Author Archives: Christina

Life Happens…Or Does It?

I believe God is sovereign. Life doesn’t just “happen”…He is in control of every detail. This is what I believe, but how does it affect how I live, how I feel, how I respond to situations that touch my life?

I woke up this morning and thought, “Yes, we’re definitely entering dry season” as I looked out the window to see the hillside across the valley covered in heavy dew. It doesn’t rain much in dry season, but the colder weather means more dew so the earth usually remains covered in green anyway. It was overcast and I hoped for a sunny day as I zipped my fleece and started making breakfast – apples with peanut butter and sultanas (raisins from Australia).

As I finished breakfast prep with Mikayla, Laurel, and Timothy sitting on the counter waving to friends passing by on the road, the sun peeked from behind the clouds, and I thought of hanging laundry on the line. I was relieved to remember that there was no laundry to hang out today, and we moved on with breakfast. Immediately after breakfast, James had a phone call from Apple in which he learned that they will be replacing his broken computer with a brand new, top of the line, Macbook Pro. When he got off the phone, I said, “I guess you’re going to have a good day, huh?” :-)

James left to go to the office, and the kids and I settled into our morning at home. Laurel and Timothy had both gotten up really early this morning and, with not quite enough sleep, both were prone to a lot of crying all morning. I tried to have Laurel take a nap, but she just cried all the more. A friend came over to visit and said that Laurel’s temper tantrum over not wanting to nap was “cute” (this friend has kids much older than mine…different ages and stages). As my friend held Timothy on her lap and read a story to him, she blinked away tears and commented how sweet it was to hold such a little person again. I realized yet again how much I need to cherish this time with my little people even if there is sometimes a lot of crying.

As I got ready to prepare lunch I saw an email from someone in James’ department saying that something had come up that made it necessary to close the whole department for an hour this morning. It was vague, but I knew it must have been something bad. But James hadn’t called…Halfway through getting lunch on the table James got home and shared the news: A Papua New Guinean couple (the husband works in the literacy office, and they are from a language group who is translating the Old Testament) went to the hospital to give birth yesterday. At the hospital they were told that her time was not as close as they thought, and the hospital staff member went home. She gave birth with only her husband there to deliver. They did not know, but they were expecting twins. It was twin boys. One is living; one is dead. Can you imagine the joy over-shadowed by such awful pain?!?! Or is it the pain lightened by the joy of one living son? Why God?

I asked that question, “Why God?”, not that long ago in a totally different light. When God provided for us to buy a vehicle in PNG, I couldn’t help but ponder…why? Of course I’m thrilled and excited and grateful, but it doesn’t make sense to me. I’m learning that there are a lot of things that don’t make sense to me. But really, why would God provide a vehicle for me when there are plenty of other women in PNG who walk much farther than I do, carrying much heavier loads than I ever will. Why was I born in America and grew up rarely coming face to face with anything close to the realities that my PNG friends face everyday. When I heard about these precious twins, I realized I cannot comprehend what these parents are going through because it is SO far removed from any of my life experiences (real or vicarious).

I cannot imagine being pregnant with twins and not knowing! I cannot imagine having a dead baby and not knowing…did he die in the womb? did he die during birth? what happened? I come from a culture that demands answers to questions like these, but the culture I am living in often doesn’t even ask these questions. My culture requires a scientific explanation; this culture is sometimes content with no explanation or more often sees a spiritual explanation (someone did sorcery and caused X).

My PNG friends live with the reality that their babies might die (some don’t even name their babies until they are several months old because they might not make it). They live with the reality that their husband can marry multiple wives, and there is absolutely nothing they can do about it. They live with the reality that their daughters will be handled inappropriately by men and it will go unnoticed, unpunished…almost accepted, but not condoned…just part of the reality that is life in PNG.

I live in PNG, but I will never know what it is like to be a PNG woman. I live here, but I am coddled and protected by my white skin and American passport. A friend of mine once laid her body over the body of a PNG woman who was being brutally beaten by her husband. My friend knew she was safe because of her white skin; he wouldn’t dare hit a white woman. Even if her white skin didn’t protect her, she didn’t care because she knew this woman needed help. I admire her courage. She made a difference in that PNG woman’s life even if just for that day. There are so many lives that I cannot touch, but I pray that each time God gives me the opportunity I will reach out and make a difference even if it is just for one person for one moment.

