Archive for December, 2013

December 20, 2013

You know you are having Christmas in Ukarumpa when….(Mandy’s version)

by mendibpng

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  • Instead of shoveling snow and de-icing the sidewalk, we make sure the gutters on our roof are clear so that the house doesn’t flood during rainy season.
  • Our weekly ‘night out’ as a couple included an annual White Elephant gift exchange, in which Ben came home with the same gift he took.
  • We filter our water and bleach our fruits and veggies so that we don’t get a tummy bug over the holidays.
  • The kids helped set up all our Christmas decorations that we have collected here for the last 12 years. Some things we shipped over, some we made and some we found in country, even!
  • We stockpile our fridge, freezer and pantry because the store is closing for 2.5 weeks. In reality, we probably have enough food to last for 2 months without going to the store!
  • We get excited when someone has a new movie or TV show to share around since entertainment is sometimes hard to come by.
  • We longingly look at the $100 turkeys they got in this year at the store and decide to go with 2 $15 chickens instead.
  • I prepare a special gift of food or money to give our friends who help with our house and yard work.
  • We tell the kids that we won’t take a holiday away from home this year because we are buying a new washing machine instead, and they all shout for joy because they don’t like to leave their friends!
  • All family members breathe a huge sigh of relief once the school holidays begin. It means the kids are free to hang out with their friends, while I am grateful for the more relaxed pace of life: no homework, music practice or tests to study for!
  • My friends and I always discuss the question, “do you think it’s going to rain today?” (because we don’t want our clothes to get an extra rinse out on the laundry line!) On our porch we have Christmas lights, garlands AND clothes drying.
  • We’ve ordered a small present for each of our children 4-6 months in advance so that they will have something to open on Christmas morning along with some goodies sent in a care package for their stockings.
  • I look at my stockpile of wrapping paper that I shipped from the U.S. three years ago and wonder if it’s enough to cover all the presents on our final year in PNG before furlough.
  • We plan each year to make Christmas gifts for our friends. This year we made pumpkin butter!
  • We incorporate traditions from home and new(er) ones from here during the Christmas season. We usually stay in our pajamas all day long on Christmas day, and have sweet rolls, breakfast casserole and hot cocoa for our breakfast.
  • We relish every small (and big) thing that comes in a care package from ‘home’ while the little ones are certain that America is the place where all the goodies come from.
  • We enjoy seeing our children in their Christmas programs and wish their grandparents could see them, too.
  • Homesickness is so natural, it’s like breathing; but traditions like the Jesse Tree (Advent) each night is meaningful, as we reflect on Christ’s first and second coming.

 

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December 14, 2013

Double Digits by Ellie

by mendibpng

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(above) The fourth grade girls came to Ellie’s birthday party. Weeks before, Ellie asked me to help her plan the party, so we went online and chose a “Spy” Theme…although I did help her cut and paste clip art and ideas, she did all of the assembling of the invitations, decorations, etc. We agreed on games that wouldn’t take a lot of prep time too. She only needed minimal help to bake her cake (special cake mixes brought from Australia in Sept!) and to put the white icing on. She also did all the placements of the marshmallow fondant decorations. Here’s the rest of the story in her words. –Mandy
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Before the party happened I made the cake. The picture shows me making it. On the cake it has a magnifying glass in the middle of it is a foot print.
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That’s me! I love making funny faces. My dad and I decorated the haus win (gazebo) mostly with balloons and tablecloths. That’s mainly where the party took place. You can tell that I was really excited.
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Here are my friends playing scavenger hunt. That was the first game we played. In this picture there is Amanda, Jasmine, and Alina. And my little brother and sister, Jacob and Jenny Beth.
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Here’s me with my team. I wanted to get everyone so there’s more pictures. Right here is Tia, Judy, and me.
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Now finally that’s all of them Anna and Rachel.
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This was the next game, Murder Mystery. Someone is “it” and she touches someone while everyone is closing their eyes. The person that was just touched winks at people. Those people, or person, has to pretend to die, while the others find out who killed the other. And try not to be killed…
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Oh no! I’M DEAD!!!
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Next to me is my friend Judy. I read the first clue, so we could find other clues and find the cake. Everyone started charging up the stairs and into my room. Next we went into the living room where we found the last clue. After that we all started running to the place where we met.

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After we had cake we started to dance to the music, and when the music stopped, we stopped… but it ended up as a balloon fight! We just started whacking each other with the balloons that were in the haus win. And if you found more balloons then you were lucky. I hope you enjoyed listening to this fun bday Spy Party story.

December 5, 2013

My achy breaky house…

by mendibpng

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So it seems that there is an unwritten “law” that when the man of the house is away, things start breaking or going wrong. Here, it is nothing short of a crisis or traumatic experience when a major appliance dies because we are remote. If it isn’t repairable, then it is really costly and time consuming to get a replacement from another city or from Australia, even. These are options that we utilized this week.

