Archive for January, 2011

January 28, 2011

Books and dear friends

by bzephyr

It’s always nice to receive a gift, isn’t it? Especially when you’ve been in Papua New Guinea for a while and the opportunities for shopping are few and far between. I love to get a new book. But even more of a wonder to me is getting a new book from a friend, from someone who’s thinking of you, especially when we’re so far apart. Well, yesterday I was finally able to get to the post office when they were open and retrieve what I thought was going to be two packages for the two package slips that always look so nice when we crouch down to peek into our little P.O. box. But the lady behind the counter seemed to be taking a long time for those two packages, and I soon found out why. It was really five packages and a big stack of mail that couldn’t fit in our box.

So here are treasures that our friends gave.

Thanks to Toby, Rebecca, Chris, Kasie, Dave, Laura, Mark, Sandy, Cory, and Angie of the Covenant small group at Wheaton Bible for these three books…

Timothy Keller. 2008. The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith. New York: Dutton.

Duane Elmer. 2006. Cross-Cultural Servanthood: Serving the World in Christlike Humility. Downers Grove, IL: IVP.

Patrick Lencioni. 2002. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable. New York: Jossey-Bass.

A birthday present from my friend Chris that arrived recently in our shipment…
Eckhard J. Schnabel. 2008. Paul the Missionary: Realities, Strategies and Methods. Downers Grove, IL: IVP.

A surprise gift from my friend Brian…

Mark S. Kinzer. 2005. Post-Missionary Messianic Judaism: Redefining Christian Engagement with the Jewish People. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos.

This next one isn’t what you’d normally think was one to write home about, but the usefulness of the teaching method in this book cannot be praised enough. Not really a gift, but the copy I get to use on our team…

John Cruise and Kelly Kordes Anton. 2010. Adobe InDesign CS5 Classroom in a Book: The Official Training Workbook from Adobe Systems. San Jose, CA: Adobe.

And I bought these four books with the Christmas gift from Mom and Dad…

Andreas J. Köstenoberger and Michael J. Kruger. 2010. The Heresy of Orthodoxy: How Contemporary Culture’s Fascination with Diversity has Reshaped Our Understanding of Early Christianity. Wheaton, IL: Crossway.

Steven E Runge. 2010. Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament: A Practical Introduction for Teaching and Exegesis. Peabody, MS: Hendrickson.

Ben Witherington III. 2009. The Indelible Image: The Theological and Ethical Thought World of the New Testament, volume 1: The Individual Witnesses. Downers Grove, IL: IVP.

Ben Witherington III. 2010. The Indelible Image: The Theological and Ethical Thought World of the New Testament, volume 2: The Collective Witness. Downers Grove, IL: IVP.

And a little gift from me to me…

Michael W. Holmes, ed. 2010. The Greek New Testament: SBL Edition. Atlanta, GA: Society of Biblical Literature.

I’ve started reading a bit from each one just to whet my appetite, but which one do you think I’ll dig into first from cover to cover? Check it out at my ΑΓΑΠΗΣΕΙΣ blog.

January 19, 2011

slowing down…

by mendibpng

This was what the car looked like loaded down with our family's cargo for a four week village stay. Ben and the big kids sat in the bed of the truck while the babies and I sat up front with the driver!

You may see me writing on transition a lot—that is because we deal with it on a constant (if not daily!) basis…

So these past few weeks we made preparations to go to the village. I went through spreadsheets and decided how much rice/sugar/dehydrated veggies, fruit and meat I needed. This last week I had a few panicky moments, thinking “did I buy enough oatmeal?” or “did I dehydrate enough carrots?” for instance. After sitting down once again with my lists and comparing everything, I had finally satisfied myself that we would have enough to eat for the next five weeks. This week my shoulder and neck froze up and a friend of mine here suggested it might be because of the stress…and I think she might be right. Getting ready for the village is a big task. We take everything we need for the stay because there are no stores or ways to get supplies if we forget anything. Occasionally we leave something behind but it would be terrible to run out of Toilet Paper for instance!

Last night, my husband Ben and our teammate John decided that our family should not go out to the village next week. This is due to the fact that we don’t have a working septic tank for the men’s toilet block—there is only one working toilet and it is not sufficient for twenty-two men. We had supplies and people lined up to come out to help with this project but we learned at the last minute (yesterday) that we simply don’t have enough supplies and there is no way to get enough out there to our remote location before the next workshop. So, since John is rather good at making lemonade out of lemons, he suggested that the team that was behind in translation could come and get caught up. This means that Ben will be able to focus on checking Luke, Acts and 1 Timothy.

