Ryan’s family (not his real name) travels for over an hour to bring him to see Dr. Andy. He was born with club foot and if left untreated he would have to learn to walk the mountain trails walking on the sides of his feet. And he would not be allowed to marry, all because of a treatable condition.
Andy and Judy Bennett have been serving here in Kudjip for well over a decade. In that time they started a club foot clinic, together helping children born with club foot receive the treatment they need to be able to lead a normal life. On March 19 they left Kudjip, headed for the States and then on to another country to work. Everyone gathered at the circle in front of the hospital to pray for them and see them off. It was a bittersweet time, to know God has exciting plans for them, but they will be greatly missed by everyone here in Kudjip.
The final two Fridays the Bennetts were here, Nathan was able to work in the club foot clinic with them. This gave him the chance to meet the children and get more hands-on experience in treatment as he prepares for future continue the work the Bennetts began.
Dr. Andy and Judy are now gone, but Ryan will still be able to receive treatment. As God has led us to walk the road of disability in our own family, he is now opening the doors to minister to other families touched by disability. Because of our faithful prayer and financial partners, many more children will continue to receive the gift of walking in the years to come.
The Dooley family is our mentor family as we settle into life at Kudjip and they have been wonderful. Our second week here they took us down to the hydroelectric dam to play in the water. This power source is a huge blessings and I’ll blog more about that later. It also creates a fun play place as well as kaukau (sweet potato) washing station and rock collecting resource for various projects around the hospital station. Next to collecting bugs, gathering rocks is a favorite activity for our young Masons. Between the water and the rocks I’m sure visiting the hydro will become a favorite activity.
Nathan and I also got to drive for the first time. While the hydro is within walking distance from the house, in the afternoon sun it’s a longish walk, so we took the Land Cruiser (a necessary vehicle to make it over the bumpy roads in PNG). The driver’s seat is on the right side of the vehicle and we drive on the left hand side of the road. It’s a little strange and I kept grabbing the door to try and change gears before remembering I needed to use my left hand. But I successfully drove on the left side of the road for the first time! (Going 10 miles an hour on the station and never meeting another vehicle, but that’s only a minor detail, right?!).
The creatures that first captured the attention of the kids were geckos. For all the giant bugs around, the geckos are surprisingly small. And quick. When being caught by predators (or kids) the tail falls off and squirms on its own for awhile. At first this both fascinated and terrified the kids.
Usually we see them outside on the sides of buildings, but occasionally they’ve been spotted in the house. The big boys have one that likes to crawl around their wall at night. One morning Nathan went to grab the clothes he’d hung on a hook for the day and a little guy went skittering across his shirt and up the wall. I really don’t mind geckos, but I have been shaking my clothes a bit now before picking them up.
When playing with the geckos in the house, it’s not uncommon for them to escape the grasp of little hands. They quickly find their way under the couch or the stove or out the door. To remedy this problem our oldest son made a leash backpack. It worked for awhile, but the test gecko was able to start slipping out of his contraption.
The other day our daughter caught one with a split tail at the end. With all the handling the tail eventually fell off, so we’re hoping to be able to see if it will grow back as one tail or with another split tail.
Remember the plastic insects the kids have been trying to trick us with? One evening there was an unusual amount of giggling and carrying on. On the off chance they had gotten a little too carried away with their pranks, I told the kids they were not allowed to use live animals in this little game. Turns out I would have found a live gecko in my glasses case at bedtime. At least it wouldn’t have been a cockroach!
Statistics. Our culture knows statistics. There are numbers for how many births every year and what the most popular names for those babies were. Numbers for how many deaths and what was the cause of death. Everything is documented.
It’s a different story in a very rural, developing nation like Papua New Guinea. PNG has one of the highest infant and maternal mortality rates in the world, but any statistic you find would likely not show the whole picture.
“People live and die in silence,” said Dr. Scott while giving a hospital tour. No statistician keeps track of every birth in the Jimi Valley. The man who died in the Sepik Province is mourned by his family, but his death by cancer is not added to the total tally.
But it is these individuals that matter here at our hosptial. Each person is given the best care possible. Each person has not only their physical needs cared for, but they are treated with dignity and respect. The people of the country know this is true and will often travel for hours or days in order to be seen at Kudjip Nazarene Haus Sick (Hospital).
It is not in silence that people live and die here at the hospital. It is surrounded by those who see God’s imagine stamped on each life that walks through the doors. Would you pray for the nurses, doctors, administrators, maintanence staff and others as they give the best care possible with limited resources.
