Long overdue post

I keep either putting off or forgetting to write my blog… many apologies. I’ll try to catch you up on all the news. 🙂

Thanksgiving was wonderful. It was my first away from my family—even in college I always managed to get home—but that thought actually didn’t even cross my mind until the morning of, and even though I was thinking of them all day and missing them, it wasn’t too bad. My housemate Karen and I cooked all morning—she made stuffing (all the way from the beginning—she even had to make her own bread!) and green bean casserole, and I made another kind of bread and a mock apple pie from a green bumpy vegetable called Sako (my first time to try that, which was not very smart since it was for a team dinner… and unfortunately everyone had to help me discover that a Sako pie doesn’t just need an extra half hour in the oven—2-3 extra hours is probably more like it—crunch, crunch!) Anyway, all of us missionaries got together at the Smiths’ for dinner at 1:00, and for those of you who are wondering it was a pretty traditional meal: besides what I already mentioned, we had chicken (no turkeys in PNG that I know of!), mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie (actually it was squash, but you’d never know). We stayed until 8:30 sitting around and talking, working puzzles, playing Dutch Blitz and other games, singing around the piano, and eating leftovers for supper. It was a great day. 🙂

My own Thanksgiving stretched out just a little more, because the next morning Karen and I got up at 5:30 and hiked up Mount Wama (just behind our house—a 20-30 min. hike at a somewhat leisurely pace) to call our families. On the way we watched the sun rise over the mountains—beautiful!!! The timing was perfect, because 6 am here was 3 pm Thanksgiving afternoon in Virginia, and all of my aunts and uncles and cousins (and even the first fiancé!) were gathered at my grandparents’ home and I got to talk to them all. Probably the most special part was that when I called Daddy was playing his guitar and singing “Wayfaring Stranger” like he does every Thanksgiving, and Mama put the phone where I could hear him. Yup, I cried. 🙂 But it was a good kind of crying, and though I do miss my daddy and all of my family and friends at home, I am most happy and content here in Kiari—yes, really thrilled at the privilege to be here and miss my family a little for the sake of the gospel.

Now we’re starting to think about Christmas. PJ and Joanna Smith even decorated our house for us last Saturday. I have to admit, though, that at present I’m thinking of it from the perspective of “only 8 more school days until Christmas break!” Reminds me of college days… though many things about Christmas this year will be very different from any I’ve had before. I sent off my Christmas package to my family at the end of October, and though I’ve had short-sleeve Christmases before in Virginia, this will be my first to be surrounded by lush tropical vegetation and probably have fresh vegetables from our garden as part of our Christmas dinner!

I’m trying to think if there’s anything else I should tell you about. I guess one thing is that we can all thank the Lord for sending a nurse to Kiari again! I’ve been personally grateful several times when something almost happened that could have been really bad and would have been even worse with no medical people here– such as slipping going over a fence on the way down Wama the day after Thanksgiving and landing hard on a fencepost… you see, most fenceposts here are sharpened to a point and definitely capable of impaling someone, but thankfully I landed on a blunt one! Then last week we both noticed that my stomach was growling all the time, and she says I have a classic case of amoeba. I’m quite sure that if she wasn’t here to tell me so I would never have been able to diagnose myself… I probably would have just thought I was hungry! Anyway, she got me all fixed up with the right medicine and hopefully by the end of this week they’ll be all gone. 🙂 Many, many others are thankful with me for “nursemeri Karen” who puts us all back together again. At present she’s just doing clinic a couple of days a week to cover until Catherine comes back, because her primary work is learning Siar, which is the tok ples (village language) of Kiari. I don’t know of any foreigner who has ever learned it completely, though some missionaries have learned a few words here and there. It isn’t written, and so she gets to figure it out from the beginning! I’m sure she’d appreciate your prayers.

And that would be yet another thing to tell you about and ask you to pray for… I’ve switched from Pidgin to Siar in my own weekly language lessons. I’m by no means completely fluent in Pidgin but I get along fine and think that most of my improvement now will come from living here and listening and talking. Karen spends all day every day (aside from clinic mornings) working on Siar, so she’s obviously miles ahead of me already, but I’ve learned basic greetings and started on a few conversation sentences. I enjoy the challenge of trying to figure out the grammar and patterns and am most thankful for my linguistics classes at BJU. However, it is a rather daunting task especially considering how little time I have to devote to it– yet I feel like I just HAVE to learn it, because I’m convinced I’ll never really get to know Kiarians until I can speak the language that they use when they’re really talking with each other. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to sit around with them and not be able to understand what they’re laughing and talking about, or even one single detail from the story someone is telling that everyone is enjoying so immensely. So please pray for the Lord’s enabling as I embark on this venture. 🙂

Well, this has become quite an epistle so I’ll break off now. I’ve said barely anything about school, but it’s been going well and teacher and students are learning a lot. Please do continue to pray for the salvation of Dave and Samuel (two 2nd-grade boys) and for wisdom for teaching and other school decisions. Pray also for the Lord’s working at Kiari Baptist Church– we’ve seen many fall away or become disinterested in following hard after the Lord, and just last Sunday one of the Kiarian church leaders, Pol, preached an excellent message on “no ken slip”– “you can’t sleep!” This has been my prayer for a while and I’m really praying that this message will have a lasting impact on everyone who heard it– me included!

Thanks so much for your prayers– without them I don’t even want to imagine where I’d be. Hope you have a great rest of the week!

Elizabeth

“O use me, Lord, use even me, Just as Thou wilt, and when, and where….” -Frances Ridley Havergal

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