Five (Unexpected) Things We Love About Living Here and An Update

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I read somewhere once that if you’re going to Papua New Guinea, expect the unexpected.

So far, that saying has been a help to me. Things do not always run smoothly, plans have to be changed as often as they are made, or sometimes not happen altogether. Flights get cancelled, the weather is unpredictable, and getting somewhere can involve some improvisation since transportation schedules flux. Generally, I’ve taken that phrase to mean expect-the-less-than-ideal unexpected.

What has surprised me, however, have been those unexpected things that I have grown to love after living here for a little over a month. Here are five unexpected things that Matt and I love about living here.

  1. The Thunderstorms – Papua New Guinea is a rainforest and I am happy to give you a first-hand confirmation that this is not a misnomer. It rains here nearly every night and sometimes during the day. But about once a week, we get a real, honest-to-goodness, literally-shake-our-house-to-its-foundations thunderstorm. They are loud and they are glorious. On the night of our Christmas party, the kids were playing in the backyard when a giant bolt of lightning struck somewhere within a mile of us, releasing the loudest thunderclap that I’ve heard and plunging the city of Madang into darkness. When one of these storms comes through, the thunder is so loud and so close that it does literally rocks our house. We always loved the Arizona monsoons and we now live someplace where we get the equivalent of one every week.
    The Finisterre Mountains

    The Finisterre Mountains

  2. The View of the Finisterre Mountains – See that thin blue strip between the ocean and the sky? Those are the Finisterre Mountains of Papua New Guinea. In God’s providence, every time we walk to the Lehman’s house or the SIL Center, we get to look across the ocean and see this sight. Okay, technically, they’re only visible about half of the time (thus, the description above of the ‘thin blue strip’). But when they are visible and even when they are not, we see this reminder of what we came here to do. We have been looking at these mountains figuratively speaking for nearly six years and to be able to look them full in their blue face every week is a regular reminder of God’s provision to get us this far and–Him willing–take us the rest of the way. DSC_0008
  3. The Fireworks – For being waayy off the beaten path (as in, buildings don’t have addresses and many of the streets don’t have names), Madang has an excellent supply of fireworks. We’re not talking about small Black Cat displays or sparklers. We are not talking about fireworks set off in the street. Oh no. The fireworks here are most definitely set off in the sky.  Almost every night here, you hear the sound of–and sometimes see–one of these beautiful displays. First comes the pop, (which I assumed was a gunshot on my first night), but then you hear the faint fizzling afterward. The fact that people all over Madang spend their time, effort, and money on something so beautiful is something I truly love about living here. New Year’s Eve was crazy. At midnight, it was like being in the middle of a Disneyland fireworks show or in the middle of a full-on Fourth of July event where nobody has any rules about silly things like ‘safe distances’ or ‘for professionals only’. Not only did the fireworks wake us up–because when your neighbors are shooting off giant fireworks in their front yard, it’s remarkably hard to sleep through it–they were everywhere. It was 360 degree, surround sound, fireworks in every color of the rainbow sparkling and streaming all over the sky. Every time I hear one of these go off somewhere at night, I smile.
    Cameron and Julie, our language helper

    Cameron and Julie, our language helper

  4. The Definition of a Beautiful Woman – Having lived in my beloved home country for 30 years before I left, it is almost an unconscious acceptance of mine that outward beauty is found in hair and clothes and make-up. Not so, here. Here, outward beauty is found in two things I have discovered so far: strength and tattoos. She has to be strong because living here is not easy. For most Papua New Guineans, the mere act of getting food, cooking it, getting around, and carrying children is not only very difficult, but a non-negotiable part of life. The other thing considered outwardly beautiful for women here are facial tattoos. Most women you meet here have tattoos on both cheeks because they make them beautiful. The same rule does not apply to men. I love living somewhere where beauty is defined so differently.
    Our kids playing with one of SIL's national translator's kids

    Our kids playing with one of SIL’s national translator’s kids

  5. The Love for Children – In the US, I think, children are sometimes unintentionally side-lined. Sometimes they are viewed as a hindrance to success or a nuisance. Of course, this is not true everywhere and I’ve seen the opposite. But here in PNG, everyone loves children. It has so far seemed to be a universal thread in the fabric of their culture, woven irrespectively through men, women, boys, and girls. Whenever we go anywhere, it’s our children who get the biggest smiles, the unsolicited hugs, and the free food. It’s expected now for people to hold our kids while we shop or reach out to touch their hands. There is just a palpable love for children here and it is something I love.

We did not come here for these five things, but we have been unexpectedly blessed by them and are thankful to God for them.

Update

A quick update on the health of our family:

  • Onesimus has almost completely recovered from his dog attack–praise God! Thank you to those who prayed.
  • My fevers were diagnosed last week as a bacterial bug similar to Ecoli and, after medicine, I am now fever-free! Again, praise God. My body has now moved on to having a sore throat! But-hey, I think I prefer that to fevers-from-an-unknown-contagion-in-PNG. 🙂

1 Comment

  1. Dear Cameron,
    It is so good to hear your voice through this (and other) posts. I loved reading about the unexpected evidences of God’s grace (beauty, love for children, firecrackers, the FM in sight, etc). Praying for you and giving thanks.

    “Now may The Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.” 2 Thess 3:16

    Love, Erica Roberts

    PS Thanking God for the healing of fevers and the dog bite. Praying for your throat. I’m with ya…much better than Ecoli!

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