Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Reflect

“Reflect upon your present blessings of which every man has many – not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”  ~Charles Dickens

Three weeks ago, Lisa Jo’s FMF prompt was “Fly.”  You will note that I did not post a blog, did not write a thing, and yet I very much participated. 

You see, my Friday lasted 40 hours and I spent nearly half of that time … well, flying.

Things don’t always go as we plan (I know, understatement of the year) and with that in mind I hereby officially participate in this week’s prompt as I reflect on the goodness of God demonstrated within the last month.

If you know the story, you know why I cannot be more specific in this venue, so please forgive my vagueness.  However, I invite you to celebrate with me as I journey down this path of remembering, reflecting on God’s faithfulness.

In late October we realized that it was a distinct possibility that some part of the family would need to leave Papua New Guinea for a period of time and to seek specific assistance.  As time progressed, this seemed more and more likely, until the week of November 10 when we realized it was a certainty.

All that while, we had prayed that God would make it clear if we should go.  He made it very, very clear that we should go.

We talked over the decision of where we should go – either to Brisbane or all the way to the US.  We talked of the pros and cons of that (cheaper to get to Brisbane, cheaper to live in the US, availability of family support, distance from PNG, etc.).  We got stateside family involved in helping us plan and find people to provide the assistance we needed.  From the “immediate and strong” recommendation of person #1 to the free room and board (and car!), we knew it was the right thing to do.

God united us in that we should go all the way back to the US.  Then he repeatedly reinforced to us that this was the right decision.

We also debated as to which members of the family should go and who should stay.

When it mattered, God made it very clear who was to go and, again, we felt unified in the decision.

I was teaching the high school choir and it pained me greatly to walk away from them before their Christmas concert.  (I never cry – especially in public - but I was a blubbering idiot when I had to tell them I would be leaving.)  However, it occurred to me that, just a few weeks before, God had set someone in place to help out.  This person was now already familiar with the music and knew the students, and agreed to carry on in my absence.

Without my even asking, God provided someone to carry my choir through the end of the term and their Christmas concert.

Because I was the one who was leaving, we would have to displace the sweet girl who lived with us.  Alas, where was she to go?  I asked a few people to consider housing and caring for her, but God’s provision ended up coming in the form of people who volunteered.  One family volunteered to take her for the last three weeks of the term.  Another family opened up their home for the entirety of next semester, if needed.

God provided people to extend their hospitality to our Stacey with grace and joyful hearts.  He answered the desperate prayer of where she could go this term, and opened up arrangements for next term before I ever even asked for it.

We looked into and made reservations for mission flights, overnight lodging, and Port Moresby shuttle service.  We started on commercial flights, only to find the fares changing almost with each tick of the minute hand.  True, we were booking a week out, and flying shortly before the Thanksgiving holidays, but still …  I searched for not only our destination city, but also for three airports within a four hour drive of our destination.   I cried, I fretted.  Couldn’t God do better than this?

Of course he could.  God provided reasonable tickets for just the right timing and all the way to our ultimate destination.

As evidenced by my stress and tears, we knew this whole thing was going to cost us quite a bit of money. 

The mission flight, one-way commercial tickets, and two overnight accommodations came to within a few dollars of the tax refund we had received in August.  (And this was a good reminder that he will surely provide for the rest of our expenses, too, including all of these appointments and travel back to PNG!)

Though travel was long and tiring (and expensive), it was uneventful and smooth.

All who traveled coped wonderfully.  We could feel the prayers of God’s people over us.

We hoped to see those we needed assistance from as soon as possible after our arrival.

We had an appointment with the first individual a mere three days after our arrival in the US.  And it went even better than I had hoped.

We needed to see a second individual and when family began started calling on our behalf, the first available appointment was mid-January.  By the time we arrived in the US, the appointment had been moved forward to December 19.  Still we asked people to pray for an even earlier appointment.

Also, since we happen to be in the US for the holiday season, we were trying to figure out a way to travel over the Christmas break without having to conflict with necessary appointments.

On December 3, God opened up an appointment on December 4, less than two weeks after we arrived in the US.  The appointment went as seamlessly as it could have and we had immediate help.  And this cleared on the calendar definitive dates available for travel.

