Village Exposure

Hi friends! As I do not have access to this blog while in
PNG, I do not remember all of what I have written in
previous posts. Please be understanding and overlook any
redundancy (or enjoy, whatever you prefer).
Today I want to write more to you about Village Exposure
times. For starters, I am not sure if I have been clear
that this short-term trip to PNG is not the typical trip
when most of us westerners think of a summer mission trip.
I am in no way, shape or form evangelizing nonbelievers or
teaching/discipling tribal people who are young in the
faith. We are not working on a building project or running
sports camps. Neither are we providing any supplies or
medical assistance to the natives living in the bush. We
are here strictly for educational purposes as students of
God’s Word and will. Sometimes I feel like we’re at camp
because of the setup here on the Interface campus. The 24
students on our team are divided into cabins found in a
common area, have a classroom/chapel to hold classes in
and converse and fellowship in the dining hall over meals.
It sounds rather luxurious, I know. ๐Ÿ™‚ But the reality is
that we are learning the ways of the tribal missionary.
Just this morning we finished reading “The Stranger on the
Road to Emmaus” and have been thinking through God’s
redemption plan for the world–starting in Genesis–all
afternoon. Last evening one of our instructors taught on
the importance of prayer–whether at home or abroad–to
the missionary. Day before yesterday we spent the day at
Lapilo where New Tribes Mission base is for all of PNG.
There we learned and were talked through various support
ministries–missionary kid teachers, dorm parents, medical
assistance, bookkeeping, spiritual development,
maintenance, supply buyer, aviation, etc.–that all are
necessary in order to free the tribal missionary up to do
what he needs to do. Likewise, we have been learning CLA:
Culture and Language Acquisition.
While all of this is going on, we are given the
opportunity to walk down the road (supervised, of course)
into the neighboring villages. The overall tribe we are in
is the Bena tribe (80,000-100,000 people), and as I may
have mentioned before, we are near about 5 family lines
within the tribe (about 100-200 people in each). A few of
them are: Gitigefagu, Kirovea, and Yamoyalo. Almost every
afternoon we as students have the opportunity to visit our
tribal neighbors. My personal favorite village is Kirovea
because I am beginning to build relationships with some
women there.
We went to Kirove yesterday. I met and talked for about an
hour with two women about my age: Rebeka (19) and Jeni
(23). Rebeka is the oldest of 6 children, and her youngest
sister, Ester (1.5) was with her. Jeni is married and has
a son (2). Both of them speak English pretty well, so that
helped our conversation. ๐Ÿ™‚ I was with two other girls
from our team, Monica and Amanda, and we just sat and
talked about their lives. We learned that Rebeka is an
amazing basketball player, but was not able to attend
school past 5th grade because her father would not pay the
school fee. I didn’t even know that they had to pay school
fees here in PNG, and when I was talking later about it
with Miriam (one of our full-time missionaries), she was
saying that it’s really a matter of priority. Most parents
do not see value in education, so they will not pay the
school fees past a certain grade, as the fee raises with
each grade level. Rebeka wants to be in school, but
instead she takes care of her siblings so her parents can
work in the garden. She told us that she does not want to
get married, which also came as a surprise. I asked Sally
(another full-time missionary) if that was common among
the girls, and she guaranteed me that it never happens.
Girls get married whether they want to or not; it’s just a
matter of time before a man is willing to pay the bride
price for her (Sally would know, she and her husband have
been missionaries here for 13 years). Monica had brought
bubbles along, so we had a blast playing with the little
kids (under 5) and the bubbles. They call them “balloons”
and keep them entertained for quite some time. Jeni did
not talk with us long, as she heard her son waking up from
his nap about 20 minutes into our conversation. We did
manage to find out that she grew up in another district in
PNG and now her parents live in Port Moresby. She does not
see them very often and is rarely able to even make a
phone call from town to them. She told us that they have
never met their grandson because her husband will not
allow her to take him down there. She told us that this is
because her mom would want to not give their baby back
after she saw him. I’m not completely sure if she was
half-joking or totally serious. It was just interesting
because it’s so different than anything I’ve ever known
(especially because I have children and all…).
One more rather profound fact that we learned while
talking to the girls is that they do not eat pig. This is
unique because pig is one of the only sources of meat that
the highlanders have. Pigs are often included in the more
traditional bride prices and are constantly seen running
around. Neither of the girls eat pig because it is
forbidden by their church. Jeni was also telling us that
she goes to church on Saturdays and not Sundays. Some
rather obvious conclusions can be made from these
statements, but for the purposes of avoiding assumptions I
will not state my own opinion.
Many of you may begin to see the need for missionaries to
the tribal people who have already been “missionized.” The
natives are involved in syncretism, and many of them
attend church to fulfill their good works record. Like
much of corporate America or many other places in our
western world, the tribal people here think that they are
saved from eternal suffering just by going to church and
being generally good people. They just add it to their
list of gods to worship; eclecticism at its best. One of
our instructors put this in the perspective that the part
of PNG that we are being exposed to has been missionized
and even evangelized, but it has not been discipled. They
have not been taught about God’s saving grace and need for
redemption. Pray, pray.
I’ve been reading through a book called “Hudson Taylor’s
Spiritual Secret” and came across a really cool section of
his journal this afternoon:
“Pray much for me. It is easy to talk of leaving all for
Christ, but when it comes to the proof–it is only as we
stand ‘complete in Him’ can we go through with it. God be
with you and bless you…and give you so to realize the
preciousness of Jesus that you may wish for nothing but to
‘know him’…even in ‘the fellowship of his sufferings.'”
May our hearts echo his thoughts.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Village Exposure

  1. Tricia

    Kate! Love you bunches! Glad things are going well. Things here are good… refreshing and profitable. Dave started summer school this week… so, we’re definitely movin’ along. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Your Opa

    Happy 21st Birthday Doo-Bug! We love you! Oma & Opa

  3. Pingback: Dark ranger

  4. For the safety of missionary children and families, would you be willing to remove specific location names of support centers and villages? …Please contact me if you have any questions. Blessings, content manager for NTM Communications

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