We’ve now been living for 3 months in the country we hope to one day call our home. It’s been a whirlwind of experiences, frustrations and adjustments. It’s hard to explain our life here as each day is quite different. Culture comes literally knocking at our door every day.
There are always new experiences to learn from and attempt to respond properly to. Like when we go on a family walk and get joined by a stranger asking for shoes, the mad man chasing us who scraped his car trying to pass us and demanding we pay to fix the damage, the drunk stopping us on the road demanding money, the woman selling bananas whose young son just died in motorcycle accident, the people at the market yelling at us to get our attention to buy their produce.
We are learning also how to respond without words like when the stranger joins our family walk and holds Josh’s hand, the drivers honking their horn behind us to start driving when there is still 5 seconds left before the light turns green, the correct hand gesture to beckon the oncoming traffic to slow down while you do a U-turn.
Understanding cultural norms and not being offended by them is a must if we want to live here. Like when we’re eating a meal and our guest with a mouth full is telling a long story and belches mid-sentence and carries on like it was nothing. When going on a walk with a new acquaintance and he blows a snot rocket out of his nose. Carrying on when the scent of the person we are talking to is so overpowering it’s hard to concentrate. When we’re having a pleasant conversation and she picks her nose and flicks the boogie on the ground beside me. When dance parties right outside our bedroom window last through the night and the men dance like flopping chickens to the most annoying music that vibrates our house because it is so loud.
The things mentioned above are not necessarily bad. They are just contrary to what I know and what I’m comfortable with. And it is necessary that we adjust our thinking to see all these things (and more!) as not offensive or bad, just how life is lived here. I do not expect to ever fully “become” a Papuan, but to understanding them in their comfort zone is so important to communicating at a heart level.
Our current ministry goals are to expand our understanding of language and culture, build meaningful relationships with neighbors and others in our community, and begin gathering information on the tribal groups we could potentially work with some day. We are working very hard to try to learn the national language well. We are progressing, though it’s often not at the speed would like, and can be such an exhausting experience! Each day we have plans, but living in a culture where schedules and time are not important makes what we could consider a “productive” day nearly impossible. A least 50% of our language sessions are canceled last minute. And if the helper shows up, he’s usually an hour or two late (or early!).
Many days it can be exciting to experience life with all its unique differences. But as you can imagine many days are not as easy. We’ve run into several difficult, sad, stressful and horrifying situations. But by the grace of God we still are here, desiring to be here. We have been encouraged by several new friendships and involvement with bible studies, church events and get-togethers with others in the mission.
Please pray for us in these ways:
Our support. Our support has decreased to 50%. Currently we are making ends meet and have enough food on our table and means to pay rent. However, during this next year it is important for us to save a significant amount toward the costs of allocating to a tribal village. If you are interested in helping out with this, please go to email@example.com for more information.
Our spiritual encouragement. It’s a challenge to stay spiritually renewed and encouraged in the Lord for any believer. And we’re right in the midst of that battle to acknowledge Him in all our joys, needs and discouragements. Pray that Josh and my relationship would be made strong in the Lord and that we would daily consider the Lord in raising the children.
Our testimony. We’re making many new relationships and we ask for prayer that the Lord would make Himself know through these weak vessels. It’s a wonder that God can do this and we trust He will.
-Bethany, For the Weeks Family
Please keep in touch with us! There are so many days we’re longing for encouragement! Also, if you want to keep more up-to-date with our daily activities check out my blog and facebook!
A few pictures o Ella from her birthday week. 3 years old!