Monday, 29 December 2008


I identify with the people in Luke’s gospel. They have flocked to Jesus from all over Galilee and Judea, to hear and to be healed. They have travelled with him to Jerusalem and he has been teaching them in the temple. They come early, listening, hanging on his words. His enemies cannot touch him for fear of them… until Judas provides a time and a place away from them and He is arrested. What will the people do? They, who hung on his every word? They cry out, ‘AWAY WITH HIM!’ They shout, ‘CRUCIFY HIM!’

One day they marvel, the next they mock. Sunday morning worship becomes Monday morning weariness. Can you see yourself in the crowd? What can we learn from them?

Read the rest here

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

another test

For those who receive this by email....

if you click here, do you go to the online commenting page?

shortened advent: three days to go

Luke 1:26-38

In this reading we heard about the angel Gabriel visiting Mary. He tells her that she will bear a child who will be the Son of the Most High, who will be Christ the Lord, who will sit on the throne of his Father David. We remembered the words of Isaiah. This is the one they have been waiting for!

Monday, 22 December 2008

this is a test

If you click here, do you go to the commenting page for this post?

In Jerusalem: and he was numbered with the transgressors (Luke 20:1-24:53)

Last week, we read about Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem. We heard Jesus speak clearly about who would enter the Kingdom of God. It will not be the righteous, not the Pharisees or the teachers of the law, not the ‘blessed’ rich. But it will be the sinner, the outcast, the lame, the oppressed, the lost. For,
‘He who exalts himself, will be humbled and he who humbles himself will be exalted.’ (14:11; 18:14).
It is the sinner who throws himself upon the mercy of God, not the ‘righteous’ who thinks he does not need a saviour; this one shall be welcomed by the Son of Man.

Now we turn to the final chapters of Luke’s gospel where a heavy, dramatic atmosphere prevails. There is a showdown in the temple, talk of the destruction of Jerusalem; anguished prayer. They are exhausted from sorrow. Darkness. He is betrayed. There are swords and clubs. They weep bitterly, and mock and beat and shout and mourn and wail. Darkness. And he breathes his last and there is beating of breasts. There are perfumes, spices and… rest, and then, finally, joy.

The narrative speeds up but time slows down....

Read the rest here.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

shortened advent: four days to go

Luke 1:5-25

Tonight we read about the visit of the angel, Gabriel, to Zechariah.

We heard that Zechariah's wife, Elizabeth, will bear a child in her old age. We heard that he will be the one to turn the hearts of the Fathers to their children, the one who will prepare a people for the LORD, the one fulfilling the prophecy we read about in Malachi.

Tonight, at my mother's request, we sang a carol as well. There's something about carols that really makes it feel like Christmas!

eleven years

We celebrated our wedding anniversary yesterday.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

shortened advent: five days to go

Today there were no decorations for the tree. There was no reading. This was to symbolise the time of waiting between the old and new testaments. The people had the promises of God and they are waiting in faith for him to fulfill his promises. They are waiting for the Messiah.

Friday, 19 December 2008

shortened advent: six days to go

Our shortened advent began today.

Today we remember the words of the prophets. We heard from Abraham (not technically a prophet), Isaiah, Daniel and Malachi. We heard about the promised one; the King, the servant, the one like the son of Man. We heard of the one who prepare the people for his coming and we heard of the blessing that will come not just to Israel, but to all nations.

You can our prophets in the picture holding their messages, which we read to each other and then the children hung the decorations on our tree.

These are the passages they were holding:
Abraham: Genesis 12:1-3
Isaiah: Isaiah 9:2, 6-7; 11:1-4; 49:6; 53:4-5, 10-12; 61:1-2
Daniel: Daniel 7:13-14
Malachi: Malachi 3:1; 4:5-6

It would have been much better to have spaced these out over four days (one prophet for each day), and maybe not read so many from Isaiah. Next year...

Thursday, 18 December 2008

A shortened advent

As suggested here, I have been thinking about how we might celebrate christmas this year in a manner that is Christ focused. This year more than any other it will be important for us as Sophie has been overwhelmed with Santa Claus at school these last three weeks. To my shame, it has taken until now for me to work out what we will do.

We will be reading through Luke's narrative, with a little of Matthew (I couldn't bear to leave out the Magi). We begin tomorrow, the 19th, and end on the 27th. Each day we will have a reading from the Bible and decorations based on the readings and inspired by these.

Heavenly Treasure (Luke 12:22-32)

I wonder what the Rich Fool would have stored up in the barn had he been a woman? Or, what is it that you are working hard to acquire now so that your life will be easy later, your future secure? A larger house? A new washing machine? A second car? A better education? I would really like a few more solar panels. Then life would be easy…
Read the rest here.

Angel Christmas Cards

Sophie made some Christmas Cards to give out to the children her class at school. They are simple to make, but time consuming. We sat down together and all helped with the cutting out, but she did all the putting together and all the writing.

We cut out angel wings from a sheet of A4 vellum paper. We scanned a simple drawing and made a template of 12 on an A4 sheet.  We printed onto the vellum, which was a mistake with an ink-jet printer, as the ink ran. But after they were cut out it was barely noticeable. I would recommended printing the templates onto paper and tracing them onto the vellum. Or if you have a laser printer, you can print straight onto the vellum.

Then we folded up the wings, as you can see in the first picture, and put a small piece of double-sided sticky tape on the 'wrong' side in the middle, between the wings, and stuck them onto the card. We bought 6-pack sets of plain cards with envelopes.

We used gold cardboard for the angel's body. We bought A4 sheets and printed the template (again, we made a template of 12 from scanning a simple diagram) onto the reverse side. We cut out the angels and put two pieces of double-sided foam mounting tape on the reverse side, one behind the 'neck' and one on the 'dress hem'.

Then we placed the angel on top of the wings, as shown. We also put a 'merry christmas' sticker underneath the angel.

For the inside, we printed, cut out and glued the message the angel proclaimed about the saviour (Luke 2:11).

To make 24 cards, we purchased (from a shop that supplies stuff for scrap-booking; I'm sure it'd be much cheaper somewhere else!):
  • 2 sheets A4 gold cardboard
  • 2 A4 vellum sheets
  • 1 sheet gold "merry christmas stikers
  • 4 packs of 6 plain cards with envelopes
We also used:
  • double-sided foam mounting tape
  • double-sided sticky tape
  • paper for the message on the inside
  • scissors and glue


Matthew's vocabulary is growing. Here's a sample:
His name for all women: Mum.

