Thursday, July 2, 2009

Friday, June 5, 2009

Settling back into the routine

To be honest I must admit that I miss being on the road. To be really honest I miss my people. I miss waking up in the morning, making coffee and giving a cup to Jordan.

I miss being the only morning person in the bunch. I miss devotions in the morning and debriefing at night.

I miss cooking on a stove top with little ingredients and having people rave about my food.

I miss Nicole and I talking to the geckos on the screen as they hunted for moths.

I miss Tim Tam Time.

I miss the Mai Pai van.

So I wonder if my perceptions of our journey are the same as the rest of the team.

Was it really as wonderful as I thought it was?

My journey home was uneventful. In an effort to make things easier for my friends in Australia, I booked a hotel room in Sydney the night before leaving the country. It was a great decision. After Esther, Grace and I had lunch at the hotel I settled a bit in my room and then went on a walkabout to the waterfront of Sydney Harbor.

It was a little lonely walking around by myself, so after getting the required photos I headed back to my room where I updated this blog.

It was great to be alone and by myself. Peace. I could be free.

The cushy king sized bed was amazing!!!

I took a $12 shuttle to the airport. The driver treated me to a lovely tour of downtown Sydney as he drove around picking up the other 8 passengers. Along the way, as the minutes ticked by, I was concerned that I would arrive at the airport behind schedule. Although I was the last to be dropped off at the international terminal, I arrived with an hour and 15 minutes before my flight boarded.

Once on the plane I was happy to have an empty seat next to me.

Things were looking really great.

An uneventful flight, my mind was on the Air France flight that went down off the coast of South America.

I basically watched movies and documentaries across the Pacific Ocean.

Arriving in LA was a disappointment. Sterile, unfriendly and unwelcoming. My mind remembered the welcoming band when we landed in Port Moresby, PNG.

I slept all the way from LA to Portland. Sleep came quickly and easily.

Wade was there to meet me. It felt good to be home.

I knew I needed to stay awake as long as possible. I went to bed at 10 pm. When Wade came to bed at 11 pm he woke me up and that was it till 3 am.

Settling in on the recliner I watched the season finales of shows I'd saved on the DVR. Finally, with a a little help from Vicodin, sleep overcame me for a while.

Knowing I would need a day off I had the rest of the day to unpack, get a manicure and pedicure and enjoy being home.

On my way to work I was a little concerned about how it would be at work. But it all turned out okay. By the end of the day I was caught up with emails and today I was able to work on other projects.

I posted a bunch of pictures on Facebook. Pictures from the mumu. It didn't go over very well and I removed them tonight. I think they are beautiful. The girls are as covered as if they were in their swimsuits. Oh well. I understand.

Sadness, depression? These emotions feel close to me right now.

I know this will pass. But right now I feel sad.

I miss my people. My friends. Wantoks.

I miss what we shared, something only the 12 of us will ever understand.

The disappointments of Ukarumpa and the challenges of Lae. Electricity going out. No water. Humidity. Laughter. Memories. Mai Pai Transportation.

I wish I could go back in time. I wasn't ready for it to end.

Monday, June 1, 2009

May 25 - Leaving Papua New Guinea

Prior to my trip I looked forward to smelling PNG again. Now, I am looking forward to leaving it behind.

From Lae to Port Moresby - then on to Brisbane.

Our layover in Port Moresby was long. We were grateful for a comfortable place to put our feet up for the several hours we had to wait.

Our flight left Port Moresby about 20 minutes late. Apparently we were held up by someone who was ill.

I tried to sleep on the flight to Brisbane but the three loud men behind me prevented me from sleeping. This was our bare bones flight - no head phones.

I couldn't find my iPod. I was doomed. I needed sleep.

I realized about half way to Brisbane that in order to make my flight I needed that 20 minutes that I lost in Port Moresby.

Plus, we had to get through customs. It was going to be close.

As we began to disembark I told some of the students that I needed to hurry to catch my flight to Sydney. I would say goodbye once we go through customs.

The lines were short so I made it through in record time.

Enter now my misinterpretation of military time and the time on the clock.

As soon as I exited customs (this time I declared everything) I hit the information booth that proved to be pretty uninformative. I had to get to the domestic terminal which was a short train ride away.

I had to leave the area that I had planned to say good bye to everyone. If I tarried, I could miss my plane. I was so tired at this point that the thought of missing my plane sent me over the edge.

I waited and prayed that someone would come through customs. As the clock ticked away I saw Jordan and Nicole come through the door.

The tears flooded from my eyes and we hugged and said goodbye.

And then I ran.

The other problem I was facing was the infection under my arm. I had developed a sore (long story, I'll tell you sometime) about a week and a half into the trip. I was taking care of it but after our swim in the ocean and after our plane trip it had swollen and was now throbbing.

I also felt feverish.

Now I had to scramble. I purchased a train ticket to the domestic terminal and made my way to the station. I made my way to the Quantas line and was informed that I would not be able to make my flight. I could get my flight re-arranged at the domestic terminal.

I had two very heavy suitcases, a backpack and a bag.

Once I got to the platform I inquired of a young man if I was on the right side of the tracks - literally. Craig was very helpful. When we got off the train he offered to take my heaviest suitcase. What an angel.

Both of us were on the flight from Port Moresby. Both of us were going to Sydney. He had been booked on a later flight - the one I would end up on.

As I arrived to the domestic flight area I found the Quantas service desk. At this point I am crying...not sobbing...just tears falling. I was exhausted.

I explained to the lady at the counter that I was not upset, that the tears were from fatigue and pain in my arm. I had missed my flight and needed to rebook it.

Phase 1 - I was informed that I needed to go to the ticket agent 'over there.'

Making my way 'over there' I trudged through the crowds, bags in tow, tears flowing.

The lady who helped me was in training so I had the pleasure of two Aussies booking my flight. Once again I explained that I was not upset but that I was very tired. I didn't want to tell them about my infection in case they wanted to quarantine me.

We worked through the process and I was rebooked on the next flight.

I made my way back to the service desk where I would check my bags.

Since I was now flying domestically my bags were overweight. I had to go back to the ticket agent to pay for the over weight bag - $30.

This time she kept my two heavy bags.

Now I had to go through security. Although I had been through two other airports I knew I had some illegal items - hair spray and water.

I took the water out and guzzled it down. I was parched.

Then I just left the two small cans of hair spray on the counter and made my way, tearfully through security.

Now I had a chance to call Luke and Esther to let them know my flight would be late.

The first pay phone I went to didn't work. More tears.

I left a message on Esther's cell phone. Later we would replay it and laugh and laugh. It really was hilarious. Now. Not then.

Reaching Luke on his cell phone I burst into sobbing tears. I assured him I was alright but just very tired. He laughed too. It was very funny. Now. Not then.

I made my way to the gate waiting area and found that the flight was delayed. I sat as far from people as I could. I couldn't quit crying. Not sobbing. Just tears.

Pretty soon a lovely young lady came over and asked if I was alright. She handed me a package of tissues and I quickly told her my story.

Another angel.

The flight was only an hour - it took a bit longer to get from Sydney to the Davidson's house.

As I write this I am at a hotel in Sydney waiting to leave Australia. The stories of my time here will be told on Facebook.

My journey is almost complete.

My gratitude to those of you who prayed is immeasurable. The entire trip could not have gone better. Even with the drama at the end of the trip I am considering myself really blessed.

May 24

I woke up for the first time at 2:30 am. No wind. Just heat.

A loud tapping noise was keeping me awake. It was like a woodpecker with no rhythm.

The slidewhistle bird was doing his thing. It sure is noisy in the jungle.

No electricity so it wouldn't do any good to sleep in the livingroom with Jordan and Stephen.

Finally dawn appears and we realize that we have a fun day ahead of us.

Karen Quinn was one of the Luedkte boy's teachings in elementary school. She never really left PNG. Todd connected with her about renting her boat for a fun day at sea and a trip to Salamoa.

We left the house quickly: no use in dawdling as we still had not regained our electricity.

Karen and her crew met us at the Lae Yacht Club. Again, not knowing what to expect, we were all excited to see how big the boat was: two bathrooms, an air conditioned main deck, water, music, and food.

