Archive for ‘motherhood’

November 5, 2013

My chains are gone…Amazing Grace!

by mendibpng

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I found myself praying this morning that God would help me become humble and reliant on Him amidst the chaos that I’m juggling. I often feel like I am not adequate for the tasks in front of me: missionary, wife, teammate, friend, and mother of five. They all seem to all be vying for space in my heart and mind.  In his book, “A Praying Life,” Paul Miller recommends coming to God like a little child, all messy. Our twins (pictured above) are four and full of questions and excitement over things. They don’t take time to form intricate sentences–they just speak whatever comes to their minds. They often ask us over and over again about things (and then some more). Their child-like joy spills out constantly. If you came over, they would show you their ‘babies’ (also known as little herb seeds sprouting on our porch) or the beetle that visited us this morning, who unfortunately ended up squished in Jacob’s excitement. Although there is a lot for us to teach them, they delight all of us in the cute things they say and in their playful approach to life. I think Miller was getting at this very thing. Sometimes I come to God stiff and formal-like, without thinking of Him as a father who delights in me, as Ben and I do with our children.

As I was praying, the wonderful song Amazing Grace, started playing in my head. I can’t remember ever not knowing this song–I heard it so often as a child. I have seven different versions of it on my computer but my very favorite is Chris Tomlin’s version, where he adds:

My chains are gone
I’ve been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy reigns
Unending love, amazing grace

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow
The sun forbear to shine
But God, Who called me here below,
Will be forever mine.
Will be forever mine.
You are forever mine.

In case anyone else is a visual learner, like me, and would like to see Isaac Newton’s original words, I am pasting them here:

Amazing Grace
Amazing grace!
How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found; was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
and grace my fears relieved;
how precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils, and snares, I have already come;
’tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me,
his word my hope secures;
he will my shield and portion be, as long as life endures.

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
and mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil, a life of joy and peace.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
bright shining as the sun,
we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we first begun.

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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!

September 1, 2012

Life is messy

by mendibpng

Our second week in the village has nearly come to an end. Sure enough, we have progressed from the neutral zone of transition (where we feel like we haven’t settled in mentally/emotionally/physically yet) and now feel comfortable with our surroundings. Everything is better: school, cooking, just daily living. The translators began translating 1 Timothy. (yay!)

That brings me to my next thought: life is messy.

Several times during the week we have had rain, which brings endless fun to our children, which I wrote about a while back.  With the rain comes mud. But the upside is, we have plenty of water and less of those steamy hot sauna-like days as I like to call them.

Along with the physical mess we deal with from day to day, there is constant talking and commotion in our house from our family alone. Not to mention the dogs fighting outside our window or the rooster that just crowed underneath Beth’s house just now. Oh wait, there’s another one near the front of the house!

And finally, there is the emotional drain of dealing with translators who are sick (quite a few have fallen ill this week) and several culturally stressful issues. I cannot write about the culture stress publicly–the internet is now accessible in so many places, including here in the jungle (a cell phone company has come in now) but lets just say Ben could use prayer just about now for one of these issues! Because we are the outsiders, it is often difficult to foster healthy relationships in a place that sees us as a never-ending supply of aid…and not only that, we are an easy target if someone wants to show how important their problem is, even if their problem doesn’t involve us.

But all I have to do is look at the kids God gave us to realize that the messy life we live is full of blessing. Sure they are noisy, sometimes they fight and yes, they often have mud fights. One day I’ll look around my empty house and miss all of it. I am sure I will even think “it wasn’t as messy as I thought it was at the time!” It’ll just be Ben and me…all wrinkly and lonely.  So today I’m going to focus on the task ahead of me…that is…getting through the day. And I’m going to ask God to help me do it.

August 22, 2012

navigating transition…

by mendibpng

“We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us happy is something to be enthusiastic about.” C. Kingsley

I used to think that change was exciting. I welcomed the idea of getting on an airplane and traveling thousands of miles to an unknown land. Meeting new people excited me and although I found some things hard, I remember feeling invigorated by all of the adjustments I had to make.

