Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas from PNG!

"For unto us a child is born, to us a child is given, 
and the government will be on His shoulders.
And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, 
Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
~ Isaiah 9:6 ~

Love and Prayers on this Christmas Day, 
Teddy & Rachel

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Kudjip Christmas Spirit...

Even though there’s no snow or tacky light tours…the missionaries at Kudjip sure know how to celebrate the Christmas season! This past week has been full of wonderful festivities and reminders that Jesus is the Reason for the Season!

Last Sunday, all the Kudjip missionaries were responsible for the entire service at the local church, Emmanuel, just outside of the station. Jordan, Zachary, Susan, and I accompanied Jeff as he led the congregation in several Christmas Carols…sung in Pidgin of course. My students sang a special…one of their songs from the Christmas play the week before…and the teen MKs read scripture verses of the Christmas story. The entire missionary family came up and sang Silent Night in Pidgin, and Teddy, Bill, and Andy played two songs on their trumpets. The service concluded with a great message by Harmon about why we need Christ….and ended with a powerful altar call and time of prayer. It was a great service!

Leading the congregation in Christmas Carols

The entire missionary family singing Silent Night
Bill, Teddy, & Andy - Trumpet Trio

Praying for people during the altar call
To continue getting into the Christmas Spirit.... Last Tuesday, I took my students caroling up at the hospital. We went to the pediatric ward and sang several songs for the patients and their families. Teddy was able to come and join us for part of the time, and the nurses and some of the patients sang along with us. After singing on the ward, we still had some time before needing to get back to school…so we went and sang at the clinic waiting area. The kids did great! 
Singing carols in the pediatric ward

Singing carols in the clinic waiting area

On Thursday, Judy organized gingerbread house building for the kiddos’ in the afternoon. Since there are no graham crackers to be found in PNG…Australian “bush crackers” were used, and the houses were built around solid frames of Paul’s Thickened Cream. The kids had a blast decorating their houses and eating candy and leftover icing. 
Getting ready to decorate!!

Friday was our last day of school before Christmas Break!! YAY!!! We played Christmas music all day long, and during lunch, the kids and Judy had a surprise birthday celebration for Jorina and me!  At the end of the day, we celebrated by having a small Christmas party with the kids. They received their gift bags filled with fun goodies….thanks to some generous friends and family back home….and had a blast opening them and playing with their new toys!
        Christmas gifts under our school tree
Kiddies opening their gifts!
Jorina & I in our silly birthday hats!

On Friday afternoon, we attended the Pediatric Ward Christmas Party.  The gathering was hosted by Sister Christina, the head nurse on the Ped's Ward, and began with a time of prayer and reflecting on the past year. Massive quantities of food were prepared, including a whole cow that had been roasting under ground all day! Yum!! Each guest received a large bowl full of beef, chicken, kau kau, tarot, and roasted bananas.

                          People picking up their food bowls......               what was in the food bowls....

The A-Team!
Susan and I with some of the nurses.
Saturday evening was the annual missionary Christmas dinner. This year, it was a dinner cruise theatre and the high school students put on an incredible play while everyone ate their food. At the end of the play, I led everyone in a couple of Christmas carols, and then Santa Clause came for a visit to deliver presents to all the missionary kids! It was a delightful time of fellowship with our missionary family. 
The amazinig scenery Teddy designed in chalk

Rachel Thompson worked on this awesome sunset
Singing Christmas Carols

Santa pays a visit

Me and the munchkins

Although we are missing our friends and family back home this holiday season…we feel incredibly blessed to have such a supportive and loving missionary family here at Kudjip!

Monday, December 15, 2014


Dear Readers,

Grace and peace to YOU from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to Whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen! 
(Saint Paul’s greeting to Galatia) 

Thank you again for joining with us in this mission to the Highland people of Papua New Guinea. Rachel and I are greatly comforted in the knowledge that we walk this path with the prayer and love of hundreds, and we greet the bright sun of every morning filled with our Lord’s perfect Love and Peace. All around PNG, needless violence born of greed, lust, and pride casts a shadow of fear and wretchedness over countless homes and entire communities, but I bear witness to the Hand of God moving every day through His children to bring Light into the darkness. In the midst of hardship, disease, and corruption, your PNG brothers and sisters are praying, preaching God’s Word, and many hearts are turning to the freedom of salvation in Christ. There is ongoing reason for both fervent prayer and turning hearts heavenward to rejoice! God IS moving in Papua New Guinea!

Local church's Baptism celebration
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A Recent Observation:

One of the phrases I find myself most commonly using in our clinic is some version of: "Sorri, mi no can stretim dispela problem. Dispela maracine can help downim dispela kin sik bilong yu, tasol yu got dispela problem long life bilong yu." (Translation: Sorry, I can't fix this illness. This medicine will help reduce your symptoms, but you will have this illness for the rest of your life.)

