Oscar spent the whole year we were home looking forward to seeing Louis again. Finally we were able to return and there have been 2 months of the two boys haning out, but now the Hansens are off. They left this week to start their 10-month home assignment.
We’re too worn out to start missing them yet though. The flood of people who came to say goodbye to them seem to have given us all a sickness, the kind of sickness you could push through if you really, really wanted to – not debilitating, but we’ve been taking lots of naps to try get some energy back.
We’re sure to start missing them soon enough though. Philip and Natalie are our team’s cultural ears. They’re the ones our neighbours go to first, their house is closest to the community hangout place and they have both the knack and the patience for gleaning all kinds of cultural information. Our team isn’t going to do as well without them! They’re like the guys who hear the kettle starting to boil before it starts whistling and turn down the heat before things boil over and make a mess. I have a feeling things are going to come up and we’re only going to notice once it’s all boiling over 🙂
Now that it’s the Hansens’ turn for a home assignment people seem to have figured out that this is a normal thing for us to go to see our families. During the Stous family’s and our home assignments people were starting to get really worried we were not going to come back; that they had done something to scare us off!
We’re excited for the Hansens as we put ourselves in their shoes. We’ve only been here for a few months, but we’re (I’m) already day dreaming about fast food and living in a house that doesn’t shake whenever someone walks around 🙂
With the Hansen family gone we now set our minds to catching up to them so that we can be having the conversations they’re capable of having after an extra year of language study.
Speaking of which, I managed to figure out a phrase to introduce a topic so I can talk about it. Up till now I’ve pulled out my photobooks and people could see from the pictures what I wanted to talk about. Now I can say “I’m going to talk about castrating a pig now” and I can go ahead and tell the story with just words. Why that story? Because I’m still working on talking about well-understood events that I’ve experienced myself with people. There’s a big jump up coming, which is to start talking about new things. Once I’m comfortable telling stories about planting bananas, it’ll be time to talk about how ice fishing works and I’ll need to learn how to explain new things and set a scene that is totally new and novel to people.
With that coming up, and because we wanted to, we did our first community movie night. We set up a projector under the Stous house, invited the village and showed a 50-minute nature video about jungles. It was fun to hear them naming the different animals as they saw them. We might need to explain how time lapses on cameras work though, to reassure them that ants don’t move at the lightning speed they saw in some of the time lapse shots!
It was fun, but we’ve opened a can of worms now. They seemed to have expected a longer run-time than 50 minutes, and now there are requests from the other 6 villages saying “when’s our time to watch a video?” We’re working on figuring out a rota where everyone can get some screen time, while at the same time not burdening our neighbours with continual hospitality obligations to feed and shelter visitors. We’ll see what happens!
In other news we managed to stock up on worm medicine and we’ve started selling it at an affordable cost. EVERYONE has intestinal worms here (even us sometimes), and they cause lots of problems. We’ve been very cautious not to open the flood gates to medical need, becoming a health centre and pharmacy. We try to restrict ourselves to emergencies and a few strategic illnesses. Our first day of sales was really good and hearing stories of worms coming out of people’s noses! Yuck
We’re glad to help, but we’re still trying to be very slow and cautious doing it. One of the men who came to see off Natalie and Philip was a man who broke his arm playing basketball. I remember being there at the time; he’d clearly snapped both bones in his forearm. After it was splinted we told him that he really needed to go to town to get it straightened and we gave him some painkillers for the road. The painkillers made the pain manageable, and caused him to delay going for 2 weeks… That arm didn’t heal well. It’s all too easy to do more harm than good. We continue trusting God that he can bring good from our being here.
I had a talk with a friend from another village yesterday. He’s really looking forward to hearing God’s talk in his own language. He recounted the story of Noah and the fact he had 3 sons, and he apologised. How does that work? I think he’s tapping into a common myth that circulates in PNG. Noah had 3 sons, but Ham was cursed in the Genesis narrative. The myth concludes that this curse meant that his skin colour was changed to black, and he became poor. I guess the apology is for being a sinful, cursed person? I’m missing something here, which is why we’re invested in language and culture study — we need to know what’s going on here.
All I could do was accept his apology and make one of my own for learning so slowly, but we’re getting there. God’s word is coming for the Kovol people.