Friday, June 24, 2011

Field Trip

This past Wednesday I got to go into one of the many tribal locations here in the Sepik region. If we spoke at your church and you saw the video in our presentation, then you have seen this village! It was exciting for me to get to go there and meet the people whose faces I had memorized after watching that video 14,000,000 times.

I was asked to go in with an awesome group of ladies (and one guy who was not too bad either even though he was a USC fan) to help clean one of the missionary family's home. They have been away on furlough and their partners are also away, so there has been no one there to keep the house up. I know I hate to come home to a dirty house after a trip and this is like 100x that experience. Imagine you have just come from a land of abundance...a land where you can get most anything you need or want within just a few minute drive...where if you have come home from a long trip and you are too tired you can call and someone will deliver food right to your door. Not only that, but this land is full of nice houses and building codes and most people live where very little of the natural world can invade your home. This land is also very very clean. So clean, in fact, that some people believe it is making everyone sick. Now you get on an airplane and fly (literally) around the world to a place not so clean...or convenient. You get off your last plane and then canoe across a lake and hike up a huge hill with all your luggage and supplies of food, toilet paper, etc. for the next month since the plane probably won't be back until then (and if if it does come back you probably can't afford to pay for anything else to be put on it because you just spent the equivilant of the U.S. national deficit on traveling back to this home in the jungle) to walk into your house where you can relax at last??? No, you walk into your house full of mold and gecko poo. You have to sweep, mop, wipe down every wall with bleach, wash curtains, and then you can order your pizza... have to cook dinner. But before you can cook dinner you have to wash every single dish in your cupboards because they are filled with roach poo. And you have to dig through all your boxes of supplies to find something you can throw together..."oh look, there is some spaghetti noodles in this box, that will be easy! Ok, now where is the sauce??" After you have looked through everything and just can't seem to find the durn spaghetti sauce you finally decide to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and then discover that you also have no idea where the peanut butter is. So, then you have to unpack every single box you brought and when the last one is opened you find the peanut butter...right next to the spaghetti sauce. It is now midnight, and your kids have already gone to bed because their jet lag was stronger than their hunger, and you know that this means they will be up at 3 am asking if you ever found that peanut butter. Yeah, that sounds like a nightmare doesn't it?? So, that is why we went to clean.

Anyway, I was very very excited and my husband was equally jealous as he had to stay home with the kids. I told everyone that I was excited, but tried to play it cool, like, "yeah, I'm going to the jungle, this is no big deal...just an ordinary day for me." I think I did an ok job of that until I saw this...

Once I realized that we were going to have to get in that dugout canoe to get to the house, I lost all my sensibilities and acted like a kid with ADD who has had chocolate cake for breakfast on Christmas morning. I am sure all the other veteran missionaries were wondering who this dork was and why they brought me along instead of their kids who would have acted more mature than this (almost) 30 year old woman. But, everyone was really nice and pretended not be annoyed with me and I had a great time. I can't wait for the day that all I experienced does become normal.

Anyway, here are some pics from the trip. Enjoy...

(just kidding, blogger only let me add one picture..I will try again tomorrow)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Gecko flickin'

Growing up in the south I always heard people talk about "cow tipping". I am pretty sure it was made popular by the movie "Tommy Boy" (or maybe it was around before that, I have no idea, but it was a hilarious part in the movie)
Tommy to his new "brother":
-Can't believe you've never been cow tipping before! Get ready to live! She's sleeping. What you do is put your shoulder into her and you push.
- And?
- They fall over.
-And this doesn't strike
you as kinda' dumb?
-We're family. We're gonna be doing
lots of dumb stuff together.
And scene!

Great movie! Anyway, I never actually knew anyone who has been cow tipping before. I think it is one of those "urban myths"...wait...cow pastures are not in urban areas, so would that be a "rural myth?" My brain is exploding. Anyway, I am pretty sure that cows do sleep lying down. I mean I have seen them lying down and sleeping. My husband grew up raising cows, so I should ask his expert opinion, but he isn't here. He is getting his "official" driver's license because we noticed the other day that the office had taken down the sign that they were out of film. This doesn't actually mean that they have the film, but he is going over to check it out. He is also going to check on buying some wood to make a frame for our water bed, because it is too freakin hot at night and we are not getting any sleep. With both have some serious blood shot eyes...this may be in part to the fact that we get lots of second hand marijuana smoke blowing into our house every night...but I am pretty sure it is mostly lack of sleep. I am sorry I said freakin, but there is no other word for it. If you were here, you would agree. Anyway, I am getting WAY off topic here.

