Posted by Jeri on December 5, 2012
My family’s world has been flipped upside down over the past few months. We left Papua New Guinea almost eight months ago. We went from living in a South Pacific tropical climate with a slow-paced lifestyle to the northern hemisphere with more hustle and bustle. Overall, it’s been a good change. We love being closer to family, we’re enjoying the church here, and we’ve been blessed with a nice home.
The kids have especially been introduced to lots of new things, from traffic, to American food, and to well, luxury. So much is new. We discuss our time in PNG together as a family. I often ask the kids about it. Selfishly, I don’t want them to ever, ever forget that life-changing experience. However, I’m trying to remind myself that that was their “normal”.
I don’t ever want to forget that time either.
I loved it. Those six years were probably some of the most challenging I’ve had in my life, yet some of the best. There’s no better way to grow than to be challenged. Most days, I’m okay with the fact that we are back in the States living “normal” lives. But I would be lying if I said I never long for those days in PNG.
I miss the people. The warmth. The beach. The relationships. The tropical fruits.
And sometimes I wonder what God wants me to be doing now.
Today in home school, I told Hannah to write in her journal. I didn’t give her a topic like I sometimes do. She could choose any topic. When she brought her journal back to me, it brought tears to my eyes. This is what she wrote: (spellings already corrected for clarification)
I went to PNG when I was 10 months old. We had two dogs named Boss and Mei. We stayed there for six years. We met lots of people. We helped people to know God. We had teammates. By Hannah 12-3-2012
A struggle I’ve had since leaving PNG has been knowing what God wants me to be doing here. But Hannah gave me at least a glimpse. I should still be helping people to know God.
It’s as simple as that.
Posted by Jeri on November 12, 2012
These last seven months have been an absolute whirlwind. On Easter Sunday, April 8, 2012, we left PNG to head to the States. Moving away was definitely not the easiest thing I’ve ever done. Our church family in Alotau treated us so kindly when we left. We felt so loved. I’m glad we are taking so many good many memories with us.
Considering Craig collected tons of air miles (and continues to do so), we decided to do a bunch of traveling ‘on the way’ back. (Thanks to Craig for his hard work so we could do this!!) Some of it wasn’t exactly on the way, but it seemed like the perfect time to do it. Not everyone gets to do such extensive traveling, so we feel really blessed. We had so many amazing experiences together.
As I reflect on these past few months, I want to share some of the things we did around the world. (Because I am running out of steam when it comes to traveling this extensively, this may never happen again.)
Without further ado, here are our travels around the world together!
When we left PNG, we stopped in Brisbane, Australia for a couple of nights. A wonderful Christian couple (whom we had never met) hosted us graciously. They even insisted on sending us with a picnic lunch when we were heading out one day. We went for a nice hike and got to see some koalas.
From there, we headed to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This big city was a little intimidating, considering we had just left the small town of Alotau. But it was a great experience. The kids loved looking out of our hotel window at all of the sky scrapers. We spent some time with a friend we knew when we lived in Houston about 10 years ago who is in KL now. A highlight was seeing monkeys!
Next, we headed to Phuket, Thailand. Craig’s parents met us there. We enjoyed time with them, and the kids were thrilled to have their Grandma and Gramps around. We spent time lots of time at the beach, ate delicious Thai food, and even got to go on an elephant ride!
Ontario, Canada was our next stop. We got to spend time with the Ford clan there. It’s always fun watching the kids with their cousins. Craig and I left the kids with his parents for 5 nights and we headed to Budapest, Hungary. Those few days were so incredible. It was a beautiful city. We walked, and walked, and walked – which is something we’ve always loved doing together. It was the longest we’ve ever been away from our kids. They did fine, and we did even better. We are thankful for such wonderful parents!
The fifth continent we were able to be on was South America. We headed to Bariloche, Argentina. This trip was the biggest surprise to us, as there were very few English speakers there. We stayed in a neat bungalow, took a beautiful tour (on accident), and had a very cold final night since there was a problem with gas in town and we were without hot water or heat! It was a wonderful experience anyway.
Before heading to our final destination, we spent some time in Houston as well. It is always such a blessing to be with our church family there – the Church of Christ in Champions.
We arrived in our new hometown, Cheyenne, Wyoming, at the end of June. We stayed with my parents for a week, and then started renting our own place.
After being in Cheyenne for about two months, we made another big trip. First, we went to Hawaii for a week. It was so fun to be on the beach again – something we’ve missed since leaving PNG.
From there, we went to Quito, Ecuador. It was a blessing to reconnect with our good friends, the Marcums and Campbells. In case our trip to Argentina didn’t convince me earlier, I left Ecuador wanting to learn Spanish. We even got to go to the middle of the world!
To wind up that month-long adventure, we went to Ontario to be with the Ford family for Canadian Thanksgiving. The highlight was making apple cider together. It was our first time to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving together as a married couple.
Now, we are back in Cheyenne again. We plan to stay a while in this cold, snowy place. But it’s an adventure for us, especially to the kids who just experienced their first snowfall last week.
These are the big trips we took. I failed to mention many other places and friends we visited sporadically around the States and Canada. It’s just been an all around amazing experience for us. We are reminded of the blessing it is to have Christian brothers and sisters literally around the world.
This world is a beautiful place. I’m thankful that I have been able to travel it, and especially thankful for the family with whom I get to travel.
There’s nothing like packing a lifetime of experiences into a few short months.
Posted by Craig on March 5, 2012
Our most recent newsletter is now available to download:
Jan – Feb 2012 Newsletter
Posted by Craig on January 10, 2012
It’s newsletter time again.
