Just a short review post on my favorite things for travelling with three kids five and under, either for a weekend trip or two months on home leave. A friend from DC gearing up for a stint with MCC in Beirut asked me for my thoughts on moving abroad with kids, so here they are for the whole internet to hear, haha.
#1: Ergo Carrier. Don’t leave home without it. Actually I’m not sure I could go an entire day even at home without it.
#2: Clip-on high chair, another daily essential at our house but also good for restaurants/friends’ houses, etc. We have both a Chico Caddy, which is machine washable and fits on most everything, but is a little more cumbersome than the Mountain Buggy Pod, which is wipe-clean only but more compact. The Phil and Ted lobster chair looks good too but we don’t own that one (yet?).
#3: Babyhome Air: This bassinet/crib is much more attractive and easier to set up than a pack-n-play. It also fits in more spaces as it’s smaller. Plus it rocks/has wheels, and you can throw pretty much all of it into a washing machine. Tobiah’s just aging out of it now that he pulls up all the time – he still has some wiggle room in there though.
#4: Wetbag. Something is always going to get wet or muddy and you can carry it back without everything else getting yucky. Bumkins or Planetwise are nice, although we have all different kinds and sizes.
#5: JJ Cole Changing Clutch: This changing pad is the largest one available on Amazon last time I researched, which means all of my wiggly toddler will fit on the pad. Essential for when there are no public changing tables in your country of residence.
We decided to complete the trifecta of highlands cultural shows and make our first PNG roadtrip as a family of five by going to the 60th Goroka Show.
We drove the 4 hours to Goroka, two provinces away – about 90 miles – with a stop at a coffee factory to stretch our legs, get snacks, and drink coffee, of course. The children endured the bumpy ride pretty well.
We stayed two nights at Kefamo Conference Centre, run by the Diocese of Goroka, where we stayed when we visited Goroka with Fr. Clement 3 years ago. We had a two-bedroom, two-bath cottage to ourselves (Tobiah slept in one bathroom!) There was a large group of Polish tourists there too. We enjoyed their delicious food and access to their little library’s fiction section. As a souvenir we bought 4 liters of honey from their beehives.
The first day of the show, Friday, we headed off to the showgrounds to find them very muddy, as Emeritus Bishop Francesco had predicted at breakfast. The showgrounds were divided into two; one for dancing, which was mostly empty when we arrived, aside from some mudmen huddling under a tarp to escape the drizzle.
The other section contained the PNG equivalent of a county fair – lots of concession stands, a few carnival games, booths promoting non-profit work or local businesses, agricultural demonstrations, etc. Two greased poles stood ready with prizes at the top, laughter came from the rugby-ball-chucking contest, and people wandered about wearing odd yellow hats a bank was passing out.
The girls enjoyed the pony rides. We found an agricultural booth demonstrating fish ponds, grape-growing, and the medicinal properties of pandanus oil, and another giving advice to PNG farmers on how to grow and market zucchini. A third booth contained the flower show, with arrangements labelled according to complexity.
It turned out that the only thing scheduled for Friday was a “pikinini show,” and a small ceremony to officially open the show. There was a brass band with actual brass instruments, though (as opposed to a drum corps, which is what ‘brass band’ usually signifies in PNG English).
After that, we waded through the mud to the museum. It was fairly dated compared to the one in Wabag, but it was superior to anything in Jiwaka or Western Highlands, where we have zero museums. We would recommend it, but we hope that it gets freshened up sometime.
Saturday was sunny and even pretty dry underfoot. We passed some singsing groups on their way to the showgrounds as we drove in that morning.
After we managed to wiggle our way through the press of people in the streets, we joined the crowds of tourists in the first arena to photograph the singsing groups as they entered. It was amusing to people-watch the tourists, as well!
One of the reasons we decided to come to the Goroka show was to see more bilas from the coastal and islands region. We were intrigued to see these gentlemen from the Ramu valley with their large helmets decorated with thousands of shiny green beetles, whom we had read about but never encountered in person before.
