“Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.” -Alexander Pope
I’m a missionary…I should have learned by now not to have any expectations for things…However, it is truly impossible to rid yourself of all expectations. They are a part of our mindset whether we like it or not. But left unchecked they can lead to disillusionment or even failure. As we prepare for life in PNG we thought it would be fun to address our pre-field expectations (like it or not) and then re-evaluate after our first year in PNG…
Expectation #1 Learning the Language People often ask us, “what language will you be learning?” In Papua new Guinea there are 800 languages! So which language should we choose to learn? Our guess is that we will be learning Tok Pisin, the trade language spoken by many. Other missionaries have said this is an “easy” language to learn and understand because it is a blending of languages. However, I’m doubting it’s ease because the language is comprised of a series of many idioms, meaning we need to know the culture to understand what’s being said. My guess is that our children, particularly Ariana will be able to learn the fastest because of her age and intelligence (smarty pants!). Wojtek will be in 2nd place because he already possesses the ability to speak multiple languages. I think I will be the slowest to learn but also will have the greatest need to learn because I will need it to communicate to patients in the clinic.
Expectation #2 Ministry We are going into this with the skills already in place to succeed in our role as nurse and pilot. So honestly, we are anticipating some learning curve, but mostly that we will be able to jump in and begin serving fairly quickly in our roles. That being said we are also expecting that there will be a lot of extra demands on our time for various ministries. We are anticipating having to evaluate the various needs and pray about how the Lord wants us to best spend our time. One perk of being in PNG is that Wojtek’s job will take him away during the day, but most nights he will be at home with the family. This is awesome since with his current job he leaves for two months at a time!
Expectation #3 Lifestyle We are expecting life in PNG to be more difficult. No modern conveniences like a clothes dryer, or microwave. I don’t even know if we will have a water heater! The water that comes is via rain barrels. We doubt we will be able to go to the store to purchase a box brownie mix, or a pre-made meal. On a busy work day we can’t order a pizza or pick up Royal Farms chicken on the way home. Life will take a great deal more planning and energy. I will need to plan ahead for laundry too since it rains often and I will rely on a clothes line to dry my clothes. I will also need to meal plan and make sure there is food readily available for four growing kids who can’t just grab a bag of goldfish when they want them. I’m expecting muddy clothes every day, school lunches where I have to make homemade bread and I don’t think I’ll be able to purchase lunch meat. Date night might be a walk on the road since there aren’t any restaurants or entertainment. I do think we will have reliable internet based on what I’ve been told. However, who knows what standard they are comparing to. It will be so interesting to be able re-evaluate in a couple of years to determine if the expectations are legit or not!
Expectation #4 Other Missionaries Statistically, the number one reason missionaries leave the field is relationships with other missionaries. While I know this to be true, I also know that Wojtek and I rarely have had difficulty getting along with others. We are hopeful that our experience of having lived overseas previously and the fact that our marriage is cross-cultural will aid us in this adjustment. Many of the other missionaries come from other countries besides the US and bring with them their cultural nuances that may be different from our own. Our hope is that we will forge deep relationships with people who share a common vision and purpose for being there.
Expectation #5 PNG culture The people of PNG will be warm, welcoming and a wonderful culture to interact with. There will be animism and blending of faiths but overall a warm reception. This is based on what we have heard of the culture, but we hope our own experiences will be similar!
Expectation # 6 Food We are overall not picky people, but we are anticipating food to be very different somewhat less enjoyable. The emphasis on sweet potato and cream of coconut could mean that most of our food will be sweet and not savory. That will be difficult to adjust to for some of us, but especially Wojtek! I also am thinking there will be less meat available, very little fish since we are in the highlands, and a whole lot of bananas (to my chagrin) We are expecting to follow the principles taught to us at Moody Bible Institute many years before … “Where He leads me I will follow…What he feeds me I will swallow” …In Uganda this meant eating fried grasshoppers. I’m already praying their diet isn’t heavy in insects…