Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Today, we began dehydrating food for our time in the village. POC has converted some old refrigerators into dehydrators to lighten our load when we go to village living in three weeks. We will start by dehydrating 2 kilos of ground beef (or mince as it is called here). Later in the week, we will start on fruits (bananas, pineapples, papaya) and veggies (green beans, onions, and carrots). The lighter the load we have to carry in to the village, the better our trip will be!

Monday, September 29, 2008
Our time with our Tok Pisin teachers is drawing to an end. Now we are supposed to be learning on our own as we interact with our wasfamilis, the workers here, and the people in town. We gave our testimonies in Tok Pisin this morning. Thankfully, we could read them! It was really neat to be able to understand each person's story of how they came to Papua New Guinea.

Sunday, September 28, 2008
Last week, all of the kids here at POC got the stomach virus within 24 hours. In the last few days, the adults have begun to get sick. Aaron and I took our turn yesterday. The kids were wonderful – they watched Katherine so we could sleep and they helped out extra during haus kuk weekend. The pictures are from the haus kuk activities:

Sarah, the master tortilla maker

Olivia, the master market shopper

Katherine, the master dish washer

Benjamin, the master wood chopper

Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday, September 26, 2008
We ate supper with our wasfamili again last night. Aaron was in bed yesterday all day with fever and aches so I took the kids by myself. Thankfully, he's back on his feet today. When we arrived, each member of the family (incuding tumbuna – Dorcas's father) had a craft for the kids to make using a new coconut leaf (cru bilong coconas). The kids made hatking (crowns), balls, cilok bilong han (watch), and a noisemaker – all out of coconut leaves from the yard! Our waspapa, Henson, is feeling much better. Thanks again for all of your prayers for him.

Thursday, September 25, 2008
Yesterday, we went on an amazing hike! It was the most beautiful one yet (and the most physically challenging). On the trail, we walked through a vanilla garden owned by one of the Tok Pisin teachers, and the scent was lovely. We also traipsed through a small river at the bottom of the mountain, and Aaron decided to explore a little bit. The hike took us about 2 1/2 hours. Our next hike is over to Kamba mountain next Tuesday (September 30), and it will take us all day to get there and back.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Happy Birthday, Katherine!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Aaron and I are sharing our testimonies this morning during devotionals. We asked to be able to speak together since our physical and spiritual lives have been so intertwined.

Happy birthday, Katherine! You are a joy to your family with your sweet disposition and playful nature. We're so glad we've got you! (And we're thankful we get to eat cake and ice cream tonight because of you, too.)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Everybody is eating well today. I was so thankful that I brought new toothbrushes with us! We always switch toothbrushes on the first day of the new season, so we were due to switch yesterday, anyway.

Please keep praying for our family's health and stamina. I was pulled out of class today because Olivia was complaining of a sore throat. I looked and saw that her throat was really raw, so I took her to the nurse. The nurse took one look, felt Olivia's glands, and marched us to the clinic to begin a round of antibiotics for strep throat. Olivia still doesn't take pills very well, so you can pray for her specifically as she takes her meds. I finished my antibiotics yesterday, and my ear is almost back to normal.

Monday, September 22, 2008
The joys of communal living – almost all of the children here came down with a stomach virus in the last 24 hours. Our kids have been troopers, and I'm so proud of them for keeping a sweet disposition even when they don't feel well. Today was supposed to be a holiday at the beach, but that has been postponed. A few classes are being held those who are still well, and Aaron is planning to go while I stay home with the kids. Thankfully, Katherine doesn't seem to be affected by the bug.

Sunday, September 21, 2008
We celebrated Autumn a day early by drinking apple cinnamon tea and reading some books we brought with us - "Leaf Jumpers" by Carole Gerber and "Johnny Appleseed" a poem by Reeve Lindbergh. I love Kathy Jakobsen's paintings in "Johnny Appleseed"! I even burned a treasured candle this morning for a little while. Of course, it's really Spring here, but in my heart I'm going to football games and baking pumpkin muffins.

When we cooked lunch, we made extra food to take to our wasfamili. Dorcas said that Henson's new meds gave him a headache, but that he had been up and around a little bit this morning. Thanks for your continuing prayers for him.

