Life is crazy busy, and we’ve had the privilege to travel, so I’ve neglected this blog for a while. It’s been since 1 April that I’ve posted – hey, I could claim it’s been a huge April Fool’s joke, right?
Nah – that probably wouldn’t fly. So let me just start with a bit of a travelogue.
On my daughter’s birthday (4 April) I took a drive to Kwikila with our property officer Kei (pronounced Kay). We went to discuss a couple of projects for the DHQ/corps compound there. We met with the DC, Major Vari, and the CO, Capt. Billy George.
We talked about a water tower and water tanks. We organized plans for a new church hall. The corps raised K26,000 on their own, and the funds are being used to prepare the concrete slab and install the posts that will support the hall. Later, when project funding comes through, a mission team will come to put up the walls, install electricity, and add the roof. The hall will make a huge difference for the congregation that meets on the Kwikila compound. We’re praying funding comes through soon so that the project can be completed.
Sandy and I set off for the highlands on 12 April. We flew to Goroka, where she spent a couple of days working with the division’s bookkeeper, and the DC and his wife, retired Majors Lapu and Araga – a lovely couple with sincere hearts and sweet spirits! Sandy provided training on budgeting and finance. I spent time with Major Lapu walking the Goroka compound and talking through some major renovation and construction projects.
We talked about programs and services The Salvation Army provides, determining how best to increase capacity for the school, the motel, and the corps work. Great partnerships are coming together, but much project support will be needed to see that the development of The Army’s work in Goroka flourishes.
On Tuesday the 15th, the DC from Kainantu, Captain Jackson, drove up to Goroka to pick us up and bring us to his DHQ/corps compound. (The truck in Goroka was not capable of making the trip, so we were grateful that the DC was able to come and get us!) I had been told of the extraordinary scenery between Goroka and Kainantu, but the descriptions failed to adequately capture the incredible views we enjoyed. I’m afraid even my photos won’t do the trip justice!
Our agenda in Kainantu was much the same, though Sandy had more training to do since Kainantu not only has the DHQ and corps compound, they also host the SALT College on their grounds, and a second property a short drive across town houses a “Safe Mary House,” for domestic violence, the CHWTS College for training community health workers, and the BNMC conference and training center. I had the pleasure of meeting with the entire DHQ staff to discuss current and future project needs and to dream and brainstorm together.
Thursday, before we left Kainantu, Captain Jackson took us to a cultural center. This visit became one of the highlights of our time here in PNG! We watched a woman make strands of twine from raw wool, and another weaving beautiful blankets and rugs out of those strands of the various natural shades of wool. In another room a few men demonstrated how raw clay was dried, ground into powder, mixed with water, then rested to use on the potter’s wheel.
One man demonstrated the process, in a very few minutes making a simple bowl. They showed us how the newly formed pieces were dried in the shop then dried in the sun, later to be fired, then glazed and fired again. (I’ll blog separately about why this visit was such a highlight for me.)
Thursday afternoon our friends from Ukarumpa came to Kainantu to pick us up. We were blessed to spend the Easter weekend with them on the SIL missionary compound. Jon and Candace Jagt and their beautiful girls Clara and Macy are a young family from Canada we met at a missions prep course in Toronto. We’ve ended up all in PNG, and they graciously shared their home with us for the holiday. It was a relaxing and refreshing time as we visited, slept in, swam in a cold mountain stream, met other young missionaries, and celebrated Good Friday and Easter morning with the many missionary families on the compound.
God blesses us through relationships and new friendships, and we’re so grateful for his allowing us this opportunity to work in this strange and wonderful adventure.