Wednesday, 29 May 2013

It wasn't what I expected

   Its part of the family really. Papua New Guinea is only about 150 kilometres, as the crow flies, from the tip of Australia to land fall. Whereas the same crow would have to fly 200 kilometres to reach Tasmania from the Aussie mainland.
   When I went to school, PNG was part of our nation. I've always imagined it as being Australia's beautiful foster daughter who grew up and left home; independent  but still part of the family. So I jumped at the chance to go and visit this long lost sister.
   With great excitement, I left about a month ago with six others. Our destination was Lae. Our aim was to spread the love of Father God as far as we could reach. But, unlike many who have gone before us, we weren't blazing trails through impassable jungles or climbing high mountains  No, my trip was very civilised and organised. We'd been invited by a local church in Lae to teach their leaders and pastors. We travelled in cars, buses and planes. We ate good food and slept in comfort.
   I was prepared for the heat and humidity, for the red gooey stains of chewed beetle nut, for dark-skinned sisters who could understand English, but would prefer to speak in Pidgin. I also knew that the Australian government recommends that one only travels to PNG if necessary. But I was only going to the two main cities, Port Moresby and Lae, so I felt confident - then surprised!
   I found a sister that has let herself go. She hasn't followed the Australian way of life. Everywhere the taxi went, I could see evidence of of her temporary Aussie influence in the form of roads, bridges and infrastructure. Yet the massive potholes, broken footpaths, and decaying rubbish was evidence that she preferred her old way of life.
   At night we slept secure, knowing that there was an armed guard outside, twenty four hours a day. When we asked if about going to the shops, someone always accompanied us. Our handbags were locked up in our units. It wasn't safe to carry anything that didn't fit in our pockets.
   When we drove over the bridge (on the right), our driver told us of witches being burned at the stake, recently. He pointed to the hills and told us about witchdoctors.
   We wished we could stop and explore these colourful markets (left) until one of our new friends in our school told us the facts. These markets are the drug and gambling markets. No wonder everyone there had vacant eyes.
   The house on the right belongs to one of our students. Her family carries all their water from the river, and washes their clothes in the flowing water. All their food comes from their gardens. The stables are taro, other root vegetables, bananas and coconuts supplemented with a little canned fish.
   One day there was a tribal march down the street in front of our church.  Trouble was brewing. A man had been killed. The other tribe were looking for retribution. For our new friends this was normal activity. No big deal.
    In the midst of all this, I was delighted by a nation of lush green trees, vibrant flowers and warm, generous, colourful people. Everywhere we looked there were wonderful mountains, flowing streams, contrasted with dust and dirt. And lots of people, travelling on foot, or loaded into the back of lorries, going shopping. After I preached at one of the churches, I was showered with gifts of fruit from wonderful loving people. This church was overflowing with worshippers, hungry to know more of God.
   Why has such beauty become so corrupt? Why has PNG fallen back into a third world economy? Why aren't they enjoying the abundant blessings of our nation?
   I believe the difference is hidden in those mountains. The people we met know God Almighty and worship Him. However most of them belong to tribes. Many of their relatives still practice witchcraft.
   The Bible is very clear. We can choose blessings or curses. Its our choice. Worshipping the Lord, and no other god, brings blessing. Serving any other power brings curses. Never before have I seen such compelling evidence of this spiritual law.
    I returned home humbled and subdued. What about Aussies? Is Australia still a Christian county? For generations we have reaped the blessings from seeds of faithfulness sowed by our forefathers. But soon we must start to feel the consequences of abandoning the one true God. As a nation we worship false gods like sport, addictions, comfort, abortion.... We can not flirt with our gods and stick our heads in the sand in denial, pretending there won't be consequences.
As part of the Australian church, I am challenged to humble myself and pray and seek His face so we will turn away from our wicked ways. Then He can come and heal our land.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

It seems like yesterday...