God is God. He is sovereign and in full control of every detail of every life at all times. How we explain things, where we find answers, and what we do with the answers, or lack there of, does not change the fact that God is orchestrating it all for His glory and our good.

In times like this when I realize how little I know, and how little I can control life events, I am all the more grateful that God is loving. God is merciful. God is faithful. God is just. God is good. And most of all, I am grateful that God is trustworthy…I don’t have to have the answers, life doesn’t have to make sense to me…even though he allows evil to take place in this world…I choose to trust Him because of Who He is. God is love.

Photo Journal: Christina’s Ankle – Day 2-3

Here’s a summary of Days 2-3 after Christina sprained her ankle.  Want to see Days 0 and 1?  Click here to see the whole story (scroll down for earlier posts).

Thank you for your continued prayers.  We’re getting into a routine, but it is still very difficult.  We are very grateful for the meals and visits we’ve had already.  God is so good!

We’ve been sleeping very well at night, and Christina is needing less pain-killer to sleep.  PTL!

Please keep praying that we would be able to balance all that needs to be done.

Now, on to the photo journal.

I got outside for the first time yesterday!  Yeah!  Notice my foot is still elevated!

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It was really nice to have Candace and her kids visit.

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James here: I had fun making a yummy and very filling salad yesterday.  Toppings included beans, peanuts, sunflower seeds, and beets with a raspberry vinaigrette dressing: Mmmm!

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Christina again: I enjoyed eating my first meal at the table yesterday.  It sure beats eating while laying down on the couch!

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We had a delicious dinner from a Korean friend.  Rice and stir fry, Korean vegetable pancakes, and another yummy dish.  THANK YOU!!

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As you can see, the kids love being with Mommy when I’m on the couch.

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And, back to the table for breakfast.  It’s hard to get up and down, but worth it!  Notice again that Timothy loves being with Mommy.  :-)

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James again: Once I got started on this next meal, it was hard to stop.  And it was worth it!

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Salad with balsamic vinegar, strawberries, peaches, avocado, eggs, raisins, almonds, sunflower seeds, and PNG feta cheese (yogurt cheese).

Side: Cinnamon Apples

Drink: Delicious frozen strawberry lemonade.

And last but not least: everybody pitches in when Mommy has an owie.

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We have been very grateful for the help the kids have given us.  They are growing up fast and learning how to pick up after themselves.  :-)

Thank you for your prayers!

Christina and James

God Story: Christina’s Ankle

We’ve been wanting to start sharing “God Stories:” stories that show how God is involved in our life and ministry here in PNG. Here’s one from yesterday.

This evening, we were on our way to take a walk with the kids. This is always a nice, relaxing thing to do before dinner. However, this time it turned out differently.

At the bottom of our stairs, I misstepped onto the driveway, twisted my ankle, tried to catch my step but couldn’t bear any weight on it, and fell in the flowerbed. By God’s grace, I didn’t fall on the concrete steps behind me or concrete drainage ditch beside me so didn’t further injure myself in the fall. And, Timothy was in the Ergo carrier on my back, and I didn’t hurt him either. He wasn’t even phased by the experience, but I wanted him out of the carrier ASAP because my ankle hurt so badly I thought I was going to pass out and/or throw up, and I really just wanted to lay down on my back.

At the same time, two friends (who we had just spent Easter afternoon with, one of whom the girls call “Aunt Jessica” because she’s taken on the role of a surrogate aunt) were walking by at the bottom of our driveway. They came up and helped with the kids while James helped me get back into the house: ; we have about 10 stairs down to our driveway, so getting back up on 1 good leg was a challenge.

When I fell, I thought I heard a snap, so James and Jessica took a closer look at my ankle once I was settled on the couch. Both noticed some weird bumps that were not duplicated on my other ankle and agreed that it might be broken. So, James called the nurse on call (it’s a holiday, and the clinic wasn’t open). They said we should come in, and Jessica and her friend offered to stay with the kids while we went to the “E.R.” (aka: the clinic in Ukarumpa, our support center).

