Monday, September 26, 2011

We are still in the land of no internet, and I think we will be here until the first of November now. We feel good about it because 1. We are really liking tribal life and 2. We think that it will really help our Pidgin study to stay in here a little longer.  So, I am still updating this blog via e-mail. How do I have email with no internet? Well, we email through a short wave radio. How does that work? I have no idea, but I am sure you can google it.


Anyway, the only thing I don’t like about it is that I am writing these blogs with no idea if anyone is reading them. I also don’t like that fact that I can’t get Auburn football scores but that is another subject for another day. Oh, and I don’t like the fact that I cannot add pictures. I wonder, if you are actually reading these, if you are getting bored with just text. I know I would be. But since I can’t add pictures anyway, I thought I would tell you about all the things I really wish I had a picture of and don’t because it was either inappropriate, or I just didn’t have a camera:


1.      Me slipping and falling in mud while walking in a funeral procession.

2.      The naked kid, covered with ringworm from head to toe carrying my pillow to the house for me when we moved in. (note to self, when we move out, pack pillow in suitcase)

3.      My baby leaned half way out of a canoe so she could stick her hand in the water as we travelled across the river. (don’t worry, mom, I was holding on tight)

4.      A kid sitting next to my five year old in church (himself also being about five years old,) handing her a knife to use to carve the sick she was playing with.

5.      The Sunday School teacher using a spear as a pointer when teaching the kids the memory verse for the week. (I actually thought this was pretty cool)

6.      The hundreds of termites we just found in the top of the closet. (I wonder if anyone has told the missionary family whose house we are in about this blog?  If so, are they reading this right now and freaking out??? Just in case, this message is for them…Hi, H family! Don’t worry about your house we are taking good care of it for you! We just saved it from total termite destruction!)




Friday, September 16, 2011


We have almost completed two weeks of our bush orientation and I am proud to say that we are all still alive. Barely. Just kidding, mom.


Our days are filled with learning all kinds of new things like how to deal with an electrical system when your batteries are going bad, and how to conserve water when you are going into the dry season and your water tank leaks. These are all very real and very important parts of the training for tribal church planters.


We are also trying to continue our Pidgin study, and learn more about village life and culture in general. Monday we went with some of the people to harvest “saksak”. The English word for it is “sago” but I am sure that doesn’t help you much either.


Basically it is a huge tree that grows in the swamp. The people cut it down open it up, scrape out the pulp to make a starchy substance that is the staple in their diet. Then they use every other part of the tree to build their houses. When we get back to town and internet, I will do a more detailed post with pictures. But what you need to know right now is that is a lot of hot, sweaty, hard work that you do in the middle of the swamp with mud up to your calves and bees and mosquitoes flying all around you. And these people do this about once a week…so they will have food…so they won’t die. After that experience I will not complain about my “scratch” cooking.  I am ashamed of all the times I have opened a bag of flour, and thought, “Ugh this is so hard!”  Now I know it could be worse…much worse. I could have to go out and cut an entire field of wheat with a machete. Then carry it home and grind it into wheat first. And that would still be easier than what these people do. These real tribal wives are doing real scratch cooking. Like, starting with cutting down a huge flippin tree. I bet if any of them heard me complain, they would laugh, and say, “Lady, you don’t know squat about scratch cooking.” And I would hang my head in shame because they are right.


Anyway, so that is just a little tid bit of what we are doing now. Learning a lot of new things and gaining a whole new perspective.  And sweating. We are doing lots and lots of sweating.




Friday, September 9, 2011

Our first few days in the tribe have been challenging to say the least. I have to be honest, and tell you that I didn’t expect it to be. You see we are in a place that is sort of a rare jewel for tribal church planting. Most of the people in the village are believers and they are real “go getters.” They all speak Pidgin along with their tribal language. So coming in here, I knew that the church had lots of activities planned for us to help train us in what it is like to live with a tribal group and to help us speak Pidgin. I knew that we would be safe and that the people would be friendly and loving. I honestly thought that my biggest challenge would be planning and packing all the food we would need while we were in here (that did prove to be quite challenging since we made it in here with 100 bags of cheese balls and no milk, sugar, butter, coffee, or laundry detergent.).


