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Sunday, October 22, 2017

July – August 2010 Newsletter

Posted by Craig on August 31, 2010

Our July – August 2010 newsletter is now available.

Just click here to download the newsletter: July - August 2010 Newsletter (1059)

August Visitors

Posted by Craig on August 26, 2010

It was a special month since my family (Dad, Mom, sister, and aunt) came to visit for 2 weeks.  It’s not every day we get to have visitors from afar. 

Hannah and Caleb graciously gave up their bunk beds for my sister, Jen, and my Aunt Yvonne.  Elizabeth let them sleep in her room with her.  They got much more sleep than I expected they would, so that was a blessing.  Craig moved out of his office for 2 weeks so my parents could stay there.  I’m thankful to have a flexible family!

Most days, we just kind of hung out and did our every-day-kind-of-stuff.  We did try to go to a beach one day.  Unfortunately, our plans changed when we arrived at a road by the bridge that had been washed away from the rain.  We did have a lovely, bumpy, and very wet drive though, and it was so fun riding in the back of our truck with my Mom and Dad.  They’re probably still recovering from the abuse the potholes did on their bodies.  Mom took this picture of Dad and I when we stopped at the washed out road and had to turn around.  On our way back, we stopped and picnicked at another beach.  PNG: Land of the Unexpected… 

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We also enjoyed a weekend away at a beautiful guesthouse called Treetops.  We’ve gone there a few times before, but we wanted to show the place to my family.  It was a great time of swimming, snorkeling, relaxing, and visiting. 

Elizabeth is really doing her best to walk.  She was covered in sand from head to toe, but she kept walking and playing for a couple of hours.  Every time I tried to make her sit down, she just stood up and wanted me to hold her hands and walk with her some more.

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We always go and play in the rivers near the guesthouse and the kids love that.  See the beautiful waterfall in the back?

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We enjoyed eating out at the International Hotel when we came back to town.  I love this picture of Caleb with the carving.

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My sister, Jen, is always so great with the kiddos.  She spent so much time with Hannah and Caleb – and did it patiently.  They loved all the extra attention, and they really love her!  Thanks for coming, Jen!

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I was quite impressed with my Great Aunt Yvonne (age 75!) who traveled all the way here and was such a trooper.  She was so much fun to have around.  It was really special to spend time with her.   Aunt Yvonne is my (late) Grandma’s sister.  I loved hearing stories about  my Grandma and my Great Grandparents from Yvonne.  It is a blessing to be in a family where our faith has been handed down for generations.

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One of my favorite parts of having these special guests was watching my kids with their Grandparents.  Elizabeth took a few days to warm up to them, but it didn’t take long for Hannah and Caleb to remember my parents and enjoy some snuggles!

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100_0462-1 My Mom has always been so good with children and babies.  She is just one of those naturals, you know?   Thanks for coming to see us, Mom and Dad.

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Here’s what our family is looking like these days.  Yes, we are a happy family.  We’re thankful to have each other and live in a beautiful place.  And we’re always happy to have visitors, too! 

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Caleb is Three!

Posted by Jeri on July 30, 2010

Well, we ought to be partied out by now.  We just celebrated Caleb’s 3rd birthday on July 22, 2010, which followed Elizabeth’s 1st in June and Hannah’s 5th earlier this month.

It seems like just yesterday I was at a wedding on my due date with everyone watching me as if I were a ticking time bomb.  Thankfully, he waited to erupt the next day – and even had the courtesy to give me a few hours of sleep after the reception before I went into labor.  I don’t think I’ll ever forget Trevor and Sarah’s wedding and the little blessing that arrived less than a full day later.

Caleb has brought an unbelievable amount of energy to our home over the last three years.  He has one of those magnetic personalities and seems to draw people to him.  We are so thankful for him – orneriness and all!  His sisters adore him. 

100_2690Spaghetti is always a fun meal at our house.  

