In which a ‘little thing’ becomes a ‘big thing’

by mendibpng

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Today I am working on lists: filling out “Loco Parentis” and “Out of Country Leave” forms, to name a few. Only yesterday, we learned that our nearly four year old twins needed to see a pediatric dentist, something that isn’t available here. So, in less than 24 hours, we went from thinking we’d be here for six months to making plans to leave for Australia on Monday.

This whole process started in June, when each of my kids went to the dentist. We learned that the twins had the most cavities, and Jenny Beth had some really deep ones.The next month, Jacob had one filled but it turned out to be an extremely traumatic experience for him (and me!) since he’s so small, he doesn’t know how to breathe through his nose yet. He threw up, choked and screamed the whole time while we attempted to hold him down. When it was Jenny Beth’s turn, the dentist did another examination and told us that it was very very bad, and that we could come back the next month to see how much they were progressing. Yesterday, Ben and I went back with Jenny Beth and the he told us that we needed to take her to Cairns, Australia to see a pediatric dentist. Since Jacob still had some cavities, we decided that we would take both of them to hopefully avoid another trip to Cairns for the same reason.

I have a lot of conflicting emotions: how did my twins end up with such bad teeth? Is it because we don’t have flouride here? Or is it because we were too lax in brushing their teeth when they were smaller? Maybe it’s all the Tang juice I give them!

Oh, and don’t get me started on my ‘First World Country’ entitlement: as I was explaining to a close PNG friend Hana that we would be going to Australia for Jenny Beth’s teeth, I could only imagine what was going through her head.(note I say “imagine”–she never gave me any reason to feel this way!) She lives nearby in a village in a house with packed dirt for a floor and she sleeps under a thatched roof. In reality, she sympathized with us and nodded that of course we should go because she loves Jenny Beth as one of her own children. What I’m trying to say is…a medical trip for something that my Western self considers completely understandable and even necessary in this context feels extravagant and even a little ‘richie.’ However, if we don’t go, then Jenny Beth may soon be in need of a root canal or some other highly invasive procedure which would land us in Cairns anyway.

So. Why am I writing about this? I think it’s because it is so common for us over here to deal with things that could be considered ‘minor’ in our home countries but yet are huge in this context. It means making bookings and appointments in another country as well attending to details here. It also means finding a place for our three older children to stay while Ben and I go with the twins. Incidentally, this is the first time Ben and I have left Noah and Ellie, for this amount of time.

I should know by now, after having other medical trips this term, that the first day is always the hardest. It’s all the ‘whatifs’ and ‘how?’ questions that circle my head. Thankfully I have a gentle God who kept whispering “Trust Me” all day yesterday. As the day progressed, I could feel His pleasure in providing us with what we needed.

  • The missionary guest house we are familiar with had a last minute cancellation so we were able to book ourselves there.
  • Next, we heard back from the dentist in Australia that they could see the twins on the same day. (The whole trip hinged on this appointment, so having the confirmation the same day was wonderful!)
  • Then, our older kids top choices of where to stay here in Ukarumpa worked out…I didn’t even have to go to plan “B” on any of them!

We are still working on flight bookings but since everything else is falling into place, I am certain the rest will come together.

On top of having peace for today, I began to think about some fun things we could do with the twins when their dental appointments are done: taking them to playgrounds and McDonalds (which they won’t remember from their infancy) and maybe even to see some Aussie koalas and kangaroos! Oh, and Ben is already planning to take me out for my birthday a month early, since there are few options to eat out once we get back to PNG. Several friends pointed out to me yesterday that maybe it will be nice for Ben and I as a couple to only have two of our kids (who go to bed early!) to look after for that week–good point! I love all of my children, but having kids in several different stages of life does mean that Ben and I have precious little time together. So I am looking forward to eating out, being able to hold hands with Ben in public, watching Jacob and Jenny Beth enjoy playgrounds and pools, filling my suitcase with ‘special’ items like herbal teas and spices that I can’t get here and being able to drive a car and go shopping by myself when I want to!

I’ll close with the reading for today from Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young

Let the dew of My presence refresh your mind and heart. So many many things vie for your attention in this complex world of instant communication. The world has changed enormously since I first gave the command to be still and know that I am God. However, this timeless truth is essential for the well-being of your soul. As dew refreshes grass and flowers during the stillness of the night, so My Presence revitalizes you as you sit quietly with Me.

A refreshed, revitalized mind is able to sort out what is important and what is not. In its natural condition, your mind easily gets stuck on trivial matters. Like the spinning wheels of a car trapped in the mud, the cogs of your brain spin impotently when you focus on a trivial thing. As soon as you start communicating with Me about the matter, your thoughts gain traction and you can move on to more important things. Communicate with Me continually, and I will put My thoughts into your mind.

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5 Comments to “In which a ‘little thing’ becomes a ‘big thing’”

  1. God is at work in your lives and in your needs. He is graciously at work , charting the way before you to have this family need met. So glad you have the Sarah Young book. It is one of my all time favorites. Mom.

  2. I pray all of the last minute details will come together. I hope you and Ben will get to enjoy some time together during this time too. And I also pray that your little ones will not be in pain or fear in the dentist’s chair in Cairns, and that your older ones will be distracted by their activities so that they (and you) won’t feel too homesick. Hugs!!

  3. Unfortunately, Tang’ll do it – just like Kool-Aid in the 50s – sugar plus citric acid. Don’t beat up on yourself, but experiment with cold, herbal tea (without caffeine); spearmint is great, even without sugar, also spiced orange or lemon, then stock up. And if it isn’t too late, there Are flouride toothpastes and even supplements, for kids.

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