People from 16 different villages and 6 different language groups converged on our small village for a week of sports competitions to commemorate Papua New Guinea’s 40th year of Independence.
For being as remote as we are, it was a surprisingly modern affair. There was one guy who donned a traditional outfit to mark the occasion, but most preferred to celebrate by playing sports, watching sports, and drinking beer—surprisingly similar to American holidays, minus the commercial breaks and shopping sprees.
We live just down the path from the basketball court, where they held a women’s basketball tournament. (Evidently, basketball is considered by many here to be a women’s sport.) Our whole family went everyday to cheer on the teams from all over our language area and beyond. There was even a team from Mibu (a 3-days-hike away), where our director helped plant a church over a decade ago.
On a few days, we all made the long hike down to the soccer field to watch 16 teams compete in the Men’s soccer tournament. The grandstand is a small hut, the goals are made of bamboo, and the field is not exactly flat, but these guys know how to play soccer and they do so for hours without a single water break. It is an impressive feat to behold.
Amidst all the festivities, we not only got to witness their great strengths, but their weaknesses as well. Particularly noteworthy was a fight that broke out on the final day of the soccer tournament. Several drunk men stormed the soccer field while a game was in progress. The tournament hosts tried to remove them from the field, but family member’s of the drunk men resented their censure. This confrontation awakened old scores and people were eventually wielding clubs and throwing stones. We were safe (I think). Some members of the community whisked us away to the grandstand when the fighting broke out.
Jude was very curious about it all. The whole scene was a great visual aid of where foolishness leads. We had some good conversations with him about why all people (including him) desperately need God’s mercy and forgiveness.
Oliver, on the other hand, was oblivious. He was way more concerned with what was for snack than what was happening on the field.
Here is a video of the competitions:
Pictures from Independence Day celebrations:
© All Rights Reserved | Canns of Clay