Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Went to post and realized this never got posted for some reason. So quite late here it is...

So much has happened since I last blogged I have been advised the only way to tackle this is to just write snapshots if you will of various times that stand out as they come to mind regardless of time sequencing.

A little background. Evan came to Papua New Guinea for the first time in 2004. He went through the Pacific Orientation Course in Madang as all new Wycliffe people do. But, since he was only with Wycliffe Associates are not required to do the full 14 week course, but only a 6 week course. However, Evan wanted to do the 14-week course, which he did. The full course includes a 5 week stay in a village in the area. This helps the participate to learn Melanesian pidgin (the trade language) and to gain a better understanding of the culture and people of Papua New Guinea. Over 80% of the population lives in villages. The village Evan was allocated to a place called Bagame. It is basically a village made up of members of one family and their spouses and children.

At that time one of the sons, Charlie, as single and close in age to Evan, so Evan lived with him. Through Evan’s willingness to work, participate, learn and laugh he became a part of their family. When he left after 5 weeks they held a traditional sing-sing to say goodbye.
A sing-sing is similar to a luau. There is a large feast, dancing, singing, story-telling…in short it is a great time. At this sing-sing Charlie wrote a song for Evan and they cried and said goodbye as if they would never see him again.

Evan stayed in PNG for another year and then returned to the US with the intention of returning as soon as possible. He then met me…fast-forward about 9 years.

We have returned as a family to Papua New Guinea. During our time in America Evan has talked about returning “home” and wanting to reconnect with all the people who loved him and he loved. Since I am new to the country we are going through the POC course again as a family. Evan is there primarily as a help to me, but learns a lot too. When it comes time for our village assignments we both talk about how neat it would be if we ended up being close to his old host family village (Bagame) so we could visit. We get assigned, drumroll….a village a mere 2 miles down the road from Bagame! One week before we go, Evan is in town gathering supplies, and runs into Charlie. He is able to tell him that he and his family are going to be in a near-by village next week and Charlie is so happy he says when we can to send a message to them that we are coming to visit and they will have a sing-sing for us.

So, the day we go to our village assignment, we stop at the last place before ours to drop off some other students. Waiting there is an older woman who turns out to Charlie’s mom (Evan’s wasmama) she see’s Evan and instantly recognizes him, despite it being almost 10 years  and Evan’s hair (both head and facial) being different and starts to cry. She hugs him tightly, and then when she is introduced to me she says “pikinini bilong mi!” (my child) and hugs me and kisses me. She then turns to the boys and calls them booboos (slang for grandchildren or grandparent). She takes Julien into her lap (he is asleep) and carries him the rest of the drive to our village. Hugging me the whole time too.

Fast forward a couple of weeks and we are planning to go to Bagame. However, plans change when I come down with Dengue fever and Julien becomes ill again (some of you know his saga of being ill while at POC) and it is decided the two of us must be taken out of the village to recoup. Evan and Liam go anyway, have a wonderful time but are asked to come again when I am back and well as they are disappointed I and Julien are not there. Evan and Liam are bilas-ed. (decorated). Liam gained the nickname “muscleman” because of his habit of walking as if he had large muscles emulating super-heros. They let him play the kundu drum and he danced like a madman making everyone laugh with joy.

When I returned about a week later, we went again. This time we were told it was a celebration for me, as it was the first time I visited.  

As we walked up the road the family came out and ushered us to the “front entrance” of the village where they had hung flowers and they sang and danced a welcoming song that Charlie had written.
Then after we had rested and eaten a little and drank kulaus (green coconuts) I was ceremonially painted and dressed in traditional costume. Charlie’s wife Joyce gave me a shirt that was hers so that I would always remember her. She had me take off my top and put it on which was interesting. She didn’t even blink with all the men standing around asking me to strip to my bra. Of course she was wearing nothing on top BUT her bra so I guess it’s all relative J.
Then she and other ladies there taught me some dances. Evan got video. I look pretty silly but we were laughing and having a great time. Joyce called me her sister and that I was to go back to America and tell them all about her, my “crazy PNG sister Joyce”. We were also given two bilums made from natural fibers and the grass skirt (purpur) that I wore, made especially for me by the mama. Also, Liam was given all the shell and boar’s teeth bilas he was wearing and the malu (men’s ceremonial loincloth) he was wearing. Then we had a feast.
Joyce, Charlie and their daughter walked us most of the way back to our village. When they turned back their daughter cried and cried for us.
Joyce and Charlie's daughter with Liam

Me and Joyce dancing, Charlie is in the background

And then when were being picked up to return to the training center wasmama, Joyce, Charlie and their daughter all came to say goodbye. Mama cried again and hugged us like she would never see us again. We have promised to return and visit when we can.  

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