Now that I’m only a couple of years away from 40, change and transition are different for me. I like being in one place for months at a time. I like being able to put up curtains and pictures on the wall.  Although I crave stability, I also have a itching to travel occasionally…as long as I can get back ‘home’. Growing up as a missionary kid, I learned that being numb whenever there was a transition or goodbye kept me from experiencing the pain of it. Now that I’m an adult I see how destructive denying feelings can be, not just to myself but to others I live with.

As I pondered the emotional moments I had today, I came up with a few things that I’ve gleaned along the way. It’s not rocket science…more so common sense and perhaps obvious to the rest of the world…but since I come back to it over and over I guess it’s worth writing down.

  •  Transition is exhausting. Before we got to the village, there’s a flurry of packing and sleep deprivation. The most common thoughts are, “what do I need for the next 6 weeks?” and “did I bring enough food?”  I realize that for me, once I arrive, I need to build in time to nap and go to bed early even though there’s food to be unpacked, school to start and a house to clean. Also if I can keep my meal preparation easy and expectations low for a few days, I do much better.
  • Transition is ‘letting go’  I have to grieve the things or people I’ve left behind. On Sunday I said goodbye to several friends who will not be in Ukarumpa when I get back. My daughter said goodbye to her best friend, and it was heartbreaking. I tell my kids, it’s ok to be sad—that is how we can move through it. Acknowledging our feelings is the first step. Additionally, there’s the other ‘little’ things to let go of: using a microwave, going to the store, and being able to talk to people in my own language. (the last one is silly because I can call anyone I like on Skype out here, but it’s not the same as seeing them in person!) Even though they are seemingly inconsequential, it does help to acknowledge that I miss them. On the other hand, if I start obsessing about missing something then it’s a short jump away from self pity, not a fun state for me to be in!
  • Transition is disorienting. After 13 years of parenting kids in constant transition, I know enough now that a two year old who cries a lot during the first week of a village stay is behaving normally. Shoot, I cry a lot during the first few days of arriving, especially on the first day of homeschooling! I try to give my kids extra grace and work on explaining how transition is affecting all of us. The older kids tend to bicker a lot because they aren’t used to being around each other 24-7. They just need time to adjust to each other.
  • Transition is a chance to be honest. I have learned a lot about myself in the middle of transition. Perhaps the strong feelings that transition brings on makes me more vulnerable, but it also makes me want God in my life more. It makes me want to love my husband and kids better. The selfish bits tend to hang out, don’t they, in transition?
  • Transition can be an opportunity to start a new thing. I decided that I was going to do more fun things with my kids this time in the village. Normally I work really hard all day and crash in the evening. Tonight I had finished almost everything I wanted to do and sat down to play Bananagrams with Noah and Ellie. I surprised myself by enjoying it! Sometimes I just need to nudge myself past the exhaustion and expectations.
  • Transition is an opportunity to practice good self care. I tend to get caught up in the ‘doing’ for everyone else…wiping bottoms, fixing meals, negotiating arguments, etc., but I can easily forget to eat or take a few minutes break for myself with a cup of coffee.
  • Transition is a chance to invite God into all of the above. He knows better than I do what I am feeling and what I need. He can help me navigate all of the exhaustion, disorientation and grief of letting go.

I think the best advice that I’ve ever heard about transition when I took a course a few years back from Russ Rogers was to ‘pay attention’.  He emphasized noticing what is going on around you. I’m trying to do that and to help my kids navigate what’s going on for them too.

