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Sunday, September 2, 2012

Hospital Visit #2 (a.k.a. Alisha's final hospital visit)

On Saturday, August 25, Christina and I had made plans for her to pick me up at our apartment and go over to their house for a bit to do some inventory stuff that needed to get taken care of. She picked me up as scheduled, but informed me that there had been a slight change of plans because she had just received a phone call saying that Prisila, the little girl we had initially gone to visit with the intense headaches who had been hospitalized for 3 months and no one could figure out what was wrong with her, needed a ride to the hospital. Between my first visit to the hospital and the second visit, Prisila had improved drastically. So much so, that she had been discharged from the hospital to live with family in town, been to a check-up a week or so after being discharged from the hospital, and received the ok from the doctors to return to her village in the bush. She began deteriorating before they even got to her home, and things quickly got worse. She ended up back in the hospital, but again, no one could figure out what the issue was, therefore were lost as to how to begin treatment. She ended up going home for a couple more days, and then it was Saturday morning, last week. I was good with it! Excited to go back to the hospital and give it another shot. My first visit was the day after we’d arrived and I was still struggling with jet lag/climate change/etc. This was gonna be a good day! We went to the house where Prisila was staying to pick her up. She was, what I’m pretty sure my nurse/doctor friends would call non-responsive, with her arms and legs flinging around, not like a convulsive seizure, but more like a constant involuntary movement. Christina had warned me that she had gone to see her a couple days earlier and her left side was completely paralyzed, but she was awake and talking at that time. Saturday morning it was good to see her moving all of her limbs, but she seemed, to me, to be unconscious. Lou (not sure on the spelling) was the one who had gone to check on Prisila Saturday morning and the one who had called Christina to tell her that she needed to go back to the hospital. She’s a physiotherapist who has been here since January and is going back to Australia (I believe) in December. We drove past a house to find Prisila, with Lou, in a small shed behind the house. Lou carried her to the van, and we drove a short way to the hospital.
Upon arriving at the hospital, Lou carried her into the Emergency Room, which is when I started feeling a little queasy. The nurse who was trying to get an IV into Prisila’s arm left the rubber bandy thingy on for so long her hand was turning purple/blue. And then, because she was so dehydrated he just had to poke and “search” (read as sticking the needle in and fishing around).
And that’s when I started feeling sweaty and light-headed and walked my self right outside for some air and a sit down. I stayed out for a few minutes, deep breathes, deep breathes, and then tried it again. When I went back in to her curtain, he had gotten the IV started, so I was good! Until her poor little flailing arm pulled the tube out of the IV and blood started dripping…outside I went. Deep breath, deep breath, and back inside. Only to find out the blood never got cleaned up and people were just walking through it, smearing it all over the floor, and that’s when my germaphobia kicked in full throttle. My thoughts went something like, “No one knows what is wrong with this little girl. No one can figure out why she’s so sick! She could have some weird blood-born illness and now people are just walking through her blood and spreading it all around.” Yeah…it’s craziness in there. So, I went outside again. And then back in again after I had collected myself and prayed away the weirdness in my head ; ) This time, though, I stayed on the outside of the curtain, peeking through every once in a while to see what was going on, but I focused on watching others around me…watching the daily workings of the only Emergency Room on Santo Island. I saw what we Americans would consider to be appalling, and it was difficult to NOT allow myself to go there. I saw a patient drink a glass of water, a nurse take it over to the sink, rinse it out, and set it aside to dry. No washing with antibacterial anything. No sanitizing. Nothing. I saw 4 separate patients use the same nebulizer/breathing machine without changing masks. No cleaning. One person comes in coughing, wheezing into the mask, finishes the treatment, and they move the nebulizer to the next person. I see that and think about the germs that are being spread from person to person. Thinking about the person who might possibly have pneumonia or some other type of upper respiratory communicable disease spreading it to a person who really does only have asthma, but making it even MORE difficult for the asthmatic person to be able to breathe due to contracting a sickness on top of the asthma that already exists. And I notice that it costs 100 vatu (approx $.90) for a nebulizer treatment. I was able to stay inside the remainder of the time that we were there, just outside the curtain. The doctor who was on call said that she thinks the possible reason of Prisila’s condition is an infection that began in her ears 3-4 months ago, and now the infection has progressed into her brain. Last I heard, she was able to get out of bed to go to the restroom, with assistance, but that’s amazing progress considering the condition she was in when I last saw her. Please continue to remember Prisila as they are worried that if she comes out of this illness, she may have some permanent damage that has been done to her brain. I’ve also heard more about the little girl I mentioned in my first blog. I believe her name was Musa (sp? MOOSE-a). She was four years old, and I think she’s already back in her village! She had been playing in the yard with her 2 year old brother, tripped, and fell onto her mom’s bush knife (machete) and cut open her stomach. They had walked 8 hours to get her to the hospital, had to wait on a doctor, then a surgeon to arrive, but luckily when she fell she didn’t puncture any organs! Her insides (I’m led to believe, her intestines) were on the outside of her body, but they were able to put everything back, sew her up, and she was doing well! Definitely not the outcome I was expecting for the end of that story, but loved hearing about the miracle that God so clearly performed on her! So…I think that was most likely my final hospital visit. I would love to be able to go up there every week, but I just don’t really think that’s a gift that God has blessed me with! While I love hearing about the amazing miracles that can occur in front of your eyes, and I love praying for healing, my insides just don’t handle hospitals very well…or maybe it’s just 3rd world country hospitals that I don’t handle well, seeing as I’ve never had an issue like this in the States. Who knows? What I do know?! I’ll still be praying for all of the people who are up there, who I hear about second-hand, because I know first-hand the miracles God is doing up there : )

