Archive for the ‘week 4 on the island’ Category

Low on fuel

Had a really great Bible study tonight with two people from church – Ian and Fay. Aiden was still up when they came at 7.30 and really warmed to them. We’ll visit Fay tomorrow morning while Rob goes to run his twice weekly Bible study with the guys at the detention centre.

Humidity is climbing here. Just sitting on the beach makes us sweat rivers, but Aoife loved walking up and down the beach and Aiden loved building rock towers with Daddy. Thankfully we have airconditioning. We didn’t have aircon in the car for the last 24 hours or so because we were low on fuel. We were on our way to the beach yesterday which is up a hill and down a steep hill. The fuel light came on in our new (but slightly dodgy) car and thinking of the downward slope that would become upwards on the way home, and the possible unreliability of the fuel gauge, we went in the other direction down a different hill to the petrol station. Very sad we were to find it had closed 4 hours earlier at midday. Still keen to get to the beach we risked it and went. Thankfully no problems. This morning when Di took it to the petrol station, she coasted in neutral most of the way to try and save fuel. When the lady filled up the tank, she commented on how thirsty it was – 50L/$88. Interestingly this lady is fifth generation islander, which means her descendants were some of the first on the island. It felt like she should be doing something more noble than filling up my petrol tank, but she seemed to love it, getting to talk to everyone (as it’s the only station on the island) and adopting all the children. She must have a stash of chocolate frogs, because she was very quick to whip one out for Aiden.

Countdown to cast coming off: 7 days to go


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One great thing about being here is the kids get to know something about nature. In Parramatta, they got to know birds and ducks and trees, but here, they get to go on ‘adventures’ as Aiden calls them. In the morning, Aoife wakes up, plays with her toys for less than half an hour then finds her hat, her shoes and grabs the backpack that Rob carries her in and starts looking eagerly towards us. This is even before breakfast, which is saying something for a girl who has adopted an insatiable appetite since we’ve been here.

Today, Rob took Aiden in the backpack (as he can’t walk with his broken leg) and went down the mountain from our place, through the rainforest, to Smith Point at the edge of the island. He had to tread carefully as the path is carpeted with leaves and crabs like leaves, so he almost squashed one as it scuttled along. Aiden is becoming quite an expert in these parts. In between his commentary of the crab homes (holes in mounds of dirt), the ‘bridges’ (boardwalks), the vines and big sticks, he made sure daddy was careful not to touch the sharp palms (serrated edged palms that we’ve warned him about). His behaviour, though improving, has been trying, but out in the forest with Daddy he couldn’t have been happier!

Di and Aoife went down to collect the boys, one being very sweaty and the other looking a bit tired. Aiden had drunk water on the way, but his perkiness after he downed a large tumbler of juice revealed that he was probably a bit dehydrated. Just sitting can be hard work! They’d only been out for half an hour, but the humidity, especially in the rainforest is draining.

Countdown to cast coming off: 9 days to go

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Today was fantastic – church went really well, got home to see Australia from 4/42 onwards then went out with friends to a new beach for us, Greta Beach. Now, we have mentioned crabs quite a lot already, but today’s sightings are definitely worth noting. Firstly, we saw a rare blue crab as we walked through rainforest/jungle on our way to Greta Beach. Our friends ahead of us then alerted us by their excitement to something very special.. thousands, maybe millions of baby red crabs moving together across and up the rocks and cliffs near the shore. These are tiny, about the size of an ant. Apart from this, it was our first experience of a sandy beach at Christmas Island. The rest have been covered in finely broken coral and shell. Aoife loved digging in the sand, eating sand (don’t worry, it wasn’t very much) and having a splash with Daddy. Aiden was busy on the sand making pyramids, then enjoyed a sausage while he held a hermit crab in a cup courtesy of our ranger friend Yip Ming. 

As you can see, Christmas Island is all about crabs. They’re everywhere and people are even judged according to their attitude towards them. The locals are protective of them, driving around them on the road, but the ‘imports’ who’ve come to work for the detention centre, are considered to have a big city mentality because they drive fast on the roads and kill crabs. Rob’s sermon today was from Isaiah and one part was about how unclean Isaiah felt in the presence of a holy God. He used the illustration of Pure Blonde beer, where the dirty truck driver disturbs a paradise where blonde-headed beauties are draped over clear flowing streams. He nearly used the illustration of the ‘imports’ coming in to disturb the locals’ paradise. Decided against it – probably wouldn’t have endeared himself to the ‘imports’ who attend. And anyway, we’re imports too!

Speaking of the detention centre, 2 more boatloads of asylum-seekers arrived today, in addition to the other 70 or 80 that have arrived this year. 

Countdown to Aiden’s cast coming off: 10 days to go

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Today we did the usual.. outing in the morning and sleep in the afternoon, then for something different, dinner out at a Chinese restaurant with our neighbour (who also supplies us with a loaf of bread every day).

The morning outing included a stop at one of the several Buddhist temples. This one had a great spot right near the ocean and a convenient chair for us to sit on while we ate our morning tea. Di was a bit worried, when someone came along to change the joss sticks and various other bits of food and drink for their idols, that he’d be upset that we were chowing down and leaving our crumbs over the floor of the temple. He ended up being very friendly and welcoming us the the island, even after Aiden commented that the joss sticks kept the mozzies away.

The temples dotted around the place are part of the reminder of the multi-religious nature of the island. This one (beside the palms)was next to the one we had our morning tea in.  It had a large rock and a stick inside it. We assume there’s some type of worship of these things. On our evening walk, we sometimes go past our neighbourhood temple: Then there’s the call to prayer from the mosque in the Malaysian area. Di heard it the other day when she’d finished at the post office.

On the island, there’s many temples, a mosque, a Catholic church and the Christian fellowship (us) that meets in the community centre. Apparently the protestants once used the church that is now Catholic but handed it over 20 years or so ago. Everyone seems to co-exist fairly happily, if slightly separately. In Sydney, there are many people from different religions, but they are spaced out between probably the majority who adhere to no religion. It is common to think, as Di once did, that all religions are basically the same. We’ve noticed it’s easier to think that when there are lots of religions around but you don’t actually have much contact with them. Here, it’s impossible to avoid and it’s clear we are not the same. We don’t worship rocks and we are not as ‘religious’ as the Islamic people who pray at exactly the right time every day. It’s a real challenge for the Christian fellowship to retain their distinctiveness but still be part of the community.

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Today Rob ran another service at the Detention Centre at the request of those inside, with the theme of new hope for a new year. He preached from 1 Pet 1:3 “In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”. He spoke about this hope being even better than the hope of a new life in Australia. Must’ve gone down OK because the blessing tally has gone up – 3 today! 3 guys asked Rob to pray a blessing on themselves and their family. It feels wierd for Rob because even though he’s the ‘pastor’ he’s no different to them in God’s eyes. They have obviously had a different style of church back home. We’re used to a more egalitarian style, where the minister is highly regarded but treated pretty much like an equal. Also different is the tone of the service. Rob opened his message today with ‘Alleluia’, which was echoed with several alleluias from the crowd (25 today). A bit different to Darling Point – or anywhere else we’ve been for that matter!

Again it was a great opportunity to encourage the Christians and share the message of Christianity with those who might not be Christian – if nothing else, it gave them something to do. It’s fantastic that there’s a good translator here to enable Rob to communicate with them. As it turns out, he’s from Strathfield (goes to St Anne’s Anglican).

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