Saturday, January 31, 2009

Two special days

The 25th of January was ‘Burns Day’ and 26th of January was ‘Australia Day’.

At Ukarumpa, the Australians got together and celebrated Australia Day a day early, on the 25th. We had a BBQ and hung out together. There was a game of cricket happening too, but I just sat and talked with people. On the actual Australia Day, the 26th, my Christmas parcel from my family arrived finally! So Australia Day became Christmas Day for me again. I was glad that my parcel came safely in the end.

Burns Day is a Scottish thing, remembering the poet Robert Burns. I decided to have two people over for a ‘Burns supper’, which is usually a meal with haggis and mashed potatoes and Burns poetry recital. The two people I invited aren’t Scottish, but they have lived and studied in Scotland.

I made a haggis x meatloaf, mashed potato and sweet potato and cooked some peas. I read out the poem ‘Address to a haggis’ when I served the haggis, and later I recited the first stanza of ‘To a mouse’. You can find the words to these if you do an internet search.

Here’s our Burns Supper:

Saturday, January 17, 2009

My malaria story continues

Well, I thought that was the end of the malaria when I typed that last blog post (if you haven’t read it yet, read it before this one) and that I was going to be fine after that. I was wrong! At about 6pm on Thursday I had a fever, I felt freezing, even after I ate my soup for dinner and I was wearing a jacket. I contacted a family who are from one of my sending churches, and they took me over to their house to look after me.

My chills went away and then I had a hot fever. At one stage my temperature was 39.5. This fever was worse than any of the previous ones and I was even taking short, rapid breaths. It was pretty awful. We had The Sound of Music on as per my request, but I was really suffering quite a bit with this fever. Eventually it eased off and I went to bed and slept well.

On Friday I felt better, but really weak. I watched a movie in the morning, then I crashed on my bed for a little while, but I didn’t sleep and I felt nauseous when I was lying down. I spent most of the day resting as I felt weak and not up to much. However at night we were having a party at the Guest House, so I had to go there to open it up. I stayed there for a little while, but I just felt too weak and tired, ready for bed, so I rang the family to come and pick me up, and I gave someone a key to lock up. I stayed with them again just in case I had another cycle of fevers, but fortunately I didn’t get a fever, so it seems that the tablets are starting to work and the malaria cycle has broken. Anyway, I went to bed and I got a migraine, but it wasn’t too bad, I didn’t end up vomiting with it. When I got to sleep, I slept well.

Now today, Saturday, I am still feeling very weak and tired and sometimes emotional too. I am not really up to walking around anywhere or doing much. I am just feeling really weak physically. I am okay when I am sitting or lying down though. I’m planning on taking my laptop to my room soon and watching The Sound of Music again. At least this time I’ll be able to enjoy it a bit more!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

My malaria story

Today I was diagnosed with malaria, the vivax type. I have not been feeling well since Sunday. I am feeling well just now though.

Here is my day by day malaria story starting from Sunday. This is a long story. I try to keep my blog posts short because I know that people are busy, so I am sorry that this is so long. I hope it’s interesting!

Sunday – I felt a bit achy and took an ibuprofen tablet and felt fine after that.

Monday – I felt a bit achy when I got up and tried to be brave and put up with it. At lunchtime I was fed up with it and took another ibuprofen tablet and felt better. At dinner time I felt achy again, so I took another ibuprofen, but it didn’t seem to help this time. I also took a Panadol later.

Overnight Monday to Tuesday
I went to bed early, about 9.30pm and fell asleep pretty quicky only to wake up at 1am, feeling achy and feverish. I think I was half awake between 1am and 3am, as I felt that I couldn’t get back to sleep and I was having strange thoughts/dreams, but I wasn’t sleeping. I know, that doesn’t make sense to me either! Well at 3am I was fed up with not being able to sleep so I got up and took a Phenergan tablet to help me sleep and went back to bed. After 20 minutes I still couldn’t sleep and my tummy felt acidic, so I thought it would be good to eat something. I put some toast on and while I was waiting for it to cook, I had some dry retching. I ate my toast and took a Panadiene Forte to help me sleep and I fell asleep soon after.

Tuesday – Well I slept until almost 2 o’clock!! I didn’t feel too good, but I went out and about doing some chores anyway. I started to feel better by about 4pm and felt well for the rest of the evening. I went to bed at about midnight and wondered how I would sleep considering I had such a long sleep the night before and only been up for 10 hours!

Wednesday – I managed to fall asleep fine and I slept right through to 10am, so my body must have really been needing a rest! I still felt well in the morning and I even said to someone, “I’ve been sick this week, but I am getting over it now.” Maybe I spoke too soon. At lunchtime my fever came back and I was achy again. I had a constant fever from lunchtime till about 8pm. The highest temperature I had was 38.7 on Wednesday night. At other times my temperature had been 38 and 38.5. I was feeling a bit better by bedtime, but not too great still.

