Thursday, November 5, 2015

It is Time

Well, it's time to move to a new blog since this one is so PNG specific.

I've opened a new blog under an old title- "The Occasional Update" can be found @

Happy reading whenever I post. Which can be up to a year apart it seems.  

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Good Grief

I think I only blog when something dramatic happens...

And have the last 2 weeks ever been dramatic!

Sunday afternoon, my time 2 weeks ago, I got an email from my Dad asking if I wanted to Skype late Sunday night, their time. Knowing that generally I'm the one who sets up Skype conversations, and we had just Facetimed the week before, I knew something was up.

I checked my email for a reply to my reply Monday morning, my time, but there wasn't one. As long as I'm logged onto the Internet, I thought I might as well check Facebook. The first five posts in my feed were from four cousins stating that my friend and cousin, Josh, had been killed in a tractor accident.

Cue the screaming and crying alone in my house in Papua New Guinea. This was followed by calling a friend, who prayed with me, and calling another friend who is my go-to during all events of a dramatic nature. I went over to her house and cried some more. In the principal's office I cried. I shared my surreal news all day and cried. I went to chapel and cried. I told my students and cried. Josh and his family and my family are all I could think about all day and the next day and the next day.

Finally, Thursday, I could hold a different thought in my head for nearly an hour without thinking about our loss of Josh and the loss to my uncle's family, who have already faced too much loss.

Friday night was restless because my dog was up all night barking. I knew something was wrong as she only barks at other dogs or strangers. But, I was tired and I wanted sleep, so I ignored her. Saturday morning came too early (6:30) with our security service in my driveway assessing damage to the house closest to mine. I gave up the idea of sleeping in and began preparing swit kai (dessert) for a women's ministry event. I continued to watch the security personnel through my windows.

When I saw my neighbor come over to make his observations, I went out and asked if there had been a break-in. He said yes. I walked back into my house and had a full-on melt down. That's it! I don't want to be in PNG. I rocked on my bathroom floor crying, "I want to go home."

It's rare, but I've had twinges of this before. At Christmas time or when I separated my shoulder or when I Skype-in at Thanksgiving dinner and my brother scoops asparagus into his tablet screen, but those were all fleeting. This desire to go home is deep and painful, because I know I can't. Not right now, and that is all I want to do. I want to hold Josh's three sisters, my three cousins. I want them to hold me. I want to verbally tell my aunt and uncle, "I'm sorry," not send them some sympathy basket. I want to tell Josh's life partner, "You'll make it through this. Hang on.”

After a few minutes, I pull myself together and call a friend to come over and listen to me. She was kind enough to have sent one of those, "if you just need someone to sit with you, call me," emails earlier in the week, and I was upset enough to take her up on it.

I missed the women's ministry event, but the event at my house was just what I needed. My friend sat and listened to me for an hour or so and then I let her go. I let my dog, who doesn't come in the house, in, and placed a towel beside my bed. She finally settled on it, and we both took a 10 o'clock in the morning nap with all the doors locked.

I still haven't gotten to talk to my 3 cousins, besides Facebook comments and emails. I think the strongest pain I'm experiencing is in not being able to tell them just how sorry I am. Both what a sorry state I'm in, but also how much I'm grieving with them. How miserable I feel for them. I wish I could sit with them the way my friends sit with me. I wish I could go through the final good-byes of the visitation and memorial that are happening right now.

This grief is bizarre. It's not just for Josh, but selfishly, it's for me as well. I'm grieving this distance that separates us. I'm grieving the helplessness that looms over me all day long. Do I surrender to this feeling of hopelessness, knowing it will lessen eventually? Do I ignore it? Should I push it on everyone else in my life who don't know Josh?

They all know and understand and have experienced this bizarre grief. They are patient and kind to me, but they can't take this hurt right now, and I don't want them to. It's right and good to be in pain.

That is the good grief and I don't want it to be any other way.

This past week has been challenging, but I'm surviving well with much care from my friends and co-workers and peace from our Father and Lord. Plus a trip into town yesterday was a great distraction. I even got to try a new green.

Family, I’m loving and praying for you from afar.

Monday, June 2, 2014


Travel. It’s complicated, and like almost everything on the mission field, it involves months of planning and loads of helpful people.

Tonight's to-do list:
-Confirm with friends that they will drive you to Goroka
-Print e-ticket from Goroka to Port Moresby
-Print service request form for transportation in Port Moresby
-Confirm reservation at 1st guesthouse
-print flight confirmation from Port Moresby to Brisbane, AU (to L.A. & San Jose)
                Make sure Electronic Visa is in order to transit through Australia
                Also make sure letter stating that all woven and wood items are treated
                Check that you have address of guesthouse
                Stop freaking out about the idea of using a taxi
                Confirm reservation at 2nd guesthouse
-flight from Brisbane to Los Angeles
-Triple check the possession of passport to ensure passage into the US
-flight from Los Angeles to San Jose
-Print image of a phone card that your dad bought for you
Feel safer with that card.
           Compile phone numbers

Appreciate all the people involved in getting you to your friends and family

Friday, April 4, 2014

I love Carbs!

