Thursday, March 27, 2008

Men at Work

For weeks now, Jonathan has been looking forward to building a mini picnic table with Ian. "We'll be worker men, Dad", he has said many times! Well, this past weekend, they finally set out to build that table. It took them a few hours---well, Jonathan didn't quite last that long--as you can see from the photo, the noise was a little much for him! So after about 10 minutes he ran off to play with the girls and came back to 'check' on Dad every once in a while. For Ian, it was so good to get his mind off our ministry work and some of the stresses he's dealing with right now and just be busy with his hands.

And here's the end product! Just needs a bit of sanding and some staining/varnishing!

Jonathan had to try it out--he's playing with his playdough on it. We haven't decided yet if it's going to stay inside or out. I think Ian might have to build another one...

Monday, March 24, 2008

Good Friday in Lae

Wishing you all a blessed Easter!

Here are a few snapshots from our worship service on Good Friday. Whenever we have a 'special' service (Christmas, Easter, Profession of Faith), anyone who wants to has the opportunity to present an "item" after the service. Usually a song, often sung in their mother tongue, which for most is not pidgin. Two groups of Sunday School children sang, as well as the Women's Bible Study, and these three girls you see here.

Yeah, Ian and I sang too. During his sermon, Ian had shared the story of when the hymn, "It is well with my soul" was written--after the author lost all four of his daughters to the Atlantic sea. As we remembered Christ's death on the cross for us, this verse was so powerful: "my sin--o the bliss of this glorious thought--my sin not in part but in whole, was nailed to the cross and I bear it no more, praise the Lord, praise the Lord o my soul."

After the service, we enjoyed donuts that some of the women had made--they stayed up almost all night making 300 of them!! And then, some played volleyball and others just sat around on the grass, storying with one another.

It was a wonderful way to celebrate our Lord Jesus' saving work on the cross!

Monday, March 17, 2008

God's Care

Yesterday, the number of our children suddenly doubled! Well, at least for a few days…we have Kirilee and Shiana VanderHeide staying with us. They are lovely girls—Jonathan and Karlyn are thrilled and can’t wait for them to come home from school this afternoon!

So how did this all come about….

On Saturday, Andrew was trimming the grass at the church with a weed-eater and something sharp flew up into his eye. On Sunday morning, he could not even open his eye and was in excruciating pain. Andrew and Natalie were able to make an appointment at the private hospital that morning. When we came home from church, we checked in to see how he was doing. It turned out the doctor had not been able to provide too much help—he did not even examine the eye—but did give him some antibiotics and put a patch over it. So I guess that did help a bit, but the worry was still that something was imbedded in the eye and this could of course lead to bigger problems. And he was still in a lot of pain. There are no eye specialists in Lae and so they had to consider what further options to look into—we all felt it was important for him to get his eye examined, sooner rather than later. Should they fly to Port Moresby, where apparently there is a specialist, or Cairns…or could Ukarumpa help them out—where there are ex-pat doctors and nurses. Ukarumpa’s the closest, so this is where they started and got the number for their after-hours service. Natalie had a bit of trouble getting through to them, so in the meantime we called our friends, Richard and Laura Sommer, to see if they could be of any help. In the end, Natalie was able to speak to a doctor over the phone who said that she would be able to help them—whether it was just a corneal abrasion or something in the eye. And then Richard Sommer called to say that they had found an MAF pilot (who lived here in our compound for a few months in 2006), who was willing to fly down here to pick them up. So in a matter of less than 2 hours, Andrew, Natalie and Ashlyn were on their way to the airport, and shortly after that, arrived safely in Ukarumpa. That’s amazing timing, especially for PNG! They immediately met with the doctor, who confirmed that it was an abrasion on the cornea, and that this should heal with antibiotics, but will be very painful. Still, we were so thankful for this news! There is still the fear of infection and so they’ll stay up there for a couple more days so the doctor can monitor how he’s doing.

When things like this happen here in PNG, you tend to worry more because of the lack of medical services. However, looking back on this situation, we can only marvel at the way the Lord opened doors and provided people to help Andrew and Natalie. We praise Him for providing for them in amazing ways. We praise Him for His care and protection over all of our lives.

So with all this talk about flying and catching planes yesterday, when we read the Bible story of Jesus’ ascension after dinner last night, it was no wonder that when Ian asked Jonathan where Jesus is now, he replied, “In a plane!”. We’ll have to work on that one….

Saturday, March 15, 2008

New Life!