Oh … how I could go on and on.   Just because I am reflecting on the “biggest” things does not lessen the reality and impact of the many little miracles along the way.

“I will remember the deeds of the Lord; … I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.  Your ways, God, are holy.  What god is as great as our God?”  Psalm 77:11-13

Five Minute Friday
This post written in conjunction with Lisa Jo Baker’s Five Minute Friday.  Click on the button to read more entries or to join in the fun.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Together

Today was birthday party day at our house.  We're not used to celebrating birthdays in the fall, but it's just as well because on this side of the equator, October lands us square in the middle of spring.

Stacey turned fifteen yesterday and today fourteen of her classmates joined her to celebrate.  The party started off kind of slow; Stacey had requested a scavenger hunt, and we didn't want everyone to leave the house before the last few had arrived.  So, the kids sat around, talked, and took turns playing Wii.  Virtual balls were bowled and hit, virtual cars were raced around virtual tracks, and real food was consumed.

Lots of it.

The schedule was changed (because so-and-so was late, and then because these four had to leave early for a band practice), and we ended up lighting the candles on the cake before the hunt instead of after.  These kids, several of whom are in my high school choir, sang what amounted to an impromptu dirge followed by a rather pathetic set of "hip-hip-hoorays," and then sugar was consumed.

Lots of it.

Finally, after ingesting the required energy, I sent them off on their merry way to gather random items, take random photos, and record random videos.

One hour and fifteen minutes later they returned, laughing and smiling, soaking wet from running around in the rain, with grass and mud covering their bare feet, and with items, pictures, and videos.

Lots of them.

While I downloaded them to the computer for playback, the kids gathered around the kitchen table to watch the birthday girl open her gifts.

"I love it that the bar is set so low," commented my husband with a smile.

He meant it, too.  I kid you not ...

A notepad and a set of rub-on tattoos.

A package of candy.

Fifteen kina (approximately $6.43).

A Smiggle eraser and another notepad.

A K10 (approx $4.28) pre-paid cell phone card.

A can of cherry coke.

And handmade cards.

Lots of them.

It wouldn't be out of the question for more than one of these gifts to have been re-gifted from a previous birthday party, either.


But, these kids don't care, which only makes it that much more awesome.  

So, what do these kids care about?

They spent the day together.

Five Minute Friday

Written in conjunction with a community of writers who meet together weekly to write for five minutes on a prompt provided by Lisa Jo Baker.  Click the button above to learn more, read more entries, or join in the fun.  

Monday, September 30, 2013

Happy Independence Day

"When you look at our country's flag, it may seem like no big deal.  But, if you ever leave this country for any period of time, and then you have the opportunity to see that bird of paradise again, you will cry."  ~guest speaker (translated), PNG Independence Day celebration, 16 September 2013

The tropical sun is still rising in the clear Eastern sky, warming the earth from its overnight slumber.  As I approach the gate, I hear cadence being called.  
Left, right, left …

The whoops of the crowd are evidence of the joy and celebration of the day.  A marching sea of red, yellow, and black ends its parade near a small raised platform.  The crowd rises for the singing of the national anthem.

O, arise all ye sons of this land.  Let us sing of our joy to be free, …

A sea of faces, young and old, black sprinkled with white.  Hundreds of eyes lifted toward the rising flag.

… praising God and rejoicing to be Papua New Guinea!

One by one, individuals stand to read verses of scripture in their tok ples, or mother tongue. Though I do not understand the words, the sound is beautiful ...

... for it is the voice of God speaking to his people in their own languages.

The laughter of children rings out behind me, and a rusty trio of handmade swings screech back and forth while a visiting pastor steps behind the flag-draped music-stand-podium.

Usually political freedom comes at a cost, requires bloodshed, he says in Tok Pisin.  But, 38 years ago PNG was offered freedom as a gift.  Then he suggests that God’s continued blessing on PNG depends not on its natural resources, not on its buildings or development, not on any riches it may claim.

Just like God chose David, out of all the sons of Jesse, for kingship based on the condition of his heart, he says, God’s continued blessing on PNG depends on the hearts of its people.

The child next to me crunches on a cracker as crumbs fall on the woven mat on which he sits.  The breeze picks up, and the leaves overhead rustle with its breath.  A smattering of umbrellas shield people from the increasing heat of the sun.

