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.
• 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!