There are a lot of comings and goings on a mission station. Volunteers come for a few weeks to a few months. Missionary kids visit for a few months and return for college (they get one trip paid for by the church during college). Family comes to visit. Long term missionaries leave for home assignment and new missionaries arrive.
This coming week we are expecting the return of Dr. Erin. She has been serving here for over ten years and after arriving in the US for home assignment in the spring, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. It was uncertain if she’d be able return in August as originally planned. Many people prayed for her, not knowing what God’s plan was, but trusting Him in the process. Thankfully, the tumor responded well to treatment over the summer and she is able to return as planned.
The Miller family will be arriving along with Erin. They are a new missionary family that will join us for the next couple of years. Justin works in IT, Stephanie will be helping at the MK elementary school and their daughter will be entering first grade. Our family has been eagerly anticipating their arrival for several months. They are just days away from moving, so are in the middle of the last minute chaos and emotions that accompany this transition. I know they’d appreciate your prayers during this time.
Frogs are the one critter our kids have wanted to find, but not been able to catch in the five months we’ve been in PNG. In the evenings we often hear them when we’re out walking and despite making a few outings to catch one, they’ve always remained illusive.
This past week we had a stay-cation. The week was spent sleeping in our own beds, making our own restaurant for an evening, eating off paper plates (doing dishes in the fire pit made for easy chore time) and doing many of the activities around station that there’s never enough time for. High on the list of things to do was frog hunting and last night was the night for a good frog hunt. It had drizzled off and on all day, so we hoped that would help bring the frogs out.
There’s a spot on station near the College of Nursing that we often hear frogs croaking. It was decided that this activity needed hunters that could remain quiet and not scare the frogs away, so I stayed home with the little two. Instead of hunting, they got to play in the bath water, which is high on their list of fun activities. The hunting party arrived home sooner than expected with dejected expressions. I thought they were handling their disappointment quite well and started to explain we could try again another time when the jumping and squealing began. Turns out they were just putting on a show and actually HAD caught a frog.
They had seen several frogs and heard many more. Nathan was trying to get up the nerve to catch this one when our big girl hopped right in and nabbed him. It was the perfect ending to a great week of vacation.
You may remember this blog about the elections here in PNG. The voting has been over in our area for several weeks and the counting has been on-going. As we get closer to announcing the winners, the tension is getting higher.
As foreigners, we can stay on station and keep away from the tension, but that is not the case for our PNG friends. Pastor A has been helping us dig a new garden area. He travels a little distance to come and as he ate lunch with us yesterday, it was easy to see the burden he has for the situation.
As a young man, he was one that was involved in causing problems and fighting. He easily could have been one of these young men who is recruiting people for his side when the fighting starts. But he found a new way of life when he decided to follow Jesus. He is now a man of peace and instead of looking for a fight, he looks for ways to be a light. He is quick to help those in need and to speak peace to those who are stirring up trouble.
Would you please pray for Pastor A and his family. If fighting does break out in his area, they could easily be targets. Pray for wisdom as he tries to calm the mounting tension of those around him. Pray for safety for his family. Pray for other men of peace during this time. Pray that the obvious difference Jesus is making in their lives will draw people to Christ during this time of uncertainty.
Last week about 20 of us traveled to a bush church. When I first heard about going to bush churches I imagined long car trips with plenty of hiking to follow. As it turns out, since we’re already living out away from the main towns, going to a bush church doesn’t take long. This particular church was a 20-30 minute drive.
I have two choices when driving off station. Be brave and drive the roads or be a passenger and get car sick. This time I opted to drive one of the two vehicles. There are four P’s that a driver has to be aware of when driving here:
Pigs – There are pigs of all sizes (tiny and huge) along the side of the road. Occasionally they run into the road.
People – The walkways are right along the side of the road and people often use the road itself to walk on (it’s easier than walking in the dirt and brush). Little kids often play along the side of the road and will sometimes dart out.
Potholes – POTHOLES would probably be a better description. There are many and they are big. You can’t travel 80 kph (50mph) very long before having to slow down for the next pothole.
Police – The police have check points occasionally that need to be stopped for.
When I drive there is one more P that drivers need to watch for.
Pokey Little Beckey – I am getting better, but tend to be one of the slower drivers on the road. Thankfully, last Sunday there weren’t any vehicles that pulled up behind me and I wasn’t too far behind Scott, who was driving the other vehicle.
