12th Birthday Celebrations

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My middle guy, who by all standards, looks like he should be turning 14 not 12, had a birthday yesterday!

Games of FINSKA were played, the footy was kicked in his new Geelong guernsey and to top it all off…a pool party, plied high with pizza and ice-cream cakes filled with lollies. However, these did melt quite quickly and there wasn’t ANY chance of me adding candles to blow out…gotta love the tropics!

As it’s a public forum, I decided to keep the pictures with #2 and his mates in them, to the underwater images that they took!

The one thing I notice up here, as does my Man Bilong Me, is how much the children laugh! We were in fits of laughter as well, just listening to them having fun, especially the new guy from the highlands of PNG, Oliver, who is an absolute delight!

I think #2 had a blast…I know I did!

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Breathe

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Today I took Missy to the beach for a swim. The tide was out, due to the pull of the Moon, leaving the bare rocks and coral exposed to the elements.

I to, have felt the pull of the moon this week. The sensation of being drawn out, the ‘rocks’ of my soul exposed to the elements also. Feeling the limbo of uncertainty; the seeds of doubt; the steps of change rising in front of me; caught, with foot held high…waiting.

By chance, a tree had fallen on the edge of the water, creating a perfect seat to watch the dog chase fish through the shallows. The quietness of the waves hitting the ledge, calming, soothing, peaceful.

Remembering to breath, is so important. Not the day to day breath, which obviously is important! But the deep, pull to the bottom of your lungs, breath. As I sat there, with my gaze looking out to sea, I breathed…deeper and deeper. The sensation of getting fresh, sea air into the bottom of my lungs, where I had neglected to reach during the week with my day-to-day breath, lightened me. I felt the tendrils of doubt and uncertainty lift, escaping into the wildness of this island and being replaced with light.

Remembering these deep breaths, this mindfulness state, is essential to ones’ lightness of being and helps bring clarity and vision back into a positive state.

Remember to breathe.

Remember

To

Breathe.

M x

Little Wonders

All the little wonders up here astound me.

The half crescent moon that is peeking from behind the clouds. Not just any clouds, mind you, but great, tumultuous beasts that rise above the mountains playing with the thick and dense air that is hanging over our little island.

The fire flies that blink a path across the air. So fast that you think you are seeing things, the wonder that such little creatures behold upon small human creatures.

And the small human creatures up here, that are from here, have captured my heart; and there are many. The shy smiles and waves, the dance that is done, most times, upon seeing me, the running and jumping into my arms, with the widest of smiles; being called Auntie, that astounds me.

Auntie.

Music to my ears.

Lost at sea

One of things in living in another culture is understanding how things differ.

I have always noted here how death is celebrated with Haus Krais even when the victim is young or has died tragically. I suppose, when the life expectancy is 30 years less than ours in Australia, perhaps one can understand. However, with this celebration also comes the expectation that one can die suddenly and tragically, and it is different to our WASP existence (White-Anglo Saxon Protestant). These things just happen here….

So, Man Bilong Me (husband) coached the local LIPS (Lihir International Primary School) football team earlier in the year and got a local Marahun lad, Johhno to help him coach the Marahun boys, as they would have to compete against each other in the upcoming carnival.

Friday, Johnno and ten other people, with 40 cartons of SP beer, travelled back from Namatani and are currently lost at sea. Today is Wednesday. 13 people got on the boat but 3 people got off at Namatani, and I am praying, until I know different, that Johnno was one of those 3. Two bodies have been found down on islands near Bouganville and no others survivors have been spotted. This waste is so tragic and accidents, such as this, and worse happen regularly.

Obviously, things like this happen all over the world but today, my heart and prayers go out to all the people affected in this tragedy. Life IS precious…give an extra blessing tonight to all those you love x

Team Johnno

Changes…..

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Life offers many changes, as I can attest. Being here on this beautiful island, within this wild and beautiful country, surrounded by beautiful and peaceful (mostly) people, is not some place I would have imagined for myself and my family, five years ago.

Life changes.

I put an image of the reason why we are here on this island…the Lihir gold mine. As is the nature of the ‘mining’ beast, life in our little bubble here, can change quickly. People come and people go. The end of this year, beginning next week, we will say farewell to people we have enjoyed in our lives and people we have become friends with.

