Archive for July, 2013

July 26, 2013

Big Kid School: “Everyone will love me”

by mendibpng

I woke up today with Jacob bouncing around, saying, “I am going to the Big Kid School today!” (and every five minutes after that he told me it was time to go! That was a loooong hour for him!)

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It’s the cold time of year here in the highlands…so most of us bundle up in hoodies, long pants and socks at least until the sun comes out and warms us up!

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Ellie is now in grade four, and Noah is in grade six. The twins are in a class called “Puk Puk” (Crocodile)–it’s a two morning a week preschool for three year olds. Jenny Beth’s famous quote to our team last week was, “I’m going to school. Everyone will love me.” Yes they will. That is our experience so far with our kids school!

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Here they are just outside their classroom.

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And inside, talking to the teacher’s aide, Miss Alice, who happens to be a close family friend! How great, that they get to see one of their PNG mamas at school! They didn’t mind us leaving them at all…I felt hesitant walk away because it was so fun to see them looking at everything and talking to each other. Miss Alice chuckled and said to me, “lukim tupela, ol amamas long stap lo hia. Yu no ken wari. Ol bai stap orait” (Look at them, they are really happy to be here. You don’t have to worry: they will be alright.” I think the twins factor is in play here too: as long as they are together, they feel happy to be left in places. I walked away smiling.

My prayer for Jacob and Jenny Beth is that they will love their little friends and respect their teachers as they begin their school journey. My heart realizes that this is the first of many transitions ahead for my youngest children: the first small step outside of their little world at home, away from me and towards growing up. On the other hand, I relish the peace and quiet two mornings a week will give me. (happy dance!)

I know I have said this before, but I am also thankful for the school providing a safe and healthy environment for each of my kids. Oh how I love Ukarumpa International School!!! Without it, we couldn’t do our work with the Aitape West Translation Team. Thank you to the team of teachers and administrators who make it a place where my kids thrive.

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July 22, 2013

Belonging: having a rightful place

by mendibpng

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When I typed the word ‘belonging’, I stared at it for a long time, without really knowing where to start. Why, all of a sudden am I back to talking about Third Culture Kid issues? Well, that’s a good question! There are often triggers for me, like when I was asked in two separate conversations where I am from last night. I stumbled in this question, as I usually do, but ended up saying “I grew up overseas, in Indonesia, but Ben is from Wheaton, IL, so that is where our home base is now.” But then there are the next real triggers: Goodbyes and Transition.
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Goodbyes: We just left our village again, this time for six months…life is really hard for my neighbors who don’t have good access to medical care. As I shook hands with the men and hugged the women, I thought, “I don’t know how many of them I will see again.” It is not uncommon for us to come back to our home there, having heard that someone we know and love has died. Then, a few hours after having left the village, I got teary as I waved goodbye to teammates Beth and Missy, who we won’t see for several months. Those two women have been lifelines for Ben and I in more ways that I could write here. And finally, our intern Luke left last week after living with us for 9 months.

And of course, the other big trigger. Transition: Where do we come from? Where are we going? Who are we? All these questions jump around in my head as I process the road ahead for  my family and me. One of the perks of coming back from the village this time of year is that a good number of our friends have arrived back from a year or more furlough. All of us are looking forward to catching up with old friends who we haven’t seen in a long time. But along with the good parts of transition, there is always the ‘anticipatory anxiety’ I wonder, “how are the twins going to do in preschool?” and “what the next few months are going to look like?” After a grueling two years work-wise, I can’t quite picture it. Why? Because we haven’t lived in one place for six months in a long long time. Maybe this is an indication that this is a long time in coming!
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I went here and looked up the word “belonging” and ended up skipping over the definitions and going straight to the synonyms:

fellowship
relationship
association
partnership
loyalty
acceptance
attachment
inclusion
affinity
closeness
rapport
afflilation
kinship

If you scroll down a little, you’ll see “go, fit in: have a rightful place”
(Taken from CollinsDictionary.com)

When I read those words, I think of the people I belong to:

  1. Ben, my husband and best friend
  2. My family as a whole. A close friend who has known us since we came to PNG told me a while back that she thinks my family is MORE cohesive and close since the twins arrived.
  3. The Aitape West Team (our expat and PNG colleagues, the ladies who cook for the translators, the people in my village)
  4. Our Bible study group in Ukarumpa
  5. Friends and acquaintances we live in community with in Ukarumpa
  6. Friends and family back in our home country
  7. Partners back home (churches, individuals and groups) who pray for us

After I wrote this, I asked my twins, “where is ‘home’?” Jacob said “in A-grumpa” (Ukarumpa) Jenny Beth piped up, “and the Billage” (Village)Then  Jacob shouted, “and Wewak!” (that’s where we are right now) Yes. Next year, they will find out what their passport country is like and hopefully they will feel like it has become their ‘home country.’ We brought our twins here to PNG at nine months old, and they will be nearly five years old when we arrive on U.S. soil.  I can’t resist this picture of them, it’s from 2011 we first arrived back to PNG and they were skyping with grandparents:
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And now, I must get them their second breakfast…

July 21, 2013

A village consultant’s walkabout…

by mendibpng

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Last week Ben and teammate John finished checking 1 and 2 Timothy in nine languages. They found the translations to be really good and also found areas to make them better, with the help of local language consultants and mother tongue translators.

