Heartbeats

Litt‎le things. Heartbeats. 

Most of us never even give them second thought, yet without them we wouldn’t even have this life to consider. 

Is it strange to anyone else how something so vital to our very lives can pass under the radar so quietly that we aren’t even aware of it?

Unless something goes wrong. Then that which we took for granted becomes the center of our universe and we’re acutely aware of each and every one. All are tiny miracles. Tiny miracles over which we have no control. 

Sometimes, when I’m struggling to grasp something about God, I imagine myself as a little girl again. A stubborn bundle of crazy hair, big eyes and lots and lots of questions.

In those moments, God wears the sweet, Romans 8:15 label of Abba Father.

That “term of tender endearment used by a beloved child in an affectionate, dependent relationship with their father, daddy, papa.” (More) Continue reading

It Ain’t No Publix*

When I was home, several people asked me what grocery stores here are like. Since I can’t figure out how to tactfully take a picture to do it justice, I’m going try to describe this for you. It seems fitting to do it while the impression is fresh in mind and my shirt is still soaked with sweat from my quick run into the store to try, once again, to find chicken breasts. Nope. Anyways, imagine a store approximately the size of a Walgreens or CVS. You climb the stairs and escape out of the 90 degree heat into a refreshing…100 degrees. You pass the guards at the door and go through a turnstile. From that point on, you’re a human bumper car. You grab a little, hopefully not broken, basket (there are no carts). Then fight your way up and down the 6 aisles, repeatedly saying “scuse” or “sori”. With the exception of whole aisles pretty much dedicated entirely to tin fish (tuna) or rice, most of the food is imported from Australia or Asia. A few random American staples routinely grace the shelves: Oreos, Pringles, good ol’ Betty Crocker and a few of her cake mixes (may God bless her heart), Glad Foil, Fruit Loops and Corn Flakes. You’ll furrow your sweaty brow and wonder how these particular items travel thousands of miles on a consistent basis. But you won’t complain. Continue reading

Blessings in 23KG Suitcases

Traveling overseas is always a pain…especially when you’re dealing with several different airlines, different climates, different baggage weight limits, exhaustion and a host of other irritants. You know, little things like 50ish hours without real sleep. Or passing out for a few minutes here and there and inevitably doing the broken neck, bobble head move that causes everyone seated around you in the plane to try smothering the laughs. Or running through crowds of people in shorts and flip-flops, sweating in the sweater, boots and jeans you’re wearing because your last layover was in really cold place.

But there can be good as well. Like meeting interesting people or blessings in 23KG suitcases. Continue reading

Bonney

Some stories are so hard to tell with written words.

How do you make the images, emotions and struggles come to life? I don’t really know, but I owe it to a young man named Bonney to try.

Gray clouds filled the sky when I woke up that morning, and I wondered if village life would end up being “shut down” by rain as it had the day before. The clinic workers hadn’t shown up to open the medical clinic and everyone had stayed indoors all day, which is apparently very typical and something I don’t understand at all.

After a day cooped up inside, I was more than ready for another day at the clinic, practicing my pidgin while observing small children being treated for skin disease, mothers and babies with malaria or old women fighting infection. I sat in a hammock chair by the front window in the missionaries’ village home waiting for a health worker to come get the clinic keys. I sipped my mug of black coffee, iced my black and blue swollen knee (that I’d injured the day before by falling through a hard word floor of an old classroom) and kept watch on the muddy path below.

Every now and then, I checked the time. 9am passed, then 9:30. 10am crept by and still no one came. Around 10:30am I heard someone approaching, but instead of the worker I had hoped for, I saw a crowd of people following six men who were carrying a makeshift bamboo stretcher on their shoulders.

I immediately called out for the missionary as the villagers rushed by the house. She hurried to the window and yelled down to the stragglers at the back of the crowd to see what had happened.

