Saturday, May 21, 2011

It's All Relative

“So, do you have plans to move anytime soon?”

I was reclining in a dentist’s chair for one of my last stateside visits. “Uhhh, Aua Oo Gi’ee.”

“What was that?” the hygienist removed her fingers from my mouth.

“Papua New Guinea. I’m moving to Papua New Guinea.”

“Ahh.” She dove back towards my molars, and I could hear her counting softly. Then she straightened. “Wait, is that…?”

“…it’s a large island just north of Australia.” I finished.

She laughed. “Oh, really! I thought it was a small town in northern Minnesota!”

While northern Minnesota does sometimes seem like the end of the earth, I think I might have to travel in the opposite direction.

The island of New Guinea is actually one of the largest islands in the world, second only to Greenland. Thus, it is rather ironic that the world map on the back of my door is missing only one country…Papua New Guinea. The other half of the island is present, but then the poster ends, right along the country’s border. Ever since coming upon this travesty, I’ve been scrupulous to check every map that I come across to see if Papua New Guinea is safely located 100 miles north of Australia. After all, I wouldn’t want to fall off the edge of the map!

However, in the grand scheme of things, PNG is still rather small (about the size of California). So, when I started support-raising and needed a suitable Table Display, I was in a quandary. How would I find a map that would show this 600-island nation large enough such that my older friends wouldn’t need to pull out their bifocals and small enough that it was clearly a distance from Minnesota? After all, I’ve been asked about my upcoming trip to Africa and my extended stay in South America.

Notice the rubberband holding the seal together...
My first thought? One of those world shower curtains! After I moved on from that idea, I began sorting through other options. Placemat anyone? Fabric panels? Book? A globe worthy of Atlas? None of these seemed satisfactory, so imagine my excitement when I was at a missions conference, perusing through tables of books and puzzle resources, I found, tucked behind the t-shirts, a 9” high, inflatable globe.

Just think—it’s compact for travel, small enough to tuck into the most conservative display, and large enough that Papua New Guinea even gets named in red letters! According to the package, the globe is 93 million times smaller than the real Earth, putting one centimeter at 930 km. Papua New Guinea is 15.4 centimeters from St. Paul, MN (but I can’t confirm since GoogleMaps is “unable to calculate directions” from St. Paul to Port Moresby).

I guess I won’t be heading “up nort” to my cabin in PNG for the weekend!