Saturday, January 26, 2008

Uka, Part 3

Some of you may know Richard and Laura Sommer and family. They live in Ukarumpa, where Richard is the principal of the secondary school and Laura works in the type-setting department. Their 5 wonderful kids took Jonathan and Karlyn under their wings, and even babysat them while I was sick. Karlyn fell in love with their girls. (Actually, I think the feeling was mutual!) And here's Karlyn with her new friends---Ulissa, Sarah-Lynn and Stephanie.

The Sommer's took us (and another Canadian couple) on an adventure to Yanki Dam, a large fresh body of water that was dammed up to serve as hydro power for most of PNG. There are some absolutely gorgeous spots around this lake. So pristine. There is not a cottage in sight, although if you look closely you see some village homes amongst the trees. And of course, God’s glorious creation is all around.

Richard and the two boys had built a raft, which served as a little pontoon boat for us and got us to a beautiful spot where we picnicked, and the brave among us swam. (Brrrr....too cold for me!)

It was a great adventure!

(BTW, the umbrella was for the sun, not the rain, thankfully!)

January 16--Ian's birthday

Yup, he’s 34 now. Getting pretty old…!

To celebrate, we traveled further into the highlands to a town called Goroka. It was a beautiful drive through the hills and mountains. I think a beautiful part of the trip was when Ian received a few calls from his brothers on his cell phone. It was pretty neat to touch base with them personally coasting through highlands of PNG. Just think, some 60 years ago Westerners were only beginning to set foot to this it is dotted with telecommunication towers. (We really hope those phone calls weren’t too expensive!)

Once in Goroka, we went out for lunch at what they call 'the Bird', for the Bird of Paradise Hotel. The food wasn't for the birds, though we nibbled away at it.

We praise God for being with Ian during this past year. It hasn’t always been easy--for about half of it, he has dealt with some kind of virus that has left him quite fatigued. Although he and we are coping we are looking ahead to this coming year with hope that things will improve, but also that no matter what happens, God is with us. He is our Immanuel.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Adventures in Ukarumpa, Part 1

Well, it's unbearably hot and sticky out--even at 8:30pm and with the fans blowing overhead. So that must mean we're back in Lae!

Actually we've been back from Ukarumpa for a few days already and I've tried several times to upload photos with no success. I was hoping to post 4 at once, but it looks like I may have to do them separately.

The Lord blessed us with a great time away (minus the fact that I was quite ill for the last 4 days of it). We thoroughly enjoyed sitting by the fire to keep warm in the evenings and spending lots of time outdoors during the day without being drenched in sweat.

Jonathan mastered the art of two-wheeling (with the training wheels). It was amazing to watch his confidence build--he was so tentative at first and by the end, was a pro!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Heading to the Highlands…

Three hours away from here, up into the mountains, the Highlands, there is a place called Ukarumpa. It is the SIL/Wycliffe Bible Translators base for PNG. We’re not sure of the exact stats, but there are hundreds of missionaries living there, from all over the world. And the majority of them are from America, giving Ukarumpa the popular name of “Little America” (without McDonalds, Starbucks and Walmart). So, that’s where we’re heading for a 9-day holiday.

As you may know, there are said to be some 800 different languages in PNG and there are still many of them that do not have a Bible in their language. Ukarumpa serves to facilitate this translation work and is its own self-contained community, with schools, medical clinic, store, post office, church and everything you need. Translators typically go to their villages for 2-3 months at a time and then return to Ukarumpa, where they continue their work, have nationals come for training sessions, and their children take part in the regular schooling system.

For us, it is a peaceful place to go when we need a break from Lae. The scenery is beautiful; the weather is spring like—warm during the day, cool at night; we can blend in with the other white people, instead of being the constant object of people’s gaze; we can go for walks together as a family; visit the horse ranch and look at cows; and last but not least, we can play at the playground! (Actually that’s at the top of the list for Jonathan!)

We’ll post some pictures when we get back.

Till then, may the Lord bless and keep you.

Oh, before we sign off, here's our little bookworm...

I tried to post one of Jonathan too, but blogger wouldn't let me.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

They call this privilege...

(Jonathan and his friend, Osama~don't worry, no connection or relation to the bin Laden type. We doubt they've even heard of him!)

So how do you explain the idea of “white privilege” to a 3 year old? I pondered this question as I watched Jonathan play with his little friend, Osama. Jonathan ordered him to, Come! and come he did. And then when Jonathan wanted to ride the trike that Osama was on, he simply grabbed the handlebars and got on. There were no cries of protest in response from Osama. Just quiet obedience. The scene before me is an all-too-familiar one. I’ve seen the children at church act much the same way towards Jonathan and the other missionary children. Let him take toys or food from them, or bud to the front of the line. An attitude towards ‘whiteskins’ that many PNG children have been taught by their parents. I can’t remember how many times one of the mamas has discouraged me from trying to correct Jonathan’s behaviour; from trying to get him to give the toy back, or to wait his turn. Somehow, somewhere, someone got the idea that white children are better than black children, and therefore they can do whatever they want.

