Friday, April 13, 2018

Photo Friday: new pets and back to work

Our first weekend back in Ukarumpa and we were invited to a birthday party elsewhere in the valley for one of Caleb's classmates.

 Kate, who became enamored of My Little Ponies on furlough, loved the party theme, and was thrilled to get a photo with her favorite Pinkie Pie.



The kids enjoyed a wading pool, lots of food and games, and the grownups enjoyed catching up with friends.


We also jumped right back into animal husbandry, as a friend of ours had manged to procure some layer chicks and had a few to spare.  (It's very easy to buy meat chickens here, but finding good laying hens is a bit trickier... unless you want to buy in bulk!)

Meet Brownie, Pink Face, Nugget and Greg Jr.  (Greg is really hoping his will be a rooster, although I've warned him that, for the sake of our neighbors, we will not be keeping any of these that turn out to be boys!)




The kids are mostly happy to be back.  I can't say it's all been smooth sailing, but this week everyone seems to be doing well.



 Give this kid some weapons and he's all good...



Brian is thrilled to be back at work, and already has a list of things he wants to fix, both at our house and at work.  I have not officially started work yet, but have had a few conversations about future video projects I might work on, and word is that a desk is being cleared out for me soon in one of the offices.


This morning Brian and I made our first trip to Kainantu to run some errands.  Our first priority was to renew our drivers licenses.  Despite some computer glitches, we were able to pay for and get receipts for our renewed licenses, even though we weren't able to get the actual license card itself, so we are legal drivers once again.   We weren't so lucky when we tried to register the SIM cards for our phones, so it looks like we may need to make another trip next week.  Thankfully the farm supply store had chicken feed in stock.  So the outing was partially successful!

Until next week...


Friday, April 6, 2018

Photo Friday - Trip back to PNG!

I know - it's been a month since my last Photo Friday.  We have been just a teensy bit busy though...

Our last weeks in the States were a whirlwind of packing, cleaning and goodbyes.  For the sake of brevity, I'm going to skip that and just cover our journey back to PNG (which ended up being long enough in itself!).


 Our first flight from Portland, OR to Los Angeles was uneventful (this was last Tuesday, the 27th).

We had a planned 8-hour layover in Los Angeles, so here we are leaving the airport to go to a hotel.  We swam a bit in the pool, got cleaned up, and had dinner in a restaurant before heading back to the airport.

We already had our boarding passes for our 10:30pm flight to Brisbane, so we went through security at the international terminal.  We didn't have a gate assignment and we still had a few hours to wait, so we sought out the "LAX Beach" play area that we are so familiar with:

 
Honestly, this was a big evidence that so many people were praying for our trip.  This small play area should only have held our kids attention for an hour tops, but they played here happily for hours!  Which turned out to be a good thing, since Brian and I were kind of occupied...

Brian had wandered off to find out our gate number, and I was watching the kids play.  I checked my email, and my heart sank.  Our airline was informing us that our flight had been canceled, and that they had re-booked us on another flight 24-hours later!  I texted Brian to get back to us so that I could freak out just a little bit.  

Okay... I freaked out more than a little.  Our itinerary was pretty close, and we knew that we would be arriving in PNG just in time to catch the last flight up to Ukarumpa before the four-day Easter weekend.  A delay in L.A. meant a much longer delay in PNG.  

Can I just say how great my husband is?  I indulged in some appropriate emotions at this point, but Brian kept his cool the whole time.  Through literally hours and hours of emails, phone calls, and waiting and waiting in airport service counter lines, he was calm and matter-of-fact about the whole thing.  And I know that his attitude went a long way toward the generous hotel and food voucher allowance given to us by the airline. 

The view from our hotel in Los Angeles.  It was midnight before we checked in to the hotel, and we were exhausted.  The nice thing about not leaving until 10:30 the following night was that we could all sleep in, shower, swim in the pool, and have a couple of meals before going back to the airport.  The airline had arranged late checkout, so we didn't have to head back to the airport until 4pm.

 Watching TV at the hotel in L.A.


We scrambled to figure out what to do once we got to Port Moresby a day late.  It can often be difficult finding last-minute accommodation in the capital city that doesn't cost an arm and a leg.  Several of our friends from PNG were working on their end to help us out too.  Because of the time difference, we didn't have a final plan until the following evening before we boarded the flight to Australia.

Our aviation staff managed to find space to squeeze us onto a Tuesday flight going up to Ukarumpa, if we were willing to travel with just a minimum of luggage.  The rest of our suitcases would wait to come up the following day.

We were blessed to be able to stay at our organization's compound in Port Moresby.  Their three-bedroom transit flat is often booked by staff that are there for work, but it happened to be open for the Easter weekend.  It turned out to be a much needed time of rest and family time while we got over jet lag.


There was a small saltwater pool, which we used every day.


We were able to rent a vehicle to drive around town.  The boys loved playing the "taxi game" - counting the taxis that they saw.  Their record was 215 taxis on a single outing!


