Tuesday, 29 April 2008

What must I do?

Last year when I taught a course on writing Bible Studies, we worked through Luke 18. The last passage we worked on was Luke 18:18-30. I found it quite difficult and I've been mulling over it ever since, particularly these verses;
"I tell you the truth", Jesus said to them, "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 age to come, eternal life." (Luke 18:29-30)

On their own, they seem to be referring to those who either;

  1. have left kith and kin to do gospel ministry somewhere else
  2. have had no other choice upon becoming christian but to leave kith and kin (as might some converts from Islam).

However, Jesus seems to be expanding on his answer to the ruler;

"You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have. and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." (verse 22)

So it is not about "go"-ing somewhere else for the sake of the gospel but about "come"-ing and following Jesus. And then when we consider the ruler's question;
"what must I do to inherit eternal life? (verse 18)"
we realise that Jesus is addressing the question of how we inherit eternal life, of how we enter the kingdom of God, of how we are justified before God (see also 18:8; 14-15 & 17). It is not just about those who have particularly gifts of service that they are called to leave everything nor just about those who have no choice but to leave everything. It is about everyone who would enter the kingdom of God.

Which leaves me with this question. What on earth does it mean for everyone to leave everything for the sake of the kingdom?


Well she's made it. She's finally of an age where she's being included in "big girl" things. The girls have formed a "club" and not only was she accepted as a member, but she was voted assistant treasurer. Granted, the position was only created when she burst into tears upon not being voted in as treasurer, but she has the (somewhat dubious) responsibility of looking after the club's money, which has been safely put inside a see-through purse and hangs in our kitchen for all to see. Safe, maybe not, but accountable, yes.

And what do they do? Well, they do what all clubs do here, they fund raise. She's not even sure for what or whom they are fundraising. That's not the point! Never-the-less she has donated all her precious beads so they could make and sell necklaces and has been scouting around the house to find other things to sell. We have just cut up an old alphabet frieze to sell the pictures for ten vatu each.

Which flower is this? (12)

This flower is Thysanotus tuberosus, the Common Fringe Lily.

This one is looks rather bedraggled after a shower of rain. Better images here and here.

These flowers open and finish in only one day making them a real treat to spot, even though they are quite common. The are about 30cm high from the ground with grass-like leaves.

Saturday, 26 April 2008

More on Toby

I collated all Sophie's work for the last two weeks to send back to her teacher. I held the small plastic box in which Toby had arrived and thought, oh well, he's just a little rubber toy, I'm sure they have spares anyway. Surely children lose them all the time (see here and here for our story)!

Then I looked through the workbook on Toby which Sophie had only half completed before the great escape and found this declaration on the last page, still unsigned:

"When the class pet is sent to us, it means that others have trusted us with their cherished pet. We promise to always protect and look after the class pet in our care."

Another lesson in humility coming our way.

Sophie says that lots of the children from Talua have been looking for him (having seen the poster we put up at the gate). They pass by the river on their way to and from school and often play there at lunch time. They have come and told her that they have searched in the sand, or through the grass and even in the river itself.

He is not there!

Friday, 25 April 2008

Hello everyone

We recorded this message for our friends at PBC, our Australian church, who are having a houseparty this weekend. It's rather cute, so I thought I'd share it with the world....


still missing

no sign of Toby yet...

Thursday, 24 April 2008


What a disaster!

We've lost Toby!

He came to the River with us yesterday and has vanished.

We've even put up "Lost Pet" posters.

Sophie is very worried. Mostly about having to tell her teacher we've
lost him. We only have until Friday afternoon to find him.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

to the river

We went for a walk this afternoon.

We enjoyed splashing in puddles...

short-cuts through the bush on a fallen coconut tree...

the great view....

weet-bix with condensed milk...

climbing up the rocks...

and singing "hosanna to the King" while waving palm branches we found.

Wish you were here, Daddy.

Monday, 21 April 2008

Which flower is this? (11)

This flower belongs to the Stylidium genus. It think it is Stylidium grammifolium but I am not sure.

