It’s Official, I’m Staying

I did it.  I’ve made the hard choice.  I’ve decided to stay another year.

I initially signed on to be here for 18 months.  The school year here goes mid year to mid year, as opposed to the Australian calendar school year, so I came in half way through a year.  I came for semester 2, then signed on to do another.  Now I’ve been deciding on whether or not to stay an extra year.

This now means that I’ll be here until June 2016.

There were so many things to consider and it took me ages to make a decision.  I miss my family and friends and the ease of Melbourne.  I miss having things to do, cafes to go to, restaurants, a live music scene, good roads, public transport, shops, clothes, a language I understand, a culture I am familiar with, being safe, no constant ant infestations, and so many other things.  It’s been a huge transition and initially I hated everything here, but there are things keeping me here now.

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The beaches are pretty good for one thing.

You form good friendships here, even with people you’d be unlikely to connect with in any other situation.  The bond of living in a difficult place really brings people together.

I truly love my job.  I adore my students and I work with such an amazing group of people.  I have felt so supported in my job here and have really loved teaching such a diverse bunch of kids.  The people I am surrounded with have made all the difference.

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My house is on the right of this photo.  This is behind my apartment building.

I wrote a couple of posts ago about what it’s like to try to still be yourself in such a new and confronting environment, and all of those challenges will be ongoing, but this is something I’m still willing to go through.  The difficulties of life are highlighted in this place, and seem to confront you in a more intense way than they do back in a cushy lifestyle, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  Accelerated, uncomfortable personal growth!

I’m looking forward to coming back to Australia in June/July and spending time with everyone at home.  It’s good to get a mental health break from the daily problems you face here.  Everything is such a big deal.  Shopping is a big deal.  I wouldn’t think twice about going to the shops in Australia, but here I consider if it’s worth the hassle.  Getting petrol is an issue.  The little things of life become bigger things here.  Something that would take 20 minutes in Melbourne can take at least an hour here.  We certainly change our definition of ‘success’ here.  I went to the passer (local market) a while back with some friends and we got a flat tyre, but got it fixed, got most of the food we wanted and made it home within a couple of hours.  Success.

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You spend more time in nature here.  The things we do for fun mostly include going to beautiful places.  There’s nothing else to do really (apart from play band hero at the Bergs’).  As a throwaway line the other day I said there was nothing to do here and some of my girls disagreed and said there is heaps to do.  I asked what.  They started listing bodies of water.  Lake Sentani, the waterfall, the beach, kali biru (another lake). Hilarious!  Hmmmm, what should we do today?  Go see some water or some different water?  Don’t get me wrong, the water here is beautiful, I love going to those places, but yeah, that’s all there is to do 🙂

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The sad thing about nature here is that it’s not looked after.  There is rubbish everywhere and everything is broken (and made poorly in the first place).  It’s awful seeing so much beauty not being cared for.  This photo is of a rubbish dump just outside of Wamena spilling out onto the road. Right behind it is a traditional kampung (compound where people live) and a small lake.  I can’t even imagine the hygiene levels and how sick everyone must get there.

I’m so glad I got to go to Wamena last week.  We have a small annex school there, 20 kids from grade 1 – 8 and lots of our students either come from there or their parents are now working there.  There are heaps of Dutch families out there for some reason.  The weather is cooler and much more pleasant.  I really enjoyed seeing another part of Papua.

This next photo is of a naked gourd man at the airport as I was about to leave.  There are lots of them in Wamena, it’s the traditional way men dress in that part of Papua.  The gourd size and shape denotes their status.  I’m not sure what his means.

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I am so grateful for all the people in my life who have supported me over the last year.  It’s been one of the biggest years of my life.  There has been so much change I don’t know how to describe it.  I’ve been challenged personally, professionally, emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically.  I am so thankful for those that have supported me by listening to me vent, by just spending time with me, by distracting me with fun and silliness, by writing to me, by sending me packages, by praying for me, by supporting me financially, by doing any number of things that have made a difference in my life.  Even the small things mean a lot to me.  So thank you to everyone who has done anything for me over this last year.

This next 18 months is going to continue to grow me and change me.  I can’t wait to see what God has in store, and hopefully it includes lots of beach trips 🙂

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