Thursday, May 27, 2010

Praying for Agnes

This is a picture of Agnes and 3 of her 4 daughters, taken a couple years ago.

Agnes has not been feeling well for probably at least the last month, maybe longer. As most of the people here do, she put off going to the doctor. Paying the medical fees is always an issue and so they postpone it as long as they can. But they also seem to put it off because they believe that the cause of their sickness is problems or sins in their life. In this case, I think many people think that Agnes is sick because her teenage son has been causing problems lately (living the party life) and to some extent Agnes herself even believes this to be the root of her sickness, or at least a part of it. (And of course to a certain extent stress does cause physical problems.) But for many it seems as if they think that somehow they've upset the spirit world through the problems and therefore the sickness has been brought upon them. This causes a lot of fear and also means that most people try to deal with that problem first before seeking medical attention. When Agnes did go to the doctor, she was told that she had severe malaria for which she was given quinine. Anyone familiar with this medication will know that it has horrendous side effects. Agnes endured these and finished the course of medication, but still was not feeling much better. We decided on Sunday that since her condition was not improving that it would be best to take her to the private hospital, where we had the best chance (but still no guarantee) of getting a clear diagnosis of what she was dealing with. This wasn't a decision we made easily as missionaries because the number of sick people who need proper medical attention are endless. The needs are overwhelming sometimes. Especially when we are faced with the pathetic health care system in this country. People are often misdiagnosed and mistreated. People die from illnesses that could've been prevented and should've been treated. We know this is happening and yet we cannot start taking every sick person we know to the private hospital (can't afford it!). Yet, we take every situation as it comes and in this case, Agnes needed to be further assessed. So on Monday morning Natalie went with her and her husband Andrew to the private hospital. The tests there revealed that she has typhoid fever and she was given the needed medication for this. Still, she had a terrible night last night--her husband actually thought at one point that she had died, and as he told Ian and Andrew, he pinched her big toe to prevent her spirit from leaving her body (another of their beliefs). In desperation, I think, he finally threw ice cold water on her and that revived her, but still she had a tough night and was having a tough morning when Natalie and the other women from the literacy class went to see her. But then she was a bit better again when Ian and Andrew were there this afternoon. Seems to be up and down.

Thankfully our God is the Great Physician! We're praying that He will heal and strengthen and encourage her. She needs to get her strength back and rehydrate her body while she keeps taking the medication for the typhoid. Please join us in praying for Agnes and her family!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Good Times with Papa and Nana

Yes, they left today, but we still wanted to share some photos of our holiday in Ukarumpa and Madang.
Mom posing in front of the guesthouse at the SIL/Wycliffe base called Ukarumpa (which is the name of a village close by). Ukarumpa is wonderful Christian community--home to Bible translators and other support workers from all over the world. It's basically its own little community with schools, medical clinic, grocery store, post office, church, auto shop, printing press, etc.! It is a beautiful spot too, up in the Highlands of PNG about 5000 ft above sea-level. Vast skies and rolling hills surround the Centre. It's a very family-friendly place too and often there are activities for the kids. This time there were horse rides on Saturday morning.
Here's a serious jockey if I ever saw one!After a weekend in Ukarumpa, we drove out to the nearby airstrip and boarded this Cessna 206 to fly to a town on the coast called Madang. We were quite excited to take in some of PNG's beauty from the sky. The airstrip is used by both Wycliffe and MAF (Mission Aviation Fellowship) to fly missionaries/workers and PNGuineans in and out of remote villages not accessible by car.
Dad, the co-pilot!

At our destination--beautiful Jais Aben Resort. We enjoyed the beach!
Caleb got a little tuckered out and had a snooze on Nana. You can tell she's done this before!
And again...this time in the more traditional way--in a string bag.
Let's go canoeing!
Jonathan learned to snorkel. His favourite sighting was a sea horse!
Dad and Mom, fitting right in with their tropical surroundings, on their 43rd wedding anniversary!
Our God is an Awesome God!
Our friend Gavin is a helicopter pilot for Wycliffe. In addition to flying Bible translators to and from villages, Gavin and his fellow pilots also help out the medical clinics in remote places to transport patients in emergency situations to hospitals in towns like Lae and Madang. While we were there, Gavin flew a woman to Madang who was having some complications after giving birth. And then he arranged for Ian to fly back with him to Ukarumpa in the helicopter! Ian was just a little excited about this! As was Gavin, as you can see:)
Ian said it was like floating in a bubble in the sky! They saw some amazing views of God's creation that day as did we from the plane. Ian's parents were especially thankful to take in so much of this beautiful country! Praise be to God for His handiwork displayed all around us.
And so those were our good times with Papa and Nana! We pray for safe travels for them as they travel home to Canada.

Today and Yesterday

We said goodbye to Dad and Mom today...always a difficult thing to do. How quickly we grew to love having them around and now the void is felt. It left us feeling a bit blah today--and even the skies were grey and overcast--rather appropriate, we thought! Karlyn cried over and over again on the way home from the airport, "I don't want Papa and Nana to go..."! It is hard to say goodbye, especially since it may be a year or two before we see them again. But the Lord gave us so many special experiences with them as we shared our life and ministry. Those experiences we'll remember and hold onto!