Saturday, September 20, 2008
Today was like Christmas, we opened three pieces of snail mail and a box! Thank you so much to those of you who have taken the time to write and encourage us – you are such a blessing.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Friday, September 19, 2008
I've been reading Elisabeth Elliot's "Keep a Quiet Heart", and it has been such an encouragement to me. From her article "The Weapon of Prayer":

"If you, bad as you are, know how to give your children what is good for them, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him?" Matthew 7:11 NEB

"Are you as often tempted as I am to doubt the effectiveness of prayer? But Jesus prayed. He told us to pray. We can be sure that the answer will come, and it will be good. If it is not exactly what we expected, chances are we were not asking for quite the right thing. Our heavenly Father hears the prayer, but wants to give us bread rather than stones."

Her words prompted me to once again thank those of you who are praying for our family as we are continually flooded with new information here at POC. The Lord continues to give us "bread rather than stones" as we learn through the ups and downs of each day.

Our waspapa, Henson, has been given bed rest for a week. When I ask Dorcas what we can do to help, she always says, "Thank you for your prayers". She never complains about the extra work she will have to do in the garden tomorrow or throughout the week. Aaron made some bread this afternoon, and we sent her home with a loaf. We've told them that they have people all over the world praying for him, will you please send them some e-mails? He has served SIL since 1973 and is a vital part of the ministry here.

Thursday, September 18, 2008
We visited our wasfamili for supper tonight. Our wasmama came and walked us over to their house since our waspapa is still sick. They are waiting for blood tests to come back to see if he has something in addition to malaria. Dorcas had worked all day at POC then cooked us a fabulous meal even though she knew we were bringing enough food to feed everyone. We learned that what we would call an "ear of corn" is "bel bilong kon" (heart of the corn) in Tok Pisin. We also make plenty of mistakes, both in language and in culture, when we visit with our wasfamili. We knew that women can't step over things, especially food, because those things will be considered defiled. We had been warned about stepping over the aisles in the market already. But, tonight, we saw this in action. Twelve of us were eating while sitting in the floor in two lines with our backs against the walls. Benjamin had scooted out a little bit and had his back to me. What I couldn't see was that his plate was in the middle of the floor! I served my family, then I sat down. Sweet Dorcas began to serve her family. Benjamin was right next to her, so she kept stopping at his plate and asking her family to come get their food instead of taking to plate to each person. I finally realized what was going on, so I asked him to scoot back against the wall. Even then, Dorcas held her skirt close to her body (for which had been told to look) as she walked through the middle of the small room. Someday, we'll learn the culture and the language, until then, we'll just learn to laugh at ourselves!

A side note: I started anti-fungal ear drops today to see if they would help my ear feel better.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008
After tea time this morning, we listened to two men from PNG while they shared stories. One of them was a little boy during WWII, and we were amazed at the things he remembered – like sneaking food to an American POW. We also learned that POC sits on the edge of an extinct volcano! The men could trace the edge of the volcano and tell us who lived on which side of the crater. The wealth of knowledge found in our teachers is amazing!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tuesday, September 16, 2008
I started on antibiotics this morning for my ear since it wasn't getting better on its own. Everyone else is staying healthy – thanks for your prayers!

Today is PNG Independence Day, so we had a half day of prayer this morning (a very sweet time together led by the student committee) and enjoyed the festivities across the street this afternoon. POC entered a volleyball team in the tournament. They lost, but the guys had a great time and were crowd favorites. Our was susa (watch-sister), Gladi, danced in a traditional dance wearing a bilas (a grass skirt), so we went over to cheer her on. Wish I could post lots of pictures of the different dances – the costumes are beautiful. Our waspapa, Henson, has malaria again (I'm told he gets it all of the time), but he's beginning to feel better now that he's taking meds. The kids made cards for him. Sarah even included a Bible verse in Tok Pisin.