So I’ve been processing this news for the last day and a half…I had already started the countdown “this is the last time we will make/eat ice cream for five weeks” and arranged who would pay my yard man while I was gone so that he could still feed his family…

Don’t get me wrong…living in the village is hard for me. I home school three children in three separate curriculums. We don’t have a refrigeration system so we cook everything from scratch every day. I don’t have a house helper like I do here at the training center to help me hang up clothes, take the babies for a walk, or help with the dishes. On the other hand, I was looking forward to being out with the team, especially getting to know a prospective team member Jessie, and I had been creating space in my heart and mind to be out there. Not only this, but I had the Wewak managers buy our village food (20 kgs of flour, 12 kgs of rice, etc.) so what to do with all of that? So it is a disappointment.

On the other hand, there are a few things that are good about us staying at our training center here in Ukarumpa:
 Ben will be able to get loads of exegetical checking done, which is really useful to the team for future workshops. He plans to work full time on that. This week he has been taking a week long typesetting course.
 I will be able to reclaim my house after the Christmas break (I’ll have to find a space to put all the village food: 15 boxes of cereal, for instance!)
 Jenny Beth has been waking up 4-6 times a night. Her pediatrician confirmed that she really should be able to sleep through…so…SLEEP training, something not possible in our village home. I have been sleep deprived for 16 months and it is starting to take its toll on my sanity
 I’ll have time to enjoy my babies while their older siblings are in school. When I am homeschooling the other three in the village, I am usually trying to find ways to keep the babies out of our hair and from eating our pencils/destroying papers, etc.
 I will have time to catch up with my friends, several of whom just arrived back from furlough, yay!
 I will have time to process some ‘Hard Stuff’ from the last few weeks, namely things that have happened to friends here. Sometimes we get so busy it’s easy to let things slide. But they have a way of sneaking up on us when we least expect them.
 I get to finish a couple of books I was going to return to my boss (they are on mentoring and communicating well).
 My older kids are all happy about staying at the center. I am really thankful that God gave me flexible children!
(Most of these benefit me personally but isn’t there a saying “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy?”)

Often in transition, the best way for me to cope is to first think about what I’m losing or what I’ve leaving behind…but I cannot live there for too long. It turns into self pity if I let myself stay there. So the next step is to start thinking about what I might gain from the ‘new’ reality. As I mentioned in an earlier posting about transition, it’s all about choosing for me.

January 17, 2011


by mendibpng

One of the things I love about the Arop people is that they treasure young children. Babies are often carried in slings and looked after tenderly…it is not uncommon to see a daddy holding his little baby while her mother is off fishing (during the day) or preparing their meal (in the evening).  Often other children, barely three or four years old will help care for a younger sibling.  Community living means that a baby belongs to everyone, and everyone steps in to help look after her.

As a family, we’ve enjoyed watching the Arop people welcome our children into their lives.  If one of my kids is out of line (ie Noah playing too close to the fire or harassing chickens, for instance—real examples!) someone will let him know. Our babies know they are adored and often call out to passers-by (from the porch) to take them for a walk. It is not unusual to see someone stopping by to talk to them, too, as if there is all the time in the world to make my children happy.

January 3, 2011

confessions of a culturally stressed missionary….

by mendibpng

Some days come and go without any cultural stress at all. Other days, there is a choice to be made and an opportunity to show grace with boundaries…

We employ people from the valley close to our training center for two reasons: we need the help because it takes so much time and effort to live here, and we are able to give an income to people who might not otherwise have a way to buy food or pay their children’s school fees.  Along with employing someone comes a relationship, where we are obligated to them for more than just a paycheck.  So, we employ a man who works in our garden.  He is really soft spoken and does an amazing job with the flowers (I will post some pictures of our garden soon!)  His wife comes and helps me in the house one afternoon a week–hanging up clothes outside, washing dishes and mopping my floor.  She is polite but a little more direct than he is.  We often have coffee together and discuss our families. She brings her baby and a babysitter because her baby is still nursing, so I happily provide tea and bisquits and lunch  for both of them.