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Last Friday Night

Sorry for the delay in posts! This is the first time since we arrived in Vanuatu that I (Alisha) have felt relatively normal. I’ve been fighting debilitating headaches, ear pain, and severe nausea, with the last episode being on Wednesday, August 29. It’s now Saturday here, and I’ve been feeling good since Thursday…the longest consecutive days of “feel goodedness” since we got here! And I’m excited about that!!! I heard about some ears drops on Wednesday that Jason and I went out and picked up on Thursday, and they seem to be doing the trick, thank goodness! I am not a fan of being laid up in bed while my family goes on fun adventures without me :/ Anyway…moving on to the purpose of this post. Last Friday night we all headed over to the Widups for a game night that they had organized. They had invited a missionary family, the Pikes, who were in town to pick up supplies to take back to their home in the bush last weekend, another family (Graeme and Caroline and their three teenagers), and us. The Widup’s and the Armes’ hailing from the States and the other two families originating from Australia. Let me tell you, it was a trip! There are words, common English words that we in the States use on a daily basis, that will make an Aussie blush…of course we found this out due to Jason saying said “Aussie dirty words”. I won’t be going into detail, as I don’t care to offend any of our new Australian friends! We played a game called “Telestrations”, which is funny enough when played with people all from the same country, but when you mix Australia and the United States terminology, it’s hilarious! Aussie’s aren’t familiar with a “cake walk”. A “pick-up truck” could also be a tow truck, or just a truck. And around here a car is also known as a truck. A “trolley” in the U.S. is a form of transportation, but our Australian friends call what we know as a shopping cart a trolley. Suffice it to say that we had a good time around that table making new friends and having a culture lesson all at the same time! : ) ps. I realize that there aren't any paragraphs in these posts. It's driving me batty, but I can't figure out how to fix it, so we're just rollin' with it : )

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Week 3 complete.......

I, Jason, haven't blogged in a while and Alisha is not feeling well. So.... I will take the "blogging rope" from her and talk about the last week. And what an eventful week it has been. We have had our daily Bislama lessons and walked town a lot to practice what we are learning. We went to the market (that's the best place i've found for using Bislama) and tried it out. We also, saw our 2nd "bush" man. Yes, he was only wearing a "maw maw" or pee-pee cover as we call it :) I was afraid that Eli would say something, but, he refrained.....WHEW!! I also spent a couple days at the Widups trying to get the office finished that they are building for the area missionaries. We sanded and mudded, painted, hung the ceiling and windows and polyurethaned the wood trim. This is going to be a space with a couple desks, internet access, a printer, a copier and most importantly a Keurig coffee maker and A/C :) :) They want this to be a place of rest for the missionaries. A place where they can come and "get away" for a little while. They can access the web, have a cup of joe and relax in the A/C. This is a much needed space as Alisha and I are learning just how strenuous it is to be a missionary in this country. It is very demanding and trying on a person/family. On Friday I went to my first youth event. It was put on by the local Christian Futbol team called the Malampa Revivors and a young Ni-van pastor that we have become good friends with named, John Thomas. Alisha and the kids stayed back home as the event didn't start until after 7 pm. It was called "Coffee night". It started off with some worship and singing (all the songs were by Hillsong and in english, so that was good lol). Then John Thomas gave a great message in Bislama (which I think I understood about 75% of). After the message there was a time of prayer by one of the futbol players. We then enjoyed some local treats and coffee and watched the movie "Forever Strong". All the pastors, futbol players and students (those that were brave enough to come to talk to the "white man" lol) made me feel very welcome. I am glad that I got to go and look forward to attending the next one. Today after church we went to one of the infamous "Blue Holes" here on Santo Island. This is the only island in the whole country that has them. They are fresh water springs and they are BEAUTIFUL!!
Marcus, Tony and myself rode the dirt bikes and the quad down. It was about a 30 minute ride and very fun! The water at these things are amazing!! So blue and clear that you can see the bottom, which this one is about 40' deep, with no problems. There is a rope swing that is hanging from a Nabanga tree that some of us swam too and jumped off of. There were some local kids there swimming when we got there. So it was nice to be able to interact with them too. And I know enough Bislama now, that I'm pretty sure they were talking about how big I am lol!! But that's ok, there aren't many people here that are as tall or wide as me :)
Overall, week 3 was a success! We are really trying hard to learn the culture and the language. We don't want to just be seen as tourists (they don't really care for them here). We want Ni-Vanuatu people to see that we are here to care for them and show them the love of Jesus!! Thank you for all the prayers, notes, and text messages. They are for sure appreciated!! We miss all of you very much and can't wait to see you all soon and share with you what God is doing. In the mean time.....stay tuned on here and keep up with us on our journey. Much love, Jason p.s. The coffee here is OUT OF THIS WORLD GOOD!!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Exploring and Adjusting

