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

Monday, December 30, 2019

New portraits for a new year

Thanks to a dear friend for using her talent and equipment and time to take these! We love you!!





Thursday, December 26, 2019

Merry Christmas 2019!

Christmas morning photos. You'll see LEGOs featured heavily among the boys' gifts. 

Animal costumes from Grandpadad and Grandma

Happy Seth beginning his LEGO helicopter

Marcie with the gift Isaac bought her

David opening his LEGOs

On Christmas Eve Eve I boldly undertook to make a gingerbread house from scratch. It wasn't the prettiest, but it tasted really good, and the kids LOVED decorating it with their good buddy from next door!

Will was the most excited about the finished product so insisted I take a photo from every angle. :)

(I love the mantel in the background of this photo. It was so pretty this year.)

You can see our "Charlie Brown"-style fake Christmas tree in the background. Pretty sad looking and sparse, but it does the job. :) We bought it off other missionaries returning to their home country.

Isaac playing ball with his friends in the backyard at our friends' house last evening.  Gracie is the little girl pushing the baby carriage. The storm you can see moving in behind them to the right never ended up really breaking here, but it sure dumped a lot of hail on the big town of Goroka about two hours by road from us!

We are SO BLESSED by good friends who are family here! We always miss our own families, of course, but love our life and community and ministry in PNG.

A few bonus pictures from November:

The girls'  treasured stuffed animals dressed up as princesses

Thanks to Aunt Mickey for matching clothes!
Seth made up this airplane with loose LEGO pieces

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Already home! (Friday the 15th)

[I posted this on Saturday but it was unreadable - apologies!]

I couldn't believe it yesterday when my messages, and then a video chat with my sister and Eloise herself, revealed Eloise was discharged just  three days after surgery! As soon as she was allowed to drink and eat she completely turned the corner - and circles, literally, which is tricky for those holding the IV pole! She was off morphine, running, climbing, singing, talking, playing, doing arts and crafts, and using the bathroom as though everything was normal. She had been so miserably thirsty while they waited for her digestive system to start working again. That was by far the hardest thing for Katie (my sister) and Calvin, her husband. 

My parents went over to the house last night to see how she was settling in. My mom says she was her normal, happy, bouncy, chatty little self! Incredible. She doesn't even appear to need physical therapy for the large amount of back muscle that was removed . It wasn't functional anyway, apparently! And she's SO active, it hasn't hindered her a bit!
Thanks for praying for continued rapid healing and for the remainder of this cancer to be dealt with effectively! We won't know the plan until all the histology/pathology is complete in about two weeks. Among the large amount of muscle and tumor was removed, there was an unexpected area of the tumor that doesn't look like the rest that was biopsied - so we're praying that's less aggressive rather than more!


All my Facebook posts about her are public, too. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Recovering in ICU

The 3.5 hour surgery went well, although the tumor was quite stuck to the bones protruding from the spinal column. He said there were no major nerves involved and it came away from the organs very well. It’s grown into the spinal column and surrounds the actual cord, and he wasn’t willing to mess with that, so that remains for now, and we PRAY it's all dead tumor.

Elo has a four-inch incision under her ribs. They didn’t have to cut through the skin on her back at all to remove the tumor-invaded muscle, thankfully. She wakes up periodically crying, so please pray for comfort for everyone, especially her of course! She will be in ICU until she’s off the IV morphine, I believe, and can start taking liquid meds by mouth. A huge praise is she was able to come off the ventilator immediately after surgery.

From Katie just now: We are back with Eloise in ICU for tonight. She is so spirited, even when sedated. ☺️ Thank you for your support and encouragement. May there be healing and minimal pain. The surgeon said he got all the tumor he could see- up to the vertebrae bones. The rest remains in her spine but appears to be inactive. A full pathological report will be completed in two weeks and will determine the next step. Love you all, thank you.

On their way in to the hospital. It was COLD this morning!
Before surgery

Surgery in just a couple hours - please pray

Katie just called from the car. They're on their way. Eloise talked to me for a little bit but was too sleepy to talk much. She told me she was on her way to the doctor and had packed food in her suitcase. :)

Please pray that the surgeon can get everything he needs to out of our little girl, and that the vital structures (nerves, spinal cord, blood vessels, organs, etc.) would be completely protected. I'm praying this tumor would be remarkably, miraculously, easily separated from her precious insides. And I'm praying for a merciful healing time afterwards. (I had an ectopic rupture and can testify that having one's innards rearranged is a painful thing. I recovered incredibly quickly, though, and pray the same for Elo!) I'm also praying for comfort and peace and unity in the necessary suffering for Katie and Calvin and rest of the family ('cause let's face it, there will be suffering as they watch their little girl go through this - we all wish we could take her place!). And last but never least, for big brother Foster who will be doing life differently and without his baby sister. This is a boy who thrives on routine and normalcy, so it could be hard. Thanks for praying as the Lord leads you! I'll post again when I get an update.

Leaving you with a picture of the two kids on a bike ride a couple days ago with "Grumpadad" as they call him:

Monday, November 4, 2019

Surgery postponed until next Tuesday, Nov. 12

Elo's cough made surgery too risky today, due to swollen vocal cords and needing to be intubated for breathing, not to mention having a virus. Please pray she gets over this quickly and doesn't get anything else. She'll be basically isolated for the next week - hard for a tiny, active, social little girl!

Playing Doctor on her stuffed animals a couple weeks ago

Quints on the way to school

Fervent prayer needed, please!

