AN IN-DEPTH, OVER THE TOP ABOUT ME:
My earliest memories are of growing up in are remote jungle tribe called Dahamo in the Western Province of Papua New Guinea as the son of nondenominational Christian missionaries. I could swim before I could walk, and would often spend hours on end exploring the jungle, hunting with bows and arrows, slings shots, bamboo pressure guns or fishing spears fashioned out of nothing more than a wire coat hanger, a sheet of rubber and dried bark rolled into twine. If we had none of those handy a large branch rolled around in strong spider web worked great in a fast moving stream if we got hungry and wanted to cook fish. Even starting a fire was done using a piece of twine rubbed against a dried out piece of wood and a pile of dead leaves. It was a different time for me, one that was more carefree and adventurous than in any other places I have lived in the world. The Konai lived a stone age lifestyle that hasn’t seen much advancement to this day.
None of my friends wore shoes, few even wore clothes. Just a grass skirt and loin cloth to cover the basics. We celebrated events with pig feasts and caught bats to serve as a side dish. Crawfish grow to the size of lobster in that part of the world and more than once I lost my best catch of the day to a freshwater crocodile when I went fishing as a kid. Our home had to be elevated on stilts to even survive the torrential downpours of an unpredictable rainforest, not to mention wild boar, crazed bush dogs, muskrats and various other wildlife that would venture into the small clearing that served as our village.
My father had sought out an unreached people group to bring the gospel to. The Konai were about as unreached a people group as you could ask for. That said Konai is how I walked, talked, thought, hunted, what I ate and all I really knew of the world until I turned 13. I was Konai, and America was some place my parents would try to explain, but a concept I could never truly grasp. We were the first white people they had ever seen which meant every meal our family had was a source of entertainment and an event for the entire tribe to see, I was constantly poked so my friends could watch in amazement as all the blood in that area left leaving a pale spot that quickly turned pink and back to freckled tan again. Hands were run through my hair at all times and my friends were amazed how my skin would turn red and peel off if I spent too much time in the sun.
I had a friend who was a cannibal, expertly taught by his uncle how to do this using witchcraft. I remember watching young girls, barely older than myself being dragged off into the damp quiet recesses of the jungle after a dowry had been agreed upon. None of this was anything out of the ordinary for me. The bizarre, strange and still foreign was always the place my parents referred to as “home.”
We moved to America in the early nineties after my parents had established a church, built an airstrip, medical outpost, school and small trading post in order for the government to recognize Dahamo as an official location on the map. A Swedish couple who had devoted their lives to translating the bible in unwritten languages took over the church and translating the bible from my parents, living there and translating the bible until this year. After working for 11 years, the dedication ceremony to present the first book written in the Konai language was held Easter Sunday 2015.