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City Mission PNG: A Legacy of Hope
City Mission PNG (CMPNG) has been “Spreading the love of God and meeting human needs” for over 25 years. The Mission began as a ministry to street boys and has continued to grow and adapt to the challenging social and spiritual needs of Papua New Guinea. As a Faith-based, Christian ministry we recognize our responsibility help the neediest people in PNG in a holistic way: physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Our New Life Skills Training Centres provide life skills, literacy and vocational training through a 14-month residential program. Our facilities currently have bed space for over 300 young men at a time.
In 2003 we opened the first long-term shelter supporting survivors of Gender Based Violence (GBV). At Haus Ruth in Port Moresby and Meri Seif Haus in Lae we provide shelter, counselling and social services for women (and their children) who have experienced domestic or sexual abuse.
Recognizing a disturbing trend of more and more street children in the nation’s capital, CMPNG launched New Life Children’s Crisis Centre, the first government-certified Children’s Crisis Centre in the country. NLCCC provides short-term residential care, counselling and an abundance of love for abused, abandoned and orphaned children. Haus Clare in Lae serves a a longer-term orphanage.
We are a Christian organization and believe that the ultimate success in life must include a relationship with God. To this end we encourage spiritual development in and through all aspects of our programs. Each City Mission location has a local church in the program that our clients attend for discipleship, encouragement and spiritual fellowship.
As a Non-profit NGO, City Mission operates on the generous donations of organizations, businesses and individuals who partner with us to make a difference in the lives of countless Papua New Guinean families each year.
Gods Goodness, and Us
If you’ve been keeping up with the story so far, you will know that we flew Cheree out of Lae, with the intent of catching up with her as soon as practical.
What you might not know, is the series of events which transpired afterwards, which had us feeling like we were strapped into a rollercoaster, but which have also left us with thankful hearts.
First, Cheree tried to get a second opinion in Port Moresby, and while she did not manage to see a Doctor, an experienced nurse told her that surgery should have happened a month ago. So our hearts sunk a little, and we felt the urgency even more.
After I chatted with Australian Immigration, and was told that all Cheree would need to get into Australia is a driver’s license and birth certificate for Makenna, Cheree tried to purchase a ticket home but was told that, even though all she needed to get into Australia is a driver’s licence, she would not be able to leave PNG without her passport. However, there was space on one flight on Monday – provided she could be at the airport by 1130AM.
The weekend passed, with Cheree being taken care of by our friends, Pete and Maddy, at City Mission Port Moresby, and on the Monday, they were off to immigration. Our passports had only just been lodged on the Thursday, and here she was trying to get them back again on Monday morning. The waiting began. An dragged on, and on. And then they called our Visa Agent, and asked for another slip of paper. And we waited, and then I get a series of messages from Cheree which ran something like:
“They’ve asked us to wait here
And I just about fell over. New visas in under 2 working days? Incredible!
But the waiting stretched on and on, and the 1130 deadline passed. Just after 12, everything was handed to Cheree, and they reached to the airport. I had given up on them making the flight, but somewhere in there I got a frantic call telling me that Cheree had made it with 10 minutes to buy the tickets and check in.
As far as I’m concerned, that’s two minor miracles in one day.
Having forwarded her scans to our GP, Cheree set about on Tuesday, straightening out a few things. The GP left a garbled message on her phone, and on going in to find out what the message was all about, was told to get herself to ED, as this required urgent care. We spoke, ever so briefly, on the phone, and agreed that she should just do what needed to be done. So in she went. And after being admitted, was told that she was going to have to wait 4-6 weeks to see a specialist. And so the frustrations came to ahead, as the hospital staff declined to do tests but declared that there was no emergency.
So, back to the GP on Wednesday, where she was then told, “oh, maybe it’s not an abscess but just an infection.” So more scans we’re booked, and antibiotics re-evaluated.
