Life in Madang


A Lesson

Dear friends and family,
Thank you so much to those of you who are praying for us, supporting us in various ways, and keeping in touch with us. It is a great encouragement to us. We are doing great!
There are some things we are still having to adjust to, though! Like the coconuts dropping from the trees onto the tin roof in the middle of the night. It sounds like the house is being bombed. In fact – it can be very dangerous – they tell you here not to stand under the coconut trees because they could fall on your head. Sounds funny, but if one were to land on your head from way up in a tree, it could kill you!! Hard to believe!? It’s easier once you hear one hit the ground. Ouch!
Right now is rainy season, so there is more wind, and more coconuts dropping. It has been getting hard to sleep. We decided to ask Chris’ language helper if he would cut them all down at once so we can sleep and not get beaned (we have to pass under the tree to go up the steps to the Walkers apartment.) He (his name is Mark) said that he would, if he could use some rope and a bush knife. He got out of his “town clothes” and borrowed some old shorts, and I got some laundry line and Joey’s bush knife. ( machete)
I don’t know exactly how I was thinking he would climb the coconut tree – which is about 30 feet tall. Well, what he did was not what I expected. He tied his own feet together with the laundry line and proceeded to climb up the tree in big hops … in a matter of seconds!! I was so surprised I didn’t even notice how he got the machete up! He got up to the top and took the rope off his ankles, and proceeded to chop down all the coconuts. My palms were sweaty just watching him climb around in the top of that tree.
Now, the coconuts we had heard dropping on the tin roofs were ones that had dried up and dropped. These that Mark was cutting down came down by the half dozen, and were full of coconut milk besides! The crashes sent the children into the house screaming and all the neighbors popped their heads out (but not too far!) to watch. One particularly large bunch of coconuts hit the roof on the way down and actually cracked one of the roof beams! We’re gonna have to ask the landlord about that one… 🙁 Well, all this to say, life is interesting here – and don’t stand under coconut trees!!!
Brooke and Joey

Shiloh, Marietta, and Solomon (who all helped carry a bunch of the felled coconuts under our apt. for Daddy to drink 🙂

Me Again

Can you tell I need Joey back? Too many nights on the computer. I wanted to share the good news today (not the gospel – other good news) Here’s an interesting thought, I know we have been here a while now because I stare when I see a white person!!! lol. Anyway…

Today was the first day I had a “work meri” (work woman) It went really well. We have been hearing for years about the possibility of house help on the field – but I never really thought that I would need help… But I am catching on quick 🙂 I have known for a week that I had to find one – there is just too much work for me to do every day and have a family and ministry here – something had to go – and it couldn’t be family or ministry!! She did my laundry and dishes – but that somehow made my day open up – I was able to be on top of the household stuff AND do school with the girls AND get in 4 and a half hours language besides!! Wow – what a day!! This is such an answer to my prayers!!!

I was really nervous about the idea of having a lady in my house – the whole trust issue. Here culture says stealing is OK as long as you’re not caught – I have heard it is a good idea to count the pieces of laundry before you have someone wash it to see if it’s all there after she leaves…. It is hard to think about dealing with that. It is also hard to think about giving up some of running my own house. Even doing my own laundry and dishes… I don’t know if that sounds strange, it sure feels a little strange sitting at the table teaching my kids school as another lady does my dishes.

But God answered in such a neat way. Chris and Angie have a language helper that comes named Mark, and one day his wife Susan came with him. Mark and Susan are a young couple – have been married a while, but don’t have any children. It is obvious that she loves kids, though. Anyway, she saw Tabitha, the young girl who helps Angie with her laundry and shopping. She asked if Angie needed another work meri. (The “work meri” concept is very common here. Going wages are 1 Kina an hour – about 33 cents US) Angie didn’t need anyone else, but she knew I needed some help. So when Mark and Susan came to Chris and Angie’s house today – Angie sent them by our house. I talked some with Mark and Susan, they are really a sweet couple, and they profess to be Christians. So that’s how – today- I finally felt like I got most everything done and had time with the kids and got in plenty of language time!! PTL!!

Well, have a great day! (Even if you have to do your own dishes!)

Love to everyone,
for all of us

PS Tomorrow Marietta turns 4 !! 🙂 (October 23)

PPS Chris flew out to join Joey working on that house in the Sepik. The guys will be home Friday, but we are supposed to talk to them on the radio Wednesday. 🙂

Just the Four of Us

Dear Everybody,
Hello from the four of us! (Brooke and kids) That’s right, Joey is gone and I have taken over the computer. Actually – Joey is going to be gone for a whole week. Help! He is spending the week in the Sepik – another part of PNG – helping some other missionaries build their house! Though we miss him here – we are really excited about this time that he can spend out in the bush in a village. Not only will he be speaking more Pidgin, he will get to help out some other missionaries, get a better idea of how to build a house out in the bush, and generally just get a lot more exposure to life in PNG. I was worried about missing him too much – we haven’t been apart very often. But with the workload every day of language study, relationships, keeping up with the household stuff, and three small kids – I have hardly had time!! Please keep us all in your prayers, though.
Love in Christ,
for the Tartaglias


Yesterday was really neat. We needed to go into town to the market for a few things. Well, town is close enough to walk to if we’re empty handed, and too far if we are carrying something (or someone). The two basic methods of transportation for the average person are 1) walking and 2) taking a PMV. (Public Motor Vehicle – or something to that effect.) Well, Angie had baby Jael with her and I had Shiloh – and we would be coming home with some groceries.

