Friday, August 28, 2015

Two Weeks in Aitape

Ready for some more pictures of Brian at work in an exotic locale?  I thought so.

In case you missed it, Brian spent the last two weeks helping to install a new generator and solar system for the Aitape West translation team.

(Photos with Brian in them courtesy of Missy Smith)

Landing at the airstrip in Tadji.  See that Landcruiser?  It's a two-hour drive from the airstrip to the village.  If the road is in bad condition, then the translators have to travel there via helicopter (very expensive!!).

Bringing lots of supplies and tools with them.  They got to ride in the back of course. 

The airstrip is WWII vintage, and you can see that it was constructed of Marsden Matting.

The village is beautiful.

Brian thinks diesel engines are beautiful too! 

After the generator was operational, it was time to do solar.  The team is very excited to have a new solar system to replace a rather decrepit old one that didn't meet their current needs.

There are several expats who work with the Aitape West translation group, which works among several different language groups.  They have housing and classroom facilities large enough to accommodate everyone when they are all together.

A painting in the local Catholic church lists the names of locals who died in the tsunami of 1998.  Around 1600 people lost their lives in this tsunami, which was the catalyst for starting a multi-language program in this area.  Want to learn more?  Watch this video produced by Wycliffe Bible Translators or read the book Sleeping Coconuts by John and Bonnie Nystrom to hear the whole story. 

 Brian and the guys were fed pretty well out there.

They did lots of wiring.  They also stayed up late fixing other things in the translator's houses.  I saw my friend Mandy one day as we were dropping off our kids at school and she told me happily, "Your husband fixed my washing machine!"  You can imagine that for a family of seven, having a functional twin tub washing machine in the village is a big help!


Visiting another local church on their second Sunday.


I wish we had rain like that here in Ukarumpa!!

Packed in the back of the truck for the trip back to the airstrip.  (This vehicle is pretty lightly loaded by PNG standards!)

Photo Friday [99]

Just a few photos of our week.  Photos of Brian's trip to Aitape coming soon in a separate post.

 Dr. Caleb was fixing me up all week.  (I seem to have a lot wrong with me, most of which can be cured by having a stethoscope placed over the problem area for a few moments.)

 On Tuesday the boys were bouncing off the walls with excitement because Brian was coming home.  Two weeks is a long time, and everyone was very ready to have him back.


Waiting at the airstrip for the Daddies to come home.  The other two kids are twins who are in Kinder with Greg.  Their dad is a translator who works in Aitape who went along on the trip.

He got a little scruffy while he was gone.  This is after he trimmed it up a bit.  He kept the beginnings of a beard for about 24 hours, then couldn't handle it and went back to the usual goatee.

Unfortunately he was busy right off the bat when he got home.  This week one of our Papua New Guinean employees, Arua Tepi, passed away after several weeks of illness.  Even though he had been sick, I don't think anyone was really expecting him to die, so it kind of gave the community a shock.  Arua had worked for us for decades as part of the team in charge of security.  He was a God-fearing man who was extremely dedicated to his work.  He often used to walk the center at night, praying over it and just keeping an eye on things.

How do you take photos of a funeral?  Even though I've been to a PNG funeral where family members were snapping photos of the casket as it was being lowered into the ground, it just didn't feel right, so all I got was this photo of Brian getting ready for the memorial service.

So what are PNG funeral customs?  It varies of course, throughout the country, but this one was typical in most ways.  Arua had died at a hospital in Goroka, a few hours from here.  His family returned to Ukarumpa on Tuesday (a wife and four unmarried children) and the haus krai began.  The family is not left alone... people stop by the house, usually bringing gifts of food, and sit and talk with the family or just show their support by staying there a while.  Brian and I went on Wednesday for an hour or so and talked and prayed with his widow, Rose.  She told us about his death, and how he was ready to go and meet his Savior.

On Thursday a group went to Goroka to fetch the body.  A memorial service was planned for 2:30pm, and it started on time, but the body didn't actually arrive until nearly 4:00.  Another few hours of testimonies about his life and reiterations of the Gospel message, and then the real haus krai began when the body was taken to the home and people stayed up all night literally crying over the body.  PNGns are not stoic in their greif - wailing is expected.

After the memorial service Brian was busy for a few hours with logistics.  His cell phone had been ringing all day long as he worked with all the involved parties to sort out transportation and distribution of gifts.  Funerals are one of the times in PNG when large amounts of money are spent.  As the employer, our organization had an obligation to provide certain things - we bought the casket and paid for transportation of the body back to his home town several hours drive away from here.  There was a cultural expectation though that we couldn't send the body back by itself.  It would look very bad if we didn't also send thousands of kina worth of food gifts to his home village as a sort of thank-you for letting us "borrow" him for so many years.  There was a community collection and people donated towards this gift, and then Brian was at the store late last night buying bales of tea, sugar, flour and oil to send back with the body.

Brian came home, exhausted at around 8:00 and had some dinner, and then by 9:00 he was out the door again to go back to the haus krai.  He came home after 1:00 am.

This morning a caravan left to drive the family and the body back up to his hometown in the Southern Highlands, and our part of the proceedings is done.  There will be another haus krai in the village before the body is finally buried.  Arua will be missed in this community, and if you think about it, pray for his widow Rose and for the rest of the family.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Photo Friday [98]

Kate learned how to do raspberries this week, which is pretty cute - except for when she does it with a mouthful of applesauce.

