Happy Wet Children. Scared Dry Mountain Woman. Our Journey.
What joy to reach a new milestone in the Boyd family history. Yes, we are officially parents of four teenager sons. This past week our youngest, Nathaniel, turned thirteen. Tipping the scale to more than half of his birthdays now celebrated in Indonesia. Six in America. Seven here. Who knows how this time in Papua will affect all of our boys, but especially Nathaniel? We have enjoyed all the stages of our children, yet contrary to the popular opinion, we really enjoy the teen years where our children grow from boys to young men.
Nathaniel’s desires for his birthday were simple enough. He wanted to invite all the boys in his class to join him at Lake Sentani for some fun time at the dock. We decided to go this Friday as it was a half day because of science fair. (Boy Parental Observation: A sure sign that boys are growing up, is when they dress up without being told to).
So after a quick lunch, 6 boys loaded into the car, along with Darron and I. I was so appreciative that Darron could join me, as often I do these things alone. Despite a threatening sky the boys made the most of their time at the lake. The only fuss we heard from them was when they discovered a floating diaper (swim at your own risk) and when they were rough handling each other to toss one another off the dock. To intervene or not intervene (Boy Parental Observation: apparently this must be handled with great wisdom. For the male people in my life tell me it is good for boys to wrestle and such. I’ll never understand!)?
Of course the guys loved munching on cake. Meanwhile, many little eyes and bodies watched us foreigners. Darron and I decided we would have our own fun and passed out cake to all those eager kids. The party just grew! Soon after eating their cake, they were all crowded around a hand phone. Yes, a first world problem is a third world problem also. Curious what they were watching, we peeped in and were relieved to see it was simply a gymnastic show. Soon they tucked their clothes on the dry dock and began jumping in the water. Many in just their underwear. Some in none. All as happy and confident as could be, with their ages ranging from three to middle school.
After awhile we handed out Es Buah (an Indonesian frozen fruit drink) to EVERYONE!!!!! It gave us much joy to have this blend of Papua at our birthday party. Sadly, the disposable cups sank to the bottom of the lake before we could gather them from the Papua children. However, their delight continued as our guys went off exploring down the boardwalk, they played on our buggy board. A Papua mom stopped by to thank us for feeding her children. Actions travel fast on Lake Sentani.
The next day our family was invited to participate with a church on the South shore of this same, Lake Sentani. Leaving our home early Saturday morning, along with seven others we made our way to another local dock where a boat was waiting to take us across the lake. The morning was lovely and the lake scenery was a feast for the eyes and calming to me. I was so enjoying the excursion that I was almost completely unaware that one of our guests was terrified of this boat-on-water experience. This dear lady was from the mountains of Hobotongo. She had come to Sentani seeking medical help for a long time problem. This was her first time in a boat on the water and she was tense with fear. Once we arrived to shore we lightly teased her and laughed as her tension went away. One of the things I have enjoyed MOST about living in Papua, is being with people when they experience things for the first time, things that we just take for granted. It is a very curious time to observe.
The morning was filled with a trio harmonica special and an engaging sermon by Darron. When church was finished we were invited to a lake shore home. There the Papua children quickly stripped out of their church clothes and dove into the water. Meanwhile the mama’s were cooking up a feast of Papada (a gooey starchy food made from the heart of the Sago Palm). It was served in big bowls on the floor along with fish and fish soup. Hospitably, there was a table full of rice and greens. Many of the people sat around the bowls enjoying a feast and conversation on the floor. After lunch the dishes were washed in the lake, while the children continued to swim. Soon the motor boat came to take us home. We sat our dear mountain mama in-between people to make her feel more comfortable. And warmly they waved goodbye as if we were the most honored guests who had ever visited.
How does the mingling of culture and time and events affect four young men? (Boy Parental Observation: It’s a risk worth taking. Thank you Papua for giving more to us than we will ever be able to give to you. You are teaching us much. Our hearts are grateful and changed).