I’ve gotten behind in talking about my adventures so let me catch you up now. I’ll try to hit the highlights!
We’ve been having language class three mornings a week then going out the other two days and some afternoons to use what we’ve learned and to experience and observe more of the area than we might otherwise see. Everyone is very willing to help us learn and they encourage us in our efforts, correcting us when we don’t say it right, and showing patience in our slow speech and understanding of our blunders! It’s a great way to learn! And lots of fun, providing entertainment for all of us!
So far, besides going into Goroka and the market, we’ve visited 3-4 communities, learning who lives there, how they’re related, sight-seeing, expanding our vocabulary, and just enjoying getting to know people. Most of these have been on the other side of the river. The water now is about waist deep at several areas and can be crossed by wading through. Sometimes we ladies can ride across on a large gumi (innertube) being pulled by our citizen teacher. Other times we wade, often holding hands due to the current and rocky bottom. As we go the trails may be muddy in places where the sun has not reached. On one particular trip, most of the trail was a series of long calf-deep puddles with thick, slick mud on the bottom. So, we ladies just tuck up our skirts and go. Shoes that fasten on are a must for all water and muddy crossings. Even then, there’s really no guarantee that they will remain on throughout your trek in the mud! LOL! But at the end of these trails are sweet people whose lives revolve around this land. Some are brothers and sisters in Christ; others still need to understand for themselves what God has done for them.
On one of these walks, we got to talk to a man panning for gold in the river. He would dig up a shovel fool of gravel and dirt from the bottom of the river, letting the water wash into it then dumping it through a large wire basket that acted as a sieve for the larger rocks, down onto a thick pile carpet laying in a section of tin roofing that was laid out to sluice water through it with the river current. Since the gold is heavy, he told us, it would sink down into the carpet and the rest of the dirt would be washed away. Then he flips the carpet over, letting the water wash the gold dust out of the carpet where he can collect it in another pan. He already had a small dusting of gold when we met him. Very cool!
When we arrived at the village community that day, the women came out to sit and visit and teach us how to make bilums and the men to teach the men with us how to weave baskets and things. That was probably one of my favorite activities so far.
Another of my favorites was going long hap sait wara (to the other side of the river) today to help digim pinats (dig up peanuts) and help wasim kolos (wash clothes) In the river. I enjoy the work and everyone had a fun time talking Pisin and teasing back and forth with the couple we worked with.
Last Sunday, I had the opportunity of going on a 2-hour hike with a big group—and I DO mean HIKE—up into the hills to a waterfall hidden in one of the ravines. Shortly after starting, my mind registered the fact that I was in a higher altitude than I’m used to and soon after my body agreed! The hike was mostly uphill on the way out so frequent stops along the narrow trail to breathe were necessary plus a few rest stops when the land allowed. It also happened to be the hotter time of the day as we hiked out but the views were spectacular and the cool waterfall and pool almost made it worth it. …almost. I was more than ready for bed that night! I’ve put a few of the amazing pictures from the hike into the slideshow. The hike down was much smoother and downhill, and a couple from the center surprised us by meeting us with a van and a cooler of cold water about 20 minutes walk from home! Yay for motor vehicles!!! They even gave us rides up the hill and around the center to our homes!
The soreness is lessening now but I still feel it climbing the hill to my home! That hike gave me such a HUGE respect for the people who walk those hills all the time to get out to town, to market, to get water, to work, to live. I thought of stories I’ve heard of people walking all day or for more than one day to come and ask missionaries to come tell them about Jesus! They walk so much of the time because they have to, yes, but they don’t give up because life’s hard or uncomfortable. It’s just life. To see how they do things and what lengths they go to gives me a great respect for their perseverance and discipline. A bit humbling when I’m triumphing over the accomplishment of one hike and they walk these hills all the time just to live. Hhhmmm…things to think about.
Anyhow…That’s been my time so far. I look forward to talking to you more soon!