Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Carols and Camouflage

An old tradition here on Kudjip Station, is for the missionaries to carol on the ward on Christmas Eve, and to give gifts to the patients. Throughout the year Judy, as storeroom manager, saves items that come in donation boxes to include in the gift packages. On the 23rd she is usually ready with her assembly line. She counts patients on each ward, and makes gifts for each category. She includes clothes, toothbrushes, soap and a few pieces of candy for everyone. Lotions for the ladies, diapers and baby powder for the babies, toys for the kids. On Christmas Eve she does a last-minute re-count to make sure that there's a gift for every patient. She makes a couple extra of each kind, to account for last minute admissions.

But this year she was worried. There weren't many gift items in the storeroom. She just didn't have enough to make up the bags. That's when it came.

Several times a year we receive a 20-foot container of donated supplies from Nazarene Hospital Foundation. Dr. Todd Winter in Medford, Oregon has made this his ministry. He gathers medical supplies for Kudjip hospital, loads the containers and ships them to us. He holds fund-raisers to help pay for shipping costs. He has been here several time, and knows our needs well. He manages to get items that are most needed, and in good quantities. People who have items to donate to our ministry can also ship their gifts to him, and he includes them in the containers. This has become very important with the great increases in shipping costs.

On the 23rd the latest container came. Judy's day was already busy, but the container is a real big deal for us, the medical supplies are the very important to our work. So, busy as she was, and concerned as she was about the Christmas gifts, she happily supervised the unloading of the container, and the distribution of supplies to the various storage areas, or departments of the hospital. We've recently had a serious shortage of certain sizes of gloves, and that container had a lot of gloves. But if the container had arrived a few days later, it would have been just as valuable to our work.

Baby powder, hats and toothbrushes don't save lives, but they bring joy to people who have little, and the container had an abundance of great items for the Christmas packages. And it didn't arrive later, it arrived just in time for Judy, along with Gail Dooley and her girls, to assemble the gifts. The clothes, toothbrushes, toys and lotions were transferred to pillow cases, tied up with bright ribbon (the color of the ribbon coding the type of patient it was intended for) for us to give out on Christmas eve.

Another great friend of Kudjip Hospital is Dr. Larry Hull. This kind, gentle orthopedic surgeon from Centralia, Washington has come to PNG every year for the last...well, I've lost track of how many years, to do surgery, and to encourage us. All year long he looks for ways to help us out. We hadn't heard anything about it, but somewhere he had found a large quantity of camoflauge hats, trousers and shirts. He sent them to Todd (he and Todd are old friends, by the way) and they were in this container. Every big kid got a hat. Every adult got a shirt or trousers. Imediately trading and bartering began for those who wanted complete outfits. You should see them all!

So we went from ward to ward, singing, praying, shaking hands and giving out those pillow cases. It brought great joy to each patient and to each family member. And great joy to us.

If you would like to help us by helping Dr. Todd (through Nazarene Hospital Foundation) with the cost of shipping containers to us, go to the NHF web site. Look over the whole site, but go to the donations link. NHF has no salaried staff, just volunteers, so 100% of any gifts to them are directed to the ministry of Nazarene Hospital. Any donated supplies or equipment need to be cleared with Judy prior to shipping to Todd. We are bursting at the seams in our medical storeroom and need to build a new and larger building. Of course, your continued support of our work is also greatly appreciated.

Some photos shamelessly stolen from the Dooley's blog. Take a look at it for a lot more photos of Kudjip Station during Christmas week.


Christmas Gifts

What do you give someone who has everything?

The perennial question at Christmas time. Each year we have had to be pretty creative in getting Christmas gifts for each other. Sometimes we have had something brought from the US. That, of course, requires advance planning. You need to have some kind representative do the shopping for you, or buy something on line, and have the gift shipped to someone who is traveling to PNG, and make sure you get it to them on time for their trip.

Some years we have found a nice item here in PNG. There are stores in Mount Hagen that have a fairly good selection. One year Judy found a really nice coffee press for me. And one year I found a wall hanging with a maple leaf on it--the perfect gift for my Canadian wife. Well, at least the best I could come up with under the circumstances.

