It has been a month since I have posted anything. I got back to Madang and hit the ground running. Our Director had to leave before I got back to Madang, so I went back to work immediately. We have several people from the United States of America with us right now and many of our Papuan New Guinea co-workers have been in Madang also. They have been working on checking Scripture portions. Three different language groups have been in Madang having their translations checked by their consultants. This has added to our normal work load, but the checking has gone very well, so it has been worth the extra work.
Jan and I had a good visit with my sisters and their families in Springfield. We left there and went to Sedona Arizona to spend a week with my childhood friend, Grace. Our time there was wonderful. Grace and I have been close friends since my brother Tommy introduced us to each other at the age of four.
Grace Flicker and me at the Elephant Foot Restaurant Phoenix AZ
We took a day trip to the Grand Canyon. It is only a few hours drive from Grace’s home in Sedona, Arizona. As we traveled we had a conversation about how the word awesome was overused to the point that it has lost some of its meaning. When I got into the car after my first sight of the Grand Canyon I said to Jan and Grace. “I am sorry but I have to say that was Awesome”. They both agreed that was the correct use of the word. I have put a few of my pictures of the Grand Canyon below. Pictures are not a good way to see the Grand Canyon. You really must see it for yourself.
Grand Canyon Two
Grand Canyon Three
Grand Canyon Four
Grand Canyon Five
Grand Canyon Six
Grand Canyon Seven
Grace Flicker at the Grand Canyon
Grace retired this year from teaching. She decided to teach two or three days a week to make the transition from full time work to retirement easier. Grace came to visit us in Madang five years ago when I had my 60th birthday.
Grace Flicker and Jan Sedona AZ
Every day when Grace leaves home she sees Bell Rock. Sedona is quite an amazing place because of the red rocks.
Bell Rock Sedona AZ
I hope to get back to at least four posts a month now.
I have a friend in Madang, Papua New Guinea who is a fan of “The Simpsons”. He is always teasing me by telling everyone that I am from Springfield, you know, the home of the “Simpsons”. Yes, I was born and raised in Springfield Illinois, but I am not sure that is the home of the “Simpsons”. I think that almost every State in the Union, as we say, has a Springfield.
The Springfield I come from is the capital of the State of Illinois and is well known because Abraham Lincoln lived there when he ran for President of the United States of America. Springfield has, in the last twenty or so years, started to own up to that fact. When I was a child we all knew, but didn’t really think much about it.
The shopping area of Springfield, like many other cites, moved from the center of the city to shopping malls in the suburbs. When I was a child living in Springfield the downtown square was where you went to shop, see a movie and do your banking. My friend Grace and I went to town almost every Saturday to have lunch and see a movie. It all looks so different today.
First Illinois Capital Building - Springfield
The city of Springfield made a wise decision, in my opinion, when they didn’t let the downtown area die. They realized that they had some very important historical sites and that they should capitalize on them. Springfield is a city built on a square. This is my favorite kind of city, as I think it makes finding places very logical. The original state capitol building is located in the center of the square. It was the Sangamon County Courthouse when I was living in Springfield. Sometime before I was born the building was jacked up to add a basement under it.
Several years ago the courthouse was taken down brick by brick, numbered and stored at the state fairgrounds. A parking garage was built and then the courthouse was reconstructed as it was originally built.
Union Station - Built 1898
The Union railroad station that was built in 1898 was restored and a lovely park built in front of it. There is now the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum across the street from the railroad station. If you are ever in Springfield they are both worth a visit.
As we walked around the square I remembered many buildings and the stores that were there. Here is a picture of the Kresge Building that had the Kresge Five and Dime store in it. Grace and I would have our lunch here or at Woolworth’s Five and Dime.
Kresge Five and Dime Store Building
The Herndon Building held one of the expensive department stores and stood on what I considered the windiest corner in Springfield. This building and all the rest around the square are office buildings now. There are quite a few restaurants and clubs in some of the buildings on the square. I was told that it is quite nice to go downtown at night now. The only things not there anymore are retail stores.
The Herndon Building
In front of the restored court house is where President Obama declared that he would run for the presidency. Across the street from the courthouse is the building where Abraham Lincoln practiced law. There is a very nice statue of him with his wife and one of their children in front of that building.
