Quick Trip, but a Major Adventure to the Bush of PNG

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Abinoon (Afternoon) Dear Folks,

Greetings from Sydney, I’m very thankful for your prayers for me while I took a few weeks time in Papua New Guinea to visit Jeff and Elizabeth Owens. Everything went well and I appreciate every one’s help with different parts of my trip.

I left Sydney on the morning of 31th of Dec. My mom had been visiting me for three weeks and she was leaving the same day as me, but later in the day. Dear friends, the Morgans entertained Mom for the day before her flight. My flight to Brisbane, and then flight to Port Moresby (POM) left earlier than scheduled. I arrived in POM and got my bags and followed my friend Elizabeth’s instructions to get to the Domestic Terminal and check-in there. (one hour and a half wait in the check-in line). While in the queue, the guy behind me, (from New Zealand was on his way back to Goroka from spending Christmas with his wife), offered to let me use his phone to call the Dunwoody’s (the guesthouse hosts who were to be picking me up in Goroka). So I called and confirmed with them that I was in PNG. They asked that we text message when the boarding the flight.

I was carrying a computer for my friend in my carry-on, and at check-in, they wanted me to separate the computers to lesson the weight of one bag, so I ended up with three carry-on bags. My boarding pass was hand written with the seat assignment and flight numbers. Bag checked, I went through security (plunk everything down on a rolling mat and walk through the scanner). No one asked for liquids or gels. Several guards asked me who was picking me up in Goroka- “New Tribes? Good.” The safety thing is to always have someone getting you at the airport. My friends aren’t with New Tribes Mission, but the guest house is, so I didn’t want to confuse things. Elizabeth told me that PNG has lost is status as a third world country, so it is more like a sub-third world country. There you go for a random trivia fact. So with lack of organisation or something, you can expect to wait a lot when flying in PNG. Who knows what causes the delays. It’s almost certain nothing will be on time. As Jeff says, “Have time to spare, go by air, especially Air Nuigini.”

After several hours wait in the POM Airport, my NZ fellow passenger messaged the Dunwoodys to let them know we were boarding (three hours later than scheduled.) The screen had our flight listed, then it disappeared- which is quite common but that means I was stuck in POM?? But I asked at the counter the the assistant told me it was only delayed and would come back up on the screen. It did, and half an hour later we boarded. I had gotten up at 4 am that morning to be at the airport by 6 so I dozed on the flight and wished for an early bed time- more on that later. πŸ™‚

Just as we landed in Goroka, a nice rain started to fall. Beautiful and helps keep everything growing but the airstrip there is limited in equipment, so usually when it rains, planes don’t land. So I’m thankful we landed and got my bag from the table they plunk bags onto after pulling it out of the plane.

I thanked the New Zealander (Aussies call them Kiwis) for his help, met Mr Raymond Dunwoody at the wire gate and pushed my way through a crowd of people waiting for friends or family. Raymond and Odessa Dunwoody are from Northern Ireland and very special people. They drove around Goroka showing me a few things then drove out of town towards the New Tribes Centre that runs all main New Tribes Mission works in all of PNG. Lapilo Centre is quite a large base with safety gates.

We had set my bags down and were just about to start up the grill for dinner and a call came from a missionary staying in the guest house flat. He invited the Dunwoodys and myself to go to their place since his wife had made lots of extra food. I had also just told Odessa that I was hoping for an early night. She told me that was nice, but probably not possible since it was New Year’s Eve and the missionaries were gathering later for a game/fun night down in the conference kitchen and that a lot of people would be taking off the mufflers of their motor bikes and ride around the centre at midnight, so there wouldn’t be much sleep going on. Okay, so I guess I’ll try to stay awake until midnight. hm. πŸ™‚

We went to dinner- a very yummy lasagna and salad. Had some great fellowship, people told me of what to expect in the bush and in Goroka. They were convinced that I needed to come back and teach in their Lapilo christian school. Hm, not really interested, but they are very nice to offer.

