Saturday, 28 March 2009

Which flower is this? (32a)

This flower is,
Hedychium spp.

(which means I know it is Hedychium but I don't know what species.  I have come across photos of things that look just like it with the common names "Peach Delight" or "Peach Ginger Lily" but without scientific names)

of the family, ZINGIBERACEAE.

Perhaps some flowers from Sarete over the next few weeks... that is, if I remembered to take the camera...

Friday, 27 March 2009

Field Experience 2009

This year, Glen's field experience group will be working in Sarete, a village also in South Santo, a couple of hours walk from here.

Sarete doesn't have its own pastor, but shares one with three of four other villages.  The pastor lives in one of the other villages and is frequently away at one meeting or another.  The villages are not close to each other.

This weekend will be our first weekend in the village.  The students in the group went a few weeks ago, this time their wives and families will join them, and so will we.

  • Please pray for us as we stay in a village.  This will be the first time, as things didn't work out for us to stay in the village last year.
  • Pray for Glen as he trains the students and the students as they learn.  Pray for all as they teach the word of God and witness to the Lord Jesus.
  • Pray for Sarete.  Pray that God's word would transform lives and that they will stand with us on the last day.

Beatitudes and Values

In God's great timing, and inspired by Jean's work in memorising scripture with her children, we began working through the beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-10) at the start of this term.

We started by dicussing what it means to be blessed and then each we talked about the next beatitude, and worked on adding it to memory; hiding it in our hearts. We coloured in part of the growing poster on the wall and sometimes we did a role play.

A highlight for me was when we were talking about being pure in heart. We talked about pure meaning to be good and right all the way through. Drawing from Psalm 15 and Romans 3:10-12, I said, only the pure in heart will see God. Bethany, beginning to cry, said, "but Mummy, that means I will never see God because there is bad in my heart and I try and try but there is always bad". What joy to talk with her about sharing the heart of Christ, the only one that is pure!

It has been such great timing because it has been a great help as we work through the nine values. For the value; "Do your best" we are encouraged to pursue excellence. We could compare that with "hunger and thirst for righteousness". We don't do the value of tolerance and inclusion (too abstract for the so young?), but it would be interesting to compare it with the "peace-makers" and those who are "persecuted because of righteousness".  Most of all, it's been good to see that the important thing is to be blessed by God, rather than to agree with these values, as good as they may be.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

thoughts on the nine values

Regular readers will know that Sophie and Bethany are doing correspondence school with Sydney Distance Education Primary School. They will also know they are currently working through a unit on the 9 values for Australian Schooling.

I would like to have enough time and brain space to give this some serious thought, but I haven’t. Some people (who I admire greatly, for whom I praise God and from whom I continue to learn so much) are able to use their blogs as stimulus to help think through things. I seem only to manage to keep asking questions, never getting around to answering them.

However, here are some thoughts on the nine values…

One one hand, they seem like really good values and a great basis for encouraging healthy relationships in the classroom, and in society.

On the other hand, there is something intrinsically worrying about 'values'; they are relative by nature. Values change. I value something and you don't. Indeed, one of the exercises was to put a list of values in order of importance for you, and then to put the same values in order of importance for your parents, assuming they would be different.

I suspect all this has come out of a recognition that different cultures have different definitions of what is good and appropriate behaviour. Australia is full of people from diverse backgrounds yet we are in a position in society where we cannot say that one particular definition is right and another is wrong. Instead all we can say is that this is what we value. The '9 values' seems to be an attempt to say that this is what we think is good and appropriate behaviour for Australian society. Whatever your background, whatever your religion, this is how we expect you to behave. An ethical code based not upon any particular religion or culture but on popular opinion (perhaps upheld as reason). This is what WE value NOW.

I was interested to notice that there was no mention of obedience or submission. This is interesting because society doesn't work unless people submit to the laws of the land. However, none of us likes to, and most of us do our best not to submit or obey unless we are convinced that it is for our own good. Would we wear seat-belts if we weren't convinced it was for our own good? Would we go 40 in that school zone simply because we value obedience? So, even though we couldn't function without it, it is not included in our national values. We don't obey anyone except ourselves.  More interesting would be to imagine how a school would function without obedience....

Tuesday, 24 March 2009


The Many Adventures of Singenpoo by Paul Jennings is one of our family favourites.