His name for all men: Daddy.

His word for a fan:

His word for a phone: hello.

His word for a hair-elastic: ow.

He's an observant little chap.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008


Each time we come back to Australia for Christmas, Mum and Dad seem to pull out another toy that once belonged to my siblings and me. This year it was our lego. Hours and hours of fun then, and it has been hours and hours of fun now. Even Matthew joins in. After a good play this afternoon, this was Matthew's collection of bits he had found (he didn't make any, they were like that already). Notice anything?

Matthew 'wheels' Connor strikes again.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Bethany's song

Bethany sang this impromptu song today, in the car.

You are the powerful God. (x3)
I believe in you. (x3)
You died on the cross
to save my sins. (x3)
You made me.
You made everything. (x6)
You are the powerful God.
I believe in you.

the thoughts of the heart

As I was reading through Luke recently I was struck by the number of references to the heart.

For us, the heart is the place of emotions and feelings, particularly the place of love. We are "led by the heart" if we make decisions based on our emotions over and against what our minds and thoughts are telling us. We "wear our heart on our sleeve" if we let everyone know who we love, "guard our hearts" when being careful about whom we love and our "hearts break" when that love is not returned.

This is not the way Luke speaks of the heart. Yes, the heart loves, for we are to 'love the Lord your God with all your heart' (10:27). But this is not the full story. You see, the verse actually says to love God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind. Love is something that belongs to our whole being, not just our heart. Our minds love as much as our hearts do.

As I read over the places where the heart was mentioned, I found that it was the place of thought (1:51, 66; 2:19, 35; 3:15; 9:47; 21:14; 24:38). Now, this is so different to the way we think about the heart that the greek word for heart, kardia, is sometimes translated "mind" (NIV 1:51, 66; 21:14; 24:38; ESV 12:45; 21:14). Conceptually it just doesn't make sense to us for the heart to 'think'.

The heart is also the place for storing what has been heard, or for memories (1:65-66; 2:51; 8:15). It is the place of belief (24:25), perhaps the inner self which only God sees (16:15), the place where decisions are made (21:14) and we talk to ourselves (12:45).

I found all this very interesting because it is not the way I usually think about the heart. It is different to our modern romantic notion of the heart. Perhaps it is just a conceptual difference in the languages... perhaps, but without doing an huge study on both languages and looking at the range of meanings associated with different words for mind and heart and soul I could not answer that question. And there are things we can learn without such a study...

1. Our hearts are not in conflict with our minds. They are not opposing authorities within us. We often think of our hearts as free and liberating but our minds as somehow chained and burdened to a priggish old school-ma'am named 'right'. We fall in love with someone we ought not to and we say things like 'I know I shouldn't, but my heart just says yes'. Perhaps we ought to admit to sinful desires coming just as much from our minds as our hearts. Yes we might have conflicting desires, but they don't come from different places within us, one from the mind and the other from the heart.

2. Feeling, thinking and believing all take place in the heart. It's not as if we think rationally with our minds but believe the irrational with our hearts. This is not the way it works. That's a distinction that is not present in scripture and is not helpful. We believe because we can think.

3. We need to be careful when reading scripture that we don't important modern romantic notions of the 'heart' onto scripture.

4. The best way I can summarise what heart or 'kardia' means in Luke is this: It is our inmost being, our true selves. The place of thoughts and memories and decisions that others cannot witness. Only Jesus percieves and knows our inmost self. Only God truly knows our hearts.

Monday, 15 December 2008


Bethany had her Orientation Day for school today. Like Sophie, she'll be doing correspondence with the Sydney Distance Education Primary School.

We've been really impressed with the school this year and are confident that Bethany, while still quite young, will enjoy her learning experience. I'm really looking forward to the first six weeks of Kindy, which, if I recall correctly, were lots of fun.

Sophie will be in year one. They will be in the same class and will have two teachers who will be team-teaching. Children in the same family are often in the same class. This usually makes it much simpler for the parent-supervisor, only having to communicate with one teacher. It also means that for subjects like science, the social sciences, PE and the creative and performing arts, they will do much of their work together. The more I think about the year, the more I look forward to it and the more I am convinced that I am really going to have to be organised next year.

I think Bethany's ready, don't you...

And check out the SDEPS photo gallery to see if you can find the photo of Sophie!

To Jerusalem: He who humbles himself will be exalted (Luke 9:51-19:48)

Last week, as we read about what Jesus did in Galilee, I encouraged you to think about who Jesus is. We were reminded that Jesus is the Christ and the Son of God. He is the Servant promised in Isaiah, as his work also demonstrates. Significantly, Jesus never uses these terms to describe himself, instead referring to himself as the Son of Man. I wonder what else you discovered about Him? Remember, all this may be clear to us, but at the time, some were confused.

At the end of the last section we read that the time of Jesus’ departure is about to be fulfilled (
9:31), and so now he heads to Jerusalem (9:51). He knows that his work will find its fulfilment in Jerusalem and so he goes there; his arrival recorded at the end of chapter 19. While there is mention of his journey throughout this section, it is not primarily about the journey but about what Jesus taught on the way.

Read the rest here.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Some links

I thought I would draw your attention to this article.  I only mention it because I have found one-to-one ministry so encouraging; in Vanuatu as much as in Australia.  Give it a go!

And this is what I was getting at here.


I said here that I seem to have slotted right back into life in Australia without missing a beat. On further reflection, I think that statement needs modifying to:
I have become accustomed to what I can manage so that I no longer feel out of my depth.
Let me tell you what happened last night.

My sister was here for dinner. About ten-ish, I drove her home (she lives quite close). She lives on a road that runs parallel to the railway in the Blue Mountains. On the other side of the railway is the highway. I pulled into her driveway to let her out, apologised for not taking her right up the driveway because I immensely dislike reversing back down and waited for her to go inside. Then I waited for a break in the traffic before reversing back onto the road.