The point of this post was to tell you about my new found form of entertainment. Gecko flickin'. I imagine it is like cow tipping on a smaller scale. You see we have TONS of geckos here and they make very loud obnoxious noises at night. They do not have cute Australian accents. They make a very distinct "ka-ka-ka-ka-KA-KA-KAKAKKAKAKA!!!!!" sound all night long. Annoying. So, when we see them on our window screens (we don't have glass windows, we have mesh screens (ignore the weird dark picture of me and notice the mesh screen behind me, thank you)...

Now, whenever we see one of the annoying little boogers on the outside of the screen, we just walk over and flick it on the belly and it goes flying. We wait until we hear a satisfactory "thud" on the porch of an even better "ping" on the tin roof if we are flicking them from the bedrooms windows on the second floor. It is really quite fun. So much fun that I am constantly looking for geckos to flick and I get really excited when I spot one on the mesh. As I am writing this, I realize it sounds pretty demented, and I am guessing that we may need more to entertain us at night. If only netflix delivered to PNG! Sigh. Maybe one day. Until then, all geckos be warned...if you come to the George house, YOU WILL GET FLICKED!!! Maybe even after we get Netflix...because it is really fun.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Sunday Morning

As I am writing this, most of you are hopefully tucked nicely into your beds, sleeping soundly under the gentle hum of your air conditioners and will awake tomorrow morning and head off to church. You will probably encounter some stress as you shower and dress and feed your household, especially if you have 3 young children and only solitary Sunday shoes for each one. Or if you happen to have 3 daughters and one is crying in the corner because her sister's dress "spins" better than her own. I may or may not be speaking from experience here. Anyway, none of these were our problem this Sunday morning, however. This morning, we awakened refreshed from a good night's sleep because it rained all though out the night which was our way of "sleeping soundly to the gentle hum of our air conditioner" (air conditioner provided by God, that is). But, it was still raining when it was time to leave for church which caused a dilemma. You see we have to take a sturdy truck to church because the one we usually attend is down a long muddy road that has a stream flowing across it. This isn't normally a problem but the truck that is covered is broken, and we weren't sure what to do. We finally figured out that since we had been here for a month now, we were all slightly slimmer and could squeeze our whole family into the cab of one of the smaller trucks! Thank you Lord for all that sweating! It now served a Holy purpose! Well, as we start down the road to church we are quickly stopped by a barricade of policemen and realize that the annual "Wewak Iron Man" competition was well under way, and all the roads were blocked off for the bicycle portion of the event. So, we decided to turn around and go to a closer church that was not blocked off. It was a nice service, especially since it was still cloudy and cool outside, and there were backs to the "pews" in this place where our other church simply has small wooden benches that are close to the ground. We still don't understand every word of the sermons, but we are getting more and more everyday, and we enjoyed singing "How Great Thou Art" in Pidgin which is "Yu Bikpela". We definitely could have just stayed home and worshiped as a family, but church is a nice time to mingle with locals who are believers and a get some great language exposure.

This was not our first experience with "crazy Sundays". In fact this one was quite mild compared some we spent in China where we had to walk a mile to the bus stop, ride a bus for an hour. Get off the bus, and wait for at least 15 minutes for a taxi (they are always harder to get on weekends) and then go another 10 minutes after that. When it was raining- we just got wet because we loved going to our "Foreign Fellowship" and it was the only time we could see many of our friends. There is just something about meeting with a body of believers when you are in a foreign place that is very comforting. It is a reminder that this earth- no matter where we live on it- is not our home and we will only be completely comfortable and "at home" when we leave it. I have worshiped with believers in Haiti, El Salvador, China, and now New Guinea, and there is nothing that makes you feel the "unity of the Spirit" more than worshiping with brothers and sisters from another culture- especially if you are worshiping in a language that is not your own.

