Saturday, March 18, 2017

Shy Kisses and Canceled Flights

Kathleen is not only a great nurse and teacher, she is also a friend (and now a daughter….keep reading).  Last Fall on a medical outing together we chatted about her upcoming wedding in January.  Unfortunately, for most of us living in Papua, we could not go to Kathleen’s wedding because it was in Manado (a flight away).  Thus was born the idea of a wedding reception, in our yard, upon her return to Papua.

 

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At last we decided upon the date of March 11.  And plans started going into motion.  Borrowed dresses and rented tents and chairs.  Church women cooking and a good friend/neighbor decorating.  Darron was due back that afternoon from an all week interior trip.  Perhaps not ideal, but he was game and so plans continued. 

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By 8:00 a.m. on Sunday morning, the preparations were well under way with dress alterations, food preparation, and silk flowers being arranged.  Early afternoon Darron flew in on the bush plane, tired but satisfied.  Dirty.  Happy to be home and take a hot shower.  Along with him were Steve and Verna (Bob’s sister) also Gary, Wendy and Cherise.  They had spent the week with Darron building the jungle chapel.  Verna exclaimed, “It was wonderful” upon exiting the plane.   I tried to listen to a few of Darron’s stories and deal with the flow of reception preparations in the house and out in the yard.  The main story I caught from Darron in between chairs being set up and candles and pumpkin bread muffins and cinnamon rolls was that the jungle chapel was not finished and he would be returning interior the following day.  I pondered how we would get his weeks worth of muddy smelly laundry washed and dried in that amount of time (with no dryer) and food prepared for my, “I don’t want to spend time cooking” kind of guy????!   But those thoughts were pushed to the back burner as we had a wedding reception about to start.

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As the sun began to loose its steam the guests started to arrive.  I must say we are blessed with a lovely yard and it looked beautiful.  I have an obsession with tropical flowers and I am learning how easy they are to cultivate into more plants.  Around 200 guests gather.  The Indonesian children moved the trampoline to the back of the house, out of adult view, so they could keep jumping through all the formalities. 

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The girls and I had fun helping Kathleen with her final touching preparations.  A tiara and a bouquet of flowers.  And at last the ceremony began with singing and prayers and a little sermonette.  Then the ”parents” were called forward.  Lui’s parents have lived here a long time and were present, but because Kathleen’s were far away, they spontaneously announced us as the parents to Kathleen. So up front we go…..now what???!  We were fed cake and hugs were given.  Then it was announced that the newly weds could watch the parents kiss and learn from us.  Well kissing at Indonesian weddings is a funny thing.  The crowd gets very involved with their ooohing and awwwing and clapping and laughter.  Also whoever is “kissing” is usually very shy.  So the boys parents went first; meanwhile, I’m watching all their social clues closely.  The father places a shy kiss on the mothers forehead.  The crowd laughs and it is made known that they want more.  So then with much blushing and more shyness they kiss on each others cheeks.  The crowd laughs and claps, they are satisfied.  Now its Kathleen’s “parents” turn.  I whisper to Darron, “Are we going to kiss for real?” He whole heartedly responds, “Of course we are going to kiss.”  And so the un shy Americans kiss on the lips, much to the entertainment and delight of all our “daughter’s” guests.  Then the newly weds are told that they do not need to kiss now, but can practice later.

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The food was plentiful.  I am so indebted to the church ladies for all their cooking.  They made my job so incredibly easy.  Around 8:00 p.m. our last guests were leaving and the last few pieces of garbage were being gathered along with chairs stacked.

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At 6:00 a.m. Monday morning, I throw all of Darron’’s dirty, nasty, interior clothes into the washing machine.  30 minutes later, they are out on the laundry line.  The sky is cloudy and I am praying for sun shine.  My morning scoots along with putting together food for Darron’s next few days. Granola.  Peanut butter.  Dried Fruit.  Nuts.  Etc.  Also I am busy with lunch preparations.  I call Darron at noon to find out if he had learned when his flight would be.  He notified me that it would be in an hour and a half.  I encourage him to hurry home and get packed.  Darron came as soon as he could, his morning had been filled with many important meetings and questions from people who had been waiting for days while he was out of touch in the land of radio at best communication only, but 99% of the time no communication.  Meanwhile ladies were packing up all the fake flowers on our porch.  I longed for just a few snatches of words of conversation with Darron before our next stent apart……so I counter culturally did not invite all the extra people for lunch and we snuck into the one a/c room and had a 20 minute chat over our lunch. Really important words crammed into 20 minutes.  Clothes were dry.  Darron packed.  Then it was time to get down to the hanger.  There we learned that Gary had been delayed.  Deep breath, the rush was over.

