Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Very Blessed Christmas to You

Wishing you much joy as you celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ,
our Saviour,
our Prince of Peace,
our Mighty God,
and the Only One Who brings hope and healing and true love into our lives!

Couldn't quite get it together for a family shot this year,
but here is one of the kids at least.
We really want to say thank you as well, for all the support and prayers, comments and cards this past year. It all means a lot to us and it's very encouraging that you would take the time to think of us and keep up with our Days in Lae.

Thank you and may God continue to bless and keep you, also in the new year.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Welcome to the Family

Last Sunday was a joyous day as we welcomed some sisters into our church family. Grace Binabe and Jennifer Samson professed their faith in Christ and then also became members of our church, and two little girls were baptized as well. It is always a joy to witness this and we pray that these women and girls will faithfully serve the Lord for the rest of their lives! The only sad part of the day was that the husbands, although they were there, did not make the same commitment. We pray for the Spirit to move them and that they will also publicly confess Christ as Lord and Saviour and commit to being faithful members of our church.

This is Ian baptizing Martha as her mother and aunt stand behind her.

Here's Grace and Jenny with the pidgin Bibles they received from the church,
and also Martha with her baptism certificate.
Her sister, Angela, was also baptized
but I wasn't able to pin her down to join the photo.

That same Sunday, we also officially welcomed Pastor Tim and Francine (and Avigail) into our church family. Here they are, with front row seats, enjoying the various performances put on to welcome them (mostly songs). It is already a blessing to have them with us.

Some of the youth singing their welcome song.
And of course there was food...

and time to 'story' together...

and here's Karlyn, relaxing and enjoying PNG kaikai!

What a beautiful day it was!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Meet Little Agnes

We praise and thank God that the little baby who fell from the hospital bed at birth seems to be doing well. She came home from the hospital two days ago, and does not seem to have any lasting effects from the fall.

Here she is with her mom, Annie and big sister, Christina.

Baby Agnes

On the political scene, it looks like they've decided who our Prime Minister is, which is probably a good thing. The Governor-General changed his mind and decided to reinstate the 'popular illegitimate one', who I guess is now legit. Hopefully this is the end of the tug-of-war.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Prayers Needed for a Little One

A couple from our church was blessed with a baby girl yesterday, however, when the mother was giving birth at the public hospital, there were no nurses present with her (and they do not allow the husbands in) and when the baby came out, she slipped off the bed and fell into a bucket that was on the floor. Unbelievable, isn't it? And yet somehow it does not surprise us.

We do not know the extent of the injuries to the little one, although she is crying a lot as if in pain and had quite a high temperature today. We ask you to please pray that there will be no serious, permanent injuries from this fall.

Please also pray for the parents, Jerry and Annie. About 2.5 years ago, they already lost their second child who was stillborn at birth.

We cling to the promises of our Good Shepherd:
"He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young." Isaiah 40:11

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Earth Quakes

We just felt a 7.3 magnitude earthquake here in PNG. All is ok in Lae, since it was 89 km south-west of here, although there was a lot of shaking and things falling off shelves, and we ran out of the house, just in case. We're not sure yet how those are doing who were nearer to the epi-centre.

This earthquake hit also at a time of political upheaval as on Tuesday a Supreme Court decision reinstated Sir Michael Somare as Prime Minister, even though 109 MPs refused to drop their support for Peter O'Neill, who was voted in by parliament on August 2, 2011 (because Somare had been away in Singapore for many months for serious medical treatment). Somare is urging police to remain neutral and do their utmost to maintain peace, law and order. In effect, we really have two Prime Ministers right now, one supported by Parliament and the other by a Supreme Court decision.

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging...

Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress."

Psalm 46

Monday, December 12, 2011

God's children

It really is safe to say that things are stable again here in Lae. We're thankful for that! We also hope that the tribes involved can move on and let the government deal with the larger issues of law and order. We would like to keep things moving with our blog too, and so it's time to update you on a few other things that have also been happening in our ministry and family these past few weeks.

First of all, we'd like to share that we had a very special Sunday a few weeks ago where two of God's children were baptized. It is always beautiful to be reminded of God's promises to the children of believers and we do pray that both of these children will respond to these promises as they get older and come to confess Jesus Christ as their Saviour and Lord!

And here they are:

This is Martha with her son, Tobias.

And Monica, with her daughter, Nadia (my namesake!).
Our Heavenly Father's faithful love for these precious children is even more beautiful considering that their earthly fathers are not really involved in their lives right now. A sad reality, and also one that brings heartache to the mothers. Please also pray for them that they will have all they need to raise their children to know the Lord!

