Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Eve Photos

I realize that other parents or grandparents might beg to differ, but I am pretty sure that my son is the most handsome of them all, even when he’s in a serious mood.  We took these photos Christmas Eve (yes, even though it was raining, it was hot enough to take off the sweater we made him wear for the family photo.)  He’s getting so big!  Can’t believe that he’s almost 18 months…

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

PNG Jingle Bells and earthquakes

Christmas comes during the rainy season here in Papua New Guinea, and we’ve had lots of rain lately.  And when we have lots of rain, we tend to have more earthquakes.  Most are pretty small, but last week we had a big one - 7.1!  (No damage at our house).  Brian and I were both at work when it happened.  Brian was in the Auto Shop and when he saw the cars up on the hoists start to sway he ran out into the street.  I was doing some Scripture audio recording with two men, and we all stopped and waited in silence as it shook…and shook… and shook some more.  The babysitter told me that Greg slept through it. 

I also had to share a photo of the nativity display that is featured on the front lawn of our store every December.  Gotta love the PNG man in traditional costume, along with the cassowary on the right.  You can’t really see it well, but there is also a black pig to the right of Joseph.  I know that the Jews would not have had a pig in the stable, but in Papua New Guinea they are the most common and most valuable domesticated animal.

Below is a tribute to Christmas rain and mud.  A big thanks to Krista, who wrote the lyrics to the Ukarumpa version of Jingle Bells below, and gave me permission to share it with you!

PNG Jingle Bells
Traipsing through the mud
In another heavy rain
Can't believe this much
Is coming down again
I wish I had a car
To keep me dry today
I don't think I'd get very far
In a one-horse open sleigh

O jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
O what fun we'll have today
If we don't get washed away!

The jingle bells they shine
But I can't hear them ring
The rain falls harder all the time
And I can't hear a thing!
It's not like this back home
Where snow is 2 feet deep
But at least if this were falling snow
We all could get some sleep!

O jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
O what fun we'll have today
If we don't all float away!

When lightning breaks a lull
The thunder really shakes
That jingle wasn't bells at all
But damage from the quake!
Our umbrellas all have leaks
The kids just want to play
It's the fourteenth time they've changed this week
And it's still the second day!

O jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle merrily
Christmas em i narakain
When here in PNG!

And last of all, I just had to share this photo of Greg with Santa, taken at our store’s annual Christmas sale. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Home Improvements

Ok, how about a little trip back in time to when Brian’s parents were still here?

Nothing shows hospitality more than putting your house guests to work fixing up the place, right?  Actually, Brian ran out of projects down at the shop for his dad to work on, and to be fair, Bob had specifically said “I want to get dirty,” so we decided to take him up on his offer and have him help us pour a new concrete pad under our verandah.  Thanks for all the hard work you did – I know it turned out to be a bigger project than you expected!

It’s handy being married to a guy who has the keys to the center who can go get us a scoop of gravel on a Saturday.  Greg was thrilled that the “do-bah!” (his word for dump truck or any other really big cool machine) came right to our house.

Everyone hard at work.

The finished product – doesn’t it look nice?

And Brian let me drive the loader back to the shop!  (he didn’t let me back it out of the driveway, nor did he let me back it into the shed where it lives, but I got to drive it all the way there and dump a load of rubbish into a trailer.  I think my next goal is to learn to drive the road grader – what do you think?


We live in a great community here in Ukarumpa, but one of the difficult things is that people are always coming and going.  You make good friends, and then suddenly they have to leave for furlough, or medical reasons… or whatever.   You might not see them again for years, if ever.  On Monday we had to say goodbye to our friend Joy, who was in our orientation group at POC when we first came a little over three years ago.  You can check out her blog for an interesting look at life in PNG, both in the village and in Ukarumpa.

Joy was a literacy worker with the Onobasulu language group in the Southern Highlands of PNG.  Brian and I were her support team, which kind of meant that whenever Joy was insanely busy getting ready for a village trip she could call us with a list of things that we could do to help her, and we would reply “of course Joy, whatever you say!”   We even got to go visit her in the village for Thanksgiving in 2009

Sadly, Joy’s time in PNG came to a close, and she’s off to bigger and better things somewhere else in the world.  Best of luck wherever you end up Joy – we’ll miss you!

It's beginning to taste a lot like Christmas

Buckeyes are a Christmas tradition in my family, one that Brian readily adopted upon marrying me.  As a kid, we always knew they would be at holiday parties, because all of my relatives made them.  Brian and I decorated Christmas sugar cookies last week, but they are really good and I’m pretty sure they are not going to last until Christmas.  So today I promised Brian I would make buckeyes.

