Rot Bung

We get our food several different ways.  An older gentleman stops by the house a couple times a week with vegetables for sale.  He used to only sell asparagus, but now has a variety of things like carrots, broccoli, onions and tomatoes.

Once a month I travel into Mt. Hagen with Gail Dooley and do a day long shopping trip.  In Hagen we are able to get more Western style foods and meats as well as stop by the market for produce.

Then there is a market just down the road from the hospital at the rot bung.  “Rot” (pronounced with a long o) is road and bung (pronounces with a oo sound) is a meeting, so this is where the roads meet.  There aren’t many roads in PNG, so this rot bung is rare and busy.  Nathan usually goes once every week or two and takes one of the kids.   Recently, though, we made a short trip as a family.

This umbrella market has all kinds of produce available as well as the flip flops we got for the kids.



Nathan talking with one of the ladies we’ve met before

In the small stores we can get boxes of eggs (we go through about 6 dozen a week) and boxes of milk.  The milk comes in cartons that are stored on the shelf and don’t need to be put in the refrigerator until they’re opened.  There’s a little store where people can pay to have their cell phone charged which is important for the many people who don’t have electricity in their homes.   A little movie theater plays lovely American films like Rambo.

Inside one of the stores

The clothing market is outdoors and has used clothing from Australia for sale.  I’ve found some great things for the kids and me there, but usually pass on the winter snow suits hanging on the line.


Down at the River

Dr. Sheena has been our dentist here at the hospital for the past two years.  She came with Samaritan’s Purse.  When she first arrived there was little dental equipment, but Samaritan’s Purse donate hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of new dental equipment.  The dental x-rays here were the easiest I’ve ever had taken thanks to this equipment.

The kids helped Aunt Karla make the turtle that held everyone’s farewell notes

In a couple of weeks she’ll be heading back to Hong Kong, Canada and the United States as she prepares to move on to her next mission station.  She will be greatly missed, but we had a fun farewell party for her down by the river.

Bamboo poles are handy in holding up the tarp
Aunts Kathy and Karla

The kids had a great time playing in the clay along the edge of the river.


She made Noah’s Ark out of clay

And playing on the surf board with friends


Everyone at the party posed with the surf board

And digging in the dirt


And getting wet.  Except she wasn’t so sure at first.  She wouldn’t put her right foot in the water, but instead held it up in the air.  When it would finally lower down and touch the water she’d hold it up with her hands.  Finally, she gave up keeping her right foot dry and just started playing.  She had more fun than this picture would suggest. 🙂


And snuggling with Aunt Charity


It made for a great day.




A Morning in Pictures

Our Saturday was full and a lot of fun with friends. First we started out with a community service project of picking up garbage on the road just outside the hospital station.

The Crouch and Mason kids are ready for action

When we first arrived this road was  dirt and just beginning to be paved with concrete ditches put in along the side.  I’ve been told it used to be one of the worst stretches of road on the way to Mt. Hagen where we do our grocery shopping.

The other side of the fence is part of the hospital station

A variety of interesting things were found.

Karla found the top of an umbrella!


He made our family these trash picking chopsticks
Another plastic bag!
The biggest Thompson boy doesn’t seem as impressed as our oldest at this find

And we had some beautiful views along the way




And an adorable little Thompson helper


The littlest Thompson boy

And my little helper was eager to go.

Both the gloves and hat were too big, but that didn’t stop him from helping
The barbed wire is an addition since we arrived.  The tea plantation behind us set it up. 

And then we were back at the station

The church just across from the hospital gates with the truck we used to throw the garbage in


The gate to the hospital is on the left

But the day wasn’t over yet.  We had a hot dog roast and then a party for Sheena before she leaves.  The pictures at the river will be coming soon!


Collecting Water

Watering a garden from city water in Oregon can get spendy.  As Nathan planned out our garden while in the States, he always did so with the goal of getting the most out of every drop.  He had hoped to one day make a rain collection barrel to catch the water flowing off the roof.  That way he’d always have a good supply of water at an affordable price.