We called a neighbor to ask to borrow their car (because it’s a long bumpy walk to the clinic), and they were happy to let us. They even brought it right to our door, which was helpful in all of the rush and confusion to get out… at one point, Jessica asked James if he needed anything and he said, “a brain!” LOL.

As we were leaving, James said, “This will be the quickest trip to the E.R. ever!” And he was right. When somebody calls after hours, the nurse and doctor come specifically for that person, so there’s nobody else they have to wait for. Sure enough, we got there, and I was in to be examined within a few minutes.

They took 2 x-ray’s and determined that it wasn’t actually broken, but was probably a 2nd degree sprain. We are thankful it was not a 3rd degree sprain, which is much worse, because I would have had to go to Cairns to have it treated! They splinted it up and said I need to stay off of it for 2 weeks. And my physical therapy exercises? Write the alphabet in the air with my foot. :-) The doctor said I’d probably only be able to go through “E” the first day, but keep working on it to keep things moving and encourage healing.

So, looking back on the evening we see a few “God things”:
-Jessica and Narelle just “happened” to be walking by and saw that I had fallen. They were willing and available and offered to stay and help out with the kids.
-We had NO Ibuprofen in the house but called our neighbors to see if we could get some from them and they offered us a full bottle!
-Borrowing the car enabled James to take our friends home, which allowed us to get some extra medicine from Jessica. The clinic had said I should take it, and I thought we had some at home, but we didn’t. Jessica just “happened” to have it!
-A few weeks ago, our friends had loaned us an ice pack while they went to the village. We used it to help with pain and swelling.

All in all, we are grateful for many things:
-My ankle isn’t broken or sprained any worse.
-There is a team of ladies on center who can provide some meals for the next several days because I can’t put weight on my foot (which makes cooking difficult).
-There is a clinic here, and people to staff it for events like this!
-The clinic had crutches and an “air splint” on hand to help with mobility and the healing process.

Please pray:
-That my ankle will heal well and quickly.
-For James as he picks up the extra responsibility (laundry, cleaning, dishes, etc) that I normally do around the house.
-That the kids will be well behaved as it will be more difficult to have me much less mobile for a few days. We’re expecting that they will really enjoy “helping” Mommy because “she has an owie”.

In Him,

Christina and James

Carnival!

Bet you didn’t expect to hear of a Carnival here in PNG, huh? Well, believe it or not we have one. :-) Carnival is put on by the high school students once a year and it is a big hit especially for the kids in the community.

Mikayla and Laurel with Clown

Mikayla and Laurel were quite intrigued by the clown. She is actually a good friend of mine. I was surprised that neither of the girls were scared of her…though they weren’t really sure what to think. ;-)

Laurel Hugging Clown

Laurel even gave the clown a hug! Too cute!!

James and Mikayla on the Ferris Wheel

Is that a “Ferris Wheel”? Yep!! A man-powered “Ferris Wheel”. The senior boys get the privilege of controlling the speed at which community members go whirling around. It’s a pretty sweet ride! Both girls were very excited to try it out.

Christina and Laurel on the Ferris Wheel

Laurel was just a teeny-bit hesitant about the idea before we got going… Yes, there are even seat belts.

Amazing Day!

Check out the sky…it was a gorgeous day! What a fun ride!!

Laurel Laughing on the Ferris Wheel

Laurel is laughing with delight as she grips my arm on the descent. She and Mikayla both LOVED this ride and would have gladly done it again.

Mikayla's Face Painting
Mikayla proudly displaying the flower she had painted on her face – she had been looking forward to this since before we even got to Carnival.

Laurel's Face Painting

Laurel did a great job holding still while her face was getting painted…she got a butterfly!

Mikayla in the Bouncy Castle

Both girls enjoyed the “bouncy castle”…here you can see Mikayla’s hair flying. :-)

Laurel's Cotton Candy

And what would a Carnival be without Cotton Candy? Or “Fairy Floss” as it is known in some parts of the world. Laurel was quite pleased. Note that we waited until after the Ferris Wheel ride and the Bouncy Castle before giving them Cotton Candy. ;-)

Mikayla's Cotton Candy

Do you think Mikayla was happy to get her own “Fairy Floss”?

Timothy's Ice Cream Mustache

Timothy didn’t get any Cotton Candy, but he did get his first taste of ice cream! (Yea, he’s obviously a third born…getting ice cream before his first birthday!!).