On Saturday, August 11, 2012 we walked through all of the shops on the main street of Luganville, except for maybe four. We were simply trying to get a feel for what each place had, and their prices, pretty much just taking our time exploring the place. Up until then, the kids had all said that walking everywhere was one of their favorite things about being here…now they don’t think that so much ;) But they all were very well-behaved, didn’t complain, and I think enjoyed the day looking around and trying to get an idea of some things that they might want to purchase with their chore money. The girls both want to get island dresses or skirts, and a handmade purse, and Eli found a green island shirt that he wants. Their chores consist of daily helping me with laundry (not that I need help, but they like to try), taking turns getting the rainwater, helping with sweeping (multiple time per day…it’s REALLY sandy/dirty/dusty here), and just generally helping us out with things from time to time. Yesterday (August 12, 2012) we enjoyed church at the Widup’s again, marking the beginning of our third week here. It was initially difficult for me to imagine having church in someone’s living room with only 7-8 families attending, but it’s quickly become a time that I look forward to. Everyone has welcomed us right in, and I have felt the presence of the Holy Spirit every week. We watch pre-recorded sermons and worship is typically songs that I’m not familiar with, but it’s proving to me that (Matthew 18:20) “Where two or more are gathered in my name, there I will be also.” I love seeing Scripture lived out! I took my first walk today (Monday, August 13, 2012) without Jason, but I still had to have the kids with me. Trust me, that’s a big thing! I haven’t been anywhere without him, or Christina, since we arrived. It’s not easy to get used to constantly having to have an adult chaperone at all times. It was nice to walk with the kids up to drop off the girls at a friend’s house, and then walk back with Eli (I still have to have at least one kid with me when I go anywhere). He thought it was funny that I called him my bodyguard ;) That’s not really the case, but he enjoyed thinking it was. Speaking of it being funny that Eli’s my bodyguard…
the kid has suddenly decided to have a growth spurt! He’s constantly hungry! That has never, in the history of Eli, happened before…go figure. Thinking and praying for all of you getting ready to head back to school (tomorrow for you, but it’s already Monday afternoon for us). Please know that you’re never far from our hearts and minds.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Aore Aelan (otherwise known as Aore Island)

On Sunday, August 5, 2012, we took a boat ride across Luganville Bay to Aore Island.
Our kids had never been on a boat, and I had forgone the Drammamine because I only bought the kind that makes you sleepy for the looooong plane ride…turns out no one really needed it, anyway, but I digress. Luckily, they ended up not needing it for the boat ride, either! They were all 3 enthralled the entire time, with Eli especially, taking everything in.
It ended up being about a 10-15 minute trip to the island, and as we got closer to the island, the water was sooooo clear!
The kids were having a blast spotting coral and anemone (terms I’m pretty sure they only know due to watching Finding Nemo), and were off to change into their swimsuits as soon as we were on land. The beach was beautiful!
Paighton, Mikayla, and Emily took off in a kayak to have some fun girl time,
while Lainey, Eli, and Maxwell started looking for sea life close to the water’s edge.
Eli was the first to find a big starfish.
And Lainey found a couple of little crabs…I didn’t believe her at first…I thought they were just snails in their shells…but then out popped the little pinchers! Paighton took our camera out on the kayak and took some really neat pictures of some of the things they found…
and some really great pics of each other ; )
After some water fun, we had lunch at a restaurant on the island, then headed back to Luganville. Paighton stayed at the Widups with Mikayla and Emily, and the rest of us headed back to our apartment to try to finish unpacking, again, and get organized a bit. The trip to the island was something my kids had been begging for since the day we got here! They wanted to get in the ocean and see cool things, so for those of you who know what begging kids sound like day after day after day, I was happy to get that out of the way! And it was a nice way to relax a little after the crazy, cockroachy day we’d had the day before!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

New New Apartment

The stores throughout Luganville are known by various names…seems to be mostly abbreviations of the names of the people who own them. There is a store called, “New Look”, and then another newer one called “New New Look”, hence the title of this blog : ) Our new new apartment is still a 2 bedroom, but the kids’ bedroom is now large enough for all 3 of them, their clothes, and beds.
The living room area is bigger than in the first apartment, also.
Still have our bedroom
and a bathroom with toilet/sink/shower.
And the infamous cockroachy kitchen...
The main difference that I first noticed was that there’s no running hot water in the kitchen…which is no problem because I can get any needed hot water from the shower, or heat up water in the kettle on the stove. The next difference I noticed, and quickly, was that there seemed to be a lot more bugs…cockroaches, to be exact, of which I had never previously seen! I had started to wash up some dishes when the first one popped out of the cabinet below me…which made me jump…a lot : ) But we stomped it and I proceeded with more dishes…when a couple more started scurrying about…which made me run from the kitchen : ) That’s when Jason opened the cabinet and we saw the degree of insects…ewwwwyyyyyyy!!! But, we also knew coming into this that when you’re here, you just have to learn to deal with pests, so deal we did! Jason would spray bug killer into the cabinet for 30 seconds and close the door. After a few minutes, he would open the doors and sweep out any bugs that were in there and shoot them like a hockey pucks to the rest of us where we were waiting to keep them from getting into the rest of the apartment, and we’d stomp them. I’d guess that took us about 3 hours of doing that repeatedly to get to the point where there were no more bugs when he opened the cabinet doors. And there has only been maybe 3 dead cockroaches show up since the day we moved (Saturday, August 4, 2012), so I think we’ve taken care of the huge infestation…but I’m sure we haven’t seen the last cockroach of the trip!

Friday, August 3, 2012

First week photos :)

This is a picture of Paighton, Lainey, Eli, Maxwell, Malachi and Christina at the Vanuatu Independence Day celebration at the park. The lady sitting beside/behind Paighton is Eneth, our Bislama teacher. She is ah-mazing!
This is a photo of our view of Luganville Bay from the balcony of our apartment. Beautiful...if I do say so myself!
This is our kitchen area. The fridge is tiny. The red bucket on top of the fridge is what we use to carry our rainwater (used for drinking and cooking...can't drink the tap water). The contraption on the wall is the gas water heater. The orange cooler to the right in this picture is where we keep our rainwater.
This is the view of the rest of the "big room"/dining/living/Paighton's bedroom. Excuse the mess, we're still figuring out where we can put stuff :) And the chair tower in the middle of the room is a drying rack! The ceiling fan puts out some serious breeze. The towels draped over the backs of the chairs are also drying.
This is the last picture for took an hour for all of these to upload! This is Paighton, Lainey, and Eli on Eli's bed in the room that Lainey and Eli are sharing. They're going over the Bislama flashcards that I made, learning how to speak a new language, and loving it! Also, the clothes hanging on the windows are, you guessed it, drying! :) Thanks for checking up on us, and I'll try to continue to post some more pictures. Please continue to remember us in your prayers! Much love <3