We went back to the guesthouse for a few hours and close to 10pm we wandered down to the conference kitchen, where I met more people and had to explain again what I was doing- sounds crazy, but just there to visit a friend, no interest in future ministry there. We played Apples to Apples and brought in the New Year with a golf cart drive around the property. One family handed out yummy fried bread- almost like doughnuts. I was finally able to tumble into bed close to 1am.

1st Jan. Had a bit of a sleep in and then took a walk with Raymond, visited with one of the teachers in the school and saw her 1st grade classroom, and spent a quiet afternoon and evening with the last opportunity to check email and facebook for the next two weeks.

2nd Jan. We went into Goroka and since one of the helicopter pilots was sick, only one pilot was available so my flight was delayed until later in the day, so we went by the bilam row- a fence along one street where ladies sell their handmade colourfully woven bags. I found two that I liked and found a trivet that was nicely woven as well and then we went back to the NTM Aviation hangar. More delays so we went across the street to the “Steak House” and saw more NTM people there and joined them. I enjoyed my chicken strips and chips. Later I found out the water wasn’t filtered, but never had a problem (Or did I??). Thank you, Lord.

We went back to the hangar and they were just loading the chopper. When I was told to, I hopped in the front seat and got my camera ready. It’s really hard to describe, except that its very fun to watch the ground just falls away and you’re gently lifted up and away. We made for south west of Goroka and over many mountain ranges towards the village of Kiari in Simbu Province. (It’s not on the maps, I’ve checked.)

As we were getting close, Ray, the pilot, pointed out the Owens’ home and the houseline (row of village homes on the ridge near them) and the church building, then we flew right on over the top of the mountain even higher and around to another part of the mountain to the airstrip. Jeff had spent years clearing the airstrip for planes, but safety wise the airstrip was too dangerous for planes with the short run. Planes had trouble slowing down enough to stop safely.

Jeff and Elizabeth were waiting for me, so as soon as we landed, it was- time to unload and get things set at a safe distance from the landing zone for the chopper to take off. Their coworker, Karen, was going off for a week vacation with some coworkers from another village. As soon as the chopper took off again we started carrying things to the ute. (truck)

Elizabeth calls it “The Little Engine that Could.” It really can too! We loaded different materials shipped in and started out the GFA station where most of the stuff would be stored. We crammed in the front and went down the bumpy rutted road to make our way on to their home.

We drove down the narrow road with the mountain plants and rocks on one side and sloping bank and steep drop offs on the other. After driving down the steep bits to their home we only had a bit of time to unload the ute before it was time to start the walk up to the church for Bible study and Prayer meeting.

It is fully dark in the highlands by 6pm, and dusk starts early so a 4:15 Bible study is helpful so people can get home before dark. Pidgin English has some similarities with English, but I didn’t really pick up much. I met many people, but the ones that stick out the most for me are Alis, her daughter Panima, Helen, Woma and her daughter Lillian. Alis speaks some English so we could carry on a sort of conversation. πŸ™‚ On our way back from church Lillian thrust a bouquet of roses and some purple flowers into my hand. The flowers lived for over a week on the Owens’ kitchen table.

We cooked an evening meal by candlelight and lamp light, heated some water for a wash and went to bed around 9pm.

3rd Jan. Sunday School Awards Day- a cook-out has been delayed from past days because of different reasons so even with some sprinkles of rain they kept going on with the plans. We peeled kau-kau (sweet potato, more like a large long potato with the taste similar to a turnip) and pumpkin (squash-ish tasting) and the ladies got everything into big pots and cooked greens and noodles over a fire for hours, while the kids played, a Bible Story and a missionary story and awards (candy/lollies) given out. Hours and hours later, my stomach had forgotten its breakfast, so the Owenses and I went behind a building and ate beef crackers- a yummy flavoured cracker that really sticks to your ribs. The packaging claims for be from Australia, but I’ve never seen it for sale in the shops in Aus.

Some time later the food was being served and we made up a Kool-aid type drink for the kids. (I didn’t drink it since it was village water and not filtered.)

