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.

Joey

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.