Monday, 26 January 2009


Men are responsible for heating up the stones in the fire.

A "mumu" is a big feast or celebration where the food is cooked in the ground. A pit is lined with banana leaves, red-hot stones are placed in the bottom, meat and veggies and fruits and greens are carefully arranged on top. Once all the food is in place, the banana leaves are folded over the top and everything cooks. CAUTION: a few of these pics might be a little much for pig-sympathizers.

Friday, 23 January 2009


Just a few days after my arrival, I had the opportunity to join a group of visiting students from Mount Vernon Nazarene University for a mumu.  We were hosted by Gertrude, one of the local church leaders, and her family.  It was a fabulous time as we not only observed but participated in the process!

So what is a mumu?  It is truly one of PNG's cultural highlights.  Essentially, a mumu is a big feast that is cooked in the ground using hot stones as the heating elements.  It may be prepared in celebration of a bride price, a marriage, family get-together, resolution of a tribal conflict, or any other reason to have a party.

Preparations begin early in the morning.  Fresh fruits (cooking bananas), veggies (sweet potato, "English potato," taro, and whatever else you want to throw in there), greens (ferns and other unidentifiable plants) are gathered from the garden.  The women prepare these:  peeling and cutting and washing, and peeling and cutting and washing some more.  Men are responsible for heating up the cooking stones.  The cold stones are placed on top of a stack of wood.  More wood and branches are piled on top of the stones.  A roaring fire heats the stones to red-hot.  The guys also prepare the main courses, pig and chicken.  The pig is killed by two bonks on the head and carefully butchered at the site.  And in case you ever wondered, chickens really do run around with their heads cut off.

Once the mountain of food is ready. it is carefully placed into the pit.  The first layer is a lining of banana leaves.  The hot stones are then moved from the fire using bamboo "tongs."  Ferns and other greens go next.  The pork and some veggies are added, with more stones tucked under edges of the meat to ensure that it is well done.  Another level of greens.  More veggies.  The chickens are stuffed with stones, again to make sure they are properly cooked.  And a final layer of greens to add a top layer of insulation.  Once everything is in, the banana leaves are folded over the top to keep any steam from escaping.  Only one hour layer, lunch is served!

For more pictures of this interesting custom, check out my photo album by the same name.  CAUTION:  some of the pictures might be a little rough on the pig-sympathizers out there.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Home sweet home PNG

The flight into Mt. Hagen is amazing.

I share a 3 BR (or 2 BR + office), 1 bath home with my old friend and new roomie Becky. Oh, and can't forget our two cats Peter and Meki. Here are a few pics from around my new place.

Home sweet home PNG

An overnight flight on Monday evening took me from Singapore and into Port Moresby, the capital of PNG.  I arrived early in the morning, waited in the immigration line for an hour, and easily breezed through customs.  My layover was brief, and within two hours I was boarding for the final leg of my journey.  The flight from Moresby to Mt. Hagen is one of my favorites.  The mountains are absolutely breathtaking, especially as you come down into Hagen valley.  I felt the excitement welling up within me as we came in for the landing.  I'm home, I thought.  Marsha, veteran missionary and wife of medical director Dr. Bill, was at the airport to collect me.  We loaded my busting-at-the-seams suitcases into the Land Rover and drove about 45 minutes down the Highlands Highway to the village of Kudjip.

We turned onto the mission station and took a left at the round about.  My place is about 1/4 mile "down below," which is actually North but a lower elevation that the other side of the station.  The driveway was lined with colorful plants.  Marsha pointed out several citrus trees... lemon and lime, and maybe even an orange tree.  The huge front porch was decorated with a "Welcome Stephanie" sign designed by the missionary kids or "MKs."  (I have instantly become an "auntie" to about 10 kids!  How cool is that?)  Walking through the front door I got the first glimpses of my new house.  It is spacious with 3 bedrooms, one of which serves as an office, and one bath.  The yard is blossoming with tropical flowers, and we have a monstrous garden out back!  I just love the place.  Check out the "Home sweet home PNG" album for some pics of the place.

