Friday, July 24, 2015

Photo Friday [94]

Happy Friday morning everyone - or for those of you on the other side of the globe, happy Thursday afternoon.

Since school break was almost over, we decided to take a little family mini-vacation in Lae (the port city about three and a half hours drive from where we live) this past weekend.  It just so happens that Saturday was also my (Susan's) birthday.



 So for my birthday we went to one of the fancier hotel restaurants for a nice dinner.  It was delicious, and not cooking for myself is always a treat.  

The birthday dinner, while nice, was also a good reminder for us of how hard it is to do dinner out with little kids here in PNG.  I'm not aware of any dinner restaurants in Lae that are super kid-friendly, and nothing opens until 6 or 6:30 at the earliest.  So we had three kids who were very tired after a long car trip and an afternoon of swimming.  Taking them to a nice restaurant... maybe not the wisest idea. 



The hotel did have a nice aquarium though, which proved to be a good distraction while we were waiting for our food.

The next night, we just ordered Chinese take-out and ate in our room at the guest house.   Lesson learned!


 
The view from our room.  Just spending two nights away from home was such a good break for us!


 

And obviously the swimming pool was a huge treat for the boys.  We don't have a swimming pool in Ukarumpa, and so our boys don't get to swim very often.  I was really hoping we could make some good progress towards learning to swim during this trip.  The boys both got pretty confident paddling around independently with their floatation belts on,  but neither was willing to try it without.  (And don't tell Caleb that he's wearing a girl's one... we borrowed them from friends.)


Greg was especially excited about the goggles.


Kate only got in the pool once, and she wasn't too sure about it.  Granted, it was almost nap time, and she kept being splashed in the face by some bigger kids.


 Happier out of the pool...




Television is another vacation treat.  The boys were mesmerized by a channel that showed extreme sports - freestyle skiing, surfing, and motorcycle tricks.


Of course, after two nights of sleeping the whole family in the same room, we were also happy to come back home!



As with any trip to Lae, we did some grocery shopping.  We came back with an entire cooler of meat... we found some good bargains on chicken and pork.  I foresee some sausage making in the near future.  I now have a system down, and I come to Lae armed with my own sharp knives, ziplock bags and a sharpie marker.  When we buy meat in bulk, I'll portion it out while it's fresh, then freeze it in smaller portions while we're in Lae, so that we can just load all the frozen meat in our cooler for our trip home.  It's all ready to put in our freezer here and I don't have to do any more work when we get home.

 

 In other news, we finally got the boxes that we had shipped from Colorado back in January.  They traveled to PNG on a sea-freight container, and finally made it to us six months later.  The boxes contained mostly clothes for the kids to grow into and toys and books that our boys had gotten as Christmas presents back in the States.  So it really was Christmas in July as the boys got to play with gifts they hadn't seen since they opened them.


 
 Kate is 8 months old!



 If you ever get tired of playing cars in the dirt, you can always take all of the brown towels and make a desert in the living room.


And the new school year began!


The morning "commute" to school.  It's just a short walk from our house.



 I can't believe I have a kid in Kindergarten!



Greg is excited to be back in school.  In Kindergarten he gets to sit at a desk and play in the same playground as the "big kids" at recess.  Big changes for a little guy.

That's all for this week.  Until next time.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Photo Friday [93]

Another Friday, some more photos for you:

Greg's birthday party was a success.  The best part I decided, was the fact that when the extra five little boys left, my house was still clean!  They did all of their eating and playing outdoors, which was wonderful.

 Greg with his birthday cake and piñata. He had given me very specific instructions about how to make his "donut" cake.  Pretty easy for me, I guess.


 Greg and his buddies (one PNG friend arrived later).  I had told Greg he could only invite five friends to his birthday party, but in the weeks leading up to his birthday he kept inviting other kids in conversation.  So I really hope there aren't any disappointed kids out there who got a Greg invite, but not an official invite.  (Blame the mom!)


 Jumping on the trampoline.





 And of course, the piñata.  I had taken extra care to make it strong, because I didn't want it to burst open with the first whack.  I guess I made it too strong, because each kid got several turns before we saw any candy.  One birthday guest lamented, "Our parents are going to come pick us up before we break it open!"

 Caleb took a turn too.





