It’s the day after Easter — at least here on our side of the world! I slept in ’til 7 this morning, and then spent my quiet time with coffee, Bible reading and then some Facebook, and it’s been fun reading all the notes regarding Easter celebrations back home.
Our Easter Sunday was a great day. Major Kelvin Alley, the pro-tem Program Secretary, who’s from Australia, invited us to go along with him and our new CS, Lt. Col. Miriam Gluyas, to visit the Sogeri corps. It’s about an hour-and-a-half drive up into the mountains, very near the start of the famous Kokoda Track. (For WWII buffs, it’s a very significant and sacred place for Australians, as it’s where they beat back the Japanese offensive.) The drive up was beautiful and dangerous. Roads are not great anywhere here in PNG, but going up the narrow pitted “highway” up the side of the mountains was an adventure.
Saw something curious on the trek. We would come around a bend and find a man or a boy standing in the road with a shovel, and pointing to a large pothole that he had just filled with dirt. Apparently they fill a hole near where they live, and then wave down travelers and expect payment for their service. Unfortunately this was new to us, and none of us had smaller bills or coins to give, so we drove on.
The views looking up into the mountains and looking back down the valleys was just spectacular. Mom would have loved it, though she would have been even more vociferous than Sandy regarding the fears about the tiny windy roads! And I had to chuckle to myself as I could almost hear my dad’s voice as we would come upon a gorgeous mountain valley: “Oh, I’d love to ride a horse down through there.”
I’m informed by Kelvin that I used a word that men in Australia would not use: “Gorgeous.” That’s a word women would use, but not men, he tells me. He recognizes that it’s a word American men use, so it stands out to him as starkly unfamiliar.
I had my first “threatening” moment since arriving here, but it was relatively minor. We came to a place Kelvin referred to as “Devil’s Elbow,” and there were about 4 “utes” just pulling out from a small outcropping. As they departed, Kelvin drive in and we parked, getting out to take pictures. As I move around for better angels, I heard someone clear the throat. I turned and saw a shirtless man with an arm propped on a bush knife, just sitting amongst some rocks. I said “Hi” and turned back to taking pictures. I started to move toward the pinnacle for the best pictures, when the man spoke: “No. I’m looking out for this area.” I said “Okay, thanks,” thinking he was just giving me a friendly warning about the edge of the cliff, and took another step. More loudly he said, “NO! Go back,” and waved his arm toward the parked car. I didn’t argue. We got in the car and left.
We arrived in the tiny village of Sogeri, and it seems quaint, rather clean, well kept. It’s only a few scattered houses and huts along the main road, and a marker for the Kokoda Track at a fork in the road that leads up toward the Sogeri fellowship. We turned up that road, which became dirt with a little bit of gravel, and high brush right up to the roadside. We wound through this tiny path for about half an hour and came to the Salvation Army property. There’s a hand-lettered sign announcing “The Salvation Army” that welcomes people to the fellowship. It has a picture of William Booth drawn on it.
The officers quarters sits on the top of a rise, and just beyond is the health facility — just a small building. On the front side of the steep hill, the hall sits on a small flat space. The view is really spectacular! On down the hill are other small buildings. A fairly new one is the school. Others are homes and farm buildings. The Army used to run an offender program where men would be assigned to work the farm to gain skills rather than go to jail. Now, the farm is just used for subsistence, by the officers and soldiers who live on the land.
The tiny hall was packed, with many children sitting on the floor in the front. We were squeezed tightly onto benches. In spite of the tiny space, those who spoke or led singing used a microphone, turned to full volume! That’s very common here. PA systems are only used at full volume, and even then, most often they use their “open-air” voices to sing and speak.
The service was beautiful, and with the words printed in a program, we sang along on familiar Easter hymns. Once we knew the tune, we were able to sound out the pidgin words to make them fit. There was a good message about the meaning of the cross, and at the end of the service, three adults went forward to pray. The meeting only lasted about two-and-a-half hours.
During the service, there was a grandmother with a tiny girls sleeping in her lap, seated just in front of us. The girl awoke, and I got a photograph of the most beautiful face, with huge incredible eyes. Then she discovered that we didn’t look like the others she was used to seeing, and every time she saw me, her little face would screw up in terror and she would wail.
After the service, we toured the property, took lots of pictures, then changed our shirts and shoes and drove about 20 minutes to the start of the Kokoda Track. It’s pretty incredible, and we only went a short distance down the narrow steep trail for some pictures, and then headed home. The camera got a real workout on the trip. I expended both batteries, and resorted to shooting a few with my iPhone at the end! I’ll post some favorites soon — perhaps later today.
It’s a lazy Monday, though we’re going to try to get some personal business done, and then I’m going to pick up the TC and TPWM at the airport upon their return from the Solomon Islands.
Sent from my iPad
Follow our mission in PNG at