Josh and Autumn Miller
Hey friends! It’s been several months (over 3…sorry!) since we sent out our last update. Honestly, there is so much in our everyday lives – cultural experiences and lessons, adventures, difficulty and even painful lessons – that we wish we could share with you all! (Just a reminder, if you want to see posts and pictures about our everyday life and ministry progress here in PNG, join our facebook group, Millers in PNG).
Strangely, somehow, at the same time, its hard to know how to really give an update or summarize where we’re at and what’s happening for us.
But here’s my best attempt! 😀
In our last update, we described how we felt like “babies” having to relearn the most basic tasks here in our new culture, failing so often at being able to communicate, and often not able to successfully complete even simple things.
|Speaking of little ones, of course we had to include a picture of the cute kids at Bahor!
We love seeing them and hanging out with them!
We’re excited to say that we’ve ditched the pacifiers, and we’ve made it though several other learning stages as well!
Toddler: “I learned 10 new words and now I say them over and over and over again!”
Grade School: “There is so much I don’t know, but I’m learning a lot!”
Middle School/Jr. High: “I know so much and I really think I’ve got a good handle on this”…only to crash and burn shortly afterward.
- This probably sounds funny to read, and that’s intentional, but honestly, this stage was also really emotionally difficult for both of us. The regular ups and downs as we would fluctuate from feeling capable and excited to be able to communicate well in one conversation, to feeling like the “worse language learner ever” in the next conversation, were really challenging. Although language learning is a major part of our job and life right now, it’s not the basis of our identity. We know that, but still had to keep being reminded of that during the times when it felt like we were failing.
And now, High School! Working towards the finish line and getting into more complicated subjects!
We certainly don’t know it all, but it’s really exciting to be in the final stretch of our official language learning for Tok Pisin! We’ve completed 3 language checks, and our 4th (and final one!!) will be next month, Lord willing!
I mentioned more “complicated subjects.” Its exciting (and challenging, and frustrating, and even sad at times) to be able to communicate most thoughts and ideas to the nationals and be able to begin to have some deeper conversations with them.
“Why challenging or frustrating or sad?” you ask. Well, at this stage our conversations usually go beyond the simple “What are you doing today?” and “What are you harvesting from your garden?”
|Here’s a mask that a local crasftsman made. We don’t know the significance
behind this particular one, but for several other masks, we’ve learned there is
a spiritual significance or link to them in the minds of the people.
We’re trying to ask lots of questions that give us insight into “why” they do or say certain things so that we can better understand their thoughts and motivations and beliefs.
(Interestingly, actually asking “why?” is often not an option, usually because cultural norms are so imbedded that they couldn’t say why they do a particular thing (think about how you’d answer if someone asked you why pancakes and omlettes are breakfast food, but spaghetti is not. Or what about if they asked you who you could ask to borrow their car and why those people but not others.)
And sometimes, in the middle of asking these deeper questions, we hear stories like this one.
“One time several years ago, one of my relatives went to the coffee gardens to find firewood. While he was gathering firewood, some poison men came and spied on him and followed him. When he came to the center of the garden, they threw a stick over his head which magically made him confused and dizzy. And while he was standing there unable to move forward, the poison men grabbed him, and hit him on the head with a hammer. They cut open his stomach, removed his insides and put snakes inside of him. Then they chewed up tree bark, and spat it on his stomach, and his stomach wound was healed. He stood up and went back to his house. But since they had worked this magic on him, that night he died.”
Although in our Western mindset, we hear a story like that, and think, “WHAAAT?!?” I can assure you that the individual who told us was absolutely convinced this was true!
This kind of fear of spirits and sorcery and power is very common here. And honestly, it makes our hearts HURT for people who live in so much fear and feel the need to do so many things to please the spirits, and avoid upsetting other people who might be able to work this kind of “spiritual” magic that they believe in.
In this stage, as our ability to communicate on many subjects grows, and we get to go deeper with people, God uses these kind of stories to continue to both break our hearts and grow our passion for reaching the lost people here in PNG!
Thank you so much for being part of reaching them through your prayers and financial support! We’re so humbled to be your representatives here!