In all the books and in all the photos I have seen, the petals have smooth edges, but these have frilled edges. I remember the day I took the photo that there were some that had smooth-edged petals and every now and then I came across one with frilled edges, but by the end of the walk I could only find ones with frilled edges and none with smooth edges. It might be a variation within the species or it might be something that changes with the age of the plant. I don't know.

It's common name is "Trigger-Plant". The stigma and stamen are fused to a column which is held behind the face of the flower. When an insect lands on the flower, its weight triggers the column to come up and into contact with the insect, releasing pollen from the stamen onto the inesct or collecting pollen from it onto the stigma. You can see the 'column' more clearly here and here.

The flowers (about 2cm across) grow on a stem about 30-40cm high, with a tuft of long grassy leaves at its base (see here). It is quite common in the Blue Mountains and really quite pretty.


We said good-by to Glen today. He has gone to Australia for two weeks
to do an intensive Masters course. We will all miss him very much.

Sunday, 20 April 2008


The children made an interesting find out on the grass this morning.

A mango seed has sprouted. It looks like there are actually two

The children have put lumps of coral around it to protect it from the
chooks and the lawn-mower.

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Thanks Uncle Chris!

We painted the masks yesterday. They had a great time.

Sophie's is a tropical bird:

Bethany's is "So-fi-be-doe".

Meet Toby

Toby the turtle is the class pet. He arrived in the post. Sophie is to look after him for two weeks! See, we don't miss out on much in correspondence school!


I have enabled anonymous comments. That means you can comment even if you don't have a google account or if you've forgotten your password.

Have I ever said how much I appreciate your comments?

Friday, 18 April 2008


Mum's having a break from full time work at the moment.

She's been busy.

Isn't she clever!

the ship has come

so we have flour again (see here), only it's double the price it was this time last year

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Our good God

Bethany and I were in the bathroom this morning. She made some observations how different we are, particularly that I am much bigger than her. Then she said,

"God helps children grow to be big like their Mummies and Daddies."

"Yes" I said.

"Other gods tell them to burn their children."

"but not our God." I said, surprised at how much she must have picked up from our Old Testament reading.

"No. Our God is good."

When Sophie gets angry...

This 'library' book arrived in the last parcel of work for Sophie. Her teacher thought she might like it. She did. So did Bethany. In the book, Sophie gets angry after her sister snatches a toy from her causing her to fall over. It explores Sophie's anger, how she copes with it and the eventual restoration of peace. You can read reviews here and here and see what the author, Molly Bang, says here.

The reviews describe this as a helpful book for pre-schoolers to explore their anger and help show them how to deal with it in a helpful way. Can I say that while I agree with the first part of this statement, I completely disagree with the second. I had great discussions with both Sophie and Bethany about what Sophie and her sister did and about what they themselves would and should do in similar circumstances. Yet even Bethany could see that the answers the book provides are wholly inadequate.

Firstly, Sophie's anger is totally out of proportion to the event that caused it. She is so angry 'she wants to smash the world to smithereens'. She is a 'volcano ready to explode'. All that happened was that her sister snatched a toy away and Sophie fell over. It was an accident, and it was her sister's turn anyway. What will Sophie do when there is something worth being angry about?

Secondly, granted that pre-schoolers do get angry even over trifles, I don't think that Sophie deals with her anger in a helpful way. Sophie lets out a 'red roar'. She kicks and screams. She runs away. Yes, she deals with it in a non-violent way (that is, she doesn't hit her sister), but I don't think this is the sumpreme virtue reveiwers seem to think it is. I would not be happy for my pre-schooler to run away (and run and run as Sophie does) every time she becomes angry. I am not happy for my pre-schooler to yell and scream and kick every time she doesn't get her own way. I definitely did not think Sophie dealt with her anger in a helpful way and nor did my pre-schoolers.

Thirdly, the lack of parental guidances is a concern. Even though Sophie's mother is present and says that it is her sister's turn now, she neither checks the sister's behaviour when she snatches the gorilla nor checks Sophie's rather excessive display of anger (this would not be a problem if you don't think her anger was excessive). Perhaps this is because it is a book about emotion, not a how-to guide for parents. Still, it does speak in its silence in this regard.

