At times we begin to feel that we are not challenged that much cross-culturally, living in a city with electricity and water supply, air-conditioning, and shops stocking the familiar foods.
Then it is often the little things that remind us of where we are. Driving behind a utility carrying the extended family in the rear… the plastic bottle collectors searching the streets for containers to repackage and sell their fuel and kerosene. And there are constant reminders in the stores that we are in a culture with very different concepts and norms from our own. Bulk packaged goods are often priced the same as, or more than, single items. [The tumblers were 48 to a carton….. do the math.]
For many people, refrigeration is a rare commodity and wages provide for just the weekly essentials, so you never see the locals buying trolley loads of groceries. Suppliers cater for the majority market, so chilled goods and other imported items can be very expensive by comparison to the staples of rice, flour and tinned meats. We wonder who actually buys some of these imported lines. The stores have gotten used to us surveying the marked down items that are sometimes weeks or months past their best before dates – a staff member grabbed Elspeth as she walked in one day, directing her to the latest batch of exotic specials!
Promotions and sales target locals also. This competition offered a pig as the major prize. There was nothing to suggest the size or gender of the beast, but a pig is a pig, and they are the ultimate commodity for many PNG families – used for paying the bride price, celebrating a success, or thanking mourners at a haus krai (wake).
Even our weekly shopping provides us with cultural experiences, and lessons to be learned.
Please pray …
- that we be open to learn from our daily experiences and equipped all the more to serve God in this place