I especially adore Caleb’s loving nature.  He’s so cuddly, but loves to wrestle and be tickled.  I love when he comes in the kitchen and says, “That sure smells like some good dinner, Mom.”  Always nice to have someone appreciate your cooking.  :)

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He was more than happy to lick the bowl for the chocolate icing I made for his birthday cake. 

P7250040 A chocolaty mess!

He is usually running around, jumping off things, and playing with his sisters (and its hard to catch him in a photo!), but he also loves to be read to, do puzzles, and watch Dora.

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We invited a few friends over for lunch and cake to celebrate his third birthday with us.  I didn’t realize until the party got started that he was the only boy!  Apparently we just don’t know too many little boys.  (I’m praying that’ll make him an amazing husband someday.)

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Happy 3rd Birthday, Caleb!

Hannah Turns Five!

Posted by Jeri on July 22, 2010

Hannah shares her birthday with Canada.  (And it makes her Daddy proud, especially since she wasn’t born in Canada like Caleb and Elizabeth.)  She turned five years old on July 1. 

Thanks to Uncle James, Aunt January and Cousins Eowyn & Kiera for the shirt!  She’s worn that shirt a lot.  I’d like to think she’d wear it just as much if it said “I Love the USA”.  :)

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Hannah is really an amazing five-year-old.

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Five words that describe our Hannah are: creative, helpful, intuitive, thoughtful, and independent.  We are so thankful to have her in our family. 

To celebrate her five wonderful years, we had a party with some friends.

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We had a lot of fun, and it didn’t even rain on her party!  The sunshine certainly made it a lot easier for our birthday fun.

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We made animal balloons….

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And blew LOTS of bubbles …

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Had good ol’ wheelbarrow races, running races, played pin the nose on the clown, and bowled with a coconut …

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Ate chocolate cake and ice cream, and had a funny face contest.

Thank you, God, for our Hannah Girl.

Stay tuned for more birthday information.  Caleb’s celebration is next!

May – June 2010 Newsletter

Posted by Craig on July 19, 2010

Our May – June 2010 newsletter is now available:

May - June 2010 Newsletter (1061)

Elizabeth’s First Birthday

Posted by Jeri on June 18, 2010

It doesn’t seem possible that it’s been a whole year since our sweet Elizabeth joined the family.  On June 18, 2009, I became the mother of our third beautiful child, who was born with a shocking amount of hair.  It has been a fun first year with Elizabeth in our family, and it’s hard to imagine life without her.

Though she is too young to know exactly what it means to have a birthday, she is blessed to have Hannah and Caleb to plan the fun.  They helped me bake her birthday cake and made hats for the celebration. They were so excited about the day.  When I put them to bed the night before her birthday, they said they were having a hard time sleeping because they were just so excited for her birthday. 

We had a fun-filled day on Friday for her birthday. 

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Here is Elizabeth opening gifts that Hannah and Caleb wrapped for her.

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A new book for the birthday girl!                

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The family (minus me) after the gift opening.

100_2449After lunch, we celebrated by eating banana cake and strawberry ice cream.  Good thing she has a big bro and sis to help with the candle!

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The cake was great, but she wasn’t so sure about the freezing cold ice cream.  After she warmed up to the idea, she liked the ice cream after all.

100_2480Hannah helped me make party hats for the occasion.  Here are Hannah and Caleb waiting for Elizabeth to wake up from her nap so we can go for a swim.

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Caleb and Hannah loved playing in the sand beach at the International Hotel in town.

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I think Elizabeth’s got a ways to go before she walks on her own, but she did enjoy walking in the sand with me.

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The kids are learning to jump in the pool.

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Caleb is finally becoming more comfortable in the water and was even able to smile in the pool!

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Happy 1st Birthday, Elizabeth!  We love you.

Sydney, Australia Vacation 2010

Posted by Jeri on June 11, 2010

100_2039 Getting the suitcases out is always fun.  Here we are trying to decide which one we should take on our trip.