Arriving later into Doyo than Gary intended, the flight got cancelled until the following a.m..  The positive to this delayed flight was we (the boys and I) could snatch some more Darron time.  And Darron could get just a few more details, emails and refreshment before his early morning flight.  I whip up a decadent treat, an English Trifle to celebrate.  And we counted our blessing.  This would also give us some time to practice our shy kissing, because apparently we need to be ready for the next wedding we are called upon to be substitute parents again.  The joy of living in another culture, is being ready to embrace the unexpected, or at least be willing to be laughed at as you muddle through and be ready to flex with ever changing schedules. 

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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Medical Care by Youtube videos.

I wouldn’t recommend going to a medical professional for care who learns how to do the procedure you need from a youtube video.  Not wise.  Yet, here is Papua, this was KD’s option.  Her smashed toenail had a nasty smelly infection brewing underneath it. Being in the village for two weeks with days of mud, mud, and more mud…..had pushed KD’s toe to far.  The best way to “cure it”, was to remove it.  She needed a nerve block.  That is where the base of the affected digit is injected with Lidocaine so that the entire digit goes numb. 

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Time to roll up the sleeves and run to the science room and watch a youtube video on how to do a nerve block.  Our doctor was out of country.  I had seen her perform this technique perhaps two years prior and she had explained it a time or two.  My learning style is by actually DOING the activity……so up to this point, I was mildly aware, but certainly not “trained”.94176014-F75E-43F1-8C32-59B136F72328

I admire, brave and courageous, KD who knew that I had little clue of what I was about to do and who steeled herself to sit still and trust my care.  The procedure would require 3 different injections at the base of her big toe numbing the 4 nerves that run the length of the toe. 

You know it is a “big deal” when other nurses and friends start to show up in the clinic.  So nurse Paige, nurse Wendy, and want to be something medical (we are almost sure) Cherise, were all present.  I did the first two infections, but not wanting to deny others of this great learning opportunity,  I  encouraged Paige to do the next and Wendy did the last.  We won’t talk about our uncertainty of where to really put the needle and could we do any nerve damage and the medicine that squirted out when we went a little to far accompanied with the nervous giggling that took place.  These are all things that were not covered on the Youtube video. Thank you.

Gratefully our doctor was aware of what we needed to do and had written and described that we clamp down on that toe nail with as many teeth as possible from the hemostat and pull out the toenail like “pulling on a drawer”.  If it was stuck we could wiggle back and forth in a “side to side motion”. I was so grateful for those describing words.  So once KD’s toe was numb I proceeded to remove the offending toenail.  All went well with the drawer like pulling, except for the right side which was still quite fleshly attached.  It required quite a large amount of effort to pull it out.  As I am pulling back and forth my mind wishes I had watched another video on “removing toenails”.  Surely there is one?   And I had questions, mid procedure, like do we really pull this nail completely out, tearing the flesh?  But I was committed to move forward and to act regardless whether it was right or not and so I continued to pull out the nail. Finally it gave way to my persistence.  And bled and bled.  So we help pressure and breathed deep that the procedure was over.  The amount of dirt on that fleshy nail bed was impressive and after the bleeding slowed we washed that toe to reveal a nice clean red bed.  YES!  Youtube success! 

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I wouldn’t recommend seeing someone who gains their knowledge by watching youtube videos.  But living in Papua that is one of the risks you take.  Come visit anytime.  We will take GOOD CARE of you!  But beware that one of your traveling risks is the probability that your health care provider may be watching youtube videos to know how to treat you.

Friday, March 10, 2017

From Imagination to Sight

The seal on my freezer door no longer seals.  So the job that used to be delayed for 3 months, now demands defrosting attention every month.  A job I have always procrastinated on, but even more so  the last 3 years.  I can no longer do this icy job without remembering Bob and the day his plane crashed and he died.  Memories that I would rather not remember and reality that to this day is painful for so many, including myself.  Defrosting my freezer is what I was in the midst of doing when the crash happened. Today, once again, I realize that I can procrastinate no longer.  The freezer must be defrosted.  As towels are laid on the floor and the ice begins to thaw,  I reflect again.  My reflecting jarred me into realizing that I need to tell you what is happening right now….because of Bob. 

