Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Reason for the Season

Isn't this picture just precious?  Those cute faces just make my heart melt! I have photos like this of my kids when they were preschoolers.  Now that I am teaching preschoolers, I thought other parents would enjoy them as well. So, each year in preschool we have the kids take turns dressing up as Mary and Joseph and take photos of them holding "Baby Jesus" (I'm kicking myself that I didn't use one of our dark-skinned baby dolls to be Jesus, but it's still an adorable picture). 

Christmas festivities are in full swing in the Owens house.  We've got the tree, some lights, and many other decorations throughout the house.  I grew up in a home that looked like something out of a Hallmark catalog during the holiday season.  Decorations and traditions are important to me.  It just doesn't feel like Christmas without them.  These traditions are a mix of ones we've been doing since the kids were little and others that we've added through the years. Some of our Christmas traditions are just for the sake of fun, like hiding "Pickles the Elf" around the house for other family members to find, doing fun Christmas activities together each day in December, and having friends over to decorate Christmas cookies. Other traditions in our home are intended to draw our hearts and minds back to the real reason for the season; the birth of Jesus, our Emmanuel. The one I most enjoy is advent.  Advent is not something what was a part of my Christmas traditions as a child, but I'm glad that it is for my children.  This year we're reading through an advent story called Bartholomew's Passage it's one of a series of advent stories written by Arnold Ytreeide.  Some friends of ours introduced us to these books last year while we were in the US.  The book is set up so that you read a few pages each day ending with a short devotional thought.  Our kids have enjoyed the engaging story and look forward each night to hearing what happens next.   

Another tradition we have been doing since we came to PNG is hunting for our Christmas tree.  You see, back in the US we had a tradition of going every year, the day after Thanksgiving, to pick out our tree.  Usually, we did this as a big family event with Chad's side of the family.  It's hard being away from family during the holidays especially when you have such fun traditions that involve them.  So, our first Christmas in PNG we decided to make our own Christmas tree tradition.  Each year, the weekend after American Thanksgiving, Chad takes our little artificial Christmas tree and hides it somewhere (usually in a neighbor's yard).  He also puts a sign out in the yard of the house where it's hidden that says "Christmas Tree Farm"  Then, we load up in our car with Christmas music and hot cocoa (even though it's really too hot for hot cocoa) and we drive around searching for our tree.  It's a silly tradition, but we have fun with it.  This year, we decided to let Dad join in on the fun a bit more by having some friends hide the tree.  That way, Dad didn't even know where it was! 

Last year, we loved being with family for Christmas, but we also love celebrating Christmas here in PNG.  Even here, the Christmas season is busy, but rather than the busyness of going here and there and the pressure to spend money, it's filled with activities centered around "family" and friends and remembering the reason we celebrate.  There's no commercialism here and gift giving is much simpler and creative.  In many ways, it feels the way I think Christmas should be (except for the obvious fact that none of our family is around-- that part never really gets easy, but we do have some close friendships here that are as close as family). 

I pray that as you celebrate this season in your own family that you take time to remember the reason we celebrate, enjoy some quality time with your loved ones, and take part in some traditions, both new and old. 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Sports day

Sometimes it's ok to be proud....

This past week was "sports day" for the primary school campus here
(grade K-6). It's an all day event with different track and field type
events. The kids complete both individually and in teams.

It's a day that all students are required to participate in. Some kids
LOVE it, other kids, not so much... Calvin fits into the later group.
He's just not very athletic Let's be honest... he comes by in
naturally, just take a look at his parents. Not to mention that he's
got a couple of chronic health issues stacked against him too.

In PE class for the last few weeks, they have been practicing and
preparing for Sports day. Calvin hasn't complained, but I know he
doesn't exactly enjoy it.

Anyhow... Sports day arrived and Calvin woke up in a REALLY crabby
mood. You know the kind of mood where nothing positive comes out of
your mouth? Grumbling, complaining, crying, you name it. That was
Calvin. Now, I can't force Calvin to like sports day, I can't magically
make him perform better in the events, and I can't force him to have a
good attitude. I CAN encourage him to do his best and to have a good

I spent the entire morning as we prepared to leave for school trying to
convince his that it is possible to have fun at sports day, even if
athletics isn't your cup of tea. I encouraged him to try his best and
not worry about how he compares to others and above all...have a good
attitude. It came time to leave for school and Calvin had JUST decided
to have a good attitude... we walked out the door and it was raining.
That means a wet, muddy and slippery sports day. In an instant, all
that convincing him to have a good attitude was undone. As we went to
school, I prayed silently, that somehow he would turn his attitude
around. I had a bad feeling about the day. (Calvin is a kid who feels
his emotions strongly.... happy, sad, angry, grouchy, sad, whatever he
feels, he feels it strongly). I was so concerned that I took the time
to talk to the people who would be helping out his group during sports
day and give them a "heads up" about his current frame of mind.

