Sunday, September 25, 2011

Popcorn, Potlucks, and Princess Bride?

Tension crackled in the air as the princess froze, blindfolded and a knife held to her throat. The Man In Black approached the two seated figures slowly, eyeing the table between them. Two empty glasses waited for the Battle of Wits…

The butter knife was from the kitchen, the hostage was a large stuffed dog, and the wine looked suspiciously like a bottle of water. But the real cries of delight emerged when the entire sparring dialogue (including the reveal of the deadly iocane powder) was shouted in Tok Pisin!

It was a Saturday night, and we were all laughing until tears streamed down our faces as we watched our fellow students and staff perform in POC’s Got Talent! Old PNG commercials were re-enacted (Wopa crackers, anyone?), Canadian folk songs were danced, a piano duet announced the SugarPlum Fairy (Christmas is welcome year-round), and even Hotel California was re-mixed into Hotel POC featuring our very own goat, Glenda, as the leading lady.

Lest you think life at POC is all work and no play, let me draw back the curtain and give you a glimpse of what it’s like to live among such a marvelous group as the students and staff here.

We are all eagerly waiting for the potluck to begin!
Let me start with the obvious: food. Tons of food. Not only do we eat every meal together during the week, but during hous kuk weekends, we decided it was only natural to continue the pattern and hold a regular Saturday night potluck. BYOD—bring your own dish and partake in the feast cooked over fires--sweet potato fries, custard, soup, coconut pie, chicken n’ dumplings, apple crisp, spaghetti, pizza, tacos, shepherd’s pie, rice dishes, various salads, banana bread, pumpkin scones and more! Of course, there was the Bake-Off with the prestigious Silver Spoon Award, followed by the hous kuk building competition in an attempt to determine which would best withstand a trip to the Land of Oz.

Friday night is hamburger night, followed by a kid’s movie and popcorn galore—but even the adults crowd into the Meeting House to watch Nemo swim around the South Pacific (now close to our heart as three clownfish inhabit the kitchen’s aquarium after a trip to Rempi where we spent the day snorkeling and canoeing in a tropical paradise). Evenings find us in fellowship groups on the volleyball court or perhaps clustered around kerosene lanterns playing any number of games.  If that wasn’t enough, one Saturday we roasted s’mores on a bonfire and laughed until our sides ached as veterans of PNG swapped stories of the adventures of life here.

On Sundays, we’ve had the privilege of worshipping with each other and being blessed by the experienced pastors among us, especially the times we don’t attend a local church. During the half day of prayer, we were further encouraged as we lifted up each other, our pastors, and local and global needs, reminding ourselves that we are indeed part of the Body of Christ. The children and babies have acquired a plethora of new aunts and uncles and grandparents as each takes a turn at holding, rocking, swinging, feeding and generally providing an open lap to give relief to the heroic efforts of their parents.

The dining room: where much laughter and much ministry occurs!

Of course the tightest bonds are formed over shared challenges—crashing through saltwater waves in a semblance of swimming and scaling PNG’s versions of Mt. Everest, rubbing ash from eyes in smokey fires and ending up in someone’s lap when the brakes squeal on the Hino. We wash dishes together, hunt through Madang for the elusive baking soda, and pass the frantic word when the internet finally works. And when sickness penetrated nearly every room on the Center, friends are quick to take over duties, prepare meals, and ease discomfort.

Life at POC during the adjustment to the many new practical skills, language barriers, and cultural differences of PNG is not always easy. But, having such people along for the ride as these make it worth all those extra bumps and bruises…

Just as you [might] wish. :-)