Update from Julie

I (Julie) have been trying to write a blog for a couple of weeks but every time I try to put words to paper I hit a wall.  It is almost like there is something trying to stop me from sharing with you all of our blessings and challenges since leaving Canada this past September.  So this time I am just going to share with you these past couple of months in a point form that will start from when we get ready to leave Canada in September till now.

 

  • Our trip home this time from furlough was a bit different in a couple of ways.  The biggest was that Greg was still recovering from having gallbladder surgery and was not suppose to lift heavy things for about two more weeks.  And for those of you who live overseas will understand that this is hard as we try to take a lot of different things back with us that we will need or want for however long we are gone. I was so thankful to be traveling with some nice strong teenagers as they stepped up and did a lot of lifting. And I would say that this was by far the hardest time our children have every had when it came to leaving Canada.  It was not because they hate living where we do because they enjoy the city but they miss having friends and other people around them.  They enjoyed and soaked up all the time that they could get with other people while back home.  And I love the fact that so many people took time to encourage and uplift our children while they were with them.  And of course Franklin got to experience his first time of freedom from parents while working at camp and like any seventeen year old he wanted more of it.
  • As you have just read about there were a few stressers on our trip back and right before but I want to pause a moment and share with you a special moment that actually happened at five in the morning as we were standing outside the Winnipeg airport. We had just finished unloading all of our bins, bags, and backpacks from the vehicles and gathered around our dear friend for one last prayer together.  As our friend Billy is praying a women who was standing outside next to the railing called out and said that it was sure nice to see people praying together and that she could sure use some of that for her self.  Our friend politely told her we would once we were finished and then continued to finish what we were doing.  As soon as the prayer ended I turned and headed to this lady who I had never met before.  And I found out that she had just lost her daughter and she was about to fly across the country to go and pick up her ashes and bring them home.  And like most parents she had no idea how she was going to find the strength to make the journey.  So while Greg and our family tried getting all the carts heading inside to check in I found myself wrapping my arms around this dear women and praying for her.  It was a moment that I shall not forget and I felt so humbled to be able to pause from our crazy time and just encourage someone else.
  • After over forty hours in travel time our family made it safely to Sentani but it sure felt very different in a couple of ways. One was that there was unrest and riots that had just settled down which meant that there was extra security everywhere and I could tell our teammates were very weary from the tension.  Plus this was are first time back to the city since being there for all the flooding and landslides that happened months before.  And even though life goes on the side effects are still everywhere as you drive around you can still see all of the things that  are still in process when it comes to clean up.  Thankfully our children seem totally unaffected by it and just enjoyed sleeping on beds and hanging out with friends once more.  And for Greg there of course was his airplane that he had left sitting right across the street plus a brand new one as well and he was know down to only one more week of light duty before he could fly again.
  • So after finishing up all of our things (visa renewal) in Sentani we finally arrived home to Merauke after being gone almost four months. It was great to be reconnected with our national staff who had worked to put a new roof on the hanger and office while we were gone.  Plus they painted both the hangar and office as well as take care of both the missionaries houses while everyone was gone.  It took about a week to unpack the house, get things working again (needed a new hot water tank), and feeling like it was home once more.  And it was always great joy to see our neighbors and different friends from around town.  Greg was able to then go and get our old plane and start flight operations once more as we waited for the last little bit of government paperwork to be finished on the new plane.  As we waiting more unrest broke out in the Wamena area which lead to our staff (expat and national) to be taking out of the area until things calmed down. Thankfully, our area on the south coast has been able to stay peaceful during these times of unrest.
  • About a week after starting to fly Greg received word that all the paperwork was complete for the new plane and he now needed to head to Sentani for about a week of different things before bring the new plane home. Both Jaclynn and Isaac were able to travel with Greg for our planes last operational flight before landing in Sentani.  They loved getting to get a tour of one of the villages that we serve a missionary lady and even got to take a small boat ride back to the plane.  Franklin and I took the commercial route as this allowed for more weight which was need for some school books that needed to go with us.  Little did we know that within a couple days we were once again going to be faced with another challenge.  I had noticed that I was tired and my one side was uncomfortable a little but after only being back in country a few weeks that is still a little normal.  So when I woke up with sharp pain in my stomach just like the gallbladder thing years ago our heart rates did start to beat faster and our imaginations start to run.  Thankfully God had it all under His control and we were near a good doctor who after seeing me told us that it was typhoid.  Which can be very serious and can lead to people being flown out to handle it.  The funny part was our imaginations had taken off when the doctor starting talking out loud with all thing things she was noticing wrong like an in large liver and so on.  So that by the time she said typhoid it felt like a relief and not that big of thing at the time even though it was.   She had the medicine right on hand and I was able to start it right away.  Thankfully, the pain lessened and I reacted to the drugs well and within the first week I noticed a huge difference.  However, it has probably taken a whole month to recovery completely and I am now this past month felt more like my old self.  Through it all though I had to laugh at my daughters comment once we got back from the doctors office and told her what it was along with an explanation.  She  just shook her head and said in a funny but calm way, “Here we go again!! Something tells me this year is not going to be any better then last year.” Also, that same day after being diagnosed with typhoid our family along with all of our Sentani teammates and friends were able to gather around our new float plane and pray together before it began official operations a few days later.  Which Isaac had the privilege of being a passenger with Greg for that flight.
  • Now our days are filled with school work, household chores, and Greg handling different types of work at the office (flight days, office days, maintenance). Franklin did plant a garden when we arrived home so we have some nice corn growing in our yard.  I have really started to use a lot of our local stores which look like small shacks for things so that I am in our neighborhood more.  Jaclynn is really enjoying going to Sunday school at our church as she is in the the youth group which has done some fun things like soccer with the little kids and going to the beach for their class.  Isaac still seems to be growing some and eating everything in sight however he is not looking for just snack food.  When he gets hungry he is now looking for a full meal which has greatly increased my hours spent in the kitchen.  Oh, we have also been privileged with getting to meet our new teammates through skype as they finish up their last few units in language school.  We are looking forward to them hopefully being with us sometime next spring down in Merauke after they spend some time in Sentani.  And Franklin was able to get his motorbike license which you can not get until you are seventeen.  So when he can he hops on his mothers bike and goes and gets things for us.

