Archive for September, 2015

September 17, 2015

Happy Birthday Papua New Guinea!

by mendibpng

bilas
Papua New Guinea (PNG) is home to our family.  We first arrived in 2002 as a family of four, and eventually grew to be a family of seven. Yesterday was PNG’s 40th birthday. I thought I’d dedicate this blog post to our home of 13 years.

JB

  • Many of our happiest family memories come from PNG: going to the beach in Wewak, making fireworks out of steel wool, swimming in the river, etc.

    twins dancing

  • Since our kids have grown up here, our friends have become family, both PNG and expats. I love that I can get to a close friend’s house in a 5-10 minutes’ walk.
    kuka
  • I love the relational aspects of Melanesian culture. Working together, sharing, reciprocating, and being with people are important here.
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  • We have a purposeful ministry in the work of Bible translation. It is mind boggling that where we live people do not have access to God’s Word in their own language. Every Scripture portion that comes from The Aitape West Project is one more piece of God’s Talk for our neighbors to read and hear for the first time in their language. There is nothing like seeing the look on someone’s face when they hear it for the first time, as evidenced in the picture above, when Pastor Peter played the audio of the Gospel of Luke at the market one day.
    IMG_6293
  • I love the beautiful foliage, landscape and animals. (I admit I’m not too crazy about pesky insects though!) Every morning I wake up to a bunch of birds in the eucalyptus tree next to my house singing crazy songs.
    2004-04-JN-DSCN4498
  • We have freedom here to serve the PNG people in whatever way they need it.
    P1030620
  • PNG is the land of the unexpected. I am constantly learning from this that I am not in control of everything. It is a good thing because I tend to hold too tightly to my plans and my ideas. When we first arrived in PNG, other missionaries modeled being learners and respecting the culture and environment we are in; it has helped us walk into situations with open hands.
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  • Our kids are growing up with lots of people from different cultures. They are learning to navigate cultural misunderstandings as well as value different perspectives. Ben and I have benefited from this too.
    IMG_7532
  • We live with minimal commercialism here. Being in a place where it’s difficult to get something (and it’s costly!) means that you really consider whether you want to buy it or not. None of us has it perfect, but I feel like our kids have a lot of opportunities to be in nature, to create, and to be free to play.
    P1030820
  • To sum it all up, the people here are the biggest reason I love PNG. God put them on our hearts years ago, and whispered to us that He wanted us to stay, even though we thought we’d only come for a short while.

We belong here.

September 10, 2015

You are welcome here!

by mendibpng

smile
I have spent three days pondering this quote,

Hospitality is rooted in the word hospital, which comes from two Greek words meaning “loving the stranger.” It evolved to mean “house for strangers” and later came to be known as a place of healing. Eventually, hospitality meant connecting with strangers in such a way that healing took place. Therefore, when we show openness toward people who are different from us, welcome them into our presence, and make them feel safe, the relationship becomes a place of healing. As we welcome people just as they are and invited them to join us just as we are, it becomes a sacred event reflecting what Jesus did for us–providing us with a healing relationship.

–Cross-Cultural Servanthood, by Duane Elmer

I readily admit that it takes a great deal of courage at times for me to be open and welcoming to strangers. A few years ago, a friend of mine taught cross cultural principles to our Papua New Guinean staff here. The thing that stuck with me from that training was simple. “Smile,” they said, “and shake hands with us. You can even hug us!” (The Highlands culture tends to be much more affectionate than I had originally thought.) So, I started to intentionally smile when we passed people on the road, walk into the store or hardware center, and also to the people we buy veggies from at the market. Here in PNG, walking past people without looking at them communicates that we are busy and that the person we are passing isn’t important. (One person said “I feel like a dog or a pig if you don’t smile at me,” which to me conveyed, “I feel devalued as a person.”) I am not saying that smiling is appropriate in every culture everywhere, this is just something I’ve been conscious of here in PNG because I heard that it communicated value to my neighbors.
2010-10-13 Final Checking (12)

I know, I know, this sounds really simplistic. Aren’t I here to share and live out the gospel? If I am, as Elmer says above, “showing openness toward people who are different from us, welcome them into our presence, and make them feel safe,” then isn’t Jesus present there? I really don’t have to go out of my way to search for people to be friendly to since I live in a community full of people from a plethora of cultures and backgrounds. If you look at me, you’d likely think, “oh she’s an American.” However, if you start talking to me, you might realize that I’m a Third Culture Kid (TCK) and I am really quite odd/strange/unique. I might find something incredibly funny that other Americans wouldn’t, or I might not catch onto a joke that most people would normally get. It is rare for me to come across anyone who has lived where I lived and had the same experiences as me. It is more common for me to delve into friendships here with people who have had completely different experiences. But here’s the thing: we don’t have to be from the same cultural background to share an intimacy with Jesus. He links us together through love. As a student of culture and personality styles, I’m learning how to show love (appropriately) in relationships. In doing so, I feel like I’m holding a small piece of the colors and depths of beauty that I will be seeing more of in heaven.

September 3, 2015

Settling back into life in Papua New Guinea

by mendibpng

IMG_0223
(above) Ellie and our little friend Eowyn. Our friendships here are close, often the kids are like cousins their little MK friends!

