Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Jack and Ina in Lae

We've been blessed to have Jack and Ina deVos here with us for the past couple weeks. Jack's been the chairman of our Mission Board for many years, but it's been about 12 years since he last visited. They both quickly settled into life here! They've been a great help to us too, especially since I've been sick and not able to do much besides lie on the couch the past 5 days. We've appreciated their help around the house and with the kids.

Here they are at a gathering at church on the weekend.

Chatting with Br. Damien, who is fluent in English.

Everyone was supposed to bring a 'little bit' of food,
but the table was full of delicious choices!

Playmates Louisa and Caleb....(who apparently needed help from his
big sis to make sure he was looking somewhere close to the camera!).

With Auntie Viviana.
And already the deVos' time here in Lae is over; although their time in PNG hasn't come to an end yet. Tomorrow we all travel together to Port Moresby for a week-long conference with our colleagues and other delegates from the Mission Boards. We pray for fruitful discussions and good fellowship.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

We're Independent and We're Free...?

Thirty-five years ago yesterday, PNG gained its independence from Australia. There was a celebration at Jonathan's school, with traditional costumes and dances from the different provinces. With over 800 different tribes with their own language and traditions, PNG is very culturally diverse and this was evident in the variety of dances and costumes.
Karlyn's preschool also had their own Independence celebration. Here she is singing and dancing!
...and enjoying it!
Jonathan and a few of his friends after the presentations.
Since both kids have been learning PNG's national anthem at school, we've been singing it quite a bit at home too. It's really a beautiful anthem. We also sang it in church last week and Jonathan's loud singing made him sound like the most patriotic of all.

The last two verses go like this:

"O give thanks to the good Lord above,
For His kindness, His wisdom and love,
For this land of our fathers so free,
Papua New Guinea.

Shout again for the whole world to hear
Papua New Guinea
We're independent and we're free
Papua New Guinea"

It is sung with such pride and yet when we hear of ongoing violence and murders; when stores are looted and all order is lost; when we see the inadequate medical care; when we drive on the unmaintained roads; when we hear of the corruption in the government; and see evidence of the poor education system...we have a hard time believing that PNG is better off being independent. And this is why many people still speak of the "good ol' days" when Australia was running the country.

And as for being free, it is ironic that we see so many who are not free at all. Instead they are enslaved to sin--lives full of violence, sexual immorality, alcoholism, animism, and gambling. Take, for example, what happened during the Independence "celebration" in the settlement by our church. Drunken raskols (young criminals) were holding up cars along the road in front of our church, and one of them made the mistake of throwing a rock at a vehicle full of high-ranking army officers (who were also drunk because they had just attended a dinner party hosted by our governor). So these officers decided to turn back and enter the road by our church and began beating up three young men who had nothing to do with the crime and destroying their house. They then threatened to return today and burn everything down--our church included. This is not happening, but it shows just how ridiculous these situations can get, when even those who are supposed to be upholding the law are breaking it and causing more destruction.

When Ian preached in the settlement the other night, he talked about these things and urged them to embrace the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and truly be free! They could then have Christ's JOY, Christ's PEACE, Christ's HOPE and be eternally "independent" from the slavery of sin. That's something to celebrate!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Effects of Homebrew

We were short one musician in church today. One of our guitarists was out of commission due to injuries on both of his arms. Last week he was attacked by some young men with bush knives. They cut both his arms and his head; on one of his arms they cut so deep and with such force that they broke the bone. We're not sure if there was a reason for the attack--at least no one's telling us yet. But we do know that the attackers were under the influence of 'homebrew'--a homemade alcoholic drink also known as 'steam'. From what we gather they boil sugar, yeast and some other ingredients in some sort of enclosed canister with a pipe attached to another container. They say it is about 60% alcohol and those who drink it, and many young people do, lose complete control of themselves and often become violent.

A couple weeks ago when we were in the settlement, we saw 3 young guys walk by and judging by the 'supplies' they were carrying, we were told they were going to make steam. Ian went to talk to them, because it seemed no other adult there was going to say anything, but they quickly hid the equipment as he approached. Ian still challenged them to stay clear of it.

It aggravates us and grieves us all at the same time to see young people caught up in this. Though it is probably most infuriating that the parents seem to be standing by and watching their children make it and drink it. Of course, they are not always sober themselves.

We continue to pray for the community of Biwat and when we can we challenge and teach and try to model another way.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Karlyn says Thank You!

Thanks, Kirilee! You did an amazing job!

As you can see, Karlyn's very happy with the blanket that Kirilee VanderHeide knit for her. We're sure many of her 'babies' will be kept warm in it(!). Thank you to everyone who remembered her special day with emails, cards and even little packages! Much appreciated!