When God Gives You Cancer

For those who may not know what’s going on, here is a recap of how God has sovereignly–and unexpectedly–altered the trajectory of our lives. We have largely documented the last 12 days of our lives through Facebook posts, so we thought it perhaps the best summary to just list those.We are grateful and thankful for God’s kindness to us in the midst of this difficult time and know that we can count on His steadfast love and faithfulness only continuing as we walk this new road He has laid out before us....

A Tonsillectomy, a Trip, and Reverse Culture Shock

Sometimes when you get back to your homeland after being gone for a while, it takes some time to adjust…coming back to the States in September was one such time for us, so apologies on not posting and thank you for understanding!It has both felt like we’ve been home for far longer than two months and like we’ve been here for no time at all. Here is a bit of what we’ve been doing since landing on US soil:— Re-adjusting to being back in the U.S.: we’ve definitely had some re-adjusting to do as both we and our kids remember how life goes in America. Some examples: Our kids washing their hands in the drinking fountain because, you know, they had forgotten what it was for. Thankfully, this happened at church so I feel like most people understood. 🙂 Being around people who speak our language all. the. time. This point has been especially appreciated by our kids, who have not quite gotten the hang of either language we began to speak in PNG. In fact, my absolute highlight of my first three days in the U.S. was watching how easy it was for my kids to see old friends and make new ones because there was no language barrier–something that had begun to be a bit of a struggle right before we left the village. Although, we do still get confused from time to time. Doing things at night! Oh, how my heart leaps at the freedom here to have the lights on in the house at night and not be inundated with flying insects! We can talk! Make...

Coming Home

Over the past two years, there have been many tough decisions we have had to make.The decision to actually leave the US to come here.The decision of out of all the tribes in PNG in the Finisterre Mountains which five we should survey.The decision of those five tribes, into which one we should move.And then thousands of smaller, important decisions regarding our time, our family, our finances, this new culture we live in the tribe…the list goes on.But the decision we made in the last few days was one of the hardest we have had to make for several reasons:-it involves our children’s health-it is based largely on probabilities and possibilities, what could be and what might never happen-it forces us to interrupt our ministry at a less-than-ideal timeAs some of you may know, two of our kids have been struggling through multiple occurrences of strep throat recently. Susanna, our oldest, had it the most severe, with the last bout lasting through three weeks and two rounds of antibiotics and culminating in fevers that remained around 104 degrees for six days. Onesmius, our six-year-old, also has had strep, but the last time he got it was just six weeks from the previous time.Without being able to be properly diagnosed, the ENT we’ve been consulting with stateside has said that their symptoms point to being strep carriers and the only real remedy a tonsillectomy. Basically, there is a good chance that the strep will continue to come back, possibly putting Susanna through high fevers again (and the dangers associated therein) with no medical assistance nearby, or at the very least, continuing to...

The Cat Came Back

His name’s Hawaii.  Sometimes we call him, “Hawaii, the comfort kitty”. Mary calls him “Karate”, but we think she’s just hearing us wrong. Many of you probably never even knew we had a cat, much less that we lost him, but for those who have been worried sick about where he might be — he’s back!  Ok — technically he didn’t come back of his own accord.   Three weeks before we left on our break, our cat mysteriously disappeared.  Some said he ran away, others said a dog ate him, others said he was killed. We waited for him to return. But when we came back from break and found a family of mice living in our house, we could wait no longer! (Hawaii was really good at catching mice and eating them). Our thought was to perhaps get another cat–until someone said they saw Hawaii down at the soccer field below our house (about a half mile hike away). So, I and the four children ventured down and, sure enough, we found our cat!  I tucked him under my arms and hiked him back up to our house. His second night back, we heard a ruckus on the front porch and there was Hawaii playing with a mouse (apparently cats actually do play with mice just to be mean before they put them out of their misery).  Since he’s been back he’s eaten at least two mice…and a grasshopper…I’m not sure what else! That might not sound like good news to you, but for us it’s very good news because every mouse he gets rid of is one less mouse in our house....

Thankful for Breaks or It’s Good to be Back

August 1st, we returned to Mawarero from our first break. When we flew in on the helicopter from Madang and disembarked, our teammates the Canns hopped on and headed out for their first break (they return tomorrow). Before we came to Papua New Guinea, we did training with our organization (Finisterre Vision) for cultural awareness and practical strategies for living and doing ministry in Papua New Guinea.  Some of the things we learned about, we planned on implementing, but I didn’t completely understand why we were planning on it…figured it would make more sense once we got there! One of the things we planned on implmenting as part of our long-term strategy for living in Papua New Guinea was to take a break out of the tribe every 6 months for two weeks. Stateside, it’s hard to imagine what it will be like to move your family to a helicopter-access-only location in the middle of the jungles of PNG.  My theory was that coming from a place where there are millions of people all around you and where you can drive anywhere you want to, that moving to a place where there are only around 300 people around you, and where there is no where to drive, if you want to go anywhere you have to hike — that would want to take a break because we’d get lonely or feel too isolated. But this actually hasn’t been the case.  For our family, probably the biggest difficultly we’ve found living in the jungle for the last six months has also been one of the sweetest things about living here....

