But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD's love is with those who fear him and his righteousness with their children's children . . . Psalm 103:17

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Poor sick Gracie!

She's now got pneumonia (viral) in her right lung and is on serious steroids to help reduce the inflammation to allow her airways to open and help her breathe easier. Her oxygen saturations have been below Seth's, and she's now needing 1.5 liters/minute flow of oxygen vs. Seth's only 0.5 liter flow rate.

Kids in the national clinic have had saturations down into the 40's and 50%'s, so that puts things into perspective! We pray Gracie's oxygen tank isn't needed for someone more ill than she. The poor Clinic staff and equipment are really stretched right now. Please pray they stay healthy and can get the rest they need to take care of those of us who keep calling on them at all hours of the night and day. :}

It's really, really challenging to have two kids on tanks with oxygen tubing getting tangled up with each other, plus the three others wanting to fiddle with the knobs (uncomfortably blasting their siblings with massive amounts of air) or remove the tubing so no oxygen is flowing. Not one of them is feeling well, David seems to be getting worse, and Will is really needy, so we really appreciate your prayers! Discouragement is a huge temptation.

Gratefully,
Carrie









Attempt at missionary humor, plus some serious stuff

You know you're a missionary when . . . 

while washing your gallon freezer Ziploc bag you groan over a ripped one because now your precious stash is depleted
it just seems right that a colony of ants has made their home in your cordless telephone while you've been in the U.S. "Ah, good ol' PNG!"
you watch an episode of Bonanza for a fun-filled evening
your baby son [David] gets covered in the engine oil used to dip fence posts to repel bugs
you're proud that your baby girl [Marcie] comes inside drenched, proving she's not afraid to play in the rain and mud - a nearly ever present reality here
a cloudy/rainy day means you can't wash the heavy blankets that desperately need washing
everything smells moldy, and the moldy smell makes it seem more like home
you spend $35 on 12 rolls of imported U.S.-made toilet paper (Yes, you read that right. I am ashamed to admit it.) because you calculate it down to the price per two-ply sheet - no mean math feat - and find it's the best deal at the store at the time. (I later found local-made toilet paper for 70 cents per roll, but not before I gave a passing thought to using dried banana leaves.) 
you are tempted to literally cry over spilt milk because a 25 kilogram bag costs $246 (Will dumped the huge milk pitcher.)
[Aside: You know you're a missionary mom of quintuplet toddlers when you buy powdered milk in 25 kilogram bags!!]

I'm sure I'll think of more of these. These are the ones that came to mind as I was washing dishes and Ziploc bags, and they made me smile. 

Seriously, now: All five babies are still really sick and frequently miserable and clinging. It's so hard to be "enough" for them! I feel like I physically can't be, so I am praying for wisdom and guidance from the Holy Spirit to know which needs to meet in what order. Thanks for praying for me and for Gavin. We definitely need prayer for endurance, patience and compassion. Here's an example: You FINALLY comfort and attend to Child A enough to help him stop crying, are starting to send him back to play reasonably happily so that you can clean up the kitchen, then he hits his head hard on the corner of the table on the way to the living room. Argh!! :}

Gracie sounds pretty bad and isn't satting well, but she isn't bad enough to need oxygen. She was actually tested for pneumonia today, but it's not bacterial even if it is pneumonia, so it can't be "cured" by an antibiotic anyway. Seth is doing a lot better, acting normal and eating a lot better, but he's still on a little bit of oxygen. He is tending to need more in the mornings when his lungs are all gunked up, less in the evening when everything has been cleared out. He has viral pneumonia in his left lung. We have a portable oxygen concentrator on the way from Australia. It should arrive Thursday or Friday (when Lord willing we won't need it anymore!), and in the meantime we're using the oxygen that a colleague from Aviation VERY kindly drove to the port city to retrieve! Gavin didn't have to go after all. Gracie woke up vomiting, so I was glad he could stay home. 

We are very blessed. We love this community. We adore our children. Gavin is excited to get back to work on Monday, and I am really enjoying my PNG friends (and their invaluable help!). There is nowhere else we would rather be. Thanks for lifting us up to the Throne! We desperately need it and feel it, as always.