First Family Photo in Vanuatu

This is all 5 of us, still on our way to Santo Island. At this point, we had driven 4 hours to Chicago, flown 4 hours from Chicago to Los Angeles with a 4 hour layover in LA, flown 10 hours from Los Angeles to Fiji with a 6 hour layover in Fiji, flown an hour (I think...I'm forgetting now) from Fiji to Port Vila, Vanuatu with a 6 hour layover...and this was taken during that layover while we were getting a personal tour of Port Vila from David and Song.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Moving Day.....

Moving Day!
We finally got completely moved into the apartment on Tuesday, July 31, 2012.  It took a couple of days to get moved in because we arrived late Saturday night, everything is closed on Sunday, and Monday was Independence Day, so once again, everything was closed.  We couldn’t very well move into a place without hitting the grocery and the store to pick up some necessary living items (plates, cups, bowls, dish rack, etc), so we were staying in Bill and Christina Widup’s guest bedroom until we could get out on our own.  Tuesday consisted of our first grocery shopping trip, and wow, was that an eye opener!  Things are soooo much more expensive here than in the U.S.  The best example (for our family) is that cereal is about $6-$7/box…and that’s for a little box…not one of those big family sized ones!  But I live for a grocery/bargain challenge, so…challenge accepted!

Our apartment is above a gas station/convenience store/tire repair shop/bus stop/taxi stop.  It’s a pretty hopping place around here during the day!  We have a beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean and a couple of neighboring islands.  I have yet to see the sunrise or sunset as it’s usually quite cloudy at those times of the day, but we’ve only been here for a few days.  Our living/dining/kitchen/Paighton’s bedroom is all one room, about 20x20.  We have a little fridge/freezer, sink, stove in the kitchen area, a nice dining table, a tv on which we can get one channel, I think it’s French?, and Paighton’s bed.  The bathroom has a shower, sink and toilet.  And then there are two smaller bedrooms. The washer room is a short walk away, and there’s a line outside our apartment to dry our clothes.  It’s not what we’re used to, but it’s more than we were expecting! 

Our kids are loving it here!  They honestly haven’t had a bad word to say about it.  They’re being helpful with chores and jumped right into our first language lesson today, and have held us to studying with them multiple times throughout the remainder of the day.  It’s been fun watching them enjoy the more relaxed pace of Vanuatu compared to the fast pace of the U.S., spending most of their time outside playing.  Their favorite thing so far is that you walk everywhere…not at all what I thought they would enjoy, but they are!  They are also loving getting to ride in the back of Bill’s truck from time to time, as they’ve never been permitted to do that at home. 

One of the trickiest things, I think, for our family, is adapting to how quiet the people here are.  Americans as a whole are pretty loud, and I think the 3 loudest ones are in our family…Jason, Paighton, and Lainey.  Loudness equals anger to the people of Vanuatu, so we’ve been working on our loudness level, trying to make a game out of who can speak the quietest.  Along with our language lessons at home, we’re going to be trying out our Bislama skills in public, and we don’t want the people here thinking we’re mad at them just because we’re too loud, so we’re even working on being quiet in the apartment.  Sometimes it’s successful.  Other times, not so much.  It’s a process, right?! 

More to come soon!!!

Hospital Visit

Hospital Visit
My (Alisha) first visit to an out-of-country hospital went a little worse than I had expected…to say the least.  I’ve been in and out of hospitals in the U.S. on various occasions, for myself, my kids, and visiting friends and family.  I thought I was prepared for pretty much anything.  I’ve watched my teeny tiny babies get poked and prodded while they lay inside a plastic bed for two months.  I thought that was rough.  I was incredibly wrong. 

Christina and I walked up to the hospital in Luganville, VU on Monday, July 30, 2012…Vanuatu’s Independence Day.  It wasn’t a far walk from their house, but entirely uphill, which is weird when you’re used to everything being completely flat, but we’re adjusting J.  The hospital is a group of long buildings connected by covered sidewalks.  Different than the completely enclosed buildings that I’m used to, but it makes sense here since it’s never cold, and the covered walkways are shelter from the rain (it’s rained at least once every day since we arrived).  She showed me the emergency entrance, and we walked past the surgery building, arriving at the pediatric wing.  The first room we walked into housed kids (and their families) who were mostly recovering from broken bones.  One little boy had a cast on his arm, while another appeared to have one ankle tethered to his bed…it was later explained to me that he had broken both bones in his lower leg and the “tether” was traction to aid in his healing.  There was a tiny baby asleep on another bed with maybe an older sibling beside her, and then a couple of older girls sitting on another  bed next to the one with the baby, I’m assuming the caretakers of the baby.  All of the beds were pushed against the outside edge of the room, making a bed perimeter.  We walked through that room as Christina greeted each family and patient on each bed, as I just listened, trying to decipher as much as I could.  I do okay picking up on what’s going on in a conversation if I just listen, but I have no idea how to speak Bislama yet.