100_2065Craig was in North America for almost two weeks before he met us in Sydney.  We were so excited to see him!  Here we are in our hotel in Sydney the afternoon he arrived.  Get used to these outfits – we wore them nearly every day.  Since we were going to Sydney in the winter, we had to round up a few things besides flip flops and t-shirts so we wouldn’t freeze!

 100_2076We stayed in Darling Harbour, Sydney.  On our first day, we just took the monorail train around and enjoyed the area.  Here are Craig and the kids waiting on the train.

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Good thing these two know how to stick together when strangers are around.  They were holding hands on the train – it was so cute!

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We got off the train and walked to a nice park.  Here are the 3 kiddos there.

100_2097My beautiful  Hannah – inside and out.

100_2104  Caleb was so funny.  He insisted on wearing his hood every time he wore his sweatshirt.  I bought him another sweater, but he only wanted to wear this one.  It wasn’t THAT cold, silly boy!

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At the park, there was a man making huge bubbles.  Hannah and Caleb loved it.  Why do we ever pay for entertainment anyway??

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There were some nice fountains in the park there.  Elizabeth loved getting a ride everywhere.  She likes facing out in the Baby Bjorn so she can get a good look at everything.

100_2131We all enjoyed Sydney’s Wildlife World.  Yes, that is a REAL snake.  Any guesses why Craig wanted to be the photographer??  Hannah looks a little nervous, but she did end up touching the snake for at least a fraction of a second.  Caleb wasn’t nervous about the ordeal at all.

100_2141We sat and watched the kangaroos for a long time.  Too bad we couldn’t pet them.  At a wildlife sanctuary we went to in Brisbane two years ago, we were able to pet the kangaroos.

100_2163Caleb loved these animals!

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Our kids get to see a cassowary at church here in Alotau every Sunday, but they were still thrilled with the display there.

100_2167It’s not every day you get to sit on a big tree frog, either.

100_2205 We also visited the Sydney Aquarium.  Hannah was excited because she doesn’t get to snorkel like Craig and I do and she wanted to see fish like we get to see when we snorkel.  Elizabeth was totally enamored by the fish.  If you’re ever in Sydney, I highly recommend the Aquarium.  It’s really amazing.

100_2190Part of our holiday fun was just being able to sleep in a hotel.  Our family is too big for one room at the Four Points by Sheraton there, so we had two rooms – which was a blessing.  Here’s Caleb performing for us in the window.  He and Hannah loved singing for us then closing the curtains and opening them again for our show.

100_2326After our 5 days in Sydney, we drove to Wollongong to be with our friends, Jason, Nicole, Ella, and Noah Whaley, who are doing a church plant there.  We had a marvelous time.

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Nicole and I taught our 5 children (under 5 years) Bible class on Sunday at their house.

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We really enjoyed the parks there  The kids could just play for hours!

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Elizabeth’s first time swinging – and lovin’ it!

100_2225 Could her smile get any bigger?

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Elizabeth started pulling up on everything while we were on our trip.  Look at that almost-one-year-old!

100_2301 Here are Caleb and Hannah with Ella Whaley.  She was so sweet to share her toys and put up with all the extra noise in her house for a few days.

100_2324 Jason and Nicole took us to a play area for young children called Green Bean.  On our way there, Hannah asked why it wasn’t called “Black Bean.”  I have no idea why it would have either name, but they sure had lots of fun – especially in the ball pit.  Now this is a first world experience!

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Elizabeth was a little nervous about the whole thing at first, but she soon became comfortable and had a great time.

Things we loved about our family vacation:

  • Lots of time together
  • Watching the kids experience new things
  • Parks
  • McDonald’s (yeah, yeah, I know…)
  • Telling stories, laughing, and eating Thai food with the Whaleys
  • Not cooking
  • Riding the train
  • Using disposable diapers
  • Feeling a little bit chilly and not sweating
  • Eating lots of apples and pears
  • Relaxing

We had a wonderful time.  Do you think you need a vacation?

