Thursday, January 28, 2016

Mastering the Mango

Although many foods don't grow well in the drought, the mango trees have been prolific! So, today, I'm going to divulge the secrets of Mango Chopping!

Mangoes are tricky fruits--the giant pits, the slippery flesh, and the juice that gets everywhere! The skin tastes terrible, but it's also wretched to remove. Never fear! I will reveal all to you now!

Here in Papua New Guinea, we have dozens of different kinds of mangoes. I can reliably identify about three of them, and for your purposes, I suggest two categories: long ones and short ones. On the whole, the long ones tend to be less stringy and have a lot more delicious flesh.
A ripe mango should have a lovely mango smell from its ends and should be able to be indented lightly with a finger (but not soft and squishy).

Step 1: Wash your mango (we bleach ours...)

Step 2: Slice the mango lengthwise slightly off the midline.

Step 3: Continue to slice off long chunks on the mango slightly off centre--if you try to cut down the middle, you'll hit the rock-hard pit.

Step 4: Continue all the way around...and then gnaw on the pit to get the last little bits of delicious flesh...  (See how big it is? It's the part next to the knife.)

Step 5: Do not attempt to peel your mango like an apple. It will result in disaster. Instead, score the mango's flesh lengthwise and crosswise (but don't cut through the skin). The scoring allows all the curves of the mango to be flattened out, thus giving you maximum access to the fruit. You can either easily just eat the mango straight off the skin now or....

Step 6: ...slide your knife along the skin and release all the little mango squares.

 Step 7: And there you have it! Perfect little mango chunks for your eating pleasure!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Newer and Tuffa'!

How do you store your drinking water?

Our old metal water tank was starting to have all kinds of tiny holes and cracks, and it was really a matter of time before we'd have a major problem on our hands. So, we decided it was time to replace our water tank!

First, we needed to empty the tank...

This main water tank holds our primary supply of rainwater (clean drinking water), which is collected from runoff of our metal roof into our house gutters (clean gutters are important!) . Then, we pump it up to our header tank, which then flows down into the house. It's crucial to remember to fill the header tank regularly, otherwise the water shuts off in the middle of your shower! (Hot water is the result of solar panels on the roof.)

After our tank was drained, a crew of men arrived to tackle the transfer.

The new tank is here! Look--no holes! No no rust! It's made out of a heavy duty plastic, and these last much longer than the old metal tanks, hence it's referred to as a "Tuffa tank" (one of the brands).

And that was my exciting Monday afternoon. Thankfully the process, which can sometimes take several days, only took a few hours. And, even better, it's decided to rain several times since the new tank's installation, so I didn't have to go without water. Yay!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Letters to a New Missionary: What We Wish We Had Known

Develop a good prayer team. Take time for closure. Bring lots of photos.

There’s lots of great tips out there for first-time global workers....but what about all those things that you don’t know to ask? Recently, I polled my friends working all over the world and found their top 17 things they wish they would have known before they landed on the field.

If a pile of veggies panics you, find some good recipes
 1. Know the cooking requirements of your country. In some countries, my friends don’t need to cook at all—it’s cheaper and easier to buy prepared food in the market or stores. Papua New Guinea is the complete opposite. If you’re coming here and you haven’t yet made a meal or two completely from scratch (and I mean mixes, premade tortillas, pressed graham cracker crusts, packets, sauces etc.), then I recommend you get cracking. I once knew a person who arrived here only knowing how to make spaghetti... Look around online for “cooking in your country” guides and buy yourself a copy of the Wycliffe International Cookbook (really tasty, easy recipes invaluable for overseas cooking).

2. Learn the history of your new country.

3. Before you join an organization, check out their member care, counseling, return-care, and support-raising assistance (and the people you’ll be interfacing with). Not all organizations are created equal, but the support you get in those areas can make or break your time on the field.

4. Be patient. We know every day that is between you and arriving on the field feels like an eternity, but in your eagerness, don’t reject the treasure delays give you, especially time with family and friends. God has a reason, and honestly, once you reach the field, you’re going to experience about five hundred times more delays than you did in your home country. Slow down and be patient.

5. Wait to offer your opinion for a few years... Well, maybe not quite that long, but just remember that until you’ve had your five-year anniversary in country, you’re still wet behind the ears. Things happen for a reason, and their is often a lot of history that you don’t know. Ask questions, listen, and be humble.

6. Know ahead of time what your accommodation will be when you arrive and what you might need to survive the first few days...because when those first few days arrive, you’ll be so jet-lagged and shell-shocked from the whole experience that finding your peanut butter jar to feed your whining children will feel akin to D-Day.

7. Ask what every-day items are easily available in your country
(also, medications and first aid). You don’t want to bring four years worth of toothpaste, if you don’t have to!

8. Give yourself (and your family members) lots of grace. Transitioning across countries is hard, and the stress impacts different people in different ways. In fact, you might think you aren’t stressed, but we guarantee, you are. Give yourself a few years, and suddenly, you’ll think to yourself, “Wow, I feel normal today!” In the meantime, just know that everything will take longer and be more exhausting and frustrating than you think it ought to be. It’s okay—we’ve all been there.