A friend recently upgraded to a larger, newer pressure cooker and so I got her hand-me-down.  A pressure cooker is one of those things that I kept hearing about from other missionary ladies here, but I had resisted getting one.  I'm glad, however, that my friend convinced me to give it a try.  So far I've only used it to cook beans and rice, but I'm very happy so far.  We buy fresh beans (like black beans, etc) at the market here.  I used to boil them on the stovetop for 30-40 minutes.  The pressure cooks them to perfection in just 4 minutes.   I've also heard it does wonders for the tougher cuts of meat.  (We rarely eat beef other than ground beef because it's usually pretty tough).

Next I'm going to try making chicken stock in it, instead of in the crock pot overnight.  I'm hooked, and I think I'm going to have to keep an eye out for someone selling a larger one, because my 4-liter size somewhat limits the cooking possibilities.



This is Ukarumpa-style convenience food.  Last night I made a stir-fry for dinner, and I prepared a double batch so that I could freeze the extra chicken, marinade and veggies.  So a convenience meal later on means that I still needed to chop, blanch, freeze and package the veggies ahead of time!  The same goes for many other "quick" dinners here.  I stock my freezer with homemade hamburger buns, tortillas, etc.  They make for a quick meal later on, but they are still a fair amount of work at some point!

'Till next time.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Sudest New Testament Dedication

Thanks for being patient!  As promised, here are some photos from Brian's week-long journey to Sudest island and back.  To start us off, I'm going to show you a little map, so that you know what we're talking about.  (If you received our last newsletter, you will have already seen this).


A on the map is Ukarumpa, where we live.  Sudest Island, home to the 2,000 or so speakers of the Sudest language, is D on the map.  Along the way, he traveled through Alotau (B) and Misima (C).




This is Alotau (B), way out on the tip of the mainland of Papua New Guinea.  Brian flew in one of SIL's Kodiaks from Ukarumpa to here on Thursday.  Brian was looking forward to seeing Alotau for the first time, as he had heard a lot about it.

We have a regional center in Alotau, so that's where Brian spent the night.



On Friday, he caught a commercial flight from Alotau to Misima Island (C on the map), which was the closest functioning airstrip to Sudest island.



 Friday afternoon it was time to board the Kwadima II, SIL's boat that operates in this part of the country, providing  reliable and safe transportation for translators working in the islands and coastal areas.  Take a good look at the boat now, because once they get going you'll find that Brian was too busy trying to keep his feet under him and the contents of his stomach in place to take any photos!




Looks lovely from on board, doesn't it?  Well, this is before they left the harbor.  You see, a tropical cyclone had been pummeling the Solomon Islands (which are just out of sight to the right on that map at the top) and that made for very choppy waters for the whole ten-hour boat ride from Misima to Sudest.

Brian tells me that there were whitecaps as soon as they left the harbor, and immediately the vomiting began.  This boat had around twenty expatriates along with a few Papua New Guinean guests and the boat's crew.  During that whole, long ride (they didn't reach Sudest until 11pm!), there were only four expats who did not get seasick.  Brian was among them.  I could share more details about the "sick buckets" that were passed around and filled over and over, but maybe you don't really want to know...

Brian and three other men (the valiant four with stomachs of steel), soon realized that the "best" place on the boat was to stand directly behind the cabin, tightly gripping the structure in order to keep their feet.  They got plenty wet, and Brian tells me that their skin was caked with salt by the time they reached their destination.

They had to anchor the Kwadima far off the shoreline at Sudest and take turns in a smaller dinghy to get to land.  Once back on dry ground, they took a cold shower, changed clothes, and went directly to bed!

In the morning, it was time to look around!

This house, right at the top of those clay stairs, is the one that Brian stayed in with a few other men.


His room:  a mattress and mosquito net - what more do you need?  Actually, he had a blanket too, and was thankful because the sea breezes were chilly at night.



The four-stall shower that was set up especially for the visitors.  See the Coleman camp showers hanging in each stall?




A panoramic view of the village.  As you can see, the ground is all red clay.  They had a lot of rain while they were there (thanks again to that storm in the Solomons), and so this pretty much all turned into mud....


... and mud puddles!



Pretty though, despite the weather.