We made it home as it was getting dark and again cooked dinner by candle light and oil lamp. If you are addicted to your microwave or lights or technology, be grateful for electricity. In the places where you don’t have power, you just make do with other things. Propane stove and fridge and garden provided all we needed. πŸ™‚

It was nice to unplug and relax in a sense. I did have several days where we didn’t do much. Then there were other, very busy days.

Showers consist of heating water on the stove, then pouring it into a bucket that is made with a turning section to allow a flow of water-only when you want it. With a pulley you hang the bucket at a desired height and have a short, but nice shower.

4th Jan. We spent part of the day up at Joy Christian School. Elizabeth had been the teacher up there, but because of health problems had to close the school. She hadn’t been able to go back to the school to put away things and take things off the walls. Especially in the storage closet, the rats had found great things to do with the supplies and items on the shelves. So over three days (Friday, the next Monday and Tuesday) we carefully pulled out the soiled items and repacked and closed up and labelled everything in the closet. Elizabeth packed up all the curriculum and teacher books, her desk and the manipulatives. I organised posters and took things off the walls, organised a picture file and construction paper file.
We went home to a quiet afternoon and evening.

5th Jan. Quiet day of cleaning the house (small front room/kitchen and then bedroom and bathroom.) Earlier last year the Owenses had built a house cook (villager type home, that has a place for fire in the floor to be used for cooking purposes. They had built a bed frame in there so they slept in the housecook at night a left the house for me.

6th Jan. Sunday- All day at church. 8:45 leaders’ prayer meeting, 9:30 Sunday School, 10:30 ? Morning Service, 2:30 Choir Practice, 3:30 Afternoon service. I met several more people and children (pikanini) in the church throughout the day.

7th and 8th Jan. Were days for finishing up the school. The Tuesday we also took up things and did laundry at the GFA station, The Smiths, coworkers, were on furlough, but they have an electrical washing machine runs when the generator is running so we did washing (laundry) for the school and at home.

9th Jan. Quiet day at home then Bible Study. We checked times for the chopper flight the next day and assumed that we’d need to be at the airstrip by 10 or so.

10th Jan. We got dishes done and things put away, loaded up and got to the airstrip just as the helicopter was about to land. We transferred items and the Owenses and I hopped in to go back to Goroka. This trip, the Owenses wanted to do a supply trip so they would spend the next few days with me in Goroka before my next flights back to Australia. We were back in Goroka in no time. Elizabeth told me that it is rare that they get out that quickly. The reason they fly instead of driving is the state of the roads and the 18 hour road trip is just too much trouble compared to flying out. But the flight is very expensive, and every ounce of weight is charged.

We went to the Steak house for lunch and went and got groceries at some very interesting/dusty/crowded/busy shops. “New Century Supermarket” has the best sales, but you don’t want anything open, or meat, SVS is the next option, and we bought our meat and some other things there, and then the more expensive, and nicer ship, Papindo is where you get the things like salad dressing and hmm. Ice Cream. πŸ™‚

We went to the other NTM station in Goroka, Sabago is designed as the base for the missionaries to the Highlands. We stayed in a nice little house and enjoyed warm running water and electricity. I cooked a Spaghetti meal that night since Elizabeth was feeling tired. Showers were much easier and such a blessing that night. πŸ™‚

11th Jan. Elizabeth had a pre-natal appointment at Lapilo for her 5-month along check-up. That was really special to go in and enjoy the ultrasound with them. Special times. πŸ™‚ We then went shopping day and a visit to the Bird of Paradise restaurant. My stomach was bothering me that morning and the pizza we had didn’t help much, so that afternoon I went back to the guesthouse and slept while Jeff and Elizabeth did some more shopping.

12th Jan. We knew that some coworkers were stuck in town until Monday so we planned a restaurant meal with them, and started thinking about a cook-out for Sunday night. There was a grill on the back verandah of the guesthouse. So plans came together, potato salad items were bought, pork chops and chicken breast, salads, chips, baked beans and ice cream were purchased and we got our plans together for some fun food and fellowship.

