The first few months we were in this country we attended the New Years Eve event in the city square. As midnight neared I was surprised to see someone take the stage and do some sort of announcement. As he muttered on and on I kept looking at my watch and started glancing around to see if anyone else noticed he was going to talk right over new years… they didn’t seem to care. What? This is not how you celebrate new years! You count down from 10 to 1 and then at the exact strike of midnight you light off the fireworks and scream and shout and hug and kiss! Time ticked on and he talked at least 5 minutes past the strike of midnight. Then, like nothing was amiss they lit off the fireworks and everyone celebrated! This is not how we do it in America.
I stand in the check out lane and the store is busy. Really busy. They have maybe 3 lanes open out of the 15 in the store and there are employees sitting in the aisles giggling and chatting while organizing shelves. Can’t they open just one more lane? Seriously, there are about a bazillion people in line here! Finally a worker opens another lane and it’s not the “next in line” (which would have been ME) that gets to go ahead, its whatever person can push their way ahead of another and as long as you don’t make eye contact everything will be fine. Just act like it didn’t happen. Exhale. Don’t look like the annoyed foreigner today Abby. This is not how we do it in America.
Driving down the road dodging bikes, people, potholes, pigs, dogs, chickens, and the occasional drunk man. I think I could make an awesome video game based on traffic here. If you make it through the course without getting stopped by a drunk man demanding money, or without hitting a pig and having to pay several hundred dollars for it, you win! It would be a great hit.
Helmets. You would think racing in and out of traffic while carrying your wife and baby on the back of your motorcycle could at least be a little bit safer if you were wearing the helmets you are holding under your arm, but maybe just having them there will magically give you extra safety. This is not how we do it in America.
As this New Year starts I realize despite the crazy ways they do things (or DON’T do things) here, I am learning to love this country, especially Papua where we have found ourselves these last 6 months.
Though it pretty much looks like someone spit blood everywhere you go (from the betel nut they chew and spit), and it is so hot some days that I want to live in Antarctica, I do love this place. It is beautiful. From the people who live along the shores of the ocean and lakes to the ones who live on the mountains and deep in the jungles, there is a distinct richness to Papua.
God is doing things here. I am so encouraged by the men and women we see and hear speak in our church, who have been strongly encouraging the believers to raise their children in the Word and not forsake the next generation who will one day lead Papua. Who challenge the congregation to live according to their position in Christ – FREE from sin and fear! I am excited to see what God does here in the next few years, starting with this one, 2015! Our plans really are not our own, the Lord directs our steps. We are learning this first hand as we see doors close and new ones open. I am excited to see what God teaches us and how he will direct us in this next year. May God use our frailty to demonstrate His might. Happy New Year!!!