Here we go, Sunday evening January 26, 10.30 pm it is finally time to leave after a beautiful worship & prayer session! After a long bus ride, we arrive at the airport in Cairns at 4.00 am where we, after a long wait and an hour sleep on the ground, board the plane at 11.30 am. Around 1.30 pm we land in Port Moresby, where we visit the huge supermarket next to the airport to do some shopping for the next 4 weeks (kilos of rice, noodles, crackers, peanut butter, tea and water). Then we leave for an unforgettable ride, by PMV (an open truck with 2 lengthwise wooden benches in the cargo box)! Wow, what is that enjoyment, indescribable !! And what a breathtakingly beautiful country this is! Everything is so green, high mountains, deep valleys, small villages with dilapidated houses, open fires, etc.
After 3 hours in the PMV we arrive in Makarupu around 7 pm, where we are warmly received by the pastor of the village. We get wreaths of flowers around our neck, a coconut in our hand (good against dehydration) and Parua, a local snack for festive occasions made from mashed banana, sego (inside of palm tree) and coconut powder. Since we did not eat anything all day besides some muesli bars, it does not taste wrong!
Then we drive to Hula, the village where we will stay the first week. Here too we are warmly welcomed with a 2-hour program of song, dance, welcome speeches, introductory rounds, etc. Around 9 pm we drive to the family where we will sleep next week. The heat takes some getting used to, over 35 degrees without air conditioning or fans, no electricity, showers or running water (collecting water with a bucket from a well), the toilet is a hole in the ground with a 4 sails all around and there is an abundance stray dogs and stray cats, but the environment is really beautiful! The five of us sleep on a kind of veranda (the rest sleeps inside). Fortunately, I have an eye mask, because it gets light at 5 a.m.! Unfortunately, the mosquito nets do not stop all mosquitoes, but hey, you get used to everything!
After the first day we are shown around by the children of the village, we visit the villages on Wednesday and Thursday for home visits. Guided by a number of locals, we go in groups down the huts in the village to pray for people, fill them with the Holy Spirit and encourage them with words from God. Each group has a number of children with them to disciple them, encourage them to pray for the elderly, and ask God to speak to them. People have become visible as young people from all over the world leave their luxurious lives behind to take the time and effort to connect and pray with them.
Thursday we meet a man who has his shoulder dislocated because he fell a few weeks ago. Together with Benadikt (a teammate who is also a nurse), thanks to wisdom through prayer and a little experience, we were able to put his shoulder back after a half hour session! Special to see how in the painful process he cried out praying to God, thanking Jesus for who He is and quoting Bible verses.
Wednesday and Thursday evenings we run programs at a kind of 'open stage' through worship, drama, song and dance, where we pray for many people at the end. Special to see how people want to come back to God in prayer! We also include a number of children and teens when we pray for the community to take them into the disciple process. Great to hang out with the people of the village all week, get to know their names and life stories, pray together and really build a relationship.
Friday and Saturday we have a program for teenagers and young people, where Benadikt and I teach about the Belief tree, identity and forgiveness. By then splitting it up into small groups, we help make it applicable to their own lives.
On Sunday we provide 2 church services in which, after a wonderful worship session with a lot of dance, we share testimonies about the Bible story of Joseph. After the service we have a farewell lunch in the church (provided by the mothers of the village). Overloaded with gifts (homemade bags and bracelets), we leave late afternoon to Makarupu, the village where we will stay for the next 2 weeks. So special to see how generous people are while they are so poor!
I am already quite used to the bush life here! Draw water from the well and then wash with buckets of water, get punctured by countless mosquitoes and ants, taste the tastiest bananas and coconuts ever, wash clothes by hand, drink liters of rainwater and sweat so much that clothes are saturated daily. It is truly a privilege to be part of this great we culture, in which we are received so openly and warmly by everyone! Wonderful to see how even the young children share everything with each other when they get something to eat, for example.
This morning the five of us left for Port Moresby at 3:00 am to take Lloyd away (the DTS leader who spends 1 week with all teams). A 4 hour drive by PMV.
Because the city is slightly more developed, the phone can receive a little signal. This afternoon we will return to Makarupu, so I will be out of reach again.
Thank you for your compassion and prayers!