I kept glancing out the window to see a couple of men on the porch coming to visit. Oh wait, those aren’t men. Those are our bananas. Several bunches in our backyard fell off the tree early and Nathan strung them up on the porch while to finish ripening.
Randy Goossens brought over a couple of button up shirts to help clothe the giant bunches. Why must they be dressed you ask. Because fruit bats find this yellow fruit delicious. And they don’t politely partake of one or two whole bananas, but enjoy a nibble from various bananas all around the bunch. So, we carefully clothe them with button up shirts for easy human access. I have now gotten used to looking out and seeing the banana men who call our porch home.
I do not have a picture of a real live cockroach because my first priority isn’t to find my phone when one is skittering across the counter. Especially after the egg box incident. The one where the box of nine dozens eggs was crawling with literally dozens and dozens . . . and yes dozens more roaches . . . through the cartons . . . and onto the counters . . . and into the kitchen drawers. This apparently is not the norm for egg boxes, but I will be skeptical of bringing them into the house for some time to come. (We have since bought another egg box that was safely inspected on the back porch with a total of zero roaches inside).
The toys in the picture are the ones the kids keep trying to trick us with . . . on the counter . . . in the bed . . . they may end up in the trash soon. 🙂
This is a poem from The Llama Who Had No Pajama by Mary Ann Hoberman about roaches. It seemed fitting.
Is there nothing to be said about the cockroach which is kind?
Praise or admiration is impossible to find.
No one seems to care for it or welcome its approaches.
Everyone steers clear of it except for other roaches.
If people treated me that way, I know that I should mind.
Is there nothing to be said about the cockroach which is kind?
Is there nothing to be said about the cockroach with is nice?
It must have done a favor for somebody once or twice.
No one will speak up for it in friendly conversations.
Everyone cold-shoulders it except for its relations.
Whenever it is mentioned, people’s faces turn to ice.
Is there nothing to be said about the cockroach which is nice?
Is there nothing to be said about the cockroach which is good?
I can’t avoid the feeling that it’s quite misunderstood,
But all that I can tell you is it does keep very quiet,
And if you’ve got some bedbugs, it will add them to its diet.
I’d like to be more positive; I really wish I could.
Is there nothing to be said about the cockroach which is good?
Thirty-one hours. From the door of my parents’ home in Oregon to the door of our home in Kudjip, Papua New Guinea took 31 hours. I imagine it’s longer for those traveling from the Midwest or Eastern USA, but it was still plenty long.
I think whirlwind best describes the trip. It went well over all, but each time we landed it was a race to the next plane. And the race started at the very beginning. We arrived 2.5 hours early with only 2 people in front of us in line and still just made it through security to the gate as they started boarding.
After landing in San Fransisco we made our way to the ticket counter to get the new boarding passes, went through security, and had enough time for a bathroom break before boarding again. By this time it was 11:30pm and we were all tired. The kids slept for 8-9 hours, which helped a good part of the 14.5 hour flight slip by peacefully. The remainder of the time went fairly well. The oldest three watched some nature videos and did a few fun activities we purchased with support from our LINKS churches. The youngest two got a little antsy, but I really can’t complain, because I was feeling antsy too!
After landing in Sydney with very little time to spare, our oldest daughter fell apart. She was tired and didn’t want to pull any bags or carry her backpack. She wanted.to.sleep! Big brother stepped up and helped her out. The strollers we hoped to have available for use in the airport had been sent straight to PNG, so we were quite a sight trying to juggle kids and bags while moving as quickly through the terminal as possible. Security must have felt bad for us (or they didn’t want to listen to tired kids complaining) because they whisked us to the front of the line. Next came the transfer desk to get our new set of boarding passes. It takes for.ev.er to get seven people and all their luggage squared away, but thankfully they called ahead and had the plane held for us. There were also courtesy strollers here! My tired back was quite thankful for this small luxury. After rushing to the gate and boarding the bus out to the tarmac for the plane, and getting everyone situated . . . the flight was delayed because of a problem with the runway. I thought for sure we’d miss our next flight as it, too, was going to be a close connection.
On this four hour flight there was one meltdown over the lunch that was served (a delicious chicken meal that was not a sandwich), but overall this flight went smoothly. And then we saw it! Our first look at Papua New Guinea, beautiful and green. The kids thought they saw a coral reef in the ocean as well. Once we touched down our big girl exclaimed, “I like PNG already!”