As soon as Karie heard that a boy had been attacked by a wild pig, she grabbed her shoes. I quickly found my flip-flops and raced down the stairs with her, despite the pain in my knee. There was a small crowd outside the “haus win” several village doors down and seeing the tell-tale sign, we hurried in that direction, trying to avoid falling in the slippery mud. The small mob that had gathered parted as the “whiteskins” arrived and we clumsily climbed up the homemade ladder, then carefully made our way over the soft bark flooring (testing our weight with each step) to get to the boy. A young man, in his early twenties, lay on the limbun floor in front of us. He was  pale, restless and had blood pooled around his legs where a soaked, makeshift bandage and tourniquet signaled that his right knee was seriously injured. Continue reading

Gray Skies

It’s a good sign your day isn’t going to shape up to be that great when you get an early morning phone call asking you to transport a body (in your own car) before 7am. This makes twice in a week that I’ve had such a request, adding two more “twilight zone moments” to my ever-growing list.

I hope that doesn’t sound callous…I don’t mean it to be. Because Rose affected me quite a bit.

I had forced myself out of bed early this morning and started to head out the door at 6:40 to pick up 2 of our employees and then head down to a bush camp near the haus sik (hospital). Several weeks ago, our plane had brought Rose in with weakness and pain. I remember showing up to check on another patient just as our ambulance was delivering her along with a woman who was having complications after delivering a baby girl. I sat with Rose and Merolyne briefly in the outdoor out-patient section of the hospital as they waited to be admitted, then headed towards the heartbreaking children’s ward to visit little Stango. Rose seemed weak but happy, and I remember thinking she had a nice smile. Continue reading

A New Woman

As I was doing my March/April update, I referred to how much moving to PNG has changed me in such a short time. Who knew that the independent streak that took the first-world 33 years to perfect could be broken by a few months in a third-world country? I’ve mentioned before how I’m completely dependent (just this week there was an actual discussion on whether or not I should go to the grocery store alone…shhh. I did it the first week I was here, just don’t tell anyone!) and I’m also domesticated. I wash and hang my laundry out to dry, pick lemons, plant herbs, can easily spend two days in the kitchen around a holiday and make EVERYTHING from scratch just like a sweet little 1800’s housewife.  Or a hipster except I’ll never be that cool. (*EVERYTHING includes but is not limited to: yogurt, sour cream, buttermilk, pastry & pizza crusts, cakes, breads, bagels, crescent rolls, whipped cream, marshmallows, soups, marinades, sauces, dressings, mosquito repellent, etc)

Photo on 3-30-13 at 5.24 PM #2

So many times, I literally find myself laughing at the “normal” thoughts that go through my head and the (mostly odd) realizations I’ve had:

America has a smell… and it smells delicious.The other day I pulled on a tank top and the smell caused me to stop in my tracks and take deep, long breaths. I must not have worn it since leaving home because it had a distinct “America” smell which I can only describe as a blend of Tide, fabric softener and freedom.

I now sound uneducated 50% of the time. With the pidgin word for “I” being “mi”, and other relative similarities to a very basic English, I often find myself starting to speak in pidgin out of habit, realizing I’m talking to an American, switching to English and end  up saying embarrassing things like “Me go with you” or “Me want to buy this”.

Mice just might be as bad as burglars. They can also make you want to get married. Tonight I opened a drawer where I keep all my teas and drink packets and found shreds where my last 2 packets of American…how dare they?… hot chocolate had been. I instantly got that “who has been in my house?!” somewhat violated feeling. Which was followed by the thought that it might be time to get married. I’ve learned to handle the giant flying roaches and spider monsters by myself but unless they start allowing guns in PNG, I’m not sure I’m ready to tackle mice. Continue reading

Lies, Lies, Lies

Sometimes Satan is so stealthy in his attack that he can back you into a corner with accusations before you even know what hit you. His intent is to steal from us, kill us and destroy our peace and he’s so dang mean in the way he does this that it’s scary. He likes to hit us in those sacred spots that leave us gasping for air and struggling to keep our feet under us.

Just this past week, I found myself battling him…hard. I was part of a missions conference that I’d looked forward to for a long time and my guard was down. The teaching on Hebrews 11 was awesome and I was so focused on the lessons that I didn’t see it coming. Continue reading