Drum roll, please...
Katherine took her first steps last night! I know it's hard to believe that one of my babies walked before thirteen months, but she keeps on breaking the mold. We were at our fellowship group, and out of the blue she let go of Aaron's finger and toddled over to me. Throughout the evening, she continued to go from sitting to standing on her own and boldly taking several steps at a time. She was cheered on by an adopted grandmother, and several adopted aunts and uncles, so she wasn't neglected! Today, the word has spread like wildfire, and everyone is so proud of our "bikpela pikinini meri" (big girl). She is the youngest person here, and the apple of everyone's eye.

Monday, September 15, 2008
My ear has been hurting all weekend, so I finally went to visit the nurse this morning. I have middle and inner ear infections in my right ear. This has put a damper on my ability to soak up my lessons.

Aaron made a drum oven this afternoon for us to use during our haus kuk weekends and during our village stay. We plan to leave the oven in the village as a thank you. Tomorrow, he'll go back and make a loaf pan and a cookie sheet.

Sunday, September 14, 2008
We went to church in Madang this morning. The service went back and forth between English and Tok Pisin, so we were able to follow along pretty well. The three hours flew by! I was really proud of Sarah and Benjamin who chose to go to Sunday School with the rest of the children in the congregation. Our afternoon was full with laundry and cooking again – what a joy to be able to serve my family this way again! We're slowly learning how big the fire needs to be and long foods take to cook. Sarah did a great job of scraping the coconut we used in desert!

Saturday, September 13, 2008
I was so disappointed last night when the e-mail newsletter took so much time to send. We ran over our time slot by quite a bit (the couple behind us was very gracious), so I couldn't post on the blog.

Yesterday morning and evening, we heard drums pounding signifying that somebody had died. The funeral of a dear old lady was this morning. Our tisa told us that the drums are made from huge hollowed out trees that take days to make.

Our first day in the haus kuk was great fun! On Saturday mornings, ladies from the mountain top gather to ride one of the POC vehicles down the mountain to sell things at the market. We can go meet the ladies before they leave so we can buy some of their produce. Because of the funeral, none of the ladies went into town, so the POC directors graciously allowed several of us to ride the truck down the mountain to find another market. Olivia and I went and enjoyed a fun time together. Lots of people in the market wanted to touch her cheeks or hair, and many asked what her name was. We bought a coconut, aibika and tulip greens, a hand of bananas, and kaukau (sweet potatoes) to add to the fruits and vegetables we bought Thursday.

Friday, September 12, 2008
"The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing." Psalm 145:15-16

We received a beautiful reminder today of God's omniscience! I know this is a little thing, but yesterday I couldn't find any taco seasoning in town. In Madang, there are several grocery stores in addition to the market. Since we are planning for five weeks with no refrigeration, we have to buy some prepackaged foods. Lots of foods are available (if you are willing to pay for the cost of shipping them to PNG!). We are trying to find a balance of cooking with local ingredients that we buy each weekend and cooking more familiar foods. All of that is to say that I had planned to have tacos a few weeks from now, but I couldn't find taco seasoning. If I had a full spice cabinet, this wouldn't be a big deal, but I don't! Today, we received two encouraging packages. The first was the clothes we left in Alotau (sorry!) with a sweet note. The second was a care package from a family who recently finished POC. Guess what they included – taco seasoning! My God knew that I wouldn't be able to find any yesterday and prompted this family to include the packet. Thanks for following my ramblings; I'm just so amazed and overwhelmed (again) at how much the Lord loves us.

Thursday, September 11, 2008
To mark the anniversary of 9/11, we brought the book "Fireboat" by Maira Kalman with us. It's a great picture book that tastefully handles the events that unfolded that day. Both the little school (Olivia's group) and the big school (Benjamin and Sarah's group) read the book aloud today.

Our big shopping trip was this morning. I found almost everything on our list, including a "meri blouse" for me at the market. We were pooped when we got home! Tonight, we met our wasfamili (watch-family); and we were thrilled to find out that we already knew our wasmama and waspapa. Dorcas and Henson work here at the POC campus, and they are very gracious to adopt us for the next few months. All of the wasfamili came to eat supper here tonight. Next Thursday, we will go to their house for supper. They will be helping us with our Tok Pisin, with learning to cook local foods, with learning culture cues, etc. They have four children ranging from 20 to 13. Please add them to your prayers as they shepherd us during our time here.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Our vocabulary domain this week is focusing on the garden, so this morning our tisa took us to his small garden close to his house. It would have been a long and strenuous walk to get to his big garden! We got a chance to ask lots of questions (in Tok Pisin, of course!) and practice our new vocabulary. Here is the dialogue we have to have memorized by Friday.