That's all for now, please check again soon for another update.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Life Goes On, But...

It's been just over 2 weeks since the unrest began in Lae and at first glance it would seem that things have basically gotten back to normal. There are no longer thousands of armed young men roaming the streets of Lae preparing for a fight! We're thankful for that, but when you look a little closer, you soon realize that the situation remains volatile and still needs much prayer.

Our children had a full week of school, but the public schools have all remained closed. Even the hospital's services have been affected and it is only open for emergency situations. This past week, some of the businesses made the decision to evacuate their ex-pat employees to Australia. But I think the worst of it all is the rumours that continue to fly around which cause greater uncertainty and evoke fear in the hearts of many Papua New Guineans. Such as, the rumours of fights happening in different areas; of counterfeit police officers arresting people and later killing them; of doctors and nurses not properly caring for patients and letting them die if they are from the other tribal group; and of witchcraft and what they call "nature-men" who are gathering their young men together and wielding the powers of darkness against their enemies.

The thing about rumours is that it's often difficult to discern whether they're true or not. In the case of the rumours of black magic, however, it is apparent that there is a very real spiritual battle going on here (Ephesians 6:12). Although PNG is a "Christian nation", there are many who still bend the knee to Satan and take part in traditional ancestor worship. We were not surprised then to have it confirmed that the leader of the large group of rioters who started all of this, was one of these so-called "nature-men". In what became a deadly deception, he believed he was invincible and that his black magic would protect him from the bullets of the police officers. Our neighbour is a member of the police task force and was involved in setting up the barricade to try to keep the large group from coming back into the city two weeks ago and wreaking more havoc. As the leader continued to bring the crowd past the police barricade, it became apparent that they would have to shoot him down if they wanted to get the crowd under control. And that is what they did. It is so sad that he, and so many others, could be so deceived. Still the situation could've been that much worse if the police had not succeeded. Praise and thanks be to God for using them to keep it under control. He most definitely is , our Mighty Fortress, and He will win the battle!

And so we do ask you to keep praying, always being thankful for your faithfulness in prayer...
  • for all those who have been and are still being affected by this tribal warfare (those who have lost loved ones and their homes; those still living in fear).
  • for those who are being deceived by the father of lies, that the TRUTH of the Gospel may illuminate the darkness in their lives.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Getting There

On the morning of Day 7, it seems safe to say that things are really settling down. They did not need to declare a State of Emergency and so the army has not been sent in to restore order. Schools and businesses reopened yesterday, although probably only about half the children and employees were there. Many still stayed home out of fear, and public transportation was not fully operational yet. Hopefully, another day of peace will help to put the schools, businesses and public transport back into full swing again, albeit with tighter security.

Yesterday, 3000 Morobeans gathered to present a letter addressed to our Prime Minister Peter O'Neill. In it they stated that they will agree to stop fighting if certain conditions are met, the most significant one being the call to maintain law and order at the major bus stops and main areas in town. And certainly this seems to be the straw that broke the camel's back and started the unrest---when the Morobeans felt they needed to take the law into their own hands to deal with the crimes being committed in these areas by, supposedly, the youth from the highlands.

If any good has come out of this whole ordeal, it is that the government has been forced to take action and it certainly seems it has been negligent. One of the newspapers reported that the Morobe Provincial Law and Order Committee set up many years ago to monitor law and order trends in the city hasn't met for the last three years! Now the government has appointed an assembly law and order committee to look into ethnic tension in the city. Here's hoping they will take their task very seriously! They also stated that there will be more police presence at the major bus stops in town.

Lessons have been learned, eyes have been opened, solutions to the problems will be sought, but this has all come at a great cost. The official report is that six are dead. We're sure many more have been injured. Many houses have been burnt down and a large number of innocent families have again been displaced. And possibly, the tension between the two groups is even higher.

That's when you realize again the great need for prayer. We need to pray for this city -the youth, the leaders, but no less the parents and grandparents and children. For at bottom the issue is one of the heart. Theft, rape, murder, rioting, uncontrolled anger, disrespect, lying and corruption are all indicators that the heart of 'man' is desperately evil...continually. That heart needs to be purged and cleansed, atoned for by the precious blood of our Saviour, the Prince of Peace. We will soon enter the time of advent, we pray that the people of Lae will understand what that means.