 

 

Furlough 2019 Video

 

We are wrapping up our time here in Canada.  We were thrilled that we were able to connect with many of you.  We are also sad that it was not everyone.  We trust that those we were unable to connect with are doing well and Lord willing maybe we will have the opportunity to connect next go around in a couple years.  Above is the video we shared throughout our visits.  I wanted to make it available to those that we were unable to connect with and for those that would like to see it again.  Blessings thank you again for your interest, prayers and support for MAF and our family as we live and serve in Merauke.

Resilient

The word resilient carries a bit of history for our family in our journey with MAF.  A couple months back a friend/co-worker made this post on social media.

How do you spell resilient? I spell it DOLE. This family has faced multiple medical evacuations, a deadly earthquake, and now flooding and landslides here in Sentani…and that’s just in the last 12 months. And yet they remain on mission here in Papua- homeschooling their kids, and flying our amphibious Caravan into isolated areas only reachable by river. My hat goes off to you Greg and Julie…thank-you for your sacrificial service!

Allow me the opportunity to give credit where credit is due.  During the application process specifically in our psychological check.  It was noted that I (Greg) lacked resiliency and was not recommended by the psychologist for overseas service.  Thankfully those that were making the decision on whether our family would be a good fit for MAF, were able to see pass this weakness in my personality and still allowed us to join MAF.  This resiliency is still a weakness I believe for me however it has also become one of my strengths.  God has provided the resiliency for us as we would not have been able to say to you after these past couple years, that we are excited and looking forward to getting back to Merauke.  This is due to words of 2 Corinthians 12:9 being very true in our lives.  2 Corinthians 12:9 “but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”  I think this verse speaks well of how God has been and will be glorified in our (my) weakness.  I’m so thankful for Christ’s resiliency that has been given to us as He has walked with us through these past challenging times.  With this we can confidently look to the future that His grace will continue to be sufficient to sustain us in our weaknesses, and troubling times.