Due to the fact that I had my own class to teach, I wasn't able to see
much of the sports day events (my co-teacher and I did take turns
stepping out of our classroom to watch our kids a bit). When I did step
out to watch him, I was happy to see that he had somehow managed to turn
his attitude around. Praise the Lord!

At the end of the day, one person from each group is awarded a "good
sportsmanship" award. You can imagine the pride I felt when my son (the
one who began the day in such a negative frame of mind) ended the day be
being awarded the "good sportsmanship" award for his group. Way yo go

Birthday for an "almost" teen

It's been a while since I've blogged... I've been feeling guilty about it.

We're now a few weeks into our new school year and things have been busy.

This week we celebrated Sydney's 12th birthday. She is definitely on
the cusp of the teen years. It's been interesting to watch how "playing
with friends" has been slowly morphing into "hanging out with friends."
It used to be, "Mom, can so and so come pay?" now it's "Can so and so
come over today?" A subtle change that signifies a much more
significant one.

My kids have both gotten to the age where they want to plan their own
parties. This year Sydney recruited a friend to help her plan her
party. I was really nothing more than cook and crowd control. The
party was actually a nice mix of planned games and not so planned time.
One of Sydney's gifts this year was Just Dance 2 (for the Wii) We gave
it to her just before her party and the kids had a great time playing
this at the party. There are some songs we have to deem "off limits,"
but for the most part, the game is great fun and great exercise.

One of the things I LOVE about celebrating birthdays here in Ukarumpa is
the fact that you don't have to have to go to the coolest new place,
have the best goody bags, or spend a fortune on food.

Sydney wanted my favourite black bottom cupcakes, some chips, and bean
dip. That and some Tang to quench their thirst was all they needed.
Simple and easy. Well, I did bake the cupcakes from scratch and make
some of the chips-- right now our store actually has Fritos and Dorritos
(thanks to a recently arrive US grocery shipment), but they are super
expensive, so I supplemented with some homemade chips as well.

The other thing I really like about birthdays here is the lack of
pressure to give the best or most expensive gift. In fact, many kids
don't even give gifts. Those that do, it's often very simple things.
For example, a couple of kids gave her a package of candy from our
store. Others have a stash of small gifts brought back from their home
country. We have a drawer full of small items we brought back.from the
US. When a birthday comes, the kids can shop in the birthday drawer to
find a gift. I love the simplicity of it all.

This year is big for Sydney because she is in grade 7, which means she
moved to the "secondary campus" (this is the middle and high school
campus of UIS). For some, this transition is a tough one. For Sydney,
it's been fun to watch her blossom. She is absolutely LOVING middle
school and it really seems to suit her. With the switch to middle
school, she has also entered to world of youth group-- for Sydney, this
is yet another chance to hang out with her friends.

Sigh... she's growing up way more quickly than I want her to.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Haus Krai

Here in PNG, it seems that the people deal with death much more frequently than we do in the US.  It may be an exaggeration, but it seems like every other week a friend of ours tells us about a death in their family.   

This past week a policeman who lives here on our centre passed away.  He had been living and working here for the past 20 years.  When we first came here we lived right next door to him and his family.  Our children often played with his children.   He will be missed.

He didn't die from cancer, heart attack, or even one of those tropical diseases we deal with here.  He died of an asthma attack.  This is especially heartbreaking to me as I reflect on Calvin's struggles with asthma over the past couple of months.

When my son was struggling with asthma last month, we were put on an airplane and flown over the pacific ocean to Australia, met at the airport by a fully equipped ambulance, and driven to a nearby clean, fully stocked hospital with well trained doctors and nurses.  Our friend, the policeman, was given some basic medicine and sent home, where he later died.  Our clinic here did the best they could (they truly are an amazing group of doctors and nurses), but there is only so much that can be done here.

 It's in times like these that I feel thankful for the medical resources and support  we have here through our organization, but I also feel saddened and discouraged that our Papua New Guinean friends don't have the same access.  In the US, have you ever heard of someone dying because of Asthma?  It's possible, but It's not likely.  Here, we do what we can to help our national friends with their medical needs, but sometimes it's just not enough.  Our organization operates a medical clinic that serves the people who live in this valley.  Often times, people walk for hours to seek medical care at our clinic. We do basic medical care, but have no hospital here.  The nearest hospital, about a 20 minute drive from here, has very basic facilities and supplies.   I've had friends here be admitted to the hospital only to be given pain medication and be told "We don't know what's wrong with you."  I know that medical care in the US has it's problems, but the situation changes my perspective a bit.

