This is the blog for Gavin and Carrie Jones and family. We live in Papua New Guinea and are working to see lives transformed by the living Word of God through Bible translation. Gavin is a helicopter pilot. Carrie, who has her degree in Public Health, is the lab supervisor and one of five lab techs at our busy rural clinic. Our son, Isaac, was born in 2004 and our quintuplets, Will, David, Marcie, Seth, and Grace, were born in 2012.

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. The you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all you heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight. -Proverbs 3:3-6

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas and Homesickness

Hi all,

I've been working on this blog post for over a week and just haven't known how to finish it. I'm sure it comes as no surprise that Christmas makes me miss "home," my family of birth. Also lots of other things (and people!) in the U.S., although I am still immeasurably grateful to be here in PNG with six healthy, happy kids! I treasure my friends who have become family here, and I will soon receive family in the form of my "in-loves," Gavin's parents! They arrive mid-January - woo-hoo!! That will be such a nice boost and huge blessing! If you think of it, please pray for their transition.

As I wrote my mom-in-love today, I wish I could say our Christmas Day was magical, but honestly it was mostly just hard. Life just isn't "easy" with five two-year-olds, so it was more of a gut-it-out kind of day. I really missed the magic of Christmas, including the Christmas Eve carol service that didn't start until 9 p.m., so we had to miss it (no babysitters!). I was just super homesick for the first time since arriving back here. Thankfully, it was just Christmas Day and the day after (which was Christmas Day back in the US) that were hard for me. The 23rd and 24th were great days with friends! So having two hard days out of the whole season of really good days is nothing to complain about. I know each year will be different, and, Lord willing, the magic of Christmas Day itself will return at some point before too much longer. Gavin often talks of how eager he is for the kids to get older, and I keep thinking I want them to be small as long as possible, but some nights we fall into bed and I realize, "We NEED these kids to grow up!" It's just so constant and exhausting at these younger ages. However, it's certainly a very good, rich, blessing-filled life at the same time, and they are SO cute! Sometimes in life lots of blessings equal lots of work [I know anyone who's ever taken care of children can say a hearty, "true, true!" to that statement!].

Speaking of the kids being cute: Gracie speaks in all full sentences now. "It's my turn to swing!" "Daddy, I need you to help me with my pants!" "Mommy, look at me!" It's always so startling to hear a full sentence come from that tiny body. Last night Gracie told me I was a "good girl, Mommy!" for helping her find a toy behind Will's bed. She also says about thunder "They're talking in the clouds!" and when I said it was time to go to bed last night she said, "No, first I want to play with the cars!" She is SO verbal! She has a running commentary about her life. "I got the blanket." "I put the binkie nigh-night" [We make them leave their pacifiers in the crib.] "I need help to open this." "I need to wear the pretty clothes. This is Marcie's clothes." She tells the other kids to "move back!" when they are in her way, but she also says "thank you" without being prompted, "bless you" when someone sneezes, and used to say "excuse me," but I haven't heard her say that in a while. Marcie is also very verbal and strings plenty of words together to communicate. Will is definitely stringing words and concepts together. Seth and David still mostly just talk in short sentences. Seth's current favorite thing to say is, "No! My turn!" He is definitely the most mischievous right now. There is nothing lacking in his energy level, even if all his ribs show and his hips look hollow.  Since his last check-up he's only netted a gain of 2 oz despite an initial jump of a full pound. So weight for height, he's actually skinnier now that he was at his appointment in November when he was only in the 5th percentile for weight. So please keep praying as you think of it, please. I have been convicted of my lack of perseverance in prayer. I think, "Problem solved!" and move on, but this is one issue we're going to need to continue keeping an eye on in prayerful anticipation of God's work in Seth's life. He's been SO healthy, it's awesome, so we praise God for that.

The other day I told Will that God made him big and strong, and that it was his job to take care of and protect the littler kids. He grinned his dimpled grin and went around the room gentling touching each of the other kids' blond heads in turn, as if blessing them. He loves being told that God made him big and strong, and he tries to repeat the words. David continues to be a little engineering genius, Marcie takes care of everyone and everything she sees that needs doing (in a sweet, motherly way - she loves to wipe noses), and Seth tackles life and challenges head-on with a heart of bursting affection for his sisters. Will and David are the big wrestlers now. They laugh so hard at each other! The girls and Seth keep their hug games to themselves. It's adorable!

They all say "keput" instead of "ketchup," and four of the five would drink the stuff if they could (David especially). Seth is not such a fan.

I can hear the boys playing in the huge water puddle below our study window. That will be fun to clean up . . .

