Letter 15 / 10 / 83
On Tuesday Peter D left. That was a relief - a month was a long time for him and us. Although he worked very hard and got a lot done, and we really appreciate him and his labours more than I can express ... he had the worst case of clumsiness I've even seen. And he was so careless with Peter's tools - not only did we spend over $500 on them (ie they were very expensive) but in this place they are irreplaceable inside several months at any price. P.D. did things like using Peter's best big screwdriver from his
On Tuesday and Wednesday the people at last came and made palm thatch for our little translation house. Its a lovely little house with three big lift-up windows. The front window is covered with corrugated pale green fibreglass, and the side two are like thatch shutters. The bishop is likely to be our first guest - in Nov or Dec making his last visit up here before he takes up his new post at Bunbury (WA). His wife is an islander, so I wonder how she'll like the change?
Our language helpers are also looking forward to doing language work in there instead of the house. We're going to call it "Mir Meta" (language house) and it may be worth getting Father Tabo to "bless" it or whatever - mainly to draw attention to it and make sure everyone understands about what it is and who we are and why we are here. I guess that will be our first attempt at throwing some kind of a feast - I hope we can get some help.
A death on the island
Yesterday was a sad day here. George and Peter were busy doing the windows on our 'mir meta', and Norm the plumber, Roger the mechanic, Sammy Semmy the islander plumber and George Blanco the tractor driver were at the top of the hill working on the pump. George B was standing in the shade cutting out gaskets, when he suddenly just dropped dead. He's a BIG guy, very tall and very well built too, but a gentle giant and well-loved, only 34 years old. Roger resuscitated him, and when he was breathing again came down on the tractor for help. Etta (the very fat nursing sister) wouldn't call the doctor until she'd seen George, and Peter grabbed our '"Where there is no doctor" medical book and went up on the tractor to help. Then he sprinted down the hillside to the phone and spoke to the doctor on TI. That was 4.30pm, more than an hour after George's attack, and the helicopter finally got here at 6.30pm. By then poor George was well and truly dead. In the meantime, Peter and Peter Stoneham (the principal) took the oxygen cylinder (from the clinic) up on a motorbike but not even Etta knew how to use it. Then Peter ran down the hill and back up again, and finally walked down the hill with the doctor (who 'wanted some exercise') - what a day!
On Thursday we were surprised to hear a plane come, then the tractor came down the hill loaded with goodies - frozen chickens, sausages, pizzas, ice cream, lettuce, health bars ..! The Melbidir was supposed to be here next week (to bring cargo and take children and parents to the school sports day on
We're all quite - well, very - very tired. Alison is still not crawling, but she does get around by rolling, humping, pushing etc. James still goes happily to kindy. His talk is going ahead so fast now, he chatters away! When no one has time for him he talks to himself - questions and answers" "See heligaga?" "Yess!" "Wind?" "No." "Gaga gone now". He's so cute!
We're getting a boat, as soon as possible. Peter's beside me here writing to the credit society to pull the rest of our money out. Peter Houghton, in
All my babies are asleep, lucky lot! Peter's feeling ill (looks ghastly too.) The village is quiet with most people mourning. There are rumours going around about knife-marks on George's neck, I guess some people are bound to suspect "black magic" or something with such a sudden death, even the findings of the autopsy won't prove anything to them once they have decided it was magic. Just hope there's no "trouble" as a result.
Pre-wet is here already, and I'm covered in itchy heat-rash again. James is spotty too.