This book contains all four Singenpoo stories in one volume. Singenpoo is a cat, named after swallowing a small radio that continued to play music while on the inside and then even after having passed through. Scott is the boy, in his teens, who takes an after school job at Major Mac’s chicken take-away shop and befriends the cat, Singenpoo, who hasn’t been doing such a good job at catching mice. The books tell of the adventures they have as Scott learns that Singenpoo is in fact quite a remarkable cat.

This is what our copy looks like now:

Matthew, when he was still only one, would take it to bed everyday, look through it page by page and then eventually fall asleep cuddled up to it. Not surprisingly, after a while, it fell apart. I have done my best job at putting it back together, including a new cover. I know I could've prevente this, after all, I didn't have to let him take it to bed with him... but aren't we supposed to encourage a love of books in our children?

So, Matthew loves it. Bethany loves having it read to her and Sophie loves reading it. There's not so much text on each page as to frighten beginning readers. Purrrfect!

The illustrations by Keith McEwan are fantastic. On every page, they are colourful, spunky and full of life as they draw you into the action. It is the pictures that amuse Matthew and he really will sit for hours turning pages and exclaiming at the pictures.

The girls also exclaim at some of the twists in the stories, which are definitely not for the more prim and proper amoung us. A great book for boys! I think Matthew will enjoy it for many more years to come.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Which flower is this? (32)

I have only come across this flower in the last week and I am sure it is another in the Ginger Family, and closely related to the White Ginger Lily (last week's post).

Is it familiar to any of you?

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Which Flower is this? (31a)

This flower is,

Hedychium coronarium
(White Butterfly Ginger or, White Ginger Lily)

of the family, ZINGIBERACEAE

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Thanks, Phil's Mum and Dad!

Earlier this year, there was a work party at Talua.  Young men and women from all over Australia come to help with various building projects.  One of them was named Phil.

I was not here at the time, but when I returned, there was a bundle of gifts for my children.

I would like to say thank-you to Phil's Mum and Dad for their part in this gift.

They sent these lovely puzzles for the children to colour and play with.  They were thoughtfully designed and all three enjoyed colouring them and continue to enjoy doing the puzzles.


And if any-one knows Phil that came to Talua in January 2009, please pass on my thanks to his Mum and Dad!

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

my pumpkin

It's just a pumpkin seedling, but I'm growing quite fond of this one.

A few days ago it lay naked and bare upon the earth, roots exposed.  There was no sign that chooks, the usual culprits, had been in the garden.  What had happened?

Then I saw.  It was entangled in a vine.  The vine had wrapped its feelers around my seedling, and slowly, but steadily, pulled my pumpkin from the ground as it crept insidiously across the garden.

Tenderly I unwound its feelers from my pumpkin.  Then I wrenched it from the ground and throw it out of the garden, to be burned.  I dug the ground, replanted my seedling, gently pushing the earth around it, covering it.  I watered it and spoke tenderly to it.

Beware the vine, my pumpkin, beware the vine!

It's not very big yet, but it's producing new growth.  One day, there will be fruit.

"...let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." (Hebrews 12:1)

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

9 values

Our girls are doing at unit for school at the moment based on the nine national values for schools. The unit is
"meant to be a guide and exploration of our national values, and are intended to enhance home and classroom environments that are caring and supportive".*
The nine values are:
  • Care and Compassion
  • Doing Your Best
  • Fair Go
  • Freedom
  • Honesty and Trustworthiness
  • Integrity
  • Respect
  • Responsibility
  • Understanding, Tolerance and Inclusion.
The school has chosen five to focus on, and we'll be working through those (in bold) over the next few weeks.

It's helpful to have national values so clearly defined like this!   Some are so typically Australian and others are interestingly absent.  Some I read and think "hurrah" and others I wonder what they acutally mean.  I'm looking forward to working through them with our girls, particularly discussing how we decide what a value is and whether it is positive or negative, and what we would do if we disagree.

I'd appreciate your input as we work through this unit.  What do you think?  What would you discuss with your young children?  How would you point them to God?

* in notes developed by SDEPS

Monday, 16 March 2009

Which flower is this? (31)

This week we begin again on flowers from South Santo, Vanuatu, where I live.

I'm wondering whether this flower is related to the Red Ginger Flower, which I posted about last year.

See how the green leaves on the flower spike have the same shape and structure as the red ones, here? And the white flowers, though small and unobtrusive in the Red Ginger Flower, are large and obvious in this one.

