Friday, November 25, 2011

Giving Thanks

It’s always most difficult to give thanks when everything you think you know about yourself is being challenged, but that also happens to be the time when a grateful attitude is most critical.  So this year, the Thanksgiving holiday reminder fell at perfect time for me.

023Thanksgiving is, of course, an American holiday and not observed in Papua New Guinea.  School is in session, the store and other departments are still open, and the planes still fly.  But because of the large American population living at this center, the celebration does happen—if not Thursday evening, then Saturday afternoon.  Often an American family will invite other families, American, Australia, Papua New Guinean, Korean, etc. to share in a traditional (or non-traditional) feast.

In realty, the idea of a thanksgiving feast is not solely American.  Papua New Guineans too observe momentous occasions with elaborate meals of chicken, sausages, cooking bananas, sweet potato, greens and pumpkins baked in pit in the ground.  My hausmeri (female house helper) told me today that the village across the river celebrated Thanksgiving in August.  There had been a large fight between two clans earlier in the year.  Most of the houses in the village were burned, but only 4 lives were lost.  The Christians in the village were grateful to God for protecting their church and their lives.

That kind of puts things into perspective doesn’t it?

A week has gone buy since my previous desperate post about the food situation here in Ukarumpa.  I am extremely thankful to be able to 015say that meal preparation is becoming easier.  I’m grateful for a wonderful evening with friends that included crafts, laughs, and roasted chicken!  I thank God for the family he has given me—children so eager for the next great adventure, and a husband who actively pursues God.  And I’m even grateful to God for stretching me in a greater likeness of himself.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

What’s for Dinner?

Please forgive the tone of this post.  I’m writing in the midst of the struggle.  Although by faith I know there is a light at the end of the tunnel, right now I’m having some difficulty seeing it.  <hopeful smile>

There is a bit of heaven here in this mission community—especially the way families eagerly sign up to cover the first three days worth of meals for new arrivals to Ukarumpa.  With all the unpacking, settling in and finding your way around the center, it’s very nice not to have to concern yourself with cooking.  But when you’ve arrived on a Friday and the store is closed till Monday, and McDonalds is just a mirage from another life, the “meal list” is pure necessity.

But now the honeymoon is over and I’m struggling to make three meals a day for this family.  This ought to be old hat by now.  I mean, I have lived in PNG for 5 years already.  And I really didn’t even take advantage of all the convenient and microwaveable foods available when we were in the States.  I guess I just wasn’t prepared for the changes that have taken place in the food department of PNG during the past three years.

Yes, I knew prices were high, but $15 for a chicken!  I haven’t even seen the prices for beef yet, because the store hasn’t had any since we arrived.  And what do we eat for breakfast when cereal is over $9 a box, eggs are $7/dozen and oatmeal can’t be found?  The answer is bananas and toast (if I remembered to make bread the day before.)

My whole day seems consumed by planning and preparing the next meal.  Jon tells me to keep it simple.  But what does that mean?  Carrot sticks aren’t even simple when you have to be at the market between 6:00 and 7:30 AM on Monday, Wednesday or Friday to buy them.  Wash them in a water and bleach solution.  Pare them without the aid of a decent vegetable peeler, and slice them with the equivalent of a butter knife.  (I’m serious…the house we’re living in did not have a single sharp knife—not even a dull, sharp knife.  I shudder to think what I’d be doing if I hadn’t brought my own from home!)

I wonder how long the kids will accept my suggestion of “have a banana” for a midday snack?

But I truly do thank God for the market where the local people sell their garden produce three mornings a week. I can find just about any type of vegetable there and many tropical fruits. Prices are pretty good—comparable to your home-town grocery store. So let us eat fresh veggies, and roasted veggies and minestrone soup, beans, and more beans, and for dessert…bananas.

The upside…maybe in three years I’ll be thinner and healthier.  Or maybe I’ll just resemble that banana.  <grin>

Monday, November 14, 2011

We Made It!

…and I don’t think the trip could have gone any smoother.  We made all our flight 072connections (as did all our baggage) without complications of ANY kind.  The kids found ways to entertain themselves during the flights and layovers, and really seemed to enjoy the journey.  We all found opportunities to rest and sleep—making it so much easier to think clearly, make good decisions and exercise patience.  God arranged a number of little “extra” blessings that have shown us His perfect love and provision:

  • Airline staff were very gracious and generous in their assessment of our “excess” baggage.
  • The trans-Pacific flight had fun kids’ meals for Claire and Isaiah even though we didn’t arrange for them.
  • That same flight was showing “Cars 2”—Isaiah’s current favorite movie.
  • We spent three fun and relaxing days in Cairns, Australia in a familiar place with friends we know from PNG.
  • 075We had air-conditioning for our one night in hot and dry Port Moresby, PNG.
  • We were able to fly in the Kodiak (for the first time) from Port Moresby to Ukarumpa.
  • Friends provided all our meals for our first 3 days in Ukarumpa.
  • Priscilla, a local friend who helped me with housework in the past, had been working for the previous renters of the house we’re living in.  It was wonderful to see her again, and her prior knowledge about this house is a big blessing as we adjust to life in PNG again.
  • We’ve been able to spend much of our first few days here with friends that have children Claire and Isaiah’s ages.  Some they remember from visits in the US, and some we haven’t seen in 3+ years.  Doesn’t seem to matter though, it hasn’t taken them long to enjoy playing together!

This list could go on and on and on…!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

We’re On Our Way!

We’re sitting in the San Francisco airport waiting to board a 747 bound for New Zealand—leg #2 of our week-long journey to our new home in Ukarumpa, PNG.  How do I feel?

Sleepy—I was awake at 4:15 AM this morning…somewhat anxious I’d sleep through the alarm.

Bored—I rather that this 7-hour wait at the airport was spent getting closer to our destination.

Nervous—Lots of unknown out in front of us.  There always is, of course, but sometimes its easier to ignore when you’re safe in your own little “comfort zone”.

Sad—I watched the kids say good-bye to several close friends yesterday, and Grammy and Papa this morning.

Excited—so glad to finally start doing what we’ve been working toward for the past 21 months!

Grateful—for all the partners who “have our backs” as we step into another phase of this wild adventure.  And for a big, BIG God who is with us as we ride the wings of the dawn and settle on the far side of the sea.  (Psalm 139:9)