In our case, it all started a couple days before Ben left…first the microwave stopped working, then the washing machine gave up its ghost. After Ben left, my computer had virus that flashed ads anytime I logged onto the internet. The stove later started smelling strongly like gas (plus parts were falling off due to rust). Over the weekend, we completely ran out of LP gas for the stove (which was entirely my fault–I had inadvertently forgotten to get the spare one refilled!) and our bottom floor flooded when I ran the ‘loaner’ washer for the first time (the hose wasn’t secure in the hand basin!) On Tuesday night, we had a HUGE rain, which caused a ¾ inch flood in my son’s bedroom and the laundry room downstairs. On top of that, we have two broken faucets, a toilet that is constantly running and a bathroom door without a handle…woe is me?

Simultaneously, at our village house in the Sepik, Ben had flooding, a broken washing machine and a computer virus as well! (The stove broke last time) At the time, he worked hard to get 28 computers set up to do translation and kept running into multiple problems at every turn. He told me at one point the Alpha computer (the one the others are all patterned after) turned itself off, and he laid hands on it and prayed, and it came back on!! As I type this, he is traveling home so I don’t know if he was able to get all of those computers going after all his work on them.

In my last post I mentioned a book by Ann Voscamp called “One Thousand Gifts,” which explains how the author wrote out 1,000 things to be grateful for and found joy in the process. Well, this week is as good as any to count the gifts, large and small, God gave us (and our team) this week:

  • According to Felix, one of our translators, his son Elias died. Felix and his wife laid hands on the boy and he began breathing again and even laughed. When Ben told me this story, it encouraged me that we serve a God who raises people from the dead!!! He still performs miracles today.
  • It turns out that the big flood happened while my friends were here for a birthday party, so they helped us clean up the sopping wet floor. Having four friends laughing and talking made the whole thing less overwhelming. I told them later that if they hadn’t been there I would have been crying instead of laughing.
  • A couple from one of our home churches wrote us to ask if they could get anything for us for Christmas, as the man was traveling through Port Moresby this week for business. They packed up some goodies from the U.S. to make our holidays special (and also bought us some much needed USB/SD cards for the project). It was completely unexpected and such an encouragement to anticipate getting some fun things from home this year!
  • Our computer support people not only fixed my computer here but some of them helped Ben long distance this week with his computer problems out in the Sepik.
  • Ben talked and prayed with many of our Papua New Guinean co-workers this week. I think that even if he didn’t get as far as he wanted with the computers, just being out there with them was an encouragement to them and well worth the journey.
  • My older kids have stepped up to help when things have been difficult with their dad gone. Over the weekend, when our stove ran out of gas, Noah volunteered to make spaghetti noodles in our electric deep fryer (it can boil water!) and we used the griddle to cook the rest of the food.
  • My friends here who know about our challenging events have shown the kids and me a lot of compassion. It helps knowing that we are not alone!
  • Here’s a small thing: when the big rains started coming, the children and I rescued our small herb seedlings (in pots) and they are alive and well on our porch!
  • And one more small thing: I have all the ingredients I need to be able to make Vietnamese Beef Pho, one of Ben’s favorite meals, for his return home tonight.
  • Finally, one more ‘big’ thing. I can admit to being frustrated over the last few weeks and have longed for Ben’s return to speed up…but at each turn of events I have had hope the whole time. God has spoken clearly to me in my quiet moments and through his Word that He is with me.

God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits,
to the woman who diligently seeks.
It’s a good thing to quietly hope,
quietly hope for help from God.
It’s a good thing when you’re young
to stick it out through the hard times.

When life is heavy and hard to take,
go off by yourself. Enter the silence.
Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions:
Wait for hope to appear.
Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face.
The “worst” is never the worst.

Why? Because the Master won’t ever
walk out and fail to return.
If he works severely, he also works tenderly.
His stockpiles of loyal love are immense.
He takes no pleasure in making life hard,
in throwing roadblocks in the way.
Lamentations 3:25-33 (The Message)

If you come across any missionary veterans and ask them when they felt the most vulnerable or exposed to adversity, many of them will tell you that it’s when things were progressing in their ministries. We are seeing this: the gospels of Luke and Acts are finally done (about 30% of the New Testament!), they are recorded in most of our languages and on digital devices, and people have begun learning to read and do Bible studies thanks to a Scripture Use Walkabout our teammates went on recently. In the last few months, we’ve seen more interest from the communities in Bible translation than we have in the last twelve years of being here! Please pray for us, and our team, that we will glorify God, and that we will trust God to help us take care of all the things that threaten to discourage us. We serve a God who can raise people from the dead, after all, he can take care of all the big (and little) things.

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