Our first excitement came when a pod of dolphins joined our bow and swam along with us. I had been suffering from a bout of nausea but when the dolphins appeared the nausea went away. Shaman's of the sea?

We dropped anchor near the shore for a two hour snorkeling venture. We all slathered sun screen on our backs and faces. It would end up being futile as we all returned with beet red skin and a lot of amazing sights in our minds eye.

The island itself was like something from a movie. We were taken ashore by a small boat with a promise to return to pick us up in an hour or so.

The ride home was breathtaking. The sunset indescribable.

The day ended with dinner at the Lae Yacht Club - courtesy of Jacob Luke. Tired, hot and full, we all headed home for our last night in the country.

We prayed all the way that the electricity would be on: once again...answered prayer.

Showers were had by all. Tomorrow we leave for home. All that is, except me.

May 24

Before leaving Goroka we had one more stop to make. Many of the team needed that last minute gift for their family back home. I had yet to find just one penis gourd.

Rhett had us on the bus at 7:30 am for a quick trip to the Goroka craft market.

It was still a little early, even for the Papua New Guineans.

The beautiful bilums were out along with some jewelry, baskets and wood carvings adorned the street in front of the Bird of Paradise Hotel.

No penis gourds were to be found.

As I boarded the bus I expressed my displeasure to Todd. "You were serious about wanting penis gourds?" Yes...I replied.

"I know a lady in Lae who has a curio shop, in fact, it's the same lady who is taking us all on the boat ride tomorrow!"


Hope remained!

Our drive down to the highlands was uneventful. Once again, answered prayers.

As we headed down the Kassam Pass and into the Markham Valley smoked filled the valley. With every kilometer we felt the heat and humidity get stronger and stronger.

There is a unique smell to each area of PNG - Lae's smell's filled the bus and the heat lulled us all to sleep.

We arrived home in the early afternoon.

Rhett needed some laundry done, everyone with a bilum wanted to wash them to get the unique smell out of the fabric.

Jordan and Whitney agreed to manage the laundry project.

I started to rummage through the kitchen to find something to cook for dinner.

We ended up having a delicious lamb stew served with rice.

Todd had invited some friends over for dinner. Although they weren't home when he went to get them, Jacob Luke did come by and he stayed for supper.

It was good to sit down with him and tell him of our journey. His gift of transportation made this trip possible. We were glad that we were able to thank him.

Todd's friends came later in the evening and cleaned up the leftovers.

The energy in the house was low. We'd enjoyed the relief in temperature and humidity while in the highlands. The Lae heat hit us pretty hard.

We all needed a day at the beach.

May 23

The plan was to follow the NPAT group up to a village market and perform. John Doa told us he would be there at 9:00 am.

With fatigue as our constant companion at this leg of the journey we mustered enough energy to get ourselves out of bed, showered and feed, ready to go by 9 am.

As the clock slowly ticked by, we waited, and waited. At 10 am a phone call to Todd’s cell phone informed us that John would be at our guest house in 10 minutes.
Forty minutes would go by before we would hear a honk indicating our departure was at hand. We hurriedly piled into the van along with one of the NPAT actors to help us navigate our journey.

We headed back down the highway towards Lae for several miles before turning right off the road and up into the mountains.

The scenery was breathtaking.

We traveled for about 30 minutes on this road before another phone call to Todd’s cell indicated that we were almost there, another 10 minutes.

Forty minutes later we seemed to arrive at our destination. A large market off the side of the road with hundreds of people milling around. We followed John’s van as he drove onto the muddy, grassy market area. The contents of the van in front of us was removed of it’s contents as swarms of people encircled our vehicle. Unsure of what to do, we did nothing but sit. Since it was well after lunch time I decided that our actors needed to have their now traditional peanut butter and honey sandwiches so I distributed their meal.

We watched as John pushed back the crowd to almost a perfect half moon circle giving way for the actors to ‘set up the stage.’

Like monkeys in a cage we sat eating our lunch, watching the watchers. We laughed about what would happen when the first of our group exited the bus. Would they applaud? Should we do a little ‘ta da!’ ?

As was often the case, as soon as I was finished with my sandwich I exited the bus to no fanfare. Soon the others followed and we sloshed our way through the grassy mud to find a place to stand.

Rhett soon informed our team that it was time to do “Hello.”

I was so proud of them for risking so much as they went through the skit. A simple misstep could send them falling into the grassy mud.

Over 2000 eyes were upon them as they performed.

Their audience was keenly tuned to their every move.

Loud applause met the conclusion.

Now what do we do?

The NPAT performers then took the stage and it became obvious that we needed to find another place to stand. We went back to the bus.

Safety. Comfort. We could watch, but not hear or understand, the performance. The appreciative audience declared their approval at the end of the first skit. About half way into the second rain began to fall. Lightly at first, but soon a pretty serious rain had arrived.

Soon our bus was full of the NPAT team, not really sure what they were doing either, they jockeyed for position on our van.

Much later Rhett explained that part of the delay earlier in the morning was the lack of vehicles for the NPAT team so they had to make two trips to the village market.
We had volunteered to help them out by transporting part of their team back to Goroka.
It was a lively trip down the mountain with many conversations happening from the front to the back of the bus.

Upon returning to the theatre, John told us that we should go back to the guest house for a short rest before the afternoon performance began.

It was the ‘variety’ show we hadn’t heard much about.

So that’s what we did.

At the appointed time we returned.

We sat through hours of “So you think you can dance?” wannabes.

Skits, songs, both traditional and modern filled the stage.

Our team performed ‘The Weave.’ For the first time in the trip it seemed out of place in the marijuana smoke filled room, but the actors performed it beautifully. Whitney shined in her roll and I was so happy that Rosie and her family were there to watch.

Rosie is a woman who was raised by Whitney’s grandparents: almost a sister to her dad.
She and her husband had arrived earlier that week to connect with Whitney. They had a lovely family, both were teachers and believers.

On this day they spared Whitney, Rhett and myself as they took us away from the variety show for a time to give us some gifts.

May 22 - the Mumu

We started the day not really knowing where, what or how.

Typical day for us!

Before long John Doa arrived at the guest house gate honking his horn.

We all piled in the van and followed John Doa through the streets of Goroka. None of us know exactly how far or how long we would be following him.

Soon we turned off at a store front down along the highway heading towards Kainantu.
A man behind a cyclone fence gate unlatched the chain and our van disappeared inside.
One by one we filed out of the van and was greeted by a outgoing woman named Margaret. She told us to get into the truck. We looked at each other, gulped, and began to pile into the bed of a small Toyota truck. One by one we made space for ourselves, wondering when we would have no more space to give. There was no more room for Todd, so he piled into the cab with Margaret and our fit, young driver and off we went.

We left through the gate we entered and headed a short distance down the highway.
As we turned off the paved road, we started down a one lane, dirt (no muddy) road with ruts the size of small craters. Rhett and I looked at each other: surely this wasn’t a Juniors Abroad approved road. But then our mode of transportation wasn’t GFU approved either.

Soon we turned onto a smaller road with more ruts and cliffs on each side.
The ups and downs and turns of the road felt more like a wild ride at Six Flags.
Everyone was squealing with delight! It was so much fun! And scary!
After about 15 minutes we arrived at our destination.

We knew we were headed to a village for the mumu and sing sing. But we just didn’t know what to expect.

Margaret beckoned us all to get out of the truck and with a flair of sophistication she climbed over a know...

There was a crooked man and he walked a crooked mile.
He found a crooked sixpence upon a crooked style.

Our style was also very crooked.

We followed a path, muddy with piles of dog and pig poo (at least that was what I hoped it was) along the side, making our way to the center of a village where several men and women were sitting in the center of the village preparing kau kau.

As soon as we arrived the people, as if they had been practicing, gave us a big “Whoop, whoop!!”

At first, our insecurities kept us huddled together in a group, but once I got my bearings I took the lead, as the group’s extrovert, and started walking to those sitting preparing the food, shaking their hands and greeting them.

Soon other joined me. Jessie jumped in, asked to help and began scraping the skin off kau kau. Other’s soon joined in. Stephen and Jordan began their ‘man talk’ with the men in the village who were sitting along the perimeter of the center of the village.