However, my assumptions were destroyed about 4 hours after we got here. We were eating dinner with the missionaries who live here and are hosting us. (we’ll call them “the Joe Missionary family”) We were all talking and laughing until we heard a drum start beating. “Why are they beating that drum?” asked Joe…“That’s the death call,” said their teenage daughter… he calls out to find out who died… it was a little 12 year old boy who was thought to have had dysentery. In fact, right before we got on the plane to come here the missionaries radioed for us to bring the medicine he needed on the plane with us. After getting us settled, Joe went down to give the medicine to the boy and make sure the parents knew how much and how often he needed it (the people now believe that the boy had a ruptured spleen and not dysentery.)


Everyone was in shock. Joe and JMG went down to see the family, and I took my kids home so that Mrs. Joe Missionary could settle her kids and go down there too.


I spent the next hour bathing my kids, putting them to bed, and continued to unpack all with the sound of a drum and loud wailing in the background.


JMG came back and told me a little bit about what went on in the house, and that the family were all believers, in fact the dad teaches Sunday School at the church. And we went to bed.


The next morning Daughter Missionary came to tell us that the people had invited us to come to the funeral, so we made our way down the hill not knowing exactly what to expect. As I entered the house where the family was mourning, I saw a small box carved out of a tree and a mother leaned over it crying and wailing. It was incredibly difficult. I immediately wanted to leave. I didn’t know how long I could watch this woman grieve…watch her live out what was my worst nightmare.  But as I sat there, I felt the Lord telling me, that I needed to stay. If I wanted to do this work, I had to stay.


You see living in the jungle and dealing with the heat and the bugs and figuring out how to live on solar power and rainwater are not what will be hard for me. What will be hard for me to do is to go “all in” with these people and their lives. To watch as their children run around naked and die of curable diseases. I have a tendency to want everything to be nice and pleasant and rose colored. When something is difficult, I like to make a sarcastic comment or joke about it and go on. I like to rejoice when people rejoice, but when they grieve, I like to go hide in my house and turn on something funny and happy and pretend nothing is wrong. But the fact is, living in the middle of nowhere with people who do not have access to what I consider necessities in life is not pretty… or funny. It is dirty and dangerous and full of death.  But Jesus reminds me that He was there for people, and he quite literally grieved when they grieved. I have heard a lot of sermons on the shortest verse in the Bible, “Jesus wept.” And I have heard many pastors give very lofty reasons why they think Jesus was brought to such grief…reasons that are nowhere in the Bible. What is in the Bible appears in the verses above that, “When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.” Their heartache made His heart ache. So, if I am to continue on this journey, I have to know that it will be painful. If I am to love these people it is going to expose my heart to some serious grief and pain.


The beauty of this situation is that, though these parents have to suffer the agony of losing a child, the little boy and his parents are believers, so they have hope that he is with Jesus and one day they will be too.  But I know that there will be many years that I experience this same situation without that hope. Those years while we are learning the language before we present the gospel to the people. I will have to watch helplessly while people die without a relationship with Jesus Christ. This is the cost that I must count. Not the malaria or the centipedes or the fact that I can’t feed my kids chicken nuggets when I am feeling tired or lazy. Being here has opened my eyes to my weakness in this area, and I am now daily praying for the strength to face this fear and dive in completely.


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Test Post From E-mail...

Getting ready to leave for the Mariama Tribe in the morning. So, I'm trying to rig my blog so that I can post from e-mail (this is the only thing we will have...e-mail via short-wave radio.)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

1 year

A lot can happen in a year.

You can have a baby...

You can think that baby is going to be skinny and gangling...

but then she turns into this...

You can pack up all your junk...

And fly around the world...

You can land in Papua New Guinea...

See some weird things...

And some scary things...

And some awesome things...

And that baby you had can turn one...

And you have to buy her Cheerios and Baby Shampoo for presents...
**Because 1. They are too expensive for everyday life and 2. there are no real toys here

And you can realize that on that day a year ago when you thought you couldn't possibly be were wrong. You can be happier. Much happier...and sweatier...

The End.

**P.S. If you can guess how much the Cheerios and Baby Shampoo cost in U.S. dollars, there will be a prize rewarded to you! Mom, you can't play since you already know...also you can't play if you live in PNG, because that is not "guessing" it is knowing...painfully knowing.