Saturday, August 1, 2015

Home Away From Home

After four flights ranging from a ten-seat Kodiak airplane to a 247-seat Airbus A330, we are back in America to begin our one-year furlough.

Greetings from San Fernando, California, where we have begun our year-long furlough. After a relatively smooth trip home, we are now getting adjusted to life back in the States. Of course we knew there would be adjustments, especially for the kids. Asher did not remember America at all, and had no concept of how long our furlough was going to be or where we would be living. On one occasion he thought that our most recent two-week trip to Enga was ‘furlough’, and on another occasion he thought that ‘furlough’ would be five days long. At one point during our travels, Asher asked ‘When are we going home”, and we didn’t know if he meant our home in Ukarumpa, the guest house where we were staying, or where we would be staying in America. Bella and Jacob remember a little bit more, but we still had to train them to use water fountains, automatic sinks and paper towel dispensers, and what a red light is and why you have to wait for the light to turn green before you can go. The kids absolutely love escalators and elevators, which seem like fun rides (although the kids got stuck in one elevator because they didn’t get out fast enough).

A tired Asher enjoying an In-N-Out cheeseburger, fries (which we call chips),
and chocolate shake for his first meal back in America
As for Martha and me, we have our own adjusting to do as we experience some reverse culture shock. (No we don’t have a rewards card and no we don’t want to sign up for a credit card to save 15% on today’s purchase! Please stop asking!) The first time on the L.A. freeways made driving the horrible roads in Papua New Guinea seem not so dangerous after all, and we are still trying to figure out why people would power wash their already clean driveways during a severe drought!

Meeting Somaya
One of the highlights of our brief time back in America so far has been meeting our niece Somaya for the first time. Somaya is Martha’s sister Ruthie’s daughter, and she is the only niece or nephew on Martha’s side of the family. She was born just a couple of weeks after we first arrived in Papua New Guinea. So even though she is now three years old, we had not had the opportunity to see her and hold her before now. She has gotten along great with our kids, and she is already calling Martha her auntie.

Bella and Asher with their cousin Somaya
Getting In Gear
It was strange to leave our home in Papua New Guinea with no keys whatsoever (to a house, car, office, etc.) and no working phone. We’ve since been getting back in gear, first getting our driver’s licenses renewed, then getting car insurance, then getting a car (great deal on a used Toyota Sienna from good friends of ours), then getting cell phones. Besides that we’ve been spending lots of time with Martha’s family, swimming in the pool at the house of our dear friend, Roberta, where we are staying this month, going on outings with the kids, eating yummy food, and enjoying a few dates now that we actually have somewhere to go at night! It has not been the most restful time, but it has been wonderful to reconnect with friends and family!

What Do You Do On Furlough?
While furlough is a great opportunity to enjoy some personal time and catch up with friends and family, it is definitely not a year-long vacation. The Enga translation team continues to work on drafting the book of John, and I will be checking the book of Luke. I have also started brushing up on my Greek, and I hope to complete writing my grammar of the Enga language. It is amazing how writing a grammar of Enga forces me to really think through how the language works, which really helps me to learn the language on a deeper level. We will also do a bit of traveling over the year as we visit friends and family. We are currently in Southern California, but we leave on August 7 for a three-week trip cross-country. After spending the fall with my parents in Pittsburgh, we will drive cross-country again after the New Year, spending January through June back in Southern California. We want to thank you all for your continued prayers and support!