Herndon - Lincoln Law Offices
We took a walk away from the square a few blocks to visit the house where the Lincoln family lived while they were in Springfield. It has been restored and really looks better than it did when I visited it as a child.
Abraham Lincoln Family Home - Springfield Illinois
All in all, it was a good afternoon of visiting downtown Springfield and reminiscing about what the area looked like when I spent my Saturdays there.
That evening Jan and I went to watch the movie “Valkyrie” at Pat and John Baisden’s house. Pat is my niece. As we were watching Jan looked out the window and saw the sun setting. He ran out and took a few sunset pictures. This one is my favorite. What a way to end a nice day.
On the Thursday before we left Canada Tamara, Pippa, Audrey, Jan and I went to the Royal Botanical Gardens of Ontario. This was Jan’s birthday present from the Hans and the family. When we are together we try to have a birthday day because Jan and I can’t be there for every birthday. This year we were not there for anyone’s actual birthday but did attend Hans’ birthday party.
These gardens are quite large and there were only parts that had spring flowers growing. We spent most of our time in the Rock Garden. The tulips were beautiful even though many of them were beginning to fade.
The Rock Garden is terraced with a waterfall. At the bottom of the waterfalls there is a pool. There is a very old tree in which a “Mama” raccoon had built her nest. I was able to get a picture of her peering out at us.
Waterfall at Rock Garden
Mother Raccoon in the Rock Garden
Our granddaughter Pippa enjoyed taking pictures. Audrey, our youngest granddaughter, always enjoys roaming and finding new and interesting things.
Pippa and Audrey at the Pool
Tree in Bloom
The Cherry Trees were in full bloom and some of the flowers were ready to fall. Our daughter-in-law Tamara helped the girls shake the tree to see the petals fall like snow.
Shaking the Cherry Tree
We walked and smelled our way through the many different kinds and colors of Lilacs in the Lilac Dell. The Lilacs are arranged to tell the story of how the Lilacs were developed from wild plants to the beautiful bushes we see in people’s gardens today.
In the woods up the hill from the Lilac Dell there is a place to feed the squirrels and chipmunks. If you are lucky a bird or two will land on your arm or hand to get some of the food. Here is the family settling in to wait for the chipmunks or birds to come. They fed the squirrels by throwing the food to them as they can and may bite your hand. I think everyone but me got the feel the chipmunks running up their hand to get the peanuts and pumpkin seeds Tamara had brought along.
Serving the Chipmunks
Jan and his Friend
We felt very blessed to see this garden with our family on this beautiful Spring day.
When I was getting ready to come to the USA, Jan and I talked about what camera I would bring. We have several. Jan has always been a photographer and so we normally have several cameras in the house. As I am not a great photographer I need a simple way to take pictures that make it quite hard for me to cut off people’s heads. I have done this many times.
We talked about me buying a digital camera that was my camera. We looked on line and compared the ‘point and shoot’ cameras. Jan gave me a recommendation as to which he thought would be the one for me.
When I got off the train in Springfield Illinois I asked my sisters and their husbands to take me to the nearest Best Buy Store. I needed to buy a laptop computer, a phone and a camera. Armed with the print outs of computer and camera that Jan recommended, we went into the store.
I could not get the recommended camera as they were out of stock, but I got one almost the same but less expensive. I thought that that would be OK as I am not the main photographer in the family. The camera I bought is a ‘Canon PowerShot A1000 IS’. I have been learning how to use it. I have read the book, but it has not been a lot of help to me as I don’t think I learn as well by reading something as having someone show me how to use something.
The other day Jan and I took a bus ride to the top of the Niagara Escarpment here in Hamilton to try out our new cameras on views from the escarpment looking back at downtown Hamilton, Lake Ontario and Toronto in the distance. Here is the finished product of my first panorama picture with my new camera. I think it is not bad for a beginner:
My First Panoramic Image - Hamilton, Ontario
We had a nice walk through the Sam Lawrence Park on the escarpment. The day was quite clear for Hamilton and the park is very pretty. I took this picture to show the great job the park employees have done in landscaping:
Sam Lawrence Park - Hamilton, Ontario
On Friday evening we had the belated party for Hans’ 40th birthday. It was a BBQ at the house of the pastor of their church. The two families are good friends. They and other friends meet once a month to play board or card games. This is Hans’ greatest happiness after his family. The games went into the night with me getting home after midnight. Jan had gone home earlier as he is not a game player. Hans had a cake of ice cream bars as he is not a big one for birthday cakes. Tamara brought it to him as we all sang “Happy Birthday”:
Hans and his Ice Cream Cake
This is our last week in Canada and we had hoped for much warmer weather but so far it hasn’t come. Tomorrow is supposed to be warm enough that if possible we will see some waterfalls.
