In America it is often said that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, but I think that here in PNG that applies to women and children too. 🙂 I have been thinking a lot about food lately, not because I’m necessarily all that hungry but because my husband is. 🙂 (Just kidding– in reality, I think I’m hungry as often as he is if not more so!) Food takes up a good deal of my time and thus my thoughts, because everything has to be made from scratch. That’s a huge blessing, though… our
toasted-on-top-of-the-woodstove homemade bread at lunch today was worlds better than what most of you probably pulled out of your toaster this morning! However, my thoughts lately have been taken up with more than just the food that I prepare for our little table at home. I’ve been thinking of kaikai, which is Pidgin for food, but when Kiari people say “kaikai”, homemade toast is the furthest thing in the world from their minds. “Kaikai” to them is kaukau and kumu for the most part… potatoes and greens. And if it’s a special occasion, the essential ingredient is a pig– the bigger and fatter the better, because the fat is the best part. :S We are actually in the process of buying a large pig, and it all goes back to my very first sentence. Next Friday we plan to have a mumu. A “mumu” is a feast. The food is wrapped in leaves and put in a hole in the ground with hot stones, and then they pour water over it and cover it quickly with banana leaves and then dirt to hold the steam in. Then it cooks for a few hours and is pulled out, portioned out, and enjoyed immensely by everyone.

I really am convinced that food is the way to these people’s hearts. One really good way anyway. Around here, people are always giving each other food–Christians and non-Christians alike… though, shamefully, more often non-Christians! (That realization is one of the things that really got me thinking about kaikai.) You wouldn’t believe how many papayas and onions and avocados and bananas and bundles of kumu have been given to us. And mumus are a really big deal– everyone loves them, and people show up out of the woodwork to participate, at least in the eating part. 🙂 So, we are having a mumu, our main reason being to build relationships/friendships with people although our official excuse is that it’s a marit kaikai… marriage feast… to celebrate our marriage with our PNG friends. Please pray that the Lord would give us wisdom in finding ways to make this more than just a big kaikai, but also a real celebration of Christian marriage. There have been only two Christian weddings here… we’re only the third couple to marry as believers. We really want to use this opportunity to praise the Lord for His sweet, wonderful working in our lives and to emphasize marriage, as we did in our wedding, as a picture of Christ and His church.

Jeff and I are blessed with a very large garden lovingly planted for us by church ladies. Our desire is to use it to reach people’s hearts through their stomachs… to show love and build relationships that will prove fertile ground for the gospel. Not only do we want to give food to folks (taking it when we visit sick people, giving lunch to people working on some project or other for the mission, etc.) and feed it to them in our home, but I also hope to build relationships with ladies as I work with them and learn from them in our garden. Please pray that the Lord would bless.

Please forgive my rambling so this time and pray for rich fruit from this seemingly small but, I am convinced, very important part of our ministry in Kiari.

Elizabeth Owens