One of the traditions here when someone dies is the "haus krai." In English, this translates to "house cry."  Basically, the family and friends construct a large "house" out of bamboo and tarps. The body is placed in a wooden casket and set on a bamboo stand in the middle of the "haus krai."  Family and friends come from all over to mourn and cry over the body.  Often the "haus krai" can last several days.  People, quite literally, sit in the "haus krai" and cry, sometimes in loud wailing, other times in quiet sobs. There's something very natural and cathartic about this process.  Afterward, the body is transported back to the "as ples" or place of birth to be buried. 

Matthew 5:4  Blessed are those who mourn, for they will inherit the earth.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Grade 6 Graduation

Friday night was grade 6 graduation. We are now, officially, the parents
of a middle schooler. (I know many of you middle school begins with
grade 6 or even grade 5, but here middle school is grades 7 and 8).
Our school here is technically one school divided into two campuses--the
primary campus (preschool-grade 6) and the secondary campus (grades
7-12). As you can imagine, moving from the primary campus to the
secondary campus is a big deal for 11-13 year-olds.
The tradition here is to have a graduation ceremony for the grade 6
kids. This ceremony is very similar to what you might see in the US. We
have a song sung by the primary school choir (grades 4-6), a sixth grade
band performance, The kids get a graduation certificate, and lots of
pictures are taken.

Sydney, being the multi-talented kid that she is sang in the choir, played and in the band, and was among the graduates. We were very proud of her.

However, there are some really special parts of this graduation ceremony
that I love. These things remind me how blessed we are to have our kids
in a school where they are both academically and spiritually
challenged. One such tradition is that all of the kid's previous
teachers are invited to write up a special greeting to the class...
included in these greetings are special memories about the group of kids
and things that stood out to the teacher about this particular class.
Another tradition is that the kids get a chance to share memories from
their primary school years. Sometimes these are fun, silly memories.
Other times, they are more thoughtful memories of friends they've had to
say goodbye to along the way.
My absolute favorite grade 6 graduation tradition, though, is the
awarding of character awards to each student. In preparation for the
night, the teachers meet together to choose a character award for each
student. These character awards are qualities that are consistently
shown by that student. They are qualities that reflect God's work in the
life of that particular student. The teacher stands up, announces the
character trait, describes what it looks like in action, gives some
scripture verses that address this character trait and then announces
the name of the student who has been given this character award. Some
examples of character awards are loyalty, discernment, prayerfulness,
conscientiousness, and creativity. I had to laugh a bit when Sydney was
awarded her character award. I knew it was her as soon as her teacher
opened her mouth and announced what character award she was about to
give.... any guesses for a girl who is, in many ways, a lot like her
Because we often have to create our own fun here, the parents planned
some after grad events for the graduates. I was in charge of organizing
all of these events, but it really was a group effort. It was a full
night for the kids and their families.
Once the grad ceremony finished, we headed over to the primary school
where we had a reception for the grads and their families-- you know,
finger foods, punch, chatting, and about 200 cupcakes in a variety of
flavors (the cupcakes were my idea and they turned out to be a bit hit!).
Once everyone had their fill, we did some Australian Bush Dancing.
(Think Square dancing, but more fun!).

Next, the grads said goodbye their parents and began an epic game of capture the flag all around the primary school grounds (by this time it was 10:30 pm and POURING rain). As you can imagine, they had a BLAST.

Finally we wrapped up the night with a quick bonfire (beacuse of the rain) and finally rides home at around 11:45 pm

What a fun but exhausting night!

And the character award of CREATIVITY goes to Sydney Owens! (just in case you didn't already guess it!)
All dressed up and ready to graduate!

The "cupcake" table.  We made about 200 cupcakes in 6 different varieties.  They were a lot of fun to make and a big hit at the reception!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Good Things about our surprise visit to Australia

Well, the last two weeks have been a bit of a blur....
It still feels a bit surreal that we really did fly to Cairns, spend 3
nights in a hospital, 5 more nights at a hotel, I successfully navigated
my way around Cairns so that Calvin and I could have some fun memories
form this trip, and then we flew back to PNG. We really wanted to give
Calvin some GOOD memories of the trip, so we tried to do some fun stuff too.

Here are some positive highlights from our trip:

Calvin and I go to eat at McDonalds (ordinarily, I wouldn't count that
as a positive, but when you live in a place with no restaurants AND
you've been eating hospital food for three days, this is a definite

We go to have pizza that I didn't have to make. (Ever since our days at
Biola, our family has a tradition of pizza on Sundays. Since coming to
PNG, I've had to master the art of homemade pizza. I can make a decent
piza from scratch, but somehow it never quite compares to take out pizza.)

