The place where I grew up is a small government post in the middle of the jungle between two large rivers, but you can find it now on Google maps.

Orchids by the rivers where I grew upI grin every time I find Senggo on a map.

It is such a tiny place…or it was. But, if you type in the address on Google Maps, it comes right up!

When my parents first arrived at Senggo in 1972, it was really nothing more than a small clearing in the jungle.

With the village of Tamnim at its center and the doctor’s house, out of which he ran his clinic, it seemed insignificant.

TEAM mission built a compound and a medical complex (puskesmas), defined as more than a clinic, but less than a full-fledged hospital. The Indonesian government built offices. Padagans, or merchants built their families homes and operated stores out of their front rooms.

The village of Senggo moved away from the Wildeman River, from a flood zone that was almost always covered in water. They relocated closer in, on high ground which was better for them, but it was a long walk to the Diaram River and their fishing.

Soon after the mission built the medical complex, an oil company survey team from Australia decided to build an airstrip.

They liked the idea of having easy access to medical facilities. The Australians brought in heavy equipment that immediately bogged down in the thick, soupy white kaolin clay. They worked for months, but the airstrip wasn’t working out for them. Finally, they talked to the mission doctor, and he arranged for men from the Dani tribe to come to Senggo and work on the airstrip. The Danis knew exactly what to do! Two months later, that airstrip was properly built and could be used for air traffic.

Now, Senggo–the place where I grew up–has roads that run to other places on the island and electricity. Senggo even has satellite dishes and television. But I still remember when it was a small place, and every night between 9:30 and 10:00 p.m., the generator would stop running, and the night-time noises of the jungle would swell to a deafening chorus as I drifted off to sleep.

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