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After the last day of translation, Ben asked if anyone wanted to ‘story’ with me about their experiences from the workshop. It turns out nearly all of the local language consultants wanted to debrief. One man came over to me to talk, and introduced himself as Salvator (pictured above with me). I said to him, “Brother, I’ve seen your face before… oh! You came to our Writing Songs Workshop!” He nodded and replied, “Yes, that was the first time I came. Now I’ve come to work with the translators.” When we first met years ago, he impressed me as a gifted songwriter and as someone who loved worship. Everybody sang well into the night after our final feast when we finished making song books in each language. Even those who didn’t speak his language joined in with the songs Salvator had just written. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him without a smile on his face.

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Salvator (above, in the pink striped shirt) led the group in worship during a graduation ceremony for the TEE (Theological Education by Extension) students last week in Arop.

When asked about his role in the consultant workshop, Salvator explained, “This work makes us really glad. I have been doing mission work a long time. The faith and belief of all of my people must grow. This work of working together, it’s the work of a true Christian family. These books of 1 and 2 Timothy make me want to help all the younger men to do this work.”
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“I know that writing down the Tok Ples is something I find hard but these translators of ours are doing this big work. I need to support them and help them make the words come up clear. I myself can see that God’s talk in Tok Pisin, it doesn’t sit down well. Our belief hasn’t grown yet. My people will understand and grow when they hear [God’s talk] in their own language because they will understand the meaning. There’s a lot of talk in Timothy that we read in the morning. The part where Paul tells Timothy about the strength God gives you and I, where we need to receive the Holy Spirit. We need to do God’s work. The Good News must go. You and I, all the old people shouldn’t hide the Holy Spirit. Now we need to let the Spirit grow and come out and do work. We have been here a short time, we’re on new ground (the Kingdom of Heaven) we need to encourage the younger men and women and help them make their walkabout.”
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“It’s like this: if I try to cross the water myself, a crocodile might come and eat me. But if all of us cross together, the crocodile won’t get me. It’s just the same with our work: if we work together, the work won’t be too much. It’ll be altogether good, and we won’t fall down. We will receive strength from each other and then go on.”

After we talked, I thanked him for helping the translators with this big work and we both smiled as he shook my hand.

I don’t know about you, but hearing Salvator talk made me want to love God more… in my world of mundane tasks and brief encounters with people who come to my door, I want to live the gospel. Even though Ben and I came to help give these people God’s Word, sometimes my heart and mind are wrapped around other things. I love being reminded how valuable it is to work together, and to “encourage the younger men and women and help them make their walkabout,” as he pointed out. So, tonight I pray for Salvator, and others, who are invested in their people getting God’s Word in their own language.

July 19, 2013

“Lukim yu bihain, LukeE!”

by mendibpng

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(See you later, LukeE!)

After nine months of living and serving with us in Papua New Guinea, Luke is on his way home to Wheaton, IL, where he will rejoin his family. You can check out his blog here to find out more about his time in PNG.

We pray this Psalm of David for you, Luke:

Psalm 20:1-5 (NLT)

“In times of trouble, may the Lord answer your cry.
May the name of the God of Jacob keep you safe from all harm.
May he send you help from his sanctuary
and strengthen you from Jerusalem.
May he remember all your gifts
and look favorably on your burnt offerings.

May he grant your heart’s desires
and make all your plans succeed.
 May we shout for joy when we hear of your victory
and raise a victory banner in the name of our God.
May the Lord answer all your prayers.”

And may He use your heart’s desires and plans to bring Him glory in the journey ahead of you. We send you back to your asples with these blessings and with great hope for you future. We love you! –the Pehrson-7!

p.s. We each picked a favorite Avatar The Last Airbender Quote as our last present to you:

Mandy:
Zuko: Ugh, what would Uncle say?… Sometimes clouds have two sides, a dark and light, and a silver lining in between. It’s like a silver sandwich! So when life seems hard, just take a bite out of the silver sandwich.

Noah:
Saka: Cactus juice it’ll quench ya! It’s the quenchiest!
Saka: A giant mushroom. Maybe it’s friendly! Hi giant mushroom!

