This last week the students from our Christian Union Bible College traveled to the Pangia area in the Southern Highlands Province. As part of their training, we send them out on ministry outreach trips where they preach, sing songs, perform dramas, and give their testimonies in churches. They left on Monday and had services in the evenings and in the mornings starting with Monday night. I was privileged to join them on Saturday and return back tot he college with them on Monday.
After a 2 1/2 hour drive we parked our truck and started our 2 hour and 15 minute walk. This is the road at the start of the walk, it wasn't near this good by the end! Traveling with me were Martin's (our teacher at the college) family and DJ Casto (a volunteer who is here for the year helping teach at the college).
Sunday evening we didn't have a service, so we just sat around in the kunai houses around the fire chatting. We then got up and started walking at 6 in the morning and made it back to our truck around 8. After a short (2 1/2 hours) drive back to Hagen, I was back with my family again. In about 10 weeks I plan on sending the students out again. Continue to pray for them as they prepare for full time ministry.
One of the many things I love about our ministry here in PNG, is getting to travel. Not that the roads are good at all, but I still enjoy it. Just this last week I got to travel to Sumia (Past Mendi in the Southern Highlands Province). I went there to be involved in a meeting with the Regional Board of Trustees of the Christian Union Church.
When I travel out to Mendi, I usually ride in a pmv (bus). I do this for a couple of reasons. One, our vehicle is not able to handle the rough roads between Hagen and Mendi very well. And since I don't have money to constantly fix it, I just don't drive it out that way. Two, most of the pastors and church leaders that we work with have to travel by pmv because they don't have vehicles. I do my best to try to work under the same restrictions or conditions that they do, so that I can relate to them better.
So after riding the pmv to Mendi, one of the Board members who has a truck picked me up and we rode out to Sumia. The meeting was held in our church at Sumia, and the pastor and his wife fixed us a meal of chicken, kaukau, bananas, and kumu (greens). We started our meeting at about one o'clock in the afternoon (the pmv ride takes about 4 hours), and didn't get finished until close to six o'clock.
After the meeting was over at six, everyone was trying to catch a ride back to their homes. Several men were able to get a ride to Embi and Montanda, the guy from Kar just decided to spend the night with the pastor of Sumia, and the guy from Poroma was the one with his own truck. The two guys from Waralai had no way to get home, so they decided to spend the night at one of their in-laws place (Yagen) which was close by. Since I had no way to go home either, I went with them. Now, it is very common in this culture to just show up at someone's house and expect them to house and feed you. However, it isn't very common for a 'white man' to just show up at your house and expect those things. So the family was pretty shocked when I came walking up to their house with the two other guys. However, they quickly made me feel at home. We sat around the fire in the Haus Kuk (Cook House) for a while and then I headed off to bed. They actually had a couple of bedrooms built into this Kunai (bush) house, so they gave me my own room.
We got up the next morning and went out to the road to wait for a pmv to come along. It was about a 20 minute ride into Mendi. Once we got to Mendi, we went and hung out a Haus Kai (small fast food place) and got some breakfast. I had some broccoli and a fish flour (kind of like a big corn dog, but with fish in the middle). About eight o'clock or so, the pmvs were loading up to head to Hagen, so I jumped in one and made my way home.
That is what you call traveling 'PNG Style', and I happen to love it! If you ever make it over to PNG some time and want to travel with me, I will gladly take you along!