Calvin and I got to go to the movie theater (We saw Rio-- it was a cute
movie with some fun music.) There are no movie theatres in PNG, so this
was definitely a treat. (We even treated ourselves to movie theatre

We found a fun playground in Cairns for Calvin to play at. (It would
have been a LOT more fun with his sister of a friend to play with him,
but I think he still had a good time.)

We read some good books while we were in Cairns.

We had fun shopping for presents to bring back to Chad and Sydney.

We got to have Ice Cream. (We haven't had Ice Cream here for quite some
time and even when we do have ice cream, I'm not sure PNG ice cream can
really be considered Ice Cream-- It doesn't even have milk in it. I've
made ice cream in our little ice cream maker a couple of times in the
last few months, but It was a treat to walk into the grocery store and
have a choice of flavors. We went with Cookies and Cream!)

We had yogurt too! (Yogurt is one of my favorite things to have for
breakfast. Unfortunately, we can get it here, I can make plain,
unsweetened yogurt here, but I love the creamy fruity flavored kinds you
can buy in the grocery store.)

It's kind of a sad commentary that most of this list involves food....
when you have a kid who's just been in the hospital with respiratory
issues, you can't exactly do really active things, so we didn't really
DO a whole lot once we left the hospital. Also, it just wasn't as much
fun without the rest of our family.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Reflections on a medivac

The events of this week have left me pondering lots of things...While we were still in the hospital I began journaling some of these thoughts... I thought it might be interesting to share them with you all...

Excerpt from my journal--
Journal/Reflections on Calvin’s medivac

Wow… It’s a lonely feeling being in a hospital in a foreign country where you know no one. My previous experience with being in the hospital or knowing someone in the hospital is that loved ones come to gather round, visit and pray with the sick patient. The main caretaker of the sick person gets occasional breaks to stretch their legs, or even go home for a short rest and loved ones often bring in food for the caretaker and even the patient sometimes.

What a different experience it is having a medivac from Papua New Guinea to Cairns, Australia! There’s no one around to call and say, “Hey forgot to pack clean underwear. Can you bring some by?” Instead of a short, but tense car or ambulance ride to the hospital, there were several tense hours on an airplane with a doctor and a nurse working the whole time to keep the patient stable and unsure, really, if the altitude of the airplane will cause additional stress on the patient’s condition.

Once we arrived at the airport, we had to clear international customs before they would let us get on the ambulance that was waiting nearby on the tarmac. (Not to mention that fact that since our PNG visas had not yet been renewed we had to make a stop in Port Moresby to pick up our passports with ”hot off the press” visas.)

We’re in a place where, as soon as we open our mouths, it’s obvious we’re “not from here.” That leaves some people unsure how to deal with us. When we first arrived, one of the first comments I got was from a hospital admin who said, “You’re from where? And you live where? You know you have to pay, right?” To which I responded (thanks to our wonderful director’s office) “Here is a letter of guaranteed payment. (Now please go take care of my son!—okay I didn’t say that last part.)

Everything here at the hospital works just a bit differently or you’re afraid it might. I’ve been unsure of things like, “Is it ok for me to go get a fresh pitcher of water for my son? Are they going to let us have any food? Do they just feed the patient or the caretaker as well?” How much am I going to need to advocate for my son?’ How come we haven’t heard from the doctor yet?” Don’t get me wrong, we’ve been well taken care of, things are just a bit unsure and I have to force myself to ask lots of questions.

Once we got to the hospital and our doctor and nurse handed him over to the hospital staff here, it was just the two of us (except for our wonderful doctor who came back briefly to give me some toothbrushes and toothpaste—That’s one of the things I forgot to pack in the mad dash to grab what we needed for the trip) Speaking of that… how do you pack for something like this? I had to think briefly, what will we need in the hospital, what will we need once we leave the hospital since we’ll likely have several days here once we are out of the hospital. What is the weather like in Australia this time of year, etc. Part of the reason we’ve been a bit bored and lonely here is that I didn’t really have time to think through what I should pack to keep us occupied. I did pack a couple of things, but we could have used more. (I did pack a The Last Battle by CS Lewis. I read the entire book out loud to Calvin over the course of our 3 days in the hospital.)
It’s a lonely feeling sitting in a hospital room with a sick child and no one to talk to, give you a break, give moral support, etc. I get the feeling, however, that, in Australia, maybe people don’t come visit at the hospital they way they do in the US. I just haven’t seen the influx of people around the children’s ward that I’d expect to. It’s a bit isolated in terms of communication as well. We arrived at the hospital and there was no way for me to contact Chad and say, “Hey, we made it. He’s ok, here’s what’s going on, Etc.” As we sat in the emergency room, I kept thinking, “I need to find a way to get in touch with Chad. How am I going to do that when I can’t leave Calvin? I can’t just pick up a nearby phone and call him. I don’t have an international mobile phone… all I had here is my PNG mobile which has no credit left on it, doesn’t work internationally, and to top it off, I forgot to pack the charger and there’s no battery left on it!