 
We were close to the Vision City shopping mall - the only big mall in the country, complete with escalators, food court, gelato, and a movie theater.  One day we took the kids to see Sherlock Gnomes.


On Easter we attended Boroko Baptist Church... because it was the only Port Moresby church that we had heard about.  We knew people who had attended there, and we happened to sit next to the U.S. Ambassador during the service!


We also visited the Port Moresby Nature Park, which was very nice.  (It would have been nicer if our kids weren't suffering jet lag...)

The national bird.



Back in the land where orchids grow everywhere!



Cassowary says "what you lookin' at?"


The cassowary's role in the ecosystem!



They also had a nice playground at the nature park.



Finally on the Kodiak to go up to Ukarumpa!  (You're usually so grateful to get in the air because you get all hot and sweaty waiting to take off!)


Along the way we stopped at another airstrip to drop off some medical volunteers at this small hospital.




Brian always likes to sit in the front and talk with the pilot.


Ukarumpa!


 Greg's happy dance when he saw our house from the air.

The boys started school on Wednesday:


Some of Greg's friends were anxiously awaiting him at the gate when we arrived at school.



Caleb is finishing out the school year in Kapuls (4-yr-old preschool).  He has also been very popular, with at least three little boys who have been waiting for his return to PNG.


 

The kids were also very excited to be back in the land of year-round strawberries!

Well, the kids are up, and I need to go to market.  I've got a long day of cleaning and unpacking in front of me, so I'll leave this here.

Thanks for following along, and thanks for praying.  It's good to be home.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Photo... Saturday...

A day late this week, but I wanted to make sure we had something to show for what we've been working on all week:


We've been working on building a storage shed to house all of our U.S.-based belongings.  Earlier this week Brian and I completed the base, and then two days of rain kept us indoors.



Brian was able to frame all of the walls and cut out the rafters in the garage, however.
 
 So today, with the help of Brian's dad (and a bit of help from Greg too), we took advantage of the sun to get as far as we could with the assembly.




We didn't quite finish the roof today like we hoped, but we should have a few more days of sun.  

Other snapshots of this week:

Greg and Kate teach great-grandpa about some computer games.




From Greg's school carnival fundraiser.


Saturday, February 24, 2018

Photo Friday: Snow, bacon, packing

 

 Brian has recently ventured into making homemade bacon, a skill which I believe will be much appreciated in PNG, as bacon is rare over there.  Of course, he did manage to produce much more during his practice than I think we can consume in one month, so we've had to share the bounty!



Caleb and one of his beloved frogs.  He checks with us regularly to make sure that his favorite stuffed animals will be able to travel back to PNG with us.


We had some snow and cold weather here this week.  Greg has discovered the wonderful pastime of crunching frozen puddles while waiting for the school bus in the mornings.  Reminds me of my own childhood! 

I also got to check one item off my photography bucket list, which was taking photos of freezing soap bubbles.  Conditions weren't ideal, but at least I got a chance to try it!


Snowy/soapy self-portrait.


And I've been doing a lot of packing.  Packing up boxes of household things, and also starting to pack the suitcases we'll bring back to PNG as we finish up shopping for things we want to take back with us.

Although, I do remember packing being a little bit easier before I had a little girl who wants to try on every new dress and pair of shoes that we've bought for the next four years:







I have to keep telling her - "that is for when you're bigger... it's a kindergarten dress."  Many tears seeing all those pretty things packed away.

Wish us luck as we continue to pack.  Next on the agenda is to purchase or build a storage shed to store our things that we will leave in the States.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Photo Friday : January Catch-up

It's the end of January, and this is my first blog post this year... sorry 'bout that!


But first, let me say Happy Anniversary to Brian.  Ten years ago today we got married!   If we look a bit far-removed from the Colorado winter in this pic, it's because we were.  My parents watched the kids for a week while Brian and I had a wonderful anniversary getaway in Belize and Guatemala!


We've done a lot this month.  We have been staying with my brother Ben and his wife Meggin near Denver, CO, and have been traveling around the state catching up with partners, churches, family and friends.  A few of the non-work things we've done:

 The Denver Museum of Nature and Science


 Digging up fossils.


 Honestly though, for our salt-loving boy I think the best part was the enormous pretzels in the food court!


So much bigger than the ones mom makes!



 We went to the free ice rink that was set up at the airport and the kids got to try ice skating for the first time:




We spent a weekend with my (Susan's) grandparents in Fort Collins, where the kids enjoyed tea parties with great-grandma:



While we were in Fort Collins we finally got some snowfall!  We seem to have been missing all of the snow storms as we travel, and so the kids were very excited to finally get the chance to play in fresh snow.








One of our furlough traditions is to go eat cinnamon rolls at the Silver Grill Cafe in downtown Fort Collins.  This furlough we've actually made it there twice.  (It's a place where I worked for a while in college...)







Next week we'll be starting our road trip back to Oregon.  The kids are looking forward to getting back to Oregon, but mostly they want to go back to PNG, especially Greg.  All the moving around and visiting people wears on them after a while.  Greg and I counted it up last night - 60 days until we get on that airplane to leave the country!