After several hours in the pickup we reached the northern tip of the island. From there we bounced along in a small fiberglass boat with a 40HP outboard motor for two hours with sprays of saltwater acting as a rhythmic timer counting off each wave. Finally we reached dry ground. Dry ground is figurative, for the ground we began our hike on was more a muddy bog than a dry path. For six hours we hiked up and down, across logs, through streams, and along ridges slowly making our way up to the village where our friends and fellow missionaries live.
Our girls, with the exception of Briella who was strapped to my chest, zipped along the trail carefully dodging tree roots, holes, and other obstacles. Within the first hour Kylee’s shoes began to slip off with each step because of the slime. Once barefoot though, she moved along much better and only twice did we have to pull her out of the mud to more solid ground. The sight of the missionary’s house and the cold river at the end of the hike brought welcome relief to sore feet, tired legs, and aching shoulders from the packs we carried.
As much as we actually did enjoy the hike that was not the reason for our journey. We went to see the Mitchells and their two girls and to assist them in a few areas. Lori was able to give them some help with their literacy primers and some guidance as to how to get them ready along with the lessons to be able to start teaching the people there how to read and write. I was able give some direction in being able to get to know the culture and worldview of the people they are working with in order to more effectively teach them the truths of God’s Word.
Pray for the Mitchells as they are in a remote location and have had to deal with some difficulties. In the coming months they hope to begin teaching literacy and will be working on preparing Bible lessons in order to teach the Bible.
When we finished our time there we were able to skip the 6 hour hike and 2 hour boat ride and opt for a 20 minute return flight on the helicopter. Four times a year the helicopter brings in supplies, mail, and fuel to the Mitchells (be sure not to forget to order the t.p.). We were able to hitch a quick ride back and then got in our truck to head back down the island.
We had been traveling just under an hour in our pickup when we had a bit of a hiccup in our plans. A large pig bolted out from the side of the road in front of our truck, but became ‘tired’ very quickly. This was our first experience with ‘fast food’ here in PNG, but it was only the stomachs of those in the local village who benefited that night along with some money they received from us for the compensation of their prized possession.
Our family was fine, but the truck was not. As darkness began to overtake us, what I thought at first was only the plastic fender being damaged, turned out to be the fender, grill, radiator, and oil coolant assembly…and so began our other mini-adventure. For the sake of time I won’t go into detail, but tow-ropes, a police car, 6 hours in a mini-van with 19 people without air-conditioning and a driver who thought swerving around every pot-hole made the ride more pleasant, several plastic bags (I’ll let you guess the purpose), and a flat bed truck composed the narrative of our safe arrival back in Patpatar 2 days later.
Our truck awaits parts on the other end of the island, but we are safe in Patpatar continuing on in ministry. Pray that all the details of insurance and parts will work out. More importantly though, pray for the church here in Patpatar as they are experiencing a hiccup as well. We will tell you more about that in the next update.
On the journey, Aaron and the family
Fact – Happy Birthday to Papua New Guinea. September 16 marks the 38th anniversary of the independence of this country.