Friday, May 18, 2018

Photo Friday: Sports and Trucks

This week:

There was a community 5K run/walk last Saturday, and Greg decided the night before that he should run it with his dad.  It was his first 5K.

They both ran well (though Greg ended up beating Brian by a whole minute...)

For Mother's Day we went out to lunch in Kainantu (no photos).  Later in the afternoon we build a fire in the backyard and roasted marshmallows:

Brian went on a three-day trip to Lae.  If you were around him for more than 20 minutes on furlough he probably showed you pictures on his phone of our new rugged cargo truck.  Brian has been training the drivers on all of the new truck's features, including an automatic transmission, which is rare in PNG and an electric retarder for going downhill.  He wanted to accompany the guys on their first trip down to Lae so that he could answer any questions.

 When Brian texted me on Wednesday to ask me to meet the truck when it arrived, I did not expect to see him standing in the back! 

 Apparently he only rode back there for the last 20 minutes to check for low-slung power lines, due to the height of the water tanks they were hauling.  He claims the cargo gets to ride a lot smoother than the crew on the bumpy roads!

 The High School is having their annual Sports Day, a track and field event.  Greg likes to watch the races, but it wasn't long until he was distracted by the lure of foursquare, which is the hottest recess game from what I can tell.  

When I was a kid, we played foursquare with big red rubber balls, but here it is played with racquetballs, and there is a ton of specialized lingo that has developed over the years.  I rarely understand Greg when he talks about playing.

Kate loves the cage on the back of our truck.  She uses it as monkey bars, and after each trip in the truck we are commanded to watch her "tricks", which are usually the same two things over and over again.

And here are our four little red hens.  My mom was wondering how they were doing, so this photo is for her.  They're eight weeks old now.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Photo Friday - the kids' week

Pigtails!  Unfortunately they usually don't last.  For being such a girly-girl, she sure hates getting her hair done.

 Backyard swings

Trampoline! (Or as Kate likes to call it, the Jumpoline...)  And hey, wouldn't you want to jump on the jumpoline too if you had a tutu?

Kate and Caleb sitting (semi-quietly) in the back of the High School Anatomy and Physiology class while mom got some video footage.

The ditch in front of our house has a lot of appeal this week.  Sometimes all you need is a stick and some imagination...

Caleb fights many battles in our yard.  The weapon of choice this week (which stows nicely in the rubber boots he's been wearing everywhere.)

Note the similarity to this photo I found in his room.  I see that this theme of turning items into weapons really has been going on for quite a while...

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Photo Saturday: Just for fun

Brian taught the boys to play chess this week.  I was thinking, "Really?  Aren't they a bit young?"  But they have loved it, and have been playing every day.

Not surprising, actually, since this one adores anything that has to do with battles.

I've never been much of a chess player, so this morning I sat down with them to be reminded of the rules.  It didn't take long for me to figure out that they may not be playing exactly in a traditional manner!  Oh well, at least it is keeping them occupied!

While we were in the U.S. a zipline was built on a hill behind our house, so we had to go try it out.

Kate turned out to be pretty fearless.  We were impressed!

While we were in the States we found that our kids really missed the homemade foodstuffs we eat here.  They especially hated store-bought jam.   Thankfully while we were in Oregon, they were kept supplied with "grandma jam."

When we got back to Ukarumpa, I bought one jar of strawberry jam from the store.  Oh, how the kids complained!  But I told them that they had to eat the whole thing before I would make homemade strawberry jam.  This week we finally managed to finish the jar, and you should have heard the cheers at dinnertime when the first of these jars of "mommy jam" was brought out!

Friday, April 20, 2018

Photo Friday: Making Ourselves at Home

The kids have been busy re-kindling friendships.

We have a lot of yard work to do.  Things grow fast here..

Last weekend Brian and I trimmed trees and hauled away four truck loads of branches!

 The butterflies seem to like our overgrown yard though...

 ... as do the kids.

 Getting back into from-scratch cooking.  I started a batch of vanilla... should last us a while!

Our neighbors gave the kids a box full of books, which has kept them very busy the past few days!

This morning was a wet and muddy market day.

I caught this little one trying to keep dry on his mother's shoulders.

See you again next week...

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.


 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.