Meanwhile, I was starting my journey across. The first leg was easy, with a night at City Mission Port Moresby, and a mid morning flight to Cairns. While in Cairns, we spent some time with Pastor John Kroeze, and his wife Alice. But then Nik took a turn for the worse. With fevers, shortness of breath, and saying his stomach hurt, he was pretty miserable. And worried that we wouldn’t see mum, because he was going to make us miss the flight. A local doctor there told us to call 000, so into Emergency we went. And were immediately quarantined (both of us) under the assumption that we might have active TB, until we could be cleared with a chest x-ray.
The doctors were helpful, but told us they didn’t think it likely we would catch the flight. X-rays eventually cleared us, Nik’s breathing cleared right up, and the only medical diagnosis they could make was an ear infection, which explains the fevers and ear pain, but leaves us wondering about the breathing. Some have suggested anxiety (I don’t know if that fits) and others have suggested an asthma attack, which is at least possible with his history.
Time dragged on, and it looked like we might end up in Cairns for the night. Having given up, yet still praying we’d get there, I asked at the desk and was told, “let’s get you on that flight!” Would we make it? Check-in had already started, and we had bags and kids, and… with a phone call to the Kroezes, we started moving, and got ourselves discharged, to be picked up by Alice, Cheree (from Cairns; I apologise if I’ve spelled that wrong) with the rest of the kids and our stuff, and raced to the airport, where we made it to the desk with only 7 minutes to spare.
Fast forward a little, and we went to have Cheree’s scan, on which the sonographer says it appears the infection is disappearing. We find out more on Wednesday, when we go back to the doctor, but we are feeling the highs and lows, having gone from “you need surgery within a week” to “it look like it is going away.”
Please continue to pray for Cheree’s health, and also for us to have peace while we walk through whatever this is.
While we are here, in Perth, there are a few things we want to try to take care of, and we believe that we have been brought back here for reason, so we are also praying that the reason is made clear to us. At the same time, we both believe wholeheartedly that we are meant to go back to Lae at some point – not only were the visas approved in record time, but there were some other things which convinced us that we will be back there in good time, so we continue to work towards that goal.
We thank you all for your prayers, and we thank you for the physical help which has been given to us. We really couldn’t do this without your support especially in the form of prayers.
Until next time,
Dave and Cheree.
A Semi-Unexpected Trial
As you are probably aware, Cheree has been battling an internal infection for some time now. The first reviews showed positive results from antibiotic treatment, but in a scan today, we discovered that the reduction in infection has slowed considerably, on top of which a hemmorhagic cyst was found. As a result of these findings, after close to two months of antibiotics, the Dr recommended surgery.
Acting on this, we have made plans to send Cheree to Port Moresby tomorrow, Saturday the 1st, where she will seek a second opinion from a Dr recommended to us by some long term Moresby residents, who some of you might know as Pastor Cor, and his wife Greta. This gives me a short window in which to hand over as much as possible to the team on the ground here, as well as get some paperwork in order to try and get our passports out of immigration, as they were recently lodged for visa renewal.
As soon as we hear a second opinion, we will need to make a judgement call, and if surgery is the order of the day, we will be proceeding to Perth, W.A. where we think we will get the best support from our families and friends.No offence, Cairns people – we owe you a debt of gratitude for the love you showered on Cheree and Makenna last time, but I would feel kinda bad about dumping ourselves upon you.
Please, hold the following in your prayers:
Cheree, and healing.
“Bel isi”, or peace, with the idea that this is God’s good will.
The kids, as this throws the family into a bit of a rough and uncertain time.
City Mission, as they run without two managers.
If you would like to help in any way, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org
Dave and Cheree.
A Month of Celebrations
What a month August is shaping up to be so far!
We kicked off the month with a graduation ceremony. 26 young men, of varying backgrounds, coming to the completion of their time in the program here at Suambu, hopefully with a solid foundation on which to stand while they face up to a life of independence. Some, we hope, will shortly be employed by a local security firm, although much care is being taken to vet the applicants so as to try and ensure that the young men we put forward are not only hardworking, but have a solid footing in Christ. The invited speaker was Pastor Issidore Aufa of the Living Waters Reformed Church in Kamkumung, and he spoke passionately about following the example set by God – following in His “leg marks” – and encouraging the young men to know that no matter what problems they faced, they can be content in any situation (Philippians 4:13 and context).