The pilot had radioed ahead that we had a close connection, so there were people waiting at the plane to help us through immigration, collecting our bags/strollers/carseats and onto customs. All but one bag came through, but we decided not to wait for it. Just as we left customs someone ran up with the final bag. At this point we re-checked the baggage, got new boarding passes and headed towards the domestic terminal. Once again was a security check (I’ve missed mentioning a few others on the journey), but thanks to all the helpful people working at the airport we made our last flight.
The one hour trip to Mt. Hagen was some of the most turbulent of the trip. Finally, the plane came out of the clouds to show the airstrip surrounded by beautiful green mountains. While circling once we saw the MAF hanger and planes and then we touched down. And it was here, on the ground, that I got air sick. With all the rush I had forgotten to take the final dose of meds to help prevent it from happening. But, thankfully, we didn’t have to rush off the plane this time.
Two of the missionaries from the hospital station met us with two vehicles. One came to haul the people and the other came to haul the luggage. Eleven of the bags/carseats did not make this final flight, but arrived the next day.
It was about a 45 minute drive to Kudjip Nazarene Hospital and we were greeted by a crowd of missionaries in the front of our house. It was fun to meet all the people in person we had heard about and interacted with online.
It was a tiring trip but about 2 minutes after arriving the kids were busy looking for all things that creep and crawl and off to play with new friends.
About two weeks after being here, our oldest daughter wanted to know when we would be going back to the States. I thought maybe she was feeling homesick. “Two years,” I told her. “Oh, good,” she exclaimed, “we don’t have to be on the plane or go through security again for a long time!”
Sunday morning Nathan went with the oldest three kids and several of the other missionaries on station to a bush lotu (church) for the morning service. It took about 20 minutes of driving and while they could have driven all the way in the Land Rover, the last little bit was harder to drive, so they walked another 20 minutes of so to get there.
The churches like to know ahead of time that missionaries are coming so they can prepare. There was a flower petal path leading up to the door and everyone sat down on the floor. The service lasted for about two hours and was packed full. This coming week they are planning to expand the building to help accommodate everyone who attends.
Flowers usually decorate the front, but extra care is put in when visitors come. They also gather produce to send home with the missionaries. Everyone took as much as would fit in backpacks and arms, but because the Land Rover was left behind, they couldn’t take everything.
Nathan had practiced a short testimony in Tok Pisin to tell the congregation why we are in PNG. After the service they hiked up the road a ways for a picnic lunch. Many of the kids joined them on the hike as they crossed bridges like this.
On the way back, some of our kids decided just to jump down in the ditch rather than try to cross the tree bridge again.
The scenery was amazing, the people welcoming and a wonderful afternoon was had by all.
Nathan and I were sitting in the kitchen with Pastor Simon busy with language lessons when our bug boy burst through the door.
“Mom! You have to come help me with this beetle!” I shushed him and told him I’d help him when the lesson was done. He not so patiently waited until the end and I stepped out on the back porch of the house we were staying in for the week in Timil Waghi.
“This,” I said after seeing the size of the beetle he wanted help with, “is a job for your dad.”
We think it’s a rhino beetle and it took some effort for Nathan to get it down. After hissing at the stick for awhile, it finally grabbed the pesky thing that was harassing it with it’s enormous jaws and Nathan was able to pull it off that way. This one did not go into a jar, but stayed outside on the porch.
Stay tuned for the next creepy crawly installment.
Language learning is an interesting thing. My brain is searching for a word that is not English and, Oh look! I found the word! . . . in Hebrew or Spanish or that tiny bit of Russian I learned years ago. It doesn’t do a lot of good to tell some who speaks Tok Pisin “dasveydanya” in Russian to say goodbye.
While out in the bush, a couple of dogs chased a cat up to our porch. We opened the door and yelled at them to “Die! Die!” No, we weren’t hoping for their early demise, but were yelling “Stop!” in Hebrew.
Nathan introduced himself as “Natan,” the Hebrew form of his name and I’ve remembered more Hebrew words in the past two weeks than I could have hoped to have remembered six months ago.
Thankfully, Tok Pisin is one of the easier languages I have tried to learn and am able to understand simple conversations. Nathan is doing a great job understanding and speaking. Eventually, my brain will grab the correct Tok Pisin words, but for now I have a strange new language floating in my brain that’s a mix of English, Spanish, Hebrew, Russian and Tok Pisin.