Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas Eve

I know I'm gong backwards in time, but I want to tell you about the good time I had on Christmas Eve.

I went to a party for single women at a single lady's house. I loved her Christmas tree, it made me feel happy and Christmassy. Here's a picture of it:

Anyway, everyone had to bring something you didn't want anymore as a present for a gift exchange. We did it like a game, everyone took a number and going in number order, we got to choose a present and open it, or instead of opening a present, you could 'steal' a present from someone else, that they had already opened.

I had number 8, and the present I opened was two decks of playing cards and I was quite happy with that and hoped that no-one would steal it, but at the very end, it ended up getting taken, so I opened the last present that was still wrapped, and it was another good thing – a miniature Christmas tree with small lights (battery operated). I was really chuffed with it and was happy that I got it. It is really lightweight too. Several people suggested that it would be a good Christmas tree to take to the village (if I'm ever in the village at Christmas time). It's also just great for me to have in Ukarumpa, as I didn't have a Christmas tree and wasn't bothered about obtaining one, but now that I have it, I like how it makes the house more Christmassy. Here's a photo of it:

There you go, that was my happiness from Christmas Eve!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Day

I started the day by making myself a special breakfast and then I went to a 9am service. After that I went on to Yahoo Messenger, put the webcam on, connected to Mum and Dad and opened my presents with them watching me, which was nice. Much better than opening them on my own.

I had invited a few people over for Christmas lunch at 1pm and I had been busy over the past few days doing some baking. In the picture below you can see my "good food pyramid", although you can't really see what's in the containers. From top to bottom: shortbread (top two), fruit loaf, cheese muffins and fruit biscuits.

We had a good main course consisting of borscht, chicken, ham, meatballs, rice, potato bake, cheese muffins, bread rolls and salad items. We had Christmas napkins and crackers that were kindly given to me by a friend here who didn't end up needing them, so we all got the daggy paper hats on! Here's a photo of us:

We had nice desserts too. Here's a mango and passionfruit mousse that I made (from my church's recent dessert book!) and mince pies and Christmas cookies that other people brought.

Here is some of the food from my "good food pyramid". From left to right: fruit biscuits, fruit loaf and shortbread. I forgot that you're supposed to use plain flour with shortbread and I used self-raising flour, so it wasn't quite the same as normal shortbread.

My guests helped clean up, which was great. They all left before 4pm and I had the rest of the day at home by myself. I looked through my presents again, and in the evening, I saw all my relatives on the webcam on Yahoo Messenger and chatted to them too (that is, 'typing chat', not a voice call, the sound is usually not very good for that). Even Jyra (my dog) made an appearance on the webcam!

Well that was my Christmas this year. I hope you had a great Christmas.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Not doing it too tough!

Last night I was out at a friend's birthday party. I got nicely dressed up for it as you will see in the photo below.

We were blessed with so much yummy food there, sweet and savoury. We certainly can eat just as well as we do at home! Being a missionary doesn't mean that you miss out on good food too, especially when you are in a big expat community. Look at these yummy foods in the picture below.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas mail!!!

Well, it was very exciting this morning when I checked my mail box at the Post Office. There was 12 pieces of mail for me! Nine of them were Christmas cards and one of them was a nice 2010 calendar. One of the people who sent me a card, also send me some Christmas stickers, gift tags and two decorations, so that was special.

Getting the cards and the notes that people wrote was very encouraging, especially since I was feeling a bit down yesterday. It is really encouraging to be reminded that I have a lot of friends in Australia who care for me and pray for me and are proud of me too. Sometimes I need that kind of encouragement – not just at Christmas time either, throughout the year too it is good to receive notes of encouragement.

Here is my little collection of Christmas cards received so far:

My new decorations making my house a bit more Christmassy:

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Decorating for Christmas

A few weeks ago, I went to a friend's house with a few other people and helped her decorate her Christmas tree. It is a different Christmas tree – it is made up of bamboo!! Here's a photo of the tree after we decorated it.

I have very minimal Christmas decorations at my house because I don't want to acquire too much "stuff", so I cut up some of last year's Christmas cards and blu-tacked them on the walls in nice arrangements. It is very basic, but at least it gives the house some Christmas atmosphere. Here are some photos.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Craft fair

Today the annual craft fair was on at Ukarumpa. Think of the local craft markets in Australia - it was a bit like them, with craft items and people selling food. It was all indoors in a building called the Teen Centre, which has two storeys.