Ellie:
Prince Zuko: I want the Avatar. I want my honor, my throne. I want my father not to think I’m worthless.
Uncle Iroh: I’m sure he doesn’t. Why would he banish you if he didn’t care?
[Zuko walks off]
Uncle Iroh: Err, that came out wrong, didn’t it?

Joe Bob:
If a fish lives its whole life in this river, does he know the river’s destiny? No, only that it runs on and on out of his control. He may follow where it flows, but he cannot see the end. He cannot imagine the ocean.

Jacob:
Zukko: She is my sister and I should get at least try to get along with her

Jenny Beth:
Katara: (crazy look) “I’m completely calm”
Aang: “Uh,I can see that.”

Ben:Zukko: You rise with the moon. I rise with the sun.

July 12, 2013

You know you have twin toddlers in the village when….

by mendibpng

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So some of us sat around our dining room table while this list formed and I realized, some of these things are not unique to Missionary Kids…it’s just toddlers! Adding to the uniqueness of being twins, our littles have the benefit of three older siblings and Luke, an intern living with us this year.
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And….(drum roll please)…..The List

1. ‘Sleeping in’ is a thing you did long ago and can’t remember what it’s like. “Mom! You need to wake up so you can make ours bre-fast!” (Jenny Beth)
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2. They entertain you by funny use of language, including insertion of Tok Pisin words: “That’s not an AIRPLANE, it’s a BALUS!!!!!” (Jacob)

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3. You have a constant stream of hugs and kisses during the day.
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4. You decide that mud is your friend because you see so much of it.
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5. You discipline them for chasing [beloved] village ducks and chickens. In the instance (below) I kept telling Jacob, just look–don’t touch the ducklings!
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6. They wear shoes only once or twice in a month. (sorry mom, if you are reading this!)
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7.They have to know how many sleeps until it’s time to leave the village or a little friend comes back from furlough.
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8.They have a world of make believe that is all their own. For example, they’ve never seen snow so they think that snowmen are evil. “It’s gonna make snowballs and hit us.”
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9. At any time, one of them will make an announcement that covers the both of them like, “we wants to…” or “we don’t like….” In this case, they told me “we wants a snack!” to eat while they watched our neighbor boys build their mama a house.
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10. They love to have ‘jobs’ to do…sometimes they get to do a job with Ben during Daddy Time. Other times, they get to be messengers to their aunties and uncles (our teammates).
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11. They’ve learned to express themselves in relation to good-byes and transition: -“Goodbye village house!” -“I’m gonna ride my bike when I get to ‘A-grumpa” (Ukarumpa) -“I’m going to see my airplane again!” -“I miss my babies!” This is a culvert (outside our house) which Jacob likes to cover with chalk drawings with his Arop friends. It’s one of the things that he considers ‘his’ in his “billage.”
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12. Their real life heroes are missionary pilots who fly helicopters and Kodiak airplanes. On our last trip, pilot Steve buckled Jenny Beth’s baby into the seat with her, “so I wouldn’t lost her under my seat.”
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13. They have a whole duffel bag for special babies (Jacob’s is “Lydia” and Jenny Beth’s is “Mario” and a bear named “Cluh Cluh”), pillows and blankets, labeled “Priority 1”–meaning this one doesn’t get left behind if you are overweight on cargo.
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14.You end up repeating the curious way they use language, like “this is Ba-licious” (delicious) “look!! There’s a heffalump!” (village pig) and my recent favorite: “little twins likes momma’s coffee!”

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My thoughts and ramblings: I don’t really think that my twins really are that different from other three and a half year olds, since I’ve had three other three year olds before. I would say though, that life is INTENSE and chaotic most of the time. When both of my twins are in transition or cranky, I feel like there’s not enough of me to go around. I originally thought that we would have a ‘manageable’ sized family…I remember saying “we’ll only have enough kids that we can take care of well” before Ben and I got married. But God had other plans when he brought two ‘unexpected blessings’ into our family. I wouldn’t change the experience of having the twins because they have expanded my older kids’ capacity to love. They have also changed Ben and me. I have learned to trust God to help me when I didn’t feel like I could be a good mom to five kids (I really can’t, on my own!) and I’ve learned that although I may feel limited right now (as to what I can do for the translation project or in member care with other missionaries) there is plenty of time for that later on. Right now, I am learning contentment in the place God has put me–being a full time wife and mother. Some days I might feel like my life is too hard but then I think, there’s nothing I would rather be doing than what I’m doing right now. I am thankful that God didn’t hold me to my original plan!!

