When you think of a garden, you most likely picture a rectangular or square plot of ground, nicely plowed and planted with straight rows of various vegetables. Each row might even have a little sign at the end denoting what is growing there. Our Amdu friends have gardens, but they probably don’t look anything like the garden you might have!! The picture below is what the garden of one of our friends looks like.
To make a new garden, our Amdu friends first have to cut down all the underbrush and small saplings on the plot of land they have chosen. Depending on how big of a garden they are making, that might take a few days. After cutting the underbrush, they will also cut down the larger trees. They sometimes leave some trees, but they remove the leaves so as not to block the sunlight. After cutting the trees up into smaller sections, they let everything dry for about two weeks. Then it’s time to “cook” (in English we would call it burn) the garden. Various things are then planted in the garden – not in neat rows but rather somewhat haphazardly to our eyes! Many varieties of sweet potatoes, pumpkin (more like our squash), cucumbers, corn (not quite as juicy as our sweet corn though), taro, tapioca root and bananas are the main garden staples. Besides hunting for wild pigs, cassowaries or small birds, whatever our Amdu friends grow in their garden is what they eat. So, gardening here is a BIG deal.
We have shared this many times before, but it’s probably worth repeating and emphasizing again. Before we can share the Good News of the Gospel with the Amdu people, we must first learn their language. Very closely intertwined with their language is their culture. We can’t just learn the words that make up this language; we must also understand how they think and view the world. Understanding their language and culture means that we have to enter into life with them – sitting in their houses around a smoky fire, helping them in their gardens, hiking through the jungle to other villages, helping them gather leaves to make a new roof when theirs starts to leak… the list goes on.
Because gardening is such a big deal here, our family decided to start a “school garden”. The village leader gave us a plot of land about a 20 minute hike from our house. The picture below shows what it looked like the day we went to begin the process of clearing the land. Hopefully your garden plot doesn’t look like this!!
A few days later we went back to cut up the trees that had been cut down the last time. From looking at the pictures, you might not guess it’s the same place as the previous picture but it is! Now it’s time to let it dry. It rains just about every night so dry is a relative term.
Learning this language and culture is a full time job (and then some!) that is essential to us being able to someday share God’s Word with our Amdu friends. We fly in most of our food staples because the point of us being in Amdu isn’t just to grow our own food and exist here. But learning how they garden and experiencing this realm of their lives is another step towards better understanding the Amdu people.
Please continue to pray for us as we work to learn this language. Two of our New Tribes culture and language consultants recently came in to evaluate our progress. The scale they use has 9 levels. Before we are considered “done” with learning this language and can proceed with teaching literacy, beginning to develop Bible lessons and translating, we must pass all 9 levels. Right now we are both in level 4. We still have a LOT of work ahead of us, but we are thankful for the advice and ideas our consultants gave us for how to continue making good progress. We appreciate your prayers and are thankful for many of you who let us know that you are praying for us. Since our teammates are on furlough in America and we are “alone” in Amdu right now, it is especially nice to hear from friends. If you don’t have our email address, you can use the CONTACT page to send us a message.
We’ll post some more pictures of our garden as it progresses!!