New Reality

For those of you who may have not received our most recent email update, here it is.

Back in May, we returned to U.S. to have Eli evaluated by a neurologist concerning his diagnosis of cerebral palsy. Although we received a very positive report, Eli needs to have annual checkups to monitor his progress. Because of this need combined with other factors, our home church has recommended that we step out of our ministry role and return to the U.S. We were hopeful that we’d be able to return but understood that there would be significant challenges to overcome. Our home church is concerned about the best interest of our family and we appreciate their support during this time of transition.

Returning from the mission field is turning out to be a bigger step of faith than it was to go. We’ve been experiencing a wide range of emotions as we deal with the loss of our life and ministry in PNG and look ahead. We’re not sure what the Lord has for us next, but we will keep you up to date as it becomes clearer. There is a possibility of staying with New Tribes and serving at a stateside training center. If that doesn’t work out then I, Dave, will be looking for other opportunities. Your continued prayers and support are greatly appreciated as we take this unexpected (for us) turn in our lives. 

In the coming weeks…

We have a missions guest house in Santa Clarita available to us through the end of August. During that time I will probably take a trip back to PNG to deal with our belongings. If the Lord leads us to leave New Tribes Mission entirely we will let our supporters know so they can redirect their support. We are immensely grateful to everyone that has prayerfully and/or financially partnered with us over the years.


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Cerebral Palsy Update

This update on Eli’s appointment with the neurologist is way, way, WAY overdue.  Many of you we have talked to personally, so you know how the appointment went.  For many others, however, we have done a terrible job since landing Stateside, of keeping you all up to date with what’s going on with us.  Seriously…we are very sorry about that!

Eli met with a neurologist in late May.  Our main reason for having him seen by a neurologist was to make sure we are providing the appropriate therapy he needs, especially with our living conditions being so remote overseas.  While living in Papua New Guinea, he does not have the luxury of getting consistent physical and occupational therapy.  Plus, we needed to know that his Cerebral Palsy is, in fact, a mild case.

The report from the neurologist was a very encouraging one!  She confirmed that Eli’s Cerebral Palsy is, indeed, very mild.  He does not require medication, surgery, a leg brace…he does not even require extensive physical therapy.  We were very much relieved to get this report and to know from a specialist that we are doing everything we need to ensure he is on track developmentally and physically.  We will continue on with daily home therapy AND bring him back Stateside EVERY YEAR so he can be assessed by the neurologist and physical therapist.

I’ll be starting a semi-formal year of preschool with him soon (he’ll be 4 in 1 week!), which we are hoping will give us some hints as to what his educational needs will be for the future.  There is a chance that because of his Cerebral Palsy, he might have some educational learning disabilities. However, we won’t know for sure until he is 5 years old…old enough to be properly assessed.

Thanks so much to all of you who have been praying for us and our Eli.  This has been quite the trek so far.  We are finding ourselves constantly humbled by God’s grace as we have walked this journey.  This situation with Eli’s health has forced us to our knees as we try to figure out what is best for him.  We are encouraged for the future and excited about how the Lord will use our Eli for his glory.


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Home Highs

Sorry for the blog silence recently.

Most of you know we are back in the States now…adjusting, settling, visiting, processing…

Eli was recently seen by a Pediatric Neurologist for his Cerebral Palsy and we were very encouraged by the report…we’ll share more on that later.

For now, I’ll leave you with some “Highs” we’ve experienced while being home:

  • Air conditioner
  • Bacon
  • Dairy products
  • Unlimited soda refills…seriously.
  • Washing machine & Dryer
  • Target
  • No malaria medication, no mosquito nets
  • Salmon
  • The beach
  • L.A. Kings hockey

 


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We Have An Airplane

White-tail

Back in August I wrote about our serious need for a Quest Kodiak aircraft. Today I am excited to report that God has provided!

The Kodiak airplane that we asked you to pray for has been bought and paid for by two business men. They purchased a Kodiak “white tail” sitting on the Quest ramp waiting for a buyer.  “White tail” signifies that the plane is complete but unpainted since there is no purchaser to determine the paint scheme. This gift is above what we could even ask or think! The money donated by others will go towards outfitting the plane and getting it here to PNG. Since the aircraft is already built, the delivery schedule is very quick. Quest will install the extras that needed for PNG, apply the NTM Aviation paint scheme and then deliver it to NTMA in Arizona as soon as a month from now.

God has also provided for our need of more pilots. One pilot whose return was in question has already come back. And, a new pilot (and his family) recently arrived on the field and is currently training on the SIL Kodiak.  NTM Aviation is hoping that the NTM Kodiak will be ready to fly in PNG later this year.

Wow! Thanks for praying with us and now praise the Lord with us!

 


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High/Lows

High: We just celebrated Caleb’s 1 year birthday.

Low: Even though my baby is already 1, he still nurses 4 times a day and typically wakes up 1-2 times at night.  Oy…

 

High: The Osborns, our coworkers, have started house building!  We are so excited for them to finally have a place of their own.

Low: Because we will be flying back to the States soon, we won’t have the chance to see the finished product until we return!  Blast!

 

High: Caleb’s Impetigo is all cleared up!

Low: We are all sick with colds and feeling rundown…the amount of snot passing through this house is pretty remarkable.