We walked around and found some groups we hadn’t seen come in the gate. There were a few jam bands with a variety of instruments.
Anastasia’s very favorite were these female dancers from Manus, with their quick feet movements. Although she was also very intrigued by the kickboxing demonstration given by the local karate club elsewhere on the showgrounds.
Going to the Goroka show inspired Annie to take up traditional dancing again… stay tuned for pictures!
One of the chief ways that I recreate and enjoy the places I visit is by climbing mountains. As I get older, climbing mountains is a good challenge for me and a good inspiration to remain fit. Also, through my hiking, I hope to have experiences of the sublime through being in close contact with creation. I hope to bequeath my love of mountains to my children by taking them on my hikes when I can. Annie has already done a local 5 km hike along some hilltops three or four times. This post comes two big adventures with Annie: our ascent of mountain Hagen before coming to the US this year and going up Mt. Elbert in CO.
I had gone up Mt. Hagen last year with the Archbishop of Mount Hagen and some Australians. However, we turned back before the summit. Two of my hiking buddies in PNG were Samuel, a Swiss short-term missionary working for Mission Aviation Fellowship, and Sheena, the dentist at the local Nazarene hospital. They were interested in going up Mount Hagen before Samuel left PNG in May of this year. Based on my prior experience, I organized a trip for us, my two PNG friends Peter and James (who agreed to carry Anastasia), and Samuel’s national friend Michael. On Friday, I drove us to Magic Mountain lodge at the foot of the mountain, between Central Highlands and Enga Provinces. All the men and Annie slept in a tiny one bedroom apartment while Sheena luxuriated in her own apartment. We woke up around 1 am and set off for the summit. Our guide, who apparently was a late sleeper, joined us later and guided us through a thick rain forest. It was dark, so I have no pictures until we got out of the tree line around dawn.
It was gloriously clear on top of the mountain.
Once the sun was up, a cold wind swept the mountain. Annie got pretty cold and I thought that I would have to take her down, but I wrapped her in my raincoat and put all her extra clothes on her and she was able to pull through. It soon warmed up.
At the summit was an old, toppled cellphone tower. The story is that the container was originally a shelter for guards for the tower and its equipment. One night rascals came, surprised the guards, tied them up, and then robbed the place. If I remember right, the guards had to wait until the relief shift before they were rescued! That was the end of the cellphone tower, but it makes a good marker of the summit!
Annie befriended Michael and they walked much of the way down together, making much better time than me prior to the treeline. We wended our way through the forest – not getting lost this time! The lodge gave us a nice discount on our bill. They were astonished that Annie had been up the mountain and suggested that we contact the national newspaper so that they could cover the first ascent of Mt. Hagen by a five-year-old white girl. We stopped for ice cream in Mount Hagen on the way home. Getting home just before dark, Rebecca had a nice pizza dinner all ready for us.
I was very happy with this trip. It was physically demanding, but it was the first adventure that I had entirely planned while in PNG. The successful of this trip made me feel like I have successfully adjusted to life in PNG.
The first time I lived abroad was a semester in Uganda in 2007, and I would pray this prayer almost every night. I just put it up as a poster in our house and it struck me that while it still applies to the cross-cultural interactions I encounter — the mentally ill woman talking to me at the bank about how her family is hiding 9 billion kina from her, for example — it applies to my relationships with my family members especially.
I thought about changing the word “neighbors” in the original prayer by St. Faustina to “children” to make the point (to myself, anyway) but I decided to leave it as is, in its more universal form. That way it also applies to my children showing me mercy!
For the Grace to Be Merciful to Others
Help me, O Lord, that my eyes may be merciful, so that I may never suspect or judge from appearances, but look for what is beautiful in my neighbors’ souls and come to their rescue.
Help me, that my ears may be merciful, so that I may give heed to my neighbors’ needs and not be indifferent to their pains and moanings.