For 30 minutes or so we were all engaged with a group of villagers, happily chatting away like we were the visiting family from another village.

Then came the announcement: They were waiting for us to arrive before the pig was killed. Great.

Margaret had told us that they would kill the pig prior to our arrival. I am sure they wanted to watch our white faces squirm with fear during the kill. How entertaining that would be.

Or maybe they really just wanted us to give us the full meal deal.

Either way, the squeamish removed themselves from the village center, while those who wanted to capture the event stayed around.

The 200 + pound pig was tethered by the leg thus keeping him ready for easy capture.
You know me: I love animals. And while I have nothing against pigs, I wanted the full meal deal.

With the barrier of my camera I snapped several pre-whacking pictures. When the sounds of wood crushing pig skull started, I shut my eyes and only heard the sickening sounds. Having been around pigs as a child, the sounds could very well have been caused by a another pig stealing his food, or a human pushing a pig out of the way. Pigs squeal horribly for just the slightest offence to them.

Soon the pig was out of it’s misery. Nicole suffered the most, she ran away crying. Several women, amused no doubt by her reaction, consoled her by telling her how much they themselves love the pigs. They raise them like a child from birth and let them sleep with them at night. Once they are old enough to forage the land, they are encouraged to do so during the day, but at night they are brought back to the hut. It goes like this until they are old enough to spend the night outside.

When they are young, the women may nurse them if the sow doesn’t want to or doesn’t have enough milk.

5 men removed the lifeless body from the pen and took it over to the bed of banana leaves that had been prepared. At this point, the man who killed the pig began sharpening a knife. He was the pig specialist. A few men were his assistants but basically he was in charge.

First they cut the throat and drained the blood out into a clean (?) bowl. Later, when the pigs belly was cut open, kumu was used to soak up more blood that was put into the bowl. Much later, all the special parts of the pig (NOT the penis though…that was actually removed and thrown onto the fire) would be placed into this blood and cooked in a special banana leaf wrap.

All of the intestines were removed from the belly of the pig and placed onto the waiting banana leaf mat of three women. Soon these ladies were carefully cutting each organ from the connective tissue and placing them in a bowl. Some of these parts were added to the blood bowl.

One of the most interesting part of the pig – the rectum – was removed and cleaned. Later it was stuffed with some meat and greens and placed into the bowl of blood. Apparently this was a delicacy and would be eaten by someone special. Hopefully it would be Todd.

Back to the main carcass – the specialist was removing each of the rib bones, and the hips of the pig was broken with an ax.

Once everything was removed, including the spine, the pig was turned over onto a clean bed of banana leaves and kumu (greens).

And now it was time for Bilasim Skin – or dress up time.

Several elderly village members ushered each of us to an isolated location around the center of the village. Some people were taken into huts: Others were taken behind a hut. Since I was just having a headdress, I was positioned in front of one of the huts.

Everyone else was asking to remove their clothes. And they did.

With each student stripped down to their underwear, certainly not Juniors Abroad approved, the village elders began working to create their masterpieces. I wouldn’t be able to fully appreciate was each student endured until later.

For myself, an older man and woman pulled out the head dress pieces from a leather bag. Each adornment was carefully unwrapped from a thick cloth.

But first, the man prepared what became the foundation. He stuffed a knitted hat with dried banana leaves. This hat was then put on my head.

One by one they attached a strip of kuskus fur, beads, or feathers around my head, positioning each one just right. After 10 minutes of this the two argued and the man removed each of the strips. Using a different order each strip was reapplied to my head very tightly. Then came the single feathers. Not having a mirror I had no idea what he was doing with the feathers. Each point of the feathers were dug into my knitted cap and into my skull. It was NOT comfortable.

Every now and then the lady pulled a large knife out of her bilum and handed it to the man standing over my head. Was he cutting my hair?

The last items to be placed on my body was a large kina shell necklace and a smaller sea shell necklace.

After 45 minutes of work I was free to walk around and see what my team mates were up to.

A man was walking around the village with a broken rear view mirror to people could get an idea of their appearance before making one in the center of the village.
Gingerly, one by one everyone began immerging from their ‘dressing room.’ The looks on everyone’s faces were priceless. From the every smiling Whitney to the pensive Sara: but where was Rhett?

He too failed to escape the ceremony, although he was allowed to keep his shorts on.
Once everyone had a chance to drink in the sight of each other, the ladies of the village took the team , arm in arm and began the sing sing.

Roars of laughter erupted from both groups.

Everyone danced in a line, at least that is what was being attempted. More laughter.
After a feeble attempt to dance, the women left us to get the group their special meal.

The women were gathered on one tarp and the men on another. Each of us were given a large bowl of kau kau and nice chunks of meat. It was delicious.

The entire village watched as we ate our special mumu.

The men were given the ‘special food’ including the blood and stuffed rectum dishes.
It was hot and each one of us suffered from the tight headdresses. Karith was the first to go and quickly Margaret had her host usher her to the hut to have the head dress removed.

After 30 minutes or so we had reached our capacity to eat so we picked up the bowl with the remaining food and walked around the village sharing our meal.
Hoping we didn’t offend anyone, we began to inquire as to when we could remove our costuming.

While our hosts removed our finery, a light rain began to fall. Exhausted, I sat under the eaves of the house with Kadish.

Who is Kadish you ask?

Let me take you back to when I first met Kadish.

After the pig was killed and the butchering well underway, Rhett, Jordan and I went on a walk about with Palo. He had invited us to his house to look at his herbs.
We made our way back up the path and to the road. A couple of kids came along: one of them was Kadish.

She was dressed in an oversized blue dress. I guessed her age to be about 6 years old. As we walked up the path she handed me a mandarin. Although it had seeds in it the juice of the fruit quenched my thirst and hunger.

Along the way to Palo’s house we met up with another man who spoke very good English. He explained that Palo grew plants that he used for medicinal purposes.
Some of the ailments he could take care of had to do with birth control, internal bleeding and arthritis. He explained that for 70 kina he could cure my arthritis.
Palo’s wife met us and gave each of us some more delicious mandarins.

I shared mine with Kadish.

After returning to the main village where the mumu was taking place, Kadish seemed to be my constant companion. Once in a while she would disappear only to return with something to eat: more mandarins, bananas or roasted corn.

After the sing sing and bilasim skin I was exhausted. The rain gave us all an excuse to sit and relax.

While relaxing under the eaves of the hut, Kadish once again disappeared. Soon she returned bringin her sister and another mandarin. Her sister’s name was Mapet.
Soon both girls were sitting on my lap as we waited for the rain to abate.

My camera became our entertainment as I let both sisters take turns taking pictures of those sitting around us.

As I rested I wondered who the girl’s parents were. Soon my question was answered as a woman walked towards us and Kadish called out “Mama!” She ran into her arms and brought the woman to me.

I never did catch the mother’s name, but she brought me a bilum and asked for my name and address….for Kadish.

After another mumu ceremony where Rhett was given the hind end of the pig, with leg attached, it was announced that our transportation had returned and we were walking up the path to the road.

Exhausted and tired, but with great anticipation (we knew what kind of a ride we were in for) we climbed back into the bed of the truck, squeezing in even further as we made room for a woman from the village.

As the day came to a close, we all acknowledged that we had been given an incredible gift. We had been invited to an up close and personal glimpse of what it was like to live in a culture that was on the opposite spectrum of our own

Our journey had taken us into the past to see what life was like for a people whose existence depended upon the success of their crops and the hard work it took to cultivate and grow their own food.

Exposed, these people welcomed us with open and happy hearts. What an amazing gift.
Okay, we did pay for this experience: we bought the pig. Yet all in all, the village’s generosity could be felt by all.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Thursday May 21

(Continuing the story now that I have internet)

Thursday, May 21 – Ukarumpa Kai Bar

Funny story

Last Monday, when Stephen was sick, we went to his host family’s house – Marsha and Larry Jones – for supper.

Rhett and I went in to visit the ailing lad. He was obviously delirious.
Later I brought Stephen some broth and crackers. As he sat up in his bed we chatted about his state. He commented on how a ‘bird of paradise’ was doing a dance for him on a log outside his window.