Now, those familiar with the Blue Mountains at about ten at night, will be very surprised at this, for there is rarely need to wait for traffic at that time of night. It turns out there had been an accident on the highway and all the highway traffic was being diverted along this road. Constant, fast traffic. It was dark and it was raining. And there was no way I was going to reverse out into that traffic. There were wheely bins on either side of the driveway so I couldn't reverse onto the council strip either.

My sister's property has a fence along the front with one gate for the driveway and another at the far side. I had a brainwave and decided to go up the driveway, around on the grass and out the other gate. I surveyed the front yard and decided it would be possible. However, as I turned off the driveway, I noticed in the beam of the headlights, a small Grevillea bush between too larger bushes. Just enough room to squeeze between the bottle brush and the Grevillea, I thought, and if worse comes to worse, I'll have to go over the Grevillea and buy them a new one.

The front wheels fit between the Grevillea and the larger bush fine. But as I swung around to go around and out the other gate, all of a sudden I was stuck. The car had swung around and over the Grevillea bush and become stuck upon it. What had appeared to be small, young bush in the head-lights was actually a small, very old bush with a hefty stump. The car, Mum and Dad's car, was stuck.

We (by now my sister had come outside to see what on earth was going on) couldn't reverse, we couldn't go forward, we couldn't pull out the bush and we couldn't find a saw.

The car was soon freed in the morning by my brother-in-law and Father. To my great relief we didn't have to involve the NRMA and there was only slight scratching on the underside of the car.

If only I wasn't quite so intimated by traffic...

Friday, 12 December 2008

A meme: what have you learnt?

A while ago, Erin tagged me to do this meme: what are six things you have learnt this year? I thought now might be a good time to sit down and think about this.

Here goes.

1. I really need a nap in the afternoons.

2. It's difficult being Mum and Teacher. It's difficult relationally; Sophie can't treat me differently or respond differently or suddenly be more obedient just because she has school work in front of her. It's difficult because it's tiring. It's difficult because it's isolating.

3. Christians are sinners. I had this epiphany earlier in the year in relation to my husband. Furthermore, it has become clear this year that while we live in a "christian community" it is still full of sinners, myself included.

4. I learnt (and am still learning) to rejoice that my name is written in heaven and not in the things that I do, no matter how good or how successful they are (or aren't). See Luke 10:20.

5. Blogging is great in moderation. It's been a great way to keep in touch with people and it's also a great way to waste time.

6. God is faithful and His word is refreshing.

I tag Nicole and Jean and Cathy, because I'd really like to read about what they think are the six most important things they have learnt this year.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

A story of love...

I love the story of the incident at Simon’s house.

I love the raw emotion of it, the way it shakes me from my academic and theoretical analysis and makes it personal, the way it forces me to ask myself, ‘do I love him?’

I love the way it reveals my sinful, self-righteous heart. I see the woman, her hair uncovered, kissing his feet and I respond as Simon does. I am embarrassed, squirming in my seat. I don’t know where to look! Like Simon, I have become a judge with evil thoughts, judging not just the woman but also the one who will not send her away...

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

when sinners say I do

If you've read this post, you will be aware that I don't read theological books very well.  I am only marginally better at reading pastoral books and earlier this year I read only the first few chapters of When Sinners Say I Do by Dave Harvey.

Can I say that what I read there was incredibly liberating? If I never read the rest of the book, it was worth whatever we paid for it.

What was so liberating? This was: I married a sinner. Yes, believe it or not, Glen is a sinner. Can you believe it? Or can you believe I never worked that out before?

I knew it theoretically but the practical implications had never dawned on me.

This has totally revolutionised tension and conflict for me. When he says something that hurts, or he is being, well, a little wee bit selfish, I think to myself, 'yep, he's a sinner', smile to myself, pray for him, remind myself that I'm a sinner too and ask God to help us work things out. Before, I just used to feel confused and angry.

I really think I should read the rest of that book.

Friends from Talua

Our friends from Talua are having a more restful time this week after an intense week at SPRTE and on mission with Springwood Anglican Church.

But it hasn't been all play!  They've had a chance to meet and chat with Ray Galea from MBM, David and Cathi Cohen of Moringa Associates, and some returned missionaries who spent many years in Vanuatu. These have been helpful times and have given them (and us!) plenty to think and pray about.

We said farewell to two of our number this morning as they travelled out to Wee Waa for some time in the North West.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

lots of good

Sophie: There's one bad thing and lots of good things about me going to school.

Me: Oh? What's the bad thing?

Sophie: Bethany misses me.

Me: And the good things?

Sophie: Well, I like it. I have a good teacher. I can make lots of good friends, and I have. And I can learn things.

I'm not sure what this means about what she learnt the rest of the year, but it's comforting to know it isn't a harrowing experience for her.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Friends from Talua

As I mentioned here, Glen went to SPRTE with some students and graduates from Talua. The post-conference mission finished this morning. And now, our friends from Talua have two weeks ahead of them visiting churches and meeting various people around Sydney. We'll also do a little sight-seeing.

In Galilee: the year of the Lord’s Favour (Luke 3:1-9:50)

This is our second week reading Luke over at EQUIP Bookclub. Join in!

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Mermaid Sophie

We had fun this weekend preparing for and attending a birthday party. It was an under-the-sea party. We ducked out to Vinnie's yesterday morning and found a sparkling skirt which we took in and shaped like a fish-tail. We used the triangular shaped off-cuts to make the fins on the end of the tail. These went on the feet like socks. We also found a bodice at Vinnie's which we thought would be more modest than the usual bikini top. We thought she looked just like a mermaid!!

She had a great time at the party. The whole class had been invited. I was impressed, too. It was well run. Nothing over the top. Self-catered, simple food and most of it very healthy.

It was a great opportunity for me too, to meet the children and their parents. I look forward to meeting some familiar faces at school tomorrow morning!

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Christmas Shopping

Well been back for five days. I used to take much longer than this to adjust to the enormous differences in our cultures. I would take a few days just to recover from the shock and confusion of stepping off the plane into a luxury shopping mall. Where are my bags? But now it doesn't bother me so much. I think I've become de-sensitized to it. This worries me, because I think it should bother me.

I've found it extraordinarily easy this time around to slide back into life in Australia without missing a beat. The cars, the food, the clothing, the fast internet. All mine. Perhaps it was all a dream?

