I’m sitting at our table clicking away on my laptop and I just watched two of our neighbors walk by carrying huge branches on their shoulders slung with dozens of coconuts. Yes it’s true, life here is “different.”
We’ve shared a lot about the differences of our lives now that we live in a village in Papua New Guinea. Our desire is to invite you to understand what it is like here and to help you feel more connected, even though we are so far away. Occasionally, in response to something we’ve shared in our blogs or e-mails, we receive questions that make us think that some have gotten the wrong idea about how different things really are. From comments hinting that I must be spending my time cooking over outdoor fires, to wondering if our children wear clothing here… a few imaginations may be running a bit wild. And no: we don’t get around by swinging on vines! Hee,hee. Allow me to set the record straight. 😀
Many aspects of our lives here ARE in fact, completely “normal”- as defined by how we live in the States.
Most of these normal things involve our house so that’s where I will start. As most of you know, we joined this church planting work and had the blessing of moving into a house that we did not have to build. [For some specifics on our house and information on the additions and changes that will be necessary in the future, see our PROJECT:HAUS page] As in the States, we do enjoy the blessing of electricity thanks to our solar panels and batteries. Also, we have running water in our home which is rain collected off our roof and stored in a large tank. And yes! We DO in fact use a toilet! Not a hole in the ground. 😀 We have a kitchen where I do all the cooking for our family using a gas stove top. We have a dining room, a living room, a master bedroom and one bedroom for the kids. The house is small, but for the current size of our family, it’s perfect!
Just as it was on the other side of the globe, we are home. We have desperately wanted our house to be a place we feel comfortable in, a place that feels like home to us.
Lets face it-I am not a Tigak woman, we are not a Tigak family and that’s ok. A hut like the people live in would never feel like home! In order to be able to live here a long time and not go crazy, we need a space that is familiar. A place we can feel relaxed and normal in. This is why we have done what we can to make our house feel like a home. Just as in the states it is normal for me to a crafty & frugal gal. I have had no end of opportunities here to be the same as I have done my best to use things we can get in this country to decorate our home and make it feel nice. Everything from sewing curtains with PNG fabric and padding and upholstering furniture to painting a few pictures to decorate our walls. If we lived in the US we would have a coffee table and ends table’s and we do here, too! We have been thrilled that a Tigak friend has been able to build these tables out of bamboo. I just drew him a picture and he made them! Lastly, there are a few special items in our home brought from America that help it feel like home.
Honestly, we feel very comfortable in our house. As would be normal for us in America we still have a never ending weekend to do list, but never the less as we chip away at leaky pipes and water pump issues our house does feel like our home and that has helped a lot in allowing us to embrace life here in Papua New Guinea. If you came to visit us here, you might actually not feel like it is so different in our house either!
[Just in case you were wondering: In PNG culture it is not normal for you to enter another persons house. For the PNG person, there house is primarily just their “bedroom” and therefore is considered a private place. All of their daily activities take place outside, as do our interactions with them.]
The next area of our life that could be considered “normal” involves our daily and weekly schedule. Aside from the obvious things, like the fact that we eat three meals a day and Tom “goes to work” for eight hours a day, we also have a pretty set weekly schedule, which involves our teammates. Here’s a list of a few things from our weekly schedule that somewhat coincide with things we would also be doing if we still lived in the states. Hence I will consider them-normal.
Sunday: We “go to church” by meeting with our partners at Aimee’s house. We listen to recorded sermons, sip coffee and discuss spiritual truths we have learned or are learning. Following our little church gathering with our team mates we gather with the Tigak believers to have church with them as well.
Monday: Ladies Bible Study. On Monday evenings my gal partners and I get together in the evening and do a Bible study together. We are currently doing a Beth Moore Bible study on the Psalms of Ascent. We each complete the homework throughout the week and when we meet on Monday we watch a video session to kick us off for the next week of studies. This is also a time where we can have a girlie time and pray for one another.
Thursday: “Thursdate” -Date night for Tom and I (every other week). In the States this would look like Tom and I searching out a matinee movie or hitting up an ice cream shop, but here it means our amazing partners watch the kids for an hour and a half so Tom and I can sip tea in a quiet house and spend quality time together. We have worked out a deal to swap kids with the Bealls every other week to give each couple some alone time with each other. Our other co-worker, Aimee, has also been watching the kidlets when the Bealls are gone (right now they are traveling). Jude is loving his nights with “Auntie Aimee” and the subsequent dance parties and popcorn-making that often ensues. 😀 This has been a great blessing to us!
The rest of our time of course involves all of our interaction with the Tigak people as we attempt to learn this language and culture and so would begin the discussions into all that is not “normal.”
So, the cat is out of the bag, we are “normal” missionaries. Wait? Is that even possible? 😀 Hopefully you have a better understanding of how our life looks and feels here!