Help me, O Lord, that my tongue may be merciful, so that I should never speak negatively of my neighbor, but have a word of comfort and forgiveness for all.
Help me, O Lord, that my hands may be merciful and filled with good deeds, so that I may do only good to my neighbor and take upon myself the more difficult and toilsome tasks.
Help me, that my feet may be merciful, so that I may hurry to assist my neighbor, overcoming my own fatigue and weariness. My true rest is in the service of my neighbor.
Help me, O Lord, that my heart may be merciful so that I myself may feel all the sufferings of my neighbor. I will refuse my heart to no one. I will be sincere even with those who, I know, will abuse my kindness. And I will lock myself up in the most merciful Heart of Jesus. I will bear my own suffering in silence.
May Your mercy, O Lord, rest upon me.
When I heard that there is a Harry Potter play called “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” being staged in London, taking place with the characters as adults, I very quickly imagined the following prologue. I hope it elicits at least a chuckle.
Piercing cries awoke Harry Potter. He groaned and sat up in bed. Ginny, sleepily murmured, “Your turn, dear” and rolled over. Harry’s protest was on the tip of his tongue, but he swallowed it, since he would probably be unable to sleep until Albus quieted down, while Ginny would quickly return to her snoring.
Harry climbed out of bed in an unhappy mood. He had been up late working on his speech at the upcoming Hogwarts reunion gala and had hoped to get a solid sleep in order to have a productive werewolf hunt tomorrow. It was cold in their drafty country home and Harry’s drab pajamas offered little protection. In the darkness, Harry could only find one of his rabbit slippers at the foot of his bed. They were warm and furry, but had a tendency to burrow under things. Albus continued crying as he hurriedly put it on. “Oh, please don’t wake up the other children,” Harry thought to himself. Harry grabbed his wand off its rack as he half-shuffled out of his room. “Lumuns,” he whispered and the tip of wand glowed softly.
Dodging the toys on the floor, Harry found Albus crying and thrashing in crib. Albus had pooped and the poop had stained through his pjs and mucked up his covers. “Fewmets,” muttered Harry. An unsuccessful juggling of the baby meant that Harry would have to change his own pajamas too. Harry placed Albus down on the changing dresser and rummaged around for wipes, a new diaper, and more pjs. Albus cried continuously. Harry set the wand down and cleaned off his crying son. He had just applied the powder when a shrill voice cried out from the neighboring room “Daddy! Daddy!” which was quickly followed by a shriller voice calling “Daddy, Persephone woke me up!”
After hurriedly putting a new onesie most of the way on Albus, Harry laid the diaper on the changing pad, grabbed his wand, knocked over the powder, stumbled on some wooden blocks, and finally made it to the hallway. He opened the girls’ room and said, a little testily, “Minerva, Persephone, it’s alright. Go back to bed. Albus just needed a diaper change.”
“But daddy, I’m afraid the goblins will get me.” said Minerva.
“No goblins enter our house without my permission,” Harry snapped, “Now go back to sleep. Dream of sugarplum fairies.” Harry closed the door, but the girls quickly started to call out again. Albus was lying on the changing dresser and still crying. Powder was all over the floor. In the light of the wand, Harry watched as his little boy peed over the new onsie, the diaper, and the changing cover. “Oh curse you, child,” cried Harry, waving his wand in frustration, “may the goblins take you!”
His wand suddenly shone a sickly green. A small goblin in a tweed suit with horn-rimmed glass and a bowler hat appeared on the changing table. “If you insist!” he said cheerfully. Before Harry could think of the appropriate counter-curse, Albus disappeared in a flash of green light and swirl of talcum powder . . .
HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD.
When we first started packing to come to PNG, this was one of the first questions to spring to my mind: which cookbooks to bring? Now, three years of field testing later, I can tell you what I brought and my thoughts thereunto.
Most of the cookbooks I brought were by organizations with a long history of sending people off to other lands, where you will have to substitute, improvise, and make ingredients from scratch. First off, the Mennonite cookbooks, partially inspired by the Mennonite Central Committee missions. All of their cookbooks use moderate amounts of meat if and when meat is called for. Each one has little quotes or reflections on almost every page and introducing each chapter.
