Friday, July 19, 2013


There is a lot of waiting going on here at the moment! Duncan has been patiently waiting to be allowed to fly jobs (still under supervision) and last week he got his wish. In one day he took off and landed 22 times as they delivered people and ballot boxes to different villages so that a local election could happen.

Organising an election here presents some unique logistical challenges!

Despite the bows and arrows, everyone's very friendly (but don't blow the roof off with the rotorwash!)

The landscapes are amazing, but the bare earth makes for perfect 'brown-out' (dust cloud on landing) conditions
At the end of the day, he walked through door very tired, but very happy too. On the homefront, we are coping with waiting for the arrival of baby Tough by beginning to prepare the nursery. The room is currently a rather yucky pink, so Duncan has begun a project to sand off the old paint and then re-paint the room in pale yellow (we don't know whether the baby is a girl or a boy..).

I promise he is smiling underneath the mask!

As you can see from the pictures below, our garden has been waiting too - it is winter here, but things are budding and flowering anyway.

I will be doing a great deal of waiting in airports and aeroplanes in the coming days and feel so excited when I think about forthcoming reunions with friends, family, cats and places. Then will come the wait to be together again before Duncan joins me in the U.K. Most of all we are waiting to meet our much longed for baby and continue to wait before God as He teaches us to trust him more and more in all of the different 'waits'.

Sunday, July 14, 2013


When my friend Kate told me that she would like to throw me a baby shower I wasn't sure. Anyone who remembers how I felt about hen days will be laughing right now, but that turned out to be a great day and so was this. God has always blessed me with friends who accept my eccentricities (such as not liking silly games...) and get on with loving me anyway. Kate is no exception and I am so grateful! The pictures speak for themselves really, so I will post them and let you decide what sort of afternoon we had...

I do have one word. It is JOY.
(The photographs were taken by lovely friend and fellow-Brit, Laura Warrington - thank you so much, Laura!)

Friday, July 5, 2013

How are you?

This week marked our last Tok Pisin lesson. It was only a six week course but the teachers have tried hard to give us some useful phrases for daily interaction. One thing it has made us think about is the questions we ask and the answers we expect...Back in Wales, we have been used to asking people, 'How are you?' when we see them, but depending on the context, not expecting much more than a 'Fine thanks, and you?' When you think about it shouting, 'How are you?' across a road to someone, without really even slowing your pace, is a bit pointless, but I suppose we are not really asking the question - it is just a way of saying hello. In Tok Pisin you can say, 'Yu stap orait?' and lots of people do, both expats and Papua New Guineans. I have been merrily saying it to people for weeks and feeling glad that there is something I can say that shows I am interested. After that it is harder...but here's the thing - our teacher told us that it isn't really a culturally appropriate question to ask straight out, but it has got into the way people communicate here because it is something that westerners say. When you  think about it, it is an incredibly personal question and you want the person asking it not to be thrown into confusion if you say, 'No, actually. Pretty awful.' It all depends on the relationship and relationship is all important here - you can't just launch in with a personal question - you have to build up to that and you have to be willing to take time, even if that is not in your day plan. So what do you say? 'Moning' or 'Apinun' or 'Gutnait' are safe options (although the latter still feels like a farewell to us) for greeting people you don't really know. But what about the people you know a little? Our teacher told us to say what we are doing and where we are going. So if I meet someone at market I could say, 'Morning, I am at the market buying food and then I am going back home.' My immediate reaction to that was to think that it is more polite not to start talking about yourself, and why say something so obvious? But she said it is much less threatening and allows them to just say, 'That's nice,' or tell you what they are doing and you may or may not go on from there. So why is it that there is something inside me that thinks it is potentially a bit nosy to ask someone where they are going, but is totally acceptable to ask them how they are? It doesn't make any sense. It probably doesn't need to, but it is different and I want to adapt so that I don't make blunders or look like I am just relying on those around to adapt to me and be gracious.
On Friday, my yard meri (the lady who keeps the garden looking gorgeous) arrived for her morning with us and immediately addressed me with, 'Yu stap orait?' I can't remember what I said, but I felt confused. I think I must have nodded and then we got into trying to discuss the garden. I did not ask her and to be honest, I am still not sure if that was the right thing to do or not. Even  though she wouldn't say that to her neighbour, did she say it to me because she thought that is what I would like and expect, so that when I didn't say it back she was offended anyway? Have we created our own little culture of communication that is more mine than hers, even though I am in her country? Ok. Perhaps I am overthinking this, but it is tricky isn't it? I will just have to keep trying (and making mistakes), as well as acknowledging the grace with which we are so often unknowingly treated by those we are supposed to have come here to serve.
When I return to Wales in a few weeks I wonder if I will think more carefully about the point in the conversation that I ask, 'How are you?' Perhaps if I want a real answer I must build up to it there too and not just blurt it out, so that it actually sounds like a real question that wants a real answer.