Upstairs there was all the food stalls. People were selling Korean noodles, steak sandwiches, pretzels, sausages and cheesecakes. I spent about 2 hours at the craft fair, near the beginning I had a plate of Korean noodles, which were very nice, and not long before I left, I had a slice of an amazing chocolate caramel cheesecake. It was so yummy!!

Downstairs there was lots of stall with people selling their craft items. Both expats and Papua New Guineans were selling things. Some of the things for sale were: bilums (string bags), jewellery, coloured candles, hand carved wooden items, cards, fudge and pottery. I wandered around all the stalls about 10 times!! I bought some jewellery, cards and a bamboo flute.

Here are some pictures...

The bamboo flute, which is my new toy, I am having lots of fun playing with it. Yes, I can get it to make a noise!

A necklace with pointy shells. I really love this!

Some PNG style Christmas pictures...

The three wise men on their way to see Jesus:

The angels announcing Jesus' birth to the shepherds:

The three wise men and their dog on their way to see Jesus. I thought it was really funny that they put a dog in there!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Socialising and working

My social life has been quite full the past eight days, from Monday to Monday (yesterday). One of my meals on each of those eight days, I ate with company. I had an American Thanksgiving lunch on Saturday with a group of friends and then leftovers with a smaller group for lunch on Sunday.

Work-wise, I've been doing a few different things: reading books about linguistics and about culture, checking linguistic papers before they go on the Internet, spending time with Rebekah and writing reports on the Teop language in Bougainville. One of those reports is about my visit there and what I observed, and the other report is a 'People Profile', which is just information about aspects of their lives and culture. You can see People Profiles for other language groups online at:

Monday, November 23, 2009

Continuing the nomadic lifestyle

I have moved house again. I like the new house, I have a big bedroom and my own office area, plus there is a microwave, which I had in the last house too, but it is always a bonus to have a microwave.

Here's a photo of the house. It is actually attached to another house, so I guess it is really a unit.

The house is located at an outer part of the Centre, but it is not too isolated. There are lots of houses behind mine, but not many in front, so I have a great view of the hills as you can see in this photo below.

I never really felt interested in ministering to nomadic peoples, the lifestyle didn't really appeal to me, but it's funny how although I'm not going to be working with nomads, I have been living a very nomadic lifestyle this year. I was in three houses in Ukarumpa from January to May, and then in May and June I stayed in three houses in the Sepik. Back to Ukarumpa for a month after that and then the following locations: Goroka, Kokopo, Buka, Port Moresby, Melbourne, Kyneton, Melbourne, Brisbane, Port Moresby, Alotau and then back to Ukarumpa. I went back to the house I have been in since February, but then moved out this weekend to the new house.

Overall, the number of times I have moved from one place to another this year is: 38!! That includes every move, including overnight stopovers. I have gone to sleep in 25 different beds this year. I'm glad that I can sleep okay in beds that I am not used to!

I don’t think that even traditional nomads move 38 times in a year.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Kamano Grammar Update

In February I wrote on my blog that I was working on the Kamano Grammar Sketch, tidying it up for web publication. Well, the Kamano Grammar Sketch is now online and you can see it here: If you're not a linguist, most of it won't mean much to you though!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Canoe Festival

On my last weekend in Alotau, there was a canoe festival. I didn't spend a lot of time at it, but there was canoe races, cultural dances and lots of little stalls selling or promoting things. Here are some pictures…

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Back translation

We did a lot of "back translation" during this translation workshop. It is a translation back into English of the local language translation and it should reflect how the language worded the sentence, but also make sense in English. It is used by consultants to check the accuracy of the translation and since they don't know every language in PNG, back translations have to be made, so that they can see in English, what the local language version says.

Here's an example from part of Exodus 15:25 in Taupota:

The Taupota version says:
Ma maranai i ahare hopunei au waira yana wairana i vira po umana i ahi.

A word for word, literal version of this is:
And when he throw it-out in water then that-water it became so drink it good.
The version above doesn't make much sense in English, but you can see what it is supposed to say. We want it to make a bit more sense for the consultant, so we write a version that sounds better in English and this is called a back translation.

Here's a back translation for this passage:
And when he threw it out into the water, then that water became so that it was good to drink.

My NIV Bible says: He threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.

Now here's some photos:

Doing some work with Rex from Taupota:

Participants performing a song and dance:

Nice sunset:

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Taupota visit

My visit to the Taupota area was good. Nothing spectacular happened, but there was a burial going on, however we missed most of it unfortunately.

