Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Big Differences with My Life in the US

Now that I have been back in the US for close to a month, I want to reflect on some big differences between the life in the US and life in PNG.  Here in the US...

1)  I am part of the majority not minority ethnic group.  In PNG I really stood out as a white person, here in Wisconsin most everyone else is white.  There is certainly more anonymity which can be a relief, but I miss some of the white privilege that went with it.

2) I am middle aged, not elderly.  The lower life expectancy in PNG makes quite a difference.

3) I am middle class, not rich. I was glad to have enough money to help the students, but I learned what a responsibility it is.  It has been rare in my past life for people to bother to try to swindle me, a different story in PNG.

4) I am surrounded by consumerism.  There was a refreshing lack of advertising in my daily life at Logaweng.  Without TV, radio, or newspapers, internet was the only way I was bombarded with ads.

5) I see lots of cars and few pedestrians.  When the whole campus has only two vehicles you do adapt.  It seems strange to be in the downtown area and see so few people on the streets.

I have been visiting family and now am getting serious in job hunting. I am looking for a parish position.  This will be my first since graduating.  Prayers would be appreciated.


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

farewell pictures

Relaxing in my yard with year two students and their families after our farewell meal and speeches. Students (l to r) in back row are Joshua, Dea, Jeremiah, Israel  Front row L - R Jeggy, Mathew, Siamon, Aisac.

Looking at some of my pictures from the US.  Since their are few sources of media (such as TV, magazines etc.) around the pictures are of great interest.  Generally the women sit on one side of the room and the men on the other.  If their are a lack of chairs the women will sit on the floor.

Decorations for my farewell party with the whole seminary.  The sign says God will be with you Pastor Ann.  All the plants and flowers come from on campus.

Shaking hands with year three students and their families.  In honor of my being an English teacher they sand English hymns for me (maroon songbooks). 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

saying farewells

As I have been gone from Papua New Guinea for over a week now, I want to reflect on the process of saying farewell.  It has been both difficult and heart warming.  I have been thinking of some of the reasons that farewells are done so elaborately in Papua New 'Guinea.

1.  Travel is difficult and expensive.  It is true that we will likely not see each other again.  Here in the US it is usually easy to go back and visit, not so in PNG.  I see this every year with the tears shed by the senior class at graduation time, they have been in classes together for 5 years and may never see each other again. 

2.  Mail is irregular, phones are expensive and internet may not be available.  It will be hard for us to keep in touch.  As smart phones are becoming more common and mobile phone coverage  I have started seeing some students and faculty on Facebook.

3.  People are used to living in villages where there is slow turnover of people.  They are used to the idea that they will be in relationship their whole life.

I had three farewells, one a dinner with my waspapa or advisory group, a potluck with speeches with the Year Two Class, and a campus-wide farewell.  This included a meal, entertainment and gifts by each class and the dedication of the new campus kitchen.

These farewells were wonderful and made me realize how deeply involved I had become with the community.


Thursday, June 16, 2016

The final week at Senior Flierl Seminary

     I find it hard to believe, but I am in my last week at Senior Flierl Seminary.  I leave exactly one week from today. I am taking this week off teaching to try to finish things up.  Being a disorganized person this is hard.
    I have sorted most of  house, some of which I had never sorted when I moved in.  These houses come with a lot of things (cargo as it is called here).  This is nice as it means you do not have to bring a lot of things with you.  My board encouraged me to bring only the suitcase allowance brought on the airline. However, every time I have gone home I have brought extra back with me. Fortunately most of these were books, which I am leaving behind.  I have already had a book sale and am donating the rest to the library.  People have bought a few of my items, such as my ice chests (for bringing frozen food from Lae) and spare bag or suitcases.  People have inquired after my solar lamps, computer and telephone.  However, I am not selling them.  I am giving the lamps as gifts and taking the phone and computer back with me.

    One task which I have finished is handing over the bookstore.  I had been running it rather informally, so have had to get things organized. I am proud of the work I have done there, helping the students get books they will need through out their careers.  Books are so hard to get in PNG!  I am very happy that Elvie Huevos, from the Philippines is taking over from me.

    An area that I am focusing on now is getting the library cleaned up.  We started an inventory back in January that still needs to be finalized.  I also have donated many books which need to be cataloged and put on the shelves.  Again, Elvie Huevos is taking over until they find another person.  I am relying on her to work on finishing up the backlog.

    Another thing I have let go is being the English teacher.  Being the only native English speaker I have been the "expert".  Fortunately one of the new teachers has experience teaching English.  I have turned over my books and files to him.  I have also given him the copies of "The Lutheran" (both US and Australian issues) which I had let the students use for outside reading.

   My next blog will be about saying "Farewell" in PNG.  It is not something that is done lightly here.


Friday, April 15, 2016

I can see clerly now

Wanted to share the news that my cataract surgery went very well back in February.  I now need glasses only for reading.  My distance vision is clearer than it has been for years. Since cataract surgery is not common in PNG people are quite impressed.  One faculty member mentioned that I am like Bartemeus (healed in the Gospel of Mark).  He was joking, but it does show how it all impressed him.

Being in Brisbane AUS for three weeks (including some dental work) highlighted for me again the difference between a first world and third world country.  I did appreciate having reliable transportation (great bus system), consistent electricity and thus running water.  I also appreciated the variety of food and restaurants available.  I think about all the troubles of daily life that people here in PNG have to put up with. It can be frustrating to watch. I wish I could wave a magic wand and eliminate corruption and all the other issues here. However, I am thankful that God has lead me here to do what I can.  We always have to trust that God is control of things, not us.

It was also interesting to be in a majority white culture again.  In PNG I literally stand out from the crowd.  It is sometimes uncomfortable, but can also bring privileges.  For example my bags are never checked by the security guards at the doors in stores.  This was a good reminder of some of the changes I will experience when I am back in the U.S.  

Thursday, April 14, 2016

My kitty Fiona (adopted from the Thumser family)

on campus children at Christmas

2016 school year

Well, we have finished the first term of the 2016 school year.  We are in the midst of a one week break and then will have another 10 week term and then semester break.

There are fewer students on campus this year.  The new first year class has only 10 students in it, while the class out on vicarage (internship) has 21 students in it.  However, this has not meant fewer children on campus.  The first year students have to leave their families at home, The year two class, who brought their families to campus this term, has lots of children.  It is not especially large class, 19 students, but has few single men and families with up to 5 children.  Considering how small the houses are, some people must be sleeping wall to wall.

This tradition of  the men coming alone for the first year may be changed.  It is supposed to have the advantage of giving the men more time to focus on schoolwork.  The families were able to stay with his family (most often) who would look after them.  However, times are changing and this is more difficult for some families.  Also, the drought in the highlands last year meant that many families were living in an area that had shortages of food.  This was then quite a worry for the men who were here and couldn't afford to go home and help.  The second reason for the men coming alone is a shortage of family houses versus dorm space.  However, we need to look at what is best for the families.

Another big change coming up is a change in curriculum.  The national curriculum passed at the National Synod said that we would have to switch to English only - perhaps as early as next year.  It is still playing out as to how quickly the change will really come.  Since I am leaving at the end of this term I am not part of the discussion.  It is hard sometimes to step aside on issues I feel strongly about, but the solution has to come from those who are staying.  Fortunately our new faculty members have good English, one having taught at the English language seminary.

The next term will be busy.  I am glad I have only 5 credits to teach.  There are a lot of things I still need to clean up in the library as well as train my replacement.  There are a lot of things I know, but have not written down.  I also need to hand over te bookstore.  Fortunately that is better documented.

Okay, time to sign out and makes my class outline for the coming term.