More-With-Less: The Classic Mennonite cookbook. American dishes, plus some international favorites. Large granola section. From a slightly different era, (all the dried soybeans!) but still useful. What recipe I cook the most: bierrocks, oatmeal bread, tortillas.
Simply In Season: The handy organized-by-season feature doesn’t really help that much when living in the mountains by the equator. Asparagus, tomatoes, pumpkins, and cabbage are all available fresh all year round, so I skip around frequently. But I used that feature when I was in the US and figuring out how to cook my CSA allotments, which was invaluable experience for being in PNG- learning to cook in a vegetable-centric manner. What recipe I cook the most: focaccia, curried beans and potatoes, broccoli-potato soup.
Extending the Table: The international one of the trio. Lots of bean recipes and curry recipes. Liturgical-living wise, it is nice that it divides up the main dishes into “everyday” with mostly vegetarian and small amounts of meat, and “feasting” dishes, with more meat.I just used it today to make pita bread and I felt very proud of myself. What recipe I cook the most: chickpea curry, potatoes with creamy tomato sauce.
Wycliffe, or Summer Language Institute (SIL) has a large presence in PNG, but they can be found all over the world translating the Bible.
The Wycliffe Cookbook, newest edition: great at telling you how to create ingredients: how to use powdered milk to make farmers’ cheese, substitute for sweetened condensed milk, etc. If we were living more remotely, has additional sections that would be useful- how to cook over open fires, inside baskets. What recipe I cook the most: favorite pancakes.
I have since arriving picked up a copy of “Yummy Ukuarumpa Meals” produced by the SIL headquarters here in PNG. It varies in how much access to store goods it assumes you have; we fall somewhere in the middle, so various recipes on one side of the scale or the other aren’t that applicable (I tend to skip the village ones that assume your main meat source is spam, and I also have to forgo the ones that call for cream cheese). What recipe I make the most: Buttermilk Yeast Rolls and Italian Sausage.
The Joy of Cooking, 1963 edition complete with diagrams of skinned squirrels and recommendations for what to do with snapping turtles (answer: feed them bread to clean them out for a few days first). Large section informing you about ingredients. Very comprehensive, but again, from a different era (so many things covered in gelatin)! What recipe I cook the most: Guava Jelly.
I also received a copy of Whole Foods for the Whole World by La Leche League from someone who was “going finish.” It assumes more access to tofu and other “crunchy” ingredients then is possible in PNG, but it has some nice recipes for more restaurant-like meals – gyros were a hit and I have ambitions of making chicken mole. What recipe I cook most: Eggplant Sauce.
Since I left the King Arthur Flour cookbook in the US (it is a big hefty volume and would have been hard to fit in our initial luggage) I also read the King Arthur Flour blog Flourish for baking ideas. They can stray a bit into plugging their own products like fancy sugars or specialty baking tins, though. What I cook the most: Spinach Calzone.
What I really need to do in the cooking realm is actually make and execute meal plans. I’ve gotten as far as “know what’s for dinner by 10 am” but planning out a whole week or even month is currently not happening. It’s a little tricky when perishable ingredients just show up on our doorstep (8 ears of corn! a stalk of cooking bananas!). Give me all your menu planning secrets in the comments.
This post is about a pilgrimage that Annie, Tabitha, and I did last December (2015) at the opening of the Mercy Door at the local Divine Mercy Shrine in Jiwaka Province. For my non-Catholic readers, Pope Francis declared that the 2016 liturgical year (Dec 2015-Nov 2016) is a Year of Mercy, in which pilgrimage sites were designated at significant churches throughout the world.
