1. Slow Down – In most western cultures, we hear expressions like “time is money.” Efficiency is the key to success. This is not true in Papua New Guinea. This was truly difficult for me to understand at first, and still is many times. I had a difficult time understanding why a lot of things don’t open at the right time. I had difficulty understanding why it could take months and months to build something that shouldn’t take long at all. Efficiency and time just don’t matter as much as other things. As Christians, maybe we should look at how we view time and efficiency. Which brings me to number two.
2. People Are What Matter – This is connected to the first one. Family is what matters most. But in the Papua New Guinean culture, family is more than just your biological family. It can be anyone close to you. When speaking to a Papua New Guinean, a ‘brother’ could be a brother, a cousin, or just a good friend. Hours around a fire just talking is a common sight in Papua New Guinea. The mentality of ‘what’s mine is ours’ looks out for everyone in the family- money, possessions, time. How often do we look out for our brother in such a deep way? It should be noted that in some situations both of the last two can be taken to the extreme by Papua New Guineans.
3. Everything is Connected – In Papua New Guinea, everything between the spiritual realm and the physical realm is connected. Being raised in a culture that separates science and religion, this has also been a difficult one to relate to. Sickness, trouble, the crop in the garden – everything is connected to the spiritual realm. For most Papua New Guineans, this applies to spirits and witchcraft. Imagine, though, what this means for Christian Papua New Guineans. God is most definitely at work in everything around us, but western cultures tend to ignore this fact.
Please pray with me as I finish cleaning and packing up both my classroom and my apartment, then fly back to the United States next week for a short furlough.