Since she was about four, Annie has been waiting to participate in the eucharist.
A few weekends before her birthday, we heard the announcement that the seminarians were holding a first communion class. She faithfully attended and got instruction in a mix of tok pisin and English. We followed up at home with books recommended by Mater Amabilis, like Kendra Tierney’s Little Book About Confession.
The first sacrament of the weekend was her first confession. The 19 kids started by cleaning the church, then got some last instructions on how to eat a host properly. Her confessor was Fr. Jacek, a family friend.
Anastasia received her first communion on the Feast of Corpus Christi. The morning started with a procession to three different outdoor altars.
She sang the responsorial psalm with four other girls.
Afterwards we had a party for her and house blessing. Fr. Joseph prayed over our family and sprinkled holy water on the whole house, even the laundry room.
It was a very good time – perhaps the most pleasant since we’ve come back to PNG. Lots of neighbors came to eat cookies, including two fellow communicants, Rebecca and Aaron. The grownups enjoyed looking at our photobooks, which were good conversation starters. CTI’s president tried reading Fox in Socks to Tabitha and started crying and laughing because he couldn’t get the tongue twisters. Tobiah played blocks with the other little boys. Towards the end, Annie spontaneously organized the older children to sing songs with her, including “Jesus Loves the Little Children” in Motu, the local tribal language. Fr. Joseph danced along with “Father Abraham.”
It was a joyful day.
Thank-you for your prayers and friendship.
Ever since we first visited in November last year, Annie and Tabitha were dreaming about having their birthday party at Adventure Park, just down the road from CTI. So last month we did!
Annie is seven, a reader, dancer, music player, and
motormouth would-be leader.
Tabitha is four, strong, dexterous, sweet, and stubborn.
We invited our neighbors, co-workers, and some of Annie’s school friends. We walked around and saw the lakes, a few of the zoo animals, and the many other picknickers. Then we had lunch, complete with homemade cake.
Then came the main event of the day: waterslides!
The last event of the day was the crocodile feeding.
Thanks for coming and celebrating our girls with us! They are very special to us, and I hope they always know that.
We’re back to Ordinary Time now, but here’s a review of what we were up to during the 50 days of festivity.
Let’s start with the Easter Vigil. Here is the Easter fire. For scale, that is the priest with the Easter candle to the bottom right.
Annie and I sat on the balcony at Holy Spirit Seminary’s church for the Vigil Mass, which gave us a good view.
We also went to the Easter Sunday mass the next day.
The next weekend, Divine Mercy Sunday weekend, we went to the beach for the first time! Fr. Jacek and Fr. Marcin, the Rector and Vice-Rector of Holy Spirit Seminary, showed us a favorite swimming place at Lea Lea Beach.
Fr. Jacek and Fr. Marcin also gave us another gift- a cat! Her name is Mia. Tabitha is slightly obsessed.
Finally, we had some visitors from Jiwaka, which made us happy. Dr. Scott from Kujdjip Nazarene Hospital was in Moresby for some meetings and came by to catch up and play a boardgame.
And our beloved former neighbor, Bubu Anna, whose house our children played at daily, came to POM for a graduation in her family.
Our final exciting occurrence during eastertide was the girls’ birthday party, but that will have to wait for the next post!
We will start our tour in the kitchen.
There’s a little antechamber which we refer to as the scullery, where the refrigerator, cabinets, and the sink are.Here is the front door of the house.This is looking to the left of the front door.
This is looking to the right of the front door.
Coming back inside, if you come in the front door and go straight, you end up in the kitchen bathroom.
If you come in the front door, pass the wall of bilums, and turn right, you end up in the living room.
Going down the hallway, if you turn right at the first door, you’re in Annie’s room. This is a funny room because it used to be a second kitchen, before they knocked down walls and turned it into a single-family dwelling. The builders wanted to keep the cabinets, because they were in good shape, so they made the counter wider, stuck a bedrail and a ladder on it, and now it’s something like a captain’s bed. Annie enjoys having the chapter books right above her to read to herself before lights out.
If you turn right at the second door, you’re in Tabitha and Tobiah’s room.
If you turn at the first door on your left, you’re in the laundry room.
This is the view to the left of the laundry room door:
Whereas in Jiwaka the main landscaping concern was drainage ditches, here the main concern seems to be eliminating hiding places for snakes. Most of our neighbors have packed, swept earthen yards. Maybe we can grow a lawn…
Coming back inside, if you were to go in the second door on the left, you would be in the second bathroom.
Going straight down the hallway brings you to the master bedroom.
Turning around and looking backwards down the hall from the master bedroom:
We have many geckos in the house, at least one in each room, for which I am thankful, because they eat mosquitos and cockroaches and are pretty cute to boot. I thought this nocturnal visitor was cute too:
The last room in the house is the study, which is connected to the master bedroom. Right now the study is used more for playing boardgames, because we can lock the door and the children won’t lose the pieces.
So that’s our new home for the next three years! Come visit us sometime.
Hi! So. Moving is crazy. You probably already knew this. Here is some of what we’ve been up to in our new place, in photodump form.
We lived in temporary housing for about 5 weeks and are in our second week of living in our new house. Photo tour coming soon. Here we are eating our first meal in our new house — Aussie-style meat pies.