We arrived at the church a little early and soon had a crowd of kids around to watch us. Most of them enjoyed having their pictures taken and then being able to see themselves on the camera. Some of the kids were curious, but shied away from the camera.
On the way in, our big girl was disappointed to miss seeing the pigs along the side of the road. Once we got to the the church, though, she was able to go back behind the building and see a little pig there.
A PNG couple that attends the Nazarene Bible college near the hospital were the special speakers for the morning. We all were enjoying the special music they shared so much that I neglected to get a picture of them. Their as ples (place of origin, hometown) is near the capital city of Port Moresby and the music reflected the area. He made some fun popping sounds during the songs, which were met by roars of laughter from all the kids in the congregation.
Recently, I was talking with Dr. Sheryl, who is a surgeon that arrived the same time we did, about how hard it is to see the violence against women here. A lady will come in after being stabbed by her husband and we care for their wounds, but they often times do not come back for follow up visits. There’s not a lot of resources for women in abusive situations. I also recently read this article about PNG being one of the worst places in the world for violence against women.
The visiting pastor had a sermon all prepared, but when he saw how many women were in the church he decided to go a different direction. I quickly stepped outside since our baby girl wanted to help him preach, but was able to hear much of what he said from just outside the door. He spoke about the Samaritan woman at the well and told the ladies that they are important to God and He has a plan for each one of them through this church. In the midst of a culture that looks down on them for being women, it is through Jesus Christ these ladies are given value and purpose. Towards the end of the sermon I stepped closer to the door to peek inside and saw the front of the sanctuary filled with ladies praying.
As foreigners we can tell women they have value, but the impact is even greater when it comes from one of their own people. Please pray for the national church leaders (men and women) as they communicate the good news of Jesus. Pray that Christian husbands will love their wives as Christ loves the church and their clans will see the difference that this love makes in their marriages. Pray for the women of this church as they seek God’s direction in how He will continue to use their lives. Pray for the women in abusive situations, that they can find safety and find hope in Jesus. Pray for the doctors, nurses and chaplains as they treat the ladies whose bodies and spirits are beaten and battered.
After the service we drove down the hill for a picnic and a chance to play in the river.
It was quite a steep trek down the hill and going back up was even trickier.
It was a great morning together and an encouraging time at church.
A couple of weeks ago I went to the backyard to rescue our little guy from the top of the monkey bars and something caught my eye through the fence. On the other side of the road I saw this meri blaus and laplap. I had been wanting one for when we go to bush church and special occasions so Nathan and I went out that afternoon and bought it. Meri (pronounced Mary) is a woman, blaus is a blouse and a laplap is a piece of cloth. In this case it is referring to the skirt that goes under the blouse. We see many women wearing this combination and it is quite comfortable and cool in the warm weather.
After leaving the elections in the United States and arriving in time for election season in PNG, I can tell you that politics is a noisy business wherever you go. Most of the noise in the States was via electronics and the occasional bumper sticker or yard sign that seemed to yell at anyone who was supporting another candidate. The noise here came via loud speakers attached to the top of vehicles.
Around 6am these vehicles would start blaring music and shouting out their candidates need to be in office. This would go on for most of the day and between 9-10pm they would drive by saying, “Gut nait, Kudjip. Gut nait!” (Good night). Thankfully, someone decided the 2am political campaigning that was apart of the last election was no longer necessary this election.
A couple weeks ago, the noise came from helicopters. One helicopter after another flew overhead. It was quite the excitement as all the little missionary kids and PNG kids ran outside pointing, shouting and running with each new fly over. The helicopters were taking ballot boxes to different villages in preparation for voting. Not long after the helicopters flew by, the political vehicles became quiet.
Each region takes turns voting. In part, this gives security forces time to reach the next destination. If there’s problems in voting (ballot boxes being stolen or fighting) the security forces are delayed and so voting is delayed at the next location. Security forces can also be delayed by bad weather or road conditions. The area around Kudjip was supposed to vote two weeks ago, but that was postponed until Monday, July 3rd. At 6am on the 3rd, however, the police went through to let people know they would be voting on Tuesday instead.
The hospital has a polling station so that employees can vote without having to return to their home areas, since traveling long distances can be difficult, especially during election season. Everyone lines up to wait their turn. Pictures of the candidates are posted with a number beside each face. Each voter marks the number of the candidates they want to vote for.
