Friday, November 29, 2013

Photo Fridays: Week 8

Here is another week’s worth of photos for your enjoyment:

Caleb is obsessed with toothbrushes.  Brushing his teeth with his favorite person (daddy) is a highlight of his day.  And woe to the person who eventually takes the toothbrush away.  We’re talking serious heartbreak here!

The neighbor girl and her friend organized a treasure hunt for Greg.  Here he is proudly holding his treasure.

The neighbor girls love Caleb.  And this also shows Caleb’s fancy new shoes.  He’s 14 months old and wearing a size 6 shoe.  We’re having trouble stuffing his fat baby feet into shoes designed for toddlers, so most of the time he goes barefoot, like a good MK.

Our Thanksgiving tree is filling out nicely!

This is why we will be having chicken for Thanksgiving dinner tonight instead of turkey.  This turkey translates to $7.66/lb  or $92 for a 12lb bird.  (And that’s a subsidized price, we are told by the folks at the store.  It doesn’t reflect the actual cost!!!)

Greg picket out this bouquet at the market.  We can get nice fresh bouquets for about 40-80 cents.

The boys discover, to their great delight, that they are STILL wearing matching pajamas in the morning, just like when they went to bed!

I took this fun photo of Caleb this week.  Moments after this was taken, the cars were scattered in all directions, thanks to a jealous older brother.

Greg loves to play flight simulator with dad, especially when they can fly to go see Grandma and Grandpa.

And that was our week!  Thanks for visiting.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I Hate the Holidays

I actually just said it aloud.  I hate the holidays when we are overseas.  No, I don’t hate everything about them.  I do have fun and enjoy celebrating with our family, especially now that we have kids.  But every time a big holiday rolls around, a wave of loneliness rolls over me.  It’s not for the reason that you might suspect.  We do miss our families back home in the States, and we feel sad that we are missing out on family celebrations and traditions.   I can handle that.  The worst thing for me, however, is the loneliness that I feel here in our missionary community.

We missionaries always say things like, “For every child here that is missing a grandparent, there is a grandparent who is missing a grandchild.”  There is this lovely ideal of our children growing up with surrogate grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.  Friends who are like family.  The major holidays are one of those times when it feels like that is true… for everyone except me.

I feel like I need to ban myself from looking at Facebook or other people’s blogs during the holidays.  Everyone posts photos and stories about the wonderful celebrations that they had with their friends.  Their kids call their parent’s friends “aunt” and “uncle.”  They always have a home for the holidays.  When I see other people’s posts, it fills me with jealousy and discontent, even though I know  deep down that social media is not an accurate portrayal of one’s life.  We don’t have that kind of group of friends here.

Now, I just want to clarify that I’m speaking for myself, and not for Brian here.  I’m sure he will be totally mortified when he reads this.  I’m sure some of you reading this are thinking, “OMG, I’m so embarrassed for her!  I can’t believe she actually put this out for everyone to see!”  It’s the kind of thing that I should be telling to my best friend over coffee.  Except that I don’t have that kind of best friend.  We have a lot of friends here in Papua New Guinea, don’t get me wrong.  We just don’t have friends who are as close as family.

I can feel sorry for myself all I want, but I know that the blame lies a lot on me.  Close friendships have always been hard for me.  Probably the last time I had a real, honest-to-goodness best friend was in High School.  Maybe it’s because I grew up without sisters, and I never quite got the hang of that girly socialness that comes so naturally to others.  I’m an introvert, and it’s very hard for me to be the initiator in friendships.  I’m sure in part it’s because I’m so good at portraying self-confidence, and that I don’t need anyone.  My mom told me once when I was in High School that the reason I didn’t get asked on many dates was because it was obvious that I didn’t feel like I needed a boyfriend to feel good about myself, and that was intimidating for High School boys!  I’m sure that many times I portray now that I don’t need a best friend.

I don’t want you to think that I am going to be wallowing around in self-pity and depression for the next month and a half.  The truth is, most of the time I’m happy and content.  The loneliness is something that comes and visits for a few hours from time to time.  I have a good cry, and then I get on with my life.  I already feel much better just having written this.

So why am I writing this?  Because today, with Thanksgiving approaching, was a hard day for me (I went on Facebook this morning… STUPID!).  Because I know that loneliness is something that a lot of people struggle with, both on the mission field and back at home – but it’s something that we don’t ever talk about.   No one wants to admit that they feel lonely.  This is the single biggest struggle that I have had since we came to the mission field.   I know I have a Heavenly Father who is always there for me and will never leave me or forsake me.  I have a wonderful husband and great kids.   But I still feel lonely sometimes.  And there is probably someone out there reading this who can relate.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Photo Fridays: Week 7

It's Friday again.  We've had a busy week; take a look!

Brian installed some new lighting fixtures this week.  It's something that we've been dreaming of doing ever since we bought the house four (!) years ago.

No more bare bulbs sticking out of ceilings and walls!!

Morning sun shining through fluffy blonde baby hair.

Greg toted his tools around the yard and fixed things (that tree behind him needed some serious repair!)

We did some major pruning on a tree in our front yard.  (Like our stepladder?)

One of the many faces of Caleb.

There is nothing Greg loves more in the morning than spending some extra time snuggling in bed with mom or dad.  This is their reaction when they realized I'd caught them still in bed.

The tragedy of a toy thrown from the porch and in danger of being chewed on by the dog.

And the graduation celebration of the students from two training courses.  The students from the class I helped with composed a song celebrating the blessing of their mother tongue.