Graduations mean a bungkai, and a bungkai means food, and food means staying up late to prepare it all before the big day, and then a veritable feast before retiring to rest before the big day. At least, that was the plan, and all was going well up until the last bit, which got a bit fouled up by a turn in the weather, which brought all of the staff up and out of bed early on the big day to move everything from the planned setting, over to the church hall, so while it was a happy occasion, there were many bleary eyes during the ceremony, and not a few dragging feet come Monday morning.
Next on the agenda, was celebrating the birthday of Jeremiah, who is not only a very talented musician, but an incredibly hard worker as the groundskeeper in the RM compound, as well as very, very, (very!!!) patient with all of the children as they interrupt his work, mess up his work, or (on the rare occasion) try to help with his work. Although I’m not convinced that they’re not in it just for wheelbarrow rides.
Not a birthday, but a milestone for the little one whose name should remind of the appropriate emotion when we see her growing and playing so perfectly well, after she caused us so much stress before she was born.
Time to lift everything up one shelf.
Next on the list, was Nikolas turning nine. Where those years went, nobody seems to know, but our oldest, not-quite-cheekiest, little man seems to really be growing into his skin now.
A building party was the order of the day, with a smashing effort on the cake by Cheree (if you can’t make it out, there’s a handsaw and a bunch of nails made of fondant, with the saw standing up in the cake). A “Lego Derby” which is 10 minutes to build the strongest car you can, followed by smashing them into each other to see which was the best built, had the excitement levels rising, while us oldies reminisced about doing the same while we were younger. This was followed by a building skills race; a tight competition to see who could drill a hole, measure and cut a set length, hammer a nail, and sink a screw in the shortest time. The dads may have gotten involved at some point, followed by the mums.
Two days later, and Madison hit three years of age, which called for a joint celebration with Abby deJonge. Princesses was the theme for this day, so all things pretty, and jeweled, with tutus (which have lasted for another three days (and counting) after their party, as well as way too much pink.
Another killer cake, this time a joint effort by Cheree and Ruth, nail painting, and yet another bungkai by which point us senior citizens were all celebrated out.
A Month of Stress
As you’re likely already aware, close to a month ago, Cheree spent a little time in hospital with a nasty infection. Since then, she has been on antibiotics the entire time, with tests booked for every fortnight and continuing until such time as the doctor gives the all clear, or tells us that surgery is inevitable.
For both of us, this is an added unknown, as we wait for more tests, and the constant presence of the worst case in our minds. However, even in this there is cause for praise, as the Doctor has told us that it is a little rare for antibiotics to be effective when the infection has reached the point it was at.
The antibiotics themselves are not so great. A better option than surgery, by far, but Cheree is having a hard time sleeping, which makes juggling school and being a mum pretty hard work some days.
On top of the stresses of health, and the busy-ness of all of those parties, my workload has jumped up a few notches, with Bob’s scheduled furlough kicking off around a month and a half ago. Some days I feel like I’m killing it, and then other days I get a jarring reminder that I’m a completely fallible human, prone to get things wrong every now and then. And in between those days, the frustration of having a very full, very busy day, of achieving absolutely nothing.
One thing I’ve had reinforced in my mind since coming here, is that you shouldn’t envy your boss. Chances are he’s dealing with a bucket load of issues you don’t even want to think about. As I’ve told a few people here ,”kisim namba, kisim hetpen” (get a position of authority, get headaches).
Are those grey hairs I see coming through?
And in between all the mundane – the cheque signing, the order approval, the payroll, and the long meetings – every now and then you get a curly one thrown at you. Like, how do you get rid of 5000+ chickens, all at once, in a way which doesn’t waste all of the money and effort which went into raising them?