It is mango season and again, mangos drop off the tree occasionally and when you hear it snap a start to fall, you worry about the fact that you are sitting under the tree! One time I fetched one that fell and enjoyed eating it, although it was a little bruised.

The frangipanis and hibiscus were in bloom and looking great. There were so many different colours of hibiscus and they were really pretty.

Here are some photos…

Beautiful view:

Mango tree:


Another hibiscus:

Thursday, October 22, 2009

How do we translate?

I could write an answer to this question that would fill a page, so I'll try to be brief.

There are different stages to translating, some of these are: first draft, advisor check, village check, back translation and consultant check. After each checking session, changes are made to the draft translation, until it is refined and as accurate as it can be. During this workshop I am involved in the first draft, advisor checks and back translation.

You might wonder how I can be involved in the first draft, when I don't know the language. Well, the two Taupota people do the actual translating. I typed for them (not easy when you don't know the language!) and I gave suggestions in English about different ways they could write it. I also explained things to them, such as the meaning of certain words or passages. They told me word for word in English what they had written in Taupota and sometimes I checked the meaning of the words or picked up on something that they hadn't included.

That's the main initial part of the translation process. I will try to write about the other parts another time.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Things that move

At both Alotau and Hagita, I have encountered various things that move. Creepy crawlies isn't quite the right term and I can't think of a general term that covers rats, frogs, ants and crabs.

We saw a rat in the toilet block on our first night at Hagita and screamed because of the sudden movement of it running fast. We haven't seen a rat there since though. Maybe we scared it away too with our scream! Nearly every night, there are frogs there too, but fortunately they have kept out of the toilet stalls and not scared us too much.

We don't have frogs or rats at the Alotau Centre, but I have seen little crabs, very small ones, but I don't like them running around inside. They look a bit like spiders.

I am also fighting an ant war at both places!! There were ants on my toothbrush, inside my toothbrush holder, so now I am keeping it in a zip-lock bag. I had ants among the cereal and milk powder that I left at the Alotau Centre for eating when I am there on the weekends. Ants are always hard to keep on top of everywhere. When I'm in Ukarumpa, I have the occasional ant crawling in and out of my computer, which is a bit of a worry!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

At the village

Presuming that all goes to plan, I will be at a Taupota village while you read this! There is a lady from Global Recordings Network, who has been at Hagita recording some portions of Scripture, and she is visiting the Taupota language group this weekend to record some songs that the people have written in their language.

The Taupota people that I am working with invited me to visit their village too. There is some sort of church celebration happening tomorrow and they wanted to share it with people.

I realise that I have had to give up the comforts of a warm shower, a washing machine and internet access to visit this village (I have counted the cost!), but I'm sure that it will all be worth it because I love being with people in the villages.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Translation workshop

There are about 11 language groups that have come to the facilities at Hagita to participate in this translation workshop. Each language sends three people to the workshop – two of them to do translation work, and one to do literacy work. Each language has a mentor who advises and assists them.

I am working with the Taupota language. They live on the coast and can access Alotau by road. Most of the other language groups came to the workshop by boat.

During this 'module' the groups are translating Exodus 15-17, making adjustments to an information booklet about HIV-AIDS that they translated previously, and writing a fairly literal translation back into English of their Genesis translation.

Friday, October 9, 2009

My current situation

During the week, for the translation workshop, I am at some facilities a bit out of Alotau, at a place called Hagita, and I go to our Centre in Alotau on the weekends. At Hagita we have cold water for the showers. so I am enjoying being at Alotau where we have nice hot showers.

I have access to broadband internet on the weekends when I'm in Alotau, so that has been good, however, next weekend I am going to visit a village, so I'll be out of internet contact for two weeks. I have set up some blog posts to go up automatically to keep you entertained until I get back to the internet. I'm sure I'll have some interesting story to tell you about my village visit, but you'll have to wait two weeks to hear it.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Mashed or solid food?

Well I'm at Alotau now, helping a language group at a translation workshop and over the past couple of days we have been working on translating an information booklet about HIV/AIDS. My group came across something that could possibly be misunderstood if translated poorly. It was talking about taking babies off breast milk and starting them on solid food. 'Solid' was the word in question. One of the translators pointed out that we should really say 'mashed' food because people would think it meant that they should give babies something truly solid, like peanuts! Imagine the trouble we would be in if a translation that we endorsed resulted in a baby choking because they had been fed solid food and not mashed food. So you can see that it's really important to translate well and literal word for word replacements don't usually work well.

