Last week we celebrated THREE months of living and serving in PNG! There is a fairly commonly described “honeymoon phase” of the missionary life and we’re probably still in the thick of it. But as it winds down and we settle into the long-haul of our ministry here, I want to look back and remember what the “early days” looked like. And, since most of my perspective is from home these days, this particular “day in the life” post will detail our exciting lives (mostly) within these four walls. But don’t be too disappointed, as a post about a full day’s work at the hospital is on the horizon!
So, to honor this three month anniversary I’ve taken photos of an entire day of our lives. Actually, I lie. You’ll notice that the photos stop just after dinner time. And, well, the only explanation I can give is the honest truth. Ben and I were both exhausted and I forgot to take photos of bath and bedtime. And sure, I could’ve scrapped it all and started fresh the next day being sure to include every waking minute. But I didn’t want these moments to be wasted. So, there you have it. But honestly, you didn’t miss much. Directly after dinner comes baths and within 30 minutes after baths comes the boys’ bedtime. Picture some rowdy bath-time play…followed by the donning of pajamas which often turns into a wrestling match…followed by some relieved parents as they turn out the lights and say good night to two sweet (and exhausting) children. And…you’re all caught up! And as things go around here, I’m finding my way to bed not long after the kids are settled in for the night. Afterall, our mornings do start early!
5:50 AM: Our days start early because of this guy AND the cicadas that squeal loudly at 6 AM everyday. (There have been volunteers that have come to Kudjip and wondered about the station-wide alarm system that goes off every morning at 6! Nope. Just the cicadas.)
6:30 AM: Its not long before Simeon asks, “Can I check on Matthias?” And Matthias is usually happy for the morning greeting!
7:15 AM: The sun shines brightly through the east-facing windows each morning. This particular morning we were enjoying some banana baked oatmeal, which just happens to be a favorite of Simeon and Matthias.
7:50 AM: Ben unlocks his bike from the porch and rides the 1/4 mile up the hill to the hospital where surgery rounds will start at 8 AM. Simeon’s send-off goes something like this…”Bye Daddy! Have a good work!”
8:00 AM: The boys are quick to start their play.
8:05 AM: And I’m quick to start washing breakfast dishes! If this little chore doesn’t happen RIGHT after breakfast, surely they’ll pile up and make the lunch dishes even MORE of a chore. Go Virginia!
8:10 AM: We hear Jim, our young outside worker, walking down the hill and Simeon is quick to yell out the window, “Hi Jim! Hi Jim!”
8:30 AM: After getting Jim started on some outdoor work, including digging out a flower bed and spreading gravel on our driveway, I start thawing our dinner…which on this Thursday night will be a roast with potatoes and carrots.
8:45 AM: Most mornings, the boys are happy to play together, at least for a short while. This morning Simeon put on a riveting finger puppet show for Matthias.
9:00 AM: I try to get a start on the laundry for the day. Cloth diapers keep our laundry business hoppin’ but we’re very grateful for a washer and the dryer we shipped from the States (although we use our line to hang things out often as well).
9:30 AM: Shortly after Matthias goes down for his nap I get a phone call from my friend, Dr. Erin, who is looking for some ibuprofen suspension for Baby of Elizabeth (the premature son of my language tutor who is still in the hospital). There is no ibuprofen suspension left at the hospital pharmacy and this tiny baby has a heart murmur indicating a possible patent ductus arteriosus (a vessel that routes blood around the lungs before birth and USUALLY closes shortly after birth, but sometimes remains open, causing a murmur and other symptoms). A medicine like ibuprofen can help to close the blood vessel, although we had no guarantee it would help in this case, now several weeks after birth.
9:35 AM: Within minutes Dr. Erin was at our doorstep and ready to deliver the ibuprofen to the newborn nursery.
9:45 AM: And not to leave Ben out of this day, he and our volunteer surgeon, Dr. Mike Pyle, are busy sewing up a chop-chop (machete) injury.
10:00 AM: Simeon has a severe peanut allergy and we can’t be certain that the bread made in the bakery in town is safe, so….I make bread…a lot. Fortunately, we have a bread machine and this makes my job MUCH easier. After 5 minutes of adding ingredients, in two hours we have fresh, warm bread. Some days I just use the bread maker to mix the dough, then I make hamburger buns or French bread, depending on the menu for the day.
10:15 AM: Simeon gets his much-needed outdoor play alongside Jim who sometimes has to tolerate a three-year-old giving him (bossy) instructions in English which he can’t understand. “Jim, don’t make another path. Jim you can’t put those rocks there.” I have to remind Simeon frequently that Jim is doing exactly what I want him to be doing!
10:30 AM: I take an opportunity to hang the diapers on the line. Sometimes its nice to have a line under the cover of our porch for those mornings that it rains.
11 AM: Matthias usually sleeps until just after 11, so I knew I had a few minutes to chop vegetables and brown the roast before he woke up. And before you get all impressed that I’m making a roast on a normal Thursday, its actually a really simple meal here that can go in the oven for hours and then its ready to pull out at dinner time. I don’t have a crockpot yet, so this is my equivalent to that.
11:45 AM: Did I mention we make a lot of bread. And with a hanging stalk of very ripe bananas on the front porch, our bread is often banana bread.
12:00 PM: Matthias woke from his nap just in time for lunch, which on this day was a bit of a blur. Thursday is a surgery day for Ben, so he usually just rides home between cases for a quick bite. On other days, he can relax for a few minutes and play with the boys before going back to the hospital. We had leftovers, which is often the case. But other favorite lunches include Wowbutter and honey sandwiches, macaroni and cheese and Maggi noodles (essentially ramen noodles).
12:30 PM: This is a DAILY occurrence in our living room. We build “puppy dog houses” and stacks of huge, blue pancakes. These cushions are thrown and wrestled on until someone is in tears most days. BUT, this game often buys me 30 minutes to get something else done, so I rarely complain.
1 PM: Simeon has JUST gone down for a rest and now I’m left with THIS. But, I spy some fresh bread and a roast ready to go in the oven, so I’m one happy lady. If only Matthias could wash the pile of lunch dishes.
1:15 PM: I try to keep Matthias busy and entertained while I also try to accomplish a few things around the house. But on SOME days, he has a way of keeping himself busy. He is constantly bringing me shoes and hats that he wants to wear and today is no different. What can I say, he’s got style.
3:15 PM: Simeon took a 2-hour nap and Matthias took a 30 minute nap, but THANK GOODNESS Daddy is home a little early from work today.
3:30 PM: Our bedroom is the only place in the house that I can fold laundry without too many little hands “helping” me! But those little hands are never far away, as you can see!
3:30 PM: I made Ben take a picture of us getting ready for a walk to Grandma’s house, but we had a screaming toddler and bright sun in our eyes, so this is what we got.
3:35 PM: Sometimes we have to escape to Grandma and Grandpops’ house.
4:00 PM: Some friends were waiting on the back porch of Grandma’s house, so we joined them for a visit. This is Masa, a long-time friend of the Radcliffe family. Matthias knows no strangers and was very happy to swing with him for awhile.
4:10 PM: Simeon pulls out the blocks that his Daddy used to play with when he was a boy.
4:30 PM: And our other dear friend, Joy, came to visit too, so Matthias was sure to get some kisses and waves from her!
5:00 PM: Simeon ran to find Grandpops talking to a friend in front of their house. The white buildings in the distance are the hospital.
5:45 PM: Back home for dinner of roast beef, potatoes and carrots, followed by the aforementioned post-dinner activities.