Thursday, October 4, 2007

October 4, 2007 from Papua, New Guinea

October 4, 2007 from Papua, New Guinea

Jim’s impressions after 3 days: As we approached our landing on 1 October, I noted how lush green and thick the growth on the ground and mountains, how high the mountains rose, green to the top, and lack of movement of vehicles on the roads. Our missionary friends met us at the airport entrance and took charge of gathering luggage, as there was a large group of locals hanging at the fence and doors, seeming both curious and looking for opportunities to ‘help’ (possibly steal) anything unattended. We made the transition safely, and began the hour long journey to the college. As we departed the airport area, we passed a large pile of rubbish and garbage in a lot about a block away, with people just hanging out, talking, sitting around, or walking slowly with no specific destination in mind. This was the scene all the way to the college. My first thought was abject poverty, but they didn’t look hungry, so I was a little confused.

We arrived at the college to enter a veritable oasis amid the previous chaos. Relatively modern buildings, landscaped grounds, and people moving around purposely was the scene. As noted earlier we were deposited in a house with reasonably modern amenities, so we have not suffered more than some small lifestyle changes, mainly watching what we eat and boiling the water before consumption.

Reading the history of the college, working and talking with the staff, and meeting some of the students, I have gained a little understanding of the culture of the Melanesian people. What I perceived as poverty was more a way of life, as food is plentiful, and most of their basic needs are met. The culture is mostly tribal/agrarian, and they believe that all wealth comes from their ancestors, therefore one only should provide for basic needs. If a person becomes ambitious and begins to produce more than his family can use, the rest of the community will take their perceived ‘share’, so there is no incentive to achieve or excel. Sort of reminds me of some attitudes back home!

I am working on computers and giving staff some basic instructions on software, mostly just trying to make using the equipment more efficient. Pretty old by our standards, as the average age of the computers is 5 + years, so current software can overload easily.

I look forward to getting outside the college and visiting a village or two. The people seem to be mostly kind and gentle, but the encroachment of modern society has helped create a ‘rascal’ group who rob and steal, so traveling can be somewhat hazardous. Hopefully we will miss that kind of intrusion.

Until later,

Jim & Mary

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