Do Not Worry

Posted by Jeri on May 29, 2010

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:33-34

These are words that I’ve had memorized for years and years. But recently, I re-memorized them, and I have been working on hiding them in my heart. It’s like I know them in my mind, but when it comes to practicing them, it’s so much harder.

Unfortunately, sometimes I still worry.

Before Craig left for his trip, I worried and worried. I thought of all the things that could go wrong while he was away. I thought how hard it would be without him, and I worried. His departure was inevitable, yet I still worried. There was nothing I could do about what might happen, but it was so hard for me not to worry.

A few days before Craig left for North America, I began praying for strength, patience, and peace. I did my best to give my worries to God. I’m sure I kept a few, but I know that God has been with me and he has helped me jump this hurdle. It may seem like such a small thing to you, but being here alone really worried me.

When we dropped Craig off at the airport, the kids wanted to stay and watch him get on the plane. So we did. Hannah immediately started crying right when he boarded the plane. She continued crying all the way home from the airport. I had my doubts about how it was going to go. What a way to start, I thought.

Now, 10 days after Craig left, I am feeling blessed. Not blessed because he left, but blessed by God for teaching me so many things over the past couple of weeks.

Here are lessons (great and small) that I learned, and some of the blessings I recognized while Craig was away.

1. The internet is an amazing thing. Funny as it may seem, I think I would prefer for Craig to travel to the other side of the world than to be away in a village here in PNG. Having contact with him makes a world of difference. Just a year ago, we didn’t even have internet access at our house. I have been SO thankful that I have been able to talk to Craig while he is away.

2. When you have to do something, you just do it – even when you thought you couldn’t. I am a very dependent person. I like working alongside Craig. I don’t like to be alone to make decisions or to handle everything. But, I’m doing it. All of us have been sick most of the week with colds. Normally, I would think this is just terrible, but I know that I have to deal with it – and I’ve been able to.

3. I need to take the kids out more often. In the past, I’ve avoided taking all 3 of them places by myself as much as possible because it is so hard here. Now I’ve had practice, and it’s actually been fun. We’ve been swimming, out to eat, to the shops, to the park, and on many walks together.

4. Doubling a few recipes and freezing the extra food made meal times much easier. And there were less dishes to wash, too. I also learned that cooking simple meals for supper (like scrambled eggs and toast) is okay too.

5. It’s alright if the house isn’t spotless. I generally like to keep a pretty tidy house, but I’ve allowed myself some breathing room (phew!), and it has been easier. Also, I’m thankful for our house helper, Susan. who helps me twice a week with cleaning and watching the kids while I grocery shop.

6. Involving the kids in the planning is important. When Craig left, the kids helped me draw pictures on a calendar of one special thing we’d do every day (swimming, painting, packing, etc). It was a good thing to have because I couldn’t be lazy and say, “I just don’t feel like doing that” because the kids were watching our calendar daily and knew what we were supposed to do. We’ve also been counting down until we see Craig again. (I’m amazed at how fast the time has gone!)

7. Recognizing the blessings each day helps alleviate the worries of the task. I’ve just tried to notice, smile and laugh at the little things in our lives that give us joy – like when Caleb says, “fruit woops” (fruit loops) and when Elizabeth gives Hannah big slobbery kisses.

8. I don’t have to put everything on the table to serve a meal. At first, I was getting everything set up on the table (like we do when Craig is here). I quickly learned that it’s much easier to leave all the food on the counter, serve the food, and put the filled plates on the table. (duh!) Then I don’t have to move it all back again. This may sound like a simple task, but it’s amazing how long it can take to get a meal prepared, served, and fed to 3 children ages 4 and under. Oh, and I’m supposed to eat sometime too!

