Greetings again, everyone. Finally we have time and good internet connection to blog again. We have so much to share with you!
The beautiful landscape of PNG
On Tuesday, April 15, we flew from Cairns north to Port Moresby, the capital city of Papua New Guinea (PNG), where we took another flight to the city of Lae. Ian Wildeboer picked us up from the airport and brought us to their home where we met Nadia and their 4 children. We had a wonderful time with them. They were so hospitable, and Ian proudly tells everyone, "Meet my teacher, all the way from Canada."
These 3 houses were recently built on the property of the Lae Mission Complex: the left one for the Wildeboer's, the middle one for the Sikkema's, and the one on the right for the Steenhof's (new teacher). Over the span of four months about 70 volunteers from Australia came in groups of 7-10 people at a time to build them. The homes are almost finished. Ian and Nadia moved in a couple of weeks ago, and Tim and Francine will move there in a couple of months.
We are stayed on our own in a house in the same mission complex that is used for guests, including those who worked on the houses. It was wonderful having our own place to sleep and eat breakfast. For the rest we were with the other missionary families and that worked out well.
This was the home we stayed in, but the picture doesn't do justice to the steepness and ruggedness of the stone driveway!
Our wonderful hosts, Ian and Nadia Wildeboer with their 4 children: Jonathan, Karlyn, Caleb, and Benjamin, in front of their home, ready for church.
We saw a lot of these great hosts too - Tim and Francine Sikkema with their girls Avigail and Devra.
A lot of Papuans live and work on the grounds here at the mission complex, and almost everything is done manually. They are a friendly bunch, and they like you to smile and shake their hands, and wish them an Api nun (good afternoon). They cut grass with knives and are digging a long 3-foot trench by hand in bare feet, and you can imagine how heavy that wet soil is with all the rain they get.
The weather is hot and humid all.the.time. Everything always feels damp. Fans run all the time, and that helps, but the power goes off regularly, like a couple times every day. They are approaching the wet season, which means that it often rains here during the day and the night, instead of mainly during the night. The vegetation is quite lush, but due to poverty, it is not cared for well, and lots of garbage is strewn on the sides of the road everywhere.
With this hot weather, we drink gallons of water. It takes a couple of hours for my hair to dry after showering. No need for curling irons or makeup here! Our skin doesn't dry out so need for creams or lotions either. Everyone gets sweaty and dirty very quickly, so there is always lots of laundry to do. Everything tends to get mouldy and smelly quickly. Among the missionaries, no one has carpet in their homes, just wooden floors. No one has dishwashers or dryers, or central AC. Everyone hangs their laundry outside. There is no garbage collection, so compost has to be buried and garbage has to be burned. None of them have a TV and find other activities to do. Nadia homeschools her children, and though it is very busy for her, she enjoys it. Their home is always open and they are very hospitable to everyone.
Going to town in one of the mission trucks. On the back it reads: Jesus is God. Believe in Him
This is a poor country with a lot of crime and violence. Many people just live off of the land and sell some produce at the markets or at the side of the road. The roads are in poor condition. The main roads are paved but have huge potholes as do the dirt roads. There are no cars, only 4x4 trucks and jeeps. You can't get by without them! Many people sit in the back of trucks - that is allowed. What you sometimes see in PNG is boys or men standing at the side of the road with a shovel. After they have thrown some dirt on a pothole, they point to it and then expect you to slow down to give them some money for fixing it for you.
The Lae church building, which becomes the school during the week
On Thursday morning we attended the school Easter program at the church. It is a new school started by members of the church, but other children may attend. They have about 75 children aged 5-8, and hope to make to expand year by year, but they need more teachers and more classroom space. The kids sang so enthusiastically, in both English and Pidgin, which is the local language. Ian spoke to the children, asking them questions about creation and the flood, and they answered well. As guests of honour, we had to sit at the front. After the program, the moms put out a huge spread of food for a potluck lunch. I have never seen such a big potluck! Ian said that is a sign of appreciation and thanks.
Jenny and Grace, the 2 teachers at the Reformed School of Lae, with Teny and with Tim DeVos, principal of Armadale School making his annual visit to this school
Everyone shakes hands with everyone else, also with us. Many of them can understand a bit of English, and a few speak it. They love us to interact with them, and it is obvious they really appreciate Ian and Tim. Ian and Nadia have been here 9 years already, and Ian's Pidgin is excellent. He interacts so easily and freely with everyone, at church, at the market, on the roadside, in town, in settlements, and at the mission complex.
On Friday morning we attended the Good Friday church service. First lots of singing, and then Tim Sikkema preached. He also speaks fluent Pidgin and the people listen well. Again lots of handshaking and interaction with the people.
Good Friday service began with lots of singing - they love singing!
Most people sit on wooden benches and when the benches are full, the children sit on a tarp on the cement floor.
After the sermon we had Lord's Supper, and when the formal service was over, various groups came up to the front and sang. This was finally over shortly after 1:30, and then we had a potluck lunch together. It was 3:00 before we were home. This is normal for them. Most Sundays they have Sunday school, catechism, and Bible studies after the morning service, making every Sunday a long church event. All women wear long skirts to church with colourful Mary blouses, which are loose-fitting tops with short sleeves. Everyone dresses very modestly here, with very little jewelry and no makeup - no need with their dark skin!
Tim is bringing people back on his way home after church on Sunday