“The last of the human freedoms–to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” V. Frankl

I like this quote because I need to be reminded that I am not helpless. I can choose God. I can choose to have a good attitude. And I can choose to make the best of my circumstances. It does help that the job we have here has purpose–we’ve invested in this Bible translation work–this makes everything worthwhile.  It doesn’t mean that I pretend I’m doing great when I’m really not…but I have the chance within myself to make good choices and to trust Ben with all of those negative feelings. Down through the years he has been good about letting me debrief without having to ‘fix’ me.

and one more  final quote from Roger’s transition class..

“Here is the test to find out whether your mission on earth is finished: If you’re alive, it isn’t” R. Bach

August 1, 2012

welcome to the teenage years!

by mendibpng

A couple of weeks ago, Josiah turned 13, making him a teenager! Wow. It’s hard to believe that my sweet cuddly little boy is growing up. I’m sure most, if not every parent feels like the years have slipped by quickly…well…it’s happening here too. He’s learning to  discern for himself what is right and wrong. He is beginning to make good boundary choices with his time. Now is the time for us to give him room to grow and make those decisions himself so that when he leaves our home he will have some tools in place to do so. Once in a while, when I see him making mature decisions, I feel a sense of relief but also a teeny bit of loss. He needs us still but not in the way he did when he was little. So all that to say, Happy 13th Birthday Josiah. May you continue to grow to become a man who loves God and loves others well.

the first order of the day was to give Joe a guitar  amp we had sent by sea many many months ago!

Ben helped test out all the different settings while Joe played. Not sure who had more fun, dad or son…

Later that afternoon, we rented the community waterslide for his birthday party

Hold onto your glasses!

Ellie took a couple of turns before it got too cold!

Afterwards, Joe and friends all came up to our house, changed and ate pizza rolls and popcorn. Here he is blowing out candles on his desert pizza. Oh, and they finished off the night with a loud game of Quelf. If you’ve never played this hilarious board game, I  highly recommend you try it.

July 23, 2012

Are you weary?

by mendibpng

Tonight I heard Ben singing songs and reading a Bible story to the twins, and I thought about how wonderful it was that he was doing that while I cleaned up the kitchen. I literally haven’t read them anything today. After I cleaned the counters and mopped up the spills on the floor, I thought grumpily, “I’m just gonna have to do this again tomorrow.” I didn’t spend hours cooking today (that was yesterday!) but I did spend a lot of my waking hours taking the twins to use the potty.

It’s easy for me to go from being thankful for the abundance in my life to letting the mundane things of life overwhelm me. All it takes is one of the twins crying for a drink, and the other one pipes in…while they are crying, another child needs something and pretty soon it appears that all five of them need something at once. To be fair, school started last week so after 8:30 in the morning on school days all I have left at home are the twins.  Today, however, was a school holiday so all of the kids were home. One of my children (who will remain unnamed) began whistling. Another one left papers and trash in an area where I had just cleaned and all of my emotions started going haywire. With each annoyance, my internal frustration mounted. I thought to myself “I’m overreacting. What is wrong with me??” It finally hit me. I realized it was nearly 11:00 am and I hadn’t eaten anything!!  Funnily enough, when I started telling Ben the story at lunch, before I got to the epiphany, he asked “did you forget to eat?”  We both started laughing.

A little splash of grace came when a good friend of mine stopped by unexpectedly just as I finished making my omelet.  She’s the kind of person who doesn’t care about my messy house and really just came to see me. So when she showed up, I realized that having another adult to tell my ‘mundane’ story to made a huge difference in my outlook.

Here is the crux of the matter for me. It’s rather simple. Eating and sleeping are essential to me being a happy mother. When my basic self care measures are in place, I feel more equipped to deal with any adversity and yes, even silly things like whistling! I apologized to one of my kids, and I realized he had no idea what was tumbling around in this head of mine…I was a time bomb that nobody besides me knew about!  Added to the self care plan is just plain old thankfulness. If some small thing can send me spiralling into self pity, then one of those things or all of them are usually the culprit.