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July 8, 2013

Confessions of a missionary wife: inner voices and building altars

by mendibpng

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About eight months ago, I sat under my mosquito net on my bed (my one place of refuge in our village house) feeling pretty overwhelmed and lost. I looked at all the things I did every day and felt like I couldn’t do anything well. I would drag myself out of bed only to retreat to it as soon as I completed my ‘mom’ duties each day. In a word, I felt miserable. The causes are complicated and difficult to explain in concrete terms but I think it boiled down to me trying to navigate being a wife, mother, missionary and friend all alone. I pictured myself on an empty island. By myself. Daily I was being poured out, piece by piece, and never having the time or energy to put me back together. Every meltdown I had in the privacy of my room took me a step closer to burnout, and I couldn’t fix myself anymore.

It took hours of talking with Ben and others to figure out what I really really wanted. Purpose. Inner Peace. I read a book that one of our churches sent to us called “Pathway to Purpose” and all of a sudden it clicked. I needed something to hang on to…something that tied it all together. I started praying that God would show me His purpose for my life: what it was that I needed to walk in obedience to Him and love it at the same time? He showed me that I needed to stop ignoring myself. In the busy-ness of caring for others, I let myself get poured out to the point that I didn’t know who I was anymore.

So in the months that followed, I’ve tried to notice more, speak up for myself if needed and (gulp!) ask for help if needed. Part of that meant battening down the boundaries with my kids and requiring more from them. I’ve been praying for their character growth and asking God to help me teach them things like self sufficiency (anti-entitlement), humility, gratitude and serving others. I realize now that doing everything for my kids isn’t really the way I want to love them. This applies no only to my kids but also my husband. It turns out, he’s been willing and able to help me: I just made it look like I didn’t need anything from him. It’s a little hard to admit I can’t do everything myself, but I’m finding that I love doing things with him together and relying on his expertise and strength. That man doesn’t give up when something is hard. Never. (just look at our water tank that he has fixed FIVE times!)

I’ve dabbled in these ideas for years now, but only since that time 8 months ago have I really started choosing to listen to my inner voices.

The result? I am not sure yet…practically speaking I’m adjusting and growing. We as a family try to speak truth in love and to be authentic here. I’m looking for ways to navigate the chaos and find inner rest by trusting my feelings rather than ignoring them. I still struggle with compulsive caregiving and neglecting myself but I think I’m catching myself more quickly than before. I don’t always feel happy all the time (which is ok!) but Jesus is giving me that inner peace that I wanted so badly. I’ll end with a poem that I love that caused me to build the altar all the months ago.

Building an Altar

I have not listened
to my inner voices,

I have trampled
on sacred ground

I have chosen to tie up
the strong woman

and allowed my house
to be robbed.

Let this place be marked

I will gather stones,
heavy and rough edged,
and build an altar, here,
at this place in my life,

to honor the Spirit
who has led me

to this sacred ground where
the strong woman listens

to her Inner voices.

Carol Tyx (in May/June 1991 issue of Daughters of Sarah)

July 5, 2013

Confessions of a missionary wife: I choose JOY….

by mendibpng

Our lives have been full of ups and downs in the weeks gone by. There have been nights where my mind has been too busy to let me sleep. There have been moments weeks ago when grief became too much for me or when I was too exhausted from transition, packing and sickness to do much of anything. Added to that, we had some big decisions looming in the distance which felt difficult to navigate. I took a break from blogging and other social media and retreated to the safe haven of a few of my closest friends. But yesterday when I was going through our pictures from that time period, I felt a small whisper in my spirit to “choose joy…” In other words, I choose not to let those things keep me down. As someone said to me recently, even my worst day is probably not equal to someone else’s best day.

(Today was a GOOD day by the way, in case the above paragraph is making anyone question my sanity…although, on any given day it’s a perfectly legitimate question of a mom of five of my own kids plus one intern!) 🙂

So here are the pictures from our month in Ukarumpa that made me smile and remember to choose joy:

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Jacob and Jenny Beth dancing at an Aussie Bush Dance in Ukarumpa. She was pirouetting around like a princess while he was break dancing and thrashing about!

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Josiah and the rest of his 8th grade class put on a Living History Museum for the 3rd and 4th graders…Josiah and his friend Amechi’s booth? The Gladiators–where kids could fight with foam sticks on a gymnastics mat. Needless to say it was a hit!

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Ellie’s class put on several reader’s theater plays, one of which she wrote. She wrote “The Resurrection” play when we were in the village in May.

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Noah turned twelve in June. We celebrated as a family on the day with his requested Vietnamese rice paper spring rolls, then a sleepover the next night with tacos and Avengers movie with a few of his buddies, and finally the next week at the Boutique Hotel in Wewak where we had a rare treat of eating at a restaurant! We sure celebrated that boy this year!!

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Oh and here are my girlies wearing their cute outfits from their Grandma Vivien!

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