Stunned (that a bird of paradise was in Ukarumpa) I looked out the window only to see a magpie fluttering around.

Not wanted to contradict the sick lad I affirmed his sighting and left the room, concerned more than ever for his health.

On Wednesday, when we were having lunch at the Kai Bar at Ukarumpa I over heard Stephen telling everyone the story of the Bird of Paradise sighting.

As did I, the students began to question the authenticity of his sighting.

Soon I was called upon to confirm Stephen’s story. Unable to do so, the entire story became very humorous and I have tried to discipline myself not to continue mocking him. I haven’t been very successful.

I have since learned that the bird was actually a Willy Wagtale.

We are in Goroka. We are staying at the Research and Conservation Foundations Guest House.

It’s clean, nice, friendly and we have access to a kitchen for breakfast. Not sure what we will do for lunch and dinner.

We ended up eating pizza at the Bird of Paradise Hotel. I ordered Lemon Lime Bitters for the brave and most were wondering if there was alcohol in it. No…..

We had dessert and coffee and it was nice to have a big meal at a restaurant.
We were going to have dinner at the Mandarin Chinese Restaurant but since most of the violence around the country has been targeted towards Asians, Rhett wisely diverted our dinner plans to the Bird of Paradise.

Back at the guest house we had intermittent electrical outages. Guess the problem is city wide.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Words in waiting

I have many pages of writing to catch up on. I hope to start typing them up soon. Lack of battery for the computer forced me to write down my thoughts on paper.

But I will have tons of pictures and words to share soon.

I am now with our friends, Luke and Esther Davidson in Macmasters Beach, New South Wales - about 90 minutes north of Sydney,

Having a lovely time, getting better everyday now that I am on antibiotics for the infection I got from a sore while in PNG.

There are SO MANY BIRDS in the Davidson's back yard! Kokaburra, Bell Birds, Cockatoos, and so many more. Today I sawa blue headed wren for the first time! They are soooooooo cute!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Monday, May 25 - Returning home via Australia

We are all safely waiting to board the plane for Brisbane in the Port Moresby airport.

We have had no internet for the last week but we have had an amazing time.

Can't wait to share it all with you.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Wednesday, May 20 - Here today, gone to Goroka

We are in our final moments at Ukarumpa. We feel such a peace about going to Goroka now. Reports have been received that the strife has subsided a bit.

We now need prayer for safety in travel as the road to Goroka, it's not I-5. Or highway 240 or anything like it.

We are saying our goodbyes and making final arrangements.

Irame and Edolwais

One of my greatest joys was reconnecting with my house meri, Irame.

She was such s wonderful friend and helped me in so may ways. Not only helping me around the house, but understanding the unique culture of Ukarumpa and the relationships we can have with the nationals in the area.

Edolwais, her daughter, was 8 years old when we left. She is now employed by SIL in the finance office.

It was great to reconnect with the two of them.

Whtiney in Ukarumpa - May 2009

Sue, Whitney's mom, gave me a number of notes to give to Whitney as we journeyed through Papua New Guinea. Whitney was born in Ukarumpa. And although she was a year when she left, her life was impacted by her time here.
Here are the pictures of Whitney’s journey back to Papua New Guinea.

#1 Mapang Guest House – Port Moresby

#2 Highlands Highway

#3 Ukarumpa High School

#4 House where she lived (we think this is the one.)

#5 SIL Clinic

#6 Ukarumpa Store

"No Marshmellow Creme, mom!"

There is one more that Whitney will get when we leave Ukarumpa.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Tuesday, May 19

News from the US Embassy in Port Moresby has reached our guest house managers, Esther and Corney Goertzen: US citizens in Papua New Guinea have are being warned to stay away from large crowds and to be alert for mobs of people intent on looting and robbery.

On Saturday an incident in Kainantu, a town 10 miles from Ukarumpa, put people in the area on alert. A rock had been thrown into a store owned by a Chinese man. There were reports of looting but nothing was substantiated.

We have also heard reports that Lae and Goroka have been experiencing unrest and mobs intent on rioting, causing problems, etc....

In a third world country to disparity between the ‘have and the have not’s’ in great. When the arm of government that provides protection for its people is ineffective the possibility for unrest increases.

We have been in contact with our host, John Doa, in Goroka. John is the director of the National Performing Arts Troupe in Goroka. Todd spoke with him by phone yesterday. He confirms reports that it is tense in Goroka. But he did not say that we would be in danger if we came. We really have no choice. We are 45 miles from Goroka. We are 200 miles from Lae. Both cities are reported to be in a state of unrest.

At this point we plan to move towards Goroka. We will go straight to the performing arts center in the middle of the day which tends to be a more settled time to travel. We will be surrounded by a group of Papua New Guineans our entire time in Goroka.

It seems that this final leg of our journey will be the most integrated and immersed in the PNG culture. On Thursday we will go to a village to participate fully in a sing sing and mu mu – bilasim skin and all!

On Friday we will spend another day in the village watching the NPAT performers and perhaps be able to share our stories as well. I am extremely excited for this opportunity as I know how ready our team is to completely immerse themselves, shedding all fears and apprehension into engaging with this exciting and different culture.

But first we have to get through today.

Basically we have the morning off.

Jessie Sarver is going on a village clinic that I arranged. During my time here years ago I participated in village clinics on a fairly regular basis. Jessie is very excited. She is going alone, meaning, no one else from our group is going with her. I volunteered but if you know Jessie, you know how independent she is.
I am meeting Whitney at 10 am for our walkabout tour so I can give her the notes from her parents.

Then at noon I’ll meet up with Edelweiss and get a pictures of Irame and her and myself.

At 1:30 pm we meet up as a group for devotions that I am leading.
Then we drive out to Aiyura National High School were we could be performing for over 600 high school age Papua New Guineans. The plan is to do the entire set of dramas and then have a talk back session. We plan to be very evangelical as Wendy Bailey has encouraged us to be so.

If you are reading this please be in prayer for our team. Here are the specific points for prayer:

1.Discernment for Rhett, Todd and I as we continue on the rest of the journey.

2.Prayer for our vehicle: good brakes, tires, etc….

3.Prayer for Todd as he drives the bus!!!!!!!!!

4.Prayer for peace for the team.

5.Good health – Stephan has been sick. If he isn’t markedly better this morning JereAnn is taking him to the clinic.

6.Prayer for protection and good favor for our time in Goroka.

7.Prayer for your return trip to Lae on Saturday. It’s a LONG one down the very scary Markham road and Kassam Pass. VERY SCARY!!!!!!!

Since we may not have internet connection after leaving Ukarumpa, this prayer list includes our return trip to Lae.

I’ll post more as the day goes along.

Whitney and I had a wonderful walkabout ending at the store where Stephen, fully recovered from his mysterious illness, and Jordan were hanging around. We had a wonderful time with them.

At lunch Edolwais, Irame’s daughter, came by to see me. What a beautiful young lady she is! I was so impressed. We had a short chat before she headed back to work at the finance office.

At 1:30 pm we all gathered at the guest house for devotions. The three points that I covered, as I believe led by the Holy Spirit, was the love that we all had for each other, and the way we were living out Phil. 2: 1-5. Secondly, because of this love that we had for each other, this love would be the evidence that others would see, plain as day, in a supernatural way, and the explanation for this love is Jesus. Thirdly, because of this love that others would see, Satan would want nothing more than to discourage, destroy and cause us to fall. So we needed to be prepared spiritually and with the armor that God gives – Ephesians 6.

With that and our prayers we headed out to Aiyura National High School: unsure of what lay ahead and a bit weary.

We arrived to the auditorium unsure if even 10 people would attend. Communication with the administration had been limited. We started in by setting up the stage.
Finally one of the administrators arrived and spoke with Rhett and Todd. We found out that the principal had taken ill and was not able to attend.
Before long a few people started to come into the auditorium and sit down. Tony came in, a teacher, and assured us that people would start arriving at around 2:45 pm. Was this PNG time?

Wendy Bailey, who works with the youth of the valley, not Ukarumpa youth, had been encouraging us all week that God had something special for us at ANHS.
Why did we not believe?