We passed through that room into a long hallway and were greeted by a nurse with whom Christina is familiar.  They stood and chatted for a while about the little girl who we were intending to visit.  She’s been suffering with headaches and fever for weeks, has been on numerous antibiotics, and no one has any clue as to what is causing her issues.  After Christina had been caught up on the most recent information about Priscilla, we walked into her room.  On a tiny cot of a bed lay a miserable little girl, not much bigger than my Eli, moaning in pain.  The only medication she can receive for pain relief isn’t even as strong as Tylenol, and it didn’t seem to be helping her too much.  As Priscilla’s grandmother and Christina talked about her condition, I stood and watched this poor little girl shivering and moaning in pain, imagining if she were one of my babies.  And my stomach began to flip.  How helpless her grandmother, nurses, and doctors must’ve been feeling.  Priscilla peeked her face out from under her covers to say hello and thank you for coming, and then went back under her covers…moaning in pain.  I didn’t think I was going to be able to remain standing much longer, so I told Christina I was going out to the hall to get some fresh air.  She followed me out soon after, and we went to the nurse’s station (more like an office), where the nurse (the only one there for the entire pediatric wing) proceeded to tell us about a 2 year old little baby who was presently in surgery.  He had been playing in the yard while his momma worked in the garden.  She had stuck her bush knife (picture a machete) into the ground, and while the baby was playing, he had tripped, fallen on the knife, and cut open his belly.  The momma had to walk 8 hours into town to get to the hospital.  And this wasn’t some little slice.  From my understanding, when they arrived, his insides were falling out.  Again, I felt like I was about to lose my legs.  Or my lunch.  This poor woman had to walk overnight, in the dark, 8 hours, to get help for her baby.  And then, because it was Vanuatu’s Independence Day, there wasn’t a doctor at the hospital, so then she had to wait for a doctor to show up in order to do surgery on her baby.  I just had to walk outside after that.  I found a bench and sat down and thanked God for allowing my children wonderful access to great doctors and hospital facilities.  And I tried to just breathe.  It’s difficult to put into words everything that I was feeling…for the baby, Priscilla, the families, the nurses and doctors…I’m still processing that part, I think.

Eventually the light-headed/fainty feeling passed, and I walked back to where Christina was visiting with another family before we left the hospital and walked back down the hill to their house.  It was a good, eye-opening experience for me.  And while it was difficult to handle, I hope to be able to go back to the hospital.  I want to follow up on the baby who was in surgery.   And from what I hear, Priscilla has been doing better the past couple of days, so it would be great to see her up and around and healthy.  God’s miracles are even more evident/obvious in a place where modern medicine can’t be credited for the healing.  I can’t wait to see what else He has for us!

Monday, July 30, 2012

We're here!!.......God provided for sure!

      Well, we’ve been in Vanuatu for about 40 hours now. And let me tell you, the things that we have witnessed so far have been amazing. The countryside itself is one of the most beautiful things that we have ever seen.

 When we arrived in Port Vila (the country’s capital), we were scared about going through customs. We have never traveled internationally so we weren’t sure what to expect. So we collected our bags, all 8 suitcases and 6 backpacks, and headed into the line. They were stopping EVERYONE in line in front of us and going through all of their stuff. We were afraid they were going to do the same for us. Not that we were trying to hide anything, but it was nerve racking because we don’t speak the language, we are white Americans and we didn’t want them to take anything that we may need for this trip.

     So it’s our turn. We step up to the counter and give the gentleman our passports and entry documents. He begins to ask questions. Do you have anything to declare? Do you have anything illegal? What are you doing in this country? (At this time I began to sweat lol). I explained that we are here visiting some friends. He then said, “It says here you’re a Pastor. Is that true”? I said yes. He asked what church we are with. I told him we are with Up and Up ministries on Santo Island and we are looking to possibly be moving here and volunteering with them. He looked me up and down and asked again “You are sure you’re a Pastor”? I again said yes.

     He had a puzzled look on his face; I again started to sweat profusely J. After thinking about it for about another minute, he asked one more time, “You are really a Pastor”? I said yes. He asked “You are sure there is nothing illegal in your bags” I said yes I am sure. He then handed me our passports and said, “just go straight to the exit. You do not need to have your bags checked”. I really wanted to just hug this guy! But I wasn’t sure how that would have been perceived in this country lol.

     Needless to say, all things were smooth sailing at every airport, on every flight and every checkpoint. God definitely knew what He was doing when He kept us from flying out on that Sunday. 

     So we are now staying at the Widup house. We went into town yesterday after church to see the independence day celebrations that were going on. Today (Monday the 30th) is Vanuatu's independence day. So there has been some things going on in the town to celebrate. 

     We went to the rodeo first. Let me tell you, this was no rodeo that you would see in the U.S. They had armatures and professionals, but it didn't really seem like it lol. And then at the end of the rodeo, they asked all kids ages 12-15 to come out into the arena. They put a flag on a bull and released it into the area full of kids. The first kid to "capture the flag" won a prize. It was hilarious! Thankfully no one was hurt, but it sure was funny watching those kids run around. 

     It did kind of feel like home though. Smelled like manure, had guys in cowboy hat and boots and they were playing country music over the loud speakers. Nothing like hearing Garth Brooks 'The Dance" sang by a local Ni-Van that makes you feel like you're at home lol.

     We then went to the "laplas". Which is their local park area that had tons of little booths that had local food and treats. It was awesome to get to try some of the local food and interact with the local Ni-Vanuatu people. They also had a stage set up that a choir was singing. 

     We went and visited the apartment where we are going to be staying. It is a nice little 2 bedroom apartment. We are going to move our stuff into it today and that's where we will be staying for the rest of the trip (pics to come soon....hopefully).

     Thank you to everyone who was praying us through our journey over the last couple days to get 
here. Continue to pray that God will work and show us what He wants for us and our future!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

At Least It's Not Raining!