 

Blessings,

Greg, Julie

Franklin, Isaac, & Jaclynn

 

 

A Life Worth Celebrating

The evening of April 22, 2019, a dear friend and coworker was suddenly called home.  Pak Hammi Djaga, our Merauke Office Manager, collapsed while cutting his grass at home Easter Sunday.  His neighbor saw him and rushed him to the hospital and about 30hrs later he breathed his last and entered into the presences of our Heavenly Father.  He left behind his wife and 2 grown children.

He begin with MAF in 1994 serving in the operations department in Sentani.  2001 he moved to Merauke to help open this base as the Office Manager.  He faithfully served in this role up until his calling home.  He had an incredible servant’s heart.  Often I would find him cutting the grass, cleaning the cars and other such things.  He wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty while carrying the title and role of the office manager.  He was seldom found without a smile on his face as well, his positive and happy countenance made it a joy to be around him. We will miss him very much, we however enjoy the peace and hope that someday we will meet again at the foot of our Heavenly Father’s Throne.

 

 

Speaking Schedule

Speaking Schedule 2019

We’ll try and keep this up to date as much as possible.  Other days of the week are also available I’ve just included Sundays for now.  If you have an event or gathering during a different day of the week and would like us to join and share and update please contact us.  We are also hoping to connect with as many as we can personally.  Please don’t hesitate contacting us about setting up a time when we could connect over a cup of coffee, meal, or in small group setting, etc.

gregjuliefij@gmail.com

 

June 9th – Bethel Evangelical Missionary Church – Carstairs, AB

June 16th – Hawkwood Baptist Church – NW Calgary, AB

June 23rd – Innisfail Baptist Church – Innisfail, AB

June 30th -Bergen Missionary Church – Bergen, AB

July 7th – Sayward Christian Fellowship Church – Sayward, BC

July 14th – Open, (Vancouver Island area)

July 21st – Open, (Nampa Idaho area)

July 28th – Unavailable

Aug 4th – Mirror Alliance Church – Mirror, AB

Aug 11th – Rocky Mountain Alliance Church – Rocky Mountain House, AB

Aug 18th – Main Avenue Fellowship – Sundre, AB

Aug 25th – Cornerstone Bible Church – Steinbach, MB

Sept 1st – Open (SE Manitoba)

Sept 8th – Open (SE Manitoba)

 

 

 

Home Assignment Here We Come

Greetings,

This summer we will be returning to Canada and possibly dipping down below the 49th parallel to visit and share in person the life molding experiences we’ve been privileged to live through these past couple years.  Below is a rough outline and is very subject to change at this point but its a start.

June 1 Depart Merauke

June 3-4 Arrive in Alberta

June 5-11 Recovering from Jet-leg

June 12-30 Available to connect and share Alberta.

July 1-15 Travel to Vancouver Island BC

July 16-22 Potential trip to Nampa Idaho

July 23-30 Marriage Retreat (Sorry not available but our kids are:-) ).

July 31-Aug 19 Alberta

Aug 19-Sept 12 Transition to and visit Steinbach MB,

Sept 13 Depart Winnipeg for Indonesia.  Yes this is Julie’s 40th as well!!  Good place to spend your 40th in an airport right ;-).

 

Trusting No Matter What

Once more I find myself sitting at the feet of Jesus asking for His wisdom and strength for I am weary after these past weeks. I have mass destruction all around my family once again and wonder when it will end at times.  After the past year and a half both Greg and I are finding ourselves being stretch in many different directions that sometimes make no sense to us.  We have been learning to adapt to constant challenges and moments when our human nature wants to throw our hands up and say enough is enough.  BUT our GOD is forever faithful and has filled us with the strength to carry on and trust in ways we never knew possible.