Before beginning my post, I ask for mercy and forgiveness for all those that I have unintentionally offended during my stay in Papua New Guinea. Being in another culture can be difficult, and I know that I have not always navigated the challenges well. In particular, I ask forgiveness for comments I made regarding the Good Shepherd staff and students when my students boycotted my class in July 2015. I regret some of the things I wrote and I should not have written so publicly about the incident. I have deleted some of what I wrote. At Good Shepherd itself we had a reconciliation mass that ended the affair; I ask for a similar reconciliation for anyone that I have offended though my inappropriate words.
Annie, Tabby, and I woke up before dawn, picked up some local seminarians and working staff from the seminary, and then drove to an outstation called Aviamp along the highway. We located our previously arranged guide and started off over the foothills for the Divine Mercy Shrine.
Our guide, whose name I have sadly forgot, was very happy to tell us stories of the old colonial times. He said that his clan used to quarry stone from the hills, sharpen them into axe heads, and then trade them for food and women to tribes throughout the Highlands. Also, the main valley of the Waghi was originally a swamp, so the old Australian patrol road went through the hills we walked.
The walk was not as strenuous as I thought it would be. We arrived near the Shrine well before the service was to begin, so we went to see a local Catholic high school.
We loitered around for a few hours, I made my confession, and then we eventually made our way back to the local village for the official procession to the Shrine, which was led by the Archbishop.
It was a well-organized mass, with lots of good singing and music. The Archbishop explained well the nature of indulgences and merit in tok pisin. After a hearty meal, the Archbishop then gave us a ride to our car. We actually got a flat tire on the way home, but my car full of young gentlemen fixed it for me and the road-side vegetable venders gave us free cucumbers to tide us over.
All in all a good trip, though I want more mountains to cross on my next pilgrimage.
The founder of Good Shepherd, Fr. Peter von Adrichem, purposely situated it in a parish so that the seminarians would have practical experience and be involved with a community. Fatima Parish celebrated its 60th Anniversary “Diamond Jubilee” earlier this month.
The first day of the three-day festival we skipped, but Anastasia did get to tambourine practice with her Sunday School teacher.
The second day had the main event of a singsing. Our neighbor Cornelia was going to dance with a group from the Primary School.
Tabitha saw her getting ready and said that she wanted to wear bilas too! So I got out the child-size purpur (yarn skirt) that Annie had worn and the feather headband, necklaces and bracelets with it.
We learned that toddlers should put on their bilas last, because when Tabitha had been done and ready to go for at least 20 minutes and Cornelia had still at least 40 minutes of prep left, Tabitha decided to start taking necklaces off. So, no traditional dancing yet for Tabitha.
We went down to see the singsing at lunchtime. There was a carnival atmosphere and lots of stalls to buy food from; Brandon bought fifteen fried potatoes and some egg sandwiches and we walked around munching and looking at the sights.
The final day of the Jubilee was a mass with the Archbishop. Anastasia had all her practice dancing in the living room come to fulfillment when she got to be part of the procession leading the celebrants in!
Annie (and now Tabitha too) are still banging tambourines in the house and singing “Diamond Jubilate, everybody, serve the Lord with all your ways! Enter now his gates with singing, enter now his courts with praise. Jubilate, Diamond, Jubilate Deo!”
Happy 60 years, Fatima Parish, we wish you many more!
Tabitha likes to help take care of her brother.
Tabitha loves her birthday present doll carrier and taking walks with it on.
Tabitha had lots of fun at her joint birthday party with Annie!
Happy birthday Tabitha! You are sweet and spunky. You require Bingo to be sung after every injury. You wander off several times a day. You love to sing. You want to try all the things Annie does. You make us smile. We love you a lot!
Anastasia turned five this weekend!
What is she like these days? When not at school she will probably be found playing hopscotch or practicing writing letters and numbers.
Her attention span has really increased in the past year and it shows in the level of detail she can put into a picture, and in the longer stories she can listen to – Brandon got her My Father’s Dragon as a birthday present.
To celebrate the day of her birth, we went to Mt. Hagen Aiport Hotel to enjoy their pool and eat some pizza with our neighbors the Dings.
It was a nice relaxing time.