Sumatin: Nau e i de namba 7 mi skul long Tok Pisin. Inap long yu lainim mi long pasin bilong wokim gaden o nogat?
Tisa: Yes, mi inap long lainim yu. Pastaim yu mas makim wanpela hap graun. Bihain yu katim bus.
Sumatin: Katim bus pinis mi mekim wanem samting?
Tisa: Taim ol lip idrai pinis, orait yu kukim bus. Bihain yu brukim graun long stik diwai, na planim samting.
Sumatin: Gaden bilong yu em i stap klostu long Pat, o longwe liklik?
Tisa: Gaden bilong mi em i stap klostu tasol. Yu laik lukim gaden nau?
Sumatin: Yes mi laik, na mi laik wok wantaim yu.
Tisa: Orait. Yumi ken stretim wanpela hap banis ol pik i bin brukim. Yumi kisim tupela bikpela naip na go.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Tuesday, September 9, 2008
We began practicing our cooking today. After our morning Tok Pisin session, we met outside and watched the local men build a fire. Then it was our turn to shave off the wood slivers with our bush knife! Aaron and I (along with everyone else) built a fire, and each of us cooked something for lunch –sort of a pot luck of PNG food. We laughed about the similarities to the Texas State Fair because we had lots of fried food today – fried kaukau (sweet potato), banana, onion rings, and, my personal favorite, pineapple. This weekend, we will be responsible for our own food (with no refrigeration), and Thursday is a big shopping trip into town. I'm busy working on my meal plans for the next four weekends so I'll be prepared to shop on Thursday.

A side note – those of you who have birthdays while we are at POC, please know that we are celebrating you and thinking of you. Letters cost about US $2.50 and take 3-4 weeks to arrive, and e-cards are too big to send or receive here. So if you don't hear from us, please know that we are very thankful that God created you!

Monday, September 8, 2008
This afternoon we hiked down the mountain, through gardens, and across streams for almost two hours. The people in PNG rotate their garden plots so the same plot of ground is only used every six years. As a result, burning and cutting is prevalent to prepare ground for the new crop. They build their gardens on the sides of the mountains, and their skill and knowledge of the world God created amazes me.

The school age kids hiked ahead of us, then we all met at the bottom and waited for the trucks to pick us up. About twelve of the adults (including Aaron) decided to hike back up! He made great time and was back up the mountain in time for supper.

Sunday, September 7, 2008
Believe it or not, church was actually rained out today! Since everyone has to climb the steep mountain paths to get to church, when it rains church can be delayed or canceled. It poured (an answer to our prayers) all morning, so each family group held church. We enjoyed a sweet time singing with a borrowed guitar and sharing favorite Bible passages. This turned into a true Sabbath day of rest that we really needed.

By the way, our hauskuk withstood the storms!

Saturday, September 6, 2008
Our hauskuk is coming along nicely. Aaron is doing a great job, and we've had a little help from some of the singles as well. I've done some laundry and woven the bamboo (or "mamboo" as it's called here) table top together. Aaron is definitely putting his Eagle Scout skills to work this weekend!
Friday, September 5, 2008
Yesterday, we watched a demonstration of a hauskuk (outdoor kitchen) being built. Today, it's our turn! We are building our own hauskuk because we will cook for ourselves on the weekends. POC does a great job of giving us all of the tools we will need for village living. Thankfully, we get to learn them one little step at a time.

Each morning, we begin our Tok Pisin learning with one a tisa reading from the Buk Baibel (the Tok Pisin scriptures) and prayer. We've been in Genesis chapter 1 this week, so here's a sample from Genesis 1:1---

Bipo bipo tru God i mekim kamap skai na graun na olgeta samting i stop long en.

