Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Snax Beef does not melt.

Take a little more than rain to keep Snax Beef inside. It is clear that he
is not made of sugar because he is not melting.

bestie list

I just can't say enough about her.

1) She tries her best to keep me current and trendy. Can't wait until my
big reveal at the airport!

2) She's my Dairy Queen and I'm her Diary Queen.

3) She sent my kids pipe cleaners, pom-poms, and googly eyes.

4) She sent me a very, very nice nail clipper and didn't even know it!

5) She emails faithfully and makes nothingness sound so exciting. It's a

6) She makes me drool with her baking and cooking and I'm living as
physically as far away from her kitchen as I can possibly be. That takes
talent, folks. Real talent.

7) Dino-sours. She just gets me.

8) She's married to my brother. That's awesome cuz she'll be around

9) bum slappin' (I know I said that last time, but it just has to be said

Miss you.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Oh baby

Dad sent me a 'lensbaby' for Christmas. It's been lots of fun - thanks Papa
bilong mi!! Likim yu tumas!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Xmas prep

Okay, so my last 'Winter Blues' post was an attempt to get a little sympathy
which didn't work. I guess I shouldn't have posted those beautiful tropical
photos in the next post. Crystal, you know I'd rather be freezing my tushie
off with you than be stuck here in Madang with Coconut trees, dolphins, and
the warm Pacific Ocean out my front door. :) Serious, though. Serious.

Snax Beef and Bill had the best of times decorating the tree I found in our
storage closet. They wanted to make it extra beautiful for Grandma...well,
Bill did anyways....he was totally consumed by it. Brown noser. It's
difficult to get into the holiday spirit this year for several reasons. The
first being you drip sweat the second you step out the door. Other reasons:
I can't buy boxes of 'Christmas Oranges' (did you know that's a Winkler
term?), our tree smells like mold...like everything else that's been in
storage (including all my sweatshirts), the salt dough ornaments we made are
falling off the tree due to extreme humidity, no eggnog, no Papa juice, no
Crystal, no cream cheese balls, no Dick Ville.

BUT it DOES feel like Christmas because (drumroll...) Mama V is here! She
saved Christmas just by her presence alone. She's the best Christmas gift
EVER. The moldy tree, soggy ornaments, and lack of everything else familiar
has now faded into the background. Yes, Mama V is here and we now have
family here in the flesh to enjoy the season with.

We are pulling out all the stops. We're making the VB family traditional
Christmas Eve meal. Pizza buns (homemade buns of course), Mama V's
Christmas punch (homemade sherbet), itty bitty pickles (we found some!!),
cookie salad (got oreos in the mail from my bestie - Love. Love.) and
something that will be an all right substitute for Bugles. And I
miraculously had a tin of cranberry jelly in my cupboard so we'll be making
Mama V's famous cranberry meatballs for Christmas day. We are in good
hands, folks. We are in good hands.

Mama V

Mama V, Mama V, Mama V. We are so glad she's here. SO SO glad.

Here are a few photos Snax Beef, Bill and Skolar (one of our employees)
making necklaces for Grandma, our reunion at the airport, and just hanging
out as a family!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Tribute to Caleb

Here's to good times and good memories! We'll miss you.

1)Teaching Jesse how to swim
2)Whiteskin way of getting a coconut down
3)Working on a sidewalk at the centre
4)Checking out the bathing spot in Sarang
5)Caleb and his musician friends from Sarang
6)WW2 crash site
7)Playing guitar at the church in Sarang
8)??? Styling Mama Opa's hair?
9)Mama Opa with her pikinini
10)Chillin' at Jais Aben resort
11)Snorkelin' nerds...I mean dudes.

winter blues

My thoughts keep turning to home these days. I'm sitting at the table as I
write this in tropical Madang, sipping my earl grey vanilla tea and cutting
up a chocolate bar into slivers with a sharp knife, just like my Daddy used
to do. Tastes so much better that way....and it makes it more conducive to

I'm surrounded by coconut trees, tropical flowers, and the warm Pacific
Ocean, but all I want is evergreens loaded with snow, crunchy snow
underneath my feet, and a warm toasty fire going in the fireplace. I love
those magical nights when the moon is shining just so and it makes the snow
glitter like a gazillion diamonds. I love how all the little ones in my
life look when they're all bundled up against the winter cold with bright
red cheeks and noses peeking out. There's this winter atmosphere that I
love and miss so much and it would be impossible to try and recreate. It'd
be silly to even try.

All I can say is it's a good thing Grandma is coming. Today there has been
a collision of emotions. We said good bye to a good friend and at the same
time we are anticipating the arrival of our beloved Mama V. Have you ever
cried tears of sadness and joy all in the same moment? It does strange
things to your heart.

Maybe my longing for winter is this romanticized idea in my mind. Maybe
it's just all the things that come with the season that I'm missing, like
spending time with family and friends - all the extra gatherings. That must
be what it is. I just miss you.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Crystal tasol (Crystal, that's all)

Here's why I love her......

1) She's the best DQ partner ever.

2) She's the only one who would ever make me a huge, embarrassing sign for
me for our homecoming at the airport. I'm already anticipating it.

3) We both now love Coke Zero and didn't even know it. This is what we'll
do when I get home: chick flick, coke zero with lemon, popcorn twists.

4) She always tells it to me straight.

5) Have you ever tasted her cooking? Nuff said.

6) She is very administrative and I am not. We balance each other out

7) She gets my jokes and I get hers.