I tried to get an updated photos of the three kids for our next newsletter, but this is the best we could manage.  (I'd better stick to candid.)

Greg remembered getting his photo taken on this rock a year or more ago, and he wanted to do it again.

Remember how we were choking on smoke last week?  This week there hasn't been nearly as much burning, and we have clouds!!

The clouds are pretty, but we'd really like some rain.  People are starting to run out of drinking water as their rain tanks dry up.  We still have about a quarter of a tank at our house, but we're getting worried.  Even the creek that supplies the non-potable water for things like laundry, showers and toilets is getting low, so we're all trying to conserve water.  I don't remember ever seeing the grass this brown and crunchy!

Caleb was wondering this morning when the clouds were going to go to God so He could give them some rain for us.  Maybe on Tuesday, he decided.


Kindergarten has gotten Greg really excited about reading and writing.  Every day he asks for pencil and paper so that he can write something.  This morning he volunteered to write out a list for our market shopping (notice that donuts are top on the list?).   He has been writing Christmas wish lists too.  Here in PNG we actually have to start thinking now about what we want for Christmas so that grandparents back in the States have time to shop and ship packages here!

 I saw the sweetest little baby boy this week, and asked if I could take his photo.  I've got it printed out and just need to go track down the parents so I can give it to them.

Caleb likes to play with my kitchen utensils.

Kate is 9 months old!

She's a pretty easy baby most of the time, but she's got some spunk to her too.  I can't imagine our family without her!

We're on the home stretch now waiting for Brian to come home (in four days!!).  We have had our ups and downs, but have been blessed by kind friends who have fed us and arranged play dates (like this one with a classmate from school) to help me get some down time.  The boys have started talking a lot about "when Daddy gets home..." so they are missing him.

'Till next week!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Photo Friday [97]

This week has had it's challenges.  Some sickness here in the house, and then of course there is this:

We said goodbye to Brian again.

Up extra early to wait for the bus to arrive to bring daddy to the airstrip.

Where did he go?  He is out in the Sepik region (think hot, sago, did I mention hot?) to help install a new generator for a translation team.

A photo of him at work.  I totally poached this photo from Missy Smith's Facebook page (sorry!)  It's just that my husband, who has a camera with him, has not sent me any photos to post.  Ahem... I know you'll probably be reading this Brian, since you have internet access out there!

The baby is cute, as always.

And here in Ukarumpa we are feeling very dried out and like we are living in the smoking section of a restaurant... back when they still had those.
 When it has been dry for a while, our village neighbors all like to burn the hillsides.   This was the view from my kitchen window yesterday.  In part, it's to prepare ground for new gardens.  Sometimes it's in an attempt to seed the clouds and bring on some much-needed rain.  And sometimes, I've been told, the young men just start fires for the fun of it.

I kept trying to get a photo that did the smoke justice.  In this one you can kinda' see a haze resting over the valley, but it's doesn't show how bad it really is.

 Another attempt.  Usually we can see the surrounding hillsides very clearly, but lots of the peaks are obscured by smoke.

So all week we have been walking around in a smoky haze.  Some days there is literally ash falling from the skies.  Laundry hung out on the line to dry comes in smelling like smoke.  You don't want to open your windows because then the inside of your house will be smoky.  It's very very bad news for those with asthma (myself included!).

Our drinking water tank is getting very very low as well, so we would appreciate some prayers for a good solid rain to clear the air and to fill our tanks!

Until next week!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Photo Friday [96]

This week:

Greg is starting to learn to read, and so he's been really into sounding out words.  This little notebook holds his "construction plans," and he spent a good long while carefully sounding out and writing down by himself all of the heavy equipment that he would need for his flower bed job.  As you can see on the pages above, he needed a concrete truck and a tractor.  Other pages listed " DMP TRUK" (dump truck), "EXRVAR" (excavator), "BLDUOSR" (bulldozer) and "STEMRLRL" (steam roller).

 Last weekend we also dealt with this:

We finally got around to taking care of the bees that had made their home in the wall of our house.  When we removed the board with the hole that was their entrance point, this is what we found.

After dad dealt with the bees, the boys were fascinated with the nest once it was removed from the wall.

We even got to watch a few young bees emerge from their cells and fly away!

Kate says, "Why are these boys always right up in my face?"

Baby toes painted for the first time.

Brian's other weekend project involved our grill.  As you can see, she's seen better days.  We inherited it with the house.  She may look rough, but having a gas BBQ grill is fairly special here in PNG, so we're not complaining.  We love being able to grill... crocodile kabobs anyone?  Brian was installing a new burner that we had purchased when we were in the U.S.

In the process of replacing the burner, however, Brian discovered that the grate that held the bricks in fairly bad condition.

So we had to improvise with some arc mesh that we had around the house.

Some folks who were visiting from the U.S. surprised the boys with M&Ms!

Brian teaching Caleb how to pop wheelies on his trike.

Late afternoon at the community playground.

Kate is happy to watch and clap.

 Sometimes things don't go the way we want them to...

 "What?  I didn't do anything..."

Daddy met us there on his way home from work.  It's nice to have a sympathetic ear to hear about your troubles.

And a strong shoulder to carry you home when you just can't make it on your own.

 Thanks for sharing in our week.  See you next Friday!