A friend of mine recently gave me a devotional called “Jesus Calling” that I would highly recommend to any mom of small children. I keep it in the bathroom because that is the one place I have at least a couple of minutes to myself every day. Here’s an entry I loved:

Rest in my presence when you need refreshment. Resting is not necessarily idleness as people often percieve it. When you relax in My company, you are demonstrating trust in Me. Trust is a rich word, laden with meaning and direction for your life. I want you to lean on, trust and be confident in Me.  When you lean on Me for support, I delight in your trusting confidence.

Many people turn away from Me when they are exhausted. They assoicate Me with duty and diligence, so they try to hide from My Presence when they need a break from work. How this saddens Me! As I spoke through My prophet Isaiah: In returning to Me and resting in Me you shall be saved; in quietness and trust shall be your strength.   (Sarah Young)

Proverbs 3:5, Isaiah 30:15

And with that, I’m heading to bed because I need to get three kids off to school bright and early tomorrow and get those twins to the potty every 15-20 minutes. Or I might take them to our lovely little daycare and start potty training again in the afternoon.

 

 

May 21, 2012

Running into the arms of God….

by mendibpng

I just overheard Jacob loudly saying “I want mine daddy!” Sometimes he says it when his daddy is available and sometimes it’s when Ben is in the middle of consultant checking, so I have to distract him. I was thinking about God and how my desire for him dulls when I am busy. My daily tasks in the village often feel relentless: laundry, dishes, cooking, homeschooling, and often I fall into bed exhausted at the end of the day. Today is Sunday and I asked Ben if I could read my bible upstairs away from everybody else. He readily agreed and here are a few verses that jumped out at me. I often read from The Message because it gives me a fresh perspective on things I was born and raised on.

“I’ve already run for dear life straight into the arms of God” Psalm 11:1

“Keep me safe, O God, I’ve run for dear life to you. I say to GOD, “Be my Lord!” Without you, nothing makes sense.” Psalm 16:1

My heart cries for God the way Jacob cries for his daddy. I long for times when I can be quiet enough to hear from Him and get the nourishment I need to pour myself into the tasks I need to do. I don’t feel like I have a bunch of enemies seeking to kill me but sometimes I just need God to save me from myself…when I am tired or the twins have been cranky, I am more likely to respond in sin.

So God, let me run into Your arms today!

May 16, 2012

From Brisbane Australia to Arop Village

by mendibpng

The skin cancer was about the size of a pea on the outside, but as you can see from the picture, it went a lot deeper inside!

We are safely in our house at Arop village. Since I haven’t had much time to blog in the past few weeks, I thought I would write about my travels all in one go.

Just a little tidbit that I found amusing at the beginning of my trip: when I went up to the checkin counter in Port Moresby, the computers weren’t working. Both of the checkin guys slid down behind the counter. Most of us standing in line could all see the tops of their heads the whole time (!) I wanted to get a picture of them but decided against it I thought they were hiding from the shame of not being able to serve us yet. Incidentally, I wasn’t worried at all because we still had over two hours before the flight was supposed to leave and it looked like no one else had been able to checkin for that flight either. They eventually got it working and we all checked in.

I arrived in Brisbane later that day and met my big sister Jenny at the domestic terminal. From there, we took a taxi to the Wycliffe flats and spent the weekend talking, eating, shopping and sleeping. I haven’t had that much kid free time just to hang out with another adult in 14 years!! It helped that it was one of my favorite people.

On Monday I dropped off Jenny at the airport and my friend Lilah and her husband Lyall picked me up. They hosted me for the rest of my time in Brisbane and believe me, they fed me well the whole time. It was fun to stay with people who love to cook and eat spicy/flavorful food!