For months now, we’ve been looking forward to July 22, 2012.  It was the day we were scheduled to begin our amazing adventure into exploring whether or not God is calling us to full time missions work.  My kids will forever remember it as “the WORST. DAY. EVER!!!”.  I will always remember it as a day that I could actually see the spiritual battle taking place over us beginning our missions journey. 
The day before we tried to leave, Eli’s asthma started giving us problems.  Earlier in the week I had noticed the onset of symptoms and called his doctor, who started him on the typical meds that will take care of his issues.  Normally he’s better within a couple of days and it would’ve been a non-issue when Sunday rolled around.  However, Eli can never do anything “normally”…lol!  We did breathing treatments every 4 hours all week, which usually helps to deter him getting worse with his breathing issues, but not this time.  Saturday’s breathing treatments increased to every 3 hours, and even doubling the treatments a few times in the evening.  He coughed every.single.minute Saturday night into Sunday morning.  Needless to say, Jason and I had barely any sleep at all.  I guessed that I maybe slept 3 hours, but that’s probably a pretty generous guess.  Early Sunday morning my mom instinct took over and I decided to take him to the emergency room.  The doctor who came in to assess him almost immediately said he was not going to allow Eli to travel in his condition when I told him our plans for the day.  I couldn’t believe what I was hearing!  We’d been planning this for 9 months, and one doctor was going to step in and stop everything we’d been working toward.  I knew in my heart that there was a spiritual battle taking place, so I prayed right then and there for the doctor to have a change of heart, for Eli to show marked improvement, and for us to get out of there.  At that point, some dear friends showed up to pray over and anoint Eli with a healing balm.  After another breathing treatment, getting an IV put in, bloodwork, and a chest xray, a different doctor came in to check on him.  This doctor said that he wasn’t going to keep us from going on our trip, just to make sure that we have all of Eli’s medications with us in our carry-ons, and he was released from the hospital!  Talk about a miracle!  And an emotional rollercoaster!
We left the hospital and went straight to church for first service.  Throughout the two services, we were prayed over for our mission, our purpose, and our trip.  We said many see you laters, and were finally on the road to Chicago.  We were all set to ride up to the airport in a 15 passenger van with a uhaul trailer for our luggage, but the air in the van wasn’t working great, and Eli gets worse when he gets too hot, so at the last minute, I proposed that Jason, myself, and Eli follow the 15 passenger van in our  minivan.  While an inconvenience at the time, it proves to be a HUGE Godsend later in the day.  The rest of the trip to Chicago was relatively uneventful, with Jason and I both believing that our tough spiritual forces battle is continuing to take place over Eli and his asthma, which is still flaring up from time to time. 
We arrived at O’Hare, found our check-in counter, unloaded all 10 suitcases and 6 carry-ons, said our final see ya laters, and went to stand in line to check in for our flight to Los Angeles and check our luggage.  After watching Jason talk to the woman at the computer terminal for a few minutes, he calls me over to ask a few questions, leading up to the fact that she believes we need visas for our trip, and we’ve only got our passports.  That was around 4:30.  For the next 3 hours Jason was on the phone with Bill and Christina Widup (the missionaries we are going to Vanuatu to serve with) while trying to get everything straightened out so that we could get on our flight.  The result of those 3 hours was that we needed to come home and will be flying out again on Thursday, July 26 and are unsure of how long we’ll be staying in Vanuatu, but most likely less than 30 days.  There is still much confusion on this subject, and we’re still researching our options, so please continue to be in prayer that if it’s possible for us to stay for the originally planned 90 day trip, God will make it happen.  I had called Jason’s parents as soon as the desk clerk for United said that we weren’t going to be able to get on the flight and asked them to come back to the airport because we might not be able to fly out.  Luckily they were only 20 minutes into their drive back to Indiana when I got ahold of them.  After standing around the airport for 3.5 hours while Jason got everything figured out, we all headed back to Indiana…and everyone was STARVING! Lol.
We stopped for supper once we got out of Chicago, and then were on our way home, for a few minutes…and then the 15 passenger van overheated and we quickly discovered it was not going to get us home.  And this is when I almost had a meltdown.  But didn’t.  I posted our predicament on Facebook, not for the drama value, but so that people would know we were still in need of prayer in order  to get home.  Almost immediately I received texts from a couple of people who were willing to make the 2+ hour drive to come and get us in Merrillville and take us, and our Uhaul trailer of luggage, home.  While we were waiting on Rob and Amy to rescue us, we were trying to laugh about the day, counting our blessings of what had gone right, and how the day could’ve been even worse!  It was a pleasant night, not cold, not hot, Eli had finally fallen asleep in the back of our van, at least it’s not raining, everyone was still alive, we weren’t fighting, the kids were all being very well-behaved, etc…lots to still be thankful for!  Jason and I were able to take our van to a gas station to buy a few gallon jugs of water to fill up the water tank of the overheated van, and attempt to get it to a dealership instead of paying a tow bill, which was a successful adventure.  So then everyone was hanging out in the parking lot of a Mike Anderson dealership near Merrillville.  Jason’s parents decided to stay there in a motel overnight and wait on the van to get fixed the following day, so Jason took them to get the last room in the motel, and while they were gone, IT STARTED RAINING!!!!  At this point, it was funny!  Not an hour earlier we had stated that we were just thankful for the nice night and that it wasn’t raining, and then rain.  The kids ended up having a dance party in the rain, so it ended up being a memorable blessing, also! 
We got home Monday morning at 5 a.m.   Completely exhausted doesn’t even begin to describe how we were feeling, but we do know this.  If we were supposed to be on that flight out of O’Hare on Sunday, July 22 at 6:48 p.m., we would’ve been.  My previous blog post was on not worrying about this trip because this is God’s plan, not ours, and that’s what got me through the day.  This is God’s plan.  He didn’t want us on that flight.  The week leading up to our departure was crazy busy.  We had no time to rest.  We had one day of just the five of us spending time together, and that still wasn’t very restful.  We know that God has big plans for our family once we get to Vanuatu, and He knows that we weren’t as rested up as He wanted us, so we didn’t fly out on Sunday.  That wasn’t news to Him.  He wasn’t surprised by that.  Now we’ve been home since Monday morning, resting.  We’ve already said our see ya laters, and don’t want to put our kids through that again, so we’re really just spending time as the five of us together, resting.  Hopefully Eli will be all healed up tomorrow when we head out.  We did make a visit to the doctor yesterday who mentioned that he thinks Eli’s flare ups may be stress induced, so if you’d like to pray for him in that regard, we’d appreciate it.  But we know that we are still in God’s plan.  Once again, God’s got this!  