Anyway, I hope you have as great of a Sunday as we did, even you can't find all of your family member's shoes. I will close with this picture of a travel booster seat that we brought for Mia when she gets a little bigger. It has been sitting on a shelf in our kitchen underneath the microwave for a month...and this is what it looks like:

Yes, that is mold people. So far we have found it on this, JMG's backpack, and our stroller. We were told it will soon be on everything. Oh Joy. So, my question is, should we...

A. Throw it away

B. Try to salvage it with soap and bleach

C. Move to Siberia.

I 'll give you a minute to think about that. Just get back to me when you decide.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Well, we have now been here for a month, and I thought I would reflect a little about what our lives have looked like these last 30 days...

1. It has been a month since I have driven a car.

2. It has been a month since I have eaten ice cream.

3. It has been a month since I have slept in a nice air conditioned room.

4. We have been here for about 30 days and I have had diarrhea for 15 of them.

5. I have been to beach 5 times (prior to this it had been 4 years!)

6. I have played a million board games with my husband and girls (and it is lots of fun!)

7. I have made some great new friends (both ex-pat and nationals)

8. I have loved every minute of it!!!

Here are just a few pictures of our time here:

Me with my language helper, Ruth. She is currently at the island of Manus visiting her home village...Come back soon, Ruth! We miss you!

On the way to church

At the market

Playing Jenga

Some local houses

And finally I leave you with a few pics of one of our trips to the beach

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Language Learning

I bet when you read "language learning" you imagine us sitting in class with a book and a teacher and repeating words and sentences. I wish. We do have a book, but it is basically up to ourselves to learn this language. Why do they do this to us? Why don't they teach us, so we can go ahead with our ministries in the tribe? Well, it is so we can go ahead with our ministries in the tribe, actually. You see there, we will be doing the same thing. There will not be a teacher and a book telling us how to speak that language. It will be up to us to learn to speak it, then eventually create an alphabet for it and then we will teach them to read and write their own language. Crazy huh?
**Please excuse me for a moment while I get on my soap box, thank you.
Stepping on: It really bothers me when I hear "educational" media talk about how missionaries destroy the culture of tribal people. We are actually helping to preserve their culture as we are creating a written form of their language and literary materials in that language which can be kept forever. And, if your culture included cannibalism, rape, murder, and child molestation, wouldn't you want those things changed too. I also hope that viewers recognize why this media wants these cultures to be "preserved" (***hint hint, they are making money off of them, hint hint**)
Stepping down now.
Sorry about that, people. Anyway, so we are now in the middle of this process where we basically just try to make friends with people and hope they will be interested in helping us. Even though this method is more difficult initially, it is actually way more fun...because you get some friends out if it. Our ministry is all about building relationships, so spending lots of time with someone getting them to tell you about their life, family, background, thoughts and feelings does just that. In the end, you not only gain proficiency in a new language, you also gain a friend...or two...or three. And when you move to a strange place, with a strange language and culture, nothing starts to make you feel more comfortable than a friend.
So even though it is frustrating at times, it can be really fun. Like, yesterday JMG went to the fishing village and talked to an old guy named Joe. He recorded part of the conversation to use as a study tool, but Joe might not be the best language helper for him. You see, ole Joe doesn't have any teeth. Yup. So this is JMG's work of trying to decipher Pidgin from an old man with no teeth. But he loved it. Anyone who knows JM knows he loves to sit and talk with an old guy!

There are also words that are hard to say. You see occasionally words pop up in other languages that sound like gross or offensive words in English. One time in Spanish class in college my our entire class laughed like twelve year olds when the professor wrote "ganarĂ­a" on the board. It is the conditional tense for the verb "ganar" which means to win, and does not at all have to do with any questionably acquired disease. In Chinese the word for "this" was a derogatory term that will not be used in this blog. And here in PNG they use another term that in the US has been used as a derogatory term in the past. Here if I want to say I have three daughters I have to say:

"Mi gat tripela pikinini meri."

Yeah, it is still awkward for me to use that. But it is simply the word for "child" here. It comes from the Portuguese word pequeninho which means "little one". It is not offensive here. It is just the word. But I would not advise any of you to use it at home and claim you are simply speaking Melanesian Pidgin. You can, however, use the word "bagarap" for "bad", "messed up", or "spoiled". Kinda like, "buggered up"! Ha ha! That one is funny! Unless that is an offensive term in the UK? Anyone know British curse words??? Oh well, maybe just speak English. Then you will know you are safe.