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

Saturday, April 18, 2020

What in the world just happened?! (Photo journal of our unexpected trip back to the USA)

(Facebook friends: this is a repost from our blog, so the text won't be new, but some of the photos are.)

This is a surreal time for everyone, I realize! Our family’s “surreality”  increased three weeks ago when we were advised by our mission clinic doctors to take the opportunity to board a US Government sponsored repatriation flight last week. We are deeply grateful to all those who worked so hard to put this flight together!

The airplane that took us from Port Moresby all the way to San Francisco, with stops in the Solomons and Honolulu.
This was in Honolulu, where we got Starbucks and Burger King! 
Our mission medical team wasn’t eager to have three-month-premature quints (four of whom have bronco-pulmonary dysplasia) around if/when COVID-19 spreads in PNG. Anyone who knows our story realizes their concern applies especially to Seth, who spent five-and-a-half months in the NICU and seemed close to death a few times, not to mention needing oxygen during regular “colds” the first six years of his life.  His last minor cold, the day all commercial travel options from PNG to the USA closed, dropped his blood oxygenation to 92%.

Our mission center from the air, during Gavin's last helicopter flight for while.
Our house is the one on the far left circled in red. The kids' school is directly below it.

It seems strange to  travel  FROM  a place with only seven confirmed case TO the country with the most confirmed cases, but we’ve all seen how this virus spreads, and our kids need to be where they have ready access to special drugs, ventilators and breathing treatments.

On the way to our mission airstrip: Crying because I just waved goodbye to friends;
smiling because our eight-week-old kittens are climbing all over me. 
Gracie was the saddest at leaving her kitten, Brownie. There were lots of tears when she handed her over to our PNG friends at the airstrip.

Our trip back to Dallas, Texas took seven flights over 70 hours, including one overnight while still in PNG and a few hours at a hotel in San Francisco. 😳😴 I hope we never have to repatriate during a global pandemic again, ha-ha, but the kids did AMAZING, praise God! We could feel the outpouring of prayers from those who knew this was happening. (I couldn’t do a “real” post until now because my brain hardly had the capacity to throw things in suitcases!)

I always feel teary when I see the photo of the family walking to our first airplane
On our organization's Kodiak 10-seater airplane on the way to the "big" airport in Goroka, the capital of Eastern Highlands Province (two hours by very windy and bumpy road, 14 minutes by plane!).

Will got to sit in the co-pilot's seat!

Walking to the international terminal in Port Moresby

"Sanap longwe lo narapela" - "Maintain Social Distancing"

Social distancing and temperature checking in Port Moresby. Gracie's turn!

Showing off our masks - handmade by missionary colleagues (except Gavin's) - while waiting in Port Moresby. Gracie was eating candy from Easter eggs a US Embassy official brought the kids, so hers is down under her chin. And Will and Seth are touching the front of theirs. We are not the poster children of proper mask usage! (My stress level as an epidemiologist and lab tech went through the roof during this trip. It seemed like we have the world's most tactile kids!)

On the trans-Pacific flight

Have you ever seen an airport so desolate? This was in Honolulu. We were the only international flight, of course.
The flight from San Francisco to Denver. The airplane was only about ⅓ full and passengers were spread out.
In the beautiful 15-passenger Sprinter van someone is loaning us, on our way "home" from the airport.

Our hearts remain with those in our beloved PNG community. We are eager to return as soon as the virus passes through or over the country. We appreciate prayers for mercy and protection for PNG, but most of all for God’s purposes to be accomplished! That’s one prayer that never fails.

David saying goodbye to his kitten, Dash
Dash's new owner, our friend and colleague. We love and miss you, Jacinta and Vicks!

Saying "goodbye for now" to our kitties and our PNG family
Meanwhile, the work continues - just differently. Most importantly, Bible translation continues! The Word of the LORD will stand forever.

Our work also continues, but also very differently. I am now a homeschool mom, along with tons of you! When working outside the home is once again permitted, Gavin has duties as Helicopter Chief Pilot that he can do remotely and likely will also seek a temporary assignment at our international headquarters, right across the street from where we are renting a lovely four-bedroom, three-bathroom duplex belonging to our organization. We are slightly more than halfway through our two-week quarantine, during which we cannot leave our house and yard. Taking a walk will feel like incredible freedom!

Enjoying their cousin's Hot Wheel tracks and cars in our carport.
You can see the camp chairs a neighbor loaned us for visits with grandparents from 6 feet away.

Isaac is doing some online schooling and will be hanging with his Dallas friends as much as possible - virtually only at first, of course. He is so close to his classmates back in PNG, he's definitely having the hardest time with the move. Nevertheless, he's  had a wonderful attitude about once again having his life changed dramatically by quintuplet siblings. 😬 We're so proud of him and deeply grateful for what the Lord is doing in him. 🥰 (We’re also deeply grateful for God’s provision of continued connection via Messenger and Instagram for the guy, let’s be honest . . .)

Isaac saying goodbye to our dog, Goose, our last morning in Ukarumpa.

We're not in PNG right now, but God is! God's Word is too, and many, many missionaries and PNG colleagues and other believers continue working and ministering there. We are eager to rejoin them before too long, Lord willing!
Saying goodbye to the World's Most Amazing First Grade Teacher, Mrs. Young

This verse is so encouraging in these turbulent times, worldwide:

“Be still, and know that I am God. I WILL be exalted among the nations, I WILL be exalted in the earth!" The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭46:10-11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

In His grip,
Carrie for us

Random bonus picture: Gavin 3D printed some face shields for the Clinic his last couple of days in Ukarumpa. The clear shield part is just a transparency sheet from the high school!

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

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

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