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Bob’s older sister, Verna and her husband are HERE.  Here in Papua.  They are here to help build a church in Okyop. A remote tribal village, accessible by bush plane only.  Gary, Wendy, Cherise, Darron and they all flew into Okyop on Monday.  Okyop was the last village that Bob worshiped in before his fatal crash.  Darron and he were together.  A short little video that Verna saw about Bob and Darron’s time in this village, inspired Verna to come and help build this place of worship to encourage the people there.  This is no small undertaking, nor for the faint of heart.  Hopefully they will finish the jungle chapel, worship with the people in Okyop on Saturday and fly home on Sunday.94C60B94-B35B-4DF6-A1C7-BDF07ACC8BC2

The few times I have chatted with Verna she is so so appreciative to be seeing all of the things that she imagined and prayed for while Bob and Jan served here for over 20 years. The aviation campus. The school next door.  The town.  The stores.  The lake.  And the remote tribal villages.  Verna is putting together all the pieces and words that she poured over/ prayed over/ and pondered over for the last quarter of a century. Bob was faithful at writing weekly emails to update family and supporters to what was going on.  During all of those years Verna formed pictures in her mind as to what things looked like and how things were.  Now her imagination is shifting to actual sight.  Often Verna speaks with sparkle in her eyes, mingled with tears.

This is only a glimpse into this precious story, a story that is not really mine to tell…….

All the ice is melted and the shelves have been dried.  The food is all stored away, until it is time to be used.  I’ve got one month to not worry about the freezer and then I will need to face my task and remember again. Meanwhile,  I’m so grateful for hope, for healing, for work going forward, for the people of Papua, and for imagination and sight.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Waiting. Waiting. (Tap, tap, tap…..)

My fingers nervously drum on the kitchen counter….tap, tap, tap.  If shouting or screaming would help, I would go for it.  But it doesn’t, so my fingers just tap or my foot.  Waiting for our visa’s since December (but they have been in process since September).  Waiting for news that our passports have been stamped and we are released to travel.  Tap, tap, tap.  Months drag by.  Trips are cancelled.  Suitcases are unpacked from trips that surely we could go on…..because surely our visas would come????  Tomorrow???!  Waiting.

Waiting.  I don’t do it well.  Nor do people from my Western culture. We don’t like to wait for meetings to start or waiting for doctors or waiting on friends.  Nor do we like waiting on slow internet connections or waiting to hear about information that in our own culture we could find answers to right away. Clash that with people from an Asian culture.  Who are happy to wait or are at least really good at it!!!!  They will wait all day to speak to my husband.  They will sit under a tree for several hours waiting for me to come home.  I have much to learn about waiting, patiently. 

Two stories of Asian patience in waiting recently popped out to me.  One being our squatter neighbor.  Twenty one years old and only the opportunity to attend school until about 5th/6th grade in a remote tribal group.  He desires to study and become a pastor.  In order to do this, this young man needs to pass two different tests, to the equivalent of our GED.  One for middle school and one for high school.  He arrived here in January and was told that the middle school test would be in February or March.  So meanwhile he and his fourteen year old bride, wait.  To their credit, they work and wait. Diligently every day, they showed up to Darron’s office seeking work. Every week, Darron’s secretary would check to see if it was time to take the test.  Each week, she was given a similar answer.  “It will be later”.  Or “It will be in March.”  Just last week, the school informed us that the test was given last December.  Stunned, we question what was all that waiting for?   Now, This young man has to wait until when??!  Tap, tap, tap, tap…….

 

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On Sunday a struggling to breath sick man was flown out to get medical help.  They load him onto a rolling cart as we wait for an ambulance.  Waiting.  Waiting.  Phone calls are made.  The ambulance is less than a quarter mile from our home.  Twenty, maybe thirty minutes tick by.  Difficulty breathing.  Oxygen flowing.  Flies being brushed away. The family stands by waiting.  Not upset.  Not frustrated.  They are not expecting anything more than to wait.  Tap, tap, tap……  this is not right. I could drive him myself, quicker, faster.  Finally the ambulance comes.

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Yesterday our waiting was over.  The passports arrived.  The 5 year privilege of living here has been granted.  We are so grateful to our friend, Pastor Desmond, who worked so hard, along side the immigration people to obtain this visa for us.  I know that he had to do many many hours of long waiting for signatures, for proper documents, for ……I don’t even begin to know. This is a visa that few foreigners have.  We feel very blessed.  I can only imagine that I will be learning many more lessons on this important topic of waiting in the months and years to come. 