Just click on the link below to view our Nov – Dec 2011 Newsletter:
Nov – Dec 2011 Newsletter
Posted by Jeri on December 10, 2011
First, I apologize that I haven’t posted for a long time. I actually wrote a long post about our furlough months ago. (You would’ve loved it!) But, I wasn’t able to post it before we left the States. Then by the time we got back to PNG, we were having problems getting it posted with our s-l-o-w internet. Now it’s just too late, I’m afraid…
On to bigger and better things. We are now just four months away from moving. When we packed our things and moved to PNG about 5 1/2 years ago, we had no idea how long this ride would be, or how things would turn out. As I reflect over the past few years, I don’t regret our decision to move here. Not one single bit.
In some ways, these have been a few of the most challenging years of my life. On the other hand, I feel like I’ve grown exponentially faster and learned significantly more than any other time in my life. I’ve had some incredible experiences in a beautiful place. It has truly been a blessing.
There are some things I learned because I was blessed to be a missionary here in PNG. (I’m sure I could’ve learned some of these things in North America, too.) Also, I could’ve known some of these things before, but I never really appreciated them until I lived in PNG.
30 Things I’ve Learned on the Mission Field:
1. It a blessing and necessity to have a spouse who is also your best friend.
2. How to cook tasty meals from scratch
3. How to sew curtains
4. How to drive through mud and rivers
5. How to use cloth diapers
6. Ministry can be a challenge no matter where in the world you are.
7. How to (try to) converse with people of a different culture & language
8. How to scrape a coconut
9. I’m a person who likes anonymity.
10. How to appreciate people of another culture/ethnic group
11. How to hang clothes on the line
12. Family time is important.
13. Our families in North America have sacrificed more than we have.
14. Saying good-bye is never easy.
15. Pineapples don’t grow on trees.
16. The roads in America are so smooth.
17. My stuff isn’t important.
18. How to snorkel (and like it!!)
19. How to wait … and wait … and wait …
20. How to plant pineapple seeds
21. Teammates are a blessing.
22. Somewhere away from ‘home’ can become home.
23. Christmas in the tropics is special, too.
24. How to mow a yard
25. How to home school
26. There are male and female papaya trees.
27. I am rich.
28. How to feed a crowd
29. How to drive on the right side of a truck and left side of the road
30. How to depend on God (though I’m still working on that one…)
I’m sure I’ve missed something, but I’m amazed at all the things I was able to learn from this experience. God is so good to me.
Posted by Craig on November 9, 2011
Our September – October 2011 newsletter is now available for downloading. Just click on the link below:
Sept – Oct 2011
Posted by Craig on September 26, 2011
I’m happy to report that our July – August 2011 Newsletter is now ready to download. We’ve been struggling with slow internet which delayed the getting the newsletter online. After some creative experiments we were finally able to upload the newsletter.
To download or view our latest newsletter click here.
Posted by Craig on July 28, 2011
The following information is specifically for those who are or who have financially supported the work in Alotau.
I just wanted to thank you for being involved in the work in Papua New Guinea (past and/or present). We know the work being done there couldn’t continue without your generous support.
As you may or may not know, we will be working in Alotau for one more short term then relocating full time to the States.
In order to assist in the transition, Champions church of Christ, our overseeing congregation, will continue to support us financially until September 2012. This is six months after our intended departure from PNG. If you are currently supporting us would you be willing to join them in continuing your until September 2012?
Could you please let us know by August 15th, 2011 if you will be able to continue supporting us until September 2012? The best way to contact us is by sending an email to pngfords at gmail dot com.
After September 2012, there will be no need to continue sending any support.
Thank you again for your ongoing support and participation in our work.
Craig, Jeri, Hannah, Caleb, and Elizabeth Ford
Posted by Craig on June 4, 2011
Sorry it took so long to post this newsletter. I finished it in early May, but decided I’d wait until we had (real) high-speed internet to send it. I forgot about posting the newsletter – until now.
You can click on the link below to access our March – April newsletter:
March - April 2011 PNG Newsletter (1985)
Posted by Craig on May 12, 2011
We recently had our annual church camp. It was a great time. It’s always fun to spend some extra time with the local Christians.
Here’s the group of kids that were staring at me as I put up our tent.
Hannah and Caleb love Susan, one of our Christian sisters here. She works at our house two days a week. The kids are all very close to her.
Here are the camp attendees. Can you spot the missionaries? (Don’t look for Craig too long. He took the picture.)
Hannah has officially graduated from kindergarten to first grade. We are excited that we’ve completed our first year of home school. Hannah did a great job. It’s amazing how much she’s learned in one school year. On our last day of school, we had a little family celebration. She requested tacos for supper with homemade tortillas.
Hannah is done with kindergarten, and Caleb is the honorary graduate.
Now that school is over, the kids are finding all kinds of fun things to do to pass their time. This is the fort they made on their bed a few days ago.
We’re in furlough preparation mode now. Of course we have the normal packing to do. But we also have to prepare the house to be left with someone else for 3 1/2 months. We have to arrange for bill payments to be made and all the other fun stuff that goes with leaving your home for an extended period of time.
Here is our house that we’ll be leaving. I’m not sure if I’ve put a picture of it on the blog before. We love this place and will miss it.
Since we’ll be in some cold weather on furlough, we decided to get out the long pants we could find. Unfortunately, the kids’ long pants are more like capris now. I guess we need to do a little second hand shopping!
Elizabeth had a great time in the suitcases I was getting out this past week.
The kiddos love their Daddy!
(They love me too!) This was taken on Mother’s Day.
It’s a good thing Hannah is getting big enough to do some different things now. We even have our own family photographer. Craig and I will be celebrating our 11th anniversary in a few days. Time sure flies when you’re having fun.
If we’ll be near you on our furlough, please email us so we can see you! (see our newsletter for dates/places)