There is one who has come to redeem, to set free, to bring peace and reconcile us to God carrying our sin and guilt and shame on the cross so that in Him and only in Him we can know true Peace! That is the kind of peace that will last forever!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Day 5

Thank you everyone for your support and prayers! It's amazing to know that people all over the world are praying for Lae. And your prayers are needed! We know this is more than just a physical struggle, and that there is also a very real battle going on in the spiritual world. The Prince of darkness will do what he can to keep the hatred and fighting and killing happening and to try to break up the unity within the body of Christ. He may try, but Christ will keep His flock together, and protect His own!

Last night around 9:00pm, we got a frantic call from the families living on the church property saying that there was panic again in the settlement, with people running everywhere, saying that the Morobeans were coming to fight, but they weren't sure which way they were coming from. They were very afraid. Ian asked if they wanted him to come pick them up, but they didn't want to risk him coming over there either. In the end, they turned the lights off so as not to attract attention to themselves, and they prayed. After that, in the midst of the chaos, they felt the peace that passes understanding. And the Morobeans never did come. We think that the increased police presence (recruits were sent in from Port Moresby and the Highlands) held them off at the back of the settlement.

Today, was almost a normal day. Stores and businesses reopened; people seemingly went about their lives as they normally do. We were able to re-stock our fridge and cupboards. Jonathan and Karlyn had a fun day off of school swimming in the pool and playing with the other kids in the compound. However, there was another reality check, in a certain area outside of the city, we heard that the fighting continued and that there have been more deaths. It's difficult to know what's really happening and what are just rumours and certainly the Father of lies loves to twist the truth to put fear in the hearts of many. A friend called this morning to say that she heard from more than one source that the town water had been intentionally contaminated and that we shouldn't touch it. This put us into a bit of a tailspin, especially since I was in the middle of doing the dishes and laundry. We were very skeptical that this could occur, but then again nothing really surprises us anymore and many people were saying it was true. In the end, it wasn't, thankfully, but this just added to the stress of the whole situation.

Tomorrow, school will reopen again and we hope we will be that much closer to a peaceful resolution. Please keep praying--not only that the fighting will stop, but also that God will use this to bring people to Himself!

We also want to praise God for His care and protection over our coworkers, Tim and Francine Sikkema, this past weekend. As they are in the middle of cultural training, they're living in a village for 5 weeks--and are about 2 hours from town and the nearest doctor. Tim ate some grubs and had a toxic reaction to them--and even went in and out of consciousness a few times until his village papa told him to eat some charcoal. This worked quickly to help absorb the toxins in his stomach and stop the effects of the allergic reaction. It was a very frightening experience for them, and we're thankful that the Lord spared his life. And he is doing much better today! Their village papa has sent out a "decree" that no one in the village is allowed to give him anything unusual to eat--looks like it's just kaukau (sweet potato) and kumu (greens) from here on in!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Unrest in Lae--Day 4

When we woke up this morning, we weren't sure if it would be safe enough to worship at our church, but a couple phone calls to the members there and we decided it should be ok. The benches were a little emptier than usual as many stayed home because of the uncertainty. Smaller in number, but still we offered worship and praise up to the Lord and a message on Ephesians 6:18 was very fitting during this time of unrest. ("And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints."). We do need to be fervent in prayer as reports of injuries and deaths continue and the crowds are massing for payback.

Those living at our church witnessed much pain and at times feared for their own lives when they met up with the crowds yesterday. One couple shared that they were walking along the road when a father and son came running towards them and basically fell into their arms, just shaking with fear. They had just escaped from their burning house. Another family fled their home and slept on the floor of the church, fed and looked after by the members who were still there. Others spoke of being up all night, watching and waiting, wondering what would happen.

The situation remains tense and uncertain. There are rumours that the Morobeans will try to present another petition to the Governor tomorrow. Police patrols are around town and also along the outskirts. It looks like the military will also be deployed. But even as we say all this, we know that the Lord is in control. Nothing will happen outside of His will. So thankful for that.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Things Have Gotten a Little Chaotic


The headline on the front page of the newspaper yesterday read, "Lae in Chaos" and certainly things have been a bit crazy around here the last few days.

As is most often the case, the chaos is a result of a clash between two tribal groups--this time two very large groups--the people from this province of Morobe and those from the Highlands. "More than a thousand Morobean youths had decided to take the law into their own hands to bring back peace", the paper read. Except they were trying to bring peace with bushknives, sticks and rocks, in their hands. While this large group was waiting outside government offices to be addressed by the governor, a fire broke out at a shop near the main market and hundreds rushed to the burning building, hoping to loot whatever they could. As the police came to restore order to that part of the city, others took advantage and tried to begin looting shops at another area in town. It really was chaotic.