At 2:50 pm the entire auditorium was full to capacity and overflowing.
Throughout the performance, their rapt attention and appreciative response goes down as being the best audience so far, in my opinion.

The performances went off without a hitch, with Rhett speaking, explaining each drama in between. He did an excellent job.

At the conclusion of the performance, Tony spoke a brief, uncharacteristic of our other hosts, thank you as the team gathered their props and came into the audience to say hello.

Typically, Stephen immediately had a swarm of people around him. Next, Jordan sat down on the floor and was surrounded by 30 or so men. Nicole immediately gathered among the women and began to talk. Whitney too was swarmed and went outside with her ladies.

The others more slowly began to engage with the group. I was watching everyone’s bags and belongings so felt a little tied down to one spot. Finally Emily came over producing two things: One, people began talking with her and her presence allowed me to roam around, get pictures (and they are wonderful) and have conversations of my own.

Questions varied from person to person. At our debriefing we were able to capture them all:
• What is GFU like?
• What is happening in America with the economy?
• What do you think of Obama?
• For me, I was asked since I had been in PNG before, what was my impression of it now?
• What is Arnold Swartzenegger like?
• Jordan was asked a lot about school and Hollywood.
• Many were asked about their faith.
• Many wanted rumors confirmed about micro chips being implanted in everyone in America by December 2009.
• Education
• Global weather patterns
• Why d0 we think that the people of Ukarumpa ignore them

These and more amazing questions.

We talked with the students for an hour and a half. More bilums arrived as gifts, names and addresses exchanged before leaving after 5 pm.

We had two reactions from the Ukarumpa community: why did we even go to Aiyura HS and why did we stay so long.

After returning I walked to the Walkers house with Cyndi and Jessie and I had been invited to dinner. The Walkers were friend when we were here before. I wasn’t looking forward to dinner conversation based on what the girls had told me. The attitudes and comments made by the Walkers was consistent with the attitudes here at the guest house and what we were finding throughout the Ukarumpa community: how would I respond?

Well, God, faithful as always, gave me the gift of gab for a reason, and we had a lovely volley of conversation reconnecting, touching base about others we knew in common, listening to a song called “The Boob Fairy Didn’t Come For Me.”
At 8 pm Todd picked us up in the van for our debriefing.
Another awesome time together ending in prayer and the distribution of our hostess gifts.

Reports from Goroka seem more stable and we have hired to security guards to ride along with us.

This will be my last posting for a while, unless I have internet access at the guest house in Goroka.

My computer is acting strange too (the LCD screen that was just replaced in intermittently buggered up)!

I would say that we all are ready to leave Ukarumpa. We have such an exciting time planned in Goroka with the National Performing Arts Troupe – real theatre exchange, village visits, a mumu and sing sing!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sunday Walkabout at Ukarumpa

The first house we lived in when we first arrived in PNG in 1988. They have added a porch and built on the far side.

There is now a leash law for missionary dogs. (Funny term.) But not for the national's dogs. Here's one I ran into on my walk.

Nipa House - where Jesse was conceived. (Sorry Jess.)

Ruth house where we spent our first Christmas.

Monday, May 18

Watching the different performances is interesting. While I watch the same drama performed, the audience changes. The team responds to each audience differently. Although each performance is given with great effort, and passion, surely the audience comes into play at some point.

Last night was the first time “Midas” was performed in front of an English speaking audience. Laughter was heard where we would expect. Sighs and awes were uttered appropriately as well.

The non-reverent side of me laughs with the Papua New Guineans when Karith and Cyndi fight during ‘The Weave.’ The MK’s at their gathering last night did not laugh at this conflict.

The impact is powerful without the laughter.

‘The Weave’ depicts God giving two human being two different gifts. These gifts are in the form of a scarf. Karith’s scarf loves to dance and twirl around in circles.
Cyndi’s scarf loves to jump up and down into the air.

When the two discover each other’s gifts, they are jealous. They take the other person’s scarf but neither can make it work just right.

After returning the scarf’s to the proper owners, they marvel at their ‘gifts’ for a moment before being distracted again and a fight ensues for the other person’s scarf. This is when people laugh. It is funny watching Karith and Cyndi go at each other. But the wonder of the story is what happens next.

God sees the two people lying still, dead on the ground. God finds Jesus and gives him a more beautiful scarf and teaches him to use it.

Jesus then, at God’s urging, releases the two from their tangled, mangled scarves and revives them. Jesus then shows the two beings how to weave their scarves together with his to make a braid.

It’s a lovely picture of unity.

But the fight scene is funny, especially when other people are laughing.
So our time with the MK’s was brief but good. They are looking forward: Big Day is next weekend and then the next weekend is graduation.

At 6:45 am several of us met at the guest house and went together to the market. It is much bigger produce wise, and has lots of PNG crafts. Many bilums and a lot of bows and arrow sets. Carvings of all kinds and jewelry. I bought Jesse his Goroka hat. Two of them, in fact. The first one I bought wouldn’t fit about his head, but I didn’t realize that till I bought it. But I found one I liked better.

While hanging around waiting I spoke with a man from England. He gave me some very helpful information about getting stuff through Australia. We had a good laugh about how harsh they are. He suggested that we tell them that all of our wood carvings had been in a freezer for a week.

We also learned that the Australian government won’t let people in the country with things made of kus kus hair. It was suggested that we send those items home. Good stuff to know! We already have a black mark on our name in Australia for all the crackers we accidently smuggled into the country. God forbid we do the same with kus kus fir.

This morning the team gathered for a thoughtful devotion lead by Nicole. She encouraged us to live in the moment.

After prayer, the team headed over to the primary school for chapel and then a day of workshops. I went to Marsha Jones’ house for tea and a lovely conversation. Marsha and Larry Jones lived here for a year in 1971. They then returned after they both retired from teaching. They are here for a 2 year term. Their son Jared and his wife, Jody, lived in the house in Newberg where Wade and I lived when we first came to Newberg in 1979. Rhett and his wife are good friends with Jared and Jodi. Marsha’s niece, Analiese Van Brocklin, is a friend of mine (in person and on Facebook) and a graduate of GFU. Do you hear the song ‘It’s a small world?’
Jordan and Stephen are staying with Marsha and Larry. Rhett, Todd and I are going to their house for dinner tonight.

After leaving Marsha’s house I went to the clinic to confirm Jessie’s participation at a village clinic on Tuesday. I went to the entrance that I knew about and spoke with the receptionist. After getting more information I turned to go and a voice calls out my name, “Jere?” It is Betty Kenea. I had gone to the Pigin Service yesterday to see if she and John were there. I didn’t see her but as we talked I found out she was there. She had seem me talking to someone and didn’t want to interrupt.

So we had a nice chat, catching up: Michael is actually living in Canada and going to Bible College there and living with some Wycliffe missionaries.
Then, they have three daughters: one at the University of PNG, another a senior at Aiyura National High School and the youngest daughter is a freshman at Ukarumpa High School.

John still works at the print shop and Betty works in the library. I hope I can connect with them before I leave.

I then went to the post office and mailed Jesse his package.
Then I went to the store and waited for Sara to arrive to help me carry the lunch for the team to the primary school.

Yesterday I had talked to Irame about getting together with her and Edelweiss after lunch today. Miscommunication – Edelweiss came at lunch. But I went ahead and sat down with Irame, gave her the gifts and showed her pictures of the kids.

Hopefully Edelweiss can come tomorrow.

Then she brought me a beautiful bilum. I really love it! And I am very picky!

This afternoon I will catch up with the team at 3:15 pm at the Kai Bar at the store for ice cream.

Several want to get things at the store too.
And then, as I mentioned, we have dinner with the Jones’.

One more full day in Ukarumpa. The only thing the team has to do tomorrow is perform at Aiyura National High School. I am glad everyone agreed to do that performance.

Later in the evening:
Todd, Rhett and I had a lovely dinner with the Jones’. Spaghetti dinner with delicious homemade French bread and berry cobbler for dessert.

We had a lovely conversation. They are really wonderful people. They are also good friends with the Scorza’s. Funny, Larry could pass for a relative of Dave’s.