My new roomie is actually an old friend:  Dr. Becky Morsch.  Becky and I took some classes together at Loma Linda University when I was studying for my MPH.  Who knew that we would someday be house mates?  Becky is a physician trained in preventive medicine.  She works with the Community Based Health Program here in PNG and several other countries in the region.

Our other housemates are Peter and Meki, Becky's cats.  Peter thinks I am his best friend and purrs non-stop.  After his recent move is a bit scared to go outside.  Meki makes an appearance for her breakfast in the morning and then wanders off to who knows where.

Here are my thoughts as I settle into this place.  I am excited about having a place to call my long term home!  I thank the Lord for providing such a beautiful one.  I pray that this place really will become home.  And I pray for God to fill me to overflowing with love for the people of PNG, that they will be my people.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Singapore stopover

Sarah is one of my oldest friends!  We first met when my family moved to Mount Vernon, to the apartment building where her family was living.  Sarah was just 2 years old, and I was 3.

Sarah moved to Singapore a couple of years ago to teach at an international school.  When I received my assignment, we made plans for me to stop and visit on the way Papua New Guinea.  And God definitely worked some miracles to make that possible (which is another story entirely).

I arrived in Singapore very early Saturday morning.  Sarah was there to collect me and all of my belongings.  We took a taxi to the west side of the city where she shares a condo with two other gals.  We had a few hours of sleep and enjoyed a very lazy Saturday morning.  Sarah fixed Texas-sized French toast for breakfast and then we headed out to see a bit of her city.  First Stop was Sarah's favorite spot:  Clarke Quay (pronounced "key") is a collection of restaurants and shops along the river.  Apparently Singaporeans really love themed restaurants.  There was the "Highlander" where waitresses wore tiny little kilts.  And "Clinic" where hospital beds served as seating around the tables.  Interesting.  From Clarke Quay we took a bum boat ride down the river to the Esplanade.  We paused to have our picture taken in front of the Merlion, the half mermaid half lion creature that is the symbol of Singapore.  We concluded our tour with a stop at the famous Raffles Hotel.  At $35 per person, we decided to skip high tea and settled for a cup of tea in the bakery.  That counts in our book :).

On Sunday morning we caught the bus to church.  After service we joined up with Dave and Kim Hane (missionaries working Asia-Pacific office, Church of the Nazarene) and their kids, David, and 15 Chinese students who are living and studying in Singapore.  The Hanes open their home every Sunday.  Kim fixes lunch for the whole crew.  Sarah, Dave, and David are leading the students in a Bible study.  It was such an amazing day, and I am so glad that I could be a part.

Sarah took a day off on Monday so that we could spend a few more hours together before I headed out to PNG.  We shopped along Arab street and had a delicious lunch at a Turkish restaurant.  Our final stop was China town to buy some tea.  It was buzzing with preparations for Chinese New Year.

Singapore is such an amazing array of cultures and people.  It so enjoyed seeing the city through the eyes of someone who is living there.  But mostly, I enjoyed time with my friend.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009


Ohio gave me me a goodbye present... lots and lots of snow!

Photo Album 2009-01-14

Just kidding

Earlier this week Dad and I enjoyed lunch at our favorite Chinese restaurant.  Here was the fortune in my cookie:  "Be prepared to modify your plans."  Hmmm...

My alarm sounded about 5:30 this morning.  I rolled out of bed, finished packing my backpack, and was ready to go by 7:00.  Our family had a time of prayer together before heading out the door and to the airport.  There was no one in line at the United desk, so I stepped right up to check in.  The baggage allowance for an international flight is 2 bags, 50 pounds each.  With a bit of rearranging, the final weights were 50 and 49.5 pounds... geesh, cutting it a bit close.

The fam sat down at Max & Ermas for a bite to eat.  A few minutes later we were joined by Grandpa and his friend Steve.  They drove over from Coshocton to see me off :).  What a neat surprise!

