Recently I traveled back from our support center to our bush location. We usually take a 35 minute flight with the mission plane but lately NTM has not been able to help us with flights due to a shortage of both pilots and fuel. So I had to take the grueling hike back to our village.
At first I had to wait for a PMV (people moving vehicleJ) just outside our mission centre. I waited for about an hour and then one picked me up and squeezed me in. They can carry anything from 15 to 30 people and this particular day it was closer to 30.
After many stops we at last ended up at the town where I was suppose to take another PMV.
Here I waited about an hour, and then at last got one to pick me up and we headed out for the ¾ hour ride toward the next town. I got squeezed in between a relatively large lady breastfeeding her new born baby without shame and another large male who smelled as if he was needing a bath. So after about 3 hours in one position not being able to move much my legs and behind was sleeping. You know that feeling when it all goes numb? Luckily we had a beetle nut stop which gives everyone who likes the opportunity to exit the vehicle and chew some beetle nut. This gave us all a chance to stretch our legs but I could scarcely get out of the vehicle due to the numbness. I was a real site for everyone and we all had a good laugh.
After arriving at the next village the tarred road was done. PNG has about a total of 9,300 km of roads and about 3000 km of that is paved/tarred, and these aren’t in any great condition either. So from this village I traveled by truck to another village about 2 hours drive. This was a very very shaky ride. There were a Mengen lady whom I knew and she marked herself as my official interpreter. Even though I can speak the national language fluently she insisted I speak in Mengen and then translated to all the others into the national language.
After arriving at the plantation village I decided to spend the night due to both legs and behind being very numb. When we arrive in these village there is always place to sleep. We call these houses ‘house boys’ and it is only for men to sleep in. There is always people willing to share their food with you and there is always a stick bed available or some space close to the fire in the centre of the house. The problem would be the sand flies and flees. Also when they see a white skins sleeping in a houseboy then many people pack the house full like sardines to listen how I speak in their language, many actually believe I am a spirit from the dead.
Finally the next day I could start the long hike from the plantation village to our village in the jungle. If you are very lucky you might get a ride from one of the plantation workers but this is very scarce. So if you do not get a ride then you basically hike for a day into the jungle over a serious river and at last into our village. If you think about hiking you might think about back packing in some local park or nature reserve? There they have paths and rest points etc etc. But this is nothing like that, you constantly walk in mud, you climb some serious hills and often fall down and slide back and start again. This particular day it rained all the way and even though it’s raining its hot and humid as well. But eventually we made it to our village in the jungle.
In times like these we learn to appreciate the flight program and our pilots. Please pray for us and for our pilots, that God would continue to provide finances so that we could afford to fly rather hike and that there would be pilots, planes and fuel available to help us minister effectively
Thanks for your prayers and support