Just weeks before Gertrude’s mother’s 83rd birthday she suffered a stroke. We rejoice that she has recovered as well as she has, but she is no longer able to stay in her home by herself. Since her release from the rehabilitation center Gertrude’s sisters have been spending time at home to help care for their mother. On October 12, Gertrude head home to spend just over six weeks at home with her mother. This has been the longest time that we have been apart.
September 22, 2010
This year Gertrude was recognized by Wycliffe for her service in the organization for 25 years. My involvement in missions started in 1988 as I went to the Philippines as an independent missionary. In 1996 I joined Wycliffe and returned to the Philippines. In 2001 as both Gertrude and I were on furlough the Lord brought us together. After the many years that we have served the Lord as we were single we did not ever expect to get married. Today we are still amazed what the Lord had done to bring us together that we are able to serve together here in Papua New Guinea. It is a wonderful reminder for us of God’s goodness.
Now to him who by the power that is working within us is able to do far beyond all that we ask or think, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (NET Eph 3:20-21)
It was nice to have the weekend off for Mother’s day. When we got back to the village, the church yard looked beautiful. Villagers had mown and raked the lawn and began decorating for Mother’s Day. Also, it was nice just to be back in the comfort of our house at Lossu Village–with indoor plumbing, our own bed, my own cooking and a chance to catch up on typing some of the language texts from the course.
Around nine o’clock, Sunday morning, I went out to take a picture of the group of mothers waiting to walk up a decorated path to the church. To my surprise, some of the mothers approached me and began putting fresh picked flowers in my hair and invited me to march into the church with the mothers. At first I was reluctant as I am not a mother but their kindness drew me. As I marched with these beautiful women, the oldest mothers led the way as the children began showering us with fresh made floral potpourri. One young woman placed a lei of yellow hibiscus and frangipani blossoms around my neck and said, “Happy Mother’s Day.” I was humbled. We entered the church and almost occupied all the benches. All others sat or stood where they could in the small church. As I sat there with the ladies my heart was full. When we bowed to pray my eyes glanced across to see all these rugged hard working hands of mothers folded in their laps. Hands that had ‘held fire’ just this morning: they had cooked on their cook fires and removed baked sweet potatoes from hot stones. I surmised that these women represented all women who have given of themselves in the most difficult of circumstances. They have not known much of the conveniences of life. I know that the older women were widows who have borne at least four children some of them five or six. Seated behind them were younger women, mothers who deeply cared for their little ones and still looked on with concern for older children at various stages of maturity. All of the youngest mothers look forward to days when their children would care for them–when they could no longer walk to the gardens or do for themselves. They sometimes ask me, “Who will take care of you when you grow old.” Care of older people is a real concern in this culture where there are barely hospitals, let alone homes to care for the elderly. There is no such thing as life insurance or health insurance here–only family and especially one’s children.
The mother’s day message could have been preached at any church in America as it was taken from Proverbs 31 and Titus 2:3-5. There was even a history of the origin of Mother’s Day cited about an American woman who lost her mother early and encouraged the establishment of a Mother’s Day celebration on our calendars in America. Papua New Guinea has adopted the holiday for its own. As the preacher spoke, my mind drifted to my mother who at the time lay on her sick bed having suffered a second stroke one week earlier. I was thoughtful of the one who bore me and cared for me throughout my childhood. She would always remind us saying, “You will always be my child.” I thank God for mothers and especially my own. She has lived long (83 years on her birthday, May 28) and has borne eight children, all who live to cherish and care for her.
Today marks a very special day. It was 9 years ago that Gertrude and I first met. We have now been married 8 years, 5 months, and 29 days. How good God has been to us in these years together. We never believed that it could happen as we were busy serving the Lord. We had both made the choice to get involved in foreign missions as single adults. We guarded our hearts so that we would put the Lord first in our lives so that we could serve in this way.
We have heard too many stories of people who had one time sensed God’s call to missions, but they let work, or relationships come first. Years later to talk with regret that they did not pursue the call that God gave them. As we learned to put the Lord first we could see Him taking care of us in so many ways. “But above all pursue his kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. So then, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:33–34 NET).”
