I can’t believe just a few days ago I was hiking in the Sepik – one of the hottest places I have been. Now we are in the highlands and the early morning is cold. I am wearing a hoody sweatshirt and long pants to keep warm. The only problem is the cooler temperatures include 180 inches of rain a year and lots of mud; Clay mud that sticks to you and doesn’t come off; Clay mud that is impossible to stand on without your feet slipping out from under you. You are standing on the trail and then, BAM… You are sitting on the trail. It’s funny until you are the one sitting and you are covered in clay mud; it’s impossible to stay clean.
Missionary David Ogg and his wife Sherry have seen a mature church established in the Simbari tribe. We are here to record that in photos. We decide to hike to the vine bridge going across one of the prettiest, raging rivers I have ever seen. The Ogg’s warn us about the trail. It is straight down the mountain and straight back up. This includes forty minutes hopping down a riverbed on giant boulders. A piece of cake, I think. Boy was I wrong. We started straight down the mountain, subsequently, slipping and sitting. This trail is a vertical clay pit impossible to stand on. Of course the aforementioned missionary David was wearing lumberjack boots with spikes. (Wearing golf shoes and riding in a helicopter to the bridge would be my choice.)
What a majestic view with the river, the waterfalls and a great vine bridge leading to picturesque villages that the Simbari believers are now evangelizing. Dale Stroud captured incredible photos that you will begin to see in many of our publications.
The climb back up the mountain was a killer. The breathable cool air disappeared quickly. Gasping, we tried to suck it in. It was the closest I have ever heard a bunch of missionaries sound like howler monkeys, screaming in the early morning. At one point, Dale disappeared off the face of the earth. I turned around to speak to him and he was gone. Did the Lord return and I was left behind? No, he had accidentally stepped off the trail into a large Dale-sized hole on the side of the cliff. We eagerly pulled him back on the trial, but not until he shot photos of me reaching down with my walking stick. Remember we are out here to get photos.
I have a soft spot in my heart when I hear missionaries share the Gospel and teach tribal believers in their native language. Do you have any idea what it takes to pull that off in the harshest of living conditions? If your heart is not touched then there is something wrong with your touching spot! There are hundreds more tribes to reach.
The only thing missing…. More Missionaries. www.ntm.org/train – pass it on….
from macon’s journal: PNG