8) Best menno accent ever. I mean, ah-ver.

9) We shop very well together. Very well. Wee-oo, wee-oo.

10) Bum slapping.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

snax beef tastes like......

Karla, thanks for bringing up that very good question. I'm sure you're not
the only one wondering about Snax Beef.

What does Snax Beef taste like? It's a hearty cracker with a whole lot of
crunch, delicately seasoned with beef flavored salt. There are four
generous crackers in one package. I can hook you up if you want.

Snax Beef slogan: Gutpela bisket, liklik prais
(good cracker, small price)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Long locks

Gone are the baby bangs.
Gone is the artifical color.

Lise: Nogat style, tasol igat pasin em stret. Traim tasol. Rait, ya!

Yardman Willy

Yardman Willy has been busy seeding grass...and it's not seed that he buys
from the store. No, it is a process that can only be motivated by love. He
hand cuts the seeding grass, strips the seeds into his seed holder (aka
frisbee), then scatters the seeds on the soil. He picks only the best time
of day for planting. The sun can't be too hot and the soil can't be too
dry. He loves to seed after a good rain in the late afternoon. Green
thumbs run in the Vanden Berg genes.

Emailing: WWII 009.jpg, WWII 012.jpg, WWII 013.jpg, WWII 016.jpg, WWII 020.jpg, WWII 022.jpg, WWII 024.jpg, WWII 028.jpg, WWII 032.jpg

There are several WWII war planes and machine guns in the Madang area.
Today we ventured out to find a Japanese war plane that isn't far from town.
We found it with only a little difficulty. You just have to ask the right
person. We stopped to ask a few people on the road and some people we asked
just gave us a blank look. You're looking for what?! In the end we had
four tour guides from a village that was very close to the plane. I have to
admit I was a little nervous just because you never know who you can trust.
Turns out our guides were very trustworthy and we even made a few new
friends. We even got one guys cell phone number because he wants to take
Andrew and Caleb (when he comes to visit) around in the bush to see more
WWII stuff like tanks and jeeps and who knows what else! Seriously, you
take Snax Beef anywhere in this country and you'll make new friends
instantly. The plane was at the end of a longish, muddy bush road. It is
an area where there is an old airstrip from the war. We even identified two
bomb marks - there were two perfectly round ponds on the side of the road
that we are almost certain were made from bombs. The plane was much bigger
than we were expecting. Our 'guide' told us that the plane was perfectly
intact until 2007 when some locals decided to cut it apart to get scrap
metal. After looking at the plane we decided to check out one more spot
where there were some old machine guns. Here we had quite the following of
pikinini (children). I couldn't stop laughing as they trailed behind our
truck - almost running faster than we were driving. Our outing was fun AND

Photo 1: Bill and Snax Beef with two of our tour guides (the 3rd one stayed
with the truck to guard it and I don't know where the 4th one went to).
Photo 2: The tail laying on the ground.....scrap metal is invaluable. :)
Photo 3: The view from the front of the plane
Photo 4: You can still make out the red circle from the Japanese flag
Photo 5: Bill trying out all the levers
Photo 6: Snax Beef getting a lift from the tour guide. It was pretty muddy.
Photo 7: See all the pikinini?
Photo 8: Checking out the machine gun
Photo 9: A propeller with a message - literal translation: Jesus got up

3 posts in a one night - whoa!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Hauswin project

Our Sarang boys came last week to build a hauswin for the centre. I was
absolutely amazed at how they build everything out of materials they find
from the jungle. Everything has a specific purpose. Drew and I were
lamenting that we could never build a beautiful hauswin like this in Canada.
Nogat ol samting long wokim wanpela hauswin. Last week I was busy feeding
these guys. I still can't believe how much a PNG man can eat. I would heap
their plates full and they'd finish that plus they'd eat anything that was
left in the pot. Thankfully Mama came for two days to help me!

Breakfast: coffee, package of crackers
Lunch: buns, coffee, hard boiled eggs, fruit
Supper: rice, chicken or fish, kaukau or cooking bananas, coffee

Our Papa was the bosman for the project and unfortunately he was short on
kunai grass for the roof. The guys would've finished the hauswin on
Saturday, but they ran out of materials. So they'll be back next week to
finish once we get a hold of some more kunai grass. Turns out our night
guard Max was given the task of getting some for us. His village was
willing to get some for us and they were willing to work for rice. We
bought them a 10kg bag of rice and some tin fish. I couldn't help but think
you'd be hard up to find kids in North America to work for rice. It's
really a different world here!

Picture 1: Garfield getting kunai grass ready to put on the roof - he's
using a bush knife to knock out all the loose grass.
Picture 2: Papa handing up the 'rafters'
Picture 3: Snax Beef eating Snax Beef
Picture 4: Barnabus laying down kunai grass

Once the hauswin is completed I'll make sure to post a picture!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

snax beef

The new fetish: Snax Beef.

The faint scent of Snax Beef can always be found on Jester's breath. The
scent is also found in his bed, on his blanket, on his water bottle, on his
hands, in his hair. He generally smells of Snax Beef all the time. And for
only .75 t a pop it'll satisify even the worst of carb cravings. So now
I've cleverly renamed Jester to Snax Beef. You are what you eat.

Hopefully Snax Beef won't eat us out of house and home.....oh Snax Beef.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

More dedication photos....

Here are the second half of some of my favorite photos. These are from the
Mineveha dedication...the second one I went to.