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

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The past week's happenings

Isaac at Sports Day. (The scarlet letter A on his forehead stands for Alpha, the team he was rooting for.)
Isaac at his recorder recital. He did great! He also plays piano.

Anything can become a toy around here! This is Gavin's ladder, which very handily has five enclosed segments.
Left to right: Seth, David, Marcie, Will, Gracie

Little imp David

Seth and Will enjoying the platform Daddy built for our new rope swing.
Life is GOOD! All are doing well, thank God. The quints make us laugh throughout the day with their words, mannerisms, and antics. Their relationships crack us up, too. Will is definitely the self-designated "enforcer" of all rules and commands, but he's the biggest encourager too. "Day-ded, go back to the table! . . . Very good!"

When Gavin built a roof for his motorbike last week, Will kept saying, "You did it, Daddy! Good job!"

Will and the two girls are singing several whole songs now. Will can sing parts of the Veggie Tales, Bubble Guppies, Bob the Builder and Thomas the Tank Engine theme songs, too. David and Seth aren't so much into the singing, but they do love to dance!

Marcie will tell me, "No, Mommy, I don't sink so," if she's not interested in doing what I ask her to do. Her earnestness and tone of voice is so cute, it's hard not to laugh, but she DOES have to obey whether or not she "sinks" [thinks] so!

Gracie is also trying to be the big boss right now. She yells and points and commands a lot. No one takes her seriously. They all ignore each other's commands. They know who the bosses really are!

Seth is combining sentences and making them increasingly complex, so that's fun to hear. He's very much "with it!" He's definitely smart enough to try to manipulate us, too. He'll ask for food right before bed because he knows we feed him whenever possible. Or he'll say he needs his diaper changed, or that he needs to go in the potty, just to try to convince me to get him out of his crib for a little quality one-on-one. (I don't fall for it, but he gets points for trying!) He loves all people and thinks they exist for his pleasure. He and David are very much into pointing out things and identifying them, or describing what others are doing, and also explaining what it is they themselves are doing with toys or objects or siblings.

Sometimes when David talks it feels like I'm talking to a 20-something-year-old in a two-year-old body. He's just SO aware  of the world and in touch with his feelings, and his vocabulary astounds me! His way of thinking about things is very analytical, but he also feels things deeply and expresses his needs very articulately.

Marcie and Gracie have substituted "Stop it!" for "I don't like it!" and say, "Excuse me, please," when they need to pass by or sneeze or cough. Such little ladies. . . sometimes.

All the kids say, "Look at me!" when they think their newest skill or cute pose is worth our attention. I couldn't figure out what Marcie wanted me to look at in particular a few days ago. It seemed like she was standing a little strangely, but I wasn't sure. Finally, seeing that I had no idea what to praise, she said, "I look so beautiful!" (She had on new clothes - thanks to the Starlings!)

Marcie has decided to do her business in the potty, but only when she feels like it. I certainly don't have the time to be taking her to the bathroom every 15 minutes, so I'm happy for her to tell me when she wants to go and wait for her to reach the point where she decides she no longer wants to use diapers at all.

David is also perfectly capable of using the potty, but he doesn't care to. Seth and Grace occasionally like to try, and sometimes they succeed, but they're not particularly interested. We are definitely letting these kids set their own timetable! As long as they are trained by age 4 we'll be happy. :) (That's when they start preschool with the famous and beloved Debbie as their teacher, Lord willing!)

Our babysitters last night said that Isaac deserves the Brother of the Year award, he's so amazing with the little kids! He plays with them like crazy, loves them fiercely, and protects/corrects them like a parent. He's gotten quite good at putting them in time-out when they aren't being kind to a sibling.

I so appreciate Isaac's help around the house and the effort he's putting into school and other responsibilities. He has good friends right next door, so there's plenty of fun to be had as well! I love hearing them laugh and play. What a great place to live!

With love and gratitude,

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Wonderful Walter

The kids really used Walter, who they ADORE, very hard on Monday! Piggyback rides were followed by story time (much to Walter's relief). It was a hot day!

Deep in the jungles of PNG . . .

Not really, but it looks like they're in the jungles of PNG. They're really just in Karen's backyard.
Will bravely forges a trail through the banana patch, with David right behind

Then Marcie, then Seth follow

All in search of the cat! 
Found it! Happy kiddos.

David under a bush house they discovered on the other side of the banana trees

Thank you, Debbie and Kaitlyn!

Sadly, the quints have had their last playdate with Debbie and Kaitlyn. We can't express our appreciation enough! It's sad to say goodbye, but it's only temporary (Lord willing) as they go on furlough. What a HUGE blessing their help - and camera! - has been this year! (Thank you, Caleb, Isaac, Nate and Steve as well!)

We love you!

Here's looking at you, kids

Grace and David taking pictures of each other

Now he's on the trumpet

Percussionist David
Happy-Hair Gracie

Sideline Seth (normally NOT sitting!)

Cuddling sisters

Gracie on the slide

Monkey bar boy (Seth)

Silly Seth

Marcie making a cross

Gracie making a cross
(They love to make crosses out of everything!)