 

High: In less than a week we’ll begin our trek back to the States to see family, friends and doctors…with a little stop beforehand for some much needed relaxation and family time.

Low: Our hearts are feeling heavy to be leaving our coworkers and the Menya people.  Please be praying for the Osborns and Chappells as they continue on with language learning, house building and relationship building.

 

Low: Keeping up with our boys, the Los Angeles Kings, only to be disappointed by their first three playoff games against the San Jose Sharks.

High: Booyah, baby!  Kings come back and tie it up 3 games to 3 games.  C’mon now, Kings…we may or may not have a case of coke riding on the outcome of this series.

 

High: Layla & Eli were not too bummed out to learn that 1). Both our chickens turned out to be boys and 2). One was attacked and killed by a local dog this week.

Low: What good is a rooster without a hen?  I’ll tell you….no good, my friends…no good.

 

High/Lows for you this week?  We’d love for you to share!


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Happy 1st Birthday Caleb!

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One year ago we met Caleb Jude Walker.

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Today we celebrated his first birthday.

(Crown courtesy of Elizabeth Osborn)

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He wasn’t sure what to with his first slice of cake.

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He actually pushed it away.

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We thought maybe he’d be more comfortable eating straight off the table like he usually does.

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But the slice was more than he could pick up so he went at it with his sisters’ fork.

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When that didn’t work out he dove in face first.

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Eventually we cut it up for him.

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The “1 year old club”.

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Coffee Garden Birth

Easter morning started out rough.  I was tired from being up with the kids during the night and was feeling pretty lonely and down about spending the day cooped up in our house.  I think maybe sleep deprivation makes everything in life seem worse than it actually is.

Not to worry…the day got progressively better.

Mid morning my friend, Gabi, came to tell me that another lady in the village, Kati, had just had her baby.  I was really glad Gabi came to tell me, but a bit bummed too to have missed the birth.  She offered to take me to see her and since my hubby loves me and understood my mental health-ometer was peaking the “crazy” side, he willingly sent me off, even though it was Easter.

We headed off…Gabi, her daughter, Nawi, myself and the man-child…down the road, cutting over to a smaller road, down a hill (where Gabi insisted I let her hold Caleb for fear I would slide down “said” hill with baby in tow), through some houses, over a stream, and down into a coffee garden.  Gabi periodically yelled behind her at a group of young boys who were following us to…well, stop following us.  Apparently in the Menya culture no boys or men are allowed near a woman who has just given birth.  Big no no, people.  Eventually, she had to chase after them through the coffee garden with a stick until they disappeared and found something more interesting to do.

After walking for about 5 minutes through the coffee garden she pointed to an area off to the side in the grass and said, “That’s where she had the baby.”  My lame response: “Oh!”  Another 3 minutes later I noticed a small fire.  We walked closer and saw our friend, Kati, sitting next to the fire cooking Tapioc, her newborn baby wrapped up in a bilum (a PNG string bag), asleep and laying on a bed of dry banana leaves.  A relative, Sabeth, was resting next to the baby…her and her husband will be adopting this newborn as they have no children of their own and Kati and her husband have 4 other kids at home.  This is a common PNG custom…for another day and another blog post.

Gabi and I came and sat by the fire next to Kati.  I asked her how she was feeling and she said she felt okay.  Her stomach was aching, so she took some leaves from the Tapioc plant and put them in the ashes of the fire to warm up and then place them on her belly.  We chatted about the birth and they told me how Kati had woken up in the middle of the night with stomach pain and knew she was going to give birth soon.  I guess when it’s your fifth child you have a pretty good idea of just exactly when the baby is coming.  Her original plan was to have the baby at home…but since it was the middle of the night and there was sure to be plenty of boys and men around the house come morning time, she went to get Sabeth and then the two of them went down to the coffee garden instead.  She walked up and down the coffee garden to move labor along and finally, around 3 or 4 in the morning she sat down in the grass and pushed out a baby girl.  If it had been a boy, the labor would apparently have taken much longer.

Sabeth proceeded to tell me that after Kati gave birth, Sabeth herself sat on top of Kati and pushed down on her stomach to help get the placenta out. I tried to remain calm and expressionless while hearing this, but I’m fairly certain my face had a look of horror and shock at the thought of how painful that must have been for Kati.  Sabeth then cut the umbilical cord with a piece of long, sharp bamboo and buried the placenta.

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Baby girl

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Kati

I told them too about how I gave birth to my kids…or rather, how I had to have 3 c-sections.  I think they thought that was a little crazy.  I then told them that after I gave birth to my kids, all I wanted to do was lay around and have people bring me food…and that I didn’t go out much for the first few weeks.  Also, a foreign concept to them.

These women are amazing.  Have a baby in a coffee garden and then go back to work in the garden the next day.

 

Sidenote: My friend, Kati, and I have the same name…at least according to the Menya people.  I’m almost certain that her name is actually something closer to Kathy, but they call her Kati…pronounced (KAH-tee).  My name…pronounced KAY-tee, is apparently very difficult for the people here to say…AND also for most Germans too.  That’s cool…while in PNG my name is Kathy…or Kitty…or fatty fatty…

 

What’s your birth story?  Any crazy ladies out there give birth in a coffee garden?…or somewhere else completely unexpected?


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