Gratefully,
Carrie

P.S. Finance people, we could sure use you here!!! The Finance Department is really getting into a bind personnel-wise. Write us at our jonesquints@yahoo.com address for more details.






Friday, June 27, 2014

Playdate at Weaver's on Wed.

Will and Seth were sick at home that day, but Gracie, Marcie and David had great fun!

"Car!" says David (with Grace)

Gracie loving her dolly

Sending a car down the slide with Jadia

Marcie's catnap with Jadia's sweatshirt as her blanket

Marcie and Jadia

Happy Gracie

Grace and David with Amanda (love Gracie's curls!)

No TX bluebonnets, but PNG dandelions are fun for Marcie too :)

Grace doing fine

Grace is sick, but doing fine without O2.  She coughed up some junk and is fine now.  We're probably hyper-sensitive to the oxygen saturation situation.  If we didn't have a gauge (like most people don't), we'd just think she's really sick and treat the symptoms and she'd pull through fine.  The doctor says it's quite likely that many kids who have this severe virus likely drop down quite low in their saturations during the night especially and no one knows the difference.  Seth is a different case because of his compromised lung capacity as well as junk in his lungs.  Gracie's lungs are completely clear.  I don't always know how much to share and how quickly, but I know so many are praying and concerned.  Thank you!

Gavin

Seth somewhat improved, now Grace very sick!

Seth had a better day today.  We've been able to wean his oxygen some and he's holding steady at a very low amount per minute now as he sleeps, praise God.  He's gotten more energetic this afternoon and has been eating and drinking well.  It seems he's on the mend.

Unfortunately Gracie is really sick now with the same thing they've all had, but her oxygen saturation is quite low like Seth's was.  Carrie just took her to the clinic to be seen by our doctor.  It is almost 10 at night here, so likely it will be a long night for her.  I'm heading to bed ASAP so I can be available for the kids as needed in the morning.  Please pray that Grace's O2 would increase and that her fever would break.  This is a very trying time for us.  But God is showing His faithfulness in many ways in the midst of it.  Thank you all for your prayers.

Gavin

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Seth better, but please keep praying!!

Seth is still on oxygen, but not as much (0.5 liters as I type this) and is looking and acting perkier and less miserable. He doesn't seem to be in the pain he was this morning when he would cough. He was breathing more easily (on oxygen), so that, combined with the "picture" he presented physically make our pediatrician comfortable enough leaving him here, still on oxygen. PLEASE PRAY he would continue to improve, that his lungs would fight off this infection and dry out (they're still pretty crackly sounding, although I think slightly less so than this time last night), and that he can get over this completely without needing to be hospitalized.

A related prayer request is this: We are nearly out of oxygen for the whole community, including our national neighbors in the catchment area of our clinic. Gavin is therefore driving to the closest port city (Lae) in the morning to pick up new tanks and a few other Clinic and personal items (powdered milk for all these babies!!). Please pray for his safety and for our kiddos to not be too miserable and clingy. There's sometimes not enough Mom for the whole crew's satisfaction. Seth kept trying to shove Will off my lap today, and Will was miserable too! :}

Speaking of which, he's fussing now so I'll go check on him and Seth again before bed. THANK YOU FOR PRAYING!!! I know this urgent request has gone out far and wide and we feel it!

Love and gratitude to our GREAT God,
Carrie


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Seth very sick-- please pray!

As with a couple other kids in our community here, the nasty cold has gone to Seth's lungs, further lowering his oxygen saturations.  He is now on oxygen at the house.  If there is not a significant improvement in his oxygen level over the next day or two, it may mean he will need to go to Australia.  We fervently pray that will not be the case, as that will cause so many other challenges and complications to an already challenging time as we are still settling in.  Thank you for praying with us!  All of the quints now have fevers, runny noses, and coughs, plus David has an ear infection along with Seth.

We are so thankful for the people who have come to the house to help out in several ways with the kids and household chores!

