Lumps and Bumps

I got an email today with a scanned copy of a letter from a man who leads a remote village in Papua New Guinea. In broken English, he sent a request for help from our ship, listing out about 10 health problems the village are facing, the last of them being “lumps.”

As I read that, I swallowed a lump in my own throat.

I can picture the lumps. Strange growths like the man who had a tumour so big in his mouth it has started leaking through his cheek… for the past several years.

Giant, infectious lumps like this little girl’s

Lumps and bumps that never get diagnosed… and often claim lives.

And to me, its that extra bit of sad right now because my own baby has a little lump… that still isn’t gone.

I’m so grateful to live in a country where we have had adequate health care. And not just adequate, but nurses that remember him between visits and treat us like rock stars. Surgeons who spend an unlimited amount of time answering our questions. Doctors who come in just to listen because they’re all a little puzzled about what’s been going on…

It tells me they aren’t just doing their job but they actually care about our little boy.

We’ve followed up on Max’s surgery and they’re not happy with the way his wound has healed… or about the new lumps that have emerged. That said, its not bad enough to warrant surgery yet… and they are over trying antibiotics.

So we wait and we watch and we pray.

And while we’re okay (I mean, you can’t argue with the fact that he’s an adorable almost-18-month-old who runs around giggling and cracking us up for the better part of every day), we don’t like it. We want to know he’s healthy and forget about the scary words the doctors mention as possibilities.

So while we wait… and watch… and pray… we continue on with our life. And for us, continuing on means doing our best to help other peoples’ lumps go away… Recruiting doctors and nurses, fundraising, renovating ships, writing newspaper articles, planning strategically for the future…

Because just a couple of hours away is another mother, making dinner over an open fire outside her hut, who is not only wondering what that lump is on her little boy’s neck… but also knowing that she may never find out… and may face the very real possibility that he won’t be okay.

We believed our little Max would bring life to many… and he inspires us every day to do our best to do the same.

And So Life Goes On…

Its hard to believe that only one short week ago we were still reeling from the biggest storm to hit this region. A storm which, at its centre, took out 1 in 3 homes. A storm that did some major landscaping work in our yard and left us without power for days.

These massive trees were down all over our neighbourhood. (Photo by Carol Watson)

In some ways the threat of a big storm is exciting. Blue skies and a slight breeze would have been deceiving if not for bom.gov.au – the website we used to track the storm as it made its approach.

And so it was the big circle on our computer screen that motivated us to pack up our important documents, clear our yard, fill our bathtub with water, and pull out the gas cooking stove… just in case.

In case came.

As we tucked into bed at a neighbour’s house by the beam of a flashlight (yes, we evacuated. have you seen the dodgy windows at our place?!), we heard the crash of a massive tree.

The tree that fell on Ken & Robyn's house

Hello, Yasi.

The next morning was a mixture of shock and relief. There were power lines and trees down on our street, our neighbourhood and across town. And yet, almost no damage to homes or lives.

Just around the corner (photo by Carol Watson)

A miracle, truly.

Thanks for your prayers.

Jared went out to assess the damage and check up on everyone. So it was a little… uh, funny??… when he checked on the girls who live in the unit below us and they had wondered if our roof had been torn off in the night. Water was pouring down from upstairs and flooding their living room.

No, the roof it still on, he assured them as he went upstairs to find out what had happened.

Our windows had been blown open by the storm. In the kitchen, the mini blinds were down to catch any glass that might blow out. (Stupid, Rebekah, stupid. If a cyclone blows glass its going to blow it past those stupid blinds anyway and get it all over your kitchen floor, back stairs, sink, and more. Yes, I know this now.)

So the mini blinds were caught up in the strong winds and managed to get entangled in the kitchen faucet, pulling it on and flooding our kitchen, all the way down to the girls downstairs.

We felt like cyclone idiots.

Building across the street from our YWAM centre (photo by Carol Watson)

But we recovered quickly, washing the mold which started growing almost immediately, drinking our rationed water when the city’s supply grew contaminated, cooking on a gas stove, picking up trees (two of which we were quite happy to lose – they were making a mess in the pool anyway), and helping to launch a city-wide cleanup effort.

The grocery stores are still stocked sporadically. But we have power. We’re drinking water from the tap. And we celebrated a birthday.

Yes, life goes on

The Day I Cried in the Grocery Store

You’ve seen the pictures.

Utter devastation.

Its hard to believe that this level of disaster has happened so close to us. That people we know had answering machines that said, “Sorry we can’t get back to you. We haven’t had power for two weeks.” That friends of friends lost houses and cars… and even loved ones.

I think we can all get a bit desensitised to news reports… like when we were in the midwest in one of winter’s “worst storms” but we totally got out fine. I love the news but it can be a bit… dramatic?

But sometimes life is dramatic.

This was our grocery store. Oh, there was food. But you had to go looking for it. And it definitely what you wouldn’t normally buy. Some weeks there were apples; others there were peaches. Somedays there was milk; somedays orange juice. Some days the meat trays were all the way empty.

Its amazing the things we take for granted.

And so, in the midst of devastation, we made it a point to be grateful. For three weeks as we wondered what food we’d be able to buy and eat, we prayed for those who wondered if they’d find their loved ones. When we were craving chicken, we thought of those who didn’t know if they’d have a home left.

Because even those $10 cauliflower heads came at a price… flown in by men in green uniforms on camo helicopters.

And that’s why, this weekend, when I went to the grocery store and it was almost all the way stocked, I cried.

Yes, the prices were still way too high. And no, they still don’t have celery or greens beyond iceburg lettuce…

But there was food. And there were people. And we were there to feed our families.

We still get to feed our families.

The infrastructures we have in this life we enjoy are paper thin. We place a lot of trust in commerce and transport. And it works… most of the time.

But when it doesn’t, it causes us to reflect and be grateful and maybe even consider what we could do to help someone else who doesn’t have access to milk and carrots and bread at the drop of a hat.