Life changes.

The image we have of ourselves and our circumstances is the key to our experiences and understanding of the universe, and of ourselves within it. Therefore, we can decide if it is something to be feared, enjoyed, embraced, an adventure or a daily grind.

The image I have of myself and my circumstances is positive and embracing…therefore the changes are positive and to be embraced, even with a tinge of sadness as people leave; but the blessings of their company remain and are treasured.

Life changes.

As do we.

….Been fishin’

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As someone keeps mentioning to me…why haven’t you posted anything for ages!!! Well, its time to begin (again) with the daily adventures here on Lihir.

Its funny, as I’m not working, one would think that I would have loads of time to spend blogging! But days are filled here, quickly, with activities and, much as I hate to admit it, coffee mornings!!!

I thought I would start (again) by posting a couple of images.

The group shot is of some chaps I spotted out the road, heading home after an Independence Day rehearsal. Independence Day is huge in PNG and I will post some of the images from the festivities at the school as that was one of the best nights I have had on the island!!! (And I’ve had a few!!!)
I don’t think there’s many places in the world where you can stop and ask a group of painted men holding flags and drums, if you could take their photo! There was even chaps running from further up the road just so they could be in it! I love the juxtaposition of the dark sky and thick jungle behind, with the laughter and proudness on the faces of the national boys. Its wild, its unique and its totally PNG!!!

Last night, as I thought I had better blog a recent event, we went to Kunaye Beach and snorkelled, surfed and paddled around the waves. It was truly delightful. As Archer has fractured his foot and has spent the last three weeks in a moon boot, this was his first opportunity to do some physical activity..and did he lap it up!
After leaving the still and translucent water, exhausted and sated, the sky looked as thus….simple spectacular!!!

Just like here…..

Olgeta

Olgeta is the PNG word for ‘all together’ and that is just what we have been doing back in chilly South Australia, catching up with family and friends. Sharing wine, breaking bread and bumping each other out of the best spots in front of the fire! Time was spent chatting, laughing, exploring and most importantly watching Max playing footy and Archer who also managed to scrape in three games in a week and a half for his beloved Mt Lofty!

On our return back to our wonderful new home we were embraced by the warm, steamy weather of Lihir, all embracing, all encompassing. Missy, our dog, greeted us with that familiar labrador smile and full body wag, which made us all smile. Our biggest surprise was the darling Janet and Jeddidiah, our Haus Meri and her son, coming over the night we arrived to welcome us home!!

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Mothers Day Soccer – PNG style

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Mothers Day saw us head out to a soccer field in the mountains for a game of soccer. Archer is playing in a local team in the U14 competition. It was his, his national mates and two  ‘white’ mates, first game.

After arriving at the game, where there was an adult game going, I was amazed at the amount of people there. There would have easily been 500 people hanging around in groups, with uniforms hanging on bamboo poles ready for the next game. (You can see some green uniforms hanging up in the above image).

There were many interesting looking outfits and our boys were the only ones we could see that didn’t have uniforms!  Even the umpire dressed spectacularly, as you can see by the below picture! When some boys were warming up I noticed that one chap was wearing a snazzy orange boot on the right foot and I assumed, that someone out in the crowd, who is probably a left footer, was wearing the other snazzy orange left foot boot!

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The boys, after a rousing warm up and talk from their coach, hit the field.  I was amazed at the amount of people that were watching the U14 game,  far more than the adult game!! You can see by some of the pictures that every part of the boundary line was being hugged by the national crowd.

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After speaking to our friends, Diana and Ubert, (below) from our waterhole adventures, I realised that this would have been the first time EVER that any white children have played in the local competition!  I don’t know why as it was great fun!  It was nice going somewhere new and seeing people that we had met elsewhere, making new connections and friends!