One of my hobbies is art--I painted this Aslan portrait for a
 a Narnia display at this year's high school Banquet
9. What hobbies keep you sane? Try to brainstorm some clever ways to maintain your hobbies in new circumstances. What supplies do you need? How much?

10. Learn some practical tips for dealing with evil. Good soldiers come prepared.

11. Figure out the differences in technology between your home and field countries
so you don’t bring useless (or expensive to run) items with you (do you need an unlocked cell phone? What about DVD regions? Do you understand the difference between a converter, inverter, and transformer?)

12. How will you mark time? If you are moving from four seasons to two, you might find it difficult to mark time passing. Don’t be afraid to bring some decorations for your home country holidays and seasons to help you stay in touch.

13. If you don’t receive training in how to write a newsletter or talk to supporters, then find someone to teach you! (It’s confusing for a church to receive a newsletter with no photo, no contact info, and no name...)

You might be driving this gem!
14. Learn how to drive a stick-shift.

15. Ask established workers about their budgets. You may already have some suggestions from your organization, but ask around to find out how stretched people really are. Are there certain things you need to bring (especially for village living) or to budget for?

16. Be flexible. Be flexible. Be flexible. You might be asked to fill a role you never considered before...don’t put yourself in a box. Maybe you should try it!

17. There are always more needs than you can meet.
You are on the field because you want to give yourself...but beware of the other side of the coin, which is burnout. A worker who is crumbling into charcoal is of no use to anyone. Maintain strict boundaries, practice militant self-care, ask for help, and remember your task is to be faithful only what God has asked you to do—no more and no less.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Sunglasses on Mars

Huge sheets were put up to watch the Jisas Film
I had always been a bit proud of my ability. When other people were popping Dramamine and ginger and staring out the window with that horrified look of please, when will it be over, I could read a book. Big planes, little planes, ships, dinghies, roller coasters, spinning rides at the county fair, stick-shift on mountain roads...and so far everything that Papua New Guinea could throw at me in the last four and a half years was not a problem. It was like a badge of my super-woman-toughness.

Motion sickness? Puh-leese. Although I might be riddled with strange health problems and fatigue, at least I don’t get motion sick.

You know where this is going.
Lots of people attended each class

It was December 23 and I, along with seven other people, had crammed into a truck to trek over the mountains to head to the Kamano-Kafe Tok Ples Krismas Kemp (“Local Language Christmas Camp”). Christmas Camp is a big deal for the Kamano-Kafe community, and over 20,000 people had showed up, streaming in from all over the country to pitch their tents on the side of the mountain for a week of preaching and worship, as well as practical classes (everything from how to fix a car engine to planting brown onions to Biblical financial management to herbal medicine to parenting skills to marriage counseling). I was just attending for the day, a visit to encourage the community and the Kamano-Kafe translation team, who were busy selling Audibibles (recordings of the New Testament), translated New Testaments, translated hymnbooks, and SD cards with extras like the translated Jisas Film. (Since it was visitor’s day, they even had me give a spontaneous speech in two languages (neither of which are mine) in front of all 20,000 pairs of eyes, which was intimidating enough to make my hands start shaking.)

The camp attendees built temporary houses for themselves

But first, we had to get there.

We reached the first town in less than 12 minutes (it should have taken us 20), before the driver smiled jubiliantly, downshifted, and we careened onto a remote mountain track at 60 kilometers an hour. Saloming back and forth like an Olympic skier, the truck skidded and flew over tyre-swallowing potholes in the gravel road with more airtime than a dune buggy. The wasted roads themselves, of course, zig-zagged up and down volcanic mountains (once I think we actually went straight for a full 40 meters!), and the driver, in his enthusaism to not waste a moment (while still avoiding the pigs, the chickens, the dogs, the children, the grandfathers, and the other vehicles...), alternated between brakes and accelerater every 10 meters, shifting with the grace of one of those ancient wooden roller coasters that missed the safety inspection. Meanwhile, I and my seven other travelling companions ping-ponged off each other, as we attempted to balance, sitting sideways in the truck. For an hour and a half.

Suddenly, Dramamine didn’t sound so bad, and I fixated on the horizon, trying to breathe evenly.  Surely there was one thing on this earth that wasn’t moving.

“DON’T YOU WANT TO TAKE PICTURES?” shouted our guide over the rattling and banging that was probably something critical falling off the truck, “I LIVE AT THE TOP OF THAT MOUNTAIN OVER THERE!” His finger bounced up and down as he jabbed at the mountain range behind my shoulder. The girl sitting beside me tumbled into my back as I grabbed the edge of the seat. Taking photos would mean letting go (and the “shake” setting would be about as useful as sunglasses on Mars). “UH, MAYBE LATER!” I hollered back. Mi laik traut, I grimaced to myself. I feel like throwing up.

An eternity later, we landed at the camp, and we pulled our bruised, battered, and queasy bodies out of the truck, grateful for solid ground. Hallelujah! We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves at the camp, and the day passed quickly.

Too quickly. Our guide bounced up to us cheerfully, “You ready? It’s time for the drive back!”