Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Amazing Race!

Yesterday, Ukarumpa held its first ever “Amazing Race,” patterned after the popular TV series. This even was the brainchild of Toni, one of our neighbors. She put a tremendous amount of effort into making it happen, and we are very grateful – because it was an awful lot of fun!

Here is a photo of my team – “Café con Leche.” From left to right is me, Johanna, Krista and Katy. We were the Latina team… well, sort of. Johanna is Colombian and Katy is Costa Rican. Krista and I are just gringas, but they let us be on their team because we speak Spanish. So, if you haven’t guessed, Johanna and Katy were the “café” and Krista and I were the “leche”.

We were given clues and had to figure out where to go for each “pit stop”, where we would complete a challenge before earning our next clue.

We did a blindfolded obstacle course...

I ate a plate full of such delicacies as sago, a sago grub, squid, jellyfish, fungus and sardines…

Sorting through stacks of envelopes to find a card…

I got a makeover from a blindfolded Krista…

Our skinned knees from crawling up Cemetary Hill on our hands and knees…

We learned a dance to Eye of the Tiger

Poor Katy had to find one of our clues in a tub of whipped cream…

And more – 12 challenges total. It took us nearly 4 hours to finish, and out of 20 teams we came in at #10. Not bad. Boy was I sore the next morning though…

Lae War Memorial

I meant to post these photos before this, but haven’t gotten around to it. While we were in Lae last weekend, we went to visit the WWII Memorial, which we had heard about but had not yet taken the time to go see. Papua New Guinea has a lot of WWII history, and plane wrecks are still being found around the country today.

The memorial was very well kept and clean. We were the only visitors on a Saturday afternoon.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Lae Guest House

We spent this past weekend in the city of Lae (on the coast – PNG’s main port city) at the SIL guest house. Once a year, Brian goes down to Lae to do regular service on their generator.

Greg and I tagged along for a little adventure. It’s a 3-hour drive to Lae, and once we got into the lowlands, we really wished our truck had air conditioning. Greg was a trooper, even though he isn’t accustomed to riding long distances strapped into a car seat. We stopped at a crocodile farm just outside of Lae to buy some meat, and I snapped this photo, trying to capture a shot of his first two teeth that are just starting to poke through. Can you see them?

While dad was changing oil and air filters and diagnosing a gauge that wasn’t working, Greg practiced eating tropical leaves.

Lae doesn’t have a beach to speak of (not one that you would want to swim at anyway!), but the guest house does have a pool – something that is a real luxury here in Papua New Guinea. We also enjoyed such novelties as cable TV, take-out Chinese food, and air conditioning.

Here is another shot from the balcony outside our room. The compound is small, but very nice.

Greg is pretty squirmy now that he can crawl and pull himself up to standing. We were grateful that we remembered to bring along this travel high chair, or mealtimes would have been very messy!

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Once every two years, the language personnel in Papua New Guinea gather together for a week of seminars called Interact. With so many translators, literacy workers and scripture use workers all over Papua New Guinea, language workers tend to be isolated and sometimes it’s difficult to know what other people are doing. Interact is a good opportunity for us all to hear about each other’s work in their language programs – what is working and what does not work. We can share ideas and talk about the issues that we face.

This year the presentations were on topics like new helpful computer tools, innovative projects to get people interested in literacy, multi-language translation programs, communicating in oral societies and using board games to teach information.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Greg is Growin'

8 months yesterday. How time flies.

Here’s the 7-month tiger photo:

And at 8 months:

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Kainantu Shopping

Here is a photo of a group of victorious bargain hunters just returned from a morning trip to Kainantu, the nearest town to where we live.  (That’s me in the green). 

Trips to Kainantu are often group affairs like this, and since it’s difficult for a lot of women to get off center (it’s generally not recommended for women to travel alone or without a man), they jumped at the chance when Geoff offered to rent a van and take a group to town.  Packed full of 15 people, the air in the van buzzed with excitement on the 15-minute drive to town.  I’m lucky enough to travel outside of Ukarumpa fairly regularly because we own our own truck and because Brian’s job requires frequent trips to Lae.  But for some of the women, it was their first time into town in months.

Nearly everyone was eager to visit Kainantu’s three secondhand clothing stores.  There is not much opportunity for shopping in Papua New Guinea, and about your only chance to get “new” clothes is to go to the secondhand stores.  Secondhand clothing is cheap though, and it’s fun to see what you can find in the racks.  

Other than shopping for clothes, the other main destination was Papindo, a grocery/household goods store.  At the moment, the shelves at our Ukarumpa store are quite bare, because there haven’t been any new shipments of food in quite a while.  Nearly all the women had lists of things that they wanted to buy that aren’t currently available in Ukarumpa, like powdered sugar and shampoo. Shopping in PNG is always somewhat of an adventure, because there is never any guarantee that you will be able to find what you are looking for. We also stocked up on sugar, because the Papua New Guinean company that produces all of the country’s sugar recently announced that due to bad crops, they are going to shut down sugar production for three months.  Not wanting to go without in case of a shortage, a lot of ladies opted to buy extra supplies now.  I confess, I did buy a few kilos myself.

And then, after two hours in town, it was time to pile back into the van, this time with every inch of spare space packed with shopping bags.  We held our breath as we carefully drove over the dilapidated bridge that connects us to town, and then the van whizzed down the road towards home, past villages and coffee fields, dodging potholes and people and other vehicles that were all over the road.  Everyone chatted happily about the things that they were able to find, and we all thanked Geoff profusely for allowing us this opportunity to spend a morning away from kids and Ukarumpa responsibilities.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

How many mamas do you have?

This is Greg with his Mama Anna. She comes three afternoons a week to babysit him while I am teaching at school, and also cleans up my house while she is watching him (even though I didn’t specifically ask her to do so. Hey, I’m not complaining!). You should see his eyes light up when she walks in the door! They get along very well. And she’s a good language influence on him too. He definitely recognizes the meaning of some Tok Pisin phrases, such as “paitim han” (clap your hands).

In Papua New Guinea, it really takes a village to raise a child. Children grow up being cared for by all of their female relatives, and not just their own mother. It’s common to call all your aunts “mama.” It can be confusing, for example, when the man who cuts your grass comes to ask you for some money for a funeral, saying that his mother died. Three months later, he again claims that his mother died. He’s not trying to take advantage of you… he just has a lot of mothers!

Greg has another mama too… Mama Iyuya. She watches him two afternoons a week.

And so, if Greg were old enough to talk, he’d probably refer to his babysitters as “mama” though of course, I’ll always be his “mama true.”