 

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As I was at a special prayer group for our school yesterday we read this, “I waited patiently for the Lord;  And He inclined  his ear to me, And heard my cry.  He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, Out of the miry clay, And set my feet upon a rock, And established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth.”   Ps 40:1-3  I don’t know about you but sometimes just waiting can feel like a pit and miry clay.  As I stand on this rock and establish my feet…..tap, tap, tap…..I’ve got a new song in my mouth. Pujih Tuhan.  Praise the Lord. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

116+ Patients, 4ish Hours, Teamwork

A persistent invitation kept coming to me.  To join an Indonesian team of doctors and nurses, to do a free clinic day, as an outreach ministry.  Dr. Reni, a fun energetic female Papua doctor, really pursued me.  Calendar checked, I agreed to join, along with “my girls” and Kathleen (our Indonesian super nurse) and Erin (Darron’s super secretary and housemate to the girls). 

We met at a Adventist church in Abe.  In typical fashion, we were 15 minutes late, but 45 minutes early.  If you don’t understand that last sentence…….welcome to rubber time, where flexibility is more important than timeliness.  People kept joining the group and gathering.  Many photos were taken of us girls, with lots of people who didn’t even introduce themselves.  They just kept asking for photos.  We kept smiling, in missionary spirit.

In time an old bus groaned to a stop in the parking lot.  Soon it was clear that we could all ride along, which beat me having to drive to near the PNG boarder.  The scenery was breath taking as we left the city and clicked off miles into the country side.  Vast, beautiful gardens, with ocean and mountains as the background.  The old bus with seats cracked open, exposing the foam and metal, barely would make it up each steep hill.  All I could do was will it up each incline with the words, “I think I can.  I think I can.  I think I can.”

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In time, we arrived.  To an Adventist church in Koia.  There was already clear evidence of much work going ahead of us in preparation.  As shade tents had been pitched for patients and workers.  Tables were set out and it was all organized.  A patient waiting area.  A triage section.  A lab.  An area to meet with the Doctors.  A med station and FREE FOOD.  IMG_20161204_132202

The girls would be in the lab section.  Testing blood glucose, cholesterol and uric acid levels. Erin was with them as translator.  I worked with Kathleen most of the time in triage.  Taking histories and doing blood pressures, and vital signs.  I did most of the blood pressure part and absorbed thousands of Indonesian medical words.  Great language day!!!!   When I felt I could, I slipped around to all the stations and observed it all.  I would estimate that at least 50% (but probably closer to 75% of the blood pressures) were high. 

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The patients were already waiting when we arrived.  Villagers from every age and back ground.  Young, old.  It was heart warming to be with them.  I loved the beauty of their faces and their laughter.

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In 4ish hours over 116 patients were seen. Over 6 doctors came and donated their time, along with many nurses.  Blood levels were checked until they ran out of test strips on some of the tests.  Everyone was fed.  What a beautiful ministry.  “Everybody doing a little part”, says Dr. Reni.

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I was so blessed to be a tiny part of this team.  I’m looking forward to the next time we go and growing with this amazing team. I arrived home after a 9 hour day out.  Nathaniel’s lungs were full of wheezes as I put my stethoscope to his chest.  Time to be Mommy again.

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Saturday, February 11, 2017

Squat

Squats…..I dislike them.  Our workout instructor loves to have us do them. “”Go lower than ninety degrees,” she often encouragingly shouts.  But it is not these kind of squats that I want to talk with you about.  Nor is it squat potties.  Though this is definitely the country of them.  They have there positive and negative features.  The positive being, great posture for complete elimination.  Was that clean and clear enough?  haha.  The negative being, it’s hard to leave the squat pot room without wet feet and unclean hands.
The squat I want to chat about is really a bit more plural than just one squat.  It is squatters.  People moving into abandoned or unused property and claiming it as there own.  Our ”new” neighbors of about two months are squatting.  The home they are squatting in is one of the original buildings on this property. Approximately 50 years old and in disrepair.  Their “home” sits facing our master bedroom.  So late at night and early in the morning we hear the high pitch screams of little Dora.  After a while this sound has become normal, as normal as the sound of the mosque calling people to prayer five times a day and as normal as all the humming, clicking, and chirping of tropical creation. 
Somehow our squatter family has hooked up electricity and found a source of water through a hose that runs all day and all night.  The squatters are made up of a mother, father and little Dora.  Also a twenty one year old male and his new fourteen year old wife.  They are all from the same village.  Some are awaiting flights back to their village.  Others are awaiting tests for schooling.  These tests have no dates.  Just the word that they should happen “sometime in March”.  Which messes with our Western, know the dates for the next year of exams, minds.  The family doesn’t want to work.  The young couple do.  Diligently every day they work cutting out jungle chapels for future building.  They are also eager to cultivate many trees for future sale.
Earlier this week we had guests visiting for lunch. Our male retriever loves it when guests come and capitalizes on the fact that this would be a great time to escape and go hunting for chickens or other innocent victims.  This day was no different.  Unfortunately within five minutes of his escape, he had killed Dora’s beloved kitten.  We were unaware until the next morning when the parents told us that their little girl was not to be consoled.  Gratefully, another kitten was found and Dora accepted it.  She is seen putting it in a native bag and toting it around, the kitty purring.  20170207_105915
          One day this week I became aware that I had not noticed Dora's usual high squeel noises.  Looking over into their yard, it seemed empty and abandoned again.  I began to wonder if room had opened up on the plane for them and if they had left.  Had I loved them enough?  Or had I ignored them too much?  I didn't even say Good bye......   Several hours later, I heard the familiar Dora sound.  Relief washed over me.  The squaters were still squating, they hadn't left me yet.