Thank you again for your prayers.  We fully trust that God does know what He's doing.  It IS for our best, it's just hard to accept and understand.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Seth still needs prayer

Poor Seth has a bad ear infection in addition to his bad cold (which thankfully has not spread to his lungs, although it is affecting his oxygen saturations). We discovered the ear infection on "accident" when he woke up today no better than yesterday and immediately threw up his drink along with some blood flecked vomitus. I realized it was probably the ibuprofen causing his tummy to bleed a bit as he hasn't eaten anything in three days. He drinks okay, but he still looks kind of shriveled. Anyway, I knew I had to take him to the Clinic if for no other reason than to buy some Tylenol so the ibuprofen wouldn't keep hurting his tummy. His baseline oxygen sats have been 93% here at 5,000 feet elevation, but today he was only satting 90%. He has good color and activity, so they aren't too concerned, plus his lungs sound really clear, but he is definitely panting from the fever (which is why I kept medicating him with ibuprofen, all I had, to keep it down). It was 102 today when he was feeling markedly cooler than previously, so he must have been up around 104 degrees or so over the weekend.

This is a nasty upper respiratory infection going around our town. It seems like every other person has it. One of my friends says it's the sickest she's been with a cold in years. It hurts to cough, so my heart goes out to the kids (all of whom have it varying degrees and stages). None of them are eating great except Marcie. 

Please, please pray Seth recovers quickly (that they all do), that the antibiotic will knock out his ear infection and the cold if it's bacterial, and that he will EAT and gain strength!!! The pediatrician at our clinic is closely monitoring him. I feel so incredibly blessed by the level of medical care and caring we have here!

Thanks so much!

Love,
Carrie

In happier times, the night we arrived

Monday, June 23, 2014

P.S. Photo Credits

I took almost none of the photos I posted in the past several posts, so thank you to those of you in the Ukarumpa community who take the time to snap pictures of our kids and share them with us! :)

Random Brisbane and Ukarumpa photos and a big prayer request

Seth's and my illnesses have gotten worse and Will came down with the fever and croupy-sounding cough too. My throat hurts really badly, like I'm getting laryngitis. I'm not concerned about myself - I know I'll heal with little problem - but I feel sorry for the boys if they have the same painful throat, plus I'm especially concerned that this infection not progress down into Seth's lungs. He gave us a bit of a scare a couple of nights ago when his temperature went way up, causing him to pant and lowering his oxygen saturations. Thank God he hasn't had any issues with wheezing. We sure pray those lungs remain clear and open!

At the breakfast table in Brisbane
On the family tractor in Brisbane :)
Gracie is stylin' in Stephen's sunglasses! The kids kept fighting over them.

David on the swings at the Store


More friends and helpers

We are abundantly blessed on this side of the world as we were on the other!

The Weaver girls reading to Seth and Will

Karen Weaver with Gracie (left), Will, Seth and Marcie

Okay, so this is just a cute picture I'm sticking in, but Gavin is a BIG helper and my best friend! :) The kids are pretty nuts about him, too. Daddy is always really cool with his motorcycle and his tools, plus his ability to toss kids in the air.
Eating "chips" (known as French fries in America) at our Store about a half-mile from our house. There is a playground there, too.
Will and Stephen "watching" Ultimate Frisbee yesterday

Will feeds Reuben Stephen's snack


There are heaps of friends for moms and kids here! Will is standing in the center, wearing a hat, Gracie is also wearing a hat and digging through another one of Stephen's snacks in the foreground, Seth is climbing on my lap on the far right, and David is disappearing toward the Frisbee field while removing his hat. Marcie is barely visible in the far background, flanked by two older girls.

Marcie temporarily won the prized snack container - Tasteoo's are a very valuable item here. Thank you, Stephen!

Checking out our new home and toys

Why is Daddy fencing off the kitchen? We have a gas stove/oven with easily turnable knobs, for one!
I took this because it cracks me up that Will is straddling the Fisher-Price garage like a seat. Grace and Seth play, too, although Seth uses a Duplo block as a car.

The kids have little play tents - thanks, Brewers!


Our front yard with Mrs. Miller, Abigail and Lauren helping keep the kids from rushing the bulldozer.

Anything can be a hat! (Gracie with a plush toy puppy bucket.)

Sunset off our back veranda

Happy reunions with PNG friends

I thank God for Sinta, who cleans my house and loves my family!

Isaac's best friend Jason. He spends the weekends with us.