Thursday, September 4, 2008
Today, both the adults and the older students went on field trips. Sarah and Benjamin explored old WWII bombers only a short drive away from POC, while the adults drove into town to try out our blossoming Tok Pisin skills. Katherine came with Mama and Daddy to town, and Olivia stayed on top of the mountain for school. Our cook gave each group a list of vegetables (in Tok Pisin) to pick up while we enjoyed the market. Thankfully, we had our Tok Pisin tisa by our side to help us navigate! We also found a small place where beautiful handmade carvings, bilums, and jewelry were sold. We bought a few things, and as we were leaving, a man called to us "Stop, my friend!". Then, he put a dainty necklace of shells and beads around Katherine's neck as a gift. What a great story for our little one when she grows up.

From Sarah:
The first plane was a Japanese bomber, and we got to see where the bombs were loaded before they were dropped. The tail had fallen off, and people had taken the wings, but Benjamin still had fun pretending to be the pilot and moving all of the levers. The other plane we saw was an American plane. It was much smaller, but it was still intact. The plane bridged a river, so we walked over the wings to cross the river. I crawled into the cockpit.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Several of you have asked about specifics of the land around us. Every morning, we wake up to the sound of birds and the smell of wood smoke. The birds we jokingly call "Joy to the World" birds because their song sounds exactly like the notes and the rhythm to "Joy to the world, the Lord". The wood smoke comes from the fire being stoked right outside our window. Each week, somebody has the duty to keep "Martha" burning to make hot water for the showers. POC is on top of a mountain just outside Madang. We enjoy a beautiful view of the ocean on one side and the lush rainforest on the other side. When we take our hikes, we hike in the mountains and through the many gardens that are built into hills. For our swimming, we drive down about 30 minutes to a sheltered lagoon where our instructors put out a 100 meter line around which we can swim laps.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Saturday, August 30, 2008
We went on our first hike today. The curriculum at POC is designed to get progressively more difficult, so today was an easy 2 hour walk to the villages around the top of the mountain. The older kids had a scavenger hunt for the hike, and Sarah wanted me to share some of the things that she found:
-a red flower
-a eucalyptus leaf
-a sensitivity plant
-buai tree
-vanilla plant
-bilum with red colour on it
The kids also had to count how many chickens (14) and how many dogs (8) they found along the way. The sensitivity plant was planted by the Japanese during WW II. The leaves close when touched, so the Japanese could tell if anyone had recently walked on the path.

The big excitement for today was the earthquake we felt this afternoon! The tremors only lasted for a few seconds. I guess this is life on the Ring of Fire.

Sunday, August 31, 2008
This morning, the campers and the staff met for church. Next week, we'll attend a local church in one of the villages close by. We've begun learning some songs in Tok Pisin that will help us participate when we go to churches in the neighborhood. After church, I did three loads of laundry in a cute little twin tub washing machine. It's a far cry from the pristine water (we pipe up creek water) and the big machines that do everything for you in the States, but I'm so thankful that we have the machine! There's nothing like sheets snapping in the breeze on the clothesline.

Aaron led worship tonight as he played the POC guitar. I love watching him light up when uses his spiritual gifts exactly the way God intended. The other faculty and students got a little taste of the great and goofy guy that I married.

Monday, September 1, 2008
Thought I would share today's schedule so you can see what a typical day at POC is like for our family:
6:30 Kitchen duty – set up for breakfast
7:00 Breakfast
8:00 School for kids; Tok Pisin lessons for grownups
9:30 Morning tea with Tok Pisin tisa (teacher)
10:00 Devotions
10:15 Medical lecture #2
11:00 Anthropology lecture #1
12:15 Lunch
2:00 Hike
5:00 Aaron meets with computer guy to work out some kinks
5:45 Supper
6:30 Kitchen duty – clean up supper
7:30 Kids in bed
8:00 Fellowship small groups for adults

Somewhere in there we have to squeeze in some reading and homework for class and some time with our kids. Keep praying for our time management!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008
A few highlights of the last 24 hours:
-Olivia lost tooth #2 last night. She was eating peanut butter toast, and her tooth fell right out!
-Aaron was one of four students voted onto the Student Committee this morning.
-This afternoon, we got to practice our ocean swimming and continue working toward the lofty goal of swimming a mile.