My Thoughts......for now

So this morning I decided to take a page out of Max Widup 's book. I grabbed my coffee, got a lawn chair and headed to my deck. I thought that the noise of the highway would be a distraction. But it was not.

I read through Psalm 18-30. God really revealed some things to me in those passages about how He really wants us to be.

God doesn't want us to do to ALL the planning for our lives. All He asks is that we be willing and obedient.

Does God want us to be prepared for things that He asks us to do? ABSOLUTELY! But sometimes He just asks us to "Roll with it"! But where we feel like we may have failed in all of this is that, we were trying to be to "in control". We were very busy the week leading up to our departure. We barely had time to spend any time together as a family, let alone a couple, and just rest and prepare for this journey.

We know that God has a plan in all of this. But what we have learned through it is this: "Be still and know that I AM GOD". But a lot of times the last part of that verse gets forgotten. It says this: "I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth" .

That last part really speaks to me. Alisha and I needed to be still and just rest to prepare for this trip. But we didn't allow that to happen for us.

But, no matter what happens, God will be exalted! He doesn't need my family to make that happen. But He has chosen my family (i'm still not sure on why yet) to help make that happen. Despite whatever happens with this trip, God's Name will be exalted.


Saturday, July 21, 2012

It's the Final Countdown

It’s the Final Countdown!!!

Welp, the time has arrived…finally!  We leave for Vanuatu the day after tomorrow (Sunday, July 22).  This week has been busy with finishing up doctor visits, getting some follow-up vaccinations, spending time with friends and family, and packing.  Lots and lots of packing… J 
The best part of this week, though, has been the relief and the peace that both Jason and I have about pursuing this trip.  Speaking for myself, for about a month I was really doubting and feeling extremely apprehensive about leaving.  And those feelings were only heightened early last week during our first two days at camp with our youth group.  I hated being there.  I hated thinking about leaving.  I hated (and I know hate is a “bad” word) that we were at camp.  I thought it was stupid that we planned it this way on purpose so that we could kind of have a “last hurrah” with our youth group kids during that week of camp.  It was too difficult.  What I couldn’t see was God’s hand in it all.  It ended up being the greatest week I’ve ever experienced! 

Part of the issue, for me, is handing over control of “my kids”.  I love those kids that attend our youth group like they’re my own, and leaving them with someone else was just ripping my heart out.  It ended up being a great learning experience for me, and helped me to designate leaders in our group to take care of things that I might not be as well equipped to take care of in the first place!  I don’t have to be the one who tries to hold every girl accountable for all of the decisions that take place at camp.  I don’t have to be the only person available to talk/counsel with a girl who’s having a rough time at school…she’s got peers in school feeling the same way and they can help each other through it!  I’m not the only adult leader who can take care of these kids. Don’t get me wrong…I LOVE doing all of those things!  But we’ve got a great adult staff who is also perfectly capable to handle any situation!  It’s a great feeling to know that we have people who will do just as well of a job as Jason and I, or even better.  If we weren’t leaving, I wouldn’t have HAD to hand over control…I would’ve continued to try to do everything on my own without leaning on the incredible support staff that surrounds us.  I can’t wait to see what they can do with those teens while we’re gone! 

All that to say this:  God worked in this adult’s heart during teen camp.  It’s a common joke around our house that Momma has control issues, and God brought that issue to the forefront for me at camp.  I had to hand over the reins of all that’s involved with being the “youth pastor’s wife” to God, and the adult and student leaders who will still be here from July-October, and I felt an overwhelming peace once I did.  That peace has carried over into the panic and anxiety that was setting in about our trip.  God’s got this.  This is His plan, not mine.  I don’t have to worry about how this is going to affect our kids, or where we’re going to live, or if we’re going to experience turbulence on our plane rides, or if Eli’s asthma is going to act up, or if Lainey has an allergic reaction to seafood, or if we’ll all be homesick…I’m prepared for all of those situations!  But I’m not worried about them.  Because God’s got this J

