There and Back Again

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Since we’ve only been back in PNG for three months now, now seemed like a good time to share all about our journey home to Kudjip after the birth of the girls and a few things that have happened since. Several weeks before leaving Ohio, we found out that my brother Peter would “get to” travel with us and stay at Kudjip for a few weeks. And in hindsight, we could NOT have done it without him. Or I suppose we would’ve risen to the occasion and figured things out, but it would’ve been ugly. Here we are. All new and fresh and seemingly ready for the hours of work ahead of us. 
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Uncle Peter quickly became a sleeping buddy.
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And a carry-on packer extraordinaire.
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And a toddler wardrobe assistant.
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Back then we still swaddled the girls and it took a good bit of work (and standing and bouncing) to get them to sleep. Aside from a miraculous work of God, I’m not sure how we survived that trip.
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If we ever thought traveling with two young boys was a challenge, we got a WHOLE new taste of “traveling with young children” on this five-flight, 54-hour journey from Ohio to Papua New Guinea. When we took our first trip to PNG with (only) Simeon, I remember reading a lot of blogs about how to make life on an airplane (and in airports) much easier with small children. I was naive back then. But now I could write the blog. Fruit loops, iPads and earplugs. That about covers it. Well, not exactly. Most of you know me far too well to think I’d let the rest fall to chance. I was prepared as prepared could be and even so, we had some absolute meltdowns. But during this fine moment in the Los Angeles airport, we felt like we had conquered the world with our jammies and camping pad.
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And THEN, we moved to the other end of the terminal to wait for our 14-hour flight to Brisbane. And by now, its 2AM for those sweet little bodies and they’ve hit the wall. That is, until an ear-piercingly loud door alarm at our gate started blaring through the entire room. Our (somewhat) peacefully sleeping children were startled awake and restless for the 15 minute ordeal. And then they settled again…and we waited.
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Dr. Mike Noce is a volunteer who was on his way to Kudjip as well and we met up with him in LA. Remember what I said about Uncle Peter and how we couldn’t have done it without him? Well, the same applies to this man (who is a father of six and grandpa to many). Literally, we had JUST met him an hour before this photo and all of a sudden he’s carrying our children, our bags and anything else we could throw on his shoulders. Shortly before we thought our flight was to board, Ben looked over at our gate and saw a young family and someone in a wheelchair being wheeled through the door. Of course, we wanted to be among the first on the plane so we could snag all the overhead space and get sufficiently settled. After seeing those early boarders we realized we’d better load up and make our way to the gate. We carefully pick up sleeping children (two of which are babies already strapped to our chests) and balance our 10 carry-ons on any remaining limbs. We were a sight. We lumbered up to the gate and told the kind attendant that we were ready to board early with the other young family. And she sweetly replied, “Oh, its not time for boarding yet, but we’ll make an announcement when that time comes.” And I’m thinking, “Really? How is that possible? Could you graciously have mercy on our sorry souls and please let us on that plane?” So, we did the only thing we could. We dragged ourselves back to our seats, now with a deliriously awake 4-year-old who all-of-a-sudden starts crying (loudly) about his legs hurting and how I (since I’m holding all 42 pound of him at this point) should simultaneously hold both of his socked-feet while massaging his left calf in the process. Did I mention he was delirious? Like, night-terror delirious. He was absolutely inconsolable and hardly knew where he was. There wasn’t a comforting word or deed that I could do to calm him. His volume and requests only escalated. All 250 pairs of eyes were on us at this point. I asked the Lord for divine help in that moment. And several minutes later I was finally able to awaken Simeon enough for him to be distractible. And finally, after about 20 minutes, he fell asleep on my lap. Just in time for the door alarm to sound again.
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When we FINALLY arrived in Port Moresby with only a one-hour flight to finish our long journey, we were all exhausted. With tremendous help from a couple of immigration employees we transferred all 15 of our checked bags to the domestic terminal and quickly got our boarding passes because our layover was short and we knew we’d cut it close. We finally found ourselves in the humid 85 degree domestic terminal which was packed with passengers awaiting the last flights of the day as it was now 3 PM. We waited, paced, dripped sweat, tried our hardest to keep two deliriously exhausted boys as comfortable as possible and then we waited some more. After over an hour of delay with no word about our flight and after hearing the PA announcement of three other cancelled flights we began to worry. Sure enough, when we had reached our peak frustration and exhaustion level, we heard the dreaded words. Our flight was cancelled. To put it mildly, Simeon was a basket case when he found out. Really he was just expressing exactly what the rest of us were feeling in his own four-year-old fashion. The boy SO desperately wanted to be home and now we had to sleep in a hotel and do this all over again tomorrow. “No! I am NOT going to sleep in a hotel. No, No, No!” Over and over. There was no consoling him and frankly we all felt the same! But I donned a smile and faked a good attitude to try to encourage him that it wouldn’t be so bad and we’d all be together. We received our hotel and meal vouchers and lugged all of that baggage to the door where we’d wait for our shuttle. There was a small (lightly) air conditioned room next to the exit where we settled for a bit. Simeon was still a mess, crying and so upset. There were a handful of other passengers waiting there and this sweet lady noticed Simeon, got up from her seat and walked toward him. She stretched out her arms to him and said, “Come.” He (oh so surprisingly) lifted his tired arms to her and she hoisted all 43 pounds of him to her chest where he seemed to just absolutely relax in a way he couldn’t up to that point. He stayed there for some time before finally falling asleep in my lap. Every bit of it was beautiful.

