Peace, Quiet and Family Feuds!

Chief George
George lives on these tiny islands (Three Sisters) with his family, but are they squatters??  He tells us this land belonged to his ancestors and was leased to an Australian corporation to be used as a copra plantation.  But his “uncle” argues that the land belongs to him.  The high courts are involved and the case of whose land this actually belongs to has been in litigation for six years.  So much of their money has been spent on litigation and lawyers, in fact, that they don’t even have a school building anywhere here.  George says that when this all gets settled, the courts have already granted permission to build a school on the island, but until then, all money is going to legal fees.

He is a soft spoken man who has survived many traumatic sea journeys.  He’s been tossed overboard or had to hang onto the outboard engine from behind to steer when a boat lost steerage (but he claims it wasn’t so bad because at least the engine water was keeping him warm!)  All the harrowing stories end similarly - God heard his cries for help and saved him.

As we sat and listened to George’s stories, a boy was playing nearby, re-enacting scenes from a movie with such fervor and charisma, you’d think he was auditioning for a lead role in a Spielberg film.  But he was only mouthing the words as he acted, and George explained that the child was born deaf and dumb.  When he was a baby, his legs were so badly deformed, that he could not walk or crawl.  George adopted the boy from his niece, and has tenderly cared for him for the past 6 years of his life.  He told us how he would rub coconut oil and sea water onto the boy’s leg muscles everyday in an attempt to reverse the deformity.  Something must’ve worked, because now he has full range of motion in his legs and is running and jumping and climbing and kicking almost constantly!  Again, George attests the recovery to God’s goodness.

The boy is an absolute ham.  Waiting to catch someone’s attention, and quickly getting right back into his re-enactment.  Eventually, he sits down by George and starts to whine and get agitated.  He wants George to call their pet bird, Lena, so he can hold her.  With a soft voice, George says, “Lena, come.”  And right on cue, a bright red and green parrot swoops down from the branches, flutters through the crowd, and lands on George’s outstretched hand.  When he hands the bird to the excited boy, it squawks loudly and incessantly - not happy to be caught and held so tightly.  But the deaf boy isn’t fazed, of course.  When the bird calms down, the boy places it on his shoulder and it gingerly nibbles at his ears, hair, and even tastes the boy’s outstretched tongue!

That night, the sky darkens with clouds, occasionally illuminated with bursts of lightning.  I lay in bed and count the seconds between the flashes and the booms.  It’s getting closer.  Then closer.  Lightning freaks me out, as we’re sitting here surrounded by water with a towering metal mast just daring the storm to strike.  Quickly, Mark scrambles to check that all the hatches are closed securely while I gather up the electronic devices and stow them in the microwave.  Another flash startles me, and I realize it is not from the lightning, but from a strong flashlight.  Is another boat in trouble and trying to signal to us?  I wait for another beam of light to hit our window, but soon realize it is lights of some fishermen diving on the reef near shore.  In the middle of a thunderstorm.  In the water. With electricity coursing through the air around them.  Holding metal spears.  Hmm.  Call me crazy, but something about this just doesn’t seem safe.

The night’s storms pass on without incident, but the next morning a “rip snorter” comes through.  The thunder is so loud, it rattles the entire boat.  Elizabeth starts to cry and asks what will happen if one of these lightning bolts hits our mast.  She’s scared, and for good reason.  The lightning is close and severe, with thunder clapping almost simultaneously.  I distract her by getting out the Science Encyclopedia and reading aloud about lightning and thunder - why it happens and how it all works.  Slowly, curiosity replaces the fear and we are all learning together about conductivity and charged air.  We get so engrossed in reading about Ben Franklin, Leyden jars, and lightning rods that we barely notice when the storm has finally passed.


  1. Does putting electronics in the microwave shield from an electric surge?


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

My Diving Class!

Roncador Reef - Part I

Mortlock Islands, PNG