The Faces of Our Village

A place has many faces. Its people, its landmarks, its way.If this post were about my native Phoenix, I could show you the five-lane freeways during rush hour or the swollen Saguaro cacti after a particularly fruitful summer monsoon in the desert just 15 minutes from our house.I could show you the effervescent pinks, fluorescent oranges, and deepening reds of an Arizona sunset or the massive, creeping walls of an approaching dust storm. I could flash pictures of the baristas at the local Starbucks or the friendly greeters at a nearby Walmart; hundreds of students traversing ASU on a school day or my sweet family around the table at Thanksgiving–the list goes on.But this post is not about Phoenix. It’s about my new home, my new place!As most of you know, we live in a remote village in the rugged mountains of Papua New Guinea called Mawarero.To introduce you to this place, I could show you how the cold sheets of wispy cloud pass right through our house most afternoons or how, on clear nights, millions of stars glitter and twinkle and prick every inch of sky, giving several hundred people on a remote mountainside the planetarium show of their life.I could show you how, after a couple days of nonstop rain, you can see dozens of new waterfalls streaming from the mountains if you turn in a 180 degree circle. I could show you the market on market day, with the reds and whites and browns of their varied sweet potatoes, the differing hues of green of their, well, greens, and the flashing yellow of their bananas.But none of those things would tell you about this place as...

Goodbye Ahane Josh

A few days ago, I said good bye to my cousin Josh outside of a hut near the beach. Technically, he’s Cameron’s cousin, but I call him my cousin too. In tok ples Ndo, I call him ‘ahane’.Two weeks ago, a helicopter came with six-weeks-worth of supplies for us, and with those it brought Cameron’s mom, Josh, Zach’s mom, Zach’s sister, and their family friend. Everyone else is still here, but Josh could only stay for a little bit.We had good times while he was here. He came with the goal of encouraging us, and helping us out, and those things he definitely did!While he was here, Josh worked on a couple household projects with us. He filled in many of the cracks in our floor and near the roof. This may have been bumped up in priority after seeing how many bugs like to come into our house at night.I think the number of bugs that live inside the house is perhaps a little shocking for guests, so this task benefitted Josh as well as us, since sealing the cracks will hopefully decrease the numbers of the insects.He organized our mudroom a little, putting tools together which belonged together.He put together a chair that we were missing screws for. This may not sound like a big task, but Madang only had some of the hardware we needed to assemble it, so it has just been sitting unused since we got here. But even without having all the hardware, Josh improvised and made it work!He also built a shelf in the bathroom, shower room, and nightstand in our bedroom! When you live in the jungle, and...

Wild Animals of Papua New Guinea

Someone recently asked us if we have seen a cassowary yet (Don’t know what that is? Feel free to Google it!).  I answered with the disappointing no.  I was about to send them a few pictures of the animals that we have seen so far–and then decided to share those with the world!   The first thing you have to understand is that Papua New Guinea, while a rainforest, is not like the Amazon. In all of our travels, we have seen actually very few animals, birds included. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist–they have just become very adept at hiding since the reality here in the mountains is that there is so little meat that if someone sees a bird or any kind of an animal, they are quick to kill it and eat it for dinner.  Conversations with my language helper about animals in PNG usually go something like this: Me: ‘What kind of animals do you have here?” Language Helper: “We have this kind of animal.” Me: “Can you eat it?” (it’s usually close to lunch, and I’m hungry…seems like a natural question) Language Helper: “Yes.” (that’s usually the answer.  There just seems to be a lot of things you can eat here) Me: “I’d like to see this animal…and maybe eat it.” I’ve heard from him about snakes that can swallow animals whole or sting you with their tails, birds that build elaborate houses or that lay eggs big enough to feed a few people, lizards that are the size of a leg, fresh water shrimp and eels, the list goes on.    Here are some pictures of the animals we...

PNG Economic Situation

The day after tomorrow, our time, the nation of Papua New Guinea will most likely be declared bankrupt.  This reality might affect us hardly at all or a great deal.Since it’s something we are thinking about and talking through as a team, we thought we would write a brief blog post about it so you all can be praying.  God brought us here and we hope to stay here to accomplish our aim of preaching the gospel–so we’re praying that this won’t be a big deal and that our work here will continue uninterrupted.Here’s an e-mail sent three days ago from our logistic coordinator, Jeremy Lehman, stationed in Madang, who is keeping an eye on the situation from there. We think it sums up the information better than we could: All, As you well know there is a looming economic issue in PNG.  This has caused all mission organizations that I have interacted with to start keeping a watchful eye on the situation as it develops.  June 13th is the day PNG must pay back it’s debit to UBS and on and after the 13th we will have even more insight on what the road ahead will look like.  The shortage of Kina as well as forex (foreign currency) is creating quite the stir from the PNG people.  It only makes matters worse that the Prime Minister (Peter Oneill) will not submit himself to investigation for corruption charges. The economic issues as well as Peter Oneill evading investigation has brought about protestors.  The majority of the protest movements have been lead by students from the University of Papua New Guinea in POM (Port Moresby).  The students...

Learning to Walk…on a Mountain

Much of what we do here is analogous to what a child does in terms of learning new skills. We are learning a language, learning a culture, learning a new place.  And one of those skills is learning to walk…on a mountain. I remember our second hike that we took here in Papua New Guinea — a nine day hike through the jungle that brought us through the very village we now live in (described here and here).  At some points on that hike, the path was near vertical, at other points we crossed bamboo bridges, or walked in rivers, or across slippery stones.  I remember seeing several kids early on in that hike running down the trail at one of the steep parts. They all passed us–and they were all holding machetes.  Basically, these kids know how to get around on a mountain! Our kids…as well as ourselves…have to learn how to do that.  My goal is to take them out once or twice a week (usually on our day off) and just walk up and down the mountains nearest to our house. Here are a couple of the trips we’ve taken so far. The big waterfall nearest to our house is probably the closest walk.  When we first moved in, it was difficult for everyone (even me) to get there, but now…we’ve learned to walk to the waterfall!  Sometimes, the kids even run…but not with machetes. Another of our first hikes was hiking to a friend’s house.  My favorite part of this trip was the part where one of the village kids held Mary and she was practically the same size as her. Okay, so...
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