Mind you, I haven't attempted Christmas shopping yet. That really frightens me and I'd like not to have to do to worry about it at all. Perhaps I can put it in the too hard basket and opt out claiming culture shock. What do you think?

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Second Day

Here is Sophie ready for her second day of school. Her first day was mufti.

laughing and crying

I followed a link on a friend's blog and did this quiz.

It suggested that...

I am a

What Flower
Are You?

and came with the comment...
"Mischief is your middle name, but your first is friend. You are quite the prankster that loves to make other people laugh."

I haven't laughed so much in ages.

Which is just as well, as this one made me cry.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

First Day of School

Well today was Sophie's first day of mainstream school.

How did it go?

What did you do?
Oh, nothing much.

Well, did you meet any people?
Yeah, but I don't know their names.

With a little more probing we found out a little more.  But not much.  There was a trip to the library and reading with help from some Mothers.  There was news, which she couldn't hear because the children were too quiet (and because of recovering from an ear infection), a birthday invitation for the weekend, and although there was overwhelming presence of Santa in the classroom, they had been read the story of the birth of Jesus.

And how does the mother feel?
A little disappointed, but not surprised, that it was all so easy.  No tears.  No clinging to my skirts.  Nothing.  She lined up and went in and didn't look back.  She came out again at the end of the day with a great big smile.  She was fine, said the teacher.  At that was that.  Oh, and I was glad she remembered to shut the toilet door.  I was worried about that.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Reading Luke

We start reading Luke together over at EQUIP BOOKCLUB today.

Read along with us, and don't be shy about joining the discussion.

Here's how it starts....

Christmas. It comes around so quickly now. But remember when the wait was so long. Remember your anticipation as the tree went up, as presents appeared, as your Mum baked… You knew what was coming and you looked forward to the joy of its arrival. Well, imagine a four hundred year wait. Imagine one thousand years. And then, an angel appears… and then another… and then the barren is with child… and the virgin… and you know what is coming. 

Wait. Anticipation. Joy. This is the atmosphere of these first two chapters of Luke; the very first Christmas.

Luke is careful to show that God is working in the events of this first Christmas in order to accomplish what he had promised.

Read the rest here.

Culture Shock

Walking through the Airport Carpark...

Bethany: What's this Mum? Is it a Zebra Crossing? Wow!

And a number of times in the car, speaking of things she could see...

Bethany: It's so big, huge.

Later we pull up at traffic lights...

Sophie: Oh no! A traffic jam!

Later again at traffic lights...

Sophie: So many red lights.

Bethany: (Sigh) What do they all mean?

Me: Well those traffic lights tell cars to stop. Those ones over there tell people not to cross the road. Those ones on the cars tell us the brakes are on and those other ones on the cars are just there so we know where the back of the car is.

Bethany: Wow.

After hearing that we're having chicken for dinner...

Bethany: Wow, is Granny going to catch a chicken?

We made it.

We're safe and sound in the Blue Mountains. No hiccoughs, no hassles. Praise God.

Sunday, 30 November 2008

off we go

We're off back to Australia today. There's been a few changes with our flights, so I'm a little nervous about everything.

Saturday, 29 November 2008

can you see it?

He's looking at you!!

After we had returned this baby bird to its nest a few times this afternoon (the nest was right about Matthew's swing) we realised it's poor Mother was trying to give it a flying lesson. When we finally let it be we watched with delight as its mother coaxed it across the grass, trying to turn those hops into flight. Last we saw her, she was still trying. They hopped right out of sight!

Friday, 28 November 2008

can't get enough of me?

look here and here for more!

A visit to the clinic

We went to the clinic this morning. The 'clinic' is the local medical centre. It is served by one nurse who lives with his family on site. There is a retired midwife on a nearby island who helps with deliveries.

The clinic is a small, two-roomed hut. It has a corrugated iron roof and painted green plaster board walls. Only they are so old and moldy that they are more grey than green. There is a large hole at one place in the outside wall and the fly-screen is pulling away from the edges of the windows. If I didn't have malaria already, I'd probably catch it here, thought I, on my first visit.

There is another small hut over across the grass. This is for patients who need a drip. That's where you end up if you eat poison fish. And yes, they always come out again.

Small, dingy, run-down. Not where I expected I'd be taking my children for medical advice.

But that's where we were this morning. And, I have to say, that's where we received helpful, friendly assistance and were given (for an extremely nominal fee) all the medication we need to put the children on the path to good health again.

And that's what I have found every time we have been there. The nurse really knows what he is talking about.

I am really thankful to God that we have a clinic like this so close to us. Open all hours.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

heart broken

"Where's Daddy?"

"Come back, Daddy!"

Poor little Matthew. The girls never seem to mind...

Bye, Dad!

The children said, 'Bye, Dad!' this morning as we saw Glen off at the airport.  He heads back to Australia today.  We'll follow on Sunday.

Glen heads off early to go to SPRTE with a group of students from USP (University of the South Pacific), Port Vila, and a group from Talua.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Help Wanted

Next month at Equip Book Club we’ll be reading the book of Luke together, and I’ll be the contributor!


There’s all sorts of background information that would be really helpful to us as we read Luke, but I don’t want to include it in my posts. First, because I know that other people have done it better already (there are a lot of great resources out there on the web), and second because I want to keep my posts short enough for people to read.   It would be great if I could find these resources and link to them rather than reproduce it all in my posts.

The trouble is that with our snail’s pace internet connection, it’s virtually impossible for me to find them. Are you willing to help?

I am looking for these sort of resources:
  • historical background to the gospels 
  • theological background to the gospels
  • maps of Galilee and Judea at the time of Jesus
  • an overview of the Old Testament (particularly with mention of Isaiah)
  • mp3 downloads of talks on Luke, either sermon series, lecture series or an overview of the book.

Please email me ( with anything you find. Thanks!

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Which flower is this? (26)

This is the final orchid in our series.

It's a small purple orchid that, in contrast to all the others we have seen (which grow as epiphytes upon other trees and stumps) grows from the ground. You can clearly see he parallel veins in the leaves, the six 'petals' and the 'column' that is the male and female reproductive parts fused together. This orchid grows outside our home, and just about every home here at Talua.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Guy Fawkes Day

Today is the day for Guy Fawkes Night.

