Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
I hope this letter finds you well and happy! I have been thinking about you all and wanted to finally set my thoughts to writing and let you know how I am! Well… Papua New
Guinea is definitely teaching me things about myself that I never would have known before. Living in Port Moresby has been a challenge. In some respects, it is quite a modern city – with a downtown business district that you would expect to find in any small city in the U.S.
I am teaching Social Science right now to boys in Grade 7 and Grade 8. I am a class patron, responsible for one of the Grade 8 classes, 46 boys! I have a Bible study with some of the parish women. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I teach some of the settlement children- everything from ABC’s to saying the Hail Mary to playing "Simon Says". On the weekends I find most of my time taken up with cleaning the classroom and preparing my lessons for the week. There is not a regular "oratory" on the weekends, but there is Sunday school and we always have sports leagues going on – basketball and soccer and volleyball. I have met some other "expates" as well as nationals in the community and have been able to get out and see a little of the surrounding countryside. It is really fascinating to see the way people live and work with each other- Port Moresby is unique to the rest of the country because it is a mass jumble of people from all over the world, let alone all parts of Papua New Guinea.
Papua New Guinea is a beautiful place, and Port Moresby is just the tip of the iceberg. The community here at Don Bosco has been difficult to adjust to, but after much effort and prayer, I feel like a part of the community. The Filipino culture is very different from ours and it has been hard to make concessions to their way of thinking. It is one thing to say that I can be understanding and that I am interested in other cultures, but it is something else entirely to really LIVE in another culture and experience firsthand their expectations and way of doing things.
My faith and my relationship with our Lord have been my strength and my comfort. In the beginning I found that my inclination was to seek comfort and advice from the people around me. When this failed, I was forced to turn to God, to truly seek His will and lean on Him for guidance and support. In this way I have grown as I never thought I could before. My confidence, my hope and my independence comes from the knowledge that God is my guide. The energy to do things, the need I have to be with children and learn as much as I can from the Papua New Guineans come from my strong desire to do God’s will. I find that living without little things like a television or a radio, and living without big things like water and the company of family and close friends gives me the opportunity to understand sacrifice and to live more closely to the plan God has for my life. I am trying to seek His will and to determine little things everyday. This life is such an adventure! I find joy in the Salesian spirit and remember Don Bosco’s words, "The heart of education is the education of the heart." I have found comfort and truth in the words I find in the Imitation of Christ – "If your heart be right, then every created thing will become for you a mirror of life and a book of holy teaching." Every day I learn something new about myself and about the people I work with and I am so excited by LIFE!
Needless to say, I am growing so much and am happy with life here. I am going to the Philippines at Christmas with one of the teachers and her family and I am very excited to see the kind of culture that all these teachers come from! I was able to get a cheap missionary fare and am using some saved money to take the trip – I am so excited! I will miss my family but being with good friends will help to soften the blow of not being at home. As far as next year goes, I would still like to go to the bush – to Don Bosco Araimiri. There is a need for teachers because it is a difficult place to live and I have a great desire to live in the bush and experience real Papua New Guinea life – not just the kind of life in a city. I hope that everyone else is doing well and that there are more American Salesian volunteers pouring in – God will provide! This year has proved a bigger challenge than I ever could have expected and I can’t wait to continue on this journey of knowing God better and carrying out the Salesian spirit.