PNG report #9

July 16

The bishop slipped up – no one was scheduled to take his place this morning at mass (he did a last minute trip to Tari yesterday in the hopes of getting across the bridge). For a mission that is crawling with priests of all sorts, you’d think we could’ve gotten one of them to step in at the last minute….

In with the batteries I brought along for my camera, there was a small wind-up giant panda doing ninja moves. I doubt very much if he has any clue as to what movie this references, but little Dominic was delighted with the thing when I gave it to him this morning. I was delighted with the used tie-handle bilum that Margaret, his grandmother, gave me this morning!

Miri and I walked into town to the post office this morning, having a very good discussion of church as we did. While in town, she was approached by a man knowing her name (score one for small towns!) and wanting her opinion of possible scams coming out of Britain. We both cautioned him, but I think it was too late for an initial investment.

Most of midday was spent organizing and packing up, getting everything into one piece of luggage and ready for our flight out tomorrow.

In the afternoon, we followed Ruth, Noreen and Roslyn (who all work for the nuns either in the kitchen or helping with the housing for the conference center) to their villages. They were delighted for us to see their homes and their relatives. Ruth’s family has some great property along the Mendi River. Noreen and Roslyn (they are related) had family land along the side of the mountain west of the mission. The vast majority of the homes were thatched huts with grass matting walls. We were not invited into any of the homes, but met with all the relatives outside in the common areas. Noreen’s mom was busy digging kaukau in the garden while tending the pig. Ruth’s mother presented Miri and I each with a still-warm cooked taro – delish! We got to hold babies and thrilled the youngsters with taking and then showing them their pictures. Digital cameras are the best! Maria, who came along with us, kept up a running commentary on the plants along the way, including the one whose seed pod produces a nice orange dye. She then proceeded to ‘paint’ every face within reach, mine included. The kids thought it was a hoot! (Kids love to get their faces painted the world over!) We had to reconnoiter that two-log bridge again –Roslyn was a trooper in getting me across both times.

While we were touring the villages, Maria had some of her second grade girls making some rope for me to use – for the most part they had better joins in their rope than I did!

After dinner the national nuns presented me with a mari blouse and skirt they had made just that day – it fit perfectly! They were so pleased to see me wear it. Our household was invited over for ‘drinks’ with the Swiss nuns (nurses) who live in the house behind our nuns. A wonderful tea (sort of like chai) with just a bit of alcohol in it plus some munchies and a nice evening of sharing stories.

Monica stayed up late with me finishing the start of a big tie-handle bilum and then explaining how to take it from there. It has some interestingly different things to do to get it to shape correctly. This is the style bilum used for carrying babies and large bundles of things. Hopefully I’ll be able to follow the instructions to get the right thing at the end!

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