Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Tony and Regina's Story

I figured I should write a bit more about the events connected to the young couple that just got married on Saturday. Tony has completed the pastor's training at the Bible College and now will be the candidate pastor in Awan for one year, after which he has to do his final exam so he can be called as a pastor somewhere. 

Awan is a village in the jungle, and the only way to get to it is to walk. No roads, no vehicles, no electricity. The closest city is Lae. In the 2 weeks following the wedding, Tony and Regina will prepare for the move and say goodbye to their relatives. They will fly to Lae, then someone will drive them as far as possible, and then they will have to walk with their belongings about half an hour into the jungle till they reach the village of Awan. It will be especially difficult for Regina who has never been far away from family before, and they know it will probably be about 2 years before they return. 

Regina is 23 years old. She grew up in Beretete and went to elementary school in the village. For grades 7-10 she went to the school in Sogeri, about 16 km away. She went to boarding school there and only went home on some weekends. To go home, she walked. Her cousin, who lived a bit closer to the school, lived at home and walked every day, in bare feet. She left at 5:00 am, got to school at 7, had class till 2, and walked back home. That meant she walked 4 hours every day for quite a few years. People think nothing of walking hours every day.

Regina has grade 10 education from that school, which will certainly be below our standards. She followed some courses at the Bible College, and is working on completing high school  by correspondence. Once she gets to Awan, she will have to somehow get her assignments to Lae every two weeks. Her dream is to become a teacher, but she doesn't know how she will complete that education. Probably by correspondence too. No computers, so all the assignments will be written out. And she will have to do a lot of walking! 

Tony will be doing his candidate pastoral work in Awan, but has never been there yet. Neither has Regina. In fact, they had not met the members of that church yet.....until the day of the wedding. 

Let me backtrack. Before we came to Lae, Ian asked Jerry to bring along some water shoes because his plan was to take Jerry to a little village in the jungle on Good Friday so he could preach there. To get there, they would have to walk for 30 minutes through a river, and then along a trail through the jungle. The village was......Awan. 

However, their trip was canceled because a group of men from that church were not going to be there at that time. They had planned to walk the Kokoda Trail (see www.kokodatrail.com.aubecause it was Anzac Day the week after, and they were getting sponsors to walk it, and also they were going to go to the government in Port Moresby to request money for a church building in Awan. Anzac Day is their Remembrance Day, to commemorate the battle of Australian soldiers fighting back the Japanese soldiers in 1942 who were trying to get across the mountains to take over Port Moresby, walking along the Kokoda Trail. So at Easter about 10 young men from the church in Awan walked the Kokoda Trail to Port Moresby. It took them 4 long days to walk the 96 km trail, and realize they did it in bare feet carrying their food, pots, clothes, etc. on their backs! The days were very hot and humid and the nights were quite cold, with torrential rainfall at any time. It is a treacherous single-file foot trail. They had planned to talk to the governor Saturday morning, so unfortunately they missed the wedding service, but they joined us for lunch. It was the first time they had met Tony and Regina. Wow! Talk about dedication to their new pastor! And then we realized it was because of these young men's travels across the mountains that Ian and Jerry did not go to Awan on Good Friday.

Tony with the visitors from Awan who showed up at the wedding and come here to talk to the Prof. from Canada

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