Friday, January 27, 2012

what it takes to have a date in PNG

Yesterday, Brian and I celebrated our fourth anniversary.  I’m so blessed to have such a great husband!

In fact, he’s such a great husband that he planned a day trip for me to Goroka, a town nearly two hours drive away from Ukarumpa.  We left Greg at home with a babysitter for the day, and so it was just the two of us. Going on a date in PNG is not such an easy thing to do.  There is almost nowhere for us to go!  Kainantu, the town closest to where we live, is a pretty rough-looking place.  It doesn’t offer much in the way of entertainment unless you consider secondhand clothes shopping to be a good date activity (Brian definitely does NOT!).  There is one restaurant at the local hotel, but it’s not exactly what I would consider special.  So we decided to spend the four hours in the car to get to Goroka and back.  

The day didn’t start out too promising when our septic tank started to back up first thing in the morning.  Brian tried to figure out the problem and when he was stumped he proposed calling the plumbers.  Then he looked at his wife’s face and realized that postponing the anniversary outing was not the best idea.  So instead he arranged for them to come first thing the next day.

It’s a beautiful drive to Goroka, and it was so nice to have just the two of us in the car for once.  We had heard about the J.K. McCarthy Museum, and so we decided to hunt around and find it.  We’re glad we did.  They had a pretty big collection of interesting cultural items, WWII artifacts and a whole room full of photos of the Highlands of PNG from as early as the 1930’s, when Westerners first started to explore the area.  They even have a glass case containing necklaces made from human fingers.  Interesting!

Then we went to our favorite place to have lunch in Goroka – the Pacific Gardens Hotel.  It is a very lovely and peaceful place surrounded by greenery.  And they have good food as well.

By that time we realized we had better head home, knowing it would take us another 2 hours on the road.  So we headed back, stopping at the pineapple market on the side of the highway to pick out this big “two-headed” specimen.

We arrived home hot and tired from all that driving in a car without air conditioning, but still very happy that we had a chance to get out and have a real (PNG style) date.

Monday, January 23, 2012

30 Days of Christmas (and counting!)

The postal system here is anything but predictable.  An average letter or package takes 4-6 weeks to get here from the U.S., but there are no guarantees.  Here in Ukarumpa, we didn’t get any mail the whole month of December!  There have been different explanations for this rolling around, but no one is 100% sure what exactly happened.  

Once our mail reaches Port Moresby, it is transferred to our airplane hanger there.  Our airplanes make flights to Port Moresby every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  Passengers and their cargo get first priority, and then if there is space, the planes bring up the mail.  So if the flight schedule is busy, then it might take a while to get all of the mail up here.  In December, there was no mail delivered to the hanger, so the planes didn’t have anything to fly up.

That means that many of us are having a late Christmas this year.  Our families sent packages with presents, and they sent them with plenty of time (they thought).  My mom said that she got a notice that her packages cleared customs in PNG in early December.  But we haven’t started getting them until now!  Who knows what they were doing for more than a month in-between.

We got our first Christmas package on January 12.  Then on the 16th some Christmas cards arrived.  One package on the 19th and one more today.  They funny thing is that the package that arrived today was mailed December 12 – a full week after one of the packages that we haven’t seen yet supposedly cleared customs in Port Moresby!

So, in Papua New Guinea, Christmas is the holiday that just keeps on giving.  We think that there are still a few more packages on the way, so we’ll just keep checking our mailbox.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

18 Months

Greg is 18 months today.  My little guy is growing up so fast!

Look how much he has changed in the past 6 months.  This is him at one year:


Our son is such a joy to have around. He’s always making us laugh.  

His favorite place to be is in the back yard with our dog Ruby.

Ruby plays very well with Greg.  She’ll snatch the ball right out of his hand, but is always gentle with him.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Box 1 of ?

Let the furlough packing begin!  Umm…Susan, furlough isn’t for another 7 months.  Aren’t you getting ahead of yourself?  Maybe, but then again, maybe not.  I’m the type of person who likes to have things planned out in advance and well organized, and so when Brian and I recently started seriously talking about our first furlough coming up in August, one of the first things that popped into my head is that I’d better start thinking about how to pack our stuff.  (Brian’s first thought was what kind of car we need to get while on furlough, so that gives you a look at our completely different priorities!)

We plan to be back in the U.S. for a year, and we hope to have renters in our Ukarumpa house while we are gone, so that means that all of our personal belongings have to be packed and stored in a way that mildew, cockroaches and other vermin can’t destroy.  But it gets more complicated than that.  In the back of every missionary’s mind when they go on furlough is the possibility that they might not be able to come back.  We plan to return to PNG after furlough, but there are no guarantees.  What if our financial support drops and our organization won’t let us return to the field?  Perhaps something unexpected may happen while we are in the States, and we can’t return to PNG for medical or family reasons.  It sounds pessimistic to think like this, but the honest truth is that it happens all the time.  We’ve seen it happen to our colleagues here.  I figured that if I started packing at least some thins now, then hopefully our last month before furlough won't be as hugely stressful as we have seen it be for others.

And so, I’m packing with the possibility of not returning in mind.  In the event that we didn’t return, we would probably have to ask someone here to dispose of all our stuff.  We want to make this an easy task, so as I pack I’m labeling each box with a number, and also whether the box is “Ship” or “Sell”.  Boxes marked “ship” will contain items that we would want to have shipped back to us in the States, and the “sell” boxes are things that can easily be replaced in America or which aren’t worth the expense and effort to ship internationally.  I’ve also created an Excel spreadsheet to keep a more detailed list of what is in each box.  (I love Excel… I’m such a nerd!). 

This morning I started with something easy – the drawers in Greg’s room, which were full of things that he has outgrown or no longer uses.  I divided them into three piles:  The “ship” pile, the “sell” pile and the “yard sale” pile, (the third pile is for things that I plan to get rid of before we leave).  While working on this, I realized how very few things I would want to have shipped back home.  So many of our material possessions just aren’t that important, and I could easily live without them.  So even though we have accumulated a lot of stuff (especially since having a baby!), it’s nice to be reminded that the most important things I have are going to be sitting on the airplane with me when we go.