So…. I didn’t have enough powdered sugar, and our store is out.  It’s the holidays, and everyone who was smart bought it up in advance.  But never fear – there is a resourceful missionary cook in this kitchen.  Did you know you can make your own powdered sugar?  You’re going to wonder why you never tried it yourself when I tell you how easy it is.  (Actually, you probably won’t ever make your own because powdered sugar is one of those things that is cheap and readily available in the States, but that’s a whole different story.)

Ok, here is the secret:  You take regular sugar, and whirl it in the blender until it becomes a fine powder.  Easy!

Here is my dough with the homemade powdered sugar (the sugar didn’t get completely powdered, but hey, close enough for Papua New Guinea…)

And the final product.  Somewhat misshapen and not completely coated, but the best I could do with my helper (see below) at my side insiting that he was going to die or worse if he didn’t get some more of that sugary dough!  

And here is the recipe, if you want to try this at home:


1/3 c. butter
3 ½ c. powdered sugar
2 c. crunchy peanut butter
3 c. Rice Krispies

Mix ingredients together and form 1-inch balls.

Melt in a double boiler over simmering water:
12 oz. chocolate chips or other chocolate

Coat peanut butter balls in melted chocolate and let cool on wax paper.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

His father's child

Grandma and Grandpa Frey brought Greg a toy nativity set, and he’s been having lots of fun with it.  But he puts his own twist on the Nativity story.  A shepherd is driving the Lego wheel loader, hauling hay and sheep.  Poor baby Jesus often gets dumped unceremoniously on the floor, as Greg’s favorite piece of the set is the manger.  Also notice the Lego Indian chief standing next to Mary. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A real vacation: Part two

On Sunday, we drove an hour and a half up the coast to visit our was family in the village of Karmanang.  This is the family that we lived with for 5 weeks during our POC orientation 3 years ago.  This was their first time meeting Greg.

Greg with Jane, our was mama

Greg loved the village - so many interesting things to explore!

Drinking kulau (green coconut) - nature's Gatorade!

Sitting around in the haus win catching up with the family.  We brought rice and Highlands vegetables, and they cooked us a nice meal to share.

We also went to church at the little foursquare church that our family attends.  Ted, our was papa (on the right), carried Greg to church and he fell asleep in Ted's arms. 

Back in Madang, we visited the market.  Shopping for new meri blouses - the sellers don't mind if you try them on over your clothes.

Another day we visited POC - the place we lived during our 3 months of orientation when we first arrived in the country.

I had forgotten how lovely the view is from there!

After a little trial and error, we found this WWII plane wreck near a village a short drive away.  We had to stop and ask people along the road where the balus japan (Japanese plane) was, and we eventually turned down the correct dirt track and found the family who are caretakers of the wreck and will let you see it for a small fee.  Apparently the area was a Japanese airstrip during the war, and all over the place were little "ponds" that were actually bomb craters.  Pretty neat!

A bit of local color.

Another day at the beach - this time at a place known to the locals as "Scout Camp".  We ended up coming here because the resort we planned to swim at no longer allows non-guests to use their facilities except on weekends.  It was a bit tricky finding this place too, as we had to drive for nearly 10 minutes down a "road" with grass as tall as our truck brushing the sides the whole way.  But it was worth it!  We had the place to ourselves all day, except for a few of the locals who live there who stopped by to say hello.

Enjoying the sand and  water

Three men on a log, letting the surf lap at their feet.

And at the end of the trip, Greg, Sharon and I flew back, while the men drove.  Greg isn't used to riding in a car seat for long periods of time, and we figured it would be less stressful for everyone if we flew back.  I'll take a 40-minute flight over a 4-hour drive any day!

A real vacation: Part one

Brian and I are not good at leisure.  Our pastor told us this during premarital counseling and it still holds true today.  We like to stay busy.  And so, even though our organization allows us a generous amount of vacation time, we often get to the end of the year and realize that we haven’t really used any of it.  (In my opinion, overnight shopping trips to Lae are often equal parts stress and relaxation, so I’m not sure I’d classify them as real vacations.)

Thankfully, this year has been a bit different.  In June my mom visited, and we spent some time on the island of West New Britain.  And last week, with Brian’s parents here, we went to the coastal town of Madang for five nights.  We had gorgeous weather, a marvelous time, and I can say it was a very nice, real vacation.