The team is at the guest house watching “Sister Act 2.” I am going to plan devotions for the morning and hit the hay.

Good night.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Sunday, May 17 - Ukarumpa

Have you each reached a point in a trip where you weren’t sure if you wanted time to speed up or slow down? Part of my dilemma comes from the fact that I am very anxious to spend a week in Australia with the Davidson’s.

The time here seems to be going very fast, so fast that it seems every day is getting shorter and shorter.

My Sunday morning started with another interesting breakfast conversation.
I haven’t really said much about our fellow guests at the guest house here in Ukarumpa. There is an audit team here. Small worlds collide. They are from Houghton. The man and woman heading the team live in Houghton and she teaches a may term accounting course. The other three students are accounting majors who are working with the couple on the audit. The older couple could not be more opposite that Todd, Rhett or I. Their perspective on just about everything could create an interesting dialog should we allow it. I know I have had to keep my tongue about me. It’s been interesting for sure.

Small world: the older couple are friends with a couple that I met (from Houghton) that were at Equinoxe in Nouackchott.

The two church services this morning were rather good. I enjoyed both of them immensely .

I ran into Bonnie Moeckle, who was quite friendly. I also talked with Jeff and Sissie DeJernes, who were cordial.

I had a lovely conversation with the center doctor and his pharmacist wife. We talked about the veterinary situation and shared my lovely dog stories with them. They arrived when the Hauschildt’s were here. They go on a village clinic on Tuesday so we may be able to work it out for Jessie to go with them.

Irame made a delicious lunch to go along with our long conversation. I am working on listening rather than responding.

The students are now rehearsing. I am going on a walkabout.

Later, that afternoon: the walkabout was great! I ran into a couple, the Rearick’s. They know the Scorza’s. We talked for a long time. I believe we would be friends with them.

The Ruth house has changed a lot. It is no longer the entrance to the horse world of Ukarumpa. They have fenced the house (as well as MANY others on the center) and made a drive way to the perimeter fence that now keeps the rascals out of the center. At least that is the purpose of the fence.

Exhausted from the climb up the hill, I sat on the side of the grassy hill right below the Ruth’s old house and took in the scenery. A guard with an umbrella walked by, waved and then sauntered on. I missed getting a picture because my camera was not turned on. Rats.

After resting and drinking half of the water bottle I continued on my way to Nipa House – where Jesse was conceived.

More familiar territory as I made my way past the field that Honda stayed in and the road where I learned to ride a motorcycle. Remember that Wade? Remember how once I got going I took off and you yelled “I didn’t teach you how to stop!” Or something like that.

What amazes me most is how my memory has faded. I remember well the places where we spent most of our time. The rest is like a misty fog; I can see through it at times but the view to my memory is dimmed by the mist of old age.

Tonight we connect with the teens at ‘Soul Purpose’ - their youth gathering on Sunday night.

The ‘quiet hour’ just ended and noise around the valley is picking up. Two young men just passed my window pulling a wagon behind them with a large piece of plywood wedged inside. I thought they were hauling a lawnmower behind them.
Sounds of children laughing, parents walking with their kids, birds singing, the putt-putt of a motor bike fills the air.

I swear I just so Luke and Kurt going down the hill at break neck speed on a wagon.

Saturday, May 16 - Ukarumpa

What a refreshing morning: it was cool, crisp and the air smelled so good!

After our debriefing last night I wasn’t sure how today would be met. Jessie gave an encouraging devotion and our prayer time was sweet.

Our first stop was at 9:30 am at the new primary school. It had a great auditorium where our team would work with middle and high school students to create stories.
This would be the first time I would see Rhett in action teaching. With great anticipation I sat myself in the audience ready to take it all in.

Our group of MK’s ended up being pretty much middle schoolers. And they were a lively bunch. When Rhett got up to teach he became so animated! It was really something to see.

First Rhett took the group through theatre exercises and a game. Tempest. After that the entire group, both GFU team and middle schoolers, were divided into 3 groups. Their assignment? To create a still picture of: Hope.

It was amazing watching the creation of this story. I had never seen anything like it before.

When each group performed it’s picture, Rhett led us through a discussion to explain what the picture was saying. I apologize but I cannot fully describe what I witnessed. My words would fall flat and perhaps you would draw false conclusions. You will just have to trust me. The finished product was inspiring.
For the final picture Rhett asked the groups to create a picture that tells a story about their community. I can hardly tell this story without crying.

I took notes for these pictures. Group number showed a circle of people doing various things: whispering, pointing, sneering, laughing & playing. One person was on the outside of the group hiding behind a chair with a pencil pointing at them.
This group was trying to show the routine of life at Ukarumpa which in part includes gossip, having fun, conflicts, but trust even in light of the negative things that go on. The person outside the group is a ‘rascal’ threatening with a spear.

Next, Rhett asked the group to resolve the picture. They changed the essence of the picture to reach out drawing the ‘rascal’ in and depicting a more caring community.
Group number 2 had Jesus standing on a chair reaching out to the audience. Behind Jesus was a group of people obviously worshiping. Then a one person reaching out to Jesus but also with her hand on a young man clearly depressed. Then sitting on alone was a girl who was clearly lonely but no one was reaching out to her.

The resolution was to bring Jesus down from the chair, amongst the people and everyone giving concern to those who were hurting.

Group number 3 – well, this one got to me. Two different groups with one person sitting in the middle, looking as if she was praying but also looking sad. One group was obviously happy to be together but two of them were pointing to the other group with a mocking kind of smile. The other group had a person shielding them from the other group, sneering. This picture told the story about the tension at Ukarumpa between the adults and the teenagers.

The resolution was to have one side reach out to the other in love and understanding.
Basically, it was amazing. To watch these two groups work together to produce such deep and meaningful stories in two hours of time astounded me.

We all left rather suddenly as our time ran over what we expected. We scurried back to have lunch at the guest house while the students either fixed a sandwich from the food I had bought at the store, at a sack lunch from their host family or ran back to their host family for a quick lunch before meeting at 1:20 to meet Wendy and John Bailey. The Bailey’s are amazing people.

They are Irish. They are ‘tent makers’ and working with the PNG government to improve agricultural and conservation of water and resources. They used to live off center, but due to an unfortunate situation (not of their making) they moved to SIL housing. What a privilege it was for us to work with them this afternoon. They are exactly the kind of people we needed to see here.

They have coordinated a drop in center at the old primary school site. Although the buildings and property now belong to the district of Aiyura, they allow the Bailey’s to control the old auditorium (where we held a dance back in the day). Each Saturday they take a few people out to minister to the children and teenagers of the valley. Wendy especially has such a deep love and passion for the people of Papua New Guinea. Our team performed Wantok (and they loved it) and the Weave. We then created picture stories. Most of the kids flocked to Stephen and Jordan, as usual. But each of the groups were pretty amazing.

However wonderful it was to watch the dramas that were created, everyone was stunned by the two deaf young men who came. Although Emily speaks American Sign Language and these two men were taught English Sign Language, the image of their encounter will stay with us all. I hope my pictures turn out to give you a glimpse into what we saw. Emily said they learned from each other. She’s so precious and loving. I am sure these two young men will never forget Emily. We were so blessed to be able to witness such an encounter.

So I have been doing a lot of thinking today. My emotions have run deep.
While things are familiar in the sights of Ukarumpa the essence of our time in PNG is no longer here: our friends, the students that we came to know and love.

The things that I didn’t like about Ukarumpa remain and in some way are accentuated by the perimeter fencing and Guard Dog Security. I know that SIL must protect the people here especially if they intend to draw workers to complete the task. But I have some serious concerns that haunt me, reminding me of the times when I was ‘in trouble’ for interacting with the Nationals that went contrary to popular opinion here.

The work that SIL does here is the entire purpose of Ukarumpa. I can’t lose sight of that. My short time here does not give me permission to cast judgment. I wish all of humanity could just get along.

As I anticipated out debriefing was long and meaningful. I so enjoy listening to the perspective of each team member. Their words are so inspiring: their perspective refreshing and heartfelt.

As a talker, listening to them has been such a great exercise. I am grateful beyond words for this experience. I am learning so much from Rhett, in the way he leads discussions, drawing out the thoughts, words and emotions from each of the team.