I'll attach some pictures (such as they are - sorry, we didn't get many good ones) and get off for now. The kids need me to work on lunch!

Love and gratitude,
Carrie for all

Isaac opening his stocking. Yes, Pringles and Fanta are big deal and great stocking stuffer on the mission field! :)
Gracie putting the shoes on her Anna doll
Isaac showing Will the finer points of his new Tonka firetruck (Marcie in the background)

David was obsessed with this truck. As you can see, he takes it very seriously. It's still the one he looks for. He knows it's his!

Happy mayhem! Our little friend Annika sent a card wishing us a Merry and Messy Christmas, and she was right on! Seth loved this little puppy book he got. He read it for days!

This was my brother's favorite book as a kid: Richard Scarry's Cars and Trucks and Things that Go. As soon as Will unwrapped it he temporarily forgot all about the cars and trucks and trains he had to play with, and he's been enamored with the book ever since! In this picture he just finished saying "Yellow truck!"

The kids goofing off with their floaties yesterday (we went to a nearby pool - fun! Pictures to follow.) I couldn't get Seth to stand still long enough to take a decent picture of him:

Marcie (taken through a dirty camera lens yet again)
Gracie (seriously, isn't she so cute?! She's the only one who would really pose for me)

David doing a great Queen Amidala impression

Will grinning because I took his floatie off

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Four more great group shots from Friday play date!

My personal favorite because they are so goofy and happy!

Finally, some more Christmas fun pictures!

All the kids love playing with the Fisher Price nativity set, but Seth is our
animal lover and therefore the most devoted. 

Look how Seth lined up all the Little People in the manger scene!
He even grouped them: Shepherds, then Wise Men, then Angels

David made one of the wise men the driver of a car in which "baby Jesus" was a contented passenger. 

The girls were so thrilled with their new butterfly t-shirts they had to run and show me and then happily pose for a picture.
They are very much into butterflies right now. 
You wouldn't think it, but this was a favorite game one night recently. Gracie doesn't mind being "put upon" by Marcie!

Will with his new Mommy-made haircut (for better or for worse; he moved a LOT!)

The boys today (before I forgot to clean the camera lens)

A better picture of our matching boys after church. Isaac matched accidentally, but was happy to pose with his brothers.
Aren't they the handsomest four boys in the world? ;) Happy, too!

Enjoying the tree. They are very gentle with the ornaments. My mom used to let me play with our ornaments, too. Fun!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

More Sunday Christmas photos

These aren't as good, but they're cute. I think the glare I mentioned in my last post (with the best picture) was actually a smudge on the camera lens.

Isaac was off playing, as usual. We don't deliberately leave him out of photos, he's just hard to corral! He has his own plans and activities. :)

2.5 years later: Four realities I was not thrilled about

This is a follow-up to the post I wrote April 2012. Four realities I am not thrilled about - Jones' Clips: Gavin ...

I have been meaning to do a follow-up for ages now and never got around to it. The kids are outside happily playing with my little PNG "mother's helper" keeping an eye on them, so we'll try to get this done as quickly as possible. :)

So, the first thing I wasn't happy about was having to gain 80 pounds by eating 5000 calories a day. Neither one of those things happened. The closest I got was 60 pounds, and I never managed to consume that many calories (without throwing up, anyway). Along with that, reality concern number four never materialized: My stomach never grew to the size it "should" have because I had the babies much earlier than I had hoped and prayed for. Therefore, I did not need a tummy tuck, which I thought was going to be absolutely necessary to repair separated abdominal muscles. My stomach went back to normal, minus the c-section scar (which in my case runs vertically almost up to my belly button; that's always how emergency C-sections are done, I'm told). I don't even have stretch marks except a few tiny ones around my belly button. I have recently found out that lots of people here at Ukarumpa just assumed I got the tummy tuck since I had said I would need one (when I knew nothing yet about God's timing for my pregnancy and our kids!). While I WISH I could have carried the babies a lot longer, since I didn't have any choice in the matter I do thank God for good genes that allowed my body to bounce back quickly. That made it SO much easier to care for 5 preemies in the NICU!

The second thing, even more a concern for me, was having to feed preemies every two hours around the clock. First off, turns out I was wrong. It's every 3 hours. Secondly, while some people had already volunteered to help, little did I know how MANY people would join our army of volunteers! What a stupid waste of worry energy that was. I got up less with the quints than I did with my single baby, Isaac. I got up a lot to pump, but that's different somehow.

