03 December 1984

Letter: End of Cheap Phone Calls

Letter 3 / 12 / 84

The wet is here, or almost. Today it thundered and rained - and I couldn't do the washing. I would do it now but the last lot is still on the line and of course its soaked. Now its so steamy.

Our 20c phone calls have at last come to an end. Not that the phone can't do it, but there is a sign saying that we mustn't. Actually, the phone is a private phone, you see, belonging to the council, and they receive a bill regardless of how much money is actually in the box. So the council has the right to ban people from using the phone (on Yorke Island the council insists that you ask permission every time you use the phone!) and Telecom promises to remove the phone if the bills are not paid. It was suggested that people might make a donation to help the council pay for the $1000 that was due over what was in the box, so we went down to make a contribution, as people are aware that we have been using the phone ... but they said it has all been taken care of. We could still phone you on the 20c system (so as not to have the operator butting in) and time ourselves and put in the extra money I guess. But for the time being I had better try to catch tomorrow's plane with a few letters.

Getting on with translation

We feel we have finally 'hit our straps' and started work. Only two of our four men have been coming to do translation, but they have been working well and seem to be learning what its all about now. I guess translating "Nowa" (Noah) was good practice for them - we've nearly finished getting it checked now. They are pretty keen on the new "Sower" (parable) booklet, so hopefully it will go a bit faster.

Even I am getting into the action at last. The priest's wife, Adiana, has made herself available to help me. She seems to have a fairly keen mind and is willing to do her best. Also a lady freshly up from Mackay, after being away from the island for 20 years, is keen to help. She has all the marks of a mainlander - they stick out like a sore thumb with their fancy clothes. She belongs to the "Body-Felt Salvation" group, though she has some quarrel with them over whether the local culture should be preserved and/or taught. She still uses the language, and has taught classes (down south) on island cooking. She is very concerned about the local women, their health problems and those who spend all day "doing nothing". So she will be a good place to start with this cookery book I want to do (to aid literacy in their language among the women especially). I'm also being a bit ambitious and wanting to do a Christmas drama - simple as possible, and in the local language, to be performed maybe at the Christmas service or outside afterwards. These people love to watch any kind of drama, but they don't seem to do much.

Baby Jo likes to eat

Thanks for the Farex, it only took six days to get here. Jo gets quite upset if she doesn't get to eat with the rest of us at tea time. She doesn't eat much of course, but likes to taste different things. She remains such a pleasant little tike. Peter often accuses me when he catches me just cuddling her - "Sometimes I think you enjoy that baby!" - I sure do! She seems to take a special interest in Alison (despite some of the treatment she gets from her!) and often chuckles when Alison dances about. She has a smile for everyone, but has already learnt who Mum is and is not keen to be taken away.

James is unwell

Poor James! His big boil in the corner of his mouth came up and burst and then healed incredibly quickly. But then he developed little ones on his nose, eyebrow, chin, and a row on his top lip. They are all still there, like very large pimples, and he has a huge boil on his shoulder which seems to be taking for ever to either come up or go down. He is on antibiotics, but they don't seem to be doing much good. He still has at least one bad asthma attack each night, but is learning to cope by himself and we've kept him off the wretched medication because it makes him so restless and naughty. He has taught himself when he wakes up choking and coughing to get up on his knees and stick his elbows out. Even if it doesn't really make it better, having something specific to do helps him to cope with the panic of feeling like he can't breathe.

Tues am 11.00

I've got the kids perched in front of the radio ready for Kindy of the Air. Jo is in her "Fraser Chair" - got it in Darwin for $2 and its been good value! I've done the washing and pegged it all out on our little rotary clothes hoist. Peter is working with Fr Tabo - began "The Sower" today, though we still need to check "Nowa” with some 'independent readers'.

Aquarium window

Did we tell you be brought a fish tank up this time? Or, at least, we got our friends Rod and Hazel to carry it up here. It was in pieces, and we have finally got it siliconed together without any leaks (took about three goes). And we have been experimenting with fish and reef creatures - so far everything has died, but we are working on it. Peter knocked a hole in the wall and made another window in the living room especially for it to sit next to, and even just with big shells in it now it looks very pretty.

Well, radio kindy will finish soon, and I guess it will be time for the plane soon so I'd better close.