Sunday, November 9, 2008

Happy Birthday, Judy!

...and she's only 4!

Oh, yeah, and she's only 2 months.

And it's not as simple as that. There are many little Judys around the Wahgi Valley!

Four-year-old Judy lives here on Kudjip Station. Her dad works at maintenance Her mom is the daughter of one of our veteran pastors from the Jimi Valley. Judy (the adult one) has set a president (so far it hasn't gotten out of hand) of baking birthday cakes for her little friends. I got this photo of little Judy, her mom Rachael, her brother Elias, with big Judy when they came to pick up the cake Friday.

Today we went to Pastor Jerry's newest preaching point, where I preached, and we met his new adopted daughter, who is, of course, named Judy. Hers is a bit of a long story. Her biological father died of unknown causes, and his family assumed that it was AIDS. They blamed his pregnant wife for this, and threw her out of the family. Pastor Jerry took her in, and she asked him and his wife Mary to adopt the baby, which they ultimately did. The great irony of the story is that the mom has repeatedly tested negative for HIV.

However, baby Judy now has a loving mom and dad, and 4 adoring big brothers. Titus is the brother in the photo.

Jerry's primary ministry is to people with HIV and AIDS, and includes a hospice where AIDS victims can stay if they are abandoned by their families. Maybe some day I'll devote a whole blog post just to Pastor Jerry. It would be a long one!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Piece of Bread

The significance of a gift cannot be measured by it's price or it's complexity.

Kunje and Kenem (I'm using real names this time) are dear friends. We estimate that they are about 5 years older than us. We hadn't seen them for several weeks, and had worried that they were sick, or having some other problem. Judy had asked Pastor Elis (a mutual friend) about them a few days earlier, and had heard that they were fine. We were pleased when they showed up at our door Thursday, along with their grandson, Jedediah. They were bringing (as usual) some gifts from their garden; a pineapple (they grow some of the sweetest), and a few ears of corn.

Judy mentioned that we had been concerned when we hadn't seen them for a while, and they laughed. Kenem said, "Well, we didn't have anything from the garden to bring you, and we didn't want to come without anything." I replied, "We are always happy to see your faces, whether you bring anything or not." They smiled and laughed. They appreciated the words, but are still unlikely to show up empty-handed.

I could tell you a lot about them if I thought you had the patience to read it. They are strong laymen who raised their family in a near-by church. A few years ago, they moved, along with their daughter and son-in-law to another community to help start a new church, one that is thriving and growing today. They have stood strong for right in the face of nearly overwhelming social and cultural pressure. All five of their kids are strong active Christians, and two of their daughters and sons-in-law are involved in ministry. They always seem to be happy. Their smiles and sparkling eyes always lift our spirits.

After we visited for a while, Judy went into the kitchen, and returned with a half-loaf of bread (all that was left, I think) which she had sliced up. This brought a long, delighted "eeeee" from Kenem, and an "ooo-ah" from Kunje. Kenem took a slice from the bag, and couldn't resist tasting it before passing slices to her husband and Jedediah. The Kunje commented on how much better Judy's bread is than the store-bought kind (an understatement, indeed).

Gifts. Fruit, bread, smiles, laughter, handshakes, hugs. Friendship. It's all priceless.
Photo: Kenem, Jedediah, Kunje