Fourthly, there is no reconciliation at the end. Sophie's sister does not apologise for snatching. Sophie does not apologise for her anger or for her behaviour when she was angry. There is a rather lovely picture at the end of the family finishing a jigsaw together; a metaphor either of Sophie's emotions being put back together or of the fractured relationships being restored. However, I think that we ought not ignore the consequence to relationships of such behaviour and not just assume everything is OK because the kicking and screaming has stopped. We need to teach our children to be willing to seek and grant forgiveness. I'm sure that there are rather lovely ways to express apology and forgiveness in a picture book without being 'preachy'.

This book was a great stimulus for helpful discussion with my girls about anger and how to deal with it. They identified immediately with the characters (Bethany assumed that she was the sister). It gave them a vocabularly to describe how they feel. We were able to talk about other ways of dealing with anger, about being slow to anger, whether it is worth getting angry about toys at all, about being willing to be wronged rather than to do wrong, and about forgiveness and reconciliation (all rather weighty topics for three and five year olds). I do not think that Sophie should be held up as a model for how to deal with anger, and I hope that that I will be a better guide for my children in the heat of the moment, when the rubber really hits the road.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008


I have never been a list-person. I don't even write a shopping list (unless someone else is doing the shopping).

But I have been converted.

Recently we gave Sophie some jobs to do in the morning to help with breakfast and getting ready for the day. It was fine the first couple of days and then breakfast became later and later and later as we waited for Sophie to moan and groan through her jobs and we were starting to be late for chapel and often I didn't make it at all. In desperation, I wrote out a list for Sophie of all the things she needs to do after waking in the morning in order to be ready for the school day.

It worked like a dream. Breakfast has been on time ever since and she even has time to play!

A few days later I made one for Bethany too. And also one for myself. Really! I even stuck in up in the kitchen should I forget what comes next.

These three lists have revolutionised our mornings. For all of a whole week. Get back to me in a month...

Which flower is this? (10)

This flower is Dillwynia retorta, commonly known as "egg and bacon bush".

It belongs to the pea family, FABACEAE. The flowers have that typical pea-flower shape with two petals spreading like wings at the back and then some pointing forward, rather like a nose. With that red tint at the base of the 'wings', they do look like they might just start talking to you.

These are very common in the Blue Mountains and were a favourite of mine as a child, although I never could work out where the egg white had gone.

Monday, 14 April 2008

It's cold

Not the weather, just the water. I can't get used to it. I'm sure I stand in the shower recess longer working up the courage to turn on the tap than I do actually having the shower.

Friday, 11 April 2008

no rain in the land

The prophet Elijah said to King Ahab,
"As the LORD, the God of Israel lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word." (1 Kings 17:1)

And there was no rain in the land.

God eventually sends Elijah to a widow and for her feed him. She says to Elijah,
"I don't have any bread; only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it- and die." (1 Kings 17:12)

Well, I have more than a handful of flour. But not much. I have about enough left to make three loaves of bread and possibly a cake for visitors on Friday night. There is no flour left in the whole of Luganville.

Only when the flour runs out, we have rice, and if that runs out (it did last year) there is local food (and that might be a good experience for us). We are not looking death in the face like the poor widow in Elijah's time.

But why? There is no drought here... we have more rain that we can cope with (see here). But there is drought in Australia and that has affected their production of wheat and the supply of flour to Vanuatu.

I am not much used to going without. Our supply of food was so good in Australia I don't remember ever running out of something so basic as flour. Sure prices might rise a little (or a lot as in the case of the great banana scandal of 2006) but I've never had to go without.

Part of the purpose of the drought in Elijah's time was to force the people and King Ahab to recognise that the LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was God and no other. Not the gods of the nations, not the Baals, not the fertility gods. Only He can send rain and only He can hold it back. Only He is to be worshipped.