Things I didn’t pack, but wish I did…

Toothbrushes and toothpaste (thanks to Dr. Carl who helped me out with this one)
Clean underwear for Calvin…we’ll be shopping for some as soon as we get out of the hospital.
Chapstick… that plane ride and being on oxygen is hard on the lips. (Thankfully the nurse gave us something for it once I asked).
Nail clippers and nail file… this would have been a great time to trim Calvin’s toenails (I had plenty of time to realize how gross they were) and give my own nails some TLC.
Tweezers… It also would have been a great time to fix up my eyebrows. =)
A magazine.. It’s hard to focus on a book right now, but it would have been nice to at least have a magazine to look at.

As I've walked this journey, there have been a couple of Scripture passages that have encouraged me. Allow me to share them with you. I pray they will encourage you as well...
Psalm 34
1 I will extol the LORD at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.
2 I will glory in the LORD;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
3 Glorify the LORD with me;
let us exalt his name together.

4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.
6 This poor man called, and the LORD heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him,
and he delivers them.

8 Taste and see that the LORD is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
9 Fear the LORD, you his holy people,
for those who fear him lack nothing.
10 The lions may grow weak and hungry,
but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.
11 Come, my children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
12 Whoever of you loves life
and desires to see many good days,
13 keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from telling lies.
14 Turn from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.

15 The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous,
and his ears are attentive to their cry;
16 but the face of the LORD is against those who do evil,
to blot out their name from the earth.

17 The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them;
he delivers them from all their troubles.
18 The LORD is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

19 The righteous person may have many troubles,
but the LORD delivers him from them all;
20 he protects all his bones,
not one of them will be broken.

21 Evil will slay the wicked;
the foes of the righteous will be condemned.
22 The LORD will rescue his servants;
no one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.

Psalm 46:1-7
1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.

4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

7 The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Medivac Pics

  In the ER

By the time we arrived in Cairns he was ready for a good snooze

Starting to feel better-- you can tell by the goofy look on his face

You can do some fun things with your oxygen chord when you don't need it to breathe!

I told him with his toe glowing like that, he reminded me of E.T.

E.T. Phone Home!

Friday, May 20, 2011


 Wow.. it's been quite a week!   Calvin and I are sititng in our airconditioned room at Treetops Lodge in Cairns Australia while Chad and Sydney remaion back in PNG. I've done a bit of journalling about our medivac experience-- I've written about 5 pages already and I haven't gotten through all the details.

So, here's the story (in a somewhat shortened version)...
Last week Calvin started feeling sick (probably with a virus that has been going around school).  The virus triggered his asthma.  After a weekend on him feling really lousy and unable to keep down any food or liquid, I took him into our clinic.  He was a bit dehydrated, so they kept him at the clinic for dehydration and had me administer fluids every 5 minutes.  They were also a bit concerned about his breathing, but didn't make a big deal of that at first.  After a morning at the clinic, they sent us home with a promise to get more fluids into him, increased asthma meds, and prednisone.  We checked back in with the clinic that afternoon and they gave him a shot of meds that was supposed to help his breathing.  We had an appointment to return to the clinic at 11 AM the next day

After a restless night with a LOT of coughing, Calvin woke at 6:30 with a nose bleed.  Just as I got him cleaned up, the phone rang.  It was the doctor calling to check on him.  I gave him a report and he decided I should bring Calin in first thing rather then wait until 11.  

When we got to the clinic, his O2 level was low and he couldn't register a peak flow.  He was moved to the treatment room and put on a nebulizer.  It was at that point the doctor told me he wanted to send him to Cairns for treatment.  This was about 9 AM Tuesday morning.

Because Chad has not been working in his regular office this month, I was having trouble getting in touch with him.  I ended up leaving Calvin in the very capable hands of the clinic staff and driving out to the training centre to find Chad.  We rushed back to the clinic, talked with the doctor, and decided I would be the one to go with Calvin.  At this point, the director's office and aviation were hard at work doing all sort of important things related to an emergency medivac.  I made a quick call to the school principal letting him know of the situation so that he could make arrangements for someone to cover my class.  I also went to the finance office to pick up a bit of Aussie cash.  Finally, I headed home to pack and pick up important papers.

Typically, in an ememrgency medical situation, our airplanes are equipped to fly straight from Ukarumpa to Cairns, however, our passports and resident visas for PNG expired at the end of January and have been waiting in a government office to be renewed since mid January when we returned from furlough.  We needed those to travel internationally.  Our Port Moresby staff got to work for us, located our passports and managed somehow to get our new visas.

