There are always things that happen that you don’t expect, but living in the village like Yabru brings its own unique experiences. These are just some of the different things I experienced while running the Oral Bible Storytelling workshop in Yabru.
We had a tree frog in our house that would show up in random places. Once it was on top of the mosquito net on my bed. I don’t know about you, but I would prefer not to be underneath certain animals, especially when I sleep. Once when I was sitting in the bathroom, it landed on my lap and then happily continued on its way. I was there for three weeks but never did manage to catch him.
We woke up one morning to hear a chorus of frogs and I knew immediately what happened. The Sepik river was flooded and had covered the area in water and the frogs were really happy. The rain was so strong that our roof leaked and my bed became wet. I’ve found it isn’t all that uncommon. The water receded later that day.
A couple days before the course was to start, one of the students arrived in a canoe with his daughter who had been in labor for several days and was listless. He asked to borrow some zoom (2 stroke fuel) for the canoe motor so he could get to the small “house sick” (similar to a doctor’s office) in Green River. I don’t normally allow people to borrow from me because I know it is possible I will not get paid back. However, it seemed like a “gift” would be most appropriate in this situation. They arrived at the house sick around dark after travelling all day in a canoe and at least an hour hike at the end. That night his daughter died. Mother mortality rates and infant mortality rates in Papua New Guinea (PNG) are high compared to other countries. This language group did not come to the course because they were in mourning.
Soon after we arrived, we were privileged to see a full lunar eclipse. Even better was that it was away from all the light contamination. While we enjoyed it, it sparked concern and questions around many parts of PNG. Many people do not know what causes an eclipse. In one location, people were concerned it was a bad omen for them or there was a disaster about to happen. It sparked an all night prayer vigil in another location because they thought a person that recently died was getting back at them. It is a common belief that the spirits of people who have died still interact with this world.
I leaned that you can walk in total darkness but still find your way home if you walk barefoot on the path. The path is worn smooth with grass on the sides. When you feel the grass on the edges of your feet, you make small corrections and continue walking down the center of the path.
The stars are really bright at night!