What will it take to bring us to our knees in the same way?

out of the ground

Last year Glen taught the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible) to one of his classes. He began with Creation. One of the students, inspired by what they had been talking about in class, led his family in their family devotional time from the account in Genesis chapter 2. He said that God had formed man from the ground and breathed life into him. Then one of his children asked,

"So what did He make white man from? Sand?"

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

His tender side...

I have commented a few times (here and here) that Matthew seems to be such a typical boy. He just loves tractors and kicking balls. On Saturday, however, we saw his tender side. I suspect this is also typical of boys, only we tend to think of it as being feminine. Matthew found one if his sisters' dolls and held it very tenderly; hugging it, kissing it and patting it on the back to put it to sleep. It was very cute.

Which Flower is This? (9)

This flower is Lomatia silaifolia; or Crinkle Bush.

The Crinkle bush grows only to about 1m high and large, deeply divided leaves. The creamy-white flowers grow along long spikes and have four petals with a long protruding style. Like this and this, it also belongs to the PROTACEAE family (the petals begin life fused into a tube and open out as they get older).

I took this photograph in the bush behind my parents home in the Blue Mountains, Australia. My brothers used to play criket at an oval named "Lomatia Park" and until now I never suspected it was named for the local flora.

Sunday, 6 April 2008


I have mentioned a few times that I have been reading The ministry of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson. I am still reading it. I'll post a review when I finish it. Something I read this afternoon really struck a chord. She has been talking about following Jesus' example of humble service and finding that such service is rarely convenient. She goes on;

"And what people want from me is almost never what I think of as "important" ministry. I want to give them pearls of wisdom and they
want me to pick them up when their car has died or cry with them over a problem at home." (p182)

Could she see into my heart when she wrote that? It has been my bitter complaint since being here that while "I want to give them pearls of wisdom", they want me to bake cake. I want to teach in the women's program and they want a cake for someone's birthday. I want to train them to lead bible studies and they want a cake to celebrate Children's Day. I want to to do one-to-one discipleship and they want a two story decorated cake for Father's Day. I want people to come to me because they recognise my superior wisdom, because it flatters me, because of my pride.

I am yet to see where this ministry of cake-baking is taking me. It has forced me to recognise and acknowledge my pride and that has been good, if sometimes painful. I pray that it will somehow bear fruit (not just increased waist-lines) and that it is not just wasting time, which is what I usually think.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Yamata sewing machines??

I'm trying to buy a sewing machine for a friend here. She just wants a second hand electric machine that can do zig-zag. However, I've found these machines on ebay that are well within her price range, and new. But, I've never heard of that brand and can't find any reviews on the internet. Does anyone know anything about them?

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Bethany! Bethany! Bethany!

As the masses are screaming for photos of Bethany...

Here she is playing in a puddle after an afternoon shower.

"I'm Mary!"

And here she is singing "I'm a little tea-pot" on "wacky dress-up day".

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Lunch at Bethany's house

This isn't a typical lunch (this is). Usually all our guests are Bethany's age as they come home from Kindy with her. My children are the "well-behaved" ones.

Elmer the Elephant

As part of school for Sophie, we read Elmer the Elephant by David McKee. Elmer, the multi-coloured patchwork elephant, sets out to make himself ordinary-elephant coloured. He finds and rolls in some elephant-coloured-berries and his wish is fulfilled. (You will have to read it to find out what happens next).

That afternoon, in the usual shower of rain, my two peculiarly white-skinned daughters set out to make themselves normal, ordinary brown.

Needless to say, they had a great deal of fun.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Matthew plays football


Which flower is this? (8)

This flower is a Lambertia formosa, otherwise known as the Mountain Devil.

The flower is actually made up of seven flowers, each with four petals that have fused to form a tube. Sound familiar? It belongs to the same family as this, the PROTEACEAE family. Note also the way the style extends from the tube.

It's fruit is large and woody, and with a "beak" and two "horns", it remarkably resembles the charicature of a devil.

My netball team was called the Mountain Devils until my coach, a lovely christian lady, renamed us "Genesis". I'm not sure what the significance of all that was.