Now, you have to understand some things about PMV’s. Basically, a national driving an old and very compact 15 passenger van with a mini-van sliding door goes back and forth in and out of town – stopping now and again to fill up and unload passengers. It costs 40 toia (about 13 cents) to go into or out of town. I just heard that kids about 12 and under are free – however no one ever said anything when I paid for the kids, too, my first trip. They seem to drive with an organized madness – though I have yet to see an accident. (With so many people crammed into each PMV, even an accident would be fairly cushioned!)

Well, the first two times we took a PMV I was with Joey – and he accomplished the catching of a PMV and paying the driver’s buddy, who always sits up front next to the driver and handles the money and the door. So this trip yesterday was a bit of a trial run. Not to say Angie and I didn’t do our homework. We found out a few days before where to stand in town to catch a PMV going back towards our house. It seems that the corner outside the outdoor veggie market is where people stand to wait for one of the constant ebb and flow of PMV’s. We couldn’t figure out how the line (or lack of one) worked. There are usually between 25 and 100 people standing or sitting on that corner… but when a PMV drives up – about 15 people emerge from the crowd and get in line at the door of the PMV. Now, they do the “stand in line” thing behind the PMV door, but what about the mass of people just waiting around?? I don’t get that yet.

Anyway, we also learned from our language helper where to stand to catch a PMV into town. Now this goes into a little more history – it seems that most streets have a name – though there are no signs. I have heard (?) that there used to be signs and a rebel group tore them all down at one point. Well, they never went back up – if it’s true they were ever up at all. Well, most people seem to be convinced that PMV stops are marked. Or are obvious. I am starting to think it is just a learned thing. I sure haven’t seen anything at all that seems to mark a PMV stop! Time will tell.

So I asked our language helper where the PMV stop outside our apartments that goes INTO town is. She told me (with a little wave of her hand toward the road) – oh, you just stand out there and they will come. Well, my experience has thus far proved otherwise. 🙂 So I pressed her,” Well, where exactly do we stand?” – as we walked closer to the fence. “Oh, just there.” Another little wave. “There?” I point to the little kai bar (little road side restaurant). She gives me a look that means America must be farther off than Mars. “No, there – in front of the Chemica building.” At this point she caught on that I really was clueless. ” You stand there in front of the Chemica building – where those people are – the PMV will come and bring you into town. If you want to go the other way, you stand on the other side of the street.” Well, I am a little less clueless now!!

So back to yesterday – like I said, Angie and I had done some homework and were ready to ride the PMV’s alone. (Alone is relative.) We stood in front of the Chemica building – Jael in arms and Shiloh in tow – money tucked away out of pickpockets sight – and 40t each in hand to pay the PMV guys. There were three people hanging out there already – apparently waiting too. Sure enough, not a full minute went by when a dirty white van with a blue license plate came uncharacteristically slowly around the corner and pulled up to the “PMV stop”. They let people off, and started to leave without any more of us! I was starting to wonder if this is what culture shock feels like – when I realized the tire on the old PMV was all but gone and riding on the rim. They said, “Sori, sori, tyre no gut.” As they drove slowly off and another pulled up in it’s place, I realized people are people, and tires are tyres, and culture shock will have to wait.

We had no trouble getting into town, and even less coming home – though the PMV’s money-taking door-handling buddy did try to convince me to squeeze in next to a young smiling PNG guy when there was a whole empty seat behind him. I (graciously – I think) declined and sat with Shiloh in the empty seat. There are still a lot of things to learn here – and tomorrow’s another day. But yesterday, we rode the PMVs!!

Ok- I must go – yesterday I got groceries, and today a mountain of laundry awaits me 🙂 Another day, another challenge 🙂 Love and hugs to everyone there – Thanks for keeping in touch!! It means so much to me to hear from you!
Love in Christ – the creator of the PMV drivers and the sustainer of our trembling hearts (especially around the corners),

Some PNG Q&A

Below is a copy of some questions that my sister asked me about PNG. I thought I’d pass this on to you.


Has Solomon started warming up to the people yet?

Yes, very much so. I think he just had to get used to people having black skin. One thing that’s awkward is that in most situations we are in, we are the only white people there. Soooooo, everyone stares at us as if we were wearing a clown suit or something. This can make for some uncomfortable situations. But, on the other hand, it is an “in” with the people, and is making it very easy for us to learn Pidgin.

I was just wondering little details like, can you sleep at night or is it too hot and sticky?

