Tomorrow marks three weeks since our arrival, and time has flown by. It feels like we’ve been here a lot longer than three weeks! We are settling in well now, better each day, and feeling more like this is home all the time. Island living is so completely different to everything we’ve experienced. The jam of traffic, masses of people always in a hurry, the idea of having to keep up with trends…all those are things we don’t miss at all. Things here are much simpler, no one is concerned with the kind of car you drive or what clothes you wear. People are friendly (on the surface), and nobody ever seems to be in a terrible hurry.
Yesterday I experienced a couple of firsts: First drive alone out of town, first tea get-together with a mom, first time to see an island bird, first meeting with Jonathan, first time to see the governor’s house and drive in one of his cars, and yesterday the boys experienced their own back-yard heated swimming pool for the first time. In a little more depth, let me explain the day! I was met in the morning at the Manse by Lindsay and her 3-year-old, who I then followed to her house which is near Plantation House. Following her was easy, because I could just stick behind her going up Ladder Hill and stop when she stopped. Going up one has right of way, so the cars coming down have to pull over into a little widening as they can find it. It’s a little tricky to navigate because you can’t see what’s coming around a bend, so you have to try look as far down the hill as you can to see if there is any traffic, so you know what you are going to encounter in the next few kms. I was surprised a few times coming back down the hill on my own, but managed to find place to pull over and it wasn’t as bad as I imagined. I did feel quite a sense of accomplishment though! Anyone’s who been to the island will understand… Anyway, Lindsay (who is a British ex-pat and more or less my age, who stopped me in the street one day to invite me to a toddler’s group which is how we met) and I took the kids for a walk to Plantation House (the governor’s residence) where the famous Jonathan the Tortoise resides… really in a field in the governor’s back yard! There were five tortoises in all, Jonathan being the oldest and biggest (apparently 170 years old). It was lovely to meet him! Seeing a giant tortoise up close was a first for me as well, and actually I had never really touched a tortoise other than the shell, so that was fun too. We fed them lettuce and cabbage leaves, although there are restrictions on feeding. The boys (all three of them) kept wanting to climb on him, which is prohibited. There was a lovely view from up there, right down to the sea. Part of the walk to get to the tortoise field was through a Plantation Forest – this is one of the places you can go for a really nice walk, where the paths are wide enough for cars to use, but the trees are so huge that it’s completely shady. There are a couple of set walks of varying lengths one can do through the forest. I plan on taking Nick back with me for a good decent walk in the woods. During this part of the walk, a white bird with black rings around its eyes flew down and hovered, helicopter-style, a couple of metres above me. A Fairy Tern! These terns are indigenous to St Helena, so I was most pleased to see one. Apparently they like people and like to come and look at them, but if said people pull out a camera they quickly swoop away. Very pretty birds. After doing the whole tortoise thing, Lindsay asked if the boys would cope with the walk home (which had turned out to be quite a long walk) and I reckoned they’d be okay, with some whining, but she, being the wife of the Governor’s Staff Officer or something like that, managed to organise us a lift with the gov’s chauffeur in one of his cars. Unfortunately not the stately black one, but a Focus. Nice ride all the same! Fancy us being in the governor’s car, driven by his own chauffeur. Then, after the boys had had their afternoon sleep, Nick decided to put the blow-up swimming pool out for them (yesterday was the sunniest day we’ve had, really wonderful – today is sunny as well, but not as warm as yesterday). We have solar panels up on the back porch which interface with the geyser, but there is also an outside tap from them, so Nick ran water straight from that source into the pool, having to add some cold hosepipe water as well. Only in St Helena…
Today I met with another mom, Emma, also ex-pat. Her husband is an educational tutor, which means that he is running post-reg courses for Nurses to train them how to work with special needs cases (or something like that). She has two girls aged 5 and 3, so after a bit of shyness on all parts, the kids made some more friends. They have just recently arrived from the UK via Ascension, a week after we arrived. It’s good to be making friends, particularly with moms of young kids. Unfortunately their kids normally attend school, so we wouldn’t always have mornings together, but at least the contact has been made.
Nick is doing well – at present he is off doing visitation, which is why I have a good dose of computer time in the middle of the day! He has settled into the work quickly. He is working through the Spiritual Disciplines during Bible Studies, and is doing a series on Romans in church. The people seem to be receiving him well. We are starting to teach them some new songs that we introduced at CPBC, and they catch on quickly. They love singing and do it heartily. Hymns are still a problem for us because they have their own timing (slow) and can’t seem to budge from it. Tomorrow Nick is doing a radio interview – I think they interview all the pastors for some reason. He will also have a regular ‘prologue’ spot where he has to record five three-minute spots, something like a thought for the day. He’s not too thrilled about that as he doesn’t feel it will be very useful, but the Lord can use anything. The other day he had a most interesting telephone call from a chap in Australia, who is Anglican, and whose sister may be coming to the island for a holiday and he wanted to make sure she would be able to come to a church, so he rang the Manse all the way from Australia to speak to the Pastor.
This afternoon I am going to walk up to the hospital where there is a child welfare clinic every other Wednesday, so I can be sure that the boys’ inoculations are up-to-date. It’s not going to be fun, but the sun is shining, birds are singing, and the wind is blowing, so off we will go.