Traditionally-clad dancers (some clad more than others) take their places.  Several hands alternately tap and pound lizard-skin-covered kundu drums.  

Shell necklaces and anklets rattle with every thumping step.  Traditional grass skirts (and some made of yarn) sway clockwise, then counterclockwise in time with the music.   

Feathered headdresses bob up and down as singers chant in haunting, traditional melodies.

Wena, wena moyo …
Ay oh wye-ee ayah …

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Drought Continues; Pray for Rain

"I never drink water; that's the stuff that rusts pipes."  ~W.C. Fields

A couple weeks ago I posted about how unseasonably dry our dry season has been, about how hungry for precipitation the floor of our tropical island has become.  How desperate the local gardens are for water to sustain their fruits and vegetables, how empty and close-to-empty the water tanks around us are.

Well, it has gotten worse.

Just tonight we heard the rain coming across the valley.  We got excited, but our daughter said, "It won't last."  (I have no idea where she got her pessimism ... er, realism.) That "rain shower" and the one that followed a few minutes later, together, probably lasted short of a minute.

It was barely enough to leave a few water spots on the dirty car parked next to our house.  Certainly not enough to clean the nasty, dusty windows.

Like today, the tiny bits of rain that we've received over the past few weeks have done little to relieve the ground or the gardens, to replenish the tanks.

And now, even the river is getting low.

We actually have another source of water besides collecting the rain.  We call it RAM water (though I'm not sure why or what that stands for), and it comes from a nearby creek.  It is pumped up to raised holding tanks at the top of the hill and flows down to homes all over centre.  Almost everyone uses it to flush toilets.  Many people use it for showers, or to do laundry or wash dishes.

No one drinks it if they have a choice.

But, now even that water source is drying up.  Quickly.  We had a couple of days when we didn't have any RAM water.  Paul checked our tank today and it has dropped to about 1/3 of its capacity.  If we have to go too many days on tank only, that won't last very long.

Will you pray with us for rain?

"Are there any among the false gods of the nations that can bring rain? Or can the heavens give showers? Are you not he, O Lord our God? We set our hope on you, for you do all these things."  Jeremiah 14:22

Friday, September 20, 2013

Five Minute Friday: She

She was handed to me in all her red-skinned, wrinkly, bald, wailing glory, and I fell hard.  She sniffled, suckled, and looked up at me with those eyes.  She and I struggled through the beginning of this brand new relationship, but every day I found myself more in love.  I told my mother I wished she would stay little forever.  My mother, in her wisdom, reminded me of all I would miss if she never grew up, how every stage was sure to bring unique blessings.

And then, as if I had a choice, I watched her grow.

She learned to sit, to crawl, to walk, to dance.  She learned to colour pictures of flowers and clouds, to shape playdough.  She learned to love a little brother, even when he felt more like an intruder than a friend.  She learned to talk to God, and standing in awe under a star-filled sky found that he could talk to her as well.  She learned read, to add and subtract, to ride a two-wheeler, to sail on a scooter.

Though there were times that just maybe I questioned whether she would live to see adolescence, she blossomed a lovely young lady.

She is a faithful friend, a curious student, an ambitious high-achiever, a skilled musician, a comfortable introvert, a deep thinker.  She is a loving sister, even though he gets on her nerves.  She has embraced the unpleasantness of adolescence and its joys with equal grace.  She leans on the arms of Jesus, and her thoughtfulness and insight blesses me.

At times, though the laundry piles up and the requests for assistance are frequent, though I must give one more reminder to complete the chores and am asked to answer strings of deep questions when she really should be going to sleep, I must remind myself to embrace the unique blessings of today.

In His strength she has the capacity to dream, to discover, to pursue, to achieve. As she walks in faith, she daily has the choice to believe, to bring joy, to bless.  

And I watch in a near-holy anticipation as she continues to venture down the path of becoming.

Five Minute Friday
Linking up with Lisa Jo Baker and her Five Minute Friday crowd.  Click on the button above to find out more, read more entries, or join in the fun.

We are missionaries serving God and the task of Bible translation by serving the missionary community in Papua New Guinea through Personnel Administration and MK Education. We thank you for your prayers!

For the Bibleless Peoples of the World ...

(Updated 13 April 2013)