Osama lives with his family in our compound. But they don’t occupy one of the 20 units. They, that is 6 adults and 4 children, make their home in the back corner, in a little shed, probably smaller than the shed in your backyard. I have no idea how or where all of them find a place to sleep each night. Osama's family is the “maintenance crew” for the compound. They work hard to keep the grass cut and gardens in order—no small feat here in Lae where we get lots and lots of rain. They also just finished painting the outside of all the units. And they bring all the garbage cans to the road twice a week. And many other odd jobs for the landlords. Without enjoying many of the privileges of living in a compound such as ours. For example, as the other children splash and swim in the pool, Osama and his siblings look longingly on. They are not allowed to swim there. My heart and head cry out that this is not right, that things shouldn’t be this way. But I cannot change the things that are out of my control.

What can we do? We can teach Jonathan that he is no better than Osama or any of the PNG people. Not only that, we can try very hard to model this, everyday. Love. Respect. Recognition. Etc. We can teach him that the only difference between the 2 of them happens to be the colour of their skin. Their blood is both red and the blood of Jesus was shed, also for Osama and his family. And that we, along with them, are completely undeserving of this love, and in need of God’s abundant grace.

I noticed Jonathan and Osama and his younger brother, Elijah around the back of one of the units, picking flowers. Jonathan soon returns home with three little rose buds. “For you, Mommy.” My heart is touched at his tenderness, but as I search for my nice glass vase to display them in, I am struck by the realization that even these roses signify our status, our privilege. I don’t think Osama would bother bringing his mommy any flowers. No glass vase there, or table to put it on, and the few cups they have will be used for drinking.

Then Jonathan’s fun with Osama comes to an end. Playtime is over for Osama for now. He’s got to go with his bubu (grandma) to find firewood. They need this wood to cook their next meal…

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The Hospital...or something like that

Today, as has become tradition at this time of year, a few members from our churches went to the local Hospital, Angau. The hospital is becoming a sorry state, much of it quite dilapidated. Many of the wards have been hit by the interminable power of termites and like a strong brigade they stealthy bore through ward after ward and leave a skeleton in their wake. Thankfully, some are still standing and the government is now funding some steal studded and iron clad units. Some of the former funding has come as far away as St. Albert, Alberta, Canada. The rotary club chipped in a few years ago--how they found out about this need in Lae, PNG defies reason.

So there we were some 10 people, three men and seven women. We entered fitted with the Bible, a guitar, our voices, some sandwiches and cordial (like kool-aid). We were given permission to go to as many wards as we could manage and so we started with the TB ward. A young girl of about 19 years of age from our church has been in this ward for the past 6 weeks or so. There I preached a short message on Romans 8:34-37, another person prayed, and we all sang. This was followed by greeting each patient in their bed (probably about 20 per ward, plus relatives) and distributing the food. We followed the same procedure for another five wards for the next two hours.

Two things one notices in such visits. First, there is a willingness and hunger for the Word. All of the people are seemingly willing and ready to listen. One could not envisage such a reception in our nice sanitized, well-equipped wards in Canada, though the need for the Gospel may be more pressing. The second thing we notice is that they receive but a fraction of the care that patients in Canada, Australia or Holland face and yet one would be hard pressed to hear a complaint. They endure so much. The smells can be rather putrid (thankfully, it is quite open), the food is barely enough to keep one alive, men and women and children are mixed into the same ward with no real privacy to talk about, the washrooms are like a dungeon of waste and I could go on.

And yet, when they received what we gave them both the spiritual and physical food (which wasn’t much) they were so thankful. We thank God for that. And in His strength we proclaim the hope of the Gospel and pray that His Spirit will administer the tenderness, the compassion, the forgiveness and the peace of Christ to their souls.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

The New Year: More than conquerors

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?...NO, in all these we are more than conquerors through him who loved us!”(Romans 8:35,37)

We embark on a New Year knowing that we are more than conquerors, we are on the winning team. We are marching to the step of a great, an awesome and majestic King. We praise God for this undying truth and interminable encouragement.

A very blessed New Year to you all from the Wildeboers in PNG. May the great promises of our Lord constantly be appropriated in your life this new year. Possibly, this will be the year that we see Him on the clouds. Oh how the longing grows.

Here we are marching along—the beat rather slow at this time, but marching no less. Last night we retired at 8 pm, how’s that for bringing in the New Year? Nadia has been sick, dealing with a bad cold. Our friend’s daughter, Sara, just called having heard that she was sick and offered to help look after Karlyn and Jonathan. Praise God for the help. Jonathan and Karlyn are also working through a cold, but on the mend. And me, just the regular fatigue. Especially after a Sunday, when I expend those remaining kilojoules of energy, I am burnt out the next two days. So an early evening is very common.

Our neighbours who live a close four meters behind us, mostly obliged us. They embrace life’s challenges and the future with the bottle. However, over the year they have grown to respect us a little. So, the music, rather than running at 120 decibels it is down 10 to 20 decibels, or so. So with the air-con on and two fans blowing we smothered their noises and slept.

Today it is a sunny and warm day. The goodness of the Lord is evident all around us. We march on with Him.