A sign of the times.  Many of the students were snapping photos on their digital cameras and phones.

John was one of the students at my table group in English class.

 These lovely ladies are two sisters from Australia who traveled here to teach English grammar and phonics.  They were a delight to work with.  The happy graduates with them are two brothers, each representing different communities and denominations.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Photo Fridays: Week 6

Last Saturday was Ukarumpa’s annual Carnival – an event put on by the High School for the community.  They always donate part of the money raised to a charity here in PNG.  It’s a fun event that many of the kids look forward to.  One mom told me that her son, whose birthday always falls near Carnival, looks forward to Carnival more!

Yes, someone has a cotton candy machine here!  Caleb actually refused to try it, and so Brian had to eat the whole thing himself.

The Ferris Wheel is very popular.  It has four seats (which are swingy enough that you can actually do flips if you want when you ride – I didn’t!) and is powered by the brute strength of High School boys.

Greg LOVED it.

And we even had an air show!  A few of the folks who are really into RC aircraft put on a demonstration, which was actually very impressive.  Brian didn’t have his plane out there, he just watched with the boys.

This is a bad photo, but here are the boys with “Mamma Anna,” the lady who has been watching them at our house while I work.  The boys love her.

One of my favorite tropical flowers is frangipani.  Our trees look very dead during dry season, since frangipani do better on the coast.  But now that the rain has returned, the trees have leafed out and bloomed.

This is how you know you’re at a good party in Ukarumpa.  Folks always take of their shoes when entering a house.  This was a potluck to welcome back some coworkers who recently returned from the States.

I’ve been a bit obsessed with photography this week.  The boys have been my helpless targets.  This probably sums up how Greg feels: “Don’t shoot!”

Caleb has been a bit more cooperative (when he can sit still).  I’ve also been experimenting with different photo editing software.  I hope Santa brings me some…

The produce I bought at market this morning, getting its bleach-water bath before being put away.

And I came home from market to see story time with daddy.  Greg and Brian were poring over one of his old diesel textbooks from college.  Greg was really into it.  
He told me, “It’s just like Handy Manny!”

Until next time!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Photo Fridays: Week 5

Here is a look at our week.  I was playing single mom for most of it.  Brian was gone Friday through Wednesday to the town of Madang.  He fixed a bunch of stuff (generators, trucks… exciting things like that) while he was there.  Perhaps I’ll convince him to write his own blog post about that trip.

Greg and I planted some seeds (and yes, grandma, we did plant some dahlias!)

A bucket of dirt on the front porch?  Yes, please!

He was being a rainbow.

Popsicles with mom in the afternoon while Caleb is napping.

I went back to work!  I’m helping out with a training course for the next three weeks that helps national translators improve their English and computer skills.  This is our classroom.  Wasn’t the sky gorgeous that day?  It just makes me happy to be back out at our Training Center again.

There are 29 participants in the course, all of whom are involved in translating Scriptures into their respective languages.

The boys enjoying their Word Whammer (an alphabet/spelling game).  

We saw this horse enjoying its hauswin one morning as we took a walk.

Notice how dirty the water is?  When rainy season starts, it stirs up all the mud in the river, which makes the water in our toilets and baths (which is pumped from the river) this color.  Since Brian was gone and we’ve been getting a fair amount of rain now, I took it upon myself to change our water system so that our whole house is now running on rain water from our tank.  That’s one good thing about rainy season… clean water in the bathtub!

This is what lunch looks like when dad’s away: popcorn, fruits and veggies! 
 (I don’t think I cooked at all while he was gone…)

Thanks to Matt, who took a few action shots of Brian working in Madang.  
(Normal people don’t go around taking photos of themselves at work, but we missionaries are always looking for photos for the newsletter or blog!)

Isn’t my husband handy?  (I missed him)

Homemade play dough is good on a cloudy, drizzly day.

Thanks for looking.  See you next week.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Photo Fridays: Week 4

Back again?  Well, since you’re here, why don’t you take a look at our week:

The exciting moment when Brian opened up the crate that we haven’t seen since the 
beginning of August.

This smoothie was made with the last of our frozen strawberries.  It was a reminder to pray for peace in the valley where we live.  A tribal fight has been going on between two villages, one of which happens to be the village that has a monopoly on strawberry sales.  Our yard meri and strawberry seller can’t come to work until the conflict is resolved.  (We are not in any danger, but it is hard to hear the reports because we know people from both villages).

Making cookies with mom.

A superhero cape, an apron  and a friend are very important details when one is making cookies.

A sick baby.  Our family was hit by a stomach bug this past week.  
Greg is the only one who hasn’t caught it.

Sheets, pajamas, towels and stuffed animals out in the morning sun.  
Evidence of a long night with a sick baby.

Exceptions were made to the normal rule that pacifier and froggy are only used in the bed.

While Brian and Caleb were sleeping off their sickness one morning, Greg got to go to daycare so that they could get some peace and quiet.  He ran all the way ahead of me because he was so excited.

At daycare

The weight room is just down the street from our house.  Although I prefer to run outside, I’m very thankful for access to a treadmill, because my kids are up with the sun and in bed after sundown.  It’s not a good idea for a woman to be out running alone after dark, so I often end up going to the weight room when I get time to sneak away.

Happy November!  This is our Thanksgiving “tree” that we started this morning.  It’s hanging over our table.  Greg is very excited about the prospect of hanging up new leaves every day.

Beautiful fog this morning.  (The view from our front porch)