Our group scattered to the winds at 6 pm. After a nice dinner we dealt with internet issues and then electricity outages. My outlets don’t work but neither do some in the main part of the house. At least we have lights and water. And it is almost bed time. Sunday will be here soon enough.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday, May 15 - Eastern Highlands, PNG

We are in Ukarumpa. It is beautiful! I am in awe of this place.

I'll post pictures later but the trip was breathtaking.

Rhett, Todd and I are at the SIL Guesthouse. I have my own room with a bath. Mi amamas tru!

Irame, my house lady when we lived here before, was at the guest house when I arrived. It was so good to see her!

I'll look forward to spending some time with her in the next couple of days.

We leave for the Teen Center and hamburger night in a few minutes.

More later.....

At 11:00 pm - last night - I woke up and felt like I was suffocating. I’d been asleep for about an hour, the house was quiet. Our room in Lae doesn’t have a fan, no wind was moving through the open, slated windows. I laid in bed with my nose close to the windows, praying, begging God for a little breeze.

That’s when the dogs started yelping right outside my window. Two dogs, stuck together in the act of fornication. I doubt they were married.
Still no breeze. There were other nights like that one. But usually some kind of breeze moved through the house. I began to panic. I began to sweat.
I needed air. So I grabbed my foam mattress and took it to the living room where Jordan and Stephen lay under the fan. Relief. Sleep.

I awoke at 6:13 pm and got in the shower before everyone else. I am still wondering why I even bothered showing in Lae because 5 minutes after the shower I am sweating.
I began making our special birthday breakfast – French toast – Jordan turns 22 today. We bought birthday candles at the store. One special one with the ability to sing out a tune – Happy Birthday. Jordan was surprised – the girls had made a card and we all secretly signed it the night before.

We had all our suitcases packed by 8:30 am for devotions. By 9 am we were walking to the chapel for the seminary students. One last chapel and then good bye.

The Maipai Transport van showed up about 10 am. Confusion about who was going and what was happening but soon we were on our way with two seminarians from the highlands, Peter and John. Their presence would be useful later on in the day.
We stopped at the bank in Lae for the students to get money out. Once again Rhett was denied access to the trips funds. Hopefully he has enough till we get to Goroka next week.

On the road we welcomed the wind, albeit hot wind, as we headed towards the highlands.
Although I know I it was a road I had traveled before nothing about this journey was familiar: Except for the beautiful scenery as we passed further and further was the city and into the bush. Past the Ramu Valley with Brahma cattle grazing in the kuni.

Foolishly I had failed to think about what to do for lunch. We should have packed a lunch. Here is where John and Peter helped so much. We discussed our need for food and drink. Peter suggested a place several miles up the road.

This place was just a market where we could get cold drinks and Wopa Biscuits and fruit. It was a great experience. Peter, John, Jordan and I headed into the market leaving the others in the van. We returned with plenty of food for the rest of the journey. I only wish I had gotten a picture of the whole think. Maybe one of the students did.

With great expectancy we head for the hills – highland hills. Cooler weather awaited us around every bend. Breathtaking vistas new around every turn. When we reached the summit of the Kassam Pass, Peter exclaimed “Now you are in the Highlands.” Immediately we knew there was a difference.

The humidity was gone, and although the sun was out it was not as hot as Lae. Everyone felt the relief.

We dropped Peter and John off in Kainantu. Did I mention it was fortnight? Pay day. Everyone is out on the town. Rhett gave each many 100 kina and they planned to get a PMV back to Lae that afternoon. They were along the ride to make sure we made it to Kainantu.

Rhett was worried the most about this part of the trip. Fortnight isn’t always the best time to travel. Our group made it all that more stressful. I can’t help but think about Wade as our first day in the country was a fortnight as well. He had to travel by PMV (Public Motor Vehicle) from Goroka to Ukarumpa….alone, on a fortnight.
The scenery began to look familiar. And then we crossed the Ukarumpa bridge. It has a gate on it now. The entire area was crowded with people waiting. We drove right to the guest house and were warmly welcomed by Esther. As I looked into the kitchen I saw a familiar face: IRAME!! I cried a little as I hugged her. She looked really good! She looked healthy and happy.

Soon the host families were arriving to pick up the team. Everyone seemed a little sad to leave the group. After all, we’d pretty much been together 24/7 since we left 11 days ago.

I walked down to the store to buy bread, peanut butter and honey, for sandwiches, in case we need them to feed the students later in the week.

The store is VERY different. It has a fence all around it. And there is a Kai Kai bar in the front that serves everything from meat pies to ice cream. Todd had met me at the store and he bought me an ice cream cone.

I plan to go back there for meat pies later this week.

We met everyone down at the Teen Center. It was packed and smokey inside. The Jone’s family, Marsha and Larry – who’s son Jared used to live in our house on Meridian in Newberg, is hosting Jordan and Stephen. They sat with us. They are both teachers here on a one year assignment. I plan to have tea with Marsha on Monday at 10 am.

We all walked up to the guest house for our debriefing. Some people are having trouble leaving the wonderful relationships that were made at Lae. Since our time here is rather uncertain, for those who need to have things spelled out, it is hard for them to wrap their heads around what is in store.

I’ll keep you all posted. But for now, since I have wireless, I’ll post this and maybe a picture.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Thursday, May 14

The performance at the Lae Technical College was amazing. The team was treated as if they are celebrities. It was the Christian clubs weekly meeting and the large auditorium was packed.

The performances were great, and the response of the crowd was perfect. Lots of laughter and applause. The team performed Hello, Midas – the Greek story, The Weave and the Apostles Creed. Everyone loves it when Cyndi comes out and speaks Tok Pisin during the Apostles Creed.

Stephen also stole the show when the team introduced themselves and he sang out “Nem bilong mi Stephen.” The team called him “Brownpela Nose.”

Jacob Luke was able to attend. I hope he was proud of the response we received.
After the service the team was surrounded by men and women and wanting to exchange addresses and have a conversations in English.

I am happy to sit aside, watch the girls bags and marvel at how easily our team embraces the conversations with the people of Papua New Guinea.

At the debriefing Cyndi commented that several women thanked as her presence stage gave their voices strength. Knowing that women in PNG are not treated with equality it is a privilege to perhaps be a conduit for improved relations. Perhaps our team is paving new roads for the women of PNG to walk.

Today at 4 pm is the big performance between the seminary students and our team. As many have been advertising this event I am certain that the event will be huge.
Tomorrow we leave for the cool of the highlands. I do feel that I have been acclimating to this heat. It’s not quite as oppressive as it has been in the past.
I am very excited to see Ukarumpa, travel the Markham Pass and watch as the team begins the next phase of our journey.

Wednesday, May 13

It was another cooler night. No sheet, but also no sweat. I woke up refreshed and ready for the day.

The sky is clear and you know that it is going to be a scorcher. It’s 89 at 11 am but it doesn’t feel like the humidity is to high.

Whitney, Emily and I attended the pigin service at the chapel. I could catch most of what the sermon was about: Believers in Jesus do not need to be afraid of death.
The team is off at another class and I am left to do a load of laundry and prepare the noon meal. I love this quiet time. The beauty of the surroundings is amazing. The sounds, the sights and smells – I love this country!

I repacked my suitcase with the hostess gifts, putting the items in five different bags. I hope that is enough. Not knowing how many homes the team will be staying in makes it hard to plan. But I DO have a plan B.

I am so excited to leave MLS and go to Ukarumpa. Some of the students are nervous about being separated into the different homes. Also, Todd and Rhett refer to Ukarumpa as “Little America” the team has developed a bias against it. The time here, at MLS, exchanging ideas and developing relationships with them makes them want to stay here longer. God help them adjust and be just as caring and giving in Ukarumpa as they are here at MLS.

It reached 100 degrees this afternoon. I must be acclimatizing as I am not horribly hot.
After a lunch of toasted tuna and cheese sandwiches and fruit (papaya, banana and orange) salad, Todd and I went to town for our last trip to Food Mart.

We are way under budget for food costs in Lae, but it’s hard to spend 14 kina for a gift of English Breakfast tea for Jordan’s birthday on Friday.

