Thanks for your patience with us (and the blog and email) as we transition yet again to a new place. We are back in Ukarumpa now after three weeks in Tararan, which is in the Morobe Province on the eastern side of Papua New Guinea. God blessed us with a wonderful host family and village, and we learned a ton, so thank you for all your prayers!
Retired pastor Luke Bair and his wife were our "Papa" and "Mama" during our stay in Tararan. All of their family adopted us instantly with the warmest hospitality, so we all got sisters, a brother, in-laws, nieces, nephews, and plenty more from day one. They were all so kind and gracious with us (especially when it came to language learning); it was truly humbling!
I would say that our primary purpose in spending this time in Tararan was for language learning and cultural acquisition, but the most beneficial thing about our time there was falling in love with the people. We were adopted into this Papua New Guinean family, and now in a sense, we are Papua New Guinean ourselves. We have a new perspective and heart for this land that we are so thankful for as we set out in our ministry here.
Please bear with us now as we attempt to smash three incredible weeks into a relative handful of pictures and videos.
These are just a few pics from the car on the way to the Markham Valley.
Sometimes the pavement ends and begins again spontaneously.
More pics from the car...
Michael and Banner going to get firewood.
It's a bit of a walk to get firewood, but the scenery is breathtaking!
According to Papa, this is pretty much what Tararan looked like when they first moved there when he was younger. They planted all of the trees and gardens that define the village now. The papaya, coconut, mango, cocoa, and banana trees (just to name a few) are everywhere; the transformation was astounding.
I don't think that Daniel ever got tired, it was amazing.
Banner and Uncle Daniel looking for deeper water so that we can get cleaned up after a hard day's work.
Stuff we ate
Kristi had been praying for a pig pretty much for the whole of POC and on the night before our last day in village a wild pig wandered in... God sent the pig :) here are some photos of the prep, we cooked it inside bamboo.
The ends were stuffed tight with banana leaves.
Oh, the anticipation!
And it's done! Suzanne breaks the bamboo open so that we can feast.
I'm continually amazed at what is still around and being used from World War 2. I'm not sure what this thing was manufactured for, but I can guarantee you that it has been a grill for most of its life.
The world's largest pot of cooking bananas!
Some bananas around here are smaller, but these were just as big as they look. I was impressed to see some family members with 6-10 of these on their plate (along with other food!). I would compare the cooking bananas I've had to the flavor of a potato more than anything else.
Not your average chicken leg...
This is roasted mumut, also known as bandicoot. It's a large rat-like marsupial thing. Pretty much all dark meat. Kristi said yay; John said nay.
Trying cacao beans fresh off the tree. One large pod has a ton off beans encased in this sweet white stuff that you can suck off the beans. The beans themselves are pretty bitter though. Quite a few steps away from chocolate.
Kristi found this strainer spoon and thought it would be great for village living because of its size... many a friend from POC (and myself included, I'm sure) made fun of her saying it was a kitty litter scoop. She made me take a picture of this one in a store in Lae that actually had pictures proving it was indeed a pasta scooper!
Stuff we made
My kundu was made out of "Susu" wood, which is typically used for this task. Susu literally means "milk" which made sense to me when I broke a limb off and it started bleeding (what looked like) milk. It was great to be doing this with a professional like Papa because there were a few other trees that I thought looked like good options, but he would reply "That tree is too hard" or "No, that tree is for posts".
What tools did we use? That's right, hand tools!
Fire is traditionally used to "carve" the middle out of the kundu. We did the majority of our boring with knives (because we had some good ones and it goes faster), but sometimes fire is the only thing used to make the hole.
This is the kundu pailai (literally, "drum lizard") skin that one of Papa's nephews graciously gave us for my drum. These are always used for the drum head. I was really hoping that I would have a chance to go hunting for one of these giant lizards, but I was very thankful that Nalau had an extra skin from a lizard that he previously caught. I put the hammer next to the skin so that you can get a feel for the size of this thing.
Papa uses (what I think is) Rosewood sap for adhesive for the kundu pailai skin.
Pictures of the finished kundu to come!...
Again, the picture doesn't do this spider justice, but it's about the size of the palm of your hand. There were quite a few of these in our liklik haus. We asked Papa if they were poisonous and he said simply "Sometimes men die."
Apparently there are a bunch of spiders here...
Simba kept the rats away and was much adored for it.
The chickens and pigs roamed free and kept the yard clean. Papa and Mama had the friendliest and cleanest pigs that I've ever seen.
Meet Lesman (translates "lazy man"). He received a lot of fanfare from Nori and John (despite the fact that he pooped down John's shirt three times!)
Other incredible moments were seeing wild parrots flying around from time to time.
The ants here are quite fascinating. If you step on a spider or bug, there are little tiny ants that will carry the carcass off and clean up the scene in under a minute. These tree ants were always working together to accomplish daring feats on limbs and the clotheslines.
According to Wiki, these are present in many States across the US, but I've never seen them before. The kids (and adults) had lots of fun with these.
Sing sings are held in PNG to celebrate all sorts of things: weddings, Bible dedications, and even going off to war, to name a few. Each village has there own dances, decorations, and songs. Twice, we had the great opportunity to join our Tararan family and learn their sing sing traditions. They seemed to love that we wanted to take part in these with them, and we loved being a part of their cultural heritage in this way.
Just another Tararan family...
The Romitos were just a walk away on the other side of Tararan. We had a lot of fun joining them for our first sing sing. Papa said that it was just a little sing sing, but I think that it was more like a sing sing lesson, which we surely needed.
Nori, Bailey, and Tara.
Big Tararan family photo :)
Tony, Mattias (Papa's nephew), and John.
Enni paints Kristi's face and Anna paints Millie's face,
Mary joins in the fun.
Nori with Auntie Niwe and Mary.
John with Jerry (his "brata" or brother), and with Nalau and Mattias (Papa's nephews). All with kundus in hand.
Worship time before our last dinner together.
Kristi, Nori, and Millie with Enni, Auntie Suzanne, and her daughters, Leony and Panina.
Yali gives Kristi a meri blaus (one of many!).
Our family was incredibly generous from the inside out.
Our family showered us with many gifts before we left; it was truly humbling.
Banner shows off his PNG flare here too.
John with Ariki and many others. Ariki and his family were close family friends and he was also one of the teachers at the primary school with Suzanne.
Auntie Belinda made the trip back from Lae to be with us one last time.
The kids miss Michael so much!
Kristi with Cathy and Norene (Papa's granddaughter and daughter-in-law via Jerry). Cathy and her husband are expecting their first child very soon. This picture was taken shortly after they told us that they were going to name the baby Nori if it's a girl, or Banner if it's a boy!
In PNG there really aren't aunts and uncles like in America. Instead, for example, your dad's younger brother would be your "little dad". Likewise, you would be a grandchild to your grandmother's brother or sister. An incredible result of this family structure is that there are no orphanages in PNG (from what I've heard...). Aunts and Uncles take care of their nieces and nephews like their own children.
All that to say, this is a picture of John with his grand kids, Mary and Paul. So cute!