9. It is rainy season here, and we had our fair share of rain a couple of weeks ago. But, I kid you not, we have not had a single rainy day since Craig left. (I think it might’ve rained in the night once.) I thought we’d have to just play in the rain every day, but God has given us beautiful weather to do lots of things. It has made it so much easier going places with the kids. I haven’t even had to open an umbrella once. (Well, I did when I was walking outside with Elizabeth in the sun.) If you’ve been here during rainy season, you know that’s a miracle. What an incredible blessing.

10. Every day I have been reminded of God’s perfect plan for a family to be together. Though I’ve managed to do it alone, having a loving and helpful husband around makes it so much easier. I don’t know how single mothers do this day in and day out for years. I’m thankful that God has given me a wonderful husband, and fun-loving kids. We are blessed with a happy home.

After composing this list, I just wonder to myself… why did I ever worry?

Consider the lilies of the field …

I missed Craig terribly, so I am really looking forward to our reunion in Sydney, Australia in a couple of days!! We’re really excited about our family vacation together.

My Mother

Posted by Jeri on May 9, 2010

I can honestly say that I’ve always appreciated my mother.  As a child, I remember wanting to spend as much time with her as possible.  Even if she was just driving to town to run some errands, I went with her.

I wanted to go along – just to be with her. 

Even as I got older, I wanted to be with her.  I wasn’t one of those teens who got embarrassed when their parents unexpectedly showed up at school.  I wanted her to help out at the school and chaperone my band or choir trips. 

I wanted her to go along – just so I could be with her.

Now I am grown up and haven’t lived close to her for years.  But I still want to spend time with her.  I get butterflies in my stomach when we go back to visit and start driving up the dirt road to their house.  My heart is flooded with pleasant memories from home with my mother.

Now I want to email her and call her on Skype – just so I can be with her.

My mother is an incredible woman.  Anyone who knows her knows that.  But, to be her child gave me an inside and intimate look at her life as a mother.

I got to catch her awake at early hours of the morning reading her Bible, or staying up late just to finish the dress she was sewing just for me.  I got to sing with her and play duets on the piano with her.  I got her hugs and kisses when I was struggling, and received her incredible support in my academics and other activities.  She taught me about the importance of having a relationship with God.  She still does.

My mother’s the best teacher and encourager.

The even more incredible thing about my mother is that she has been mother to countless numbers of children.  She bore 3 of us, but raised dozens.  She has shown love to many unlovable children, and gotten paid very little.  It’s like her heart has room to love and love and doesn’t know any different. 

My mother is so gentle, patient, and kind.

My appreciation for my mother has grown more and more as I now have my own children.  I am understanding more about the sacrifices she has always made for her children and continues to make. 

I’ve been grateful to have her witness the birth of my 3 children.  If anyone deserves to see my mother’s legacy live on, it is her. 

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! 

With Love, Jeri Kae

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Mom loves taking pictures of our kids.  Here she is showing Caleb a shot she just took.  Summer ‘09

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Mom is so good at playing with kids.  She was helping Hannah on the jungle gym last summer.

100_0633 Here is Mom as a proud Grandma right after Elizabeth was born.       June 18, 2009

100_6331 Hannah and I are at Niagara Falls with Mom and my sister, Jen

Left Behind | Happy Mother’s Day Mum Ford

Posted by Craig on

I’ve heard people talk about the ‘sacrifices’ we’ve made to move to PNG, but I think more is required from those who are left behind.

I hope you don’t really feel left behind though a vast ocean separates us.  When God made me he gave me a part of you.  I carry that with me – regardless of distance. 

But, I often feel sorry.  Sorry I can’t help you more often.  Sorry you can’t see your grandkids as much as you wish.  Sorry I can’t be more supportive.

Perhaps that’s why its harder to be left behind.  You didn’t get a choice in our moving plan.  You simply were asked to support us through a very big transition.

But, that’s what you do best.  You support – even when it’s not in your best interest.  You love when loving is hard.  And you care. Always.

At least for today, I hope the distance is shortened.  I hope in these words you are reminded that no one is left behind. 

I love you, mum, and thanks for everything you’ve done to care for me and my family.

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