After sorting out all the details about the passports, flight plan, equipping the Kodiak airplane for a medical flight, dealing with medivac insurrance stuff, packing, and lots of stuff I'm sure I don't even know about....we loaded up for our 5 minute drive to the airstrip.

At this point, Calvin was requiring quite a bit of oxygen.  An oxygen tank was brought along in the van for the drive to the airstrip, but about halfway there it ran out. Calvin's oxygen levels was dipping down into the low 70's by the time we got the the aircraft.  He was quickly helped into the plane where they hooked him up to one of the on board oxygen tanks.  It took a bit longer to load up everything and handle all the details.  We finally took off around 1PM.  On board the plane were 2 pilots, a doctor, a nurse, Calvin and me. 

Our usual medivac plane, the King Air, is down for repairs right now, so we flew in one of our two Kodiak airplanes.  Flying time from Ukarumpa to Port Moresby int he Kodiak is about 1 hr 20 min so, at around 2:30 we touched down in Port Moresby.  We stayed in the plane while the two pilots cleared immigration and grabbed our passports.  Thankfully, we didn't have to refuel in Moresby, so it was a pretty quick stop.

Soon, we were back in the air with an estimated flying time of 2 hrs 40 min to Cairns.   Calvin remained stable during both flights with breathing treatments every 2 hours (we didn't have electricity onboard so he was getting treatments with an inhaler) and the oxygen support between 8 and 10 litres.  Once we touched down in Cairns, we were met on the tarmac by customs officials and an ambulance.  The two onboard oxygen tanks were nearing empty by this point.

I think we finally reached the emergency room at about 6:30 PM (We began our day at the clinic at 8:30 AM).  Calvin was wheeled in assessed, put on the nebulizer, blood work done, chest x-ray hooked up to monitors, etc.  The doctor and nurse came with us to the hospital to brief the staff there and stayed for a bit to make sure we were bieng taken care of.  They then left to get some food and a good night's rest-- they would be flying back to Ukarumpa early the next morning.  They did, however, take that time to go purchase toothpaste and toothbrushed for Cavlin and I (I had realized I forgot these shorlty after we took off).  I was very grateful for their thoughtfulness with that.

Once we got the hospital I knew I needed to let Chad know we'd arrived, but I couldn't leave Calvin and I didn't have a phone that would work internationally.  Thankfully, around 10:15 Chad figured out which hospital we were at and called us.  What a relief for both of us!

Around 10:30 they moved us out of emergency and into a triage area.  There were no available bed in the pediatrics ward, so we spent the night in this triage area.

Sometime during that first 16 hours, we learned a few things... Calvin's chest x-ray was clear (great news), hi blood sugar was a bit high (probably due to the prednisone and dehydration), his blood pressure was a bit high (many reasons for that), and his white blood cell count was low (indicating a possible viral infection).

Finally, around 11 AM the next day, we were moved to the kid's ward to a small, but adequate room.  Because of his cough and the fact that we were from PNG, we had to be in an isolation room.  So, there we sat for the next two days with occasional visits from nurses and doctors.

When we frst arrived at the hospital Calvin was requiring 6-8 litres of oxygen.  By Thurdsday morning we was able to be down to 1 litre.  Finally, the oxygen was turn off on Firday morning and we began talking about being discharged.  Because he hadn't been off the oxygen for very long, we were allowed to leave the hospital, but a having daily visits from "in home" nursing care until we see the doctor next week.

The plan is to stay here in Cairns unitl Calvin is medically cleared to fly and handle the altitude we live at in PNG-- hopefully sometime this next week.

Meanwhile, people in PNG have been wonderful about looking after Sydney and Chad who are still back in Ukarumpa.

We are so thankful to everyone who played a part in this experience.  Not just the doctors, nurses, aviation staff, director's office staff, member care staff, friends who are feeding my family in PNG, people who are filling in the holes I left at the school, but also those who have been and are still praying for us and those who have already helped with the extra expenses we'll have as a reult of this.

I could write much more, but this will have to do for now.

Thanks to everyone who is surrounding our family with Love and Support.

Monday, April 25, 2011


I enjoy cooking, which is good, because I spend a lot of my time doing it.
We can sometimes get packaged products here, but most of what I cook is
from scratch. Lately, I've been cooking even more things from scratch.
Some things that used to be readily available have been harder to get.
An example of this is canned tomato products. It used to be that you
could almost always get diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, etc
in our store. Lately this is not the case. We have randomly had a small
amount of tomato products, but in the 3 months we've been back from home
assignment, I'd say the times when those shelves are bare have far
outnumbered the times when we've had these things in stock. I don't
think I realized before how much our family consumes tomato products.
Luckily, we have a beautiful fruit and vegetable market 3 mornings a
week here. Knowing that canned tomato products ultimately come from
fresh tomatoes, I decided to teach myself how to make my own tomato
products. As with most things, it's not really all that HARD to make
tomato puree from scratch, it just takes time.
Bread is another thing I often make from scratch. We can get some
sandwich bread from a nearby town. I often buy this for toast and
sandwiches because, frankly, I have a really hard time slicing my bread
in nice even slices like you find in a store bought loaf of bread. The
problem is that it tastes a bit like cardboard, especially once you get
used to eating fresh homemade bread. Nevertheless, the kids don't seem to mind it for their PB&J or grilled cheese. 

