Webbs bring stories of Papua New Guinea to Gordon

There are several different ways to learn about different cultures. One is to visit and learn them first hand. The other is to listen and learn from those who have, from the comfort of your own hometown. 

Ryan and Shelby Webb traveled to Papua New Guinea to begin an exciting chapter in their lives - that of being missionaries with New Tribes Missions to tribes in Papua New Guinea; some of which don’t even have their own written language. They will be sharing their experiences and their passion for tribal missions Sunday, March 24, 2013 at the Berean Church 401 W 9th Street at 10:45 a.m. in Gordon. 

Papua New Guinea is an island off the northern coast of Australia. Many tribes inhabit the island, some not so peacefully. The island itself receives several earthquakes and has miles and miles of coastline. They also have a mountainous area where the tribes aren’t as friendly. 

New Tribes has set up a “home base” in PNG where new missionaries learn the native language called Melanesian pidgin. From there they will learn the different dialects and languages of the tribes they’ll eventually be invited to minister to. 

Before being invited to minister, the Webb’s needed to learn this language, tribal customs, and to study with other missionaries about culture differences as well as similarities. 

One thing that is markedly different is their food and sources of food.  Aside from the local grocery stores, people there can hunt and fish, grow their own gardens, can and freeze their produce. 

In PNG, there isn’t electricity. Find out what the locals do for food. Ryan and Shelby have many stories about food sources and said their beef is nothing like Nebraska beef. 

There is another meal called saksak made from the pulp of the sago palm tree which resembles snot. There are several different ways to cook saksak which the Webb’s will share with you.

Tropical climates mean things grow bigger. Bigger plants, bigger leaves, and bigger bugs. Icky, creepy, crawly, no-way-am-I-ever-going-there big bugs. Be a man and learn how Ryan killed spiders that are the size of your palm. The name of this particular spider was called the huntsman...doesn’t sound very promising.

The cuteness of centipedes can be debated here in the U.S., but in PNG, there is no question...hands down, they’re NOT very cute; and they’re big; and they’re crusty. “They’re black and very aggressive,” Ryan said having his own run-in with one. 

There are other things to be wary of, including poisonous snakes. One harrowing day, a paupahan brown snake was hanging on their back porch! Remember, there are no ambulance services or EMTs. 

To live in PNG, you have to be clever. There are no services, so if you’re building a home and need a bolt, Home Depot is miles and miles away across the ocean. How can you improvise? As a humid climate, there are constant mold issues. How does Shelby deal with that and two young children? Avery is 4 and Rylynn is 2 and they’re expecting their third, which is why they’re back in the United States. 

“She’s due June 13 and is high risk,” Ryan explained. “Basically, she has to be monitored close, because Rylynn was born premature at 32 weeks. Even with everything going good in the PNG bush, if it’s premature, you don’t want to be over there.”

Shelby added, “I feel fine and feel good so hopefully it will go good.” 

Doctors are monitoring Shelby and the baby who little Rylynn calls Bubbie. 

They already have plane tickets for the family to head back to tropical PNG and continue their lifes’ calling. They will return this August. 

Let Ryan and Shelby share even more of their experiences with you Sunday at the Berean Church in Gordon and discover a culture way different than ours. 

Excerpts taken from an article by Laura Vroman.

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