Not all days involve going to the beach, although some do.
My days are very different to how they were in Sydney. Here’s what last Friday looked like for me…
7am ish. Wake up. Let the dog in. Cuddle the dog. Have breakfast, brew coffee, read, shower, bum around.
8am. Decide what to wear. Remember that I have a presentation to give today, so dress very conservatively – button up shirt, tupenu, kiekie. Throw a necklace on so outfit is not so boring.
8:30am ish. Leave for work on bike. It’s pouring with rain so suit up in rain jacket and waterproof pants.
8:40am. Arrive at work. Absolutely soaked. Discover that the meeting is not at 9am, but has been moved to 11am.
8:45am. Try to find spare place to hang wet clothes. Try to find bathroom that’s open to change into work attire.
9am. Chat to co-workers. Discuss how we never have any idea of what is happening in the office!
9:20 am. Answer emails. Look over presentation. Talk to my counterpart about up coming training.
10am. Work on materials for upcoming training. Research on line and then edit/simplify/change language/add Tongan examples/rephrase/clarify.
11am. Get ready for presentation with National Forum of Church Leaders representatives. I’m a bit nervous as we are discussing an “introduction to counselling” course they want me to run with delegates from all church denominations across Tonga. The purpose is to get churches thinking about how to provide better emotional and social support to their community.
11:30am. Still waiting.
11:35. Discover that they are already here and have been waiting for me for 30 minutes. No one told me. Crap. Frantically gather notes and kiekie.
11:40am. Start meeting. Meeting opens in prayer and song, in Tongan. As usual I don’t know what they are saying or singing but it sounds very nice. I smile politely. As usual, it is difficult and itchy to sit in my kiekie.
I am introduced to the NFCL representatives in English and in Tongan. I make my presentation about my social work background, why I’m in Tonga, the purpose of counselling, the aims of this training workshop.
12noon. Discussion in Tongan.
12:15pm. More discussion in Tongan. I try hard to understand but catch only a few words here and there. Very soon I am lost.
12:30pm. Discussion continues. I start to discreetly write my grocery list.
Suddenly, we switch to English. I’m informed that we are no longer going to have a week long training program, with half day sessions for around 20 people.
We are going to run a 2 week retreat. We’re going to stay at a resort.
We’re going to invite up to 50 people, extending the invitation to all the church run schools to include their school counsellors. Apparently the school counsellors don’t have any formal counselling training. It is thought best to include them in this workshop.
You Hena, are going to put together all the training materials. We will contact the churches and raise money and invite all the participants.
Yes Hena? Sai Pe? (All good?)
12:45pm. I think at this stage I may have look shocked and failed to respond for about 5 minutes…
12:50pm. Ummmm, ok.
We set a date (late April), a working budget ($6000. Oh my goodness.), list the churches who should be included (all 13 denominations across Tonga) and arrange another meeting in two weeks.
Everyone is very pleased. I am still rather shell shocked.
1:30pm. I need some lunch to try and process this information. I head to Bread of Life cafe and eat a sandwich.
2pm. Continue to work on upcoming training. Discuss the changes to the NFCL counselling workshop with my counter-part. We brainstorm topics and activities and whether we think this idea will get off the ground.
3:30pm. The head of my department asks me to proof read and edit a funding proposal. I think it must have been “copied and pasted” as there are about 10 different fonts and sizes and changing margin size.
4:20pm. It is threatening to storm so everyone leaves in a rush to beat the rain.
4:30pm. Home to hug dog and husband. Hug dog first, as dog demands more attention.
5pm. Decide to go for a “rain walk” with husband as we’ve both been cooped up inside and need some fresh air. Decide not to take the dog; mud+ puddles+ walk would be too much excitement for him to handle.
6:30pm. Pumpkin soup for dinner.
7:30pm. Bike over to Elisabeth’s to hang out and watch movies and admire her cute baby. Start to watch Dorian Gray but it looks rubbish so we scrap that. Can’t decide on any other movie to watch (such a first world problem).
Settle on some stand up by Russell Peters.
10pm. It starts to rain again as we bike home. Puppy demands more hugs.