Yesterday was another beautiful day and we were so thankful to the Lord because that was the day we had decided to have a going-away feast for Esther. Our Simbari friends came at about 8:00 AM with big logs for making a fire to heat up the stones. While the men were working on that, us women, including Esther and Rachel were sitting around peeling the tapioc, sweet potatoes, platanos, taro etc. It was so nice just to sit around and visit while we worked and after awhile Esther and Rachel got up and played some games with the kids. Esther also passed out some candy that had been given to her and the kids enjoyed that of course. We had ordered one case of lamb meat to put in the mumu for the people as a way to say thanks for the part they have had in Esther’s life all these years. Meat is such a rare treat for them, so they really enjoy it. After the stones were hot enough, the hole in the ground was lined with banana leaves and hot stones and the food was put in between layers of leaves and more hot stones. Our favorite part of the mumu is the grated tapioc mixed with canned corned beef, chopped green onions, and salt and then wrapped in banana leaves. The outside edges that are against the hot stones get nice and crispy and taste a bit like hash browns.
While the food was cooking in the hole, the people brought gifts for Esther and one by one came and presented them to her, some with tears. A few of them talked about how these gifts were just small tokens, but that the greatest gift was that God’s Word had come to them. They talked about how Esther had come when she was just two years old and had grown up amongst them like one of their own. They said that they didn’t know if they would see her again in this life but that they knew they would see her in Heaven. As the different ones came up to her and presented her with decorative arrows, woven bags, necklaces, grass skirt, bark cape, etc, she shook their hands or gave them hugs and cried with them. One older believer (Poroko, who recently lost his wife) came up to her and as he tied a beautiful woven headband around her head he told her that he couldn’t speak because he was too choked up. It was all very touching and I was in tears too as we stood around with our brothers and sisters whom we have come to love so much. When Raymond and his wife Ellen came up to Esther they presented her with a folded-up piece of paper with some special words of encouragement inside (written in English) and a beautiful orchid taped to it. They were choked up too as they presented it to her and Ellen said that whenever they pass “Orchid View” on the trail they think of her. (It is a little hill on the trail that overlooks the other villages and once our kids found a ground orchid there so they named it “Orchid View”)
After the little presentation a bunch of people played volleyball and Esther and I sat with some of the ladies and kids playing my guitar and singing together. Finally it was time to open the mumu and take out and distribute the food. Everyone seemed to have such a good time and we were praising the Lord for the beautiful day He gave us so that we could enjoy being outdoors together.
The following day I walked with David, Esther and Rachel down the trail for quite a ways to see off the girls as they were going to spend the night with their Dad at the other village where the outreach is going on. They returned the next day after seeing the Bible teaching and literacy class. I’m so glad that Esther got to have this opportunity to go with her dad and see first-hand what God is doing over there before she leaves PNG.
Shari for the family