So where is my stress coming from? I give the maximum wage to the lady who works for me, plus I also give her something every time she works: a bag of rice, salt or several packets of noodles.  However, she often asks for dinaus (a loan).  I feel conflicted sometimes when she asks me for an amount that will take her weeks and weeks to pay off, and sometimes I give the money outright.  I usually always give her the full pay she earns because she needs to feed her family somehow (an afternoon of work is the equivalent of $3, which could buy at least some rice and some canned meat).

This week she nearly had paid off the last dinau because I had given her extra work and a Christmas bonus (which she had taken to buy linens for her grandma’s funeral) and then she asked for more today because her baby was sick.  In a split second, I decided to go ahead and give the money again, without question (as I have done every time she has asked) because….look at me….if my child was sick, I wouldn’t hesitate to go to the doctor. I wouldn’t hesitate to buy medicine that he or she needed!  The $3 she would have earned today would not have even paid for the clinic visit, much less medicine if she needed it.

On the other hand, because this happens so often, it feels like I’m being taken advantage of.  I wonder if I am helping her by giving her handouts, and is she is going to keep asking me until I get really stressed? I have decided that for today, I made the right decision by giving her the money she needed (actually I gave her more than double what she asked for because I had no change!)  However, for future references…I may tell her “let me ask my husband” and Ben and I can decide together what is the best course of action, because anyone who knows Ben knows that he has a lot better boundaries than I do!  And if truth be told, I cannot help every person in the valley. But at least I can help the people I am friends with, especially those who work for me.

This brings me to a question. How important is my stuff and my money? What IS generosity really? And when is it a good time to start having good boundaries? I think I know the answers to these questions…but this topic is one that I often hear talked about by other missionaries because living in this culture and  being so Western in our thinking can be hard to reconcile. In some cases it has caused so much stress that the relationship cannot continue. I am choosing to live with the tension because I care about my friend AND it is a good opportunity to practice being loving and having boundaries in my own home.

January 2, 2011

What we do for fun in PNG…

by mendibpng

We decided to try to squeeze most of our entertaining into the days before Christmas for two reasons: I have lovely house helpers who are incredible at cleaning and helping me with the babies and we wanted to have a lot of down time in the days before and after Christmas.  Here are a few highlights from our holiday festivities.

A couple from our Bible study pulled a prank on us by stealing our Angel from the Christmas tree…here’s the ‘proof of life’ picture they sent long with a ransom note made of cut out magazine letters. It was very entertaining!

And just before Christmas, our dog Destiny gave birth to NINE puppies!

And of course highlights from Christmas Day! I do want to mention here that living in PNG can present challenges, particularly on birthdays and Christmas…we have to plan MONTHS and MONTHS in advance to get things here on time.  When we were on furlough, we shipped a few things for future events, which made getting ready for Christmas much easier than in the past.  I did notice that this year, in contrast to last year when we were in the U.S.,  my kids were satisfied with their few presents, rather than thinking about all the things they could have gotten. Perhaps the difference when we are overseas is that we don’t see commercials and are rarely able to go to stores.  There is a lot less of the ‘gimmee’s’ and just more room for the plain JOY of the holiday and celebrating Jesus’ birth.  Being together is the icing on the cake…Ben was reminding me recently that our oldest is not going to be little for very long. The seven of us plan to relish this time as a family.

And so, back to the highlights of our holiday so far….

Jacob and Josiah, the REAL twins of the family.

We all agreed that having two babies in the Christmas mix added an extra level of chaos and FUN!  We all enjoyed hearing their 15 month old dances and squeals of joy.

While we were wrapping presents and playing Christmas music, I made sweet rolls and a breakfast casserole, ready to bake the next morning for brunch. We ended up not having our real Christmas meal until 4 in the afternoon.

 The day after Boxing Day we continued celebrating by going down to our local river with a couple other families for a swim and cookout.  We weren’t able to drive our truck down so we set up a shade for the babies to keep them from getting burned while the big kids went swimming and Ben got the fire ready…(pictures curtesy of my friend Lizzie! I hardly remember to bring a camera to things these days)

Noah and his buddy Luke climbing up the bank…

Afterwards, we came home and the kids played Wii while we adults played a board game…all in all a very relaxing day with friends!

For New Years, some friends came over, and we feasted on Indian curried leg of lamb and other yummy Indian food, topped off with a British pudding and homemade icecream. We set up a projector and had a Nanny McPhee marathon, and rang in the new year together….alas, I didn’t have my camera out that night. But once again, we had a lot of fun.

%d bloggers like this: