July 27, 2012

Family Conference, Part One

We have reached the half-year mark of being Papua Residents.  Some days, it feels like we've been here longer than six months.  We've packed a lot of living into our time here, and we have felt very ready for a break.

So it was with great anticipation that we headed off to our first MAF Family Conference in Papua.  I hoped for times of rest, a break from cooking and cleaning, time to get to know our co-workers better, and a break from steamy Sentani.

I was not disappointed.

David flew our family and the Perez family to Pyramid, a village in the Baliem Valley and site of the MAF Family Conference for many years.  This was the first time we've gotten to fly with David since we've been in Papua.  I love flying with D; it never ceases to amaze me how well - in my totally unbiased opinion - he can handle the plane and understand the static-y voices of the ATC controllers.  

The first part of the trip reminded me of Kalimantan jungle - winding rivers cutting through rolling hills dotted with broccoli-like trees.  Then as we approached the bigger mountains it started to look vastly different - craggy mountaintops, sweet potato gardens on the steep slopes, conical honai (traditional Papuan dwelling) clustered around an airstrip.  

Becky Perez holding her cutie-pie twin girls.  I love the bored expression on Ellie's face.  Grace, in the back on the right, enjoyed holding one of the twins for much of the flight.

Three of the MAF planes lined up on the runway at Pyramid.  We took turns doing "pig patrol" to keep pigs from wandering onto the runway while planes were landing and taking off.  Very exciting.

The lodge, where we ate all our meals and had our meetings.  
The honai (traditional Papuan hut) where the youth met.

The kids were anxious to start VBS each morning.

The conference grounds are a bit rustic and run-down, but the setting is beautiful and the weather perfect.  Nice and warm during the day, cool at night.  Mosquito nets helped keep out unwanted critters at night.
The accommodations may have been rustic, but one of the highlights for me - and I know this will sound silly - was the shower.  Our shower at home has low pressure and the hot water lasts about a minute, so we luxuriated in the long, steamy hot showers at conference, made possible by someone lighting fires under water drums twice a day.
A team from New Heights Church in Vancouver, Washington has been coming out for many years to help with the MAF conference.  They brought a group of young adults to help with VBS and the youth, as well as Pastor Matt and his wife Cindy, and their worship leader to lead the adults.

It fed my soul to have a solid week of daily corporate worship and teaching from the Word.  And the kids loved having big people to play with them.

Every evening there were crazy-fun family activities.  The first night we were chosen to sit in the MAF Family Fun Box Seating, where we were given M&M's and served fresh-cooked Spam.  Mmmm-mmm, nothing says camping like Spam.

The New Heights team staged a "Top Gun" game with water guns.  Every one who wanted to play (adults and older kids) received the name of the person they were to shoot.  Eventually the participants whittled each other down until there were just two people left.  Guess who??? Me and my buddy Linda, that's who!  Linda and her family served with ours in Kalimantan.  I don't know how we made it to the Top Gun finals - I wasn't that into the game until I started taking down all these teenagers, and Linda and I formed an alliance and helped each other until it was just us.  Then we had a show-down and her water gun proved to be faster than mine.

The kids enjoyed sliding in the mud, running wild with their buddies, and going for hikes.

We ate really well, with the meals prepared by two couples from other mission organizations who volunteered their time.  They were assisted by a group of Papuans.  They cooked meals for 130 people, all on a wood stove.  Impressive!  This woman in the photo below helped out with the baking; here she is rolling out doughnuts.  The fingers on her left hand have all been chopped off above the middle joint, a custom of some Papuan tribes to show (or perhaps induce) grief after a loved one dies.

One afternoon we all hiked down to a pig pond for a baptism service for two MAF young people.

We were sad - but rather exhausted - when it was time to leave.  It was quite an operation to get everyone packed up and sent out, but it was all organized amazingly well.  Pilot types - you gotta love their efficiency!!!

**Please forgive the varying fonts in this blog post - Blogger and I are not getting along at the moment!!!**

July 02, 2012

Summer Days

Another week of summer is gone, and it doesn't seem like we're really doing much.  But when I think back over this past week - we've been busy!  Here's a glimpse:
Is there anything better than a fresh home-made bagel?  Well, yes - a store-bought bagel. But seeing as we can't buy bagels, I made a batch this week. It was labor-intensive, but so very worth it.
We can buy some super-fresh eggs from a local ministry.  So fresh they still have lots of yucky chicken poop still on them.  This week's flat of eggs seemed poopier than usual.
Sorry to be gross, but this is just the reality of buying eggs here.  Thankfully I have kids who are looking to earn money this summer, and one of the possibilities for income is to wash the eggs.  Rubber gloves make it possible.
Our garden that we started about two weeks ago started to sprout.  The tomatoes, sunflowers, and okra (pictured below) are taking off.  I am hoping to eat fried okra by August!
We finally got the tires fixed on the kids' bikes, and Zoe, who hasn't been on a bike in a long time - and never on one without training wheels, took right off.
Luke has long been wanting to assemble a catapult, so we spent one afternoon working on that.  We don't really need more weapons lying around, but this one turned out to be pretty innocuous.
One evening we had this lovely family over for dinner.  Gustaf was a class ahead of David at Moody Aviation, and the last time we saw him, he was a single guy.  He's been flying in Papua for over 13 years, and it was fun to reconnect with him and meet his wife and kids.
One of the highlights of the week was getting to meet a living legend of the mission world, Don Richardson, the author of Peace Child and Lords of the Earth. He and his sons have returned to Indonesia to visit the village they first reached out to years ago.  They were staying at the MAF guest house, and even though I handled their reservation for their stay, I didn't realize it was THE Richardsons until they were here.  And it's very timely that we met Don now, because we're reading Peace Child aloud at night with the kids.  When I told Don's son Stephen, who was an infant during the time featured in the book, that we were halfway through the book he said, "Oh you're almost to the part when I fall in the river."  The kids thought that was funny.