This resulted in many shops, businesses and schools being closed. Our children's schools are already closed on Monday too. Later in the day yesterday we saw large groups of men and even boys, still carrying knives and sticks and rocks, walking past our gate and apparently heading out to an area further out of town to fight.

It's too early to tell what's happening today, but definitely we will be more careful when we go out---we have no choice as we do need some groceries to get us through the weekend. We will be careful but we do not worry about being targeted as this issue is really between the two groups and we are very noticeably not part of either of them! Although there is the chance of unknowingly getting caught in the middle of something. And that uncertainty makes the situation a bit worrisome...But we are in the Lord's hands--there's no better place to be!

All the shops are closed. There will be no buying groceries today. We can make the food in our house stretch for a couple days, but our PNG friends who typically buy what they need for the day everyday will find it more difficult. Thankfully, quite a few of them have gardens, but still the situation will get desperate quite quickly.

Throughout the day, we make and receive phone calls--our friends and church members are all ok so far, but there is fighting in a few areas around the outskirts of town. Everyone is very tense and it is uncertain what will happen. It is confirmed that the police have already shot and killed 2 of the Morobeans. Rumour has it that there have been other deaths as well.

Ian receives a call from the families living on our church property asking if he can pick up the women and children and bring them to a safer place. Our church is situated on the edge of one of the largest settlements and as Ian drives up, he witnesses hundreds of women and children carrying as many of their earthly belongings as possible and fleeing the settlement. Where they will all go, we have no idea. But the Morobeans have been burning down homes of the Highlanders at the back of the settlement already and the worry is that a big fight will come up in that settlement.

Please pray with us for PEACE.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Airplane Crash

Our country is in shock over an airplane crash that left 28 dead and only four survivors. It was an "Airlines PNG flight"one of the two major airlines in PNG, and the plane was flying from Lae to Madang. Those who saw it go down say there was smoke coming from the engines. The plane crash-landed and then exploded. It seems many survived the crash, only to be burned alive. Such a horrific tragedy, and people all over the country are in mourning. The big question on everyone's minds is, WHY? Why did this happen? Engine failure? Faulty fuel? Bad weather?

We have flown with this airline many times, and we were actually on the first leg of this exact flight just a couple weeks ago, as it's a Port Moresby--Lae--Madang route. It forces us to pause and consider that it could've happened to us.

It's a good reminder that this life is short, so short. Our days are numbered and only the Lord knows when it will be our last.

Please join us in prayer for those who have lost loved ones.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Mark and Liz in Lae

Our family enjoyed the company of Mark and Liz Mulder last week. Here they are on a visit to the Rainforest Habitat in Lae. Mark is the new chairman of our Mission Board and so we're glad they got to experience some of PNG's sights, sounds and smells--and get a real taste for what it's like to live and work here.

Our kids had a lot of fun with them too!
Karlyn and Mark: keeping cool in the pool.

Caleb is usually shy with strangers,
but thanks to Liz' gentle nature, he took to her right away.

For those of you who may not know Mark and Liz,
they have an amazing story of God's care and protection over Mark
when 95% of his body was burned in an accident 19 years ago.
Medically speaking, he shouldn't have lived, but God had other plans!
Their lives are such a powerful example of God's grace
and we're thankful that they were willing to share their story at our church,
and also with some of our other friends here in Lae.
Thanks again for coming, Mark and Liz!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Living at the RCBC

Last month, we spent 3 weeks living at the Reformed Churches Bible College (RCBC) outside of Port Moresby--home to about a dozen students and their families and also 3 missionary families (the Versteegs, VanderHeides and Doumas--from New Zealand). The highlight of the trip for our family was spending time with Wayne and Cheronne VanderHeide and family. Even though our kids were supposed to be on their school holidays, they still joined in on the homeschooling with the VanderHeides! It was crazy at times with all 7 kids in one classroom--there were occasional shouting matches, some tears and maybe even a few punches thrown here and there! But still a lot of learning took place (also because of their great teacher!) and they also had a ton (heaps:)) of fun.

A rare moment: the 5 year olds and 2 year olds
all sitting down at the table together!!

Cameron and Karlyn: BIG smiles as they do their work.

Jonathan and Bryce: Working out math equations together!

Will these homemade boats float?!

Two cheeky 2 year olds!

Even the chickens are friendly at the Bible College--
friendly enough to supply us with fresh eggs everyday too!

These are some of the men studying at the Bible College.
It was such a joy for Ian to teach them,
and he would be happy to do it again sometime.

There was also a women's conference that took place at a village about 4 hours from Moresby. Cheronne and Wayne were the main speakers. They taught on Proverbs 31--the wife of noble character.