The head of our local Community Health Board holding Seth
(If you watch our ministry video - located under the "Our video" tab, top of the screen - you will see him in the video/photos of me working with the Board)

Sinta's lovely daughter Jacinta with David. The kids have been so friendly! It's super encouraging to me.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

A day of grace: His mercies are new every morning

Today the sun rose bright and the air was clear and beautiful. The kids rose bright and beautiful too, thank God. The "funk" we were in last night was gone. David was happy and calm (for David), and everyone was happy. Thank you SO much for praying! I wonder how much the dank fogginess of the past few days affects their mood? We knew the adjustment would be a challenge. We didn't expect it to be easy by any means, but we didn't expect it to be so grindingly difficult as last night was, and it was a bit freaky thinking about how subsequent nights would be!

Here at Ukarumpa there is a Quick Response Team (QRT) for any security emergencies. Anyone can dial the number and the men on the team receive the calls to their radios wherever they are. After my post last night, a friend of ours (the ever clever and funny Scott Carey) suggested we find five willing families and start our own QRT: The Quint Response Team. That made me laugh out loud. I can just imagine placing the calls: "Come get your designated quint! We can't take it anymore!"

I think what made it so hard last night, besides the kids being miserable, was how wrecked our house was and how many dishes we had to do after they were in bed - and I'm not even cooking from scratch yet! I need to plan meals ahead and make them in the morning when I still have house help (lovely local PNG ladies) to help with prep and clean up. For instance, we have to bleach our fruits and veggies here. That's what I mean about everything taking so much more time. We also hang our clothes out to dry. There is a ton of laundry with a family this size, especially in such a "natural" environment (dusty, dirty but beautiful outdoors!). So we are figuring it out, one day at a time, and God's mercies really are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23).

I think the absolutely most wonderful thing about living here is the people. There are such precious friends who have become family! We got to play Frisbee golf this morning with some of them, including their adorable children who bedecked my hat and ears and hands with flowers and grasses. It was so sweet. :)

Young girls in 5th-7th grades have been such a big help, as has Aunt Deb, Isaac's former kindergarten teacher Mrs. Miller, and lots of friends who prayed and grieved with me over my many years of longing for another child. They are definitely around now to celebrate with and help us! It's the school break, so we arrived at a good time. Lord willing we'll get settled enough that we can do this with less help (but don't get me wrong - we'll take all the help that wants to come!). We plan to hire Isaac's former babysitter, another lovely PNG lady, every afternoon. I will have house help every morning, as I already mentioned. According to a couple of mutual Colombia friends, a family who lived in our mission community and had triplets back in the early 70's hired three local ladies each day: one to do the laundry/diapers, one to help with child care, and one to clean. That makes me feel better. :)

Isaac continues to thrive, enjoying his friends (especially his PNG friend Jason) and the great outdoors. It is SO beautiful here!

One big prayer request is that Seth has a cold. I still have my sore throat, but it's a lot better - just scratchy now. Seth mostly just has a mildly runny-nose, but he was feverish as well this afternoon. Please pray he can kick this on his own. The bug that's going around is fairly mild, not like what the kids had in CA, thankfully.

Speaking of which, in my most recent thank-you post I forgot to mention my parents' invaluable help in CA and my mom staying with me when Seth was in the hospital. My dad bravely flew the other kids back to TX with Gavin. So thank you, Mom and Dad!! They also helped us a ton that last week when so much was going on, plus they and my poor sister and brother-in-law have had to clean up our mess left in the house. Naomi has been there to help. The house must seem so empty without her five little charges running around and yelling to be held! My dad says the house echoed with little voices the first time he went back there.

Kenneth and Courtney, thanks for helping with babies and cleaning the stroller and pack 'n' plays. :)

Dad had his 2nd hip replacement surgery and is doing well, although he has a lot of recovery to do and isn't sleeping great in the meantime. We pray he recovers fully and is a new man with his two new hips! Then he can come visit us and handle the hills around here with ease.