The third thing was fear that I wouldn't bond with the quints because they would be in the NICU for so long and there would be so many of them. WRONG AGAIN. I bonded immediately with my babies, with a lioness's protectiveness and a tenderness that overwhelmed me. I actually bonded much quicker with them than with Isaac because of the postpartum depression I experienced after his birth. (Poor little guy. I've sure bonded with him since! I remember thinking no one could love a child as much as I loved him as soon as I got over the postpartum.)

The fourth "reality" - nasty extra tummy skin and stretch marks - I addressed in the first paragraph since they kind of go hand in hand (just in case you skimmed and missed it).

Bottom line: None of the "realities" I was dreading ever materialized. None. Note to self: worry is a waste! Trust God! It won't be easy, but He's faithful. Always.


The kids on Sunday after church in front of our tiny Christmas tree. I love how Marcie and Gracie are holding hands. Seth was trying to hold Marcie's hand. They were all so happy! Sorry for the light glare between Gracie and Will.

Monday, December 8, 2014

And for something completely different . . .

Gavin here.  I've been meaning to write for quite a while about some of what I've been doing when at work.  Hopefully I'll be a bit more regular in sharing some of my experiences.  Warning: this blog post will have no pictures of the quints.  Sorry.

I find it hard to believe that we've been back in PNG for only six months.  It seems like it's been a year what with all that has happened and just the daily grind of raising six children.  After a few weeks of settling into the house, I headed back to work at Aviation.  It took quite some time to jump through the different hoops needed to get re-certified in PNG, especially after having been gone so long.  The task was more difficult due to the fact that we had no other helicopter flight instructors in our organization, thus requiring me to use an experienced pilot from another commercial company in a nearby city.

I've been back in the air for several months now and have had quite a few good and interesting experiences already.  It's been SO good to be flying again over such an incredibly beautiful and rugged country.  It amazes me over and over how completely isolated so many people are in this part of the world.  The immense jungles, mountains, and swamps throughout PNG along with the regular heavy rains make it such a ground transportation nightmare.  Aviation is really the backbone of transport to any remote areas and even some that are not so remote.

Just last week I had the pleasure of dropping off several men in a remote area of the West Sepik Province, quite close the Indonesian border.  Two expatriate men and four Papua New Guinean men were splitting into two groups in order to hike to 40 different villages over the course of two weeks.  Their plan is to invite them to come to our Regional Center in Wewak to join in a Bible Storytelling Course as well as to gauge the strength of the individual languages and their desire for Bible translation.  As stories and storytelling are very vital parts of the cultures here in PNG, they hope to raise an interest in the Scriptures and possibly ignite the desire for Bible translation programs in their own tok ples (language of their village).

Before taking the guys to drop them off in the bush

The guys and some local villager before heading off on their two week trek

The men have a lot of ground to cover in the two weeks through the mountains and jungles, so we pray that they stay safe and that the Holy Spirit will fill them with the right words and lead them to the right contacts.

After dropping them off, I continued on and picked up a couple from their village where they've been allocated for almost 25 years and returned them and another single woman involved in another translation back home to Ukarumpa.

Often times I have been told after picking people up that after so many weeks in the bush (heat, mosquitoes, cross-cultural challenges, limited or no electricity, etc.) the sound of the helicopter arriving is music to their ears.

Before leaving Baiberi, Carol asked to show pictures of our 5 kids to the people in the village.  They had a hard time believing the story previously, so the pictures sure were a hit.

At a fuel stop on our way back from the West Sepik.  The mighty Sepik River in the background.

Often times I have been told after picking people up that after so many weeks in the bush (heat, mosquitoes, cross-cultural challenges, limited or no electricity, etc.) the sound of the helicopter arriving is music to their ears.

Starkly contrasting green with the black water of the lakes near the Sepik River.

Massive amounts of water fall all over PNG and the rivers and lakes of the swampland overflow often.  This area is full of crocodiles.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Video: "Oh my goodness!"

Marcie and Isaac - SO CUTE!

More Monday and Friday playdate pics

David prefers cars to airplanes or helicopters, much to his daddy's chagrin. :)

Gracie wanted to wear this very pretty dress despite it being a play day.

Will claps and says "yay!" every time Karen finishes a song.

David was SO PROUD of himself for lining up the balls. (He lines up everything in his life!)

He seems to be saying, "Aren't I so cute?"

I might have posted this before, but it's worth seeing again. :)
Girls in shades

Tickling each other is a favorite game for the kids. "Zerbert-ing" is too.


Tire-swinging in tandem

Gracie and Marcie
Gracie REALLY seems to love it!

David with Will behind

Will and Seth

Gavin, Carrie, Isaac, Will, David, Marcie, Seth, & Grace Jones

Gavin, Carrie, Isaac, Will, David, Marcie, Seth, & Grace Jones

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