But then comes the more serious problem, of trying to find ways to become a little (a lot!) more sustainable. As with any organisation, stewardship is a vital thing to keep a hold of, while balancing stewardship with fairness and compassion. A recent directive from above to tighten the strings, and cut away anything which we don’t need, has led to my head being filled with numbers, and a feeling of being out of my depth as I look at a bunch of figures and names which I need to make sense.
Where’d I put that razor?
Then on the “home” front, as in the place we called home, and may yet call home again, we heard from our own renter that he had bought himself a house. Great news for him, but an event which sees us having the same conversation as we were having while in Australia: are we going to have to sell, to try and make the best out of the situation we’ve found ourselves in? Maybe. At this point (and I choose my words here with intent), God only knows. Maybe renters will come. Or maybe they won’t.
Maybe I can just dye my hair instead of shaving my entire head…
And then on this “home” front, as in the place we call home for now, weighing up the current situation, it means putting an indefinite hold on some renovations/additions we would like to make to our house, which would include a school room for Cheree and the kids to use on an almost daily basis.
Maybe I’ll just embrace the grey hairs. I’ve heard it looks distinguished…
We were very touched by the rapid response and outpouring of generosity when we let people know that Cheree was in hospital. As I mentioned earlier, we’re not out of the woods yet, but we seem to be getting closer.
This also confirmed to us that people are supporting us, at a time when we were both beginning to wonder (a downside of leaving Facebook means that we don’t get so many comments or messages).
Again, thank you.
If you feel so moved, we’d appreciate prayer this month for:
- Bob and Anne to recover from a hectic year, and for the final stages of their daughter’s pregnancy to go well.
- Health for Cheree (and the rest of us, but especially her)
- Wisdom for myself, combined with energy, to handle this workload
- Restraint also, as it’s easy to throw oneself into work, but impossible to say you’re doing great things for God at the expense of your first mission.
- Some friends of ours were attacked in a holdup, and are still (understandably) a little reluctant to head out onto the road again.
- Answers for City Mission as we try to find our way into the future, including leadership structure.
- Answers for ourselves as we consider our own financial situation.
We also give thanks to God for
- Cheree not needing surgery as yet
- Placements being found for some of the young men, even though I had thought the situation hopeless
- Staff who are here because they want to serve
- Our compound filling back up after being quiet for an extended time.
… And there goes another three month block during which so much has happened, and yet it seems like nothing is happening.
Way back, three months ago, we celebrated that we’d completed the work on the New Life Children’s Centre, inviting friends and supporters of City Mission to come and enjoy the day with us. This marked the completion of the main project I have worked on, since we first arrived in September of 2016. It was a long road, and one we are glad to have been able to follow all the way to the end. Now, the centre is operational, with Miriam at the helm, 12 children being cared for, and room for a whole lot more.
Meanwhile, other projects have come to a bit of a standstill, with the rain making it too perilous to work on the boundary fence, and with the local Lands Office proving less than cooperative in holding up their end of a business arrangement. That is, we’ve paid them for a service, but every time I have been to see them in the last four months, I was assured that it will happen next Monday, or tomorrow, or whatever date they think will get me out of their office for a little while.
A major frustration on this front stems from another source: since we arrived back in Lae, we have not had a reliable vehicle to use – and I am not speaking about only us personally, but about the plantation as a whole. Not being able to travel into town regularly means that I can only manage to be a mild pest, rather than a major annoyance which will only disappear if they do their work.
More locally, there are some land issues going on, with settlers living on our land (but outside our fence), or others simply using our land as thoroughfare to the main highway. Land issues are not a new thing in PNG, and probably not a new thing to any of our readers, so all I’ll say on the matter is that it still doesn’t make sense to me that there is an assumed right to use another’s property, and that to have people removed from your own property, you need to get a court order. One day, maybe, this will all make sense.