We don't celebrate Guy Fawkes Day in Vanuatu, and we didn't in Australia. Nonetheless, it has always been a special day in my family, particularly for my Dad.

Guy Fawkes was one of the catholic conspirators in the Gunpoweder plot to blow up the British (protestant) Parliament and therefore kill the King, James the first, on this day in 1605.  The plan was foiled and Guy Fawkes was subsequently hung, drawn and quartered.

So why is this day remembered in the Taylor family?

Firstly, my Dad is English and the English celebrate Guy Fawkes Night in remembrance of the above events.   There will be bonfires and fireworks, and a dummy Guy Fawkes will be tossed on the flames.  Interestingly, I remember this tradition continuing in Australia on the Queen's birthday holiday when I was a child.  There would be crackers, a bonfire and a dummy tossed on the bonfire. I don't know if it still continues...

Secondly, my Dad's mother is descended from Lord Monteagle who is thought to be responsible for foiling the plot to blow up parliament.

Thirdly, it is my Dad's birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DAD!!

Here is the beginning of a verse written just after the plot, the first line of which my Dad used to quote over and over again! Do you know the rest of it, Dad?

Remember, remember the fifth of November,
The gunpowder, treason and plot,
I know of no reason
Why the gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Sunday School Closing Service

On Sunday, the day before yesterday, the annual Sunday School Closing Service was held at Talua.  Here is a picture of the Sunday School Choir.

And here are Sophie and Bethany, having just finished taken the offering without falling over or spilling the contents of the plate. Just after I took this photo, Bethany decided it would be fun to stand on one leg. My heart wasn't the only one to beat more loudly at this point!

Monday, 3 November 2008

When Sophie gets angry

You may remember this review I wrote about When Sophie gets Angry, Really Really Angry by Molly Bang. At the time I was quite critical of the message of the book. I still agree with everything I said but I am now much more sympathetic with the purpose of the book and appreciate the magnitude of the task; how to help young children deal appropriately with their anger.

What has changed?

What has changed is that we have had a tricky month or so dealing with our Sophie’s anger. When she gets angry she has been expressing this in ways that we think are unacceptable and we have been trying to work out how to teach her to cope with her anger differently. It has not been easy. This is what we have worked out.

1. Recognising the situations that make her angry. At the moment these occur when she is tired and either
• I insist that she does something she doesn’t want to do, or
• she believes she has been (or is about to be) punished unfairly.

2. Planning the school day so that we avoid those situations if possible. I try to give her enough breaks in the day so she doesn't get fed up with working. I try to let her know what is coming up so she isn’t surprised by something she doesn’t want to do and give her time to pack up after play; not expecting her to be ready instantly for intense mathematical thinking when she was just reading a favourite book.

3. Giving her a specific phrase to say when she feels that she is getting upset. When she feels herself getting upset, she says, “Can I go and sit on the ladder, please?” The ladder is a small wooden ladder resting against the tree outside. She is allowed to go and sit on this ladder until she has calmed down and is ready to come inside and talk.

4. Dealing with the situation that caused her anger when she has calmed down. Going out to the ladder gives her time to calm down, but it doesn’t mean she has escaped from the situation. If she was getting angry because she didn’t want to do what I asked; she still has to do what I asked. If she getting angry because she didn’t think that the coming punishment was fair; she will still receive it (if it was fair). It allows us to deal with the situation without ‘sinning in anger’. And then we talk about forgiveness and reconciliation (in vocabulary she understands).

In all this we recognise that at the heart of the problem is sin; she wants to do what she wants and gets angry when we won’t let her. We can plan all we like to avoid expression of the sin, but it will still be there. We can develop all the strategies in the world to cope with this sin, but there will be times when it gets out of hand. In the end it is the Holy Spirit that will change her. And so we have been praying that he will, as has she.

I also recognise that sometimes it is my sin that brings out her anger. Sometimes it was unfair punishment. Sometimes I have expected too much of her. And these will be for my own selfish reasons. For instance, wanting to hurry her through her work so that I can do something else. I also pray that the Holy Spirit will change me, to teach patiently; to discipline justly; and to mother lovingly.

And in all these we rejoice in the forgiveness that has come through Jesus Christ, praising God that his acceptance of us is not based on our sinlessness. And we rejoice in the work of the Spirit in our lives, depending on his power for change. And we look forward to the day when we will be like our Lord Jesus, pure and blameless in every way.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Sunday School Picnic

The children left for the annual Sunday School picnic early this morning.

Can you find our girls?

posts I've enjoyed this week

… include this one from Nicole about re-thinking feminism. My journey has been similar to Nicole’s. I first began to have doubts about it when I saw how female teachers often treated the boys in my classes during my senior years of high school. It was not all the female teachers, but they were the ardently feminist ones.

… and this one from Jean about hating our children. This was very helpful for me as the very different parenting techniques here in Vanuatu are a continual source of angst for me.

… and this one from Lydia was challenging.

Friday, 31 October 2008


Devils are part of everyday life here.   Back in Australia, we have scorned them out of existence.

I'm not sure which I prefer.

For Bethany, who has grown up here, for whom Bislama was her first language, there devils are everywhere.  They are part of her play, part of her school and much of her fear.

Children in Vanuatu talk about devils in much the same way Australian children talk about monsters.  They are under the bed, in the small dark room, always ready to eat you up.  Parents use them as a tool to frighten children into obedience.  Don't go there, there's a devil.  Don't do that, a devil will get you.  

So how do I respond?  Do I just say, 'there's no such thing as devils?'  Doesn't the bible speak of devils as real beings?  There are real evil spirits and they have a real effect on people.   

This is where I have come in my thinking.

1. Devils are real in as much as we mean evil spirits or demons, not the monster under the bed.

2. The worldview Bethany is learning here, which includes devils, may be more spiritual, but it isn't more christian.  It is profoundly unchristian.  Christians in Vanuatu struggle to rid themselves of this worldview as much as Christians in Australia struggle to rid themselves of secular humanism and materialism.