Our house here in PNG has not one but two water collection tanks.  The clouds do a good job of watering the garden, though, so all of this water is for household use.  The water collected is used to wash dishes and clothes, flush toilets, clean hands, take showers and cook.  We use it for drinking, too, put filter it first.


In the picture you can see the giant green tank to the left and there’s a matching one on the other side of the house.  Throughout the rainy season there is plenty of water to use, but a couple of years ago, during a drought, people had to be careful to watch the water level in their tanks.

On top of the house is the hot water heater with a solar panel attached.  On sunny days there is piping hot water readily available and for cloudy days a button inside the bathroom turns on an electric heater to provide hot water.

The Secret Garden

The oldest three kids have been exploring the station with their friends and frequently come home insisting we accompany them to see the latest discovery.  The most recent outing we went on was to a garden area.  At first they called it the prayer garden and then the secret garden.  I’m not sure if has an official name, but it is beautiful whatever it’s called.


There were two ways to the garden . . . two ways if you’re a child.  After some debate they decided we would get to the gardens by way of the stairs.  It’s a somewhat steep climb down, but lined with banana trees on one side and flowers and bushes of different sorts on the other.

This was on the way back up since I was too busy watching my footing on the way down

Rock paths meander throughout the main part of the garden and on the other side of one fence is a big white cow.  It was quite important that we see the cow, but he was a bit hard to get a picture of.




And instead of dainty potted plants, the poinsettias are beautiful bushes.


We had company bringing us dinner that night, so it was soon time to head home.  Since we entered the garden by way of the stairs it was decided that we needed to exit through the other path.


“Wait a minute,” I said as our pikinini (children) started climbing over a metal fence.  “How hard is this path to climb?”

“Oh, it’s not bad,” they assured me.  And they would have been right . . . had I been two feet shorter, not juggling a baby on one hip and been part billy goat.  Not bad at all.  But, we made it over the fallen down banana trees, up the slippery mud slope and to the top of the hill (slightly out of breath) without (much) incident.  The view on top was beautiful.  It’s what all our friends on the other side of the station see out their windows everyday.  Everywhere on station has beautiful views, whether looking out over a valley like this or the amazing vegetation that surrounds everyday life.


We will see what other discoveries the kids will show us next.

Handy Man

Cooking with an open flame on a gas stove made me nervous with little ones running around.  Especially with a little guy who learns by touching . . . absolutely everything within reach.  In one of the boxes that was sent ahead, we included a baby gate to block off the kitchen to help keep curious little hands safely away from the hot stove.  The gate, though, ended up being far too short for the doorway of the kitchen.  Not to fear, my handy husband came to the rescue.

Standing with Daddy by the safety gate

After finishing medical school and residency he actually had time to think about hobbies and one that he took up was woodworking.  He was always coming up with ideas to help around the house or ways to repurpose old wood.

Woodworking was one of the things he knew he’d have to give up when moving to PNG   . . . or maybe not.  Turns out there is a workshop here to help with all the maintenance that goes into the keeping up the houses and hospital.  Moving around the world has now given him the opportunity to use woodworking equipment he never would have had in our garage in the States.  And the project ideas are flowing.

One of my favorite of Nathan’s creations and is proudly hanging on our wall here


Playing at the Hydro


The Dooley family is our mentor family as we settle into life at Kudjip and they have been wonderful.  Our second week here they took us down to the hydroelectric dam to play in the water.  This power source is a huge blessings and I’ll blog more about that later.  It also creates a fun play place as well as kaukau (sweet potato) washing station and rock collecting resource for various projects around the hospital station.  Next to collecting bugs, gathering rocks is a favorite activity for our young Masons.  Between the water and the rocks I’m sure visiting the hydro will become a favorite activity.


Nathan and I also got to drive for the first time.  While the hydro is within walking distance from the house, in the afternoon sun it’s a longish walk, so we took the Land Cruiser (a necessary vehicle to make it over the bumpy roads in PNG).  The driver’s seat is on the right side of the vehicle and we drive on the left hand side of the road.  It’s a little strange and I kept grabbing the door to try and change gears before remembering I needed to use my left hand.  But I successfully drove on the left side of the road for the first time! (Going 10 miles an hour on the station and never meeting another vehicle, but that’s only a minor detail, right?!).