My niece is supposed to go into surgery in just 4.5 hours, if her cough that suddenly showed up yesterday doesn't necessitate postponement. This tumor looks so daunting on the MRI. PLEASE PRAY for the surgeon's and assistants' hands and wisdom and guidance! Please also pray that Eloise will have minimal pain or discomfort and no emotional/mental trauma from the experience. It will be a fairly extensive surgery, moving organs aside and trying to avoid any nerves or vital structures, and will require a long recovery - 7-12 days in the hospital as well as ongoing physical therapy to teach her to compensate for the back muscle that will have to be cut out (because it's intertwined with the tumor). And of course, please also pray for peace for Katie and Calvin and the grandparents and all the other people who love this little winsome munchkin and would change places with her in a heartbeat. I'm blessed in that I get to sleep through the hours of waiting. (There are occasional bonuses to being on the opposite side of the world! Otherwise, it's just HARD at a time like this.) I'll try to remember to update ASAP tomorrow.

This photo, below, was taken my last day in Dallas. I flew out that afternoon (*sniff*). I'm holding Elo, and my other niece is on my sister-in-law's lap. It was so special to see the little girls together - they adore each other and are only a few weeks apart in age. And it was delightful to get to be with my sweet, fun sister-in-law, as well as my parents and Katie. (I know North Texas area ladies will recognize The Dove's Nest in Waxahachie!)

Meanwhile, back in PNG:
Buidling LEGO with our honorary "sixth quint," a close friend from school.

Daddy's new fire pit

Isaac's new haircut . . . scary! I'm usually the one who cuts hair - using scissors - but Gavin and Isaac got too desperate to wait for my return and buzzed it instead. :)

Gavin tried to get the kids into good working order before I returned:

At last, after 2.5 weeks, Mom is home!

Welcoming the plane!

I'd never been away from my kids longer than a week before. It was SO good to see them! They made me cards, even!

Happily reunited, not forgetting the dog. :)

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

The whirlwind of the last few weeks

Dear friends,

This has been such an overwhelming time - in good as well as hard ways - I haven't really caught my breath to feel "up to" writing a blog post until today. This is going to be a long one with perhaps too many details, so feel free to just look at the pictures. :)

 Brief timeline:

Sept 23 - We found out my darling niece Eloise ("Elo") has a large tumor wrapped around her spine and protruding into her abdomen. Her mom is my sister and best friend, so this was terrifying and devastating, and SO, SO hard to be on the other side of the world from them!
Isn't she beautiful!? (on a carousel at the State Fair)

Sept 25 - The neurosurgeon suspected neuroblastoma, a type of cancer that is not infrequently fatal, and ordered urine levels of tumor markers.

Sept 26 - The urine levels confirmed neuroblastoma, and the ratio of the markers to one another made her prognosis look very grim, nearly hopeless. Everyone was just shattered. Gavin and my friend Stacey immediately booked flights for me as my amazing Bible study friends helped me pack and set up meals and care for the kids and Gavin.

Sept 27 - I got all the way to Cairns, Australia - a HUGE praise was that that day's already scheduled flight out of our remote mission center had one remaining space for me! - and stayed the night with close friends (like family!) James and Nat. Another praise and comfort!

Sept 28 - I got home to Dallas, where my niece immediately crawled up into my arms and rested her head on my shoulder.  I love her so much!

What joy to get to read to my nieces and nephew upon arrival from the airport!
My brother and his wonderful wife have a daughter; my sister and her wonderful husband have Elo and a 4-year-old son. I am a HUGE fan of my siblings, their spouses and their kids!
The following two weeks were a flurry of appointments intermixed with the agony of waiting for results and meetings. Whereas the week previous had seemed to bring only bad news, the next two weeks yielded progressively better and better news.
It's okay if Daddy is the one to measure her head circumference. No way was she letting the techs do it!

Measuring height. This is accurate, right? ;)
- Elo's oncologist is one of the best in the country and specializes in neuroblastoma. Elo just "happened" to be assigned to the BEST!

- The oncologist was much more hopeful regarding her diagnosis and said the ratio of tumor markers is no longer considered reliable or useful, especially given Elo's low numbers. Her's were in the 10's. Others' are in the 1000's before their cancer is caught.

Grabbing lunch on our way home from the first appointment with the oncologist. Two of my favorite people!

- Her MRI and MIBG (radioactive) scans indicated no spread of the disease.
"Helping" the oncologist read the scans. ;)

- Her tumor and bone marrow biopsies were very straightforward, yielded plenty of tissue for analysis, and she recovered beautifully from them. I flew back to PNG two days later.
Waiting for the biopsies.

Elo refused to leave the airport until I was out of sight.
My mom ("Grandma") is standing with them.
The biopsies have since revealed, to our inexpressible relief, gratitude and joy - with great praise to God! - that the tumor is not the most aggressive kind, and the cancer hasn't spread to the bone marrow. The plan therefore is to remove as much of the tumor as is safe, outside of the spinal column, and do a full histology to see if it's the process of dying (which would indicate the tumor in the spinal column is already dead, since it doesn't "light up" on the radioactive scan) or if it's still metastatic and dangerous. If the latter, then chemo will be necessary. We are all praying this tiny girl won't need chemo. We deeply appreciate your prayers, too!

One specific prayer request would be that she won't be scared of procedures.  She couldn't have better parents, though!
The bandaid on her forehead is her funny little coping mechanism. She LOVES putting on bandaids, needed or not. She just finished a popsicle in this picture.

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

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

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