Coming to the field, we expected to be working cross-culturally. After all, we’d be living in a country not our own, with the PNG people who live and think differently from us. Living among them, learning the PNG language, and discovering cultural differences came as no surprise to us.
What is catching me off guard is working with missionaries from different cultures! We get along fine, but coming from different backgrounds leads to some — well, interesting — discussions. Currently in our IT department, I’m the only American. Our Australian manager is currently on home assignment, 2 men from Germany, and 2 PNG nationals (one of who spent much of his childhood in New Zealand) make up the rest of our team. It’s a common occurrence for any of us to make a statement or a joke that’s received only by blank stares from the others who didn’t understand the cultural idiom or turn of phrase. Quite often the German guys will start a conversation in English, somehow transition to German and end up in Pidgin somewhere along the way. As Kevin put it, “we forget which language we were using!”
While language and culture references make working together amusing (and sometimes frustrating), we’re united by our brotherhood in Christ as we do our part towards the goal to see churches planted across Papua New Guinea. We couldn’t ask for a better team to see His kingdom furthered!