Lilah went with me on the bus to my first doctor’s appointment so I could go again myself the next day. It worked just like she told me it would, and I found the staff at the hospital really helpful. The first day was just a checkup, where I met the doctor and he told me about the procedure I would have. The second day was the actual Mohs surgery. From what I understand, they took a little bit out of my forehead, and tested it while I waited in the waiting room. They called me back in for another round of removal. After the second testing, they said it was all gone, and that they had cut through the fat layer into the muscle and took about 2.4 cm circumference out of my forehead. I ended up sitting in the waiting room for a cumulative of 3 hours and was really tired by the end. That day I didn’t have much pain at all, so I rested on my own and took a bus back to Lilah’s. However, I accidentally got on the wrong one. Thankfully Lilah set me straight before I ended up on the wrong side of Brisbane!

The next day I took a taxi to the next appointment because it was in the city and at a different location. This time, they had me put on a hospital gown, slipper socks and a cap. When I got to the operating theatre, they knocked me out. The next thing I knew I was really drowsy and nauseated and could barely keep my eyes open. Another friend Keiyeng came and picked me up from there and took me back to Lilah’s, where I ended up sleeping most of the day.

I didn’t think that I was anxious about any of the procedures except that I didn’t sleep very well Monday night through Wednesday. Thursday I started sleeping much better and I realized it was because I didn’t have any more appointments hanging over me.

I did miss my family intensely during those days, especially when Ben would send me a message asking to Skype because Jenny Beth was crying for me. He told me that the twins both learned how to pray by themselves while I was gone as well. However, I knew that this opportunity to rest was a big blessing to me, so I made an effort to focus on that during those days.

Friday was a splendid day because Cori, a friend of mine from college, had Lilah book me a massage—this was my first spa massage ever! I thoroughly enjoyed it. Afterwards, Lilah and I went shopping and had one of my favorite things, Subway sandwiches, for lunch!

Over the next two days I was able to shop some more at a spice shop and Ikea and have fish and chips with Lilah, Lyall and Lyall’s mum for mother’s day.

I left Brisbane on Monday, the 14th. The checkin line at Virgin Pacific took an hour, so I had 15 minutes at the gate before boarding (a little too close for comfort in my book.) When I got to Port Moresby I couldn’t find my bag. It looked like everybody else had found theirs. Eventually I realized someone had taken it off the conveyer belt. Phew!

At this point, I started feeling a little panicky because I only had 2 hours total in POM to get to my flight to Wewak where I was planning to meet my family before leaving for the village together. I saw that they had checkin signs for different flights so I texted Ben “I think Air Niugini is more efficient than Virgin Pacific!”

This is where it got not so funny….I got up to the counter finally and the lady told me “just go over there.” So I went to another counter where another lady was being trained and seemed to be very confused about filling in the computer forms. People were putting their tickets/passports on the counter and being served so I spoke up and said “I’m going to Wewak.” They looked up at me and told me “the plane is full” I replied (a teeny bit on the loud side…perhaps a bit teary too?) “I have to get there today!” I didn’t have anything organized in POM in case I was stuck there. So they took my passport and weighed my bag, telling me that they couldn’t give me a boarding pass until I paid overweight charges. I had 7 kilos more coming into PNG than I had domestically. I ran over to the overweight baggage counter and when the man finally was able to help me, he kept clearing and retyping the numbers over and over into his calculator to find out 23-17. By this time I was so nervous that I blurted out “my plane is leaving in 15 minutes!” He finally got the receipt made, I paid it, and ran back to the counter to get my boarding pass.

The story doesn’t end here folks…I walked up to the open doors and asked “is the flight leaving for Wewak?” A lady told me “yes! Hurry, go to gate 10.” Well, there was no gate 10 marked anywhere, and I ended up going all the way to the end, and started getting on a plane. A man who had been in line behind me told me that I was on the wrong plane because he was too! I guess being the loud white woman made me memorable that day?!

So I made it to Wewak, and had dinner and breakfast the next day with our good friends there…and pretty soon it was time to greet my family at the airstrip. Jacob and Jenny Beth seemed a little dazed when I saw them, maybe they were wondering if I had disappeared forever while I was gone. They kept asking about my owie and did I see the doctor. Then Jenny Beth told our friend Chris who was the pilot that day, “dat mine plane!”