The builders left a sand pile behind from making cement. A good way to get introduced to the neighborhood kids.
The little shovels I brought from the US are a hit.
We bought Tabitha a ukelele so she wouldn’t feel too left out. Bring on the sibling jam sessions, now that we have our own space.
We’ve finally been able to unpack all the way, after about 5 months. We rediscovered some Christmas presents!
We’ve been getting to know the students – Brandon is teaching the first-year class Intro to Philosophy and I am slowly matching faces to the names on library cards. We at least know all the students who were at Good Shepherd, plus some SVDs who did pastoral work at Fatima.
We’ve been getting to know our way around Port Moresby more, figuring out where to buy vegetables (Boroko market) and the like. This past saturday we saw King Lear at the Moresby Arts Theater with about 40 students, and the saturday before that our family went to the Port Moresby Nature Park.
We enjoyed the multiple walk-in aviaries. Tobiah was enchanted. “Birds! Birds Eat!”
And they all got their faces painted.
We’ve climbed a few local hills within walking distance of the seminary.
Here’s the view of CTI from on top: the church spire is in the center of the picture, with some student dorms to the right. To the left a little farther away are the classrooms and library.
Unfortunately on his second time up this little mountain, a huge rock fell on Brandon’s foot. He didn’t break anything, thank the Lord, but 8 days later he continues to be on crutches with a swollen and painful foot. Pray for us — it is hard to be a monopod Dean or a monopod daddy.
More later, including house tour!
We arrived back in PNG on Saturday 27 January. Anastasia started the first day of a new school year on Monday the 29th. She’s in first grade at Koroboro International School.
Her teacher’s name is Ms. Asimi, and her teacher’s assistant is Ms. Malkati.
She gets on the bus at 6:20 am and arrives back home by bus at 4 pm, a long day and a new schedule we are still adjusting to. Her bus friend is a 6th grade boy from India.
Tuesdays she has computer class and dance class — she is thrilled about that one. Wednesdays she has two periods of music class, another favorite. And Fridays she has PE.
She brought home a scholastic book catalog this week, with instructions to triple the prices to convert them to Kina. She’s made friends named Lisa, Kailani, Faithful, and Priscilla. We have a parent-teacher meeting next Wednesday. Anastasia says she loves school and that it is so fun, but she misses her parents.
We are moving! (Or have moved? It’s complicated by the fact that we went for home leave in the middle of the process…)
Brandon has accepted the position of Dean of Studies at Catholic Theological Institute in Bomana, Port Moresby.
CTI is the major seminary for Papua New Guinea, located in the capital city. It has a six-year program in philosophy and theology studies. There are 10 member colleges, that is, houses of formation for 9 religious orders and a house of formation for diocesan seminarians, which send their seminarians to CTI for studies. Lay people also attend CTI.
So we have left the cool highlands for the hot city. Maybe our blog title should be read as “Plotinus in the [Urban] Jungle” now…
He was announced as the new Dean at CTI’s 2017 Graduation, pictured here processing in with the faculty.
We are excited about this new opportunity for our family and sad to leave behind the community of friends we had in Jiwaka. After our home leave we will jump in to our new lives at the end of January.
We celebrated with a joint party (…which happened a month ago now…) with our neighbor Jodi, whose birthday is the day before Tobiah’s.
We had our now-traditional backyard party with games at the basketball court afterward.
Tobiah, we love you, and we’re so glad you’re in our family. It will be great to see you grow more and more this year — we are especially looking forward to hearing you talk in sentences.
We went trick-or-treating around the seminary for the first time this year.
Brandon briefed the staff members on what Halloween was and passed them some candy to give out first, though!
The students were just confused. “A queen! Are you in a drama? No? Then… what…”
A few staff members who had gotten masters’ degrees abroad knew what was going on, though.
My costume was a brown skirt and a white shirt with a big label of the locally produced tea. The seminarians found this even more confusing. “…What does a princess and a teabag have to do with each other?” I tried explaining that we were dressed as things that made us happy.
The girls had fun. The staff members were amused. Tobiah enjoyed getting some “Lollyyyyy!” as well.
We’ve been keeping a garden for the past few months, with a lot of help from Miriam.
Our friends the Crouches helped too by giving us basil seedlings and cuttings from their orange kaukau (sweet potato) plant.
Miriam brought us some bean seeds she had saved from her own garden, and for a few weeks when they were ripening we had a veritable festival of beans.
We also planted corn from seed the seminary had saved, and I bought cucumber seeds in the Banz market from a lady who had diligently dried them from her own plants and brought them to sell in various containers (I declined to buy an entire coke bottle full of cucumber seeds!)
The advantage of planting your own corn is that you can pick it at the more tender stage preferred by Americans, rather than the starchier stage usually available for sale.
The cucumbers grew well, and almost managed to satisfy the children’s incredible appetite for cucumbers. It is rare in the picture above that one made it out of the garden! They would take them off the vines and sink their teeth into them.
We’ve also been enjoying other bounty from the highlands climate. We have a papaya tree about 5 feet from our front door, good with lemon juice from the lemons growing by my office or the student dining hall.
The first person to tell us to come to Good Shepherd Seminary advertised, “You’ll have your own house, a good climate, and many fresh fruits and vegetables.” It was all true. We are thankful for the good things that grow from the rich highlands soil. Blessed be God forever!