Yesterday afternoon (Sunday), we walked down to Biwat Settlement where Dad had helped put in the water tank. The men had finished the job off nicely while we were away. The pipes are all hooked up, coming from the roof of the house down to the top of the tank. They also put up sheet metal as a bit of a protective barrier around the tank--they previously had a tank in the community and it was wrecked by drunken young men and their bush knives. Hopefully, this metal fence will prevent that from happening again. Here are Dad and Mom and some of the thankful people.
Many of the people were not around as they had crossed the river to attend a community meeting on the other side. Most of the people living in Biwat are from the Sepik province, and in another town about 2 hours from Lae, their fellow Sepik relatives are in the middle of tribal warfare with the Buang tribe. The Sepik people there have been forced into hiding, fearing for their lives, many of them taking refuge at a forestry company. The Buang tribe is trying to avenge the killing of one of their young men. It is chaotic; it is frightening and terrorizing for the Sepik people in that area, but also for the ones here in Lae. The meeting was held for them to discuss how they can help and they plan to send some donated clothes for the displaced people. There are also rumours that our governor is going to force all Sepik people to leave the settlements of Lae and return to their own province. Not sure if this will really happen, but if it does, of course this would cause more chaos, protests, and bloodshed. Please pray with us for peace and a resolution to all of this fighting and uncertainty in the lives of the Sepik people.

At least the children seemed oblivious to the stressful times, as they splashed and played in the river! It didn't take long for Jonathan to get in there with them!
These two girls had dug a small hole in the dirt and were trying to flick their marbles into it.
I fell in love with this little one. Her name is Charlotte. Isn't she adorable?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Adventures with Dad and Mom W Part 2

Just quickly posting a few photos right before we leave for Ukarumpa, the Wycliffe Bible Translators base for PNG. The car is packed and everyone is ready, so I better make this quick.

Caleb and all his mamas after Bible Study last week.
Swimming at the guesthouse where Papa and Nana are staying. Thanks for sending these goggles, Aunt Melissa and Uncle Dave!
PAPA STILL AT WORK: Dad building a wooden cross for the church.
Singing a nice new song that Natalie wrote in pidgin on Psalm 1. Notice the cross in the background!
PAPA STILL WORKING: Dad has been helping the people in Biwat Settlement install a water tank. The tank was purchased through a donation from some members of the Free Reformed Churches in Australia. All the kids in the settlement were involved with finding stones to fill the bottom!
The concrete based--mixed by hand.
After waiting 'only' 5.5 hours for it, the tank finally arrives. A bit of a tight squeeze! Dad visited with the people, drank lots of kulau (coconut juice), and ate peanuts while they waited.

The truck couldn't go all the way into the settlement, so 20 men carried it to its spot from here. But just when Dad tried to capture that moment on camera, his battery died!
And now we're taking Dad on a holiday so he can't do any more work!
We'll be back next week!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Decision Made

The Lord directed Rev. Hendrik and Kristen Alkema to decline the call to Lae. Of course this is very disappointing for us, but it wasn't an easy decision for them either. God knows best and we have to trust in His will and plan for the work here in Lae. We also thank and praise Him that the Alkema's will continue to serve Him in Houston.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Papa and Nana in Lae: Week 1

A wave from Papa as they disembark the plane upon arriving in Lae! Thank you Lord for keeping them safe on all their travels. Our kids are basking in all the attention from their Papa and Nana! (Usually they have to share them with their cousins...all 25 of them!) It is nice to have them all to ourselves for a few offence, cousins, we still love you!
GIRL STUFF: Karlyn gets her nails painted by Nana.
PAPA AT WORK. We've already been blessed by Dad's experience with woodworking. Even with old tools, his patience being tested at the hardware stores (1 hr to get two pieces of wood!), and the humidity, Dad has had a very productive week, as per usual! Here he is working on a storage cabinet for us.
Mom and I went to the public hospital the other day to visit a friend (she used to help me in the house) who had a baby. When we got there, there were two babies on her bed! The little girl on the left is the baby of another woman. The mother had her by caesarean and was in extreme pain so our friend Jakina was helping to look after her little daughter--even changing dirty diapers and propping her up to be fed as the mother lay on her back in pain. It was difficult to witness this woman's pain especially since there were no nurses or doctors in sight. Mom, being trained as a nurse herself, would've jumped right in to help the woman, if she could've. We felt helpless and frustrated to see the lack of care in this hospital. Thankfully, our friend Jakina was doing very well and it was beautiful to see her helping this other woman--so often people here are trying so hard to make it themselves they don't care for others like this. Jakina's new little son is her fourth child and weighed a healthy 3.7 kg.
Jakina and I marvelling at her son--so fearfully and wonderfully made.
Mom has a cuddle with the other baby.
And then today Mom was working on sewing some curtains for the library at our church with some of the women. It too was an exercise in patience as it took forever to get both manual machines sewing well! But they persevered and got a good start on the curtains. Hopefully the job will be finished off next week.
This is Rebeka, who proved to be an experienced seamstress. I did not even know that she knew how to sew. She shared with me today that she used to sew clothes often until her husband wrecked her machine when he was drunk one time. Not a surprising story. It must've happened some time ago though, because her husband passed away a few years back already.
Some of the kids came along for the sewing day too! Here is Louisa and Ruth--as you can see Louisa has some terrible sores on her. Please pray that she will be healed from these sores soon.
PAPA AT WORK YET....Here is the 'white board' stand that Dad made. It will be well-used at the church for the various classes that are held.
Mom and Dad with Mom's tropical bouquet for Mother's Day.
Wishing all of you mother's a Happy Mother's Day!
May God continue to give you all what you need to be loving and godly Mom's to your children!