One of the challenges actually began over a month ago when our son Isaac got a cut on the inside of his ankle while in Sentani playing on the playground.  We noticed it looking a little red and with the help of one of our teammate who is a nurse we thought we had it looking good.  However, two days after returning to Merauke it was starting to look funny so we went to a local doctor who started him on a antibiotic.  By Wednesday I am talking with the nurse again and she begins talking to different people about it as well.  We were advised to take him to the hospital as they did not like what it looked like at all.  By this time the sore had risen up and we had a purple/red color all around it.  At the local hospital he was seen by a surgeon who said he had an abscess under the sore but was not sure if any of the infection had reached to bone yet.

The nurses put some iodine around the sore and while I am trying to distract Isaac (assuming they were going to give him something to numb it) they just slice open the wound.  Once they opened him up they took tweezers and dig around for the abscess and pull it out.  After making sure they got it all they throw bandages over it without cleaning it out. Then send us to get and x-ray to make sure there is nothing on the bone which thankfully looked fine.  After that they sent him home with three different types of drugs.  By Thursday night I noticed he had a fever in his ankle and when he got ready for bed he bumped it and opened the wound.  While changing the bandage I noticed that there was still some pus in the area. However, it was getting late at this point so I sent out emails to everyone who has been involved so far asking them what the next step was.  By mid-morning the following day everyone was in agreement that he needed out as soon as possible to seek medical help in Jakarta.

While I am in the middle of this Greg has been working with different people as one of the villages we serve interior had a fire run through it and over fifty percent of the town was gone.  Amazingly though there was not one death through that but we had over half a town with literally nothing but the clothes on there backs. Our Merauke team was able to gather clothes and other supplies to be given out to families in need.  And on the morning that we decided that Isaac needed out for medical assistance Greg was busy flying in government officials to Eci so that they could look at the damage first hand.  Thankfully, I was able communicate with Greg about what was going on and reassure him that I was good and he could still focus on what he was doing.

Since Greg was flying those officials around our national staff jumped into action helping us purchase flights out the next day for Jakarta. This can sometimes be tricky as we only have three planes that leave in the morning from our area.  Thankfully, we were able to find two seats on a plane that did not require too many island stops.  So on Saturday morning I began the trip to Jakarta with Isaac while Greg stayed behind with our other two children in Merauke.  Once in Jakarta we went straight to the hospital where I had surgery the year before.  He was taken to their wound care area, where they did a wonderful job of cleaning it and digging inside the holes to make sure all the dead skin and dried blood was removed along with any pus.  Once again Isaac did a wonderful job as there was no way to really numb the area.  After having it cleaned out properly they stuffed the area with a special antibiotic gauze and other bandages.  Our stay in Jakarta lasted 10 days as they continued his wound care treatments.  For the healing needs to be from the inside out without letting the wound scab over! Once we reached a certain place Isaac and I were able to journey back to Papua but needed to be close to a nurse who had wound care experience. Thankfully, one of the nurses in Sentani agreed to help us out and this allowed us to be able to reconnect as a family once more at the Sentani guesthouse on the MAF base.  A few days after landing back in Papua Isaac saw the nurse and she was happy with how his wound looked. She thought it would be a couple more weeks before we could make the finally leg of the journey home to Merauke.  After this appointment I finally felt like I could breath a little easier and that life would finally start to get back to normal soon.

Little did I know that God was about to ask us to once again completely trust Him as he placed another natural disaster in front of our family.  For within 24 hours of Isaac seeing the nurse the skies let loose there hold of rain on the city of Sentani with intense amounts of tropical rain starting a little after seven that evening. Within a few hours there was massive flooding and life ending mudslides in different parts of the city.  Papuan people began to pour into the international school property and other places seeking safety and higher ground. Children were tragically pulled out of parents arms and whole families gone expect a few who some how survived.  The Seven Day Adventist compound that lies just outside of Sentani had a massive mudslide that torn right through there base. They lost 8 out of 11 national homes in an instant. The mudslide went right through there older hanger were a plane was stored and pushed the airplane almost to the middle of the road that was down the hill.  Many expats through the area found flood water running into their homes and could hear the mudslides going on all around them throughout the night.

