Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A day on the coast

PNG can be a stressful place to live, and we've certainly had a taste of that already. But not everything in PNG is stressful. In fact, there is also much to enjoy in this country. Sometimes we just stand awestruck at the beauty of God's creation - whether it's the moon shimmering over the waters of the South Pacific, or the great variety of plants and animals in the jungle.

Glenda the goat watches the full moon shimmering over the ocean.
A Christmas spider waits for lunch outside our dorm. We weren't sure at first if the yellow and black stripes were part of the spider or a bug that he had caught.

Last week we spent a day on the north coast, and that was just breathtakingly beautiful. We had the opportunity to go snorkelling over coral reefs and explore a world we had never seen before. It's just amazing how many different kinds of fish and coral there are. Perhaps some day we'll have a waterproof camera and take some underwater pictures, but for now, we'll just leave you with a few from on shore.

A blue starfish
This is where we went swimming. The water really is that blue (and then some).
One of many tiny crabs on the beach.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


About three weeks ago we took a five-hour drive to Madang to begin our training in Tok Pisin, the main language of PNG in which we will be ministering in Lae. We are taking the Pacific Orientation Course (POC), which is run by SIL. We are located on Nobnob mountain, a short drive out from Madang with a beautiful view over the surrounding jungle and the Bismarck Sea. There is an amazing variety of plant and animal life here - and the locals know a great deal about what can be done with it all.

It's hard to believe it's been only three weeks here, because we have done so much already. Part of our time here is spent in formal language learning, but so much more is spent on other things, and it's amazing how much of the language we are able to pick up through everything else. For example, we go on hikes quite regularly, and that gives us an excellent opportunity to talk with some of the local guides, ask questions, and hear their stories. We have lectures on anthropology that help us to understand the Melanesian culture better. We have assigned readings to help us understand more yet. We have had practical orientation to basic survival in village living - although we will be working in the city of Lae, we are still looking forward to the 5-week village living component of POC as it will help us understand the life that people come from who end up in the city, and of course it will help greatly to be immersed in Tok Pisin.

In the past week and a half we used a lot of our spare time to build haus kuks, literally cookhouses. These are cooking shelters that we get to use to prepare our own meals over the coming weekends (otherwise we are fed in the POC dining hall). The building process was done using wood from the forest, with some string to tie it together, and a tarp for a roof; all we had to get the job done was a machete. I must say I am really beginning to appreciate the versatility of the machete and am not surprised anymore to see so many people walking around with them; it's certainly a lot more useful than walking around with a Blackberry… This past weekend was the first time we had to use our hans kuks, and cooking over a fire went remarkably well. We came to realize that living outdoors, plus not having access to a refrigerator is really good for building community and a great reason to share food.

Last week Monday (Aug 29th) was our second wedding anniversary (although with all the changes in our lives in these last two years, it seems like it's been a lot longer than that). We weren't sure how we could celebrate that here, but the staff did a great job of making sure we did. During supper, they had someone watch Avigail, and they had set up a table in a room off the main dining hall where we could have a candlelight dinner with just the two of us. When living in a dorm community, that is a huge luxury, and we thoroughly enjoyed it.

Here are a few pictures to give you a taste of what our life has been like lately.

While we are in class, Avigail spends her days in the nursery. When it's nap time, the ladies hang her up in a bilum.

When the trail comes to an end, it's time to take out the machete and blaze a new trail.

Avigail just loves it here and is very sociable with the other kids. She learned how to crawl last week, and really enjoys her new-found mobility.

Working on the table in our haus kuk.

At this time of year, people are clearing out their gardens, expanding them, and burning all the dead debris and weeds in preparation for the next planting season.

Dining doesn't get much more exclusive than this!

Boiling some eggs for breakfast on Sunday morning.