The good with the bad

ImageSo much has happened, yet so much has settled into the “it’s-just-normal-routine” sphere that it’s been difficult to imagine that anything is interesting enough to write about. Could it really be that I’ve not update since my August visit to Goroka for the coffee project?

We visited Brisbane a few weeks ago. I was asked to speak at the Stafford Corps’ annual Missions Morning. Our friends Deon and Michelle Oliver are the corps officers there, so it was great to spend some time with their family, see some sights in Brisbane, and get to talk about our adventure in PNG.

I was musical guest at Music Camp for the South Central Division as soon as we got back from Brisbane. It was a blast getting to spend most of my days with about 120 kids from the division, listening to their musical learning, watching their interactions, participating in the activities, and teaching them “Chambara,” as well as some standard Songster type, four-part harmony stuff.

What else … Oh, the other day I walked the two-and-a-half blocks to the shopping center near THQ to pick up some speaker wire (I was asked to install a music system in the lobby at THQ). It was the middle of a week-day, and the atmosphere was quite different than what I had grown accustomed to. There were fewer people on the streets. Things seemed a bit neater. It occurred to me that the reason may be that the local governor has outlawed the sale and use of betelnut in most areas of the city. It used to be that there were multiple sellers on every block, and people chewing and spitting everywhere.

The sidewalks were however still crowded with entrepreneurs with cloths laid out with sunglasses, electronics, fruit, homemade food items, canned drinks and more. As you walk, you’re constantly offered other things for sale – belts, socks, MP3 players, cell phones, steering wheel covers – just to name a few.

I actually like buying things from these street merchants from time to time, because I feel like I’m helping someone make a living. (Most of my replacement sunglasses have come from these folks!)

While I appreciate the newfound cleanliness in the streets, there’s an underlying issue that some have begun to discuss. It’s that many of the betelnut sellers were earning money to pay for their children’s schooling. So the question is, how do they replace that income?

Some have already adapted. I saw many more women walking with small plastic tubs filled with homemade food items. I imagine that there are more now who are looking for alternative products to sell. But it’s a good example of the quandary between social improvements and cultural consequences

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