3.  Devils have power, but it is not the power Bethany is learning to fear.  Bethany is learning to fear devils because of their supposed power to do her physical harm, to make her ill or to otherwise make bad things happen to her.  She is learning to fear devils for the wrong reasons.  The Bible teaches that nothing happens to us that does not come from God for our good (Romans 8:28).  We need to trust God, not fear the devils.  However, we need to have a right fear of the power of Satan to tempt us to doubt God's goodness and to lead us into sin.  God has given us everything we need to fight this temptation, including, and most importantly, his Holy Spirit, which dwells within us.  If we have forgotten this power of Satan, and fear only physical harm, then Satan has already won and the battle with sin is lost.  

4. Jesus has complete power and complete victory over the devils.  Jesus has authority over demons (Luke 4:36; 11:14-26).  They must submit to his every word.  They can do nothing he does not want them to and they can never take us away from him.

So, I tell Bethany there are no devils that live under the bed or in the dark or in the house or anywhere else.  They don't have forms which take up space.  They cannot hurt her.

And when I pray with Bethany, I also say; 
"Help Bethany this day to remember that Jesus is stronger and more powerful than all the devils.   Help her to remember that Jesus loves her and holds her in His hand, and no devil can hurt her or take her away from him."
"May your Holy Spirit who lives in her keep changing her so that she loves you more and does what is right and good and does not do what is wrong."
And I read her Romans 8:38-39;
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neigher height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Any thoughts? Have I left out anything obvious? What would you say to a young child about this issue?

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Little Mice

Earlier this week, the girls finished a craft we have been doing slowly slowly for a while now.  The 'mice' are made from felt with sew-one eyes.  We cut four shapes, all roughly triangles, sewed them together with a simple over-the-edge stitch and then sewed on eyes and ears and put on a simple tail from wool.

They look great!

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Emily Faith Connor

Here is a picture of my lovely new niece, Emily Faith Connor, born 14th October 2008.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Which flower is this? (25)

This week's flower is another orchid, and another one from Mama Cindy.

You can see in the above photo the following features which we have discussed previously
  • six 'petals'; 3 true petals and 3 which are technically bracts or sepals but are so modified that they look like petals;
  • the lower petal is different to the others, a little like a platform, with 'wings' or 'walls' near the centre of the flower;
  • a 'column' in the centre of the flower which is the male and female reproductive parts (style, stigma and stamen) fused together.

I have also commented previously that the leaves have parallel veins, and also commented that their shaped varies quite a lot.  This one has very different leaves again, like needles (see below).  The more typical leaves in the picture belong to the frangipani tree upon which the orchid is growing.

I also thought that the shape of the bud was very interesting!

One more week in this series of orchids...

Monday, 27 October 2008

OT narrative

Glen really loves teaching at Talua. He loves teaching students the Bible. At the moment he is teaching Joshua to Kings and Luke and Acts.

The students belong to a culture of oral traditions. They love hearing and telling stories. But, when it comes to new stories (and most of the Old Testament is new to them) and reading, they really struggle, especially when it comes to reading in English. As a result, Glen has been trying to think of tools to give his students so they can work out the main point of a passage of OT narrative when they can't work it out intuitively. When he shared with me what he had been working on, I thought they would be extremely helpful for me as I read OT narrative and wanted to share them with you, too.

This is what he encourages them to look for:

1. Comment or summary statements from the narrator. For example,
'All the people took note and were pleased; indeed, everything the king did pleased them. So on that day all the people and all Israel knew that the king had no part in the murder of Abner.  (2 Samuel 3:36-37)
And he became more and more powerful, because the LORD God Almighty was with him... And David knew that the LORD had established him as king over Israel and had exalted his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel. (2 Samuel 5:10, 12)

2. Speech from a trusted character. For example,
But Joseph said to them, "Don't be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don't be afraid. I will provide for you and your children." And he spoke kindly to them and he reassured them.  (Genesis 50:19-21)

3. Speech from God, an angel or a prophet.
For example,
And the LORD told him, "Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.  As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you.  Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do."  (1 Samuel 8:7-9)
Samuel said, "Why do you consult me, now that the LORD has turned away from you and become your enemy? The LORD has done what he predicted through me. The LORD has torn the kingdom out of your hands and given it to one of your neighbours- to David, Because you did not obey the LORD or carry out his fierce wrath against the Amalekites, the LORD has done this yo you today. The LORD will hand over both Israel and you yo the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. The LORD will also hand over the army of Israel to the Philistines." (1 Sam 28:16-19)

4. What God is doing or has done (often in the form of a narrator's comment). For example,
So the LORD rescued Israel that day, and the battle moved on beyond Beth Aven. (1 Samuel 14:23)

5. Repitition.  For example, 
'the ark' throughout 1 Samuel 4-6

Sometimes these overlap. For example, the following quote is a comment from the narrator emphasizing something that God said,
Now the day before Saul came, the LORD had revealed this to Samuel: "About this time tomorrow I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin. Anoint him leader over my people Israel; he will deliver my people from the hand of the Philistines. I have looked upon my people, for their cry has reached me. (1 Samuel 9:15-16)

These other points need to be borne in mind;
  • not all of these indicators will appear in every chapter;
  • somtimes, there will not be any of these sort of indicators in a given chapter, 
  • one summary statement may cover quite a lot of narrative.  For example, 2 Samuel 5:10-12 is key to understanding the preceeding five chapters.
I hope they are as helpful for you as I expect they will be for me!

Sunday, 26 October 2008

a new friend

Earlier this term we had a visit from Betty Murray, an Australian woman in her retirement years.  But, as she herself says, we do not retire from the Lord's service, and that she has been able to continue her service in such as way as to visit us, was a great blessing to all of us at Talua.

Betty was brought to the Lord as a young woman by an Aboriginal Pastor while she was in an early teaching position way out west.   Later she served as a missionary teacher in Papua New Guinea and even later she worked with the Queensland Department of Education traveling all around the world to train teachers of English in places where English is not the first language.  It was her expertise in this area that brought her to us.

Betty spent three weeks helping the students with their English.  For most students at Talua, English is the third or fourth language they have learnt; few are fluent.  Yet all the books and all the resources are in English.  They need to read well!  There are many constructions in English that have no parallel in either Bislama, the common language, or the vernacular languages of the villages (of which there are over one hundred!).  Betty spent many hours with the students, explaining the difficult bits (of which there are many) and showing them how to be better learners of English.  She also spent a little time with the staff, encouraging them to be better teachers of English in their everyday lessons.