Yesterday morning we went to the “haus krai” (literally, house cry) for Rebeka’s daughter, Nensi. This is the PNG version of funeral home visitation in Canada, and Australia too, I imagine. Here it takes place at the home of the deceased, and the family themselves have prepared the body for burial. In this case, the coffin had not yet been purchased and so her body lay on a bed outside, under the house, covered in a blanket. You had to look closely to see that there was indeed a body there—she was so frail by the end of her life, there was hardly anything left. Sitting on the ground surrounding the body were women who had come to grieve with Rebeka. They did not sit there and wail like some do. Nor had they cut themselves or poured boiling water over their bodies like we have heard of other grieving people doing. They were sitting there in quiet support. Ian opened Scripture and shared some words of comfort. And as we sat there, I looked around at the women, many of them older women, and saw their worn-out bodies and lined faces, and calloused feet and I wondered, what stories have filled their lives? I noticed that one woman had lost a hand and the other hand was gnarled and without one finger. What is her life story? Compared to young Nensi, all of these women have lived long lives and undoubtedly have carried their share of burdens through the years. Maybe some were abused and probably most had to bury a son or daughter already. TB, dehydration, malaria and now AIDS is claiming many, many lives, even, very young lives.

And sitting there around that lifeless, skeleton of a body, the finality of death was made so apparent to me again. One day here, the next day--just an empty shell. It was obvious that there is absolutely no life left, the decaying process already at work. But the beauty of knowing the Lord Jesus Christ is that the spirit, the soul, was alive and well with Him! What a powerful reality! I felt this sense of urgency; hoping and praying that all of those women knew and believed the words of Scripture Ian had read and shared with them. And that if they are still lost, the Lord would use Nensi’s death to lead them Home!

As sister Rebecca didn’t want the body of Nensi put in the morgue, the funeral service and burial all happened the day after she died, in the afternoon. I was home with the kids, but Ian shared with me that through it all the mourning was very subdued. One commented that the Words of Christ bring hope in the face of such tragedy. Yet there was one, Ian said, who wept uncontrollably. It was Nensi’s young husband. Although we never met him, they had married about a year ago and already then TB was beginning to take its toll on Nensi’s life. They never enjoyed the dawning years of matrimony. Instead, they experienced very early on the setting sun, the goodbye. We hope and pray that if he doesn’t know the hope of glory, that the Spirit through the Word will quicken his heart to know it. That in Christ there is life, so that even when you die you live!

This is sister Rebeka, Nensi's mother. The photo was taken in June 2007, when she officially became a member of our church.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Please pray

Our church community has been hit with grief again. A young girl, of about 19 years of age, who had been suffering with Tuberculosis for a long time now, passed away. Please pray for her mother Rebeka, who is a widow, and her sister and brother.

Thank you, and God bless.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Our little tugboat...

We did the deed, we bought a boat. No, it is not a yacht, nor is it a sail boat; rather it is more like a little tugboat. It is a 19 ft, dual hull type, centre consul steering, 12 year old, motor boat. And here it is.

We know that some, though very few of you, will be thinking: what are these missionaries doing with a boat? To be sure, we did struggle with the purchase. We don’t want to set ourselves further apart from the people than we have to. Maybe that is why the Lord helped us find a ‘missionary’ looking boat—-simple and therefore not ostentatious. Notwithstanding its modest appeal, living near the Huon Gulf and having nowhere to go on our day off to get away from the stress of life in Lae, we felt it was a bone fide means of respite. So we paired up with our friends from SIL (or Wycliffe) and purchased a boat and it will be kept at their place when it is not in the water. So there you have it. We look forward to our periodic getaways though this will be after we get it water ready, it needs a little TLC. There is said to be great fishing and great reefs not too far away. Our fish and crab appetite is growing! (Actually we just devoured two large crabs tonight...I think Karlyn ate one whole one on her own!) We also look forward to bringing some of our friends, both national and expat, on board for fellowship and fun. And by the way, you are all welcome aboard as well!

And this is a glimpse of where you will go…
(There are two large rivers that feed into the Huon Gulf, which depending on the wind/current remove some of the deep blueness from the water. However 1/2 km out, it is tropical blue again!)

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Living Hope in Tent City

We worshipped in the finished church building in Tent City for the first time this past Sunday, that is, in the Tent City Living Hope Reformed Church. The national pastor, Pastor Raymond, led the service and preached about the life we have that is only found in God's Word and in Jesus Christ!

The small congregation there has been through some hardships lately. Satan has worked hard to bring division, and some of the leaders have fallen for his temptations—causing the power of money and the power of the flesh to reek havoc on the small, tenuous group of believers. As we sat under the newly erected building, we couldn’t help but pray that God would now build up the members of the church to be “mature and complete, not lacking in anything.” That He would break down the walls of anger and resentment and bring forth forgiveness and renewal in their relationships with one another, “forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave [them].” That we will see the congregation grow---in number, yes, but even more importantly that each member will grow in their love for the Lord Jesus Christ and His Word.

Some of you may be wondering about the name Tent City…this is the official name for the area, which is about 10 kms outside of Lae. A suburb, if you like, of Lae. It is said that it got its name when people whose original land was damaged by flooding, settled there temporarily, and lived in dwellings much like tents. There are no tents there today, but the name has stuck, maybe because the permanency of most homes is dubious at best.