Saturday morning all of the guests gathered at the beach for a formal welcoming ceremony (kind of hard to do it in the middle of the night when your visitors are all tired and sick!)



In preparation for the celebration, people kept arriving from all over the island, and they brought food and gifts with them.  It's really amazing how much food can be prepared at these sorts of gatherings.



And they were organized too.  Here are a bunch of notices posted so that everyone knew who was responsible for what.



This is the haus kuk where a group of ladies worked hours upon hours preparing meals for all of the guests over the weekend.




 Meals were served in this long "mess hall."  As you can see, they served all sorts of things.  This is where Brian had his first taste of sea turtle, which was one of the animals butchered along with many pigs and chickens.



The dedication was slated for Sunday, and so Brian and the other guests had some time to kill on Saturday.  They went for a hike to the interior of the island to go swimming.




  
 


They were told that this was the only good place to go swimming.  You see, downstream there were saltwater crocodiles, and upstream there were freshwater crocodiles... but here in the middle there was a nice pool between two sets of falls which kept the crocs at bay. 






It was a bit chilly, so no one swam for long.


The actual dedication celebration was split between Sunday afternoon and Monday morning, as the community waited for a break in the weather that never really came.



Traditional dancing, a common thread among celebrations throughout PNG.






 Mike and Thera Anderson, the translators who began working in Sudest in 1984.  What a joy to see the goal of a New Testament finally complete!

So that's the story of the Sudest Bible Dedication.  It's a shame that the stormy weather put a damper on the celebration, but the celebration is just a few days in the lifetime of this community.  The important thing is that Sudest is a strong and vital language (the little children Brian saw in the village didn't know any other language) and that the community is very excited about their New Testament and eager to use them.



Brian's trip home was much more uneventful.  The weather was pleasant for the return trip, and Brian even managed to get some sleep by choosing to hang out in the cabin with the captain, who graciously offered to let Brian sleep on his bed!


Brian flew back from Misima to Ukarumpa on Wednesday.  They stopped en route in Port Moresby, where three of our Kodiaks happened to be at the same time, which makes for a nice photo, don't you think?


Well, we have him home with us for now.  He has another adventure in the works, but life will be back to normal for a few weeks at least.  Thanks for reading!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Photo Friday [92]

We had quite a bit going on this week:


I made Kate another new dress for the 4th of July


Don't eat leaves, Kate!


 Brian was still in the village, but the kids and I went to a community 4th of July picnic.


 Kate likes playing with mirrors.



With Brian gone things were pretty basic around here.  One night we made a finger food dinner and watched a movie while we ate.



 And Greg turned five!!!  
The boys helped me make this pinata for his birthday party with friends tomorrow.


Greg is excited to have a party with a few friends, but he was very specific that on his birthday itself (Wednesday) he just wanted to be with family.  He waited impatiently all day until we went out to the airstrip just before 5pm to meet Brian's plane.  The airstrip was very crowded:

 Turns out that two very popular families were returning from furlough at the same time as Brian was coming in, so they weren't all there to meet him!


 But we were just very happy to have this guy home after a week-long trip.


 We had a low-key celebration with cupcakes and then opened a few gifts.


 Happy boy with some new fun toys.


 He got a few Lego sets.   He does really well following the instructions.  Yes, we have entered the real Lego phase of life.  With a baby soon to be crawling, this makes me a bit anxious, but we'll just have to cope I suppose.


 Brian and I were looking forward to giving him his first two-wheel bike, which we ordered from Australia, sight-unseen.  He was pretty excited, and I don't think he'll be using those training wheels for very long.


 We took the boys down the street to a concrete basketball court to ride.  Caleb was pretty cute.  Greg somehow convinced Caleb that he ought to hop off his tricycle to give Greg a little push whenever Greg got stuck.  When Greg fell off, Caleb rushed over to pick up the bike for him and then seriously admonished Greg, "You need to get right back on your bike again!"


He has also had fun with this little magnifying bug jar.  We caught several cool bugs in our yard, and it now houses a striped caterpillar, which Greg wants to keep.  (Sound familiar, Grandma Frey?)

For those of you wanting photo of Brian's trip to Sudest island, be patient.  Those are coming in a future post soon.  And let me tell you, he had some adventures last week!

Thanks for visiting!