Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Steam escaped through the banana leaves from the ground - red hot rocks are rotated on the leaves by women wearing grass skirts, swishing as they walked, nets hanging from their heads and down their backs, babies crying from within. Men, wearing only a gourd, had killed a pig with spears then dug a hole lining it with hot rocks and leaves putting the whole boar into the earth 24 hours before.

Christmas in 1972 was in Bokindini, Irian Jaya, now the province of Papua, an island of Indonesia where primitive people still existed. A pig feast was created in our honor - the pilot's family, with three tow-headed girls straight from South Dakota. We recoiled from the large lump of pig fat that we were presented with by the Danis'. To them it was the highest honor (the area right around the tail!) instead we gravitated towards the steamed sweet potatoes thankful for something we recognized. I salivate now as I think of that wonderful aroma of tropical greens and fresh steamed pork.

For Christmas mom had gone to the 50 gallon barrel and pulled out presents she had bought months before in the States, carefully rationing them for the four years until we were to return on furlough. Wrapping paper was used carefully - presents were opened at the tape as we reused it year after year. My grandma didn’t really support my parents vision of taking her grandchildren half way around the world to serve as a missionary pilot/family so she made certain that in the crate we were allowed to bring from the states held an artificial Christmas tree in it! Every year for 12 years we made a tradition of putting that tree up while pretending the rain on our roof was snow. On Christmas day we would pull the drapes so we couldn't see the tropical flowers and happily sang Christmas carols around the beautiful tree that we had decorated. One year a generous donor air dropped turkeys to all the missionaries on the island; what a wonderful treat….outside the palm trees swayed and the temperature rose above 100 degrees.

(yep thats me in those attractive black frame glasses!!)

Denise Stuessi-King

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