Sent: Tuesday, March 16, 2010, 11:40 PM
Subject: Greetings from Lae, PNG
Sorry, it has been sometime since we were in contact with anyone in an email recently that is longer than two sentences. Actually I started this email on 10/3, I haven’t been able to send it – can’t get through.
My computer crashed in February and it took some time and effort to retrieve most of my files. Unfortunately I lost all my email contacts and have had to search out documents that have email addresses attached. Any emails that were sent during the crash period have been lost (I didn’t receive them and apparently I never will be able to receive them). So if we haven’t replied to something it is because it just didn’t get through. After the computer had a nervous breakdown, the email system went off line for another 3 weeks – still no contact with anyone. That has now been sorted out by the server but the server is now doing work on their system to upgrade which means that we keep loosing connection time, the whole system hasn’t worked for 3 days this week, hoping to get this email out to you all soon.
Pigeons would be a better option but I haven’t seen one here – think the bows and arrows (belonging to night security) on the canteen roof might have something to do with this.
We have water again at long last. We are now accustomed to bathing from a saucer full of cold water – standing under a cold shower (only get hot water if we are lucky) seems like heaven. I don’t lather up anymore for fear of the water stopping. That sticky feeling is something I’d rather not go through again, nor running down a flight of stairs, dripping soap, hair spikey with shampoo, to try the taps downstairs in case there is still something left in the water pipes down there. I’ll leave it to your imagination – not something to dwell on.
On the occasions (few) when there was running (trickling) water in the shower, it was cold. Now I don’t mind a cold shower on a hot afternoon – quite refreshing BUT at 6.30am it is something altogether different. Wayne just stayed in bed and asked if there was water or not. No water meant he could sleep in longer. I keep a small Tupperware container in the downstairs shower so that I can catch enough water to throw it over myself – getting quite good with my aim now. Wayne finds shaving a bit of a nightmare. The electric shaver he bought back home is all but useless.
My hair is back to mega short, easier to keep clean and so much cooler. It is now at ‘spike’ level. I really did enjoy having curly hair during February. I wish now that I had taken a photo – no one is going to believe how curly it got.
I am busy making curtains in my spare time for the classrooms. Material here is very cheap. I try to get cotton. No good buying expensive backed curtain material – I am finding that rubber backing rots too quickly. Most of the school curtains we currently have hanging in the administration office are already looking bare and patchy. We need to wash the curtains frequently because of the heavy cloud of dust that hovered over the school since we arrived in Lae.
Answers to prayer – the ‘powers that be’ have finally sealed Huon Road as far as the first intersection, which is just past the school boundary. Mind you they started pouring the tar at 2.30pm on two school days, not forewarning us they were doing it. Parents started arriving at 2.45pm to collect children. It wasn’t total chaos but it did prove a problem moving everyone out the back gate, through the old hostel/church area and out onto another road. We put an announcement out on the local radio station and a hurriedly painted sign up on the corner of the road but I don’t think parents noticed either because they waited in a long que until the road was opened again and drove down on the wet tar and into the school to pick up children who were no longer waiting there.
My pidgin is better but not great. I stood at the gate trying to redirect everyone. Parents were OK with everything, no one displayed anger, they just accepted this as another event in their very changeable lifestyles here while I was stressed beyond belief. Wayne purchased a bottle of Coke for me. It is in the fridge – I look and yearn (I’m not allowed to drink Coke because the caffeine makes my heart race). I was once a cupboard Coke-a-holic. I hid it under beds, in cupboards, anywhere I thought the kids wouldn’t find it. Now I am suffering for my sin. The coke bottle sits on the door of the ridge looking cold and tempting. When my stress levels get high, I am allowed just a sip (not even a cup full). It may not seem like much but it has saved my sanity.
Back to the road – smooth, quiet, no dust – I am in heaven! You have to experience the roads and the dust here to understand how we are feeling. Instead of cleaning the furniture daily in the school, we are cleaning every other day (it’s great, you get so much more done now). I can even start hanging washing outside on the clothesline again. We are hoping that the level of sore throats and red weepy eyes will stop and we can drink clean water instead of dusty water. I am never taking anything for granted again. When I get home I am going to write to the Water Board, the Dept of Main Rds, the local Council, and Integral Energy and thank them for the great service they give.
Last week there was an attempted armed road block at 4 Mile, out on the highway to the airport. One of the lovely young wives in our Bible Study group came through it. Fortunately she didn’t stop, kept driving and they didn’t shoot at her but she is traumatized by the event. Please pray for the safety of travelers on this road. Wayne drove out early Thursday morning to pick Malcolm Beeson up from the airport and he went without anyone else – quite a worry until they arrived back at school. We don’t think about our safety on the roads until something like this happens and it reminds us that we are vulnerable. The Territorial Commander in Port Moresby was car jacked at gunpoint not so long ago too.
The school has grown considerably this year. We are heading for 700 students. We have 2 new classrooms and a grass playing area down the back of the school. 3 new water tanks are going to be installed so that we don’t go for months without enough water to drink etc again. The old basketball court is now cleaned up and operational – much to the delight of the students and locals. We are waiting for our ‘shade house’ to be finished – it is the type with open sides and a thatched palm roof. There is always a ‘project on the boil’, never a dull moment. Just hope we can get everything done that we want to do here in time.
A big THANKYOU to everyone who sent donations for projects at the school. It shouldn’t be…. but we are…continually amazed by the support, not just with money but also through the cards, emails, and yes, we can ‘feel’ the prayers. We wouldn’t cope if we didn’t have you all there to prop us up. We know God has placed us where he needed us to be and we know that he will continue to sustain us, but you too play a very big part in our time here. Again THANKYOU.
We are looking forward to seeing Fran and Allan Flemming next month. It will be good to talk about ‘home’. We are still waiting for our visitors to come up…..no one is taking us up on our open invitation….it is an adventure…..come and share this time with us, it will change your life for the better, I promise you. Come and see the beauty of a newly developing country, sure there are some bad points but you need to look beyond that and experience the love of the people.
Bye for now……see you soon??????
It is already Tuesday 16/3 and I still can’t get this message out to you. On Saturday we found out that one of our young teenage ladies at the corps had died suddenly. She was alive and well last week and suddenly died on Thursday. I can’t get over the fact that death happens so quickly and so frequently here in PNG. It is sad when a young life that, so full of promise, is cut short like this. The Haus Krai (pronounced House Cry) is already happening and the funeral will be this Friday. The body will then go back to her village. Her brother Stanley does a great job here working with the ‘street kids’, teaching them to read and write. Sunday before she was singing at the morning service with the ensemble group.
It is now Wednesday – here it comes……..I hope