Thursday, 20 October 2011


In my recent newsletter I told a story about going for a 'short walk' while on work experience in PNG in 2002. On our short walk we crossed so many waterways that I took to walking bare foot, rather than put my shoes on and off all the time. I slid down muddy slopes, while a local woman walked down them carrying a toddler in the billum (string bag) hanging from her forehead onto her back, offering me a hand for my balance. Eventually we reached a waterfall, which I was told they had showed no white person before. Sitting on a rock to catch my breath in the mist of the waterfall, they offered to show me the cave behind the falls, where the skulls of their enemies were. I declined.

While sitting on a rock and enjoying the spray, kids were diving in the plungepool for something and came up with yabbies. Every other westerner they had met had been from the USA or Europe, and did not have a word in their tok ples (language) for a small freshwater crayfish. There was much delight to find that in my tok ples we had a word, so while I practised their word, solomolo, they practiced mine, ya-bi. A moment of connection, of sharing.

On the way home, we stopped in the shade of a garden house to eat our yabbies, as well as a pineapple that five minutes earlier had still been growing on the bush. Fresh and delightful.

Over six hours after we started our 'short walk' was over and we were home. We were tired, but we had seen new and beautiful things, learnt new words (including hebe, leech) and made new friends. Our 'short walk' was anything but, yet other things, like the pineapple, were so fresh.

Yesterday was a pineapple sort of day, where things talked about and hoped for suddenly came to fruition, bringing great joy.

I have received an official letter of invitation from SIL in PNG to come as a linguistics and translation worker. Initially this will be a two year term, starting late March next year. One of the first things I'll be involved with is a translation awareness workshop. Attending this workshop will be some of the people groups who I may end up working with long term. It is all rather exciting, and not much study has been done.

My other excitement is that I am managing to line up some sailing over summer. I sure have missed the sea this year!

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