You Make A Good Story After All
By: Heather Elizabeth
It has been said that the experiences that appear the most horrific or frightening are the ones that will make the best stories in the future. Don’t ask me who said it; I just know that I have heard it before. These are the stories that will be told repeatedly. Like a moth to a flame we are drawn back to these stories reliving them through each retelling, feeling the emotions we experienced while the events were taking place, and sometimes even marveling in the fact that we made it out alive.
While living on a missionary station at Amapyaka, Enga Province, Papua New Guinea, at the tender age of six, I experienced a moment like this for the first time. My family and friends were planning on having a farewell celebration for my grandparents who had spent five years teaching at the Lutheran International School that I attended. The party would be in the form of a mumu (moomoo), similar to a Hawaiian luau. One of the main ingredients for a successful mumu is freshly killed meat, specifically chicken.
For some unknown reason, I decided to watch the chickens meet their end. The native Papua New Guineans took their bush-knives, large machetes, and several chickens behind the blue house on the station. I stood off to the side wearing a pink dress and watched as the heads were quickly chopped off. Suddenly, out of nowhere, one of the headless chickens ran at me. When I saw the chicken getting closer I took off running to escape. My bare feet were flying; my red hair was extended behind me, but the chicken would not give up the chase. Eventually, the chicken got close enough to get the blood that was dripping from his headless neck on my leg. I cried and screamed like the little girl that I was and ran back to my house to wash the blood off. I never watched chickens being killed again; I was always too scared that another one would chase me. I do, however, enjoy telling people that I have actually seen a headless chicken running around!
A second image that is imprinted in my memory from my experiences in Papua New Guinea is a car ride. To most people car rides are nothing extraordinary. The roads in PNG, however, were filled with, what I like to call, “the three p’s,” pigs, potholes, and people. “The three p’s” made driving down the road seem a bit like an obstacle course. Hitting one of the obstacles could result in either paying a huge compensation fine or paying an enormous amount of money to buy a new car part. As missionaries, our skin, white instead of chocolate brown, set us apart from the majority of the population. This difference afforded us much respect from the locals; however, it also set us apart as a target for people would assume that we were rich. “I hope you have a boring trip,” was a phrase that was often said before any missionary family went on a supply run into the large city of Mt. Hagen or on a vacation to the coastal areas.
When I was eight, my family spent time vacationing at the coastal city of Madang. Once vacation was over it was time to return home to Enga Province, traveling in two trucks. Taking the lead for our 12 -14 hour drive was my aunt, uncle, and two cousins, David and Paul, leaving me in my parents’ Nissan along with my two other cousins, Laura and Anton. We had just passed the worst stretch of the road that was riddled with potholes so enormous they could possibly swallow a truck if one was ever to venture too close. I was in the back seat reading a book, my favorite way to pass the time on a long trip, and my cousins were sleeping.
Suddenly, I glanced up. In front of us two men were carrying a medium sized log across the middle of the road. At first I thought they were just trying to get the log to the other side. However, it quickly became clear that was not the case. The men were rascals, thieves, who wanted what we had. They dropped the log in the middle of the road then waited along the side of the road for us to stop. However, my uncle decided that he was not going to be the victim of a robbery and drove his truck over the log causing it to bounce up and down. In a last effort to get my uncle to stop a rock was thrown into the windshield on the passenger’s side.
The next several seconds stretched out into what could have been hours. My dad ducked behind the steering wheel. My mom thought that he was ducking because the log was still bouncing, but he had actually ducked because he had spotted one of the rascals in the trees pointing a shotgun at him! The log kept bouncing right up to the moment we drove over it. Once we were safely on the other side of the log we kept driving until we got to a tiny town further up the road. Finally, we could breathe a little more easily because the terrifying situation was behind us, everyone was safe, and the only damage incurred was a rock through the windshield.
These stories are just the tip of the iceberg of my experiences. It’s true not everyone has stories like these, but I’m sure if most people think long enough they could come up with an unpleasant experience that they like to retell time after time. It may not have seemed fun or amusing in the moment, but the memory can come to hold a special place in one’s life the more it is retold.
I cried for you tonight.
Not because of you.
For the pain.
For the scars.
For the loves you’ve lost.
I cried for your past.
I cried for your hurts.
I cried for the decisions you’ve made that molded you into the person you are.
I cried for all of the times you wanted to but felt that you couldn’t.
My tears were full of forgiveness.
My tears were full love love.
My tears were for until you feel it’s ok to cry your own.
By Heather Elizabeth (@lilredheadangel)
I don’t want to write these words.
I don’t want them to be true.
But I do believe.
That I’m in love with you.
10) I have recently discovered that I like hockey.
9) While I believe that cussing is an unattractive trait, when I am alone I use more cuss words than you would probably think, especially when I’m driving.
8) I LOVE racing movies! Fast and Furious baby!
7) I’m a nomad at heart. Every year like clockwork I want to go on an adventure and travel across the world.
6) I’d love to learn how to ride a motorcycle.
5) I write poetry when I can’t sleep. Most of it is ridiculously depressing.
4) In high school one of my best friends and I had the same boy and our boyfriend. Not at the same time. Note to all ya girls. Don’t break girl code. Dating the same boy is not good for your friendship.
3) My grandma died from cancer when I was 8. One of my greatest fears is that I will get cancer and die from it.
2) Sometimes I think I’m more interested in the concept of love than actually falling in love. Real love scares the crap out of me because real love can hurt.
1) When I was 17 my sister from Brasil and I told our parents that we were going to a birthday party and instead snuck into a club. To this day I don’t think that my parents know.
By Heather Elizabeth