Although we do have this option for sandwich bread, whenever we want rolls, bagels, hamburger buns, etc.  They have to be made from scratch.  One thing I've wanted to try to a while is making English Muffins.  As with most things from scratch, they are easier to make than I thought they would be.  In fact, I was pretty pleased with the results. I'll definitely we making these again.  The best part about making English muffins is that I didn't have to turn on the oven.  On a hot day this is a definite plus.  Here are some pictures.  They didn't have all the nooks and crannies you'd find in Thomas' English Muffins, but they were still a hit with the whole family!

Happy Easter

Celebrating Easter here in PNG looks, in many ways, a lot like it would
back in the US. We go to church, we share a nice meal with people we
love, we decorate Easter eggs, and we even have an Easter Egg hunt. The
biggest difference is who we celebrate with. If we were home in the US,
we'd be surrounded by family. Here, we live in a community full of
people who are away from their families. Because of this, we build
relationships here that often feel like family.

We had the pleasure of hosting Easter dinner this year and invited two
other families to join us. Certain food items have been rather scarce
lately, but we managed to pull off an impressive Easter spread complete
with rolls, mashed potatoes, vegetables, salad, and the traditional
Easter Chicken. Sometimes we've been able to get ham here around Easter
time and, although it can be a bit expensive, we've splurged to get
one. This year, however, there was no ham to be had, so chicken it
was. It's not really all about the food, although it WAS really tasty.

We had a lovely afternoon relaxing afternoon with good friends as we
celebrated our Savior's resurrection. We also took the time to take a
couple of family pics as we do every year at Easter. Here are a few
pics form the day...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Eggs

I thought this year the kids wouldn't be interested in the annual Easter
egg dying... after all, they are 11 and almost 10 years old.
Thankfully, I had an extra dozen eggs on hand because our store here is
not open on weekends or holidays. Friday morning (Good Friday is a
public holiday here), Sydney says to me, "Mom, when are we going to
decorate Easter eggs?" and "Can we each invite a friend to dye eggs with

I have to admit, I was kinda looking forward to not dealing with the
mess of it this year, but without too much complaining, I went and
boiled a dozen eggs while the kids each called a friend. Thankfully,
too, I had the food coloring and vinegar on hand (Which brings me to a
quick rant... Why do we (in the US) spend money on packaged egg dye kits
when all you need is water, vinegar, and food coloring? I will admit
that I didn't know it was so simple until I moved to the land of no
commercial holiday items.)

So, once again, the kids enjoyed the tradition of coloring Easter eggs
with friends. The mess wasn't bad and I can't really blame me daughter,
I am the one in the family who is big on traditions... I guess I've
rubbed off on my daughter a bit... that's not so bad is it?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Missionary Kid moment

Recently we had a team of people come from the US and Australia to hold a 2 week long Vacation Bible School for our kids while we attended our biennial PNG branch conference (translated that means the parents were in all day meetings for 2 weeks and we needed people to look after our kids). We were so thankful for these wonderful people who came to help in this way.  The kids had a blast doing all sorts of games, songs, activities, crafts, etc.

Doing a Vacation Bible School for a large group of missionary kids is an interesting experience, I'm sure.  The typical commercially produced VBS curriculum doesn't work so well with a group like this who often know the Bible stories as well (or sometimes even better) than their VBS leaders. We heard many times from the teachers how smart and well versed the kids here are in their knowledge of the Bible.  As you can imagine, the leaders had to use some creativity to keep this group of MKs interested and engaged... they did a great job!  As we spoke to the kids teachers we heard some great stories of things they did together and the fun they had.

I had to share one such story with you all....
The grade 6 girls were playing a game of Apples to Apples.  Their leader (a really fun college aged young lady) knew that these missionary kids may not "get" some of the things on the cards (this game is heavily tied to US culture). She told the girls, If you don't know the thing on the card, just put it back and take another.  This lead to quite a lot of cards being turned back in.  Finally, after trading in several cards, one of the girls turned over a card that read "Abba" (it was referring to the popular music group, Abba).  The girl excitedly said, "Oh, I know this one!  It's another name for God!"

