On Sunday the 10th, we traveled to Sirunki (1.5 hrs) where Ron preached and assisted with some Baptisms and Confirmations. The 11th-13th was the Women’s Conference (Mama Bung) attended by over 200 enthusiastic women! Ron preached for two worship services and did a study on stewardship. It was a great conference and the women are eager and excited to exert some leadership and influence in the church.
We left on the 14th for a 2 hour drive to Mt. Hagen to catch our MAF flight to Wanakipa in the Hewa area. We arrived at Wanakipa (grass airstrip at 2,300ft) about noon and got settled into a small house built years ago by another missionary when the airstrip was being built. The accommodations were basic. We shared a very thin single foam mattress on the floor and slept under a mosquito net. It was very hot. We had an exciting wakeup call from the rats the morning we left as they ran through the room and ended up scrambling on the roof! A PNG family has been living in the house for a couple of years, there is no water attached to the house and the pit toilet is down the path. The creek next to the house was good for a cold wash and there was a fresh water area coming into the creek that we used for drinking. Last visit we had a little burner for cooking, but that was gone, so one of the Hewas cooked for us in the little cook house next to ours. Since the Hewas are in a “hungry,” we had the same thing for every meal—boiled bananas and greens. We did have rice once which we had brought with us. It was a challenging week. (For Mary Anne, possibly the most difficult ever in PNG, but also one of the most rewarding because of the insights God gave us!) It was hard to maintain any level of cleanliness with the heat, no good place to wash and an outhouse that was about to fall down—but God continually reminded that He was right there with us.
We did classes on Stewardship, Preaching, Baptism, Sanguma (witchcraft) and Reformation theology. Ron also preached for services during the week. The Hewa people, especially the pastors and evangelists, are very dedicated, mission minded and tough— to carry on in their circumstances. Some walked more than a day to participate, sometimes taking a canoe as part of their journey. They continue to start new congregations and reach people who have not yet heard the Gospel. We had no phone service while in the Hewa and missed being in touch with our kids! We stayed healthy and are so very grateful for that. Please keep the Hewas in your prayers.
By the way, the fighting which began the day we arrived at Birip has finally ended in our area—no more gunshots at night or houses burning! We thank God for that! We have lost 7 congregations—their buildings burned, many members killed. All the people in the fight areas are just gone. It will be years before they can return to their ground (that’s all that’s left!) and they will pay ridiculous amounts of pigs and money to get their land back. The church has a huge challenge in how to find and minister to them. We are so blessed to be here. Blessings to you all!
In His love and service,
Pastor Ron and Mary Anne