This is the first time for me to write anything that will be seen by many people on the internet. I hope to write once or twice a week from now on. I want to keep you up to date on what Jan and I are doing. I want to keep you informed about our work with Pioneer Bible Translators.
Jan and I normally take a short leave every other year. We are now in Hamilton, Ontario visiting our son and his family. Earlier this year Kyle Harris, the Director of Pioneer Bible Translators in Papua New Guinea, asked me if I would come back to the USA to attend our mission board meeting in June. He said he and his wife were going to take their leave in 2010 and he would like for me to stay in Papua New Guinea while he was gone. I agreed to do that.
Jan decided to stay at home and let me come to North America for two and half months. The closer it got to my departure the more Jan thought about being alone for that amount of time. We found an inexpensive airfare for him from Brisbane, Australia to New York City, so we decided that he should follow me after one month.
I left Madang on the 31st of April and traveled via Cairns and Sydney Australia to Chicago. I took the train to Springfield IL and spent some time with my sister Mary and her husband Jim. I made two trips to Indianapolis IN to see supporting churches, and my doctor and dentist. I also visited with Jan’s parents who live in Indianapolis.
I came to Hamilton on the 23rd of April to spend time with our son Hans and his family. Jan joined me on the 1st of May. We are staying at Staybridge Suites. It has been so pleasant having time for ourselves and time with Hans and his family. We have a friend named Brenda here also. Last Saturday she took us to Niagara Falls.
Brenda and me at Niagara Falls
Hans turned 40 in April and this Friday we will have a party to celebrate his birthday. I made a picture book of Hans’ life. It was so much fun going through the pictures we have at home to find the ones I wanted to use. I used MyPublisher (which we downloaded from the internet) to compose the book. After I finished it we uploaded it to the MyPublisher website and it was printed for me. This book was so much fun to make I hope I find the time to make other books. Here is picture of the cover of the book:
Cover of "A Mother's Memories"
Here are some of the pages of the book:
After leaving Hamilton we travel to Springfield, Illinois and then to Sedona, Arizona. My friend from childhood lives in Sedona. This will be Jan’s first visit there, so we are also going to make a trip to the Grand Canyon.
After we get home to Madang we will have a big party for our 45th wedding anniversary.
I hadn’t hopped over to Lower Ramu Bible Translation Ministry for a few days. Look what I missed!
You’re a guy looking for a wife and your sister is looking for a husband (possibly desperately)? We have the answer to your problem – Sister Exchange! (No, dudes, you can’t use this to trade your pesky sister for a nicer one.)
Those Tarzan movies show fantastic communication by drum signals. Is it true? How does it work?
And, my favourite, the hideously self-righteous and notoriously pushy European Union wants Papua New Guineans to STOP PRAYING, at least when the EU is listening. Whether you are a believer or not, you’ll laugh out loud at the irony in this article.
If you are wondering about the strange missionary from the Lower Ramu River, here’s a shot of him cleaning the bottom of his 30 foot sail boat, Stap Isi, on which he, his wife Kathy, and the ship’s cat, Dory, sailed all the way from Moline, Illinois, down the Mississippi River, and across the Pacific Ocean to get back to work:
Now that’s a commute!
When I got home from work the other day the neighbours had something unusual in their small haus win* near the water:
Yes, one does not see rabbits every day in Madang. I learned that they had purchased two rabbits at the Mt. Hagen market for K6.00 each. They looked quite healthy to me. They were very tame. The kids were mauling them without mercy. Here is the pair of them, a male and a female having a light snack:
I came across a couple of items on the web about raising rabbits in PNG. One concerns taking pressure off of tree kangaroos by assisting villagers to raise rabbits for food. The other is from the Tenkile Conservation Alliance. It also discussed rabbit farming as a way to conserve native wildlife.
