Something I never thought about before moving to Papua New Guinea: that things I say or experience will mean something entirely different than in America. Here are some examples! (They’re mostly relating only to Ukarumpa, in PNG)
A plane flying overhead. In America, it’s just another plane and we don’t even give it a second (or first) thought. In Ukarumpa it means something: a new family coming to serve, a translation team heading out to the village or coming in for training, someone on a medevac to Australia, a family going on furlough or leaving forever, hundreds of kilos of coffee to subsidize a translator’s flight, etc. Here are the Woods getting on the plane to head off to America for furlough…
Going to the store. In America, it means that we’re going to a couple of the hundreds of stores in town to pick up a few things. In Ukarumpa it’s going to the one store on our center to buy necessities, check out new things they may have gotten in stock (this week: Arizona Green Tea!!!), seeing only one brand of pretty much everything, and connecting with others we don’t see very often. And making sure it’s open before we go! Here’s our store…
Buying new clothes. America: go to Target or the mall and get new clothes for at least $20 for each item. In Ukarumpa: rent a car, drive to the nearest town, go to the second-hand stores and get excited when you find the perfect skirt for only 50 cents! Here I am in Kainantu after second-hand shopping with Rachel and Annie…
Pizza night! America: order delivery 30 minutes before you want it and wait around for the delivery guy to show up. Ukarumpa: go to the market to get veggies at 7:00am, the store to get sauce, cheese and meat, knead the dough, let it rise, cut the veggies, spread out the dough, top it, and put it in the oven for 20 minutes. Yum!
It’s Friday! America: woohoo! Ukarumpa: Better get to the store and run any other errands before 4:00pm since nothing will be open until 8:30am Monday morning! …and woohoo!
The clouds. America: they’re so far away! PNG: they’re so close! (I paid attention last year flying to America: in PNG we passed through the clouds at 10,000 feet. In America more like 25,000 feet!)
Weight. America: pounds and ounces. PNG: I don’t even know how much I weigh in pounds anymore! Kilos are better, anyway – much smaller number. 🙂
Getting a package. America: must be something I ordered from Amazon. Ukarumpa: best-day-ever-somebody-loves-me-I-need-to-go-home-and-open-it-right-now excitement!!!