Well Kim was supposed to have a girls night tonight – three ladies over for dinner and to watch some chick flick – to compensate for my staying in Gove for the night for a CASA medical the following day. However due to some (some might say divine) circumstance, I have a sit and wait in Gove tomorrow for some health patients, during which I plan to visit the doc. Kim had the girls night anyway, so I’m banished to our room during the movie. So I thought I’d write some reflections on life here from my perspective.
Over the last few weeks, we’ve had a few people come and visit us here in Numbulwar. One comment that stood out to me went along the lines like “wow, you guys are doing (coping) really well down here, it’s so isolated.” While I agree with them, I don’t feel like it’s been a hard slog so far. I have noticed some cultural differences that Kim had written about that pose challenges, but as far as being isolated, I don’t feel it too much. It might be that I’m able to get out and chat to other pilots at Groote Eylandt and occasionally, Gove which makes it feel like I’m not stuck in some little outpost. I do miss playing squash (I think my body misses it too), so I am trying to compensate by taking up fishing, which so far consists of me feeding very little fish my bait (pilchards). I also miss swimming with the weather being quite hot – Kim just won’t have me swimming in croc infested water. It makes me wonder how we’re going to teach Sam to swim. There is a pool, I’m told, at the closest town, Ngkurr (pronounced Nooka), but that’s a two hour drive down a dirt road, and at $2.40/litre for diesel, that’s an expensive swimming lesson!
But things like shopping malls, the supermarket just up the street, the little Chinese take away, the Hardware store up the road (no product placement here!), I don’t miss… yet.
One thing I do miss though, is our extended family, especially with our little one. Oh, and real milk.
Flying has been a little quiet here the past month which was concerning me a lot. Had we somehow offended someone here? Will it pick up again? Or will MAF have to close down the base here due to it being unsustainable? Then will we have to move again? I’m not flying half as much as I wanted to be. But I believe God challenged me on this.. especially the latter point: A lot of the work we do here could be done by another operator. Why us, why MAF here. Well the only way MAF can put staff into a little community like this is to operate their aircraft at the request of the elders. But our main aim here is not to fly, but to live amongst the people and live Christ like lives. Flying is a means to that end, but it is its own ministry. We put Christian reading material in the seat pockets and associate with other pilots who will already know you are a Christian by our uniform (you don’t have to wait for them to realise that you don’t swear or tell dirty jokes). Most of these pilots are only up here to get the hours they need to climb that ladder up to bigger and faster planes.
So we are not here exclusively for the indigenous population, it’s for whoever we meet along the way, whether it’s in the air or on the ground.
Thought I’d put some pictures of the recent flying conditions, and the new receptionist at MAF Numbulwar!