Seriously happy boys!
Peekaboo Marcie!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Bat-boys and Berry-girls

Our boys LOVE Walter and the see-saw. 

Discovering gooseberries!  They don't look very ripe, though. . .

Happy(?) Mothers' Day

Once again, it's been nearly two weeks since I went on my last blog-posting spree! For Mothers' Day I just had to make the time to sit down and count my incredible blessings.

First, the question mark in the post title is because I know for many, many women - and men - this is a very unhappy Mothers' Day. Some have lost their moms (Aunt Pam, thinking of and praying for you especially!), some had pretty terrible moms (you know who you are, M-Z), some are separated from their moms/children on a holiday that celebrates that relationship (our mothers are included in this group), and some are aching to be mothers but can't conceive or adopt, especially not while living here. Some have experienced pregnancy and adoption loss. Some aren't even married, but they still would love to be a mom, and they feel their biological clock ticking. . . and ticking.

A few of my friends avoid church on Mother's Day because of the whole "Stand up if you're a mom so we can all give a clap of appreciation for you" tradition. While I appreciate so very much the sentiment behind the tradition, it still makes me uncomfortable. I know there are multiple people in the congregation who hurt desperately each Mothers' Day. I used to be one of them. The sharpness of that pain will never be completely forgotten.

In some ways it seems like it would be best if my story didn't have a happy ending, if my longings hadn't been so abundantly fulfilled. Then I'd really be able to talk about trusting God even when suffering is right in our face, invading our deepest spaces. I only have five years of infertility grief and learned trust to refer back to. It seemed endless, especially as all but one of my closest missionary friends had babies. I was surrounded by pregnancy announcements, growing bellies, new little ones, talk of breastfeeding and diaper-changing, and - worst of all - complaints about unplanned pregnancies (albeit acknowledging God's sovereignty).

Cousins and friends back home were also being fruitful and multiplying. And Isaac was getting older . . . without a sibling. But at least I had him, and I was/am unspeakably grateful for him! I couldn't imagine a more amazing, adorable kid. However, my yearning to mother someone still, at a time when he was getting increasingly independent, felt like it would crush me at times. I just didn't want to be done with the baby, toddler, young school-age-kid stages. I wanted to use his toys and his clothes again. But I also wanted to be able to shop for baby girl clothes and dress up a darling daughter. So many yearnings, so little hope of them being fulfilled. So Mothers' Day hurt, even though it "shouldn't" have. I felt like a failure. Who plans to have only one child?? Why couldn't I get pregnant and keep a baby??

And then it happened. And this blog got rolling, because I needed the prayers BIG TIME, my friends! Even though Ephesians 3:20-21 was the first thing that popped into my head in the ultrasonographer's office, in the following days I struggled with more doubt and difficulty trusting my Heavenly Father than I had EVER experienced during infertility.

Knowing you are pregnant with five babies is crazy-scary. First of all, the specialists tell you you'll most likely lose some if not all, then they tell you that you need to "selectively reduce" (i.e. "kill") at least two or three of the fetuses. If you refuse, they say how terrible carrying high-order multiples is for your body (and it really isn't good for your body, obviously), then they list all the horrible things that can go wrong with the babies because they'll be born too early. But you know what? For the first few weeks, the thing that scared me the most, besides losing all of them, was all of them surviving. I just couldn't fathom how we could ever take care of five preemie infants. It was harder than I could have imagined with one normal, full-term baby! And even if we survived the infancy period, how could we provide for five growing children and teenagers? How would we pay for college, for crying out loud??

Besides, how in the world did this even happen, when I was only supposed to have three or four good eggs, ideal for an intra-uterine insemination? Each egg had only about 11% chance of becoming fertilized and implanting, so our chances of conceiving even one child was still less than 50%, statistically. Turns out God isn't limited by statistics. ;o) More importantly, it turns out that Ephesians 3:20 was, and always will be, true, not just regarding the fact that I conceived five children, but that every need for their first 2.5 years of life has been fully provided for out of our Father's infinitely abundant love and perfect wisdom.  We know He's not going to stop now (or ever). Every bit of help, every diaper, every meal, every outfit, every piece of baby equipment, every gift card, every dollar, every hour of sleep, everything that we have needed*: it has all been there, and He has done it. He has used so many of you. THANK YOU. 

And the quints, Will, David, Marcie, Seth and Gracie? Well, as you already know, they all survived (even Seth!) and are thriving now. We're back on the mission field. Wow. Thank you, Lord Jesus.

Ephesians 3:20-21 "Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen."

*I should qualify that "need" does not necessarily equal "want." There were times each day that I cried out to the Lord for help. Someone would show up at the door, or the baby would calm down, or I would calm down. :) We still cry out for help daily, especially as we do it largely on our own now and they are very much two-and-a-half-year-olds! Thanks for your prayers!

I think group pictures are going to come in multiples from now on. Each one captures a different kid's great expression:

Reality check: This is what I found a couple weeks ago when I came out of my bedroom: Will hanging off the dresser, the toys that had been on the shelf thrown down, all the toys on the bench dumped on the floor, and approximately 300 dried Costco blueberries spread throughout the living room. Thankfully, the camera was right there . . . as was my sense of humor (mostly). 

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

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

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