I love mountains. I think I was made for them. I was ecstatic to hear that we were going to the Kokoda region during outreach! Ok I must admit, I was quite giddy! I often talked about returning and hiking through the trails. I called it “second haus blo mi” (my second home).
One evening our host told his wife that I reminded him of their niece Jasmine. I had to laugh, I’m white as snow in a community dark as coal! How could I possibly remind them of their niece!?”You walk like her, you dress like her, you talk like her, you even smile like her!” they said. What an honour! I didn’t think my Tok Pisin skills were that great!
That weekend, we went to visit Jasmine’s parents, Byron and Kimberly “Papa na mama blo mi taim mi stap lo Kokoda” (My mum & dad when I go to/stay in Kokoda). Kimberly agreed with our host and called me Jasmine upon first meeting me! Kimberly offered us drinks and followed up with necklaces, welcoming our team into her family. After a bit of conversation, “my mum” found out that it was our second last day in the village. She decided to bless us with chicken for our goodbye/celebration dinner.
Papua New Guinea is an extremely generous nation, I’ve always been blessed everywhere I’ve stayed. Most of the time it came through relationship, but in Kokoda it was just spontaneous. Another spontaneous thing throughout Oro Province was “Orokaiva”! We’d arrive into a village, and women would come rushing singing “Oro, Oro, Orokaiva!!!” Orokaiva in local language means “welcome”. I have definitely felt welcomed everywhere I have been in PNG.