Monday, March 30, 2009

Return to POC

We arrived back to POC before noon (the day before American Thanksgiving). It was great to be reunited with all the other families, but there's no words to describe how strange we felt to be back. It felt like we were back in another world again. The bucket showers which once we thought were so archaic, now felt like a dream. The dorm rooms with the cement floors seemed huge, and best of all there were lights!!

The next day was Thanksgiving. We thoroughly enjoyed the mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy and chicken. We realized even more just how much we had to be thankful for.

The rest of the week we spent debriefing with our teachers, and fellow students. It was good to talk about our time in village living; both the struggles and the joys. We also spent time packing again, and getting ready to fly to Ukarumpa on Dec. 2.

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Saying Good-bye

The night before we left we had a little good-bye ceremony. I made Western food, and they made Papua New Guinean food that we shared. They presented us with bilums and Cole got a necklace of pig tusks. We presented them with a spade and a large cooking pot.

We had a mixture of emotions in leaving the village of Tokain. Village living is an experience that our family will never forget. I've heard it said that anything worth doing is never easy, and we found that to be true. Not only was village living physically hard, but it was emotionally hard as well. Reaching across cultural barriers was at times very stressful. There were expectations of us that sometimes we were aware of and sometimes we were
simply oblivious to.

However by the time our five weeks were over, these people had a very special place in our hearts. We were continually amazed by their kindness, generosity, inguinuity, creativity, and resourcefulness. Material things they had very little of, but were always willing to share the best of what they had. We continue to pray that God's Word will work in their daily lives, and that they will loosen their hold on the traditional, animistic beliefs that we sometimes observed.

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One Last Soccer game

The village boys were always up to a soccer game. Cole and Leif had a great time playing with them, and gave them a soccer ball as a gift when we left.
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Our Last Sunday

This was our last Sunday we spent in Tokain. We usually walked along the beach to get to church.
Standing outside after the church service.
There was always a big group of children walking home with us after church.
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Planting Some Memories

On the last Saturday that we spent with our wasfamili, Robert and Donna took all of us to the garden and they wanted the kids each to plant something to remember them by. Tia planted a pineapple, and the rest of the boys planted banana trees.

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Doug and I both went on separate afternoons to visit their garden. It was hard work in the heat. This was a new garden that they were working on. It wasn't bearing food for them yet. We planted yams, kau kau, and transplanted banana trees.

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Problem with Sand Flies

During our entire village stay the kids struggled with sand fly bites. Tia's legs got the worst of it, and with the hot, tropical climate every bite turned into an infection, so we spent lots of time washing and soaking her legs. Keeping the flies away from the infected spots also was a challenge, so we cut off long socks and pulled them over the bites. As soon as we got up into the Highlands, the infection cleared up, but she still has the scars.
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The Jesus Film

On two separate nights we were able to show the Jesus film, using a sheet and a generator. Everyone was transfixed with the story of Jesus' life, based on the gospel of Luke. This was the first time for this village that they were able to see it.
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Visiting School

Doug, Cole and Leif visited school for a morning. All the instruction is done in English. This community was also looking at building a "Tok Ples" school, where the children would be taught the language of their parents (not Tok Pisin).

All the grades have children of various ages, depending on when the family can afford to send them. For example, there can be a 15 year old in grade 3 along with a 10 year old. As long as a family can afford to send them, children can go to school until grade 8. After completing grade 8, they need to take an exam, and the results of this exam will decide whether or not they can continue on to further schooling. School fees go up greatly also after completing grade 8. Consequently, due to increasing fees, and the exam in grade 8, there are many children that do not go on to further education.
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"Mowing the Grass"

After the funeral (pictured earlier), the family line needed some money to help pay for the coffin etc. They all got together to do some community service and cut the ditches with their bush knives, along the North Coast Road. It was amazing how much they got down in one afternoon with only their bush knives.
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Moris and Doug had many theological discussions. He said he was happiest when he was studying God's Word. He had married into a Catholic family and had many questions about the Reformed faith. Some of this conversation took place in Tok Pisin, but when they got into the topic of predestination, Doug had to fall back into English, which actually Moris knew pretty good. One of his questions to Doug was, "Does God choose us or do we choose God?"
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Cooking With Stones

This was the family and extended family at whose house we ate dinner.
They wanted to show us how they cooked with stones. They had a super hot fire where they put many stones. Using bamboo cut in half for tongs, they picked out the stones from the fire and put them in a pot that had water, the chicken and the greens. The stones heated the water to boiling and putting a lid on the pot, the chicken and greens were cooked very quickly.

The kids liked the bamboo tongs and liked trying them out.
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Invitation to Dinner

One of the families we got to know, invited us over for afternoon dinner. When we got there, the grandfather had to kill the chicken first. We were all pretty fascinated as he got out his bow and arrow and chased the chicken around the yard, and then shot it. The dead bird was thrown on the fire, where the feathers were burned off. Then we all walked to the river, where it was cleaned and cut up. We felt honored that they killed one of their chickens for us, since they save their chickens for very special occasions.

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Chocolate Anyone?

Growing cocoa beans is another potential cash crop in the lowlands of PNG. Inside the cocoa pods are the beans. The beans are cut out and put in a big bin that has a fire underneath which dries them out.

This man is turning the beans over. When they are completely dried they are put in bags and taken to town by ox. The beans are shipped to Australia or America where they are processed into cocoa.
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