And here are some photos that are completely unrelated to this blog post, except that they were taken in Alotau:

Friday, September 25, 2009


I haven't written much on my blog over the past few weeks, because I have been on holidays. Well, my holiday is nearly over and in a few days I will be leaving. I have had a good time here and I feel like I just slotted back into life here really easily as though I had never left.

I have enjoyed eating some foods that I can't get or are too expensive in PNG, such as crisps, fancy cheese, salami, and my Scottish delicacies – square sausage, haggis and Irn Bru (a soft drink).

I enjoyed a few days away at Kyneton near the start of my holiday and the rest of the time I have been spending around our local area. I have been to Box Hill for lunch, shopping at Brand Smart and Savers, been out for a birthday dinner with friends, spent time with friends and family, visited a gerbera and alpaca farm in Healesville, visited Marysville (very few remains of burnt houses, just empty blocks) and went to the movies.

I am looking forward to watching the Grand Final live tomorrow – much better than getting quarter by quarter scores via SMS in PNG. It is also my birthday tomorrow, so my team (Geelong) winning the Grand Final would be a good birthday present!

I leave Melbourne on Sunday evening, stay a night in Brisbane, then fly to Port Moresby, stay one night there, then fly to Alotau, where I will be for approximately five weeks to help with a translation workshop. My email connection there will be dial up and I think that most of the time I will only be able to access it on weekends, and I will probably have to blog via email again rather than on the internet. If it all works, I'll tell you more about what I'm doing in Alotau in future blogs.

On our way back from Kyneton, we drove through the Kinglake area that was affected by the February bushfires. The regrowth on the trees was amazing, it looked like a creeping vine on the trees, but it wasn't, it was just new growth coming out of the trunk and branches. Here are some photos that I took:

(Well, Dad took the above photo, not me!)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

PNG braided hair

When I was at Buka, one of the cooks braided my hairs in corn rows. It took about 2 hours and she did a really good job of it, pulling it in quite tight. I kept it in till I came to Australia and I took it out the morning after I arrived since after 2½ weeks it was getting a bit loose and messy. Anyway, here are two pictures of my hair after it was just braided.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Cold toilets!!

I am back in Melbourne now and the big shock was how cold the toilet seats are! Wow!! They are so cold! I haven't felt that in over a year and it was a surprise to me how cold they are.

Anyway, yesterday I went to the Geelong vs Western Bulldogs final in the AFL yesterday with Dad and was happy to see Geelong win. This afternoon I am going away on holiday with my Mum and Dad to Kyneton (in Victoria) for a few days. I'll be back at the end of the week.

Here's a picture of me and Dad at the football:

Monday, August 31, 2009

Hakö visit

I visited the Hakö area on the weekend, staying there on Saturday and Sunday nights. It was nice, the people were very friendly and the language was definitely strong and being used a lot. Two very cute kids are pictured in a couple of the photos above.

I stayed in a modern style house which was wired for electricity but not connected. You can see it in one of the photos above. I was sharing it with the men who were working on the mobile phone tower. I had two local teenage girls sleeping in the room with me as security, and the rooms had doors with locks in the handles, so the girls locked the door when we went to sleep.

The toilet was really nice. It was the best village toilet I've been to in PNG so far and better than some public toilets in Australia. It was in a little hut that you would probably describe as a shack, not very flash looking, but inside there was a regular toilet seat with water in it. It didn't have a cistern for flushing, so we had to get a bucket of water and pour it down to flush it. It was very nice and didn't have a toilet smell to it at all.

On our first night we had mud crab for dinner, which was very nice. They gave us a crab each, you can see the size of them in one of the photos above. The one I ate was a little bit smaller than the one in the picture. I'm sure these would be very expensive to buy in Australia, so it was a real treat and although my mouth enjoyed the crab, it seems that my stomach didn't, as I had stomach pain during the night and the next day, and also diarrhoea. That was a shame. Next time I'll have to only eat a little bit of crab and not a whole big one.

The main mobile phone company is building a new tower in the village that we were staying in. It is nearly finished and will be active in a week or two. There's a picture of it in one of the photos above. These towers are popping up everywhere. There are also devices available which enable you to access the Internet using the mobile service, so if I end up working in a village with mobile reception, I will be able to access email and Internet in the village. I think that would be wonderful!

Well, there you go, that's my trip to the Hakö language area in a nutshell.