We live on a mountain ridge. If we want to go out, our options are visiting people in their houses or going to their gardens. Most of the time the people are in their gardens. The way to their gardens is going downhill on steep trails, which are worse in rainy seasons. Those are not easy trails for little kids. One Saturday morning as I hadn’t really been out for 2-3 weeks, I was complaining to God how hard it is being stuck in our house. After I contemplated this, God reminded me that HE KNOWS my need. HE KNOWS what is best.

This is a scenario that happens often. I am an “outdoors with the people” person. Sometimes God’s answer is wait or I have other things for you that I know will be better. Sometimes it’s even a quick yes. So on that particular Saturday morning, maybe an hour later, my friend Ningeram showed up with a little gift of sweetpotatoes for all of us missionary families. After some small talk, I found out she was about to go to get some roofing leaves for her little ‘bush pantry house’. A certain type of root called ‘Jam’ here in PNG, will be stored in these little bush houses down in their gardens. The roots will sprout and when it is time to replant them, they are right there in the garden already. This time Ningeram was going just a little behind their houses, so not far away. Since it was so close, which is not normal, I thought maybe I could go and keep it short, as I could come back very quickly and cook lunch in time. Philip was ok looking after the kids and I could go on a quick excursion.

As we walked down to the place where the leaves were, I was trying to remember the name of the rope that she was bringing with her to tie the roofing leaves together. So I asked her if the name of the rope is ‘jogolom’ instead of ‘ogolom’. She was smiling. Then she told me very kindly that I wanted to say ‘ogolom’ and that ‘jogolom’ is something else. At that point I remembered and realized that I just said ‘penis’ instead of the name of the rope. We both burst into laughing together.

As we arrived at the site, her son and husband were busy cutting trees for a new sweetpotato garden. We had to wait for some trees to fall before we walked underneath to the place where the roofing leaves were.

Nigeram cut down some bushes of the amunsog and I tried to pull the leaves off the stem and pile them together. Gina, Nigeram’s daughter joined me and we worked together. Well I didn’t get much done before I cut myself pulling a sharp string of amangusog twig. Gina quickly got me a bush string and put a tourniquet on to stop the bleeding. I let her do that to see how they deal with this. The bleeding stopped and I tried to keep working. But soon it started bleeding really hard again . So I watched them working for little bit, before I decided to leave, as I wasn’t of any help anymore. I also have seen the process now and I thought that it was time to go back to my family anyway.

Back at our house, there were some people hanging out with Philip under the shaded fireplace. This was a good time to practice telling them what had just happened. Then they told me what else they would do to stop the bleeding. One among many other ways to stop bleeding in the bush is to use some banana shoot sap. I couldn’t quite follow the process of their explanation, so they were going to show it to me. As I lifted my finger to let my friend put some of the sap on my wound, the blood started shooting out. They said a new word about letting go that I hadn’t heard before and I was really happy to learn something new. Well the bleeding didn’t stop with the sap on it, and so she continued heating the shoot on the fire and then tried to sear the cut with the hot shoot. That seemed to work a bit better. After that she squeezed the hot sap on the wound again. Now I was told to go and wash the blood off my hand. =D

I was just sooo happy for this very short but fun adventure and the cut on my finger was worth it all. I felt alive and refreshed. I got language time in and a shared experience to talk about in their language. Ningeram was also pleased that I was able to see how hard their work is.

Categories: EnglishHansen

1 Comment

Lois S. · 26/05/2023 at 11:09 pm

Wow! Thanks for sharing, Natalie! I am thankful to know about your interactions, and more about life in Kovol! I am impressed that you allowed them to utilize their remedies, rather than using your own medical knowledge.

Leave a Reply