One of our MAF national staff was in his home with his wife and two children when there house was ripped open by the water and mud coming off the side of the mountain.  They found themselves pinned by furniture and doors that were jammed stuck due to the force of the water and mud.  After breaking out of their door they found themselves pinned against one part of their house from the rushing water.  They began to scream and one of the expats that lived closed by heard their cries and came to help them.  They final made it to the other house and spent the rest of the night with this expat family.

By mornings light the town began to see what the damage was really like after an entire night of rain and mudslides. Roads were gone, massive boulders laid everywhere after being carried down the mountain, homes gone, lives taking, many loved ones missing, and mass confusion.  Thankfully, our expat doctor was back in town and they quickly opened the small medical clinic at the international school in the middle of the night to handle the massive amount of injuries.  All of us that could started preparing food to take up for the people, donating extra clothes, bedding, buying diapers and formula for the babies.

That first morning I was able to take food up but found myself reacting to what I was seeing after being in the earthquake months ago.  For I could look right into those blank faces that were still in so much shock and I could relate to there pain on a very personal level. Since I was having a reaction to this and at that moment all needs were met I headed back down the hill with tears running down my face.  I wanted so much sit and help them but was just not emotionally able to yet.  After struggling with this fact for a few hours back at base I decided to get back into helping once more as a notice came out for the need of more cleaning supplies and baby supplies.  This time I felt a little more prepared for what I would find and Franklin wanted to help out as well.  After buying the things at the store we tried to make it to the school and ended up just parking the car and hiking it in.

And sadly this has now being going on for six days straight in this area as rains continue to come during the nights. Which means that all the work that was done the day before had to be redone once again.  Greg has been busy these past days by delivery supplies, driving a group of doctors so they can buy more medicine, and then delivering clean water to our national staff homes that survived the flood but now are without city water.  And I have found myself working with the ladies here on base as we cleaned an empty house on Monday so some of our national families had a safe place to stay since their homes were not safe to live in.  I was able to hold our national staff member’s wife that I mentioned earlier when they were brought down to the base.  I remember looking into her eyes and being instantly taking back to those moments months ago when we did not know if Franklin was alive or not.  Then later on that night I was able to assist our teammate who is a nurse here on base with wound care for our national staff as I have been learning a lot about it over these past weeks.

Thankfully, the rain last night was not as bad but most people are still not sleeping for we can still hear the mudslides going on.  So every morning I find myself having my devotions and just trying to allow the Lord to prepare me for what He will place in front of me through out the day.  We are still seeing improvements on Isaac’s wound but he still needs to be near the nurses here.  And almost at the same time as it started raining here in Sentani it began to rain back home in Merauke that has led to flooding as well.

Even though the journey has been exhausting these past weeks and filled with a lot of uncertainty God is still showing his mighty hand in all of this.  So as my family literally sits at the base of a mountain I will chose to trust in the creator of that mountain and allow Him to provide me with His peace and joy for this new day.  For I know without a doubt that God has a master plan for all that is going on even if I do not understand it at all.

 

 

 

Quick Look at the Start of 2019

Greetings Dear Friends and Family.

 

Yes we are still alive and well enjoying the first month of 2019.  We’ve had some special guests with us for a couple weeks at the beginning for the year.  This visit was a tremendous blessing and encouragement for all of us.  Here are some photos taken during their visit.

 

Who needs a pickup truck when you have a bebek motorcycle

Was able to take our guests for a day of flight ops.

Checking out some termite mounds.

Beautiful Beach Sunset

Beautiful Beach Sunset

Our friends getting a tour of Kotiak

Boarder with PNG

Boarder with PNG

Our teammates have departed for their home assignment just before Christmas so we’ve been navigating a new normal.  This new normal is more effecting me (Greg) as I learn to say “No, Sorry I can’t”  There is only some much one can do without overdoing it and becoming a safety hazard to myself and those that ride with me.

Julie and the Kids have been doing well again with the homeschooling.  It seems to continue to go well this year, which is a huge answer to prayer and gives us confidence that we can continue here in Merauke in a sustainable manner.

This year we are also looking ahead to an upcoming Home Assignment during the summer months.  We’re not quite ready for a winter visit :), our blood has thinned out a bit these past 5 years living in the tropics.