   Forty-two years!
   It seems like such a long time, and yet it doesn't seem long ago. But life is like that. It passes by at such speed, yet often days seem to drag.
   But as I was is forty-two years today since Steve and I were married. Forty-two years of shared happiness, sorrow, joy, tears, frustration, arguments, devastations, surprises and yes, sometimes even boredom. We have experienced most of what life can dish up and now we embark on our future years with all that experience and commonality.
   I was married as a twenty year old. My expectation was for a family with lots of kids, maybe five,  leading a normal, always happy life, for ever after. It never occurred to me that one day I'd be old, or that I'd be married to an old man, though I did expect in years to come that I'd have a bald husband. At that time, I thought anyone over forty was ancient!
   And I never expected to have to wash windows, or clean the loo, or wipe up vomit in the middle of the night. As I said...I was young!
   Once married, we soon discovered we had different expectations. I thought a husband always bought his wife a cuppa first thing in the morning. That's what my Dad did. Didn't that happen in all marriages? He expected long cosy mornings, sleeping in as long as possible and couldn't grasp the concept of a wife who wanted to get up early enough to see the sunrise! By the end of the honeymoon some realities were beginning to set in!
   Then, despite our plans, children didn't come either. Adoption bought us our two wonderful children, but there was no hope of three, let alone five. (Steve was secretly relieved about that!)
   So forty-two years later I look back. Has life been easy? Has marriage been all joy, love and laughter? No, but its been good...very good!
   I'm thankful for an amazing husband who understands everything about me - well the basics anyway! I'm grateful for his steadiness and steadfastness that has been an anchor stabilizing my impulsive and crazy ways. I'm pleased that my impulsive and crazy ways have stretched him to greater adventures and achievements than he ever dreamed possible.
   I'm thankful for the really hard valleys that have trained us, strengthened us and led us into a deeper relationship with God. When I look back over my life together, the stand out memories are those times when we have helped each other get through the seeming impossibilities that life has thrown at us.
   And I'm thankful for eight wonderful grandchildren! What a privilege it is to be a grandma.
   But mostly I'm thankful for a marriage covenant that has melded two people together; the commitment that held us close through the storms and trials. Its the tough places that produced our oneness, a unity that's only possible when two individuals have been tempered by life's fire.
Now, leaning on each other, we can walk into the most exciting years - they are just in front of us. Yes, we are privileged. Not many are as fortunate as we. We count ourselves blessed!

Friday, 17 May 2013

Suddenly the evening changes

   My iPhone dings. I jump. At 10.10 pm it makes me nervous.
   I grab it from the coffee table. 'Epipen given. Can you come?'
   Typing a quick reply, I turn to my husband and our visitor. 'I'm sorry. I have to go'. My granddaughter is having another anaphylaxis episode.
   Within a couple of minutes I'm driving, trying to watch the speed limit, hoping I can get to my daughter's house before she has to board the ambulance with her thirteen year old.  I know her tongue would be swollen, threatening to fill her mouth. The swelling in her throat would be trying to close her wind pipe. I also know the Epipen would lessen the reaction, but I pray as I drive. For now my role is to stay the night with the her two smaller sisters.
   When I arrive, there are two ambulances. A local one that responds quickly and a resuscitation unit that follows up and will transport her to the Children's hospital. There are four uniformed people surrounding her bed. She is sitting up. To the untrained eye, she looks fine.  On arrival they administered an injection of adrenaline and now her air passages are clear again.
   One of the ambos, who hasn't been here before asks, 'Do we really need to take her in?'
   'All the way to the Children's?'
   'But she can walk to the car?'
   The guy who has attended her on other occassions explains. 'We walked her up the drive way once. It took us nearly an hour to stabilise her on the street before we could leave. This girl may look fine, but she rebounds without notice.'
   The rookie goes to get the stretcher. They pack up and go. I cuddle her twelve year old sister, check the sleeping five year old and settle into my daughters bed. I've lost count of the number of times I've done this. Sadly, we are getting used to it, but tonight is a little more challenging. Tomorrow is Mother's Day.
   The next morning I hold a little girl as she sobs. 'This just shouldn't happen on special days. It's wrong! I want to give my Mummy her presents.'
   'Yes, darling. It's wrong.'  I agree. The whole illness is wrong!
   Together we get dressed and head into the hospital. Our patient should be discharged by the time we get there. But today doesn't go as planned. They have to treat her at 9 am and then again later that night. We celebrate motherhood, in the hospital, with a bar of chocolate. The other girls find places to play for the day. Hospitals are boring!
   That night, I gather them home and ready them for school in the morning. My daughter tries to sleep in the hospital on a dodgy recliner, for the second night running. My granddaughter has a bed but she's unhappy. Her body is now filled with adrenaline  It saves her life every time, but it leaves her full of energy, confusion and frustration.
   This week is Food Allergy Awareness week. The organisers suggest everyone wears one painted fingernail to draw awareness to the problem. Now one in ten kids are allergic to one or more foods.
    What is my granddaughter allergic to? They tell us she is allergic to her own hormones. The doctors are trying their very best, but, in reality, they don't know how to treat it, let alone cure it. (See previous blog)
   There are two other girls with the same condition.     We often run into them in the Emergency department of the Children's hospital. One of those girls has had over 200 doses of adrenaline. She has been affected for two years.
   So can I encourage you to paint one finger nail, and tell others about the affect of allergic reactions.
    Look up anaphylaxis on the internet.
Share this blog and .... pray for a miraculous respite for these girls.


Anaphylaxis is the most severe form of allergic reaction and is potentially life threatening. It must be treated as a medical emergency, requiring immediate treatment and urgent medical attention.
Anaphylaxis is a generalised allergic reaction, which often involves more than one body system (e.g. skin, respiratory, gastro-intestinal and cardiovascular). A severe allergic reaction or anaphylaxis usually occurs within 20 minutes to 2 hours of exposure to the trigger and can rapidly become life threatening. Taken from