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The Sunday Soccer Sessions must be the big event of the week as there was music and talking coming from the ‘commentators’ on a ready built grandstand and there was even a carnival game, which I obviously had to play.  Quoits!  You had to throw a very lightweight quoit onto a table where they had stuck down chips, bags of sugar, SP Beer cans, Fanta, Chicken Snax and the like.  I spent 1 kina and 50 toya and had two sets of throws!  My first attempts were terrible.  The wind took my quoits and I couldn’t quite make the table (weak meri!!).  I then strategically watched the other competitors and had another go.  By this time, there was quite a large crowd gathering – maybe due to the white meri trying to win a can of beer!  My second attempt was a lot better, with one of the quoits bouncing and landing on a chicken snax pack of biscuits.  With an all mighty cheer from the crowd followed by an impromptu dance by my good self and more laughter, I walked off victoriously with my chicken snak.

What a way to end the day!!

 

 

Masahet Island

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The family traipsed off to Masahet Island with the Community relations team from the local Mining company for a dissemination. Man bilong me (husband) was discussing the importance of Education, with the focus on the importance of educating girls and teaching English in the early years at school. Other people talked about the measles epidemic that is hitting PNG at the moment, hygiene, Gender Based Violence, which is a massive issue here, and the health issues of smoking cigarettes or bruss (local tobacco) for yourself and secondary smoking in front of children.

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We travelled to Masahet by banana boat, which is a 30 minute ride from Lihir Island.  We then had to transfer to a smaller boat to enter the little bay, as above.  If there was more swell we would have had to dock on the other side of the island and walk an hour around, with boxes and boxes of food, to the village.  The walk into the main ‘area’ of the village was very amusing as I had about 20 pikininis following every action I did and copying everything I said.  Obviously, I had to march, tap my head and say “G’day Mate!” as much as I could, because it caused fits of laughter from us all!

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Obviously, there were way too many beautiful children to photograph!  But little Rose, below was my favourite!  She still had silver glitter on her face from church that morning and was wearing the sweetest lik lil keri dress, that was two sizes too big!  She kept getting closer and closer to me until she was perched up quite close!  She is a little Angel!

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Her bigger sister spoke very good English and was in Grade 4.  The children do not start school until they are ready, or if there is a place.  They go to High School on Lihir Island, at the State High School, if there is a spot, where they board for the week or term, returning home when their parents can afford to send them.  If there isn’t a spot at the High School, families can pay (quite a lot) of kina for children to attend the Resource Centre, where I teach as a volunteer.  I teach two CVS subjects (like Year 11 & 12) which can be a feeder into University, marks permitting.  The two adults I teach speak English as their third language so there is a lot of explaining that happens in class!

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After a quick lunch we had a look around the island, being guided by one of the local Youth Red Cross boys, who seas simply lovely.  There were pigs and dogs, chickens and cats and all the houses were neat and tidy, with sand swept and beaches clean.  Absolute paradise!!!
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IMG_3180So many amazing moments, so many amazing things to hear, to see, to smell and to taste!  The most amazing thing though, is the people, the laughter and the love that is shared here.

So blessed!

 

Fun and Frivolity with the ‘whole’ family!

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Sunday saw us visit a local waterhole. If I though Saturday was amazing – these few hours we spent were mind blowing. I’m sorry but the picture does not do justice to the absolute serenity and peace of this place. We were lucky enough to meet Diana, husband Ubert, sons Bal and Tunga plus a multitude of other national children over the day. They took us down river to show us the waterfall which as Archer said, “was very scary!” Travelling up and down river, on foot, over rocks, through deep parts and shallow beds was amazing and I’m sure not many pale folk like us had ever trod that path before!

The main waterhole, as per the picture, was deep, clear and cool. The cliffs rise 30-40 feet upwards, with flat rocks and jungle encroaching down. However, due to the rocks and growth we were able to get to the top and jump 30ft into the clear waters of the waterhole. I obviously got many laughs on my way down (both times) as I screamed until my feet hit the water! The local kids, all of age 6 and upwards, are complete thrill seekers, jumping higher and further than us! Everyone, besides Leo, who was content to chat and swim VERY close to the edge, jumped and adventured around the waterhole and beyond. We will definitely be visiting our waterhole friends again as we laughed and smiled all day together. Very blessed to be able to experience this life with my family.

Monday saw our big boy leave again for boarding school. Tears through smiles as it was so very nice to spend time with him and see how his life is changing and shaping him also. I’m glad he had a taste of Lihir living so that he can see in his head now, where we are xxx Love you long time Maxie xxx