Why do I feel this way?

As mentioned before, changes are bound to occur with a trip that has so many unknowns. Changes on the Lumi trip included additional villages not on the map, others no longer at their original location, and proximity of villages.  Other things like food and sleeping arrangements were pretty stable.  With this type of trip, it is hard for the people not to come back changed as well, either in their perspective or ways of doing things.

Beds arranged for the night's rest.

Beds arranged for the night’s rest.

This saksak is cooked in bamboo so it has a different color, taste, and consistency.

This saksak is cooked in bamboo so it has a different color, taste, and consistency.

Gary shared with some friends after his return, “getting up off of my four inch foam mattress bed and sitting in our living room with the electric table lamp on, surrounded by windows covered with screens to keep out the mosquitoes, it finally occurs to me why I am so uneasy; I realize that I am experiencing a form of culture shock.  For the past two weeks I have been hiking many miles up and down steep, slippery, wet, mountain rainforest trails, sleeping on the floors of bush houses and shelters made of sticks and bamboo with thatched palm leaf roofs tied together with vines.  I have eaten the same daily meals of a starchy gel like substance (made from the trunk pulp of the sago palm) and tree leaves, all cooked over a fire.  I drank water from coconuts and the mountain streams.  All of a sudden (after an hour’s flight) I find myself back in Wewak on a soft bed.  I have fresh water readily available collected from our tin roof when it rains into a large metal tank sitting outside our house.  A small gas stove sits in our kitchen next to a refrigerator.  A modern toilet is located inside our house and my laptop computer is sitting on the table.  Electric florescent tubes provide ample light powered by the Wewak diesel generators.  Our own generator serves as backup when those generators are unable to provide enough power for the entire town.  We have soft padded foam chairs, with backs, to recline on, books to read, and paper to write on.  A very small artificial Christmas tree sits on a table bringing the Christmas spirit to our living room.  We can easily drive ten minutes to a Wewak store to buy supplies.  We are so blessed with so many conveniences that we take for granted while the people groups I have just come from, have so little in the way of material things.

A friend cuts open the coconut so the team can drink the refreshing water inside.

A friend cuts open the coconut so the team can drink the refreshing water inside.

My dilemma… my struggle is knowing how to cope with such differences.  Even though the people in the villages are deprived of modern conveniences, you still see happy people and hear laughter, stories are being told, and little children are playing with miniature bows and arrows and balls made of bush materials.  So many have a desire to learn more about their creator God and are anxious to learn more and have His “talk” translated into their mother tongue.  Life is very hard for them!  But, they find joy in each day.  Hopefully, through our efforts and your prayers, we can give them the opportunity to come into a closer relationship and more thorough knowledge of Jesus Christ.”

Photos by Gary Abbas




2 comments on “Why do I feel this way?

  1. Great reflections… I think these could easily be applied to any language surveyor who returns from a survey trip. I felt it myself many times, but never put it in writing this well. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thanks for sharing this, Gary. We have spent years in remote villages and learned the Pouye language – and I experience this sort of culture “shock” permanently now. It never goes away. I process many of my everyday events through the eyes of a villager, sometimes even saying what I’m feeling out loud in Pouye.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s