Todd and I then stopped at the Lutheran Church headquarters to post a sign about the performance tomorrow (Thursday) from the MLS classes and the team. I think it’s going to be a HUGE event.

At the headquarters office Todd ran into two of his former students: Gary and a lady I never did catch the name of.

We had a nice chat with Gary. He is head of ministerial training for the Lutheran Church in PNG. He has 5 grown children. He’s probably close to my age.

I am now preparing a special dinner of spaghetti as Jacob Luke has been invited to join us at 5:30 pm for kai kai bilong belo.

Then we all travel down the road to a school for a ‘copi shop’ performance for the students. I am not clear about everything that is going on so you’ll hear more about during tomorrow mornings writings.

Tuesday, May 12

The Sounds of Lae

Mr. Rooster (s) start up at about 4:30 am. The chorus of kakaruk’s get’s louder as each moment goes by. Then, as if summoned by the orchestra conductor, more birds join the rooster choir creating a symphony of sorts. This continues on for hours. About the time we get up (starting around 7 am) the roosters stop but the rest of the chorus keeps going.

While we hear the birds they remain hidden in the lush trees and bushes. One species of birds sounds just like a slide whistle. I think I bought one for Jesse at Easter.

Dog wails are another part of the concert. Dogs are not treated well here in PNG. For the most part they are mangy, scraggly and thin. Most have a limp of some kind, no doubt from a kick from someone which creates the wail that we so often hear at night.

It’s pretty noisy all night long, and yet, we somehow manage to sleep through it all.

We survived the storm. The rain that we ran around in last night never left until 4 am or so. It rained so hard we had to shut the slated windows. We even turned the fan off because the wind was so ‘cold.’ We lost power right before midnight. Making one of my many bathroom trips I noticed Jordan and a few of the girls sitting at the kitchen table with a candle in the center of them. It looked like they were involved in a séance, but turns out we lost electricity and they were finishing up their game of cards.

Jordan figured out that it rained 10 hours last night. Surely we don’t have to worry about the water for a while. What must it have been like for those in the this area living in a hut.

I must have slept well because for the first time since leaving I dreamt. Wade was sequestered at Hazelden for treatment. He had an encounter with one of the other patients. Weird.

This morning breakfast everyone was on their own which has given me a chance to write this morning.

At 10 am we are all going to the seminary to listen to Don Michael tell stories from his asples, Enga Province. I am looking forward to this opportunity.
Although I was not sure what to expect, I was looking forward to getting a chance to interact with the seminary students. Todd made a lot of this opportunity to exchange stories but from what I could tell we were not sharing our stories, but only listening to Don. What stories would we tell if we were to share? I don’t think I have any stories that are worth telling.

Once the seminary students arrived Todd got the class under way. Don was called up to the front of the class where he stood with his head hanging down while he leaned on the desk. It seemed awkward. I wasn’t sure what to think.

Don asked that he have a translator as he wanted to tell his story in Tok Pisin.
Todd asked John, another seminarian, was asked to come up and translate for Don. That exchange was also awkward, as John mumbled something about being from a different province than Don. He finally went up to the front and did a fine job of improving upon the story as John used words that we would understand but were quite different from the Pigin word.

The first story was about a lake in the Enga province called Lake Lau. (John laughed when I told him that my bosses name was Brad Lau.)

The story goes like this: Two children, a boy and a girl, were orphaned when their parents died. They took care of themselves, raising pigs and making a garden. They lived very well and were happy. Then one day an evil spirit took on the image of the boy, went to the girl and tried to seduce her. She fought off the spirit but thought it was her brother. When the real brother returned all she did was cry and run away from him. She was so hurt. She didn’t know it was really an evil spirit and he didn’t know about the evil spirit.

The brother tried to make his sister stop crying. He made a mumu for her but she just kept crying. No matter what he did, she kept crying.

So finally the brother went to the mountain and dug a big hole and fell on his spear. When the sister realized that the brother was dead she cried so much that the hole filled up with water. She finally threw herself into the lake but the lake rejected her and spit her back up on the land. She left the lake and was never seen again.

Don explained that this story was about how bad it is to let misunderstandings come between families.

The second story was very interesting. It was about the last cannibal.
The story starts with a family with 6 sons and one daughter. One by one each son goes into the forest and never returns. Finally the last son goes much to the mother and father’s dismay. He too never returns. What the family doesn’t know is that each son has been captured and eaten by an old man deep in the forest.
At some point the family figures out who is behind their son’s disappearance.
One day the daughter goes to the river and is bitten by at mosquito.

After a period of time her belly begins to swell. The family is upset because she is unmarried. She denies having sex with anyone and soon she delivers a son.
When the son grows up and ends up going into the forest and killing the cannibal.
End of story. Don says that this is the story to depict the end of cannibalism in the Enga province.

It is interesting that we do not have a story to tell from our culture. We can steal stories from other cultures but we do not have stories of our own. I find this sad. I wonder why?

Today was another day of laundry and then cooking lunch and dinner.

Beans on toast and leftovers for lunch.

Lamb neck stew and rice for dinner.

There is a sweet kind of rhythm here. When the team heads over to the seminary classes, I am alone. I read and write. I have contemplated watching a movie but so far haven’t had the time.

Right after the students left tonight the cicadas were so loud I could barely hear myself think! Then all of a sudden, about 45 minutes later, the noise stops! Silence.

It’s been a quiet day. Tomorrow brings new experiences to enjoy.

Monday, May 11

I realized this morning that I am not dreaming at night.

We all got to sleep in a little this morning. I fixed sweet rice cereal for breakfast, toast for some and coffee.

At 9 am the students were invited to the seminarians devotion time. At 10 am they would be working in the speech and drama classes.

Sara Kelm is suffering from an upset stomach. She has stayed behind. I washed some community towels and the shower mat that was completely gross.

Finally, I was able to connect with Wade on his cell phone. I lost the satellite feed the first time but connected after several tries and was able to say and hear I love you’s! I miss him, and it felt good to hear is voice. It will be great when he meets me at the airport.

We will be going to the market today. Everyone is excited to finally get into the city and walk around.

Lunch will be leftovers and peanut butter sandwiches.

After lunch the team debriefed from the mornings classes. I was cleaning up from lunch so didn’t hear a lot of the details, but I was able to catch that things went pretty well.

Rhett wisely suggested that the team spend an hour cleaning up while he and I settled finances. It was good to get the house clean, and find out that we are under budget for our food in Lae. It has felt so strange spending 600 kina on food, at one time! And then to watch it disappear so fast!

We then headed in our new Mapai Escort Vehicle to the Lae Market. While I was able to get the fruits and vegetables I desired, the overall feeling was that there really wasn’t much there people wanted to buy. A few of the ladies bought meri skirts and personal food items.

We then went to the Food Mart by way of a tour of the town courtesy of Todd. I purchased the bulk of what we would need for meals the rest of the week but the best buy of all was a huge wheel of fresh rolls. It would be perfect for dinner.

Once home, I began making One Pot Chicken, with kau kau, kumu, bok choy, onions, chicken and curry. It was very good. Everyone enjoyed it. It’s funny, and we commented about this, what if I didn’t know how to cook? The way we are all working together is evidence of God’s provision in putting this trip together.

After dinner the rain came…HARD! So far it has only rained in the wee hours of the night. So Whitney and Cyndi headed outside. Soon most of the team was outside. It was awesome. I was actually chilled a couple of times. It was fun to see how much the kids enjoyed this little activity.

Those who joined in the fun eventually came in the house, piled their wet clothes in the hamper (I volunteered to wash them in the morning) and we all settled down for a time of journaling, reading and NOT sweating. Sara is actually sitting next to me cuddled under a blanket.

So we have been on this journey for one week now. Overall, it’s been a huge success. The students are amazing. They have been stellar in every way.
With the cool breeze and the rains here I hope we will sleep well tonight.
The weather has been really pretty great, except that it is hot and humid. But it has only rained at night, and so we are relived to get some water into the cistern but still be able to be outside during the day. It’s the kind of weather I remember during our time in PNG. The rain and heat create this tropical paradise, flowers and plants galore!