Friday, August 23, 2013

Making Mayo in the Dark

“You know that you are back in Papua New Guinea when you have gone through three boxes of matches in just one week.”  That’s what I was thinking to myself last night a little before 9:00 when I was trying to light our gas stove. 

Our stove is not particularly difficult to light, but PNG matches are.  The match sticks often break, or there isn’t enough of the red stuff on the end to be able to strike a flame.  Or, perhaps there is too much of the red stuff, and as you strike the match, it bursts into flame and the flaming bit breaks off and lands on your arm (ouch!) or on the white Formica countertop, singing it (grrr).  The good news is that matches are one of the few things that are really cheap here, so if it takes you half a box to light the stove, you’re not out much money at least.

The stove-lighting process was making me dream about my new stove.  The one that some great people back home donated money towards while we were on furlough.  We bought it in the US, and sent it out over the ocean several months before we left.  It arrived in Ukarumpa the week before we did.  The new stove has an electric start, so I shouldn’t need to use matches. Yippee!  But the new stove is just a teensy bit bigger than our old one, and so before we can install it, we had to have our kitchen countertops trimmed so that it could fit. 

Actually, I thought, being without counter tops for a day was a nice solution to the hassle of the child safety locks that we have on all of our kitchen cupboards.  I could reach everything on the top shelf without undoing the lock!

So why was I lighting the stove at 9:00 at night?  I had just decided to try making mayonnaise for the first time.  I am NOT a mayo eater myself, but Brian likes it.  And I wanted some for a salad dressing recipe.  We currently have an overabundance of lettuce, and the store has no salad dressing on the shelves.  You might have noticed in my last post that our PNG neighbors had given us a lot of garden produce.  In Papua New Guinea, relationships are all about reciprocity.  I wanted to continue the relationship building with our neighbors, and so last night I sent Brian and Greg over to deliver a loaf of pumpkin bread and some of the rolls that I had made for dinner.  But here is the funny thing about reciprocity in PNG – you don’t ever want to be “even.”  You always want one party to “owe” the other party… that way you are sure that the relationship will continue.  If you give me something, and I pay you back exactly what it was worth, it’s like I’m saying “this relationship is now closed… we are even and don’t need to continue giving.”  So of course when the boys delivered the bread, they had to give something else in return.  Which turned out to be a huge bag of lettuce.  Did I mention that our yard meri had planted our entire backyard garden in lettuce right before we came home?  That means we have lettuce coming out of our ears, and we need some salad dressing!

I had heard that making cooked mayonnaise can be a little tricky, so I was carefully stirring my egg mixture in a double boiler when the lights went out.  I counted to ten.  Usually ten seconds after the electricity goes off, the backup generator starts.  But it didn’t.  So here I was, still carefully stirring my mayonnaise in the pitch black, with only the little blue gas flames to guide me.  I asked Brian to come light a candle for me.  “Where are the candles?”  I told him to get the flashlight from on top of the piano (where we always keep it) to find some.  But the flashlight wasn’t there.  Oops. I had left it up in the attic earlier in the day when I was unpacking boxes.  So Brian and I fumbled around in the dark, trying to find candles and matches, and all the while I kept running back and stirring my mayo so that it wouldn’t curdle!  I finished my mayo by the dim light of two candles, and as soon as I finished, of course the lights came back on.  The mayo turned out just fine (according to Brian… like I said, I really don’t know what good mayo is supposed to taste like).

This morning I made up my ranch dressing.  I would like to say it turned out as well as the mayo, but it’s actually a bit thinner than I was hoping for, and a little too salty.  Still, it will give us something to put on our salads anyway.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

A long journey home

After three days at home in Ukarumpa, I finally found time to write a blog post.  We have been very busy since we made it back on Wednesday – cleaning our house, unpacking, and catching up with friends.  Because there is so much to cover in this post, let’s get started!

Our luggage, all packed and ready to go.  We were supposed to leave Oregon August 7th, but our flight out of Portland was so delayed that it messed up the rest of our itinerary.  We had to reschedule again for the 8th.  That was a bit disappointing, but the trip got better after that.  All of our luggage made it all the way to Ukarumpa without any problems, and we didn’t have to pay any excess baggage fees, which is always something that I stress out about.  We were very thankful for that!

Lots and lots of time in airports.  Because of our rescheduled flights, we had over 6 hours to kill at the San Fransisco airport.  Thankfully little boys are pretty entertained by watching airplanes.  Caleb crawled all over the airport and got filthy, but I decided that he and his clothes were washable, and it was better to let him get his energy out before we got on the airplane!

