[The picture above is Everett looking at our cat under the house with some of the village boys.]

Our first lesson in Menya is: Don’t promise to pay for work without being able to witness or supervise it.

Before Wes left Menya, he asked some guys to clear the overgrown “road” that leads up the hill to our houses. He promised 20 Kina per day expecting three or four guys to work a few days. Surprise, four guys worked nineteen days! And another guy logged four days. When I told them Wes had only expected a few days work they explained he had only asked for a narrow road for our four wheeler, but they decided to make a wide road with ditches on the sides for water drainage–so that took longer. Price tag: 1600 Kina. So what would you do? Remember, we want these people to teach us their language and listen when we preach the gospel. I sweet talked them down to 1400 Kina.

A week before we came I called one of the guys here to ask him to cut the grass around our house (with a machete as is their custom.) After all, the snakes live in the long grass. Four people worked six six-hour days! Price tag: 280 Kina.

As we were shuttling our stuff, a group of guys helped load at the airstrip and unload at the houses. When we were finished they were all standing around to get paid. We agreed that 10 Kina per man was fair and paid eleven guys, no wait, make that twelve because so-and-so already went down to the river to wash so I’ll take it to him. The next day five more guys showed up at the door to get paid. One of the few guys I can recognize vouched for them and said, “Ok, Joseph. That is everybody. It’s done.” Wouldn’t you know it, a few more guys showed up at Dave’s door today.

Mo money, mo problems! Am I right?

  1. If it helps, I can stop sending you support money.

  2. Mary Beth

    Super interesting! When I saw the pics in your last post of the men helping you shuttle the stuff back and forth and unload, I really just thought, “Awww…they’re eager to help the new people!” For some reason, any other motivation didn’t occur to me. I wish it had been that simple for you. But, I can see now how your interaction with them regarding money stuff could be first steps in building relationships and getting (more) familiar with their culture.
    Now that I’m thinking about it, I guess I didn’t expect that the Kina would be valued as much in a tribal location (like maybe something else would be of more value to them…. like food or labor… since they aren’t running out to Target). How often to do they have the opportunity to spend their money? I’m assuming they don’t use it within their village…?
    Grateful y’all are there safely (with 3G) and excited to learn more about your new friends/family/neighbors in Menya.

  3. Hal

    With a big smile he says : You are the people with the very deep pockets. You came on a very large airplane and you have a really cool tote goat. Oh yeah, & with all of that hi-tech other stuff, you represent all that this world has to offer and they want it, just like everyone back home.
    I encountered this same kind of thinking on a hurricane repair trip to Antigua. It was a real eye-opener for me and a learning experience in missions work. After working several days to repair some small churches & the 12X14 foot shanty homes that the school teachers & shopkeepers live in, our team was resting on a beach in front of a blown-out resort on a remote corner of the island. A local pastor friend of mine & his wife sat down next to me and began, in all sincerity, to try and convince me to purchase the resort. They “were certain” that if my friends back in the U.S., could afford to send me & the team on a big airplane, with lots of equipment to do the repairs, my friends in the U.S. surely had the $5 million U.S. to buy the resort & donate it to them so they could establish a “nice home” for the wayward youth on the island. They were serious! They saw us as the answer to all of their worldly dreams & social needs. It became a teaching opportunity for me & the team.
    Some things take special cross-cultural training to be understood. Many do not.

What do you think?