Friday, October 23, 2009

It seems there is never a dull moment in this land of the unexpected. At least we haven’t had one since we arrived back in Lae on the 2nd of October. We unpacked some stuff, cleaned, organized, set up (all the while sweating) and then only 5 days later packed up again for our conference in the Highlands.

The conference attendees. (From the top, the Hagoorts, Versteegs, Doumas, W & C VanderHeides, us and A VanderHeide and girls. Natalie is missing as she needed to be in Cairns at the time.)

We thoroughly enjoyed being at the conference. We laughed, we cried, we prayed, we sang, we learned, and we planned with our fellow Reformed missionaries here in PNG. The focus of the conference was a course on dealing with conflict biblically based on the book, “The Peacemaker” by Ken Sande. We highly recommend this book/dvd series as it has so much benefit for all of the relationships in our lives—with our husbands/wives, children, extended family, colleagues, churches, etc. We also discussed the ongoing work that is happening in the churches in the Port Moresby area as well as here in Lae, and the Bible College in Moresby. Many plans and hopes and dreams were put forward and we pray for the Lord’s blessings over them all.

All the kids had great fun together! From left to right, Sjaan Vanderheide holding her brother, Joseph. Jonathan, Bryce Vanderheide, Shiana VanderHeide, Kirilee VanderHeide holding Caleb, Karlyn and Cameron VanderHeide.

We were home from the conference only two days and Karlyn began to complain of a ‘tummy ache’. This tummy ache soon turned into her not being able to keep even a sip of drink in without vomiting it out. “I don’t want to be sick anymore” she began to say, but her stomach just wouldn’t settle. And this is where we begin to get a little worried and distressed. Not only is it heart-wrenching to watch your child being sick, as any parent knows, but here in this climate there is great danger of dehydration happening fairly quickly. And to add to our stress, we weren’t sure where we would take her if she did need to see a doctor. That is always the dilemma…during the day, the suitable health care options are slim and at night, even slimmer. But we remembered hearing about a new private hospital that had just opened up the week before, so Ian drove there to check it out. He came back with some children’s oral rehydration solution and the news that there was a doctor on call if we did need to take her in that night. We were so relieved to know we had this option. We fed her the oral rehydration drink for that night—actually we bribed her with toea (PNG coins) as it’s a bit hard to get down! She seemed ok the next morning, but by afternoon the vomiting started again so we brought her to the new hospital.

She was immediately put on an IV drip because of dehydration. Unfortunately, her veins were a little collapsed and therefore difficult to reach. So after two unsuccessful attempts in the hands, (in the first attempt they thought they found a vein and began the IV, covered it up only to find out 15 minutes later that her hand was swelling like a little balloon,) the doctor was able to locate a small vein in her ankle. And so after much crying, a pool of tears and prayers, the needle went in. This all seemed eerily familiar to us as Jonathan suffered the same only a few months into this country back in 2005! Then it took 19 attempts to find a vein, here we were blessed after 3.

Being a new hospital we were given a clean private room where Karlyn attempted to sleep and so did Ian who was staying the night with her. It was a long night, especially as the IV drip caused quite a bit of pain to her little foot and ended falling out at 5 in the morning—clogging the entrance with blood. It was decided to keep it out from then on and she could then rest without any foot pain. She did have two pees and no vomiting or diarrhea during the night--we praised God for this blessing! And after a little food and drink she was released from the hospital but still complained of stomach cramps which lasted a few days. She was put on antibiotics which seemed to have cleared up the infection and she is basically back to her normal self. Here she is with Daddy, looking pretty happy and healthy, eh!?

Now that the crisis with Karlyn is over, we are dealing with a house that has been under repair. We’ve had workers in and out all week, usually 4 or 5 at a time—not that we’re complaining—but it’s just made things a little crazier. Two of our ceiling fans needed replacing. One of our showers was leaking down to our downstairs bathroom and leaving rust-coloured stains running down the walls. The bottom of the cupboard under our kitchen sink had rotted through and caved in (by termites?). Many of our window screens had holes in them and louvres needed repairing. And then today, when I was out taking someone to the hospital, the pest control people came. “Didn’t your landlord tell you? And is the house ready?”, they asked Ian as he was home trying to get some work done and take care of Karlyn and Caleb! (Jonathan was at school—-he goes 3 days a week.) So with the help of the pest control guys, he emptied all of the kitchen cupboards and closets, and pulled everything away from the walls and covered it all with sheets so they could spray. That’s what I came home to! We then had to be out of the house for 3 hours, which is how the above photo of Ian and Karlyn was taken. We went to a local hotel for a swim and some lunch. And then it was back home to clean and wash and organize once again—a huge job! We are trying to look on the bright side---having pest control done is a great way to clean out your cupboards and closets and dust behind bookshelves and desks, etc! And all of the cockroaches that may have been lurking around have all been dealt with, along with any termites, ants, and other little critters. (I’ve actually only seen 2 roaches in the house since we’ve been back, but for someone with a phobia, that’s enough!)

So it’s been a busy few weeks and we’re looking forward to settling down into some sort of routine and getting full into the ministry work again.

Here's Caleb with Kirilee VanderHeide, his no. 1 babysitter! All 3 of our kids love the VanderHeide girls who live right here with us in our compound.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Today we are in Lae, finally!

We've arrived. We are in Lae, today! After a month of transitioning from one home to another, one hotel to another, one plane to another, we praise God that we can finally say we are at home. To be sure, when we finally walked in the door of our house everything looked like it was when we left it, but it didn't really feel like it was ours. It felt more like we were borrowing someone's house still. Fourteen months away can create strange somewhat surreal feelings in your mind.

All the same, our co-workers made us feel like it was our 'home.' Natalie VanderHeide had prepared a great meal for us and we shared it around our table, with our chairs and in our kitchen. In just a few hours we did a lot of catching up with Andrew and Natalie, and our kids were right at home playing with their much loved play mates, Kirilee, Shiana and Ashlyn.

Then on Sunday we fellowshipped with our brothers and sisters in Lae. It was good to see them again. The congregation had a few new members and lost a few, but all said it was the same. We shook everyone's hand, said a lot of 'good to see you' in Pidgin and shed a few tears. It is often the case that when missionaries leave the nationals feel that they won't come back. They are deeply moved, it seems, when they do. It is a gift of God that we could worship together, be fed in their (second) language, Tok Pisin, and enjoy fellowship together. In the end, it felt as if the year away was compressed into but a few hours-that too was a little surreal.

Now here we are. At times there are those pangs of longing for what we enjoyed in Canada over the past year--family, friends, comforts and all that is familiar, but like turbulance on a plane the pangs come and go. We praise God that we can be here and we praise God that He is here with us--we sense His closeness.

Sorry there aren't any photos to compliment this little update. But picture this, if you will: green, very green, banana groves and lush vegetation, countless hundreds of people walking around, potholes, nice buildings and delapitated settlement homes, blue skys and blue ocean and brilliant sunshine. Or if you will, our children dressed in summer wear riding their bike and trike and enjoying their friends in our compound. Or, Caleb, our littlest man trying to make sense of all that has happened to him--unsettled on his own, but relaxed in our arms.

If that doesn't work, we promise next time to post a few photos.

Thanks again for all of your love and prayers and we continue to covet both!!