Thursday – This morning I woke up feeling good, just a bit weak. I had an appointment with the doctor at 9:45am (for something else) and I told him about how I had been feeling. He decided to take a blood sample to check for malaria. They just pricked my finger in the same way as diabetics test their insulin levels. The doctor said he’d call me with the results in about an hour.

The phone rang and the doctor said “You’ve got malaria”. I responded with “Oh, do I? I feel fine.” He said, “I’m going to bring you some tablets so that you will keep feeling fine.”

He came with the tablets in a little while. I have to take Artesunate for a week and then Doxycycline for a week. He said that I should take a preventative after that as it can recur, so I will go and see him again in a couple of weeks to talk about my options.

My symptoms were very much flu like, and the symptoms of malaria are often similar to the flu. Malaria goes in cycles and you can feel better in between cycles, so that explains the occasions when I felt better.

We don't know if I contracted the malaria from my time in Madang and it was just suppressed until now (because I took tablets for 4 weeks after leaving Madang) or whether I contracted it here in Ukarumpa.

I am feeling well now and will continue to feel better now that I am taking treatment. I have to say that it wasn’t too bad an experience. Of course it’s not pleasant having a fever and aches, but I have felt worse with other things.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Jesus film

/-/ Village Flashback /-/ During our last week in the village, we showed the Jesus film to the community. All the POC students showed it in their villages and we were one of the last groups to receive the equipment.

People were invited from nearby villages to come to our viewing of the Jesus film. Our community leaders decided that we should have a programme for the night, starting with a worship service before the film.

Our night began with prayer and then Sara and I and the young people from our village sang some worship items which we had been practicing earlier. An elder said a prayer in the local language, which was really encouraging, as in church we only heard Tok Pisin.

They had also asked Sara and I to share a message. This was the most challenging thing, as we had to do it in Tok Pisin too!! We both prepared a message each and we wrote them out. I didn’t feel confident enough in Tok Pisin to adlib from basic notes. I thought about the Jesus film and how the people would be shocked and saddened to see Jesus die, so the point of my message was that although we are sad that Jesus died, we can be happy because he rose again and he gives us forgiveness of sins.

As we were hosting all the guests, it was culturally appropriate (or as they say, social “law”) to give the people some betelnut and green drinking coconuts. Our village collected and prepared them and Sara and I handed them out to everyone before the film started.

After all this programme we started the film. Everyone sat and watched it attentively. We probably had about 300 people come to watch it, so it was a good turnout. Many people were able to see and hear the Gospel story for themselves. Who knows what the fruit of that will be?

Some photos:
Standing around watching the others set up:

They were so clever putting the poles in the ground and working out a way to attach the screen, which was a white bed sheet.

Photo opportunity with ready made backdrop!

Me giving my message, no microphone, so I had to speak loud. The old man sitting near me is the man who said the prayer in the local language.

Waiting for the film to start:
Watching the introduction to the film. People were able to sit on either side of the screen and watch the film, which was good.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Oh, Mogom!

/-/ Village Flashback /-/ After we had been in the village for a week, the people decided to give me a local name – they called me ‘Mogom’. I was named after an ancestor who they said was tall and skinny like me. The name ‘Mogom’ doesn’t have any particular meaning other than that, it is not a word in their language, it is just a name.

I thought they might just call me Mogom for a few days until the novelty wore off, but I guess it’s not really a novelty to them, as they all have local names as well as ‘Christian’ names. (They are given their Christian names when they are baptised in the Lutheran Church).

More and more often they called me Mogom. Somehow I seemed to elicit a laugh and a happy sigh of ‘Oh, Mogom!’ rather frequently, even for no apparent reason! But it was said in a positive affectionate way and I liked it.

My new name became so commonly used that one day when Sara was talking with our ‘wasmama’, our wasmama couldn’t even think of my English name, Julie!!

One time when I met a new person, they asked me in the local language ‘Awa nanar unim?’ (What is your name?) and I replied ‘Inyar unim Mogom.’ (My name is Mogom). Normally I said ‘Julie’, but because they asked in the local language, I replied with my local name.

It was really special when in the last week our village sisters told me their local names. They don’t generally tell outsiders their local names until they have a relationship, so I knew that I had developed good relationships with them, and I felt accepted and happy about that.

Now that I am not in the village anymore, I don’t have anyone calling me Mogom everyday. When I come back to Australia, you are allowed to call me that as much as you like. I’d like it to catch on.