In three short days, we plan to move to Mawerero. It is quiet, my family are all still asleep. I sat down with my Bible this morning, resolved to make sure that my heart and mind is still focussed on my Saviour. Because in the excitement and craziness of moving, it would be easy to forget why we are moving. Why would we uproot our family, come to the other side of the planet, and move to a remote village? Why go live there? Why put ourselves and our friends and family through this trial of being apart? Why would we take the time, and do the hard work of learning the local language and culture? Why translate Scripture? Why pick the ‘hard way’? Why not just come for a little while, use a translator, and add another story to their story-telling culture?
I started jotting down some notes, and I am more convinced than ever that we need to keep moving forward…
the feeling of disorientation experienced by someone when they are suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture, way of life, or set of attitudes.
We were warned that we’d experience some degree of culture shock during our first weeks here in PNG. Thankfully, God blessed us with wonderful team mates who have made the transition so much easier! They often explain ‘little things’ that are helpful to know – like ‘a carton of eggs’ is a box with 9 dozen eggs, not one dozen! We often think of how much harder it must have been when the three families from GBC arrived…
“And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech”… Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth…” Genesis 11:6-9
After a few weeks of language learning, I still need to admit ‘Mi no save gut Tok Pisin’ (I do not know Tok Pisin well). But we are learning! God has blessed us with the most patient lady as language helper – Maria repeats herself multiple times, and answers the same questions repeatedly without so much as a sigh! So we are pressing ahead.
We are now at a point where we are trying not to speak English at all anymore with Maria or other nationals. But that means double checking a lot that we’ve been understood correctly (with any important conversations we check in English). And a simple question like ‘What is the word for rich?’ becomes ‘What is the name that you give a man or woman who has a lot of money?’. Add to that a lot of pauses while we search for the right word or phrase, and conversations take a bit longer than usual.
Why this emphasis on learning Tok Pisin and then nDo?
We are in Madang! It still seems a bit surreal. But the Lehmans, Canns, Mitchells and Amelia are finally all together as a team in Madang. We have spent the last few days in sweet fellowship, getting to know each other better.
God is so good. We left my parents’ house around 9am on Sunday morning. We arrived at the Lehmans’ house around 10.30am on Tuesday morning… Altogether almost 40hours spent travelling. And though we were all in serious need of a shower, we could still smile at the end of it.