So this year, Christmas loomed closer and closer. I knew that I hadn't found anything, and cryptic comments from Judy indicated that she hadn't done any better.

The Nazarene church here in PNG has been planning it's every-four-yearly Nazarene Youth Conference. This is a time when the young people have an event planned and tailored just for them. Speakers who are known to be gifted at communicating with youth, classes and Bible studies that address their special needs. Hearing about this brought back memories of a similar event in 1970, back in the US. Decisions that I made that week continue to shape the person I am today. That I am a missionary in PNG today is due in large part to commitments I made to God that week.

So we believe in NYC. There are 5 young people here at Kudjip that we also believe in, and whom we felt very strongly should attend NYC. This year NYC is to be held in Wewak, on the north coast of PNG. Travel costs are therefor higher than in previous years. From the Highlands were we live, the best way to get there is by road to Madang, and then by ship on to Wewak. Some groups are trying to save costs by hiking overland, but we didn't want "our" kids to do that. They will travel with a group from here, in a van driven by one of our hospital administrators.

We decided to direct some of the funds that you, our friends and family have given to our work to be used to pay their registration and part of their transportation. We also decided to help the kids with food costs on their trip. Then we realized that none of these 5 have ever owned their own Bibles. So Judy bought 5 small Pidgin Bibles, and made up small packages with the Bibles, a pen, a notebook, and a 50-Kina bill, each in a little canvas bag with a Christmas name tag. The day before they were to leave for NYC, they gathered in our living room. I explained to them what NYC meant to me, and why it was important to us for them to attend. We prayed for them and gave them our gifts.

Of course, we didn't explain that those were our gifts to each other.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Growing Family

Don't get excited by the title--it's only temporary!

Our collegues, Scott and Gail Dooley are off to a mission meeting in Singapore. Because of the infrequent flights, they have to be away for 10 days to attend 5 days of meetings. They couldn't take their kids, so we get them! It's a combination of a stroll down memory lane to when our kids were little, and a preview of grand-parenthood, when we will hopefully have little ones visit.

Allison is 10, Emma is 8, and Olivia is 3.

So now we (well, Judy does most of this) supervise naps, help with homework, and read books with little ones cuddled up on our laps. We have lively conversation at meals, and watch fun videos. And best of all, I have help with the supper dishes!

We have a Grandpa Stool in our bathroom again (my dad made these for his grandkids and greatgrand kids for years, and we still have one). There are bright-colored tooth brushes by our sink. We sing "Twilight's A-Stealin'" (our old traditional family lullaby) at bed time. We have kid's books targeted at a wide range of ages all around the house.
We're now 3 days into our adventure. Stay tuned for further details!
1. Family supper table
2. Olivia tucked in for a nap
3. Emma's evening ablutions
4. Bookworm Ally

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Video Party

Saturday, Judy invited the ladies of the Tumba and the Kopsip churches to come to our house to see a video on HIV/AIDS. We had just received some wonderful boxes of goodies from Karen Comstock, who along with her husband Ray, served here as volunteers for a bout a year and a half. The box contained a large supply of craft kits to make some manger ornaments. Making the ornaments involves gluing gotether a lot of popcycle sticks and toung depressors and other items. So Judy thought that with the Christmas season here, we should make ornaments for each lady. She was expecting about 30! She got the idea about 2 hours before the ladies were due to arrive. So she had to recruit some help to get the ornaments made. Guess who that would be!

So we created an assembly line, and ground out 26 ornaments. Judy figured that while the ladies were watching the video, she could make a few more. Fortunately, only 13 ladies and 2 babies showed up. Well, unfortunately, for the possible influence of the video, but the ornament crisis was averted.

I slipped away before the guests arrived to practice some music for the English worship service that whe have on the first Sunday of the month. When I slipped in the back door, the video was near the end. It's a sad story, and the ladies cried. Paster Elis, of the Tumba church lead a discussion, and then a time of prayer. All of the ladies cried out to God in unison for their families, their communities and their nation.

Each of those ladies knows someone who has AIDS or who has died. They have all heard stories, if not witnessed first-hand the terrible way that AIDS victims are often treated here.

When the prayer time was over, Judy served tea and brownies, and passed out the ornaments, much to the ladies' delight. All in all, a very successful afternoon.