 

 

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This is the only photo that I took once we found out that our flight out of Port Moresby had been cancelled. We got all of us and our luggage safely to the hotel. [This just HAPPENED to be the same day as some big riots and a couple of shootings at the University.] But, we neither heard nor saw anything concerning. We were safely tucked away in the Holiday Inn for the night. The boys were asleep on the beds instantly (only to be awakened a couple of hours later for a bath to wash off the layers of sweat and airport floor filth). But they slept the rest of the night until our 5 AM wake up call. This is us outside of the hotel waiting for the second 15-passenger van that would be our ride to the airport. We were all rested, clean and ready to be HOME! 
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And in the midst of all of the chaos, I was reminded that this is Peter’s very first time to visit Papua New Guinea. I realized how excited I was for him to see this place that we love. We had a REALLY happy welcoming committee! 
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And, you must remember that this is the very first time for Grandma Kathy and Grandpops Jim to meet their grandgirls in person. Wasn’t it nice of us to have a baby for each of them?!
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The seating arrangements for our 1-hour drive to Kudjip were prearranged…perhaps as far back as the day these girls were born.
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This is entry gate to the hospital and mission station. That building on the right is the hospital.  We were greeted by beautiful decorations and a lot of happy faces!
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Generally Grandma and Grandpops live about a quarter of a mile from our house, but since their home was being remodeled when we returned, they were actually living right next door. Grandpops found this especially convenient for some early morning baby snuggles. 
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I knew that when we returned to Kudjip there would be MANY helping hands. We’ve been loved in so very many ways since coming back. But I think my favorite thing is when one of our Kudjip family members takes the time to invest in our children. Emma Goossens is one of the younger examples of this! This precious young lady came to our home MANY afternoons during her summer to play with the kids and help me around the house.  
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As much as possible we attempt to get out of the house. Its a challenge sometimes, but very worth it. And if there are sports involved for Ben and the boys, its even better!
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This was our first Sunday morning walk to church. Or at least half of us are walking. 
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With Uncle Peter often comes a good art lesson or two. 
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A few weeks after our return these lovely ladies organized a baby shower in honor of Tabea and Naomi. 
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If any of you ladies ever organize a baby shower, do THIS! It changed my life in our first couple of months adjusting to life with four children here (let alone, twins!).  
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Baby shower attire. 
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Before we knew it, Peter’s three weeks were all spent and he was headed back to the States. I love it that he knows this place now. And that he’ll definitely come back!
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At the end of June, a work and witness team from Xenia Nazarene came to Kudjip. It was so fun to have Uncle Mike and Aunt Becky Hancock here along with the rest of the team. Their project during their 10 days was to work on Jim and Kathy Radcliffe’s home remodel. It was a complete gut job, so this group had their work cut out for them!
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Tabea will smile at most anything. But one of her favorites is definitely Naomi.
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Some of our dear missionary friends moved back to the States while we were away and they gave us their amazing popcorn machine. Thank you, Mike and Diane! To this day it has provided lots of entertainment. 
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Did I mention that Emma does dishes?!  She does and its amazing. 
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I tried to picture life back at Kudjip with the boys AND their new sisters. And everytime I imagined life here (at least in my dreams) it always included our Papua New Guinean friends. We had always had some help around the house, but I knew I’d need a LOT more help and probably on a daily basis. Joy has been one of the answers to my prayers about this. She loves and cares for all of us so well.  
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This is the Xenia team and lots of their national friends who helped with the house. 
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While Mom, Dad and Aunt Lydia were gone to take part in Priscilla and Wyatt’s wedding in Ohio, lots of folks here stepped up and filled in. We’ve had so many people in and out of our home now that anytime someone comes to our door, Matthias greets them, takes their hand and says, “Come in. Sit down.” And almost daily Simeon asks who our company will be! Aunt Judy and Uncle Andy Bennett brought us dinner once a week and Judy was a surrogate Grandma for a few weeks. 
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Ben’s sister Priscilla married Wyatt Mills on July 8th!  My sister-in-law, Bethany, texted me this photo that day and it made me so happy and sad all at the same time. We knew we needed to be here for the surgical ministry at the hospital to continue, but it was so difficult to miss a family wedding.
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But thank goodness for technology, because it allowed us (and some missionary friends) to watch the wedding LIVE!
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Like I said, we get out as much as we can. And this double stroller is pretty much the only way it can happen. 
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Here’s a diaper changing technique I’d never tried before.  
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We were REALLY glad when the container with some of our “twin” things arrived, including a second crib and these high chairs.
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Here’s the outside of Jim and Kathy’s house with a new coat of pain and some beautiful kwila doors. The inside is just as great.
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I have this photo to document the one (and only) time we’ve all ventured out since our return. We took a “quick” trip to town for some shopping and lunch at one of the few restaurants we have here. 
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Matthias had an outbreak of bug bites for a few days before we decided to undress the bunkbeds and wash and spray the mattresses. In the meantime, their room looked like this. 
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Joy was singing a song about blue eyes and brown eyes.  
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Frequently, Matthias wants to be a part of the sister photo shoots. 
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Matthias has adjusted well to the bottom bunk. He was still sleeping in a crib until we came home this time. I suppose his cars and trucks would be quite the deterrent to rolling out of bed!
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We’re enjoying life now that we’re settled and into a good routine. These four sweet children keep us so busy and so entertained. 
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Lately we’ve had a couple of opportunities that have reminded us why we’re here. Sharing Christ with those who enter the walls of our hospital is one of the greatest privileges of our lives. We’re thankful for the example of Dr. Jim and for the many years that he has given to serve the Lord here. 
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And what’s the end of a blog post without the latest and greatest photo of the girls??  Future posts are almost guaranteed to be shorter, but now you’re all caught up. And, if you want to stay in touch on a daily basis, feel free to find me (Katherine Stevens Radcliffe) on Facebook or (katherineradcliffe) on Instagram. 