We're very excited that Gavin's folks are coming in September!! They've lived here twice before for a year each time. Papa teaches at the high school and Marmi works in Member Care or doing whatever needs to be done. She is an amazing servant (they both are) and loves having people over for dinner, too. I imagine our joint family meals will be mostly served here, however, since we need kid-proofed surroundings and tend to leave a massive wake of messiness behind us. :) The kids will be THRILLED to see Marmi and Papa's familiar faces again on this side of the world!

I'd better close and clean up the kitchen and fold clothes. :)
David eating a Grosh sorbet popsicle. We miss you, Aunt Sarah!

Our wonderful front porch. Gracie is looking over the railing, Marcie (dirty as ever) is chasing the ball, Will is climbing on the bench but is only visible from the tummy down, and Seth is in Mrs. Miller's arms. David was elsewhere. The two big boys were visiting with their mom and another one of my good friends. The house in the background belongs to our friends since childhood and college, Kurt and Johanna. See what a great community this is!? :)

Suppertime was much nicer tonight! Thanks for the meatballs, Weavers! The kids LOVED them.

Love and gratitude,
Carrie

P.S. Isaac says the laundry shoot in our new house is "epic."

Check our my friend Opalyn's blog to read about the newest little quints! www.clarkquintuplets.blogspot.com

Friday, June 20, 2014

This is hard

Hi all,

We are exhausted tonight after a very hard evening. We appreciate your prayers for the kids' adjustment as well as ours. We hope and pray this gets easier. The crying and clinginess is very difficult, especially between 5:00 and bedtime, when most kids have a tougher time due to tiredness and hunger. I guess I need to figure out how to "do" quints on the other side of the world where everything seems to take so much more time. We're also fighting some illness (sore throat for me, tummy bug for Isaac) and feeling overwhelmed by how much there still is to do - one bite at a time! Gavin is trying to get a fence built so the kids can run outside, but the road to where the fence posts are being stored is broken currently.

Thanks for praying!

A praise is Opalyn had her quints and they are doing great! At 31 weeks!! (Tuesday)

Love,
Carrie

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

We couldn't have BEGUN to do this without you!

Dear friends and family around the world,

This is a belated thank you to those who made our California trip, our Brisbane stay, and our Ukarumpa move-in possible. I am overwhelmed at how very much so many, many people did. The blessings included loaned baby items, use of vehicles, picking us up at airports, planning, hosting, and attending get-togethers, hosting our family or family members, making meals to freeze or serve us immediately, meeting us at a park with food, putting up meal lists, arranging for volunteer help as we settle in, having us over, stocking our kitchen, putting meals in our freezer here at Ukarumpa, cleaning, cleaning, and cleaning all the messes, soliciting prayers for us, playing with and taking care of our kids, and taking care of us parents, too! The list could go on and on. If your particular act of service wasn't included, please forgive us and know that we are GRATEFUL beyond measure for you!! I'll no doubt realize people/jobs I've forgotten and feel badly about it later. :} 

I'd like to extend a special thank you to my beloved in-laws, "Marmi" and "Papa," who helped us endure perhaps the hardest week we've had yet as a family, in California when all the kids were sick and Seth ended up hospitalized, with our PNG trip just around the corner! The amount of logistical planning and execution to put up and transport a family of eight, including five toddlers, for a full week plus wedding weekend with out-of-town family, then with an unexpected hospitalization thrown in, just boggles my mind. They had everything ready so we just walked into their lovely home and had cribs and diapers and toys and anything else that was needed, thanks again to many families loaning and giving so generously. It was such a disappointment to us all that the week ended up being so much more difficult than anticipated, but we still had lovely times of play and swimming and cuddles, plus visiting with each other and with our many supporters and friends and family in CA. A huge thank you for hosting our get-togethers, Mom and Dad Jones! That was a ton of work during an already ├╝ber-stressful week with sick, needy, exhausted babies underfoot and a huge family to feed and care for.

I'd also like to say thanks to my siblings-in-law who helped us greatly with the babies (as well as to Naomi and Megan who flew out to babysit during the wedding while my parents stayed with Seth at the hospital and I attended the wedding - hooray!).  Our time together as the extended Jones family was far too short, but it was sweet. We love and miss you all! Thanks for coming over that last night, Murmps, and thanks for inviting her, Mom and Dad Jones!! :) [Murmps is Gavin's grandma.]