Laurel Holding a Butterfly

On the way home we found a butterfly on the path and Laurel was delighted that it would sit on her hand. One butterfly on her face, one butterfly on her hand – cute.

Mikayla Holding a Butterfly

Mikayla got a turn holding the butterfly too. She was also excited to be returning home with balloons from Carnival. There was also a balloon animal booth at Carnival, but we missed it…however, the people running the balloon booth came over for dinner that evening so the girls got loaded with balloon animals after dinner: a giraffe, a dog, two hats, and even a “Jonah in the Whale” balloon. Fun times!!

A Brand New Foal

Recently a new foal was born not far from our house. We had a lot of fun quietly going to visit in the first few days of her life.

New Foal

When she was a bit older the girls were able to coax her to come closer to the fence, but as of yet they haven’t gotten to pet her. She sure is cute and they love to go visit her.

Girls Coaxing Foal

Reducing My Stress Level

In an effort to reduce my stress level I have started trying to utilize a calendar and plan ahead and schedule things more. In some ways it has been very helpful, but in other ways, I still I have a real appreciation for doing things spur of the moment. You see…inviting company for dinner two weeks ahead of time should mean that on the night they are coming I’m “prepared”. However, sometimes it’s just easier to invite company spur of the moment because that way I know whether or not it’s a good day…dinner is well under way, the house is presentable (or at least “walk-in-able”), etc.

Well, tonight was one of those times where I had invited company for dinner and it had been on the calendar for well over a week. But throughout the course of my day I could see that “things” just weren’t “cooperating” with my plan inspite of my best efforts to be organized and well prepared ahead of time.

It started off with an absolutely “wild” morning with the kids full of energy and running around, playing happily, but the noise level was high. In the picture below you’ll see their “airplane” in which they were “flying to America” to visit family and friends. :-) I was able to make chocolate peanut butter cookies even with “help” from all three kiddos and we packaged up some to send to some friends who are out doing village living and saved the rest for dessert for company.

Living Room Mess

We made it through lunch time and I got the kids down for naps and set to work making dinner: Split Pea Soup and Garden Herb Bread. I made good progress on dinner but had a lot of straightening up to do in the living room but before I started cleaning up the living room I decided to take a peek into the kids room…Oh my!

I hadn’t heard a sound, but somehow they had managed to empty every article of clothing from their dresser AND take all the drawers out of the dresser and pile them up in the center of their room. And instead of napping they were trying on one outfit after another…layer upon layer. Mikayla ended up wearing three swimming suits one on top of the other.

Girls' Room

I quickly decided that folding and putting away their clothes was not the thing to spend my time on just a couple hours before company would be arriving. So I put the drawers back in the dresser and made the girls get back into their beds. Oh, I can’t neglect to mention that they each gave themselves their own spanking for being so naughty as to ransack their bedroom. ;-) (I didn’t have the heart to spank them for it, but I sure didn’t mind making them have “timeout” in their beds for a very long time!) I took a quick picture of their room and emailed it to Daddy at work just so he’d know how my day was going. ☺ I honestly didn’t mean to communicate that I was losing it (and I really wasn’t)…so I was a bit surprised when he got home from work expecting to find me a nervous wreck.

Meanwhile Timothy woke up from his nap and wanted me to hold him so I put him in the Ergo carrier on my back and carried on with dinner preparations. I quickly realized that if I didn’t want to go bald I needed to not only have my hair up, but I needed something to cover it for protection from Timothy’s strong grip and even stronger yank (that really hurts! Especially when it’s those little hairs along the nape of your neck!). At this point I really don’t care if I do look like a dork…comfort before beauty in my book!

Timothy Pulling Hair

The girls got up for a short “interlude” in the middle of their nap because a neighbor stopped by with her little boy. They got to say “hi” and then while I was distracted on the porch talking with the friend Laurel got into the chocolate peanut butter cookies. There was a cooling rack on the counter with four cookies on it. When I came in to the kitchen she said, “Mommy, I not getting sick!” as she reached for the last of the four cookies. And then she had the nerve to argue with me over whether or not she could eat that fourth cookie when I went to take it away! Back to their beds went the girls and I refocused on dinner preparations again.

