Our first month here in PNG has flown by! We have felt your prayers and Gods grace and mercy daily. Thank you, again and again, for praying us through this major life transition.
After a few days of acclimating to the time change, getting over jet lag, the heat and humidity we dove into NCLA (National Culture and Language Acquisition) with full force. Here is a story of our first visit to the village alone.
I had originally planned for our national language helper to go with us but at the last minute she was unable to go and so in the morning Dave and I, along with the babes, would go to the village for the first time on our own. I was so nervous. A thousand different excuses as to why I shouldn’t go ran through my mind.
I don’t have Amelia, our language helper, with us so I’ll be all alone. I only know a weeks worth of pidgin. Our cell phones don’t have service, what if I need help? It will be during Lou’s nap time, maybe I should stay so she can get on a better schedule. I don’t know the culture well enough, what if I mess up? What if I offend someone?
Dave and I have been married for 7 years now so he could see the nerves rising in me and immediately re-assured me that everything would be ok and that it was in my best interest to go. I just needed to get out there and break through the fear. I hate when they know what your thinking!
In the morning our little family loaded up in the van and headed out to the local village, Susu Banis. As soon as we got there we were welcomed by what felt like all of Papua New Guinea. I’ve never walked the red carpet in Hollywood before but I’m pretty sure walking into that village and getting out of that old beat up white van was as close as I’ll ever get. I felt like I should yell, “No big deal, go back to your homes. It’s just the Rimestads!”
As soon as we got out of the van I was surrounded by the women and Dave went off with Calvin and his now language helper, Gabinus. The boys headed off to see a wrecked Japanese plane from WW2 while I hung out with the women. We sat for some time while the women brought Louise bags of bananas, Guava and humungous Papayas. If I didn’t have Louise, things would of gotten pretty boring fairly quick but thankfully I had my adorable little baby with me to keep things interesting. When I had gone through all of my pidgin phrases that I knew, it only took about 3 minutes to do that; Louise took the reigns and was just all sorts of cute. The women got a couple of coconuts for us to drink and after Lou spilled half the coconut on her one of the ladies, Martina, got a bucket, went down to the river to get some water and told me to give Lou a bath. PNG is in dry season right now so the rivers aren’t the cleanest things around. Even though I was positive Lou would be cleaner with coconut water on her than she would with the river water I decided to break out of my American germ-a-phobe self and see that Martina was just trying to do something nice for Lou. After the bath was ready I took off Louise’s dress but then I couldn’t decide if I should take her diaper off. With all 30 sets of eyes watching I was getting really nervous that I was going to do something culturally inappropriate. I asked, and by “asked” I mean gestured in hand signs and looked like a Tok Pisin mime, if it was ok to take her diaper off. I understood a loud response of something like “take it off.” So I did. As soon as I took of Louise’s diaper there were all sorts of hoots and hollers and lots of giggles as Lou’s naked little bum got dunked in her first PNG bath!
I am so thankful for that time with those people. Susu Banis is now the village that Dave and I spend the majority of our time at during the week for language study and is where we will continue to visit during the next few months while we learn Tok Pisin and PNG culture as a whole. Dave was right, it was in my best interest to go and I’m thankful I did.
I’m sure to some of you this may seem so silly. Here I am moving halfway across the world and I am nervous to go to the village? But everyday that I am here is by Gods grace. Not a day goes by that I don’t wake up in the morning and plead for more grace and mercy and not a day goes by that my Father in heaven does not provide every ounce that I need.
This first trip to the village is just the beginning of a long journey ahead of us. Thank you for praying us along.
Calvin in the village with his new friends. Calvin loves going to the village and is seriosuly bummed if David goes and doesn't take him.