I have to admit that I was a little surprised when Betty accepted my invitation to have lunch at our home whenever she needed to.  Not everyone is willing to eat in a house filled with children, as ours was, especially with our extra guests at that time.  But she was not flustered by exuberance, nor impatient with bad table manners.  She knew their names immediately and quietly directed them in more appropriate ways of acquiring that jug of water. 

I learnt much from her; from her ways with our children and from her faithful service of our Lord. I am glad that she came!

Saturday, 25 October 2008

little pilgrims

Coming up at EQUIP BOOKCLUB in November is Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan. I am really looking forward to reading this book. I haven't read it since I read "Little Pilgrim's Progress" by Helen Taylor as a ten year old. It had a huge impact on my young faith and I can't wait to read the original, which, I believe has had a huge impact of the faith of many over the years.

In the photo, Sophie is reading "Pilgrim's Progress", an adaptation by Tim Dowley to Bethany. Both of them love this book and understand much of the imagery. When Christian's burden falls from his back, Bethany, said, "that's his sin falling away" and Sophie proclaimed after finishing the tale, "Stupid thought he could get to heaven without the Holy Spirit. That's stupid!"

Which flower is this? (24a)

Here is another orchid with twisted petals. This one is from Mama Cindy.

Friday, 24 October 2008

By the Hand

There is a song on the Jane Saunders' CD "In His Hands" which moves me to tears every time I hear it; not just quiet, gentle tears, but heavy, heaving, heart-breaking sobs.  Because every time I hear it, my heart breaks.

In By the Hand, she sings memories of her Grandma; from the tuneless whistle she remembers  from her childhood, to the glistening, aging eyes and the final slipping away.  She longs for the time when she will hold her Grandma's hand once more.

It's this line that floors me each time, 
"And I sang Amazing Grace while the shadow of a smile crossed her lips".
My Grandma has glistening, aging eyes.  She is old now and in a nursing home.  Last Christmas, I took her by the hand and I sang and I sang and I sang but there was no shadow of a smile.  I sang the carols she loved us to play for her at Christmas when she used to sing and we used to laugh.  But there was no smile.  And she did not laugh.  And she did not ask for one more.  Her glistening, aging eyes looked through us and past us and she did not know.

I would love to take her by the hand; but I cannot.  I would love to tell her I still love her; but I cannot.

And so I cry.

And I long for the day when I shall take her by the hand and we shall sing once more.  And until then, she is in His Hands.  And I shall wait. 

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

fly away home!

Isn't this a great photo?

Which flower is this? (24)

This week’s flower is also an orchid (family ORCHIDACEAE).

You may remember that I said (here) that the leaves of orchids have parallel veins, like grasses. The leaves of this one are less grass-shaped and more leaf shaped, and they are almost succulent in texture. Interesting.  Notice also how the petals are twisted! Notice also how five are similar in shape, but the one at the bottom is different, like a platform.

Now, remember that orchids have six petals. Three ‘true’ petals and three that technically are the bracts or sepals, but look just like petals. For this reason, orchid flowers will not have the small leaves on their underside that usually ‘cup’ flowers, as you can see below. 

Orchids do not have typical reproductive parts. Here is a close-up.

We cannot see typical style or stigma and we cannot see stamen. What can we see?  Tim helpfully commented on this post (which I thought was an orchid but was not) that,
"What makes an orchid an orchid. It's the worlds biggest group of plants and there is incredible diversity between the various genus. However what they all have in common is their reproductive parts. They have what is called a 'column' which are fused male and female parts."
We can see this column, the lump-like thing, there at the back of the lower petal.  Can you see the grooves on the lower petal? I think these must direct insects into the middle of the flower to the column in order to facilitate pollination.

There are many, many different species of orchid, more than any other kind of flower. I have no idea what type of orchid this is (genus or species). Do you?


Matthew fell asleep like this the other day!

Sunday, 19 October 2008


There was a VERY MINOR earthquake here the other night.

I was up comforting Matthew in the middle of the night, sitting on his
bed beside him.

The strange thing was how the quake RUMBLED along. It rumbled towards
us. The house lurched. It rumbled away. It sounded just like
thunder. Then it was over.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

the sword?

I recently read some stories about the history of the early church in the communities around here.  I was saddened to read stories of intimidation by christian villagers and of forced conversion to Christianity.  This is the sort of behaviour I associate with other religions, not with Christianity, not with the followers of Christ.  What do I make of it?

Firstly, I should remember that such use of 'the sword' is not uncommon in the history of the church.  Intimidation, forced conversion, imprisonment, and the like have all been practised at some stage in the history of the church in order to force people to adopt a particular position.  This does not make this behaviour acceptable, but it does mean that it should not surprise me.  

Secondly, I must understand the context in which these took place.  Community is very important Vanuatu; communities unified by a common faith even more so.  A hundred years ago, there was no central government, no police-force, no court system.  The community was everything.  It was important for the whole community to convert to Christianity.  Village life just wouldn't work if some remained in heathenism.  This means that once the majority of a community is Christian and they have established laws for the community that include things like 'no gardening on Sundays', then this is a law for the whole community, whether or not the individuals are actually Christian.  When there are no police to enforce the law, then the ordinary person is asked to ensure observation to the law.  What looks like intimidation may actually be a village community enforcing the laws that the community has agreed upon.  Now, I still think the events lay more on the side of intimidation than upholding the law, but it more understandable in this context.

Thirdly, I can be confident that intimidation and forced conversion are not the way of Christ.  Christ did not take up the sword, not even in defense of himself.  The apostles preached the gospel.  They did not spread their community by the sword.  They taught, they exhorted, they persuaded. They did not indimidate, they did not threaten, they did not even use deceit.  They did not even call people to leave their communities to join a 'christian community' but to remain where they were, as shining stars, holding out the word of life.  

There's more I could add.  Another time...

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

a quiet few months

... and it will be a quiet few months here from now until the end of
the year.... I'll see how we go.

What's been happening?

It's been a quite two weeks from me. What's been happening?