Then there are the young men in the program. Recently, there was some unrest among them, with a small group of very vocal young men stirring up the rest of them to become dissatisfied with the way things have been going at City Mission here in Lae. In the past, you see, young men coming out of our program had work opportunities, and this is something which, while never guaranteed, had been assumed was going to be the case for all the young men coming through the program. Unfortunately, the economy here is going from “pretty bad” to “really bad”, and looks like it might go all the way to “disaster” (or “bagarap olgeta” as they say here). As a result, the companies who may have taken boys in the past are not hiring – some are even laying off good, trained, highly competent staff, just to try make it through the slump. At least one major company appears to have lost that battle, and it seems highly plausible that more will follow.
The unrest even turned to violence, with one staff member being assaulted as he tried to catch a bus into town, and with another being the target of an attack with a bushknife (thank God it was unsuccessful!). Over the next few days, as staff worked to try and calm the situation down, it became apparent that the vocal group of dissenters had filled a lot of heads with misinformation, so when faced with a choice of staying in the program, and leaving peacefully, many young men were conflicted and took some days to arrive at a firm decision.
On the home front, we are in the middle of a week off schooling, which makes it two in a row, as holidays happen whenever we choose for homeschooling. The first week involved a trip to Ukarumpa, so that Isaac could visit the dentist there – a choice we now are not so sure of, as the little guy had a major cavity filled. With no anaesthetic. But a break is a break, and we got to spend some good time together as a family, with many, many, many walks to the local playground, a trip to find a zipline, and also meeting the Jagts from the Canadian Reformed Churches.
The second week began with Isaac’s seventh birthday, a day filled with excitement, merriment, and a whole lot of what I would describe as “noise”. Fun to be had for all ages, with sword fighting contests, fort storming, and princess rescuing (although I think that the horses may have been slightly more competitive than the knights in that case. Not mentioning any names, Aiden.)
Since that day of excitement, the rest of the week has consisted of more “what can I do, Mum?” than anything else. Who knows, maybe they’ll be glad to start up the maths lessons again. On the subject of lessons, four of the boys in the compound have been taking coding lessons, with the older two quickly grasping some basic Python, and being able to predict with decent accuracy what some basic programs will do when run. It’s cool to see the lights come on, and to see when they start to be able to use the things they’re learning. The other two, meanwhile, are using a program called Scratch, which is a neat little learning tool. Nik plans to come back to Australia a better programmer than two uncles over there, so it looks like he has his work cut out.
Nik and I also had the chance to walk into Wantun with Ryan and Matthew DeJonge. A long drive, and a longer hike on a Sunday morning, followed by food, two services, more food, a night in Pastor Tony’s house, more food, and then a long hike and drive back again, was much more relaxing and refreshing than it sounds when you put it on paper. Being able to sit and “story” with the congregation there is encouraging in a few ways, although I was always given a small stool to sit on because (roughly translated) my sitting down is not very good – long lanky legs which quickly complain if I choose to sit cross-legged marks me as an outsider in PNG just as much as my lighter skin does. And while sitting there in the middle of the beautiful Wantun Valley, it’s hard not to think that the majority of the problems I have to deal with in Lae, would disappear if I just moved to Wantun, albeit having to face a whole new set of problems, like figuring out a way to turn these thumbs green.
And, finally, I’ve also had the chance to speak at the Wednesday night services here at City Mission. The first time I spoke was roughly a year ago, when I tried to encourage the young men to become like the Bereans. Then this year, I’ve spoken twice, on the Love of God and how we can emulate it, and then on some practical questions to ask when you are reading the Bible (although aimed more at seeing if a proof text given, is really saying what the preacher/teacher/ any other says it is saying). It’s at these times that I realise how much further I still need to go on my Tok Pisin learning adventure, so I’m quite convinced that if anyone were to get anything out of what I am saying, it would definitely not be due to my own fluency or eloquence. After last night’s session, I was thinking it had gone pretty horribly, and I wasn’t too sure that anything was getting across. But then afterwards, a staff member commented that I should speak at more Wednesday services, leaving me wondering if he was being serious, or if he was just being nice.
Snakes in a Wall
There’s rarely a dull moment here at Suambu plantation, but just when you think you can relax, the maintenance crew finds a snake coiled up in the wall of the house they’re renovating.