 

 

3 thoughts on “There and Back Again

  1. Lora Donoho September 18, 2016 / 4:03 am

    Thanks Katharine. Great stuff Lora

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Like

  2. Shirley Timpe September 21, 2016 / 11:29 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing your family with us in thoughts and pictures. Praying for your return adjustments and your ‘littles’

    Like

  3. REBECCA BELT January 7, 2017 / 8:23 pm

    I cried thru most of this blog cuz of God’s unendn faith4ness 2 the Radcliffe Clan. Especially how God has so graciously allowed ur extended family 2b so intimately involved with each other as a family & missionaries.

    I’m cryn & can barely c 2 type this & the tears increased when God let ur Aunt Becky & Uncle Mike’s W&W team b the ones 2 remodel ur parents house. How utterly amazing is r God. His unendn gifts God continues 2 give ur parents (& u) 4 the legacy of their faith4ness 2 Him regardless of the many challenges they endured as missionaries. His blessings, both tangible & intangible, r unendn 2 all of u!! Praise His Name!

    Plz let Jim & Kathy know I miss them, but still pray 4 all of u. I just haven’t kept in touch like I used 2 cuz I’ve being doing almost non-stop parental caregiving since 2012 as well as continue as the night-time chaplain at RMH. Would u plz share their email & FB page with me again. I will stay in touch more often. At least my prayers haven’t ended 4 all u.

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