The concept of a lifelong medical ailment does not register easily for PNG'ians. (Common examples being Reflux, Back Pain, COPD, Hypertension, Headaches, Pelvic Pain due to chronic STD's, etc). Most patients who present for "Review" are returning because their symptoms (usually some form of pain) have returned since their medicine ran out. In the typical mindset, medicine cures disease, so the usual complaint is - "same problems, medicine didn't work". I am then forced to clarify that the medicine did indeed help reduce their symptoms each day it was taken, but that since the supply finished, their symptoms returned. Where I would expect most patients to understand the chronic nature of their disease, here at Kudjip I constantly feel the need to apologize for my inability to cure their ailments with the medicine we have to offer.

Another form of medical chronicity is the patient who reviews with recurrence of the same disease (Pneumonia, Gastroenteritis, STD's) which had at one time been effectively treated, but then contracted again in short order. Re-infection is more common here owing to generally poor hygiene and nutrition, in combination with the day-to-day strain of hard physical labor, and because many patients’ lack funding for, or access to, timely healthcare. Widespread abuse of alcohol, drugs, and tobacco also doesn’t help.

I believe the heart of our patients’ mistaken medical perception is their overwhelming desire to be free of disease. Chronic patients are a burden to their families (obligated by custom to care for them), and should the disease carry a stigma, they may also be an embarrassment. The diagnosis of HIV carries this stigma, and the disease is rampant in PNG -- about 0.5-0.7% in the general PNG population and in our area of the highlands, the incidence is much higher at 1-2%. (More Stats HERE)

To avoid the diagnosis of HIV, many patients will "lose" the lab test paper given to them, or refuse testing outright. In some HIV+ cases already started on treatment, the patient might take the medicine for a time, then present to a different clinic for the same basic screening test. When the repeat test is read as negative, they share the good news with everyone that they are cured, and go on the spread the disease to their sexual partners. 

Whatever form chronicity takes, our patients’ mindset of denial seems to exist as a blindfold, gladly worn, to shield their already broken spirits from the depravity of life. Quite regularly, I feel some level of frustration with this uphill battle, resigning to the fact that while nothing of their normal life will contribute to their recovery, our best efforts may not be enough. 

Facing complicated or terminal cases on a daily basis, I do pray with many patients for God’s miraculous healing according to His will. In many such cases, I will also take a moment help them understand that the evil of this present age manifests as much in sickness as in sin, and that in this form of physical hardship, our Lord tests our Faith in His perfect provision as we endure the life given us. (Romans 8, Hebrews 12, James 1) Especially for those patients who know Him, I am regularly encouraged to see genuine Peace manifested in those who have just received a terminal diagnosis – a gift beyond understanding (Philippians 4) which only the Holy Spirit supplies.

Hebrews 12:11-13
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. 
Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness 
and peace for those who have been trained by it. 
Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 
"Make level paths for your feet," 
so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Landscaping Updates:

Path flowers starting to brighten up our lawn

Hanging planters to add a little green on the porch

Extended the plants along the front of the house

The beginnings of our vegetable garden!

Little "Teddy" came back for  visit!

I sported the same breastfed neck rolls as a baby!  :-)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

MK Christmas Program!

This past Sunday was the MK-Sponsored Christmas Lotu. Not only did my kiddos have to perform the Christmas musical we’ve been practicing…but they also helped with a special song performed by the mini-MKs (2-5 year olds), AND they helped me lead worship at the end of the service! I am so impressed and humbled by the AMAZING job these kids did! We have been practicing and working hard since September, and boy did it pay off! The whole service went off without a hitch thanks to all the hard work and A LOT of prayer!! : ) 

Sunday was a busy day. In the morning, Teddy and I brought all the supplies up to the hospital chapel (where the Lotu service was held) and spent some time setting up all the scenery. He was amazing and climbed the rafters like a pro to get all the backdrops and stars properly and securely hung. While we set up the scenery, Karla (fellow missionary) and Judy (1st-3rd teacher) decorated the chapel with beautiful flower arrangements. About an hour or so before the performance, the hospitality team (a group of amazing missionary women led by the wonderful Judy Bennett) decorated an alcove to promote the Christmas spirit and prepare for the time of desserts after the service. My kiddos showed up 45 minutes early, full of nervous energy and chatter. We gathered in a circle and took a few minutes to talk through the order of the service and answer any last-minute questions…(there were a lot)...we then had a wonderful time of prayer…committing our play and the entire service to God and glorifying Him as we told the story of the coming of His Son. Shortly after 2pm, we started…my kids made a grand entrance from the back of the chapel…moving through the crowd as they were singing the opening song….they were awesome! The program and service was a success….people were drawn near to God…reminded of the miracle of His birth…and encouraged to continue to go and tell the good news!

Teddy hanging the backdrops.

Warming myself by the make-believe campfire...
             Some of the lovely flower arrangements                                  The decorated dessert area

Method actors preparing....shepherd and a sheep! 

Shy sheep...
Sly sheep...
Teddy's awesome scenery

Our opening act!


Our audience

This is Jesus!

Mary & Joseph

Bowing before the Savior
The End!

Singing with the Mini-MKs
Helping lead worship at the end of the service
The Amazing Kudjip MK School Cast!