From Steve Carson…
I didn’t really have a frame of reference for what we were getting into coming to help the Osborns build their new home. I had seen some vague references to the native people of Papua New Guinea and fully expected to build something between a grass hut and the Swiss Family Robinson.
It turns out in a lot of ways I was right and, in others, very wrong. The best way I could characterize life here for the Osborns would be something akin to 1860’s pioneers in the American West. There are some comforts of home–but only those you could carry with you in your covered wagon. If you want to order something, be prepared for it to cost twice as much and take four months to arrive. Those things that you do have, you use sparingly and let nothing go to waste. Zip lock bags get washed and reused, potable water comes from rain water and gets filtered. Occasionally the rain comes in the screen windows. There is electricity but it’s from solar panels and is used sparingly. We sleep under mosquito nets. There is indoor plumbing but you can’t drink the water because it comes from a nearby stream, and it’s common for it to go out during heavy rains because the inlet pipe gets clogged with leaves and debris. They have a cat for rodent control. On the other hand, there’s a working oven and stove. They have a laptop and television. The kids watch Pixar movies and Disney TV shows. There’s satellite internet (but it’s really expensive.) It’s a beautiful mix of the past and present.
Building their house has been a similar experience. In many ways, it’s similar to home. The basic framing ideas and construction principles are the same. We have a generator to run a few power tools. We use 2x4s and plywood. We have metal posts (that were flown in) set in concrete. But in others ways it’s very different. The most obvious difference is the plans use metric dimensions (yes, there are plans). For a red-blooded American who thinks everything should be in feet and inches, it’s been quite an adjustment. The lumber was milled on-site from trees cut down on-site. The siding is sheet metal. The interior is very simple – the walls and floors are plywood. Every day, local people show up and sit on the hillside and watch us work–sometimes 30 or 40 people. And they stay all day and just watch. But this house too is a perfect mix of home and Papua New Guinea. It has just enough feel of home, while still not overwhelming the local culture.
One thing is for certain, the life the Osborns have made, and continue to make in Papua New Guinea, is a testament to their commitment to love God and love the local people of Menyama. The people here are vibrant, full of wonder and curiosity, and have an amazing culture. The Osborns and the people here are a beautiful mix that will glorify God, reap eternal rewards, and affect generations to come.