We got back to the Wycliffe center in Wewak and found out fairly quickly that the car that Ben had booked to take us to the village couldn’t pick us up after all. He ended up finding two other cars and told them that he would go on whichever one arrived first. At 2:00 pm, one showed up. We put all our cargo in, and with the exception of having to wait while they changed a flat with the spare from our car, we were off.

The trip itself was probably one of the hardest trips I’ve ever been on. We were on some pretty hard seats for over 7 hours on very bumpy bush roads. I spent a good deal of the time trying to absorb the bumps for Jenny Beth and prayed that my backside would just fall asleep. By 9:00 we were all feeling exhausted so Ben asked the driver if we could please overnight in Aitape. He agreed readily and Ben found out that we could stay at a guest house. I am so grateful for this, because after a good night’s sleep, I didn’t feel like leaving Papua New Guinea for a more comfortable existence. I often find that things look so much better in the morning, especially after a nice breakfast of scrambled eggs made by our teammate Jessie. J The kids, Jess and I took a little walk to a small grocery store and bought snacks for the journey and also to the market to get some kau kau (sweet potato), cucumber and tomatoes for our first couple of meals in the village.

The next car ride was only 1.5 hours, and Ben had secured the cargo so that it wasn’t falling on him and Jessie like it was the night before. Also I had bought a pillow at Papindos to sit on so the bumps didn’t affect me as much.

As we were driving, I told my kids how I was proud of how flexible they are. The night before I was feeling pretty sorry for myself and wondering how they were faring. Apparently they did much better than I did, because Noah blurted out, “it’s fun to be bounced around!” During the night when we were travelling Jacob (2 ½) kept looking out the windows and looking for stars. He said “I’m painim stars!” (finding) He would then sing his version of “Twinkle Twinkle” and proceed to get mad whenever the trees would cover them. Jenny Beth did well and stayed happy as long as she had Jessie’s fleece wrapped around her in some way.

When we arrived in our village, we walked a short way from the car to our house. Even before the twins saw our house they started shouting “dat mine house!!” It really warmed my heart to know that they knew where we were going. Noah and Ellie were fantastic about looking after the little ones while we swept out the cobwebs and wiped down all the shelves, counters, tables and bookshelves.

This afternoon, Jacob woke up from his nap crying and covered in sweat so I said “let’s go outside and you can have your drink out on the veranda.” While we sat on the steps of our house, four different ladies came up to us at different times and said hello and chatted for a bit. In all of my 10 years here, I haven’t had that many ladies purposefully come over to me and initiate a conversation in such a short time. (Well, one stood and smiled and let me ooh and ahh over how big her baby had gotten! She’s not much for talking but she does have a beautiful smile.) I know it might seem like a small thing, but I think God gave that to me today to encourage me that people are noticing that we are here and are glad for it.

Tonight Ben is working on getting printed copies of Acts ready for our consultant and the mother tongue speakers who have come to help in the checking process. I have to say I am really grateful to be here, sitting underneath my mosquito net with my incision healing nicely, and the ability to use the internet in the village. J I really feel like the whole experience of me getting the skin cancer removed and the pieces that fell into place along the way evidenced God’s mercy to me and to my family as well. I have never seen Ben so happy to see me as he was yesterday, after caring for our five children on his own! One thing he said was “it’s hard to think about yourself when you are looking after so many other people.” (He almost forgot to pack his own things for the village). That made me smile. He gets motherhood!

Tomorrow will be a flurry of unpacking, pulling out homeschooling materials for Noah and Ellie, cooking and chasing down the twins and mopping our very dirty floor. But I will at least start the day grateful (I hope!) for all of the things God did for me these past two weeks!

If you made it all the way to the end of this saga, I’m impressed, I didn’t mean for it to be this long! Thanks for listening in….

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