visit with Andrew's Grandma. She is 95 and is still living on her own. It was good to see her again and we are thankful for that opportunity.





We did a mission presentation in Hobart, and also in Launceston. Turnouts were great and people responded really well. A blessing indeed! A few days after our return to WA we were able to do a presentation in the Albany churches and the school, with great turnouts and lots of enthusiasm again.

A week after we left Tasmania, Andrew's parents could visit us in Albany. Dad had to come for a classis meeting anyhow, so Mum decided to join him. They stayed with us for a short 6 days, but we had a good time nevertheless. While they were here we decided to celebrate Shiana's 10th birthday a few days early with a party in the park with her class mates and cousins:








And here's a couple of photos we took while Andrew's parents were here:


Kirilee and her grandpa


Our family!

A few days after Dad and Mum VDH left we (Andrew and Ashlyn and I) headed to Perth for more presenations and meetings. From Monday to Friday we did 3 presentations in various churches, 3 school presentations, had a board meeting and a homevisit, as well as another more informal meeting. My parents came along as a babysitter for Ashlyn. As Ashlyn is still working on adjusting to the changes in her little life, we thought this was the best arrangement for her (she wasn't ready for us to desert her for a few days just yet), and it did work out well. It was a full but wonderful week! Doing the presentations was in some way hard, as we know that the Lord has closed the chapter on our work there, and that was really brought home to us. However, at the same time the presentations worked to help us "debrief" somewhat and it was beautiful and rewarding to see that people have a real and genuine interest for God's work in PNG!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Closing a chapter

As most of you probably already know, we as family have come to a decision that we are no longer able to work in Lae, PNG. This decision was not an easy one for us to make, and it is one we made with great sadness, however, it was the decision we felt the Lord was leading us to make. Due to our recurrent miscarriages, it is not feasible for our family to be in Lae. For this reason we will not be returning to PNG to work (though we do plan to go back for a very short time to say our goodbyes and pack our things). In many ways it just seems so final. True, we would have had to say our goodbyes one day, we just had hoped it would not be so soon, and we know that one day we will share eternity with all of our brothers and sisters in Christ from all over the world. And yet it is difficult.

Yet God has taught us once again that His ways are higher and our plans are just that - Our plans. And if His plans are different from ours, then who are we to try and resist? And so we trust that He will provide, not only for us but for our dear colleagues and friends, the Wildeboers, for our beloved brothers and sisters in Lae, PNG, and we know He will continue to work. After all, God doesn't need us (His work will continue, regardless!), He is just sometimes pleased to use sinful human beings. And we are so thankful for the privelege of working in PNG, we are so thankful for the friends we have made along the way (both in Canada and PNG, both "white skins" and "black skins"), we are so thankful for all the experiences we could have (both the good and bad), for the support from the home front we felt, and especially for the abiding faithfulness of a Loving God!

Friday, September 3, 2010

We are alive and Ashlyn is Five!!

A title that rhymes! So, so dull and tacky, but sometimes a title is the most difficult thing of writing a blog - and then dull and tacky has to do!!

We are still here, albeit in Australia. Sometimes I want to get back on this blog and write more often, but then I just wonder what I will write about... Sure we check in with the PNG news via their online newspapers....but that's just it. When you read about the fire and looting near the girl's school (which caused the school to close....and Shiana thought she was ripped off as she still had to go to school in Australia, and "if I had been in Lae I would have had a day off!!); or you read about the major fighting going on at uni-tech leaving a couple of students dead; then life seems pretty "normal" over here.

But "normal" is good too, so let me share our "normal" at the moment:

The girls are at school (Grade 6, 4 and pre-school) and here they are dressed for school on their first day way back in early July:



Andrew has been doing lots of gardening and met a few friends like this one below...as I think large lizards are quite cute (yeah, I know, kind of strange!!) I kindly volunteered to relocate it for him so it would stop hissing at him every time he tried to dig near it. Poor Lizzy, he was just trying to catch a little winter sun...


yeah, i know, I like lizards, but I wasn't sure he liked me as much so I decided protect myself with a garden glove, just in case (though it was pretty thin, so I am not sure it would have helped if he decided to bite me...)