I had the bread dough made but still had the flour canister sitting on the counter for when I kneaded the bread and formed it. Well, I went to take the chocolate peanut butter cookies off the cooling rack (the other cooling rack that had a dozen and a half still there) and arrange them on a plate, but as I set the second cookie on the plate I heard the flour canister crash to the floor. From his “safe” place on my back, Timothy had managed to reach the canister and pull it off the counter. Flour spewed across the floor all the way to the other side of the kitchen. (God gave me the grace to laugh and I didn’t even think about crying…though on many days I might have). I was thankful James was home at this point and helped clean it up…but in cleaning it up “flour footprints” ended up all over the entryway and the porch.

Spilled Flour

Flour Footprint

When company arrived I was just taking the bread out of the oven, the kitchen and living room were presentable, the kids’ bedroom door was shut!, and we were “ready” to enjoy a fun evening with friends…laughing about the events of the day and marveling that we’d made it to this point in good spirits! Thank you God! I do remember just after lunchtime praying, “Lord, I need your grace to respond appropriately…please help me.” Little did I know He would allow me lots of opportunities to practice responding “appropriately”. ☺

Translator Tales: Meet Ainde

001 Ocean Buka June 2010

This picture of Ainde reminds me of the joy that he found in the Lord. He marveled at the goodness of his Creator and enjoyed the beauty of God’s creation. He counted it a privilege to serve the Lord in doing Bible translation and he loved to tell about the faithfulness of God that he had personally experienced. A long time has passed since the first missionaries came to his village about 60 years ago! And what a life Ainde has lived!!

Ainde Working

His love for Scripture was evidenced by his dedication to the work of translation for many years and the joy that he found in the work that he did. Ainde was an example of the light that shines in a person who knows and loves God and His Word.

003 Ainde with Team

Here Ainde poses with the translation team who joined him in the work of translation. He and the team had travelled from their village to Ukarumpa to participate in a Translators Training Course.

004 Doing Consultant Checking in Buka

One of the many steps in the translation process is checking, checking, and more checking. Here Ainde is doing a consultant check for another translation team.

005 Hebrew Key Terms Checking 1

Figuring out how to translate key terms (like salvation, sanctification, redemption, etc) is a very difficult process but extremely important to get right. Here you can see many members of the community are involved and giving input and feedback as various terms are discussed. Finding the most accurate and clear way to communicate these concepts can be very tricky and time consuming.

006 Hebrew Key Terms Checking 2

Ainde leading the discussion on key terms.  Translators, with the help of others in their language group, need to make sure that the key terms used are clear and accurate and consistent. Ainde was committed to doing his work well and attention to detail is an important part of translation work.

008 Ainde at Paratext 2

Here Ainde is participating in the Paratext Course. This is the course that James taught this past July. It was encouraging to see Ainde’s enthusiasm and excitement for Bible translation.

Ainde & team (Large)

Here Ainde and several members of his translation team are hard at work. Four of these translators came to a Paratext Course this year.

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This photo is also from the Paratext Course…I include it because it depicts the most effective learning style for the majority of Papua New Guineans – collaboration and learning by helping each other. So while James “taught” the Paratext Course, he planned for times of hands on practice, discussion, and working together so that the information and new skills would be more fully understood and retained. This teaching strategy earned him a lot of compliments from the participants (I, Christina, know this because I heard their comments and their desire for him to teach more courses). We are grateful that this is such a good fit.

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And here you can just see the joy and excitement on Ainde’s face during the Paratext Course. Shortly after completing this course he went home to be with the Lord. Now he is enjoying the great reward that was prepared for him.

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And the parting shot…James and Ainde during the Paratext Course. We are grateful that we had the opportunity to work with Ainde and to get to know him a bit. We were honored to share stories with him over tea in our home and were encouraged by his love and commitment to the Lord.

We shared more of Ainde’s story in our newsletter (click here to read it), but after completing the New Testament Ainde asked his people if they were satisfied. They said, “NO! You’ve only given us half the pig! We want the WHOLE pig, not half…we want the whole Bible!”  What a way to put it, especially for Papua New Guinea where pigs are highly prized.

May Ainde’s translation team members go on to complete the Old Testament translation for the Angaataha people so they can have the whole Bible that they so eagerly desire.