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Follow Him

Our church has been following the biblically based D6 (Deuteronomy 6) model, and we have weekly Family Faith Talks which consist of 4-5 questions to talk about as a family.  Last week, one of the questions for our family faith talk was, “Abraham left his homeland and family to follow God’s plan.  What might God be asking you to give up to follow him?”  Paighton’s answer was, “our home”.  Lainey’s answer was, “our friends and family.”  Eli said they took his answers.  I took a picture of that moment in my mind.  I hope to remember it forever.  That little moment in time shows me how my kids don’t view the Bible as a book of stories, but as actual history, things that truly happened and that they can relate their lives to.  I think so many times kids are told Bible stories in the same manner that they’re read nursery rhymes…like it’s just another story.  But it’s not.  The Bible is a model for how we’re supposed to live our lives, and my picture moment showed me that my kids are getting it, and relating it to their own lives.  I’m incredibly grateful and thankful for the people who have supported us in completely raising the funds and praying for us as we prepare to take this three month journey and explore this option that God might have for us.  It’s amazing to me how God has provided everything we need, and it’s been neat to see it through the eyes of my kids.  They’ve had the opportunity to see miracles on this side of the trip, and I’m positive we’ll see many more on the other side of the ocean.
 Lainey had a friend over the other night who didn’t know that we were going to be gone for 3 months.  They were playing and I overheard them talking about it and her friend’s first question was, “you’re not going to miss any softball, are you!?”  J lol!  Quickly followed by, “Wait, but you’re coming back, aren’t you?!”  I looked at Lainey’s face, and while I could see how hard it was, she said, “Yes, we’re coming back, but if that’s what we’re supposed to do forever, we’ll go back for another 3 years.”  That was the first time that I think she realized what she’s going to be leaving behind, but I was proud of her for not complaining or whining, and being willing to go where God leads us.  Especially impressive coming from an eight year old…but I might be a little biased ;) 
Just a little peek into our recent journey.  Hope to have more for you soon!  Thanks for visiting.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

It's official......

     We are DEFINITELY leaving for our trip to Vanuatu on July 22nd. Bill Widup helped us in getting the best deal for our flights. We will fly out of Chicago on Sunday July 22nd and return on Tuesday October 23rd. There's no turning back now :)

     But seriously, we are VERY thankful to everyone who donated and believe in us and our family. Without the love and support of our family, church family and many friends who are out of state, this would not be possible.

     We are excited to see what God has in store for us, but we are quickly learning how hard it is going to be to leave behind the students in our Youth Group. While we are confident that God has given us the best adult volunteer staff a YP could ever ask for, we are going to miss these kids like they are our own. We know that they they are going to be taken care of and we trust that God will continue to lead and guide them in their walk with Him.

     Will you also join us in praying for the Widup family (the folks we are going to serve with) and their safe return back to Vanuatu. I can't go into details but I know that they would appreciate your prayers for them as they work out the necessary paperwork issues that need worked out for them to be able to return. We are so thankful that God has placed them in our lives and we look forward to  serving with them soon.

    Thanks for following us along our journey and continuing to pray for us!

God Bless!


Friday, March 23, 2012

From the mouths of babes......

We encouraged our kids that if they wanted to write or blog about what they were experiencing along this journey, then they could. This entry was written by Paighton and we didn't edit anything..........

my blog,based on paighton's life in vanuatu.One Sunday a family who is a misionary in vanuatu came to speak at our church. When they  walked up on stage and said were they lived/witch is vanuatu.Then God spoke to my dad and said, Jason I want you to go to this country.My dad was gonna pull a johna and not tell anyone and keep it to himself but God kept saying,Jason I want you to go to this country.So after the family walked off the stage my dad looked at my mom and my mom  said, are you thinking what i'm thinking my dad dosent remember much about that sermen but what I do know that we might be misionary's. So after the sermen was over the misoonary family had a table when you walked out of the sankawary.So my mom and dad went to the back of the line and wated there turn.when it was there turn they went to the misionary's  they told them that when they were preaching that God was calling them to the mision field so the misionary's said that we could come to there house some time .So a couple weeks later my parents told me my brother and my sister about how God felt like we should go to the mision field.We were really exited to go to an Island and be misionary's in a place called vanuatu.  I am pretty shur that you don't know about it.It's about 8,000 miles away from idianapolis,it's about 1,800 miles away from astralya .And it does not have Fall,Winter or  Spring.It is just rain and sun.The land is an Island,it has 109 difrent languges and it never gets below 75 degrees.We are going there to be misonary's. The languge we will be speaking is called Bisslama. we are leaving on July 2o 2,012 for three months and  we wont get back till October around the 20.My family hopes that God will give us clear direction.We are nurvous but exited. we told some of our family but kept it a secret for the rest of the family.So on October 30,2011my dad spoke to the church and told the church people.And then after the sermen was over, the people at our curch gatherd around my family and prayed over us. A lot of people cried even me my mom and my dad. For more information go to UP and UP Ministries and then click on Site Map

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

It was good to be back "home"

Last night, my family and I had the honor of sharing our testimony and faith journey at the church we came from before landing at Rock Prairie, Westview Wesleyan in Jonesboro, IN. It was great seeing old friends that we dearly miss and meeting some new friends and prayer partners as well.

I just want to thank Pastor Mark and the folks at Westview for allowing me to share what God is dong in and through our family. The people of Westview mean a lot to my family, and I wouldn't be the person I am today if it weren't for the upbringing I had growing up there.

We pray that God continues to bless the ministry of Westview as they reach the community of Grant County for the Kingdom!


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

We are on our way....

     Just wanted to write a quick note about how awesome Rock Prairie is. We have been at this church since 2003 and the people have helped us through our best times and worst times. I never thought that when they hired us as Youth Pastor and family that just 3 short years later God may be calling us out of youth ministry.

     As hard as that is to think for me, it is evident that this church loves us no matter what happens with this adventure. We need to raise about $30,000 for our 3 month trip to Vanuatu. Last Sunday they took a love offering for us and we now have over $20,000 for the trip. PRAISE THE LORD FOR THAT!!!

     I couldn't ask to be on staff at a more loving church. The people of this church, and Tipton for that matter, are the greatest people. My family is better because of this community.

     Stay tuned as we continue to write about this awesome adventure that God has us on.