There have been a few emails going around offering puppies to new homes here in PNG. I wanted to take one, but Gerdine, homeschooling mum and mother of twins, said no way. Life was hard enough and we just couldn’t add a dog into the mix (and what would we feed it?). Seeing this settled opinion I decided to aim a little lower for pets.

What about Guinea pigs? That idea wasn’t too popular either, but eventually, Gerdine came around to the idea, or rather wouldn’t stop me πŸ˜€

Guinea and Nibble settling in

After our ALW (advanced language workshop) we had a week before heading back into the tribe, so we bought some chicken wire in town and sent out an email asking the other missionaries “where do we get guinea pigs in Goroka?” and an hour later we had two offered to us πŸ˜€ We were in business. I’ve never actually looked after guinea pigs before… but it’ll be fine right? The day came and I went off with Oscar to collect them (with a cardboard box at the ready). Oscar decided to name them Guinea and Nibble, two male guinea pigs.

While we were chatting to their previous owners and asking questions about what they eat and how to look after them Nibble decided to jump out of the box and escape, which resulted in much chasing by many children. We’d got a lively one!
To get them into Kovol we decided on a smaller cardboard box taped closed, but with some air holes. First of all they were stuck in the cargo pod of a Kodiak and we flew to Madang, so the little guys experienced darkness, vibration, cold and then heat. Then it was helicopter time where they ended up underneath one of the seats.

It was a relief to open the box when we arrived to see 2 guinea pigs still moving about and instantly the Kovol people were excited. We put them in our old pineapple garden, the fence hadn’t kept a pig out and there are now no pineapples anymore – but surely it could hold two guinea pigs until I built a cage for them? It worked out very well because although the fence had many holes, it was surrounded by curious Kovol people and we had a human fence for them πŸ˜€

the human fence of curious onlookers

I got to work making a cage. Some Kovol guys helped me to bash a frame together and staple the chicken wire around it and they were in.

Dramat holding Nibble

As they have been settling in it turns out to be a very good idea to have put them in a cage. The Stous’ cat is very interested in them! So are the Kovol people and every day there are visitors. Word has gotten out that Steve has brought some “sinnasim hotog” tame mice and everyone wants to see them. The thing that seems to surprise and delight the people most is that they don’t have tails.
I guess people aren’t used to seeing live rodents, as the ones they catch end up as dinner πŸ˜€

Food wise we have grass, our vegetable peelings, the occasional cabbage leaf, greens and then jungle leaves. If we get low on the other foods the last one is the try it and see food. Google isn’t all that helpful when I type in “can guinea pigs eat” followed by the Kovol name of a plant. We tried a “nomul matam” today, a curly fern-like thing… and they ate one. Let’s see if they are still alive tomorrow πŸ˜€

Inside playtime

We get them out every other day for a play in the house, and in doing so we’ve discovered that they poop a lot in their little PVC nest. Free fertilizer for my pineapple plants! Oh wait. No, I don’t have any; the pig ate them. Judging by the chunk of pig meat we were given when we returned that won’t be a problem any more πŸ˜€

So that’s our news. Back in the bush, and now with guinea pigs. We’ve been continuing to chart our discourse texts and so right now is a lot of time at the computer. Patterns are starting to emerge, but it’s still hard to see. I can confidently say though that different speakers speak differently. I think that Pearl of Wisdom was worth the 14 hours I worked on it this week.

my standard level of craftsmanship – shoddy, but fast

So as to not be completely tied to the computer I decided to start studying the cultural category 3-8 health and sickness with the aim of writing a cultural summary on it. I started by figuring out the questions I needed to ask to get started and came up with 70. This includes things that we’ll need to know for translation and Bible lessons. Vocabulary for paralysis, leprosy and other sicknesses that appear in the gospels. Attitudes towards crazy people, how they are cared for and what happens if they become self-destructive. All kinds of things and it’s probably going to take me a good few weeks to ask each question to 3 different people, record the answers and then summarise it all. What a mountain we still have to climb!

1 Comment

Julian Hurst · 11/08/2023 at 10:55 pm

Hi Steve and Gerdine,
Thanks for your helpful update.
We continue to pray for you.
Keep climbing.
God bless, Julian and Ruth

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