18 March 1985

Letter: Going to PNG

Letter 18 / 3 / 85

Well it looks like we will be going to PNG after all. Its going to be very expensive (about $2000+) to get there and back, but from the blurb about the workshop it sounds like just what we need. Also it will be good to see Ukarumpa (again, for me - though it was about 1971 when I saw it last), to meet up with a few old Jungle Camp friends, and make the PNG branch aware that we are here ( - stuck in the Australian Aborigines Branch with a PNG-type language) and that we would be glad of occasional help. Also, we have been up here on the island for quite a stretch now, and it will be a nice change rather than another trip to Cairns.

We are trusting we won't get malaria - Ukarumpa is a 6 000' and above the malaria zone - there should be no anopheles mosquitoes. We will take the pills as well, though.

Ducky eggs

Our muscovy ducks are finally (!) beginning to lay - we are getting 3 duck eggs and 3 chicken eggs a day. We have 8 (I think) Muscovy ducks (and one drake) so I guess we'll soon have more eggs than we can gobble. Alison and Jo love eggs, James isn't so keen. Also Kathy (the gardening lady in Cairns) found us some Khaki Cambells. They lay about 300 eggs a year. She sent 6 ducks and 3 drakes (fully grown) and we have kept 2 ducks and 1 drake. They are funny old things! They quack loudly, and they stand up much straighter than the Muscovies, and they run around in a tight little group all the time. We really enjoy them. And we are looking forward to them laying soon when they settle down. They're terrible mothers, apparently, to breed them you need a muscovy or a broody hen to care for the eggs.


Peter is trying to have a men's Bible Study this evening. I have plans to try the ladies again on Wednesday afternoon. It really is an uphill battle - it makes it seem that it would all be so easy if we were living in a suburb 'down south' ... just a different set of problems really. I have put aside all my other normal activities to tramp up and down the village trying to get something started.

School Sores

Alison's birthday party, and we still have sores.

The girls and I have all been suffering from some kind of skin sores - looks a bit like school sores. Jayne F took their youngest, Adam, to a doctor in Townsville and he found his sores are caused by some sort of "staph" infection which is being perpetrated by the local clinic where they don't sterilize their implements. So, we battle on, bathing in Savlon and avoiding the clinic where possible. A local woman has just died from a boil on her bot ... again, inefficiency in the local medical system, bunglings, slip-ups, carelessness.

Weaning time

I'm trying to wean Jo and Alison at the same time. Alison is only allowed bottles at bed-time now - we've had a few tears! But she is also not allowed to just sit down or lie down and cry – i.e. have a tantrum. And Jo has to do without her mid-morning pre-nap feed. Three days now and still battling. I put on a non-feeding dress so I can't weaken, and she bites me on the chin and nose! In PNG I'll have to have someone care for her each morning. I'd rather not put her on the bottle, but in fact I have weakened once or twice and she refuses to suck it, just bites it - which she enjoys.

Bath time

Peter says he has left me half a bucket of warm water in the shower, so I'd better go and use it.

08 March 1985

Letter: Alison's Maternal Instincts

Letter 8 / 3 / 85

Its Alison's birthday soon - what would she like? She has strong maternal instincts in a 2-year-old way. She has lots of soft toys ... we're up to our necks in soft toys. But bathing babies is one of her favourite activities. We often have teddies, bunnies etc hanging by their ears from the washing line. Also she and James love playing picnics and parties - it would be nice if the kids had their own tea set instead of using mine! Peter's mum gave Alison a set of her own cutlery (with special shaped plastic handles) - Ali's is red, James' is yellow. Alison is not very handy with it yet. She is not short of clothes for the next few months ... although she has grown 2 inches in the last 3 months and is wearing a bigger size in everything.


The school principal and his family are down south for two weeks, so James has a chance to recover from playing with Terri all the time, and he and Alison are really close these days. But he (James) is going through a patch of not hearing - "what did you say?" he constantly asks - and rapid blinking (but no stuttering this time). A community health team is here for a week, "screening" all of the local kids, and they reckon his sight in one eye is much weaker than the other, so I guess we'll have to get him checked before he starts school.

You wouldn't believe how long it has taken for me to write this much so far - all three kids find it necessary to try to sit on me, and then fight each other for the best position. James just dropped a pot plant ...

Bishop's permission

The church has reached an all-time low as far as teaching is concerned. A couple of weeks ago with the text, "Why did you not have faith" as proof (when Peter walked on the water) we were all berated for not having faith in (for instance) the church bell as this was Jesus' voice calling us. Last week I didn't know whether to laugh or cry when the village men were the target because this is "marbles season" and every man has a pocketful of them - and they play in the dirt outside the store. But this is also Lent ... "Have you special permission from the Bishop or someone to play marbles in Lent??" Today, I tried not to listen, but couldn't help hearing, that we still have a "chance" before the Bible will close just as the store closes at closing time. Three more weeks of Lent is our last chance, apparently.

Pity the priest

Its very sad because we appreciate Fr Tabo as a person, and we know how he labours, but he is so confused. To add to his misery (and these things are taken into account when you consider whether to listen to a preacher) two weeks ago he bought a new 2 000 gallon fibre-glass rainwater tank (ours is only 1 000 gallons) which cost him $1100. He's paid some of it, at $30 per week, and still has $640 to go. They hurriedly erected it on a very old stand, Peter helped them to link it to the gutter and it filled in a few days with this recent wet weather. Yesterday the priest and his family were all out, and with a terrific sloshing, crunching noise (we heard it from our house) the whole thing fell over and smashed completely.

Bible studies

The planned ladies' Bible study class was a complete washout - it rained and rained and blew! So, I'll try again next week. I don't know for sure if anyone had planned to come anyway.

Peter tried for a men's study on Friday night. Noel has been on a drinking binge lately - especially with his wife away on TI having their 5th (the women have to go in 6 weeks ahead of their due date!) - but he wanted to break out of it. So we had him around to tea straight after work, then he an Peter studied until 1am, even though no one else came.

PNG trip planning

We are having difficulty getting our passports - Peter only has a "birth extract" (not an actual certificate) and the signature of the local JP wasn't acceptable for proof of identity. Then we have to work on visas - if we are going to get to PNG for this workshop. But unless one of our mission planes in PNG can come and get us for a lot less than the local airline - who insist that we go via Cairns - it seems that it will be financially out of the question anyway. It would be an interesting break, though, if we can make it - especially with the kids being cared for each morning while we are there.

Gorgeous Jo

Jo is still a gorgeous baby. Like James was, she seems to have no particular desire to crawl. Doesn't even try to pull herself up if she falls over from sitting. But she gets around a fair bit by rolling.

She is off Farex and onto the hard stuff now - out of the "Mouli Baby". I have the blender here and occasionally do a whole batch of food for her when the generator is running.

She is quite a blondie now, though her hair has a slight reddish look (the other two went through a 'red' stage too). She's a lot like the other two to look at - one of the ladies at Berrimah said, "That's not fair, you make them all the same!"

Except for her beautiful olive skin.