In preparation for me to have something quick to eat in the morning during term 4, I made carbs! (that doesn't mean I wasn't taste-testing now, though).

  1. half-wheat, soya milk pancakes
  2. half-corn tortillas to be made into chips tonight
  3. granola from the remaining muesli after making...
  4. Tropical Peanut-butter Muesli Breakfast Cookies
Enjoy this Tropical Peanut-butter Muesli Breakfast Cookie Recipe:
(modified from Oatmeal Cookies in Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book 1968)

1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup raw sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup soya milk
1 cup wheat flour
3/4 cup white flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg (if you like the stuff-which I don't)
3 cups tropical muesli
1 and 1/2 cup add-ins (raisins, slivered almonds, choc. chips, shredded coconut, dried fruit i go, i go (Tok Pisin for etc. etc.) 

Cream shortening, peanut butter, sugar and eggs together until light and fluffy. Stir in milk. Sift together dry ingredients; stir into creamed mixture. Stir in muesli and add-ins. Drop from tablespoon 2 inches apart on greased cookie sheet.

Bake in hot oven (200 C/ 400 F) about 8 minutes. Cool slightly remove from pan. Makes about 5-6 dozen cookies.

I found that I greased the pan more than I normally do and baked it longer too, otherwise they just fall apart.

Happy Baking!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Many Hands Make My Shoulder Work

I’m sure most of you have read how I separated my shoulder on a Saturday in October after flying over the handlebars of my bike. After eight weeks of physical therapy, I am nearly back to full mobility. None of that could have happened without all these people!

I just so happened to make this graceful display in front of one of my students. He ran into his house saying, “Ms. Simon just flew off her bike! His mom responded, worried, “Well, go help her!”  He did. While he helped me off the ground, his dad got my bike off the road and asked what I needed. Feeling the wonky bone sticking out of my shoulder, I told him to call the nurse-on-call. Inside, my student's mom gave me frozen bananas for icing said shoulder, a granola bar, ibuprofen and the nurse on the phone. His sisters helped by asking lots of distracting questions.


The nurse-on-call happened to be a friend of both of us. Aunt Jody, as they call her, came and picked me up in the ambulance. She warmed up the x-ray machine, took the x-rays, called the doctor-on-call, and kept me distracted from the pain. Her husband helped too by walking me home.* 

I went home with a sling.
Now it was up to my roommate to do everything I couldn’t with one arm. 
 She’s been the biggest help!

Monday I completely forgot I had recess duty and was utterly exhausted anyway. I slept in the reading area of my classroom while my students were at recess and Music class. This teachers' aide took my daily recess duty that day and for the rest of the week. That meant a lot.

The principal and I at Carnival a few weeks later

Tuesday morning the Occupational Therapist** called me at school and asked to see me. I up and left my class. The principal and another teacher covered for me while I was gone.

Rachel, the OT, posing during Friday Lunch Recess after 6 weeks of helping me.

 She told me it was time for passive exercises 2-3 times a day. This is the embarrassing act of doing nothing while someone else moves your arm so you don’t get a “frozen shoulder.” Below: Meet the team who did this for three weeks, one person in the morning, one in the afternoon, and my roommate before bed.


Unexpectedly, I got a package from my mom that Tuesday. Phew, that made a world of difference. A friend drove me to and from the post office because I couldn’t carry it.

This wonderful co-teacher made my day when she brought me flossing picks (that’s right, can’t floss one-handed) and a pin that says, “I do all my own stunts” 

This dear friend*** cut my hair so that it wouldn’t be so hard to wash-one handed.

Below are all the moms who are teacher that subbed- in for me while I went to Physical Therapy for an hour each week.

This isn’t even an exhaustive list. Every day people helped me at market, at the store, at the post office, at events, and at home. Most helpful of all were my empathetic students. They got supplies from the tubs for science, demonstrated what I couldn’t, carried the projector, lifted books, and drew on the board when I needed to sit down from being tired.

My wonderful students. This day they're comparing the brightness of two different-sized stars.

I love helping people, but I find letting people help me is difficult. However, by the end of six weeks, I was getting pretty good at it. Thanks to God for His gifts of patience and humility. And thank you for praying with me through this time.

*This couple and I did Uka-orientation together. Also we are both from WI, making all of us awesome! We were already good friends, but this experience bonded us even more. They had me over for dinner a week later too.

**The Occupational Therapist liked to point out each week how her skills were different than a Physical Therapist. She did a great job doing research and helping me through the process of recovery! There is no way I could be functioning without her!

***I met this dear friend during training in Dallas in 2012. She and her husband have been watching out for me ever since. Her kids call me Auntie Em, and they are my Uka-nieces.