It’s been over a month since my last update. School has started up again and has been in session for about a month already. The first three weeks saw me teaching world geography to two high school classes. That was a fun challenge. I learned even more about Europe, the place of my heritage! Hugo has passed on the hat of Maintenance Operations Manager to the guy who will be replacing him. He is now working hard on getting things inputted so they can implement the new maintenance tracking software they’ve procured. He’s also working on some training in the avionics department.
It is now basketball season and the oldest four are all on teams. Marc is very excited to be able to have the same experience that his older siblings have had for a few years already, playing games on Friday afternoons while parents and students cheer on. This past week Mikah and Christiaan had away games in another city. They played in the waning light of the day, on a bumpy outdoor court with white rims, . In fact, when the girls played second, they turned on the flood lights. The referee was a lackadaisical fellow in jeans and a t-shirt who needed to borrow a whistle from Christiaan’s coach, and barely moved six feet up and down the side lines during the game. In spite of the interesting refereeing, both our teams were victorious.
Early on in January a girl from our church had her birthday. Her mother decided to throw her a party. Birthday parties here are a different affair than they are in Canada. All the Sunday School aged kids in the church gathered at the front of their small home along with the neighbourhood children. They had set up as many plastic chairs as the mom could borrow from neighbours. She had been cooking all day long. The Sunday School teachers led the “service” with prayer, a little speech on obeying your parents, and some singing. Then the birthday girl was encouraged to speak a few words to her mother. After much prompting she quietly stammered out a few words of thanks to her mom for all she had done for her. Then she cut the cake (after we all sang the cutting the cake song) and fed her mother a bite. Then the children all received a goodie bag and could eat bakso that the mom had made. Bakso is a kind of meat substitute (I think-made from tapioca and bone marrow?). They make it into balls and you can eat it in a soup or with ketjap manis (sweet soya sauce). The adults were invited inside the tiny home to eat plates of rice with a beef soup; it was rather tasty. My heart goes out to this mother and daughter as they eke out a life for themselves in a place where widows have the toughest lot of all.
Turns out Brynne needed her eyes checked as she was having trouble seeing the board in school. One wet Monday morning we ventured out on my motorcycle to the hospital in the next town over. I had tried calling the hospital to see if the eye doctor would be in or not but no one answered the phone so we took a chance. We arrived at 7:45 and after wandering around a bit, a sympathetic soul told us what to do. We needed to push a button for the eye clinic on a computer in the registration area and it spit out a ticket with B24 on it. Yikes, there were 23 people ahead of us. 1.5 hours later we were able to register and pay. Then we went to the eye clinic and showed them our receipt and proceeded to wait another 1.5 hours. Those of us waiting were a mixed bunch of people. A man with his young daughter, a poor Papuan woman who had an eye disease in one eye, older folks wearing dark glasses, a mom with two young children who she struggled to keep entertained, a well-dressed young woman, an elderly couple with their unbelievably cute granddaughter in tow, and Brynne and I, the only westerners in the building. Finally a nurse called us and they did a check of Brynne’s eyes with the machine with the picture in it (not sure what you call it) after which we waited another 15 minutes and then a different nurse in a different room did the eye chart test which Brynne struggled with. We then went back to the waiting room. Brynne had brought her lunch so she had something to eat. I did not. After waiting for another 2 hours and watching patient after patient file in and out of the doctors office, we were finally called. The result, Brynne needs glasses. The next day we went to the local optician and within and hour she had herself a spiffy new set of Disney frames. At least that part went quickly….
One of the girls working in the MAF hangar moved to our base in Wamena and we had a little good-bye party for her. She’s a lovely young Papuan girl and we will miss her here in Sentani but we are excited for the learning opportunities for her in Wamena.