It is quite a dilemma to know how kind and how warm we should be to people who are squatting.  Life here is full of situations that we are not one hundred percent sure of how to act and react too.  Often we are praying for wisdom.  We often want to respond from our own culture and yet we are in this culture.  As always we covet your prayers, as the longer we are here the deeper beyond ninety we are learning to squat.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

And Just Like That…..It Is Finished!

Eleven and a half years is a long time.  Yet I honestly thought there was still five years left.  Unexpectedly, the long days and the short years came to an abrupt halt.  The commitment, the daily grind, the need to be extremely focused and scheduled Monday through Friday, 7:30 until 3 was taken away.  Or maybe it was given away?
I was passionate about it, fully devoted and yet burned out.  Doing something that was not my natural gifting and yet for my children, like most mothers, I would do anything.  Home school.  The early years were simple and yet muddled with ABC’s and 123’s were more babies and diapers and feedings and distractions.  How did that little boy Aubrey, learn so well?  Now he is months away from graduating and launching back into his passport culture.  His grade point average, is higher than a 4.0.  He had to teach me how that makes sense.  His younger brother Andrew, who stands taller than us all, also learned something in between re learning phonics in 3rd grade and little brothers building trains at his feet.  He also is months away from launching back into his passport culture to finish his senior year of high school State side.  Though talented at school, this boy is teaching me daily new tricks in the kitchen, talking circles around my head about computers, videography, photography, and anything he puts his mind too.  I’ll jump to the youngest…..who I learned to linger the longest in the rocking chair with.  By the fourth baby boy, I had learned that in no time did they push away and not need Mommy, so I savored each moment.  Yes, but somewhere amidst the rocking chair snuggles were multiplication tables and hundreds of chapter books read out loud.  We laughed and sometimes Mommy cried.  And it was always, “Just one more chapter Mommy, please.”  Nathaniel learned so well (probably from just over hearing all his older brothers were being taught ) that I needed to send him early to school so that he could be challenged.  Each child and each season so different.  And I’m ever so grateful that we lingered in the rocking chair together.
Jacob (the third Boyd boy), threw a twist into my home school career.  A learning disability, that we have learned to embrace together as his ABILITY.  Because even though “dyslexia” has made this boy have to work so so hard, for what comes so easy for many of us…..his focus, his ability to think outside the box, his analytical strengths and creative voice are emerging into someone with dynamic possibilities.  Last semester we felt it was time to try and nudge Jacob into school part time.  The idea of “going to REAL school” was very traumatic for Jacob.  No longer could he hide his weaknesses of struggling with reading and writing at home.  With counsel and sweet support of Jacob’s God Given Special Education Teacher (who taught him how to read with the Orton-Gillingham approach) Jacob enrolled for P.E., Science, Art, Math and band.  Day one was tough.  By day two, Jacob was thriving.  Jacob has thrived so incredibly well, and given so many readiness signals this past semester (despite his special education teacher having to leave not even a 1/4 of the way into the school year) that we decided it was time for him to do school full time.  Unbelievable. 
I am no longer a home school mom.  What???!!  How did that happen?  Just like that.  I’m relieved and yet sad.  I’m excited and yet somewhat at a loss.  I’m THRILLED and yet shaken by the fact that IT IS OVER.  The years of extreme discipline, of reading until I couldn’t read another word, of listening to words being sounded out and cross stitching, just so that I wouldn’t over correct the mis pronounced words, they are finished. 
However, I am dancing in the gift of time that I was given to spend with each of my precious boys.  Each of them are close to me. Somewhere between math drills and “you would not treat your teacher that way”, we bonded.  And so, even though this season is finished, the fruit of my labor and time is not.  To those of you who are still IN SEASON of home schooling may each day you find renewal in Jesus Christ to continue on.
Meanwhile, I’m so happy it’s Monday.  The kids are all at school.  Yippee…..no home school for me today.  And even though "it is finished", the fruit of my labor is just beginning!!!!