Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Join the Crowd!

I’ve given up trying to define it. Some might try to call us the “singles group”—but the multiple married couples who are core members of our activities might take offense at their vows being looked on so lightly. You could try the “young adult group”… but when our members include ages from every decade from the 20s up to those who start to get special discounts, young better refer to “young at heart.” Some have attempted the “singles and newly marrieds”—but when some reach a decade of marriage and others bring their babies to the game nights, does that still qualify as “newly?”

It’s rather inexplicable, and so those of us who are in it have stopped trying. Instead, we just refer to it as the Crowd.

Hanging out at the Italian Dinner last year
Game nights, worship nights, movie nights, prayer nights, pretzel-making nights—the Crowd is a loose gathering of friends who enjoy creating a social life in the Ukarumpa community, from intense hand-and-foot tournaments to New Year’s costume parties to wallpaper-stripping-gatherings. We help each other pack boxes, provide meals when members come and go, give rides to evening activities on centre, go on vacation together in Lae, and celebrate holidays like Thanksgiving or Christmas. When the rest of Ukarumpa couples go on a date to the Mexican or Valentine’s Dinner hosted by the teens, the Crowd reserves a table for 20, and we all hang out together in a group full of laughter and fun. We’re mechanics and accountants and managers and translators and school teachers. We’re from all over the world and we all have crazy stories of how God has impacted our lives, and we are all passionate about what He is doing in Papua New Guinea through Bible translation.

We are simply the Crowd.

See all the bags? That's stuff to be auctioned off!
And, one of the Crowd traditions is to have an auction. It’s not your normal auction—there is no money exchanged and there is no long bidding battle or a fast-paced auctioneer. Instead, it’s the chance for a Crowd member leaving Ukarumpa (either for furlough/home assignment or more permanently) to easily get rid of stuff...and for other Crowd members to acquire some treasures (clothes, shoes, dishes, extra sunscreen, music, books, pillows...)! The process is simple. The departing Crowd member holds up a desired item for all to see—and the first person to twitch a finger or show interest gets it thrown at him or her!

Due to our close proximity to Indonesia,
 we have lots access to lots of Indian clothing
After all the items have been chucked at people, then the group has the privilege of praying for the departing person and saying their goodbyes. It’s an opportunity for closure and cementing the sense of family that many of us have left behind. This past Saturday, I had my auction, which happened to be combined with a potluck Indian dinner, complete with a collection of brilliant saris and punjabis. It was a delightful evening and a huge blessing to me. They are truly a wonderful group of people.

Yes, it’s certainly quite a privilege, I’ve found, to be a part of the Crowd.