Their gigantic floppy ears remind me of the huge White-tailed Jackrabbits that Eunie and I hunted for food when we lived for a summer in Montana. We were dirt-poor. We couldn’t afford to buy meat, but we could afford to buy .22 Magnum cartridges for my Marlin rifle with the big ‘scope. I don’t know how many of these Lepus townsendii ** we shot that summer, but they were getting pretty scarce in our hunting range by the time the leaves were turning:
That was the summer (1963) that I learned that Eunie, at least for stationary targets, was a much better shot than I. It was humiliating. We practised at the landfill, shooting rats. She got bored and started pot-shooting seemingly at random. I asked her what she was doing. “Shooting flies.” she mumbled as she squinted through the scope. “Sure you are, babe.” said I. We walked up to a cardboard box. She said, “They were right there and I shot them. They disappeared when I shot.” Thinking that the recoil was preventing her from seeing the fly fly, I examined the three holes in the box. Around each one there were splatters of fly goo – pretty as you please.
I didn’t know whether to be proud that I had taught her to shoot or terrified that I had created a monster. I qualified expert on every weapon that I was given when I was in military service. But I could never beat Eunie on stationary targets. I did get to the point that I could drop one out of two of these stringy lop-ears on the run up to about 50 metres. It kept us alive.
I love bunnies. They are so soft and cuddly – and delicious!
* A haus win is a small shelter with a wooden floor set off the ground on posts. It usually has a thatched roof, but no walls. It keeps the sun off, but lets the wind flow through.
** Credit: photo by R. B. Forbes, © American Society of Mammalogists
We have suffered for years because of a deteriorating power station in Madang. Now it seems that the situation will improve.
Eunice saying a little prayer before switching on a generator
The odd photo above is Eunice switching on one of the three new generators for the ‘first time’. Obviously, they’ve been tested before, but the installation was such a big deal for Madang that an official switching-on ceremony was conducted.
Why was Eunice chosen to do the switching? (one might ask) It would take too long to give the entire explanation, because it goes back for many years to our mission’s policy of showing a presence in the secular community as good neighbors and helpful people.
Eunice has been the Secretary/Treasurer of the Madang Chamber of Commerce and Industry for several years. I am quite sure that it is the first time that a missionary has held the position. Just last night she was re-elected as the Treasurer of the Country Women’s Association, a community service organization which sponsors many charitable activities in Madang.
We think that it is an effective way to show Christ’s love to prove ourselves to be active and responsible contributors to the life and well-being of the entire community. Eunice was honored by being asked to do the switching-on because she has worked for several years now to be an arbitrator between the Chamber of Commerce and PNG Power, the electric company. It has sometimes been a difficult job. Community anger over lost business and other problems (no power = no water) has been boiling for years.
Here is a little gallery of photos from the ceremony: (click any image to bring up a slide show)
If you want to know some of the many ways I appreciate my wife, read Proverbs 31:10-31.
For the last couple of months everybody and his cousins have been fishing every day, rain or shine, in our front yard. Apparently, it’s currently the best fishing spot in town. Here is Sisilia and some kids having a go:
Sheba, our dog, is always out there assisting. For Sheba, ‘assistance’ means snapping up a fish whenever she can get away with it. I’ve sometimes seen as many as a dozen people standing in the rain catching tiny fish one after the other. Here is what they are catching:
I haven’t been able to find them in my fish references. If anybody out there knows what they are, please leave a comment. The local Tok Pisin name for them is mausgras. The word means moustache. If you look carefully (click to enlarge), you can see the tiny whiskers on a couple of them. This makes me think that they could be a juvenile form of some kind of Goatfish.
They are about as long as you finger. It seems that it would take a lot of them to make a meal. They wash them, coat them in batter and deep fry them. I haven’t tried any, but I”m going to go next door sometime and have a taste. These little fish are like snack food – they don’t catch enough to feed a family. Think of them as the Twinkies of the sea. The difference is that if you eat enough Twinkies, I’m certain that you will die. I don’t think that the number would be very large, either.
Over the weeks, I’d guess that they have caught many thousands. They use only a stick with a little line on it and a tiny hook. They put a bit of fish on the hook and throw it in. Within a few seconds, they will have a fish.