13th Jan. We had church at Southgate Baptist Sios (Church), we met and fellowshipped with some lovely people and we made our way back to the guesthouse for a soup/grilled cheese sandwich lunch. Naps and resting followed before we got the food and salads put together for our guests, another family staying at Sabago, Ben and Lauren Childs. They’ve just had some health problems and struggles, including a miscarriage and we were glad to include them in our little gathering. Their three girls are so cute and were very entertaining at the dinner table.

14th Jan. Off to the airport to head back to Australia, only the plane from POM was delayed so we ran errands and did some more things in town before my four hours delayed plane left around 2:40pm. Of course I had missed my Brisbane flight, so I would not be able to make my Sydney flight that evening, so Air Nuigini gave me vouchers for Ela Beach Hotel, and meal vouchers. A shuttle took me there, I got settled and called the Owenses from the room. They let the Morgan’s know not to try to pick me up that night and started the ball rolling for someone to pick me up the next day.

15th Jan. Shuttle back to POM airport and got on my new Brisbane plane, and connecting flight to Sydney- on time and no problems. I added up all the expenses that Air Nuigini had to pay for me, they included the 960 Kina (K about half our $) flight changes and 535K room and meal vouchers. They ended up having to pay over 1400 K because of those flight delays. Hm.
Once back in Australia I could call the Morgans to let them know I was back in Oz, and someone from the school was willing to get me from the train. When I landed in Sydney Airport, I got my bags, went through customs and took the train to Revesby. (Mom, we didn’t go to this station, it’s the next one down the line from Padstow, the one we did go to twice.)

So now I’m back, did a laundry and unpacking and planning day yesterday, and now am into school related things.
Thanks for praying, and I was able to rest up, but also do some very interesting things- clean out a school supply closet, see an ultrasound, and fly in a chopper. There are some many other things from this trip, but truly it was an opportunity to see God’s ministry with some dear friends and meet some wonderful people.

Please pray with me for the Childs family, the Owenses family and many other missionaries in PNG. They face village feuds, unfaithfulness of believers, road dangers, culture differences and language differences. Their goal is to strengthen and teach believers and to give out the Gospel and live Christ everyday. There are many needs and difficulties.

Please also pray with me now as I prepare to teach year 5 and 6 (5th and 6th grade) here at the school this school year. I have a little over a week to prepare and organise my classroom and materials. I’m thankful for this opportunity to teach 12 students and I’m praying that I can show them Christ’s love, and help them to learn much about God’s World this year.

In Christ’s Love,

5 thoughts on “Quick Trip, but a Major Adventure to the Bush of PNG

  1. Thank you my Lizzie. So lovely to hear of your experiences and to see the beautiful landscape and the precious faces of the PNG people. I’m sure to hear more as the days go by. Love Always, your Lizzy Mum (Aus) [andTed “MWAH”]

  2. Hi Elizabeth,

    I am Gregory from Maryland, USA. I like your article about your work in PNG very much. I was in Goroka with a mission team between May 4th and and May 11th,2017. We stayed at the Goroka Baptist Bible College. I had a wonderful time doing doing mission work and building housing for future
    missionaries. We visited some of the local church and is please to see how excited the folks were about worshiping God

    One of our host were Bill and Lori Smith. Lori is a nurse who run a medical clinic and Bill is the director the college. I was wondering if they are the same Smith’s you mentioned in your post. We all visited a New Tribe compound little outside of Goroka, I do not remember the name of the area. The New Tribe mission work’s in close corporation with the Goroka Baptist Bible College and it was a privilege to see some of what they are doing. My prayer will be with you with you and if you and your family ever in Washington DC (USA), please let me know. My wife, Brenda and I would love to meet you for dinner.



    1. Hi Gregory, Thank you for reading and for your comment. I hope your trip went well, and you’ve had no follow-up health affects. I don’t think the Smith’s are the same, even though I’m unsure of the first names since they aren’t involved in ministries in Goroka but the village of Kiari. I didn’t meet them, only saw their home. I would like to visit PNG again someday and this time go with my husband. Thank you for the invitation to dinner, however I am unsure when we will be in the States again. -Beth

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