Mikayla, a long time friend of our family from Idaho decided to pay us a visit in December.
Have you ever wanted to know what PNG is like? Well after leaving, Grace asked Mikayla to send back her thoughts on the whole experience and here they are:
What was your first impression/thoughts as you arrived and drove to the our house?
My first impression was that Goroka was more urban than I had been imagining it being. There were plenty of cars, and buildings in the city that it felt more like tropic slums of America. Parts of Goroka were beautiful, but downtown was very dirty.
The villages surrounding the town, however, were very clean and gorgeous.
What was your favorite food you tried?
My favorite food was the mango, they were so fresh and juicy I could eat them 24/7. But my favorite new food was the passion fruit or young coconut. Also the flavored canned tuna was pretty interesting to try and something I’ve never seen here in America.
Give a description of the roads and your travel down to Madang.
For the most part, the roads were actually pretty good! But that being said, pretty good in Papua New Guinea means “Ultimate Off-Roading” in America. The roads are littered with pot holes, there are groups of people walking on the side of the road all the time, and every once and a while there will be a section of “washboarding”. And I haven’t even mentioned the slick as snot mud mountain. Cars lined on top of the hill and cars lined at the bottom, all waiting for one PMV (or bus) to be pulled up by a small pick-up truck. And as soon as it was pulled up, you saw there was another stuck bus.
I honestly don’t know how we made it down that section of road without breaking something or getting stuck. At one point, I think our wheels were barely touching the ground as we surfed over ruts in the mud. But even if we had gotten stuck, there were always people hanging around that section of road to help push cars.
The Lord was truly with us that entire trip, we didn’t even pop a wheel!
How would you describe the national people?
Friendly. Everyone I met was so excited to meet me, and talk with me. They were extremely giving. One lady literally dumped her belongings out of her bilum (hand-woven bag) and gave it to me! I think that image sums up the majority of the PNG people right there.
What is one of your favorite activities during the trip?
I loved going to the Meri Safe Huas ( Women’s Safe House) and playing violin for them. I found out they had never heard a live violin before, and it was very special to me that I was able to borrow a violin and play for them.
And of course I absolutely loved snorkeling for Christmas.
What was the weirdest, oddest thing you saw or have happen to you?
The weirdest thing I saw was probably the Beetlenut and everyone’s red mouths. Though it’s funny how quickly that became normal for me to see. The oddest thing that happened to me was having a drunk person trying to steal my phone right out of my hands!
Can you describe what we did at the Meri Safe Haus and what their response was?
Grace planned this amazing Christmas party for the Meri (Woman) Safe house. We had small presents for all the women, children and the few men that lived there. The presents included wash cloths and soap, goodies, nail polish, balloons and more. Everyone’s faces was so joyful; it was such a blessing to watch. After opening presents, we had a table where they could participate in a craft and another table where they could get their nails painted.
I was even able to use the Tok Pisin I learned to carry on (broken) conversations with the women while I painted their nails. They absolutely loved hearing me speak their language back to them and they loved teaching me more. We then brought out homemade cinnamon rolls and cookies and had a “Tea Time”.
During tea time is when I brought out the violin I had borrowed and played Christmas songs and good old fiddle songs. Everyone was enthralled by the violin and every upbeat song I would play, they would clap there hands and sway to the beat.
The last thing we did was paint all the children’s faces. We painted butterflies, flags, flowers, even a spider! Everyone was so excited and loved everything we did with them. It was a very special thing to be a part of.
Did you learn any interesting facts about the culture, language, or history of PNG?
The language sounds like gibberish with a few words of English thrown in for good measure. But it was actually pretty easy to catch on! I also learned that Japan tried to take over Papua New Guinea during World War II; that was something I hadn’t read about and it was very interesting to visit their museum and see their history.