Lets just start by saying it is no joke traveling to the other side of the world! All told, we traveled for about 33 hours straight to get to Papua New Guinea. We left on Monday from LAX, flew to Fiji, stopped in the Solomon Islands, flew to Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea), and finally landed in Madang!
The rural-ness of PNG is amazing- as we flew across this beautiful, mountainous country, it was almost entirely jungle speckled by small pockets of villages.
The rich people live in tin homes, while the majority of people here in Madang live in huts made of wood and woven palm branches. All the homes are built on stilts to preserve the home from insects, water and general deterioration. We arrived on the New Tribes base and got settled into our new home! We can see the Pacific Ocean from our home. Dealing with the time change has been somewhat of an uphill battle- we are 14 hours ahead. Our bodies keep waking us up at midnight, but luckily we are pretty good at forcing ourselves back to sleep.
We have been meeting the other missionaries arriving for their first 4 year stint, as well as those who work here full time. It has been great all being in the same boat- newbies not knowing a thing about the national language (Pidgin) and culture.
Here are some HIGHLIGHTS so far:
– Getting to go into town to the local grocery store and open air market. We cook our own food and will be eating the freshest produce we’ve ever had- straight from the gardens of the nationals!
– A couple came out of their tribe for a two week break and we became good friends, picking their brains about life in the tribe. They invited us to go with them to the neighboring village to accompany them as they visited some old friends they made. We got to walk around and meet the locals! We all stuck out like sore thumbs, but the people flocked over to say “apinoon” or “good afternoon” to us. Jacob befriended a man also named Jacob. The man was so excited they had the same name, and told Jacob to come back and practice Pidgin with him! This walk through the village was the best event this week as we were able to get out for the first time and meet our neighbors.
– On Sunday morning we were able to attend the local church which is conveniently right across the street! This was especially exciting since Trinity VBS raised money this year to help them build a church structure since they are currently meeting under a tarp. The pastor was very welcoming, as well as the church and we had a great time worshiping with the local believers.
LESSONS we have learned about jungle life:
- Never, EVER leave so much as a crumb on your floor/counter!! The ant life here is absolutely nuts- they come out of nowhere/everywhere and suddenly you have this huge army of ants all over! On the first day I left some dishes in the sink… let’s just say that was the first and last time that will ever happen again.
- The toad’s pee is poisonous. Don’t pick them up. (Advice not learned from personal experience, thank goodness).
- I have literally never felt the urge so strongly to jump over a barbed wire fence and run as fast as I can and dive into the ocean. Even if it is the place where everyone dumps their waste. But it’s JUST. SO. HOT.
4. Babies are 95% of the time naked. Also how the nationals greet cute babies is by flicking & pinching their cheeks, or fliging them around yelling about how cute they are. It’s hilarious to watch our friend’s kids’ reactions!
5. Geckos are a part of indoor living. They will just appear on your floor/window/table and there is nothing you can do about it. They are way too fast to catch. So you just have to live with it.
Most importantly, we are so excited to begin learning Pidgin and getting out to meet more people- especially travelling to the tribes! Thank you for your prayers & encouragement!!
– Patience & peace as we are sometimes under culture stress being in such a new place trying to adjust
– For learners attitudes as we begin our training classes and as we get to know this amazing country!