It is very very hot here, and we have no air-conditioning. But, we do have ceiling fans in every room except the kitchen. This really helps us manage the heat. And as long as we don’t try to go to sleep on the kitchen floor, its not too hard to get to sleep. We have a metal roof, and so the other night when it rained, it woke us up as it gets really loud. But, then the noise lulls us back to sleep.

Is there a lot of crime in the town or is it pretty peaceful?

Most cities in PNG have a lot of crime. However, I don’t think that any of them compare to what you would see in South Phoenix or on Chili Ave. In light of all that has happened recently in the U.S., my friend Dave said, “You guys are probably in the safest nation on earth right now.” Madang is probably the safest town in all of PNG. The thing that is scary for us is that there are a lot of unknowns. The other night we heard a report (which later we heard was probably not true) that there were 4 guys with guns walking in the street. At the time it was scary, because we just didn’t know what to expect. What we DID do was what we were taught to do, and that is turn off all of our inside lights, turn on all of our outside lights, and not stand in front of a window. Then we brought all the kids into our bedroom and we all slept in the same room that night. It did take longer to get to sleep that night, but God reminded me that the bottom line is that He brought me here for the purpose of reaching people, a job which He is more concerned about than even me. That did settle me down enough to sleep knowing that truly our safety is up to Him.

Is it really green there?

Before I answer that, please remember that the color “green” does not exist anywhere in the state of Arizona, so before reading on please look at a picture of one of the Eastern States. Yes, very green here. This will help you realize how green it is here: We are currently in what people call the “dry season”. This is an interesting term, and is definitely relative. Here, dry season means that it only rains a couple times a week. I can’t wait to see what rainy season is like. I’ll be sending pictures soon, and you’ll see how green it is.

How far are you from the ocean?

It takes me 5 minutes to walk to the ocean. I go there almost every day, as there is usually someone to talk to there. The name of the beach that I’m close to is “Machine Gun Beach”. There is some sort of coastal heavy artillery gun there left over from World War 2, so the people call it Machine Gun Beach. The waves are not very big, and there is no white sand. Just lots and lots and lots of coral. From the beach, I can see across the bay to the Finnisterre Mountains, which is where we hope to be working in about 6 to 8 months. When I first got here and saw them, I was in awe at how big they are. Then, 2 days ago, the cloud cover disappeared, and I saw that they are really 3 times bigger than what I had first seen! I think that during the wet season, the waves will get really big. There is a section of the coast road that is all broken up from when the waves came up a few months ago. I can’t wait to see bigger waves, as the sea has been pretty calm so far.

Is it like a city or more like a village?

Hmmmm, I guess in a lot of ways its like Rocky Point (except greener). There are lots of stores here in town. There is a grocery store just a stone’s throw away from my apartment. Now, its not huge or anything, but its sufficient. About a mile or so away is the market, post office, and banks. The market is just a bunch of people sitting on the ground (and there are some with tables) selling their produce. I’ve only gone their once, but Brooke tries to go a couple times a week for our fresh fruits and vegetables. A whole pineapple costs around $.75 to a $1.00. They had some smaller ones that were about $.25. You can buy betel nut for $.03. I’m not sure if you know what that is or not, so let me describe as being kind of like chewing tobacco. Almost everyone chews it, and they say that it is a mild narcotic. It is bright red, and people chew it and then spit it out, so you see this red spit on the ground EVERYWHERE you go. At nicer stores, they have signs that say, “It is forbidden to chew betel nut, or to spit it out here.” Coconut also grows here, so its pretty cheap. Oh, you can also buy fruit bats at the market. Madang has plenty of bats. Its weird, cause you see them out during the day time. Some guys came down from the mountains and were telling me that he had never seen that before. He said that where he’s from they only come out at night. Anyhow, the bats hang out in the tall trees, and guys take slingshots, and try to shoot them out of the trees. They get them, and they cook ’em and sell them for food. I really want to taste one sometime. I asked a guy how many it takes to fill him up. He said he eats about 3, and then he’s full. Anyhow, its funny how you can see people selling fried bats, and then a hundred feet away, you can walk into a store and find toner cartridges for a laser printer. The dichotomy amazes me.

Arrival in PNG


Yes, we have made it safely to our new home here in Madang, PNG. We have settled in, and we are loving it.

First impressions of New Guinea:

Everybody smells. But, I have to say that the people are very friendly, and always willing to chat. A lot of people speak English here in town, but we had to warm up to their accent before we could catch more than 50% of what they were saying.

What lies ahead:

On Monday, the 10th, orientation will officially begin for us. We expect to spend 6-8 months here in Madang before moving into a tribe.

Culture Shock?:

At this point, we are more intrigued with PNG culture than in shock over it. So much about this place seems so wierd, uhhh, I mean, different. Yet, we are more fascinated by the differences than we are traumatized by them.

And finally…

There is a family next door that seems to have about 5 adults and 6 or 7 children. (There is even a two year old boy named Solomon!!) One woman, Clara, has offered to teach us Pidgin anytime we want to come over and chat. What a blessing!!! Please pray for our relationships here as we begin to build them with the nationals. Pray for the makings of good friends who are not too offended before we even start 🙂

Love to you all,
The Tartaglias