It has a beautiful fragrance.

But I don’t know exactly what it is, or have a name for it. Can you help?

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Which flower is this? (30a)

This flower is,
Persoonia mollis
(Soft Geebung)

of the family, PROTEACEAE.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Tux Paint

This is the invitation that Bethany made for Matthew's party. It was part of her unit of work on Toys, which I have written about already.

It looks great, doesn't it?

She made it on a great little freeware program, Tux Paint. This is a drawing program for children, easy to use and with lots of great effects. I really recommend it. It can be downloaded here (versions available for PC and Mac) and you can read reviews here, but you don't need to, it's great, and completely free. Sophie also used it at school in Australia last year.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

He loves it!

For Matthew's birthday we gave him this (unfinished) car-mat.

He really likes it.

He also really likes the present his sisters gave him.

We are thankful to God that he gave us Matthew.  Both of his names (Matthew Jonathan) mean "gift from God". We didn't realise Matthew meant that at the time, but chose Jonathan because it did.  

Our prayer is that he will cherish the great gift of God; life in our Lord Jesus.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

A Car Mat

Our Matthew loves cars.  His match-box cars are treasured possessions. This birthday I was determined to make something for him that he could use in creative car-play.  But as usual, it was only a few days before that I gave it serious thought, and only the day before that I had time to put pen to paper... or to put scissors to fabric.

I found some useful pieces of fabric in my sewing box.  A green fabric did nicely for the background, and a stripey one supplied the roads and the border.

Then all sorts of bits and pieces provided, for the active imagination, a variety of pictures to make it more interesting.  There is an aquarium, a wildlife sanctuary, a wheat belt, a sheep farm, blocks of houses, high-rise apartments, a building site, a cricket oval, a school, a hospital, a shopping centre and a church.

Tempted as I was to stay up all night to finish it, I settled for the background and the roads.  I'll work on the rest over the next few weeks.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

simple party hats

Bethany has been doing a unit of work for school on toys. As part of this unit, she had to organise a party for her toys. Because it was so close to Matthew's birthday we decided instead to organise a party for Matthew.

Bethany's job was to write a list of guests and to make the invitations. She invited the Kindy, and our friends from New Zealand. She did her job well, and learnt in the process about different text types!  However, the job of running a party with real live children is a difficult one and we all helped with that.  What would we do?

We came up with the idea of making party hats.  This would give the children something to do when they arrived, as well as supply what the limited resources for children's parties in Luganville could not.

We folded an A4 sheet of paper lengthwise and stapled at both ends (bottom).  Then we cut a pattern along the folded edge, being careful to leave both ends uncut (top).

Then when the children arrived, they decorated them with stickers.

And had great fun wearing their 'crowns'.

We also played games and sang and ate cake, which you can read about here.

Matthew's Birthday

We had a party today for Matthew's second birthday.

We played games.

We sang happy birthday, and ate cake.

We had a great time.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Which flower is this? (30)

This one is rather soft and delicate.  Pretty.

Any ideas?

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Which flower is this? (29a)

This flower is,

Tristania neriifolia
(Water Gum)

of the family, MYRTACEAE.

The bundle of stamen in the middle of the flower, the five petals and 'inferior ovaries' (which means that when the fruit forms in the ovary, it forms beneath the flower) are typical of flowers in the MYRTACEAE family. You'll be familiar with such stamen in gum blossom and bottle brush. MYRTACEAE also have glands of oil in the leaves. Hold a gum leaf up the the light and you'll see little black dots. They're glands of oil, hence eucalyptus oil, tea-tree oil and the like.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Reading the Bible with Children.

Here are some resources we have discovered this year that have been really helpful for reading the bible with our children.

My Favourite Story Bible for Toddlers
We found this board-book, My Favourite Story Bible for Toddlers, in the library at Talua. It tells selected stories from the bible very simply (sometimes too simplistically) and has lively, colourful pictures with flaps. Matthew just loves the flaps and will sit for hours (well, maybe not hours) turning pages and lifting flaps. We always know when the Israelites enter Jericho, for he cries out, "Oh dear! Broke!". Sophie enjoys reading it to him and helping him to pray as suggested after each story.

