Thursday, May 14, 2009

Tuesday, May 12

The Sounds of Lae

Mr. Rooster (s) start up at about 4:30 am. The chorus of kakaruk’s get’s louder as each moment goes by. Then, as if summoned by the orchestra conductor, more birds join the rooster choir creating a symphony of sorts. This continues on for hours. About the time we get up (starting around 7 am) the roosters stop but the rest of the chorus keeps going.

While we hear the birds they remain hidden in the lush trees and bushes. One species of birds sounds just like a slide whistle. I think I bought one for Jesse at Easter.

Dog wails are another part of the concert. Dogs are not treated well here in PNG. For the most part they are mangy, scraggly and thin. Most have a limp of some kind, no doubt from a kick from someone which creates the wail that we so often hear at night.

It’s pretty noisy all night long, and yet, we somehow manage to sleep through it all.

We survived the storm. The rain that we ran around in last night never left until 4 am or so. It rained so hard we had to shut the slated windows. We even turned the fan off because the wind was so ‘cold.’ We lost power right before midnight. Making one of my many bathroom trips I noticed Jordan and a few of the girls sitting at the kitchen table with a candle in the center of them. It looked like they were involved in a séance, but turns out we lost electricity and they were finishing up their game of cards.

Jordan figured out that it rained 10 hours last night. Surely we don’t have to worry about the water for a while. What must it have been like for those in the this area living in a hut.

I must have slept well because for the first time since leaving I dreamt. Wade was sequestered at Hazelden for treatment. He had an encounter with one of the other patients. Weird.

This morning breakfast everyone was on their own which has given me a chance to write this morning.

At 10 am we are all going to the seminary to listen to Don Michael tell stories from his asples, Enga Province. I am looking forward to this opportunity.
Although I was not sure what to expect, I was looking forward to getting a chance to interact with the seminary students. Todd made a lot of this opportunity to exchange stories but from what I could tell we were not sharing our stories, but only listening to Don. What stories would we tell if we were to share? I don’t think I have any stories that are worth telling.

Once the seminary students arrived Todd got the class under way. Don was called up to the front of the class where he stood with his head hanging down while he leaned on the desk. It seemed awkward. I wasn’t sure what to think.

Don asked that he have a translator as he wanted to tell his story in Tok Pisin.
Todd asked John, another seminarian, was asked to come up and translate for Don. That exchange was also awkward, as John mumbled something about being from a different province than Don. He finally went up to the front and did a fine job of improving upon the story as John used words that we would understand but were quite different from the Pigin word.

The first story was about a lake in the Enga province called Lake Lau. (John laughed when I told him that my bosses name was Brad Lau.)

The story goes like this: Two children, a boy and a girl, were orphaned when their parents died. They took care of themselves, raising pigs and making a garden. They lived very well and were happy. Then one day an evil spirit took on the image of the boy, went to the girl and tried to seduce her. She fought off the spirit but thought it was her brother. When the real brother returned all she did was cry and run away from him. She was so hurt. She didn’t know it was really an evil spirit and he didn’t know about the evil spirit.

The brother tried to make his sister stop crying. He made a mumu for her but she just kept crying. No matter what he did, she kept crying.

So finally the brother went to the mountain and dug a big hole and fell on his spear. When the sister realized that the brother was dead she cried so much that the hole filled up with water. She finally threw herself into the lake but the lake rejected her and spit her back up on the land. She left the lake and was never seen again.

Don explained that this story was about how bad it is to let misunderstandings come between families.

The second story was very interesting. It was about the last cannibal.
The story starts with a family with 6 sons and one daughter. One by one each son goes into the forest and never returns. Finally the last son goes much to the mother and father’s dismay. He too never returns. What the family doesn’t know is that each son has been captured and eaten by an old man deep in the forest.
At some point the family figures out who is behind their son’s disappearance.
One day the daughter goes to the river and is bitten by at mosquito.

After a period of time her belly begins to swell. The family is upset because she is unmarried. She denies having sex with anyone and soon she delivers a son.
When the son grows up and ends up going into the forest and killing the cannibal.
End of story. Don says that this is the story to depict the end of cannibalism in the Enga province.

It is interesting that we do not have a story to tell from our culture. We can steal stories from other cultures but we do not have stories of our own. I find this sad. I wonder why?

Today was another day of laundry and then cooking lunch and dinner.

Beans on toast and leftovers for lunch.

Lamb neck stew and rice for dinner.

There is a sweet kind of rhythm here. When the team heads over to the seminary classes, I am alone. I read and write. I have contemplated watching a movie but so far haven’t had the time.

Right after the students left tonight the cicadas were so loud I could barely hear myself think! Then all of a sudden, about 45 minutes later, the noise stops! Silence.

It’s been a quiet day. Tomorrow brings new experiences to enjoy.

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