We had a lovely time with Wayne, Glen's brother, and his sons, Ben and Tim. Wayne came to help out with our electrical 'stuff' at Talua. He fixed our solar panels. Three out of the four were not working, all with the same fault. He fixed them, made a new mount for them on the roof and set up our solar-batter-inverter system fantastically. It looks great. He also fixed up the solar system next door, fixed the college generator and the starter motor on the college truck. While he was in the roof doing some wiring he found that we had two separate 240 volt systems. One was hooked up the the generator and one was from the 12V battery through an inverter to 240V power points and lights throughout the house.  Only this second 240V system was wired through 12V wires. For the electrically illiterate (like me) this is EXTREMELY dangerous. He was lucky not to be electrocuted, as he was handling the 12V wires not knowing they actually were carrying 240V.  He then ended up spending a lot of time re-wiring our whole house. Since then, we have had fantastic solar power. Enough power for everything we need, including running a fridge. Wayne, Ben and Tim also managed to visit Tangoa (the small island nearby which, tomorrow, will celebrate the centenary of their church), make sling-shots and jam with the students.

We also enjoyed getting to know Betty Murray who spent three weeks here teaching English. More about that later.

School started again this week, back into it...

which flower is this? (23)

Now, this is an orchid. Can you see how they have six 'petals'? One
is heavily modified, the structure that sticks out the front and
sometimes looks like a bell. In the Disney version of Alice in
Wonderland this was the 'mouth' of the talking orchids. Actually only
three of these petals are true petals and the other three are 'bracts'
or 'sepals', the leaves that usually cup the bottom of the flower. If
you look in the orchid at the bottom of the photo which is facing the
other way, you will see that it has no leaves cupping the base of the

The reproductive parts of orchids are very interesting, too. But this
photo isn't good enough. I'll leave that for another time.


Sophie and Rebecca dance for us. They are wearing a lap-lap leaf
(they look quite similar to banana leaves, but are stronger). These
leaves are usually used to wrap food which is then cooked on hot stones.

Where's Matthew?

I lost Matthew recently. Eventually I found him here:

Check out that hand on the gear stick!


I found Bethany "reading" the very hungry caterpillar to Matthew the other day. Very cute.

glow in the dark

Sophie and Bethany's Uncle sent them some great birthday presents...
glow in the dark "pets". These little lights are great in the night
time. It is VERY dark here once the generator has turned off for the
night (unless it is full moon). Their batteries last almost a week
and they use VERY LITTLE power to recharge. It was a really
thoughtful present and the girls really like them. Yesterday Sophie
spent ages making paper clothes for hers!

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Down at the River

We had another fun-filled morning at the River today. The order of the day today was to play in the water until shivering and then bury oneself in the sand to warm up again. Here they all are buried in the sand.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

What must I do? (it's back)

Earlier this year I wrote about Luke 18:18-30 as I thought about what it means to leave everything and follow Jesus. I have I not yet arrived at any firm conclusions and I have left some big questions unanswered (like this one). I do hope to finish this thread sometime (review the thread here).

In the meantime, as I have been reading through Luke in preparation for my contributions to the EQUIP BOOKCLUB discussions for December, I have made some interesting observations which (I believe) shed light on the above passage.

Before Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), an expert in the law asks him, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”. This is exactly the same question that the rich ruler asks him in Luke 18:18; and in both a discussion about the requirements of the law follows and both conclude with Jesus saying telling them what they should do. He tells one to go and have mercy even on the foreigner (10:37) and the other to go and sell everything and give to the poor (18:22). I think the idea in each case is about loving the ‘sinner’; the outcast, the poor, even the Samaritan. Jesus is not giving them another rule to obey, he is showing them that while they think they keep the requirements of the law, they do not fulfil the law by loving their neighbour. He is showing them that they also are sinners in need of a saviour.

I also noticed that Jesus has a lot to say in condemnation of Israel’s leaders, and some of the parables are spoken against them. Both the questioners in these passages are ‘leaders’; one an expert in the law and the other a ‘ruler’. Listen to what Jesus says,
“Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. […] But give what is inside the dish to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.” (11:39-41)
“Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practised the latter without leaving the former undone.” (11:42)
“And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.” (11:46)
He condemns their lack of love, both for God and for man. In other places he speaks negatively of their hypocrisy (12:1; 56; 13:15) and their greed (12:15; 16:14).

I also found two passages which I think need to be considered together with 18:29-30. The three passages are;
“Do you think I came to bring peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other; three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” (12:52-53)
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters- yes even his own life- he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” (14:26-27)
“I tell you the truth… no-one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the life to come, eternal life.” (18:29-30)
I’m looking forward to thinking about this some more, especially as I read Luke more carefully over the next few months. Don’t forget to join us over at the EQUIP BOOKCLUB in December!

Which flower is this? (22a)

After further investigation I can confidently say that this week's flower is NOT an orchid. It has the wrong number of petals and is a dicotyledon, not a monocotyledon. These technical terms refer to how many leaves there are when the new plant first emerges from the seed but can be seen in a mature plant by the pattern of the veins on their leaves. Monocots, like grasses, have parallel viens, but dicots don't. This week's flower does not have parallel veins, so it is not a monocot. Orchids are.

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Which flower is this? (22)

This week's flower is a gorgeous, small and dainty flower growing outside Mama Linda's house. It think it is an orchid, but I'm not sure, it doesn't seem to fit the descriptions (see the wikipedia article on orchids here).

I only took these photographs yesterday and as I took them I became more and more fascinated by these little flowers. They grow on a spike, as can be seen in this photo:

There are five petals. The petal at the base is modified so that it forms something like a basin or bowl. It has a small column at the front of this bowl, divided at the top. What is this bowl for? What is the column for? Something to do with pollination? Does it mimic the reproductive parts? The petals also seem to be fused, forming a hollow.

The stamen and style (the reproductive parts) are on the inside of this 'hollow', just at the top. I expect this means the pollen brushes off on insects that wander in and out of the hollow.

However, in the photo below, you can see the stamen (the anthers) but not the style. I think this is at a less mature stage than the previous photo. This would mean that the male reproductive parts (the stamen) mature first and the female part matures afterwards. This would prevent self-pollination. The insects might pick up pollen from these anthers but they couldn't leave it on this flower's stigma, because it isn't there yet. If you look again at the previous photo you will notice that the anthers look quite degraded.

Again, I am interested to know what this flower is. Any help much appreciated. Amy? Prue?