Category Archives: Photo Journal

Photo Journal: Bridge Update (and a Video)

Good news on the bridge.  GREAT news, actually.  :-D  It’s built, installed, and drive-able (well, sort of: see below for more details).

Shortly after the bridge collapsed (see Photo Journal: Bridge Collapse!! for more details) on August 6, local Papua New Guineans constructed some temporary “toll” bridges out of bush materials.  It cost 1 kina (about $0.40) to cross these bridges.

Here’s a floating one made from bamboo:

Bamboo Bridge

(photo courtesy Steven Ttopoqogo)

And one made of logs/wood:

Log Bridge

(photo courtesy Stephanie Tobiana)

Can you see the hanging one WITHOUT RAILINGS in the background?!?!  Don’t know how much that one was used…

Unfortunately, these walking bridges washed away during a big rain about 2 weeks after the bridge collapsed.

While the bridge was being repaired, our organization created a gondola of sorts to transport essential goods across the river.  They called it the “flying fox”, which is Tok Pisin for “fruit bat”.  Click here or on the image below to see a video of it in action:

Flying Fox

(photo and video courtesy Matt Crosland)

The new bridge was built on the Kainantu town side of the river and pushed across as they added length to it:

New Bridge 1

(photo courtesy Karen Weaver)

New Bridge 2

(photo courtesy Brian Frey)

Once it was all the way across, they added panels so people could walk across it:

Walking Bridge with Panels

(photo courtesy Adi Leedahl)

Eventually, it was ready for vehicles.  Christina got this picture from the air during a recent flight:

Bridge from the Air

From “way up here”, it looks like such a tiny thing and yet without it, getting supplies into Ukarumpa is extremely difficult!  They actually flew almost 1 ton (that’s about 2000 pounds) of ground beef in from a nearby airstrip, but doing that for everything… it could really add up!

From last reports, the bridge is drive-able, but you basically need a 4-wheel drive vehicle with high clearance to drive up the embankment on the other side.  They were also still working on getting the permanent footings/abutments for the bridge built.  Until then, only smaller passenger vehicles like cars and trucks can drive over it.  Semi trucks and other large vehicles will not be able to drive on the bridge until it is permanently in place.

Please continue to pray that construction would finish in a timely fashion.  This bridge is essentially the only road for supplies into Ukarumpa, so we will be ever-so-grateful to have a reliable bridge that doesn’t threaten to collapse every time we drive across it.

Photo Journal: VOLCANO!! But we’re all right…

Volcano!!  WHAT?!?!

Got your attention huh?  ;-)

Yup, a volcano (Mt. Tavurvur) erupted on the island of New Britain, Papua New Guinea (PNG) last week on Friday (August 29).  We’ve had a few people express concern for our safety, so wanted to let you know that we’re perfectly all right.  New Britain is a long ways away from where we are in Ukarumpa (our support center).  In case you’re wondering how far (it’s almost 450 miles away), here’s a map (with Ukarumpa labeled “Uka”):

(map courtesy, labels courtesy Leah Rigsby)

(map courtesy, labels courtesy Leah Rigsby)

And yes, it did actually spew lava and lots and lots of smoke and ash:

(photo courtesy Theresa Wilson)

(photo courtesy Theresa Wilson)

Looks prehistoric, huh?

From the last reports we heard, it continues to rumble some and spew more ash, but the actual erupting has settled down:

(photo courtesy Theresa Wilson)

(photo courtesy Theresa Wilson)

We are grateful for reports that the winds are blowing most of the ash away from the nearby towns (Rabaul and Kokopo, which were evacuated).  Please be in prayer for the people in the area.  Pray that the wind keeps blowing ash away from the major cities.  Pray that people aren’t harmed by ash inhalation (it can be deadly).

We praise God that this wasn’t a repeat of the eruption 20 years ago, which buried the town of Rabaul in ash.  Here’s a picture from when I (James) visited Rabaul in 2007.  The stuff that looks like black sand is actually ash, and a few feet of it at that:


And just to prove that I WAS there (when it was not erupting):

James and Volcano

The Kokopo/Rabaul area is quite beautiful when the volcano is dormant (click on the image for a larger view):

Thank you for your concerns and prayers.  We are grateful that this is volcano is not affecting us.

P.S. If you’re wondering about the bridge situation, construction of the new bridge has gone exceptionally well!  THANK YOU for your prayers.  We’ll send an update on that in the next week or so.

Photo Journal: Bridge Collapse!!

We had plans to go to Lae (a city on the coast) this weekend to visit our friends. Our plans changed when we heard that the Kingston Bridge (our main supply line) had collapsed when a fuel tanker was crossing it:

Kainantu Bridge Collapse

The truck is totaled, but driver is okay:

Kainantu Bridge Collapse Truck Up Close

The same cannot be said for the bridge though:

Kainantu Bridge Collapse Top View

For comparison, here’s what the bridge looked like BEFORE the collapse:

Kainantu Bridge Before

This river is a major source of water for a lot of people in the area.  In order to limit the water contamination, the owner of the tanker told people to empty the tanker and fill up their fuel cans:

Kainantu Bridge Gas Station

This is the bridge right before Kainantu (the closest town to Ukarumpa). This is the bridge you have to cross to get anywhere from Ukarumpa. This is the bridge that has been in ill-repair the whole time we’ve been here (and well before we ever got here). This is the bridge that made everyone who ever drove across it nervous until they were safely on the other side. This is the bridge that all of the food and supplies for all of Ukarumpa has come across up until now. In summary, Ukarumpa is essentially cut-off from the rest of PNG by road until there is a replacement bridge installed. The only feasible way in and out of here is by plane or foot.

When will the bridge be fixed? We have NO idea…this is PNG, “The Land of the Unexpected”. The store is currently well stocked with food. The market will continue to be well stocked by the local farmers. The autoshop is low on fuel (the fuel tanker that broke the bridge was on its way to Ukarumpa) so fuel is being rationed to 5 liters per family per week with the request to walk as much as possible so as to conserve fuel.

Obviously this is a situation that needs to be covered in prayer. We are NOT in a state of emergency. We can always fly supplies in (but that would send prices through the roof!). There are people working on coming up with creative/reasonable ways of getting supplies across the river until a new bridge is installed… possibly a zipline… who knows. Maybe they could do something like this:

New Kainantu Bridge

New Kainantu Bridge 2


The bridge JUST went down, so our organization is in the beginning stages of figuring out what to do.

Thank you for your prayers.

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!


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


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!


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


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


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


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.  :-)


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


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.


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


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”. ☺