We are standing in front of the new plane that has just arrived in Papua New Guinea for service with SIL. The Kodiak is a plane that has been designed especially for use in missionary aviation. We were able to fly in this aircraft from Ukarumpa to New Ireland. We enjoyed the flight very much. It is quite the high tech aircraft.
September 22, 2009 was our eighth anniversary. At the time we were attending the National Education Conference in Goroka, not far from the SIL headquarters in Ukarumpa. We were there with five others from SIL so it was not a quiet, romantic get-away for us. That night we went out for pizza at a local hotel, which we all enjoyed. While at the conference we were able see a number of different groups perform traditional dance with their colorful costumes. As we arrived Gertrude was saying that she may not know anyone there. It turns out that the lady who is the head of the Education Department of Goroka University was a friend from Kavieng who I met in 2003.
After the conference we flew down to Port Moresby. We planned a couple of days there before continuing on to Milne Bay. This gave us time to visit with a friend of Gertrude’s named Rachel. She is the personal assistant to the Prime Minister Michael Somare. We were able to visit Rachel in her office and she took us into the Office of the Prime Minister to show us around. The P. M. was away at international meetings in NYC so we did not get to meet him.
I was a little disappointed with the traveling that we were doing this week that I was not able to do much in line of celebrating our anniversary. Friday, just after lunch we went to the airport to continue on to Milne Bay. We were there plenty of time before the flight was to depart. After we cleared security to enter the terminal there was a large crowd of people waiting to check in to get their boarding passes. After waiting they finally had the people line up at particular counters for different flights instead of just waiting in the one line. At last we got into the line that we were suppose to be in. After waiting another hour we were up to the counter to check in. What we did not know was that the flight was over booked and there was no room for us. We waited another two hours for them to make sure we were booked on the next flight. Then an hour more in another line where they would issue vouchers for us to stay at a hotel. Then we had another wait for the hotel van to come to pick us up. After a half hour drive we arrived at the Crown Plaza Hotel. It was beautiful. Neither Gertrude or I could believe the wonderful accommodations that were given to us. After we got settled into our room we went downstairs for dinner. The Cafe was full so we waited as I played the piano. After a while I took note of a nicer restaurant. I thought if they would accept the vouchers I would pay the difference for the meal. We had wonderful service to go with a wonderful meal, that was finished with Crape Suzzette.
We thank the Lord for the way we could celebrate Eight Years Together. It was totally beyond my means, but that did not hinder what God had planed for us. After all that waiting at the airport, it made for a very special time for us to spend time together, just the two of us.
Thank You for your response!
In March I sent out a request for birthday cards for Gertrude. It was such a pleasant surprise for her. She received over 60 cards over the course of the last month before her birthday. The timing was perfect. What an encouragement it has been for her. She would like to thank each one who sent a card, but that will take some time. She has yet to read them all.
The three pictures are from a short hike we took today to a water falls. The water was so cool and refreshing. The last week we have been busy preparing for village living. We will spend 5 weeks in a village with a Papua New Guinean family. They have prepared a hut for us to stay in during this time. We will be out of touch with during this time, since there is not electricity. There will be limited cell phone coverage. I will need to walk to a particular location to get a signal. Please remember us in pray during this time from March 27 until April 30. This will provide me a greater opportunity to improve with Tok Pisin (the national trade language).
After our village living time we will have another week here before we finish here. It will be a few days following will be Gertrude’s birthday, May 7. It would be great for a number of people to send her a birthday card. Mail getting to us has been very slow almost month so you will need to send a card right away for her to get it in time. Our mailing address is SIL-POC, P.O. Box 872, Madang, PAPUA NEW GUINEA. This will only be good till May 1, 2009.
No I am not sliding down, I have found a great place to sit on the rocks to let the water wash by me.
I am not sure when I will be able to upload the next up date. It has been a good way to keep people posted about what is happening. I hope to be able to do more of this in the future. Shalom!