On Wednesday after the voting, several of the roads were closed as were the markets. This was somehow linked to politics although I don’t know what exactly the problem was.
The votes in our area are now being tallied and the results are expected to be announced this week. Would you join us in praying during this time? While we are not in danger personally, this is not the case for many of our PNG friends. There is often fighting when the results are announced and bush knives are the weapon of choice. Bush knives (machetes) are long, very sharp and inflict a great deal of damage if not killing the victim. Last Saturday Nathan treated a man whose hand was completely amputated with one swipe of a bush knife. The doctors are planning to treat many more chop-chops (bush knife wounds) in the next few weeks as the result are announced.
Our family is praying for people of peace to be able to speak calm into potentially volatile situations. We are praying that God would give wisdom, courage and safety to His followers as they encounter these situations. Would you please join us in praying for the people in our area this week?
We get our food several different ways. An older gentleman stops by the house a couple times a week with vegetables for sale. He used to only sell asparagus, but now has a variety of things like carrots, broccoli, onions and tomatoes.
Once a month I travel into Mt. Hagen with Gail Dooley and do a day long shopping trip. In Hagen we are able to get more Western style foods and meats as well as stop by the market for produce.
Then there is a market just down the road from the hospital at the rot bung. “Rot” (pronounced with a long o) is road and bung (pronounces with a oo sound) is a meeting, so this is where the roads meet. There aren’t many roads in PNG, so this rot bung is rare and busy. Nathan usually goes once every week or two and takes one of the kids. Recently, though, we made a short trip as a family.
This umbrella market has all kinds of produce available as well as the flip flops we got for the kids.
In the small stores we can get boxes of eggs (we go through about 6 dozen a week) and boxes of milk. The milk comes in cartons that are stored on the shelf and don’t need to be put in the refrigerator until they’re opened. There’s a little store where people can pay to have their cell phone charged which is important for the many people who don’t have electricity in their homes. A little movie theater plays lovely American films like Rambo.
The clothing market is outdoors and has used clothing from Australia for sale. I’ve found some great things for the kids and me there, but usually pass on the winter snow suits hanging on the line.
Dr. Sheena has been our dentist here at the hospital for the past two years. She came with Samaritan’s Purse. When she first arrived there was little dental equipment, but Samaritan’s Purse donate hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of new dental equipment. The dental x-rays here were the easiest I’ve ever had taken thanks to this equipment.
In a couple of weeks she’ll be heading back to Hong Kong, Canada and the United States as she prepares to move on to her next mission station. She will be greatly missed, but we had a fun farewell party for her down by the river.
The kids had a great time playing in the clay along the edge of the river.
And playing on the surf board with friends
And digging in the dirt
And getting wet. Except she wasn’t so sure at first. She wouldn’t put her right foot in the water, but instead held it up in the air. When it would finally lower down and touch the water she’d hold it up with her hands. Finally, she gave up keeping her right foot dry and just started playing. She had more fun than this picture would suggest. 🙂
Our Saturday was full and a lot of fun with friends. First we started out with a community service project of picking up garbage on the road just outside the hospital station.
When we first arrived this road was dirt and just beginning to be paved with concrete ditches put in along the side. I’ve been told it used to be one of the worst stretches of road on the way to Mt. Hagen where we do our grocery shopping.
A variety of interesting things were found.
And we had some beautiful views along the way
And an adorable little Thompson helper
And my little helper was eager to go.
And then we were back at the station
But the day wasn’t over yet. We had a hot dog roast and then a party for Sheena before she leaves. The pictures at the river will be coming soon!
Watering a garden from city water in Oregon can get spendy. As Nathan planned out our garden while in the States, he always did so with the goal of getting the most out of every drop. He had hoped to one day make a rain collection barrel to catch the water flowing off the roof. That way he’d always have a good supply of water at an affordable price.
Our house here in PNG has not one but two water collection tanks. The clouds do a good job of watering the garden, though, so all of this water is for household use. The water collected is used to wash dishes and clothes, flush toilets, clean hands, take showers and cook. We use it for drinking, too, put filter it first.
In the picture you can see the giant green tank to the left and there’s a matching one on the other side of the house. Throughout the rainy season there is plenty of water to use, but a couple of years ago, during a drought, people had to be careful to watch the water level in their tanks.
On top of the house is the hot water heater with a solar panel attached. On sunny days there is piping hot water readily available and for cloudy days a button inside the bathroom turns on an electric heater to provide hot water.