Friday, June 20, 2008

Current Events

This week was quieter in terms of the number of activities or unique events that I got to be a part of. The high school graduation (29 seniors) was Tuesday night, so I went there to see Scott graduate, though by that time I also knew almost half of the other seniors too. It was a good ceremony, with some time spent in looking back and looking forward, personalized to each graduate. I guess that's the best word to use: it was personal.

Now that graduation is past, though, almost all of the seniors and their families are going back to their home states/countries for furloughs or to get settled into colleges. June is apparently the month known for this "mass exodus" each year, but this year is a little crazier than normal with the visa situation that I've mentioned previously. The families leaving this week are all taken care of, but I don't think any of next week's departures have their visas yet. Continue to pray for that situation.

This morning we had some rain, but then it cleared up a bit when I was heading out for work. Here's a shot of the finance office where I've been spending so much of my time, and after that are a few pictures of the flowers outside the Bandy's this morning as they were still beaded with raindrops. The gardener at the finance/director's office was so proud that I took some pictures of the flowers in his garden too! He's a nice guy. We can't really communicate that much, but he knows a little English, and I know a little Pisin, so we get by.

I've been asked to include another picture of the kittens here at the Bandys, and, well, this is about as good of a shot as you're going to get with five kittens to try to keep in the frame! It's fun to watch them, they're certainly a lot more active than they were before. They've also started to purr for the first time, as well as playfight with each other from time to time. One of them was even trying to lick his paws today. I'd better stop describing what they do, or else I'm going to have a few requests to bring them home!

One other cool thing that hasn't happened yet, but will be happening this weekend is that I'm going to Madang, which is on the coast. It's considered one of the most beautiful places not only in PNG, but in the Pacific. I'm pretty excited about that! I'll definitely write more about it on Tuesday or Wednesday when I get back.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


I almost forgot... I got to experience an Australian specialty dessert today, called pavlova. It's really good, kind of a meringue cake with fruit on top (in this case, kiwis and strawberries). Mrs. Bandy said this is the best one she's ever made, so of course, I had to put a picture up and tell you all how good it was. :)

Latest adventures

Here's what I've been up to for the last few days... Thursday morning was the monthly half day of prayer on centre, so I joined many other people in the meeting house for that. It's neat to see everyone make it a point to get together for that much prayer time each month. I've already mentioned some of the prayer requests (visas, RAM water pump), and two of the other highlights were prayers for those going home for furlough or for good, that there would be new people willing to serve in their places.

Friday morning the audit team left to go back to their various home states/countries. I took some time off to say goodbye to them before they flew out. It was fun to s pend time with them over the last three weeks, and until this weekend, every time I went off-centre, it was with some or all of them. Later, in the evening, there were swing dance lessons and a dance afterwards, so I went with some of the YWAM team that's here to learn how to do that a little more.

Saturday I went into Kainantu again, this time with the Baumans to celebrate Michael's birthday. We ate at Hig(h)lands Chicken again (the "h" is in parentheses because on most of the signs and labels, it's written "Higlands." look closely at the icon on the left side of the sign though...) and did a little shopping there.

It was different going into Kainantu the second time. I picked up a lot more of what was going on and what it looked like, because I was already slightly familiar with the place. It's still nothing wonderful (they call it the armpit of the highlands) but it's certainly a unique experience to see what it's like. Below is a picture of an evangelistic billboard there, which also gives you a general idea of what the town looks like. You can see a little bit of the trash that's lying around all over the place, and the people lined up, sitting outside of almost every building. Also, the man smoking in the foreground. Actually, smoking isn't as big here as chewing beetlenut. (I can't remember if I've described what they do with that or not, so I'll take a paragraph to do that below the picture) I took this one while we were driving, so it's not as high quality. If you click on it to zoom in, you can probably read the sign, as well as see the K-Mart to the right and the bank to the left. I have no idea if this K-Mart has any relation to the K-Marts of the US, or if it's someone trying to make people think it has some relation to the K-Marts of the US, or if it's just coincidence.

Beetlenuts... ok, what the nationals do is they take the beetlenut, mash it up and mix it with lime (as in, what we put on our lawns, not the fruit) and mustard plant, then they chew it kind of like tobacco. Apparently it's like a mild narcotic. (I've heard many descriptions of what it does to them, but that's the most common one) It's a bright red color, and you can see it all over the streets in Kainantu where they've spit it out. (they're not allowed to chew it in Ukarumpa) It also stains their mouths, and creates lots of problems because it destroys their teeth and very often causes oral cancer. The Pisin term for it is "buai", and it's definitely a big, but not glamorous, part of the culture.

Today was a typical Sunday so far, sleeping in a bit and going to the English church service, then playing ultimate frisbee in the afternoon. I got so muddy doing that today... because we got a lot of rain last night. That reminds me, I experienced an earthquake for the first time last night! It was just a little one, and most people who were standing up didn't really notice it. I was in bed at the time, just about ready to fall asleep, when I felt my bed shaking back and forth. It lasted about 10-15 seconds, and it took me about 5 of those seconds to figure out what was happening. We'll see if another one hits while I'm here or not. They're not uncommon in PNG.

I think that's all for now... more updates later!

Hydrogen Dioxide

So I realized recently that I haven't really said much about how we get and use water here in Ukarumpa. It's actually a neat system. Almost every building has a water tank or two outside, with all the gutters and downspouts running into it to collect rainwater. Here's a picture of a typical tank:

The tank acts like an above-ground well, with a pump drawing water out as necessary. The water in the tank is not always sufficient to cover all the needs of a household, so we need to keep an eye on it and switch to a ground water source from time to time. (commonly known as the RAM pump, which serves the whole centre, and draws somewhat murky water from a site nearby)

Neither of these sources is very sanitary for drinking, so most households have a water purification system in a large bucket for drinking water. Everything else is done with untreated water.

For hot water, most houses have a solar water heater on the roof, which uses the sun's warmth to heat the water going through it. Obviously this works best on sunny days... but it will still be at least warm after a cloudy/rainy da y or two. Some houses have electric heater backups to make sure there is enough hot water for the demand. The picture of the solar heater below was actually taken at my hotel in Port Moresby, but there are identical units all over the place here.

There is a legal issue with the RAM pump at the moment, because it is located on property owned by a neighbor to the SIL centre here. I may have mentioned this before, but land ownership and property rights are big deals around here. Well, this neighbor decided that he didn't like leasing part of his land to SIL for the pump anymore, so he threatened to damage it, and now there is a court case about it. We're currently in the process of creating another ground water source on centre, which will either serve as a backup to the current pump or will replace it, depending on the final outcome. This is another area that could use some prayer.

Apparently at one point, there was even some tribal fighting over this RAM water issue, with some nationals supporting SIL and defending the pump against this landowner and some of his friends. Most here are on our side, even many members of his line (ie. family/tribe), and we are coming up with another source of water, so it shouldn't affect SIL too much. But pray that this doesn't become a long-standing barrier between the two sides, so that the work of evangelism is not hindered.

This post was originally supposed to go up on Thursday, but I was having some connection problems. I'll be back later today to update you on the weekend.