A large group of young men gathers in the house, standing at the large doorway to catch a glimpse of the excitement. Some climb on top of cabinets and cooktops to peer over the not-quite-full-height wall into the room where it’s all happening.
Slowly, carefully, two of the men peel off a plywood sheet, until finally the sheet drops to the floor and a ~2m python triggers a screaming stampede for the door.
I’m told snake is tasty.
Another week disappears into what is now the past and the present rolls on, consuming second after second, minute after minute, and the planned interval for sending out newsletters stretches from a couple of days late, to a couple of weeks late. And time rolls onward.
The last month and a half have seen some pretty big events happening within City Mission, and within our family.
Obviously, there was the disruption of having to bundle Cheree, Madison, and Makenna onto a plane for Cairns, to sit and wait, and get Makenna’s visa sorted out. Sure, there were times of frustration for us, as things which once were allowed, are allowed no longer, while we thought they still were, and as we tried to wrestle with the idea that perhaps being here was not an effective use of our time (or sponsor dollars), and as we faced the great unknown. Moments of tension when we remembered back to the first time we went through the process, and had a rather lengthy wait in between hearing that all was approved, and actually having our visas printed. But in the end, all was over and done in a very short time – even though it felt like a very long time to me (Dave). Needless to say, we’re very thankful that it is all done, and back to normal. Cheree even seems to have managed to catch up on the homeschooling which I inadvertently missed, so on top of being thankful to have my wife and daughters back, I’m thankful for the gifts my wife was given. I’m fairly certain that one of those gifts is patience, and I can’t promise that I’m not often accidentally testing the limits of her gifting there.
That also brings with it thankfulness for the people who helped her along the way – for the lady who held Madison while waiting for the delayed flight, and who helped get everyone on board; for Pete and Maddie in Port Moresby for making sure everyone got transferred over to their next flight without incident; for the nameless man who helped Cheree get luggage through the airport on her way back; for the Church community in Cairns who organised to have Cheree picked up, and transported around, and fed, and watered, and entertained (I wont mention your names, but please know we are extremely grateful for the love you poured out on a stranger).
Following this came the official news that the CEO of City Mission for the last 6 years is retired, and currently there is no-one taking his place. Fortunately, Cheree was back in country in time for us to be able to meet with him for what is probably the last time on this side of eternity, and to share our thankfulness for the work he has put in over the years, and to wish him well for whatever the future holds.
And now comes the part where I must be intentionally vague. “Well, why mention it then?” you ask. And the answer is simple – we don’t really know what the future holds, and we don’t know how many times this rollercoaster we’re jumping on is going to twist, turn, plunge, climb, or loop, and it is the source of much prayer on our side. Even if you don’t know all the details, we think that your prayers on this matter too are invaluable.
As I mentioned above, currently the CEO is not being replaced. We have been given some details about the plan for the interim, but it should suffice to say that the workloads for the general managers is increasing and/or changing, and that there are many variables which hang in the balance. One thing which this does change, is that my role is also expanding and changing a little, as I take up some of the work which Bob needs to drop to free him up to do what needs to be done. Really, we need your prayers on two fronts: first, that the void is filled quickly, with a good solution, and second, that Bob and myself are given the wisdom to run City Mission in Lae, in a way which is beneficial to all involved.
In the meantime, City Mission Madang also had its launch, which is a good thing, but they also need your prayers as they face issues with trying to find staff, trying to get vehicle up and running, and are having some difficulties with the process of making purchases which need to be made (I may be wrong, but as I understand it, the trend in Madang is moving away from cheques, which is the primary method of operation for City Mission in the other two locations).
Apart from all of that, we seem to be doing ok. Everyone is healthy, everyone is happy (generally), and while our neighbours are missing from the compound at the moment, we’re thrilled to see our two oldest boys spend more and more time with their noses in books, or to see them go and join in the soccer games with the young men from City Mission. We’re also excited to see Calvin start to learn to read, and to get excited about the idea that one day he’ll be able to spend the day with his nose in books. And Madison… Well, let’s just say that toilet training is not without its moments of fun, its moments of pleasure (hearing her come up with her own little song with the not at all repetitive lyrics, “Me did a wee, me gets a lolly!”), and it’s moments of having to clean up messes you’d rather not have seen in the first place.