Ten women flew over from Lae to attend the conference. They all worked hard to save the money to get to Moresby, also with the additional help from the Women's Bible Studies in Australia, for which they were extremely thankful. The conference was such a blessing to them. They are still talking about what they learned and how they were impacted by the weekend. In the photo, they're wearing traditional 'meriblouses' in the colours of their province. Although I was not able to go to the conference, they did still buy me a meriblouse just like theirs since I am now a "meri Morobe' too, they say (that is, a woman from the Morobe province)!

Back to the Bible College where our 3 are hanging out,
being silly and enjoying the go-cart.

Ian also had the opportunity to preach in 3 of the churches.
Here he is preaching in a settlement called East Boroko, for the first time.
It was a good opportunity to meet the people there and worship with them.

There is never a dull moment at the Bible College.
This was part of a Games Carnival that was organized one afternoon.

And here we are at the end of our time in Port Moresby,
so thankful for the times we had at the Bible College,
but also ready to return home to Lae.
The work at the Bible College is pivotal to the future of our churches in PNG, and it was an amazing privilege to be part of it, even just for 3 weeks. We continue to pray for the Lord's richest blessings on all of the students and staff. May He build up strong and faithful leaders in our churches. May faith grow and mature and may more people also come to faith in the Lord Jesus!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Our Girl is Five!

Here she is, our 5 year old girl! Ready for school and looking pretty proud wearing her new shirt and birthday girl badge from Grandma and Grandpa! Last year Karlyn ended up with chicken pox on her birthday so she didn't have a party at all. This year we invited all the girls from her class to come for a "Princess Party". Thankfully, a few good friends helped me out in getting everything ready.
Here's Odessa and I getting the pink castle cake ready.
I've been so blessed with creative friends.
This is Vinisha and Rhonda creating a castle out of an old fridge box.
Karlyn and Rhonda's daughter Thais posing in front of the castle.
The Princesses all decorated their own crowns.
There were a few princes hanging around too!
All the princesses took turns posing on the throne for a royal photo shoot.
"Happy Birthday to Karlyn!"
I was pretty happy with how the cake turned out.
There was even a gluten-free layer for Ian and me!
Karlyn and her friends had a lot of fun that morning and we were so thankful to be able to celebrate the five years God has given our daughter.

May she grow up to be a faithful daughter of the King!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Introducing RCMP Officer, Jonathan Wildeboer

Look out, rascals! Officer Jonathan's on the beat!
Well, actually this was his costume for Book Character Day. All items except for a few gold buttons were found right here in Lae at second-hand stores! Special thanks to a good friend who helped put it together by sewing the details on the shirt and pants. And thanks to the Huizingas for sending over those buttons from Cairns!

Beautiful Madang

Our family recently took a trip to a town 5 hours up the coast called Madang. That is where our new co-workers are doing their cultural training and so we as a family went to bring them there and thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to enjoy a couple days in Beautiful Madang.

Searching for sea creatures and sea shells!
Enjoying the beautiful grounds at Madang Resort.
The pool was great fun too.
And here's Francine, Tim and Avigail, when we dropped them off at their Pacific Orientation Course. They look pretty happy to be there, don't they? We look forward to hearing more about their adventures when they return to Lae in November. May our Lord keep them safe and healthy as they go through their training including 5 weeks of village living.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Piglet and Speedy Join the Family

It seems it was inevitable that when living in Papua New GUINEA, we would eventually acquire some GUINEA pigs for pets. So, here's Ian on his day 'off' getting their little home ready.
Thankfully he had help from our friend, Raymond.
And from Jono, of course!
Jono's guinea pig was originally named Blackie but soon after arriving earned herself the name "Speedy". We were just thankful we were able to catch her again. Jono had learned the hard way not to let her run loose outside!!!
And here is Karlyn with Piglet, who is much more docile than her sister Speedy and content to hang out in Karlyn's arms. They are a good match.
I never thought I would say this about rodents, but they are really cute and are great pets for kids. Definitely recommended!

Our Little Man Turns 2!

On Monday, August 8th, we celebrated Caleb! He is 2 years old already! He wasn't too sure about the birthday cake though...took one look at it and said, "yuck" and then was afraid of the candles and kept saying, "ow, ow"!
But one taste and he decided it was edible!
We also celebrated with his 2 friends, Jakin and Tiana who also turned 2 (on the 6th and the 9th). It was pretty special to celebrate with the 3 of them together.
We praise and thank God for our little man Caleb and pray that he will grow up to know and love His Saviour Jesus Christ.