I have spent many hours behind the computer working on a DVD for our presentation. And it is done!! Well, I still need to make a few more copies and make some labels, but I am so glad it is done as it is always a big job (but it is fun too!). I also just finished making some photos posters to bring along to presentations, too!

And then, our dear youngest daughter turned 5! We are so thankful for this little girl, who is such a blessing in our lives. She was so excited to have a birthday in Australia, and I tell you, it is much easier finding birthday presents here!! Actually, I had to really reign myself in on the birthday present buying....it is so much fun, and there are so many great toys to choose from, and Ashlyn is our youngest, and she has very few toys here in Albany (they are all in Lae)...and, well, lots of reasons and excuses when you are walking through a Target or a Kmart!!!!

Ashlyn had a party last Saturday with her school friends....It was a gorgeous day - beautiful sunshine all day.

....waiting for her friends to arrive...


...lots of smiles...


...blowing out her candle...


...some of her friends getting ready to play a game...

And below are some shots of the group of party kids - the one boy is my nephew, Nathan (he was more than happy to be there with all the girls!!)







So we are alive and Ahslyn is Five!! Blessings all round!!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

God is God

Once again things have been quiet here on this blog, partly because we are not in PNG at the moment and hence I feel there is less to write about, but also because the Lord has chosen to give us another burden to deal with. Again we have experienced another miscarriage. I was still early on in my pregnancy, but it is hard (as those who have experienced this - and many have- would know) to go through another miscarriage, and to have our hopes dashed again. But we know that God is in control and we Trust in Him. And we are so thankful to be in Australia where the medical care is amazing. It has made things a lot less stressful.

Just thinking and meditating on these past few days made me write another short poem. Thinking tends to do that to me, and I find it a great way to put some feelings onto paper (computer). I thought I would share it with you (it is really just some "rambling" thoughts and has not been edited, etc), as it is not specifically about miscarriage, but really about any burdens we face (and I know that we all have burdens to face and some much heavier than ours!) and God's place in them.

Lord your ways are high, above me altogether
Your ways are perfect, your plans in place forever


Who am I, Lord

Who am I, Lord

To question what you do?

What makes me think I can begin
To understand you?

You are Almighty

You are God

You are All-knowing

You are the Lord.

Each day of our lives you have prepared

and numbered every hair.
You've promised you'll do good to us,

despite each pain and care.


If you have told me all these things in your Enduring Word,

If you have showed me many times that you're a Faithful God,


Then now, too, Lord I can have peace

and I can be at rest
Knowing, Lord, that you are God

And you have done what's best!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

settling in...how blessed we are!

Okay, so we've traded sweat and dehydration for this....

...not so charming to look at, but oh so warm!

And for now we are enjoying this:

....and this...

...instead of our usual abode surrounded by lots of other houses only a few metres away from ours, with barbed/razor wire fences surrounding us!

...And for now Andrew has traded his office and doing errands and pastoral visits for this...

...he has done such a great job already in cleaning up our gardens!

....And we are all trying out some new toys...

...that rip stick is much harder to ride than it looks I found out...

... though the girls mastered it easily:

...as Shiana shows...

...and Ashlyn enjoys a bargain bike that her Dad found for her...


And how the girls have been enjoying their cousins to play with....


Ashlyn and her cousin Kayla


...talking to the horse (not ours) on our property (thanks to my niece Jessica for those two photos!)

...Kirilee and her dear cousin Sharelle...

...they just can't stop giggling...


Can you tell how blessed we feel? I remember walking into our own home again (it has been 6 years since we have lived in it!) and just feeling overwhelmed. My family had gone all out in preparing it for us. Everything was just perfect. My nephew, Jonathan, had spent hours making some changes to our house (which we are now working on painting) and had done such a great job. The fridge and cupboards were filled with food, we had furniture much of which others had donated for our use, and it really felt like a home! I was just feeling so overwhelmed with the space around us too, the quiet peacefulness, the sounds of birds and the beautiful rainbows (rainbows are a very, very rare occurrence in Lae, so Ashlyn has been pointing them out continually).