I have given myself a full blogging free month to settle into life back here in Papua New Guinea. Knowing my history with transition, it has been a good thing to just focus on looking after my family and reconnecting with both Papua New Guinean and expat (missionary) friends.

I have been pleasantly surprised when I didn’t find it overly taxing to start cooking everything from scratch again. On the other hand, I underestimated the emotional energy it takes to live in a close (and very diverse cross-cultural) community. I wrote about the ups and downs here and here a back in 2011 and still feel the same things now in 2015.

I wish I was able to spout a good missionary story today, but the reality for me most days is that I’m wading through the mundane: going to market, keeping track of our children and their schedules, reading with the twins, helping with homework when needed, and negotiating meaning when interacting cross-culturally with my neighbors and friends.

Since my life mirrors a lot of missionary moms, I thought I might make a quick note of what goes on in a normal day for me. On some days, we have coffee and play dates, which really help break up the days.

6:30
Make sure Joe and Ellie are up
Go to market.
Make fire in the fireplace for warm water.
Start a load of laundry.

7:00
Wake up twins and Noah
Help twins get breakfast and follow their ‘chore’ charts
Make coffee & eat breakfast

7:30
Take Ellie to school, Joe walks to school

8:30
Take twins to school, Noah walks to school

8:45-12:00
Spend time with God & read
Make bread or bagels or tortillas
Start dinner prep
Do errands
Hang up clothes
Make lunch for house and yard helpers
Check email and respond if needed

12:10
Pick up twins from school
Make lunch for everyone who is here

1:00-2:45
Quiet time for twins and I (reading, etc.) Clean house.

2:45-5:00
Pick up Ellie. Supervise homework, instrument practice, playdates, take down clothes, more cooking, etc.

5:00-11:00
Dinner, kids, and more kids…..

I have had several invitations to do other things outside my home, but since I am team leader with Ben for our project and also mom to five kids, we both agreed that I needed to focus on those two roles for the time being. I am glad for the freedom, for instance, to make food and attend a haus krai (literally a “house cry,” or a wake) last week.

Another thing I’ve been pondering is the fact that everybody told me that our kids would grow up fast, and I believed it. However, the reality of just how fast is hitting home, now that our oldest is in 11th grade and beginning to plan out his future. The ‘letting go’ has already begun, although we’re still really involved in his life…in many ways, he and his siblings (at least the next two older ones) are fairly self sufficient. Their lives are busy and full.

I am really grateful to be back here. Both Ben and I are being very intentional about maintaining our spiritual, emotional, mental and physical health, since we both arrived home on furlough in 2014 in burnout mode. It has been wonderful to reconnect with our close friends again.

A dear friend gave this verse to me last week:

You are chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be holy, God’s instrument to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night and day difference he made for you–from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted. 1 Peter 2: 9, 10 (The Message)

I want to start each day being drenched in the love of God, so that as I go about my daily (mundane) tasks, I will be God’s instrument of grace and love. Whether I’m at the store or market, or passing someone on the street, this is my prayer.

September 2, 2015

Does the rain have a father?

by bzephyr

The wisdom and power of God is simply awesome. In Job 38:25-28, the Lord says to Job…

Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain,
and a path for the thunderstorm,
to water a land where no man lives,
a desert with no one in it,
to satisfy a desolate wasteland
and make it sprout with grass?
Does the rain have a father?
Who fathers the drops of dew?

Truly, we are dependent on God who controls the rain and the dew and the miracle of sprouting plants.

We’re in the midst of a drought here in Papua New Guinea, and the need for rain becomes more and more urgent as water tanks become depleted and our local neighbors are running out of food in their gardens. Everything is drying up outside, and the green hillsides and colorful flowers are all turning brown. Please pray to our heavenly Father that he will send rain on this dry and thirsty land.

A few days ago, I started a new hobby. I’m growing sprouts and herbs. In the context of the dry conditions surrounding us, it’s a good reminder of how dependent we are on God for the wonders he performs every day, like the sending of rain, the germination of seeds, and the growth of his wide variety of living creations.

My new sprouter trays

My new sprouter trays

I picked up this little sprouter tray system when we passed through Cairns, Australia, on the way back to PNG in July. Having grown sprouts before in a glass jar, the thing I’m really enjoying about this multi-tiered tray system is that each tray has a small water outlet to allow water to wash over each level of the trays. I think this will prove to be really helpful with growing sprouts, because one tip to keep them from spoiling before they’re ready to eat is to water them frequently. This system makes it easy to do.

I was amazed how fast the alfalfa seeds began to sprout…

Alphalfa sprouting within 24 hours

Alfalfa sprouting within 24 hours

The mung beans were the next to sprout with the soya beans not too far behind…

The soya beans are not too far behind the mung beans

A few soya beans are trying to keep up

The Japanese radish, black mustard, and rocket only show a few signs of sprouting…

Rocket, mustard, and

Rocket, mustard, and Japanese radish

The basil, sunflower, and more rocket are proving to be the slowest to start.

The

Basil, sunflower, and rocket

As I went outside just now to check on one of my herbs, I noticed the ground was wet. It’s not raining outside, but it’s misting. Praise the Lord! Please send some big rains.

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