Projects continue, as projects do, and as we near the end of the children’s centre (albeit with a little scope creep thrown in), we look towards the mountain of possibilities and try to figure out which bit to tackle next. But I guess the adage holds true: how do you climb a mountain? One step at a time.
In one sense, it feels like I have very little to write, as we are only just back in Lae, and are still getting into the swing of things, but in another sense, as I look back at the last few months, we have so very much to be thankful for.
We can be thankful for a holiday long enough that it felt like it was starting to drag on, because it meant that we come back here rested, and refreshed. We can be thankful for the extra time with the people that we love in Australia, even though it felt harder to leave them this time around.
We can be thankful for the discomfort of being surrounded by other peoples’ stuff, as it meant we had a roof over our heads, through the generosity of others. We can be thankful for living out of suitcases, because we had everything we needed. We can be thankful for having to learn where the forks were kept in different houses.
More obviously, we can be thankful that we did travel to Australia, because it meant that Cheree was well taken care of when she fell ill. We can be thankful for an entirely sleepless night, because we finally got to meet our little one. And in some sense, we can be thankful for the worries and concerns (and even for the grey hairs), because it makes it so much sweeter that Makenna is so healthy, so content, and so strong.
We can be thankful for long layovers, as it meant we could take a more relaxed pace, and could meet old friends and new along the way. We can be thankful for early mornings to make flights, as it meant the kids could spend at least part of the day not sitting in a metal tube. We can be thankful that even in the middle of delays and uncertainty (more on that in a second), we made every flight, and arrived with no more to report than the bags we carried – in our hands and under our eyes.
We are thankful that it kinda feels like we never left, as the kids have slotted right back into life here. And we are thankful that we have support here, who have made it so easy to come “home”.
But you’re still wondering about the uncertainty I mentioned.
In Brisbane, before we were to leave the country, we were told that Makenna might not be allowed to fly, as her tourist visa (which we got at the gate in Port Moresby) required he to have a return ticket. A long wait (during which time we lost, found, and recovered Cheree’s purse), and a telephone call to PNG immigrations gave the Qantas official the peace of mind to allow us to board the plane. In this too, we could be thankful that we had planned on having breakfast at the airport, as the extra time we had allowed, meant we made in to the gate with minutes to spare.
And now we are in the process of trying to get Makenna’s visa straightened out. While it is true that previous (and current) missionaries have been able to have their children’s visas changed over while they are in the country, we are being told that the rules have been changed, and that Makenna will need to be outside of the country at the time of application. So, we’re working our way through that, and trying to figure out the best way forward.
In the meantime, if we can convince our children to come inside, schooling is progressing as normal, with only the odd tantrum or rebellion (and then there’s the children!). We seem to be getting better at understanding when our children need an extra measure of grace, or an extra serve of patience, but I’d be lying if I gave the impression that we had a 100% hit rate on the application.
Makenna is the single most popular person where she goes. This was especially evident when we were welcomed back at Living Waters Church, and Pastor Issidore said,
“Welcome back to Dave…” – a handful of people clap – “…and family…” – one or two more join in clapping – “and baby Makenna.” – and the church erupts into a cacophany of clapping.
And my work never ends. With one project nearing completion, there is pressure to get the planning finalised for the next major project, as well as to get on top of a million other things. This can make it difficult to set a clear boundary on what is working time, and what is family time, but hopefully, I’ll get there one day. Meanwhile, I can be thankful for the staff I left here, who took care of all they had to.
So much to be thankful for!
Lae City Mission aims to help the people of Lae, by giving them a hand up: the boys coming in off the streets are trained and taught skills which they will be able to use once they leave; skills which enable them to provide for themselves, to be in a better position than when they first came in. All this, and connected with the Gospel!