And there you have it folks...out of the mouths of MKs

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Settling In

We've been back in PNG for a week now and we're feeling pretty well

Some things I've enjoyed as we've begun settling in:

Having a huge group of people to greet us at aviation! We were
obviously missed!
Being back into our home and having my kitchen back.
Trying some new recipes this week
Getting back to a routine... including exercise!
Beginning a new semester at school and getting to know my new
students... they are a great bunch!
Seeing my kids reconnect with their friends and having a house full of
kids after school each day.
Looking out my windows at this beautiful country.
Catching up with my PNG and expat friends here.
Getting back into our weekly Bible study groups.

Of course, we miss friends and family in the US, but God has called us
to this work in PNG and has even blessed us with contentment as we do
it. Life here is not always easy. There is cultural stress. There are
no restaurants. Now 24/7 grocery stores. No places for shopping except
our little store. However, this place feels like home. We have purpose
in our work here. We have good friends. Life is good!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Goodbye Winter... Hello Summer

At the beginning of this week. we were in the US feeling the cold of
winter (Okay, it was only winter in CA, but still, we felt cold). Now
we find ourselves in the heat of summer in Australia. Wow is it hot
and humid!

We're spending a couple of days in Cairns, Australia before we head back
to PNG. The plan is to get over jet lag and have a couple of days rest
before we get to Ukarumpa and hit the ground running. We arrive on
Saturday (Friday US time) and school begins on Wednesday. It will be a
busy few days getting settled and getting ready to start teaching.

The goodbyes were hard, but we are excited to get back to our home in
PNG. The kids are looking forward to seeing their friends, seeing our
dog, having their own rooms again, and even getting back to school
(believe it or not).

We're all enjoying the warm weather and swimming in the pool here. This
is something we don't get to do much in PNG since there are no pools
where we live. I think the kids would live in the pool if they could.

There's lots more floating around in my head, but I suppose it's time to
make breakfast and see what the day holds.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

It's Almost time

We just spent our last night in our furlough home (okay, I just spent my
last night here. Everyone else is still sleeping!) What a blessing it
has been to be in Mount Hermon for this home assignment! We've loved
living here. It's a little bit outside of the hustle and bustle of busy
city life. Not so far that we can't easily get there if we need to, but
when you are here you feel a bit removed from the busyness. Because we
are "on the other side of the hill" as people here call it, we've been
blessed to make new friendships, become a part of a GREAT church family,
and spend time with some family members who we otherwise may not have
seen much of. God knew THIS was where we needed to be during THIS
time. We are truly blessed.

Today we get to worship with our church family at Gateway Bible church
one last time and then spend the evening surrounded by family. God is
good. Most of the work is done.

We appreciate your prayers as we begin our journey back to PNG
tomorrow. Here's our itinerary is you are interested:
Monday Jan 10th-- Depart SFO at 7:45 PM Flight time approx 13hours
Wednesday Jan12th 6 AM arrive in Auckland NZ (Tuesday morning US time
-- We skip a day when we cross the international date line)
Layover in Auckland for approx 2 hours
Fly Auckland, NZ to Cairns, AUS Flight time approx 6 hours.
Arrive in Cairns, AUS approx 12 PM on Jan 12th (approx 5 PM Tuesday US time)

Spend a couple of days in Cairns AUS recovering and getting over jet lag

Saturday morning depart Cairns AUS and fly to Port Moresby PNG at 6:45
AM (approx 1 PM Friday US time)
Flight time 2 hours

Finally... Fly From Port Moresby PNG to Ukarumpa arriving approx 12 PM
(approx 6 PM US time)

So, there you have it!

We'd appreciate prayers for safe travels and relief from the colds we've
been fighting.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


As we prepare to return to PNG in just a few days, we are doing our best
to have "one last visit" with as many people as possible. As we balance
this desire to be with people and the need to "get things done" my
prayer is that I can be in the moment-- enjoy my time with people and
not be preoccupied with the to do list AND use my work time effectively.

As we spend time with people I can't help but realize how blessed we
are. We truly are rich in family and friends. Both on this side of the
globe and on the other. While we grieve for the time away from friends
and family in the US, we look forward to reuniting with friends in PNG.
God has blessed us with some amazing friendships, if you are reading
this you can probably count yourself among the blessings in my life.
For that, I thank you!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year

It's been such a blessing to be with family and friends this holiday
season. We're sitting at Chad's parent's house enjoying one of the last
traditions of the holiday season, watching the Rose Parade. What a great
tradition that is! I love to see all of the creativity that goes into
all the floats. I remember as a child going to Pasadena to see all of
the floats from the Rose Parade. I've always wanted to go see the Rose
parade in person. (although the reports about cold and rain every year
make me thankful I'm watching from the comfort of a warm house!)

As we begin 2011, I look forward to the things in store. God bless each
of you as you begin this new year!