My first flight was scheduled to leave about 10:30 this morning.  As I headed to the gate, I could see that the forecasted snowstorm had arrived right on schedule and a blanket of white was already covering the ground.  The boarding began on time... so far so good.  The plane pulled away from the gate... almost there!  The pilot came over the speaker, announcing that the snow was too heavy to de-ice the plane.  We waited on the runway for an hour before finally getting on our way.  Unfortunately I landed in Washington D.C. about 15 minutes after I was scheduled to continue on to Tokyo and then Singapore.  Needless to say, I missed my connection.  This particular flight only goes once a day, so I was rebooked for the following day and given a voucher for a hotel room.

Bummer for the delay, but it is not all bad.  In fact, there was something very good!  My friends Amber and Justin and kiddos live just outside of D.C.  They drove into the city and took me to dinner at a Peruvian chicken place.  It was way fun!  And now I have an evening to just be before continuing my journey tomorrow.

So about leaving for PNG today... apparently I was just kidding!  But I've waited so long for this, what is one more day?  (Except for one less with Sarah.)  I trust that God has his hand even in this.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Adios amigos

My last moments here in the U.S. have been precious ones!  The morning began at 2:00 AM with my brother and sister bouncing on my bed.  Ami flew in from Phoenix and Aaron drove up from Nashville... what a fun surprise!  Today I finished packing my suitcases, talked with friends from across the country, and spent time with the fam.  And Mom made a fabulous turkey dinner, complete with all the fixins!  I also enjoyed the beauty of winter wonderland (from the comfort of our warm home)... a goodbye present from Ohio.

I leave tomorrow morning, and my route takes me from Columbus, OH --> Washington, D.C. --> Tokyo, Japan --> Singapore.  I will stop over in Singapore to spend the weekend with my forever friend Sarah, who is teaching at an international school there.  A few days later I fly on to Port Moresby, PNG and then up to Mount Hagen where I will be collected by fellow missionaries.  I arrive at my destination on January 20.  Wow... PNG really is one of the far corners of the world!

Here is my new address:
Kudjip Nazarene Hospital
P.O. Box 456
Mount Hagen, W.H.P.
Papua New Guinea

Skype:  steph.doenges

PNG or BUST!!!

Thursday, 8 January 2009

PNG wish list

LAST UPDATED:  5/15/2012

Hi, Mom & Aim :).
Wow, I am pretty full of of blessings these days!

Wish List
hugs, notes, cards, pictures from you
mac & cheese
french fried onions
nuts:  pecans, almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds (without shell)
peanut butter M&Ms, Tootsie Rolls, Reese's Pieces, Chick-o-stix
salad topper, croutons
dessert mixes like cheese cake, Reese's peanut butter bar thing, etc.
apple cider and hot chocolate for ladies Bible study
treats for Brutus
i-Tunes cards
Amazon or Kindle gift cards
pretty votive candle holders and votives
missionary-friendly DVDs
an occasional National Geographic, Time, U.S. News & World Report, or other current events magazine
I also enjoy the cooking and home magazines that Mom sends
just for fun holiday things (I have a good Christmas stock)
candy corn in the fall
candy canes at Christmas

What I DON'T Need (for now)
Zip locks --> stocked up on everything but regular sized freezer

DON'T Send
Some countries don't like you sending in plants or seeds; these would probably be confiscated and may red flag future packages.

Mailing Stuff
The USPO is fairly reliable, and probably the most economical way to send things.  There are standard rate boxes for international shipping.  Those are good especially for heavy things because it is the same price for up to 20 pounds (or something like that).  If you are sending a lighter box, might want to check weight and see which would be cheaper.

Please put anything that could melt and/or spill out in a zip lock or other sealable bag/container, because it probably will.

Be sure to write what is in the box on the customs form.

Postage for a standard sized card or letter is $.98.

* If I am lucky, letters/packages will arrive in 2 weeks.  More likely 4+ weeks, even with air mail, and even longer during the holidays.  I have heard stories of mail taking up to a year to arrive, though that is definitely the outlier.  I think the Myers hold he record at 2 years.

Stephanie Doenges
P.O. Box 456
Mt. Hagen, W.H.P.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

This is your story

In Philippians 1:3-6, Paul writes that he prayed with joy because of the partnership of the Philippians in the Gospel.  And so many of you are my partners, having walked along with me on this journey...

