Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Desperate Dad

What would make a mother leave her husband and 8-month old son? I've been pondering this question the last few days since the husband and baby came to visit us. The baby was a beautiful, chubby, big brown-eyed, adorable little guy, who stole all of our hearts in the short time he was with us. I've gone over all the possibilities as to why his mom would leave him--maybe her husband was abusive towards her, or maybe unfaithful. Maybe they were arguing all the time. Maybe she herself was struggling with depression or another mental health issue. Or, maybe selfishness won out and she simply did run off with another man because he had more money than her husband, as her husband shared with us.

She left about 2 weeks ago. He was very emotional about it and moved to tears because of his struggles with caring for their baby son on his own. Not to mention he was very angry and saying rather matter-of-factly that he wanted to kill his wife. He also said he had resolved to give his son away to someone who could care for him, but then he remembered that his son was a gift from God. As he talked with us, the little boy snuggled up against his father and started to cry as he looked at our strange (that is, white) faces. He hadn't eaten yet, so we warmed up some milk for him. He had no bottle, but he was used to just sipping from a cup. Mid-way through our conversation with the father, the baby decided to fill his pants, and since he was only wearing underpants, things got a little messy. Thankfully, Caleb's XL diapers fit around his chubby legs!

The father then told us that he had actually hoped that we could have cared for the baby. At that moment, my heart melted as I looked at the adorable baby boy, all smiles with us now that his tummy was full. But at the same time, I knew this was not God's will for us, not at this time anyway. Since it's common for extended family members to care for children, we asked the father if he had any relatives who could help him. In the end, we helped pay his way to his village, where his mother and sisters lived, which is two days away--a long bus and boat ride away from here.

I've wondered many times how they're doing. Did they make it to the village, or did the father change his mind? How is the little guy doing? Is he healthy? Is he hungry? Will his grandmother and aunties lovingly care for him or will he simply be another mouth to feed? Will he ever see his mother again? And most importantly, will he grow up to know and love His Maker? So many questions, but no answers. The silence in the unanswered questions reminds us to leave this father and little boy in the Lord's hands.

"He tends His flock like a 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

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Our Homecoming

Just over 2 weeks ago, we arrived back here in Lae. Our home awaited us...with a thick layer of dust over everything. Ian mopped our floors over and over again for an hour and a half just so the soles of our feet wouldn't be blackened! Communication with the outside world was also limited--the phone was disconnected and internet not working. That was ok, after a day of travelling we were too tired to talk, skype, blog or email anyway! And besides, we had to be up bright and early the next morning for the kid's first day of school. Or so we thought. Turns out we got the dates mixed up somehow because we were the only ones who showed up for school that day! Oh well, try again tomorrow. The other surprise awaiting us when we got home were some unexpected visitors. It's not ideal to have visitors when you're just getting settled in, but these aren't the kind who get in the way at all. In fact, we don't see much of them, especially during the day. The only problem is they haven't yet let us know how long they're planning to stay and to be honest, it's getting a bit inconvenient to have them around, as discreet as they are. So, we've set some traps with a little bit of peanut butter and put out some poison and we're hoping these visitors of ours will soon be here no more, as inhospitable as that may sound!

Our first Sunday back at church we were glad to see many new and old faces, and especially some that we hadn't seen in a long time. John Lanta (pictured below on the left) and his family have returned after living in Brisbane, Australia for 2 years while John studied for his Masters in Mathematics. He's returned to his teaching position at the University of Technology here in Lae. The man in the middle is Martin Makusi, a long-time member of the Reformed Churches of PNG who recently repatriated back to the other side of the island, West Papua. He was on his way to also visit the churches in Port Moresby and stopped by to say hello. And lastly, on the right is Rumanasen, the oldest member of our church and also our faithful and honest treasurer (a rare find in PNG).
John and Polena Lanta's daughter, Yoni.
The school year at the Bible College in Port Moresby will also soon commence. Here are Gami and Joel, who have already returned to the Bible College to get their children enrolled in school and do some work on their garden, which will hopefully provide them with fruits and veggies while they study.
They were a blessing to the church while in Lae as Joel helped lead some worship services while we were away; Gami met with the Sunday school teachers to encourage them in their work; and they both travelled to another area of PNG where there is interest in starting another Reformed Church and met with the people there.
May the Lord give them and all the students and staff at the Bible College a blessed year of study again!