When we think of all the Lord has done for us through so many of you, we are completely humbled and amazed. We are also undeserving, but that's what His GRACE is all about. "For by GRACE that you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." Ephesians 2:8-9

Thanks again and again for all your gifts in every form!
Carrie
A cute picture of Papa helping David on the slide at the park in CA.
Marcie in Marmi's sweater and cap made by Murmps!
It was cold in the mornings in Brisbane.

Papa with Marcie going backward, Gracie coming up,
Seth and David behind. He's a great sport - love the grin. :)
On the swing in Brisbane at the park near our host family's house


Checking out our PNG car (Nissan Patrol) David in foreground, Gracie standing behind, Seth barely visible.

Grace watching Baby Einstein
Someone didn't sleep long enough!


I love this picture: Marcie, Gracie, Seth

. . . and this one :)






Monday, June 16, 2014

Footage and pictures of our arrival to PNG

It's been a crazy busy few days of settling back into life here in PNG.  Actually, life seems like it has not changed at all here.  It is like each time we come back that time has stood still in many ways.  Our lives this time, of course, are drastically different, but the process is still the same.

We had no idea how much attention our arrival to Papua New Guinea would attract!  When we got to Port Moresby, the capital city, journalists from the Post Courier, the national newspaper, were there to take pictures and interview us.  We were accompanied by most of the customs staff out to the sidewalk, since they were so taken by the whole scene.  Papua New Guineans all gathered around to see the sight of quintuplets, likely a unique one in the history of the country!  Camera phones were pointed at us and many smiles and excited yells were seen and heard.

Then when we arrived at Aiyura (our airstrip near Ukarumpa), EmTV, the national TV station (actually the only TV station in the country) was there as well.  I don't think they were there specifically to film us, but did so because the opportunity presented itself.  The Prime Minister was supposed to fly into Aiyura the same day, but did not end up doing so.  I guess we're the next best thing?  :)  Here is the clip they aired on Saturday night.  You'll notice that they mixed up David and Will, but otherwise got things right.



It was wonderful to see the many familiar faces of all our friends and their children waiting for us as we landed.  It was a warm and amazing welcome that we've looked forward to for a few years now.  Not a few tears were shed as we and they looked back at the incredible works God has done to bring us back to this point.  Many thanks to Karen and Esther for these photos and the video footage!  Here's a quick synopsis of our arrival that Esther did for us.



Just before touchdown in the Kodiak

"Presenting" Grace to the onlooking crowd.  James, our Aussie pilot and close friend is on the right.

Isaac eagerly ran to show Seth to everyone

Photo opportunity of the Jones 8 and Aunt Deb


The young girls flocked to see and touch Marcie and Grace.

Piper holding Seth
Us being interviewed by EmTV


Seth happy with dear friend Panti

Marcie with Sinta, Panti's wife, another wonderful friend
The Aiyura welcoming committee!

Will immediately needed to check that our ride was up to snuff.
David content in Jadia's arms
Our "new" house is wonderful and the kids are settling in very well.  They love the house and the yard and the car and everyone else.  They're just happy for the most part.  There is plenty of the standard noise and crying that is to be expected, but now that they are pretty well on a good sleep schedule (as of today), things are a lot better.

Maya helping the kids discover the house

Carrie's first steps into the new house
There is a lot of work to do around the house to make it quintuplet-friendly.  Gates inside, a fence outside, extra slats on the verandah, so they don't fall through the present, too-wide ones, a rail on the concrete, stairway, etc., etc.  I'll be busy for a while.

Though we have spent lots of time unpacking and sorting things, the best part for sure has been the visits with friends and meeting new ones.  Conversations with people walking by the house or pop-ins are a wonderful thing -- we are so grateful for this community!

Seth is doing very well, but please continue to pray for his health and growth.  There are many people around with many new types of germs.  It is also dry season, which means there is a lot of burning going on around us.  The smoky air can be a challenge to people with lung issues.  Praise God, though, the doctor here did a checkup on him today and said his lungs sound fantastic and that he's acting completely normal.  He is certainly charming people left and right with his winsome personality.

It's late.  Love to all.

Gavin

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

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

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