We are so thankful that God has provided for us so well, also through so many wonderful family and friends. We are enjoying catching up again. There are some things which are still in many ways so unreal for us, but over all we are adjusting well and we are thankful for that. The girls will begin school next week (I have lost track of how many times they have changed schools in their young lives!), and we pray that they will fit in well and make the transition smoothly.

God is so amazing. Amazing that wherever we all go, in whatever circumstance, He is there blessing us and giving us joy and contentment. We continue to remember our brothers and sisters in Lae. May they too continue to feel His joy and contentment in their often difficult circumstances. How blessed we are!

P.S. I meant to do this in our last post while in Lae, but I will do it now as I forgot back then. As I went through some old mail as I "spring-cleaned" the house before our furlough, I was reminded of how may people have sent us cards throughout our time of serving in PNG. Then there are those of you who leave comments on this blog or on Facebook. Then there are others who send emails (which I usually reply to...I think), and still other who read this blog (and I never even know!) and live with us in thought and prayer. To you all we say: thank you! We are often strengthened and encouraged through you all! Please continue praying for God's Church-Gathering work in PNG, and also for those on the field labouring in His Mission field!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Our trip in photos...

Warning: Photo overload!! Using some photos is the easiest way to share our amazing trip back to Albany so please scroll down if you like and share some highlights of our holiday with us...


...early Saturday morning wait at the Lae airport. Thankfully we had no delays!


...more waiting!


...we spent our first weekend in Cairns with our amazing hosts Matt and Claire Byl and their great kids! We all had a great time together and the children just had so much fun playing together. Was a relaxing way to start off our holiday!


...early Tuesday morning we flew to the Gold Coast, where the first thing we noticed was the drop in temperature! Little did we realize how warm it still was compared to where we were headed (well our minds knew it in theory, but our bodies just couldn't imagine it getting colder). On these picture we are standing in front of Main Beach where we were staying.


....trying to soak up the early morning sunshine!


...on one of the main streets in Surfer's Paradise.


....whilst in the Gold Coast we treated ourselves to visiting some of the main attractions like SeaWorld. What an amazing experience...to see these creatures do these things was just priceless. I really missed that there was no acknowledgment of the awesomeness of our Creator God - not that we expected that acknowledgment, but there is so much glorying in the animals themselves, while as a Christian when you see these amazing things, your mind cries out: "What an awesome God we serve!"




...and we could enjoy some fun rides as well. Ashlyn was very smitten with these little cars and the bumper cars!


....a miniature train ride



...okay...can you guess where we headed next??? Sydney! We took a train ride from the Gold Coast to Sydney (took the whole day - early morning till 10pm or so), and then began to realise that the temperatures were getting even colder as we toured around on a local bus.




We spent the whole weekend in Sydney and worshiped at the PCEA on Sunday, where we also enjoyed lunch at the home of the Pastor and his family.


...On Tuesday morning we took the train again, this time to Canberra. On this picture we are enjoying Parliament house. This is a view from its roof toward the Old Parliament.


Ashlyn and Shiana - with the Old Parliament in the background.


...we also visited the National War Memorial which was a wonderful experience, not to be missed. This is a view from the Memorial toward Parliament house.


We all really enjoyed the displays...


...which were so realistic! The whole Memorial was fascinating and also a wonderful remembrance of those who have lost their lives fighting for our National freedom!


Our girls on some lookout in Canberra.


Kirilee and Ashlyn warming each other up!


Ashlyn and Shiana


In Canberra we also visited Cockington Greens a miniature style village with a section based on England and also an international section. We were all duly fascinated.



On Friday morning we flew to Perth where we were warmly greeted by my brother and his family as well as another nephew and a member of the mission board and his family who delivered "our" car (for the next 6 months) to the airport. Then we drove to Albany and arrived there at about 7:30pm and were greeted by lots of family members and a pot of Mum's delicious
chicken soup....on that note this post will end and I'll leave the rest for an upcoming, "settling in" post....stay tuned (or not!)