You were my Sunday school teachers.  You were my Bible quiz coaches:  teaching me to love the Word of God, driving a big blue van full of noisy teenagers across the country.  You were a Lakeholm Bible quiz team groupie, cheering on the team!  You were youth group workers, chaperoning all night lock-ins and hosting the annual girls’ slumber party complete with Phantom of the Opera.  You were my teen choir director and my piano teacher.

You traveled with me to NYC and on my first mission trip to Nicaragua, where I felt God's call to medical missions.

You were my boss:  as I chopped vegetables and cracked eggs in the MVNC cafeteria, served as the Pioneer Hall "nurse lady," and scrubbed test tubes in the lab.

You were my professors:  teaching me everything from Christian Beliefs and Philosophy to Biochem and Molecular Biology; you taught me how to be a healer and to catch babies.

You were my mentor.

You were my study buddy, my roommate, best friend, and accountability partner.

You gave me the job that allowed me to pay on my school loans and get to the mission field.

You are my family:  you have fed me, fixed my car, celebrated birthdays and graduations, cheered me on, loved me, prayed for me.  You have supported me along as I followed God’s call around the world from India to Texas to Afghanistan and now to Papua New Guinea.  You helped me build and pack my crate.  You still pray for me.

We have laughed together, played together, traveled together, dreamed together, celebrated together, cried together, learned together, grown together.

You taught me how to love God with my whole heart, mind soul, and strength.  You taught me how to love one another.  You taught me about being a servant.  You taught me how to live life Soli Deo Gloria.

You helped to grow me into a missionary.  You, too, are partners in the Gospel.  And because of this I pray with joy.

Dedication of new hospital!

Start:     Jan 30, '09
Location:     Kudjip, PNG

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Here I Am

Here are the lyrics are from a song by the group Downhere.  If my life was put to music, this would be the theme song.

Here I Am

Sometimes your calling, comes in dream
Sometimes in comes in the Spirit's breeze,
You reach for the deepest part of me,
And call out for the things of eternity.

But I'm a man, of dust and stains,
You move in me, so I can say,

Here I am, Lord send me,
All of my life, I make an offering,
Here I am, Lord send me,
Somehow my story, Is part of your plan,
Here I am.

When setbacks and failures, and upset plans,
Test my faith and leave me with empty hands,
Are you not the closest when it's hardest to stand?
I know that you will finish what you began.

These broken parts you redeem,
Become the song, that I can sing

Here I am, Lord send me,
All of my life, I make an offering,
Here I am, Lord send me,
Somehow my story, Is part of your plan,
Here I am.

Overwhelmed by the thought of my weakness,
And the fear that I'll fail you in the end,
In this mess, I'm just one of the pieces,
I can't put this together but you can.

Here I am, Lord send me,
All of my life, I make an offering,
Here I am, Lord send me,
Somehow my story, Is part of your plan,
Here I am.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Family time

Instead of giving presents this year, my family decided to give each other the gift of time.  For one, I won't be able to squeeze any presents into my suit case as the "to be packed" pile is reaching mountain status.  I'm in big trouble there.  And for two, it was a great excuse to get together one last time before I leave for PNG!

The day after Christmas, Mom, Dad, Aaron, Ami and Darren, and I all descended on Naples and spent the week exploring southwest Florida.  Our rental condo was just a couple of blocks from the beach, allowing for frequent strolls along the sandy coast.  We visited Big Cypress National Preserve where a boardwalk lead us into the swamp.  We walked past alligators resting in the sun and snowy egrets fishing for their lunch.  At Everglades National Park we enjoyed a boat ride back into the mangrove wilderness.  One of my favorite adventures was a guided kayak trip from the Isle of Capri and along the coastal estuary.  We even paddled along side a family of dolphins playing in the channel!  Way cool.  The week ended perfectly as we welcomed in the new year watching fireworks from our nearby beach.

So it was a wonderful week.  Good to get away from all of the craziness of packing and to do lists and getting ready to leave.  Good to relax.  Good to laugh and laugh and laugh.  Good to enjoy God's beautiful creation.  So good to have together time with Mom and Dad and the sibs.  Let's do this again in 3 years :).