I was told before village living that it is the people who will make or break your experience. I was surrounded by men, women and children who were interested in getting to know me as well as patiently teach me about themselves and the surrounding culture. Patrick was a man with great depth of emotion who talked easily about almost everything. I simply needed to ask a question and we would sit and story in Tok Pisin, sometimes for hours. We had many conversations about the life and culture of the village of Karem, as well as raising and taking care of a family in PNG. We spent many evenings discussing the differences between America and PNG, from house and living styles to culture and world view. We discussed politics- he explained why people in PNG love Obama (mostly because of his skin color) and I explained how the American voting system works and some of the political views of both candidates. This led into a conversation about the place of gender and race in politics and comparisons to the PNG political system. We discussed history and gardens, healthcare and education. It was amazing to me how many of these conversations would lead back to Patrick’s personal convictions and his relationship with Christ. Many times Patrick and other men in the village would tell me about miracles and healings that had taken place around Sarang and other places in PNG. Patrick loves most of all to talk about God’s power and his ability to heal bodies as well as hearts. Religion and theology were common topics throughout my 5 weeks in Karem. I was encouraged by the thoughtfulness of Patrick’s faith and it was evident that he strives to follow the Bible and live his life in a way holy and pleasing to God. According to his wife (Martha), Patrick’s life has changed dramatically since he has committed his life to Christ. It was great for me to be able to observe how Christian’s live and act in a completely different culture and context.
Jerome, or JJ as many people affectionately called him, will be 2 years old in December and was a delight to have around for 5 weeks. He ran around “as nating” (naked) most of the time but had an affinity for shoes. It was not uncommon for him to come down the stairs of his house in nothing but little sneakers or his sister’s sandals. And adult flipflops were especially fun for him to tromps around in. Jerome would call out my name and get my attention so I could watch some of his many antics. He liked to be held up so he could hang from the beam of my house or a tree and when he came down he would declare that his hands were dirty, wipe them off and then hold his hands back up to be hung up again. This child loves to eat, anything and everything from traditional saksak (a gelatinous mass that took on the flavor of things around it kind of like tofu) to rice flavored with American taco seasoning. Jerome had the ability to exasperate his parents (like most 2 year olds;-) but at the same time they so often had to choke back a laugh when trying to discipline him because many of his antics were just so cute and funny.