We all drove the 4 bumpy, dusty hours to Madang squished into our truck together.  This is us at the guesthouse in Madang, very thankful to be out of the car!

 As you can see, Greg lost no time losing the shirt and getting dirty!

Looks like a football, but it's a young coconut.  Go long!

I'm soooooo thankful that we brought the pack-n-play with us to the beach.  Greg sure needed a snooze after all the swimming.

Greg is a little freaked out by the singing, dancing Santa at Papindo (the local department store)

And what's a trip to Madang without some beach time?  We spent a great day at Rempi, where friends have a little house right on the water.  Great snorkeling too.  Some local kids came to watch us, and Greg loved waving at them and saying "hi."
 Someone from Brian's church sent this swim float for Greg.  It was perfect!  It kept the sun off of him, making mom happy, and Greg got to float in the ocean and kick his legs, which made him very happy.

 Ready for some snorkeling!  We also witnessed a minor miracle that afternoon.  Brian had lost the strap off one of his flippers while taking them off in the water, and we didn't realize it until hours later.  Without much hope, Brian and I grabbed our goggles and jumped back in the water to look for it in the cloudy water near shore.  The tide had been going out, so what were the chances that we would find it?  Just as we were about to give up,  Brian found it!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to all of our loved ones back home.  Today is just another work day here in Papua New Guinea, but Brian took the afternoon off of work so that we could enjoy a lazy holiday afternoon together.  We are especially thankful this year that we have family here to celebrate with.  Brian’s parents arrived last Friday, and Greg has been having tons of fun with grandpa and grandma.  

Our Thanksgiving spread.  Turkeys cost about $70 here, so we stuck with a plump chicken.  But all the other staples are there – sweet potatoes, steamed green beans and carrots, rolls, stuffing and pumpkin pie – all homemade, of course.

Right now Greg is out for a post-lunch walk with grandma and grandpa, and Brian is asleep in front of the fire.  (It was a rather cold and drizzly day, which just added to the Thanksgiving atmosphere).  Here are some of the other things that we’ve been doing since Bob and Sharon came:

 The morning after they arrived was our annual Craft Fair, and I had a table selling some things that I had made.  Sharon brought some of her homemade cards and was my helper all day long. 

Sunday after church we we out to lunch at the Kainantu Hotel - basically the only restaurant nearby.

They have a nice grassy outdoors eating area at the hotel, so Greg was happy to run around while we ate.

And of course Greg has been enjoying all the attention from grandpa and grandma.  He thinks they are lots of fun. 

Playing cards with grandma.

Catching a ride on the "tuktuk" at dad's shop.

Friday, November 18, 2011


I think this is the first time I’ve mentioned our Ukarumpa Community Theater production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella on this blog.  Funny, since it’s been such a big part of my life the last few months!  Every other year, the community does a theater production.  Two years ago we did Fiddler on the Roof, which I had a small role in.  This year I got to be one of the stepsisters in Cinderella (the one with the annoying laugh).  Theater is something that I thoroughly enjoy being involved in.  Who knew that it wasn’t going to be one of the things that I had to give up to be a missionary in Papua New Guinea?  Thanks God!

Brian, on the other hand, is quite relieved that it is over.  Now he gets to have his wife home in the evenings, not off at rehearsals.

Here are some photos from last week’s performances:

Ah... the evil step-family.  Don't we look pleased with ourselves?

The gal who made the costumes did her best to make us stepsisters look ridiculous for the ball.  Don't you love the hats?  (She had a magazine with photos from the royal wedding for inspiration).  I don't know how many people told me I looked like I had a big piece of wrapped candy on my head!

Obviously the prince is very impressed...

Uh-oh, trouble.  Why is he so infatuated with that mystery girl?  (This is right before our song, "Stepsister's Lament")

Cinderella and the fairy godmother were played by a mother and daughter, both with beautiful voices.  Also Becky  (a.k.a. fairy godmother) was the amazing seamstress who made all the costumes.  It's absolutely incredible what she could make out of old clothes and fabric from the secondhand clothes stores in Kainantu!

We got to help Cinderella with her magical transformation backstage.  We had four people helping and about 30 seconds to turn her from rags into this beautiful ball gown.  The dress, by the way, was made from two dresses and a curtain, all from the secondhand clothes store.  Becky did all the beading by hand.

Trying on the slipper.  This photo is a bit embarrassing because my foot is all dirty on the bottom.  I mean, my feet are dirty all the time here (sandals + dirt roads = yucky feet), but I should have thought to wash them before the performance.  Oh well...