I am dripping in sweat and have just come inside after spending over an hour doing half of our laundry- “tribal living style”. That is to say I just used a twin tub washer for the very first time. Of course when we went through missionary training we where shown the in’s and outs of using this unique piece of equipment but I must say, it was nothing like the experience of using it for real. As cumbersome as moving your clothes by hand from wash cycle to spinner, rinse cycle and back to spinner is (x12 for today so far), I am truly thankful for this wonderful machine! Even if I did have to recycle dirty wash water three times! 🙂
Welcome to day 5 of our Bush Orientation, living on a tiny island in the middle of the very salty & blue pacific ocean. Though we are covered in bug bites, itching & sweating like crazy, (It is SO HOT here it is practically unbelievable) no one has died and we are making the most of it. Needless to say we are getting a very good glimpse into what life will be like living in the middle of a remote village.
This island is home to around 200 of the Tigak people. (We have been told there are up to 20,000 speakers of the Tigak language though an exact number has not been confirmed) This is a very small, 1/2 mile long by 1/4 mile wide, egg shaped island, covered in course white sand, tropical jungle & lots of sun! Thanks to the faithful ministries of the missionaries who have been here before us, there are a small handful of believers here but the majority of this island is still unsaved. There is still great need among the Tigak people-both on this island and beyond to the other tens of thousands of speakers!
The culture of the Tigak people is very different from that of the people we have been living near since we came to PNG. This is the most laid back place you could ever imagine. Most everyone here fishes for their lively hood because gardens don’t do well in pure sand! 🙂 Because they don’t have many gardens to attend too and fishing happens at specific times and seasons, the people here have lots of time to relax! And that’s what they love to do! You can walk along the beach and see people spread out in the sand under the shade of big trees just sleeping for hours. It strikes us as funny when we ask people what they have done that day and they just tell us, “I’ve just been sleeping”. Wow! What a life!
It might be because of all the time on their hands but the Tigak people have higher standards for neatness than we have seen before (here in PNG). They keep their “yards” of sand cleanly swept free of leaves and debris, they keep their pigs in pens instead of letting them roam around and there is an extensive network of paths all over the island that have been planted with rows of tropical bushes and flowers-almost like a botanical garden! It is so “clean” here we never even wear shoes! This island is a very unique place.
We are now living in the house of the previous partners to the Beall family-who are currently the only missionaries serving here. Hmmm, how to describe this house..
Very small, thin walls that are short enough for me to toss something over them into another room, a leaking toilet that is currently patched with duct tape-and still leaking and very limited power (provided by a combination of a generator, batteries and solar panels). Because of the limited power we have struggled to keep our food fresh and have dealt with milk going bad over night and some quickly molding food. 🙁 We are trying to figure out a temporary solution that we are hopeful will improve the current situation. Along with limited power we are also dealing with limited water because of an unusually long dry period in the area. Thankfully it did finally rain a few days ago and our tank filled. We are still using the water very sparingly because we do not know when the next time we will get rain will be. -Please pray for lots of rain!
There is very little privacy in this house and for a married couple with a toddler & a single woman sharing the space, it can make for some stressful moments. Thankfully we are good friends with Aimee and have every intention of submitting to the Lord and preferring one another in love even when things get hard. We would appreciate your prayers for us in this area.
Here is a practical example of what living in this house is like: If Tom is laying in our bed, I am brushing my teeth in the bathroom and Aimee is in her bedroom we can all have a conversation with each other with out raising our voices at all! If Tom turned on the 6 inch DC fan above his head he would need to project his voice slightly for us to continue our conversation. 😛 Interesting!
In addition to adjusting to our new house, we are adjusting to living smack in the middle of village life. Aimee has aptly referred to our house as being like living in a “fish bowl” and that is exactly how if feels. Whether it’s having eight village kids faces pressed against your screen watching you eat your lunch, hearing dogs fighting or just seeing the sting ray your neighbors are frying up for lunch, this is village life at it’s best and we better adjust! It hasn’t even been one week yet and even though this time has been very challenging already, it is very clear why preparation like this is helpful to anticipating what life in a village will be like-for the long haul! We are excited to see all that the Lord will teach us during this time.
While we stay here in Tigak, we will be doing a large number of things that our leadership has arranged for us as part of this “bush orientation”. This will include spending a lot of time with the Beall family and asking them for their insights into many aspects of Tribal ministry. There are several short trips we plan to take to other tribal works to increase our exposure and learn. We will also be spending intentional time with the Tigak people, building relationships with them and practicing more of our language skills (using the national language-tok pisin). In addition we will be working through many aspects of team compatibility with our friend Aimee, further seeking the Lord with the question of whether it be His will that we parter with her or not. Hopefully this will be a very productive few months that will get us closer to knowing where God wants us to serve!