From San Francisco we flew on Air New Zealand to Auckland, a 12-hour flight.  Thankfully the boys each slept for  a significant portion of that flight.  We were able to get a bassinet for Caleb, plus and extra empty seat so that Greg could stretch out over two seats and sleep.  Mom and Dad didn’t sleep as much of course…

Great idea: pre-ordering a child’s meal for Greg.  They serve kid-friendly fare, and it comes out early before the rest of the meals, so we could help Greg eat before our food arrived.

In Auckland, we got a taste of New Zealand humor.  Notice the status of our flight to Cairns:

We got to spend four nights in Cairns, Australia to relax and get over our jet lag.  It was a much-needed break.  The first night, we were all asleep by 6:30pm.  Of course, that meant that the boys were wide awake at 4am.  In an attempt to keep Greg quiet for the sake of our neighbors, he got some quality time with his LeapPad.


Tree Tops Lodge, the missionary guest house where we stayed, has  a nice shady playground, which was great for the boys.  Our first day in Cairns was just spent relaxing.

The second day, we did a little shopping for items that we needed for our house in Papua New Guinea.  On our third and final day, we went down to the Esplanade, a nice waterfront area with swimming, shopping and great playgrounds.

At the beach, you see warning signs like this.  Apparently the beach is not for swimming, unless you want to take your chances with crocodiles.

But the nice folks in Cairns have developed The Lagoon – a beautiful salt water fake beach right next to the real one.  The boys loved spashing in the water until we were thoroughly baked in the sun.  

We managed to convince Greg out of the water with the promise of ice cream.  We stopped at a gelato shop for one last taste of quality stuff before heading to PNG, where the ice cream selection is decidedly lacking.

Caleb getting some final rest on the last flight up to Ukarumpa.

It felt so good to look out the window and see the familiar PNG landscape unfold beneath us.

Back at our house, the boys have been having a wonderful time exploring and (for Greg) getting reacquainted with old toys and with our dog.  They especially enjoying banging out “tunes” on the piano, while Greg sings at the top of his lungs.

We were blessed to come home one evening to a huge pile of garden produce that was left for us by the Papua New Guinean family who lives over the back fence.  We are thankful for great neighbors.

And on Friday Greg had his first day of Pukpuks.  (The Tok Pisin word for crocodile… it’s the name of the three-year-old preschool class.)

Well, that’s all I have for you.  I’ve been writing as I bake a loaf of bread, but that is almost done.  I still have tons of unpacking to do, and friends to meet for coffee this morning.

Ta for now!

Friday, August 2, 2013

A month in pictures

It's been a month since our last post.  Sorry... it has been a hectic month.  Now we are less than a week from our return to Papua New Guinea, and I know that once we leave the country I'll never get around to posting photos from the past month.  So here is a random assortment from July:

Greg turned three!  He got two birthday parties.  A 4th of July party in Colorado, which he shared with his cousin Rylan (2), and an Oregon party which he shared with me (my birthday was the 18th).

As soon as we got to Oregon, we (meaning Brian) immediately started building a crate to ship back to Papua New Guinea.  Inside are things like 4 years worth of clothes and shoes for the boys, a new printer, bedding for our house in PNG, and a wood stove that someone gave us.  It is now in Los Angeles awaiting shipment and should (hopefully) reach PNG in September.

While packing the crate, we realized that there was some funky white stuff coming out of our computer.  Not good.  We sent it back to Dell for repair.  Turns out we needed a new motherboard and keyboard to the tune of $500, because our computer was just few weeks out of warranty.  The hardest part has been being without a computer for nearly two weeks.  There is a whole section of our to-do list that is waiting for the return of the computer, which will, Lord willing, be in our hands some time today.

July is blueberry season in Oregon, and the boys have both been eating as many as they can.  (Ok... I confess, I have been eating as many as I can too).

Something I don't have photos of is that we have been speaking at different churches.  Three of our last four Sundays in the US have been scheduled at different churches.  This coming Sunday will be our last speaking engagement of furlough, and I can't say that I'm sorry about that!  Neither Brian nor I mind public speaking, but it does get a little tiring sharing the same stories and answering the same questions over and over.  We will be glad to take a break!

We went camping last week at Diamond Lake 

 And while we were there we visted Crater Lake - just as beautiful as all the pictures that I've seen!

Earlier this week Brian and I had one last night away from the kids (have to take advantage of those grandparents while we can).  We had dinner with my brother, Ben, who was in Oregon on a work trip, and then stayed at a bed and breakfast in Portland.  The next dat we spent a fun morning at OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry), which has lots of interactive displays.

Standing in the earthquake house.  Hmm... feels like home!

What a hot couple!

Lunch at Portland food cart that serves only french fries.

Watermelon and teething babies go well together!

I have lots more photos and lots more stories, but I have to be realistic and just be thankful that I found the time this morning to post these few.  At some point I'll find more time to blog.  Right?