The Child's Story Bible
Bethany just loves listening to stories. Last year I would often go looking Bethany at the end of the day and find her crouching on the grass next to a student, wide eyed and engrossed in their story telling. The Child's Story Bible by Catherine Vos is fantastic for her.  Catherine tells the stories of the bibles interestingly and faithfully.  She seamlessly weaves the theology taught by the prophets and in the epistles into each narrative.  She always points to fulfilment in Christ and soundly applies the stories to the life of a child (mind you... we're not through Genesis yet!).

The only disadvantage is that it is full of text with only a few pictures scattered througout. This means that Sophie doesn't want to read it on her own, but Bethany just delights in listening to it, and it is perfect for reading aloud.

eXplore The Bible
Following Nicole's lead, we bought XTB for Sophie to introduce her to reading the bible on her own, and we have been delighted to see Sophie doing so each evening. There is a bible reading for each day, with activities to ensure comprehension of the main points (she loves the codes), questions to think about and suggestions for prayer. She really enjoys it and we are only disappointed that it seems that there don't seem to be many available (does anyone have any information about this?)

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Chief's Day

Today is Chief's Day in Vanuatu. It is a Public Holiday and time to reflect on the continuing role of the village chief in shaping and leading society.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009


Apologies for the disappearing act of some of the posts today, and for possible multiple copies in your email box or RSS reader! I'm having trouble with the publishing and scheduling options.

cursed, or not?

A long time ago (here), I said that I would think about the theology of curse as revealed in scripture.

I thought it would be easy...
God created man and blessed him.
Man sinned and was cursed by God. (Genesis 3:14-19)
Man became more and more sinful. (e.g. Genesis 4:8; 6:5-6)
God promised blessing to all through the seed of Abraham.
God calls a people (descended from Abraham) to himself and promises blessing for obedience and curse for disobedience.
They disobey.
They received the promised curse (2 Kings 17:6-23; 2 Chronicles 36:11-21).
Blessing is promised by the prophets.
Jesus comes.
He is the one who obeys, the seed of Abraham, yet in hanging on the tree, bore the curse. All who believe in him are blessed.
They look forward to the time when the consequences of the curse are fully removed. Even creation itself groans for its redemption.

But then I began to read. And I read Genesis 3:14-19, I wondered are Adam and Eve actually cursed?

God says to the snake;
"Because you have done this,
cursed are you above all livestock"
(Genesis 3:14)
And he says to Adam,
“cursed is the ground because of you;
in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;"
(Genesis 3:17)
But he does directly curse either Adam or Eve. The ground and the snake are cursed, but not the man or the woman.

What do you think?

Is this significant, or not? Is a curse implied, or not?

Comments not just warmly welcomed but greatly desired.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009


Of all our children, Matthew is the least patient with "parental ineptitude". He takes matters into his own hands very quickly.

Yesterday morning, he got himself dressed. Yes, those are Bethany's clothes.

And yesterday evening he organised his own glass of milk.

Monday, 2 March 2009

which flower is this? (29)

This flower reminds me a little of May Gibbs' illustrations from Snugglepot and Cuddlepie.

Do you know what it is, or make a guess as to its family?

England needs God, too.

My attention was drawn recently, by a friend, to this very interesting article from the Times.

I’ve since seen it published in a number of different Christian publications.

It’s interesting that the journalist had the courage it write it. It’s interesting that it was published. It’s interesting that such topics are up for discussion in the secular media. It’s interesting that he has to assert his commitment to atheism in order for his voice to be heard.

It’s interesting for what it says about Christianity and it’s power to liberate the African people from their bondage to tribal customs.

It’s interesting to hear someone dispel the noble savage myth, if not in so many words.

But there are some things that profoundly concern me.

First is the way that Christians* are parading it like a trophy. Why do we need the approval of the world? Why are we afraid to proclaim the truth that Afrcia needs God until it has the stamp of approval from the secular word? Do we feel validated, justified, vindicated?

Secondly, and more importantly, there is something wrong with his analysis if he can proclaim that rural Africans need God, but imply that he himself does not.

For him the problem is bondage to tribal beliefs which suppress individualism and retard development, not bondage to Satan in its various manifestations; the goal is development, not salvation from the just wrath of a Holy God. Christianity is simply a (surprisingly and disturbingly) effective conduit for social change by replacing the beliefs which retard it with beliefs which promote it.

Does not England need God too?

Australia does; not just Vanuatu.

* myself included!!