I’ve been back in Australia since Sunday night from the most incredible trip to the remote village of Yamen in Papua New Guinea with my friend and fellow nurse, Lyn and Mike, team leader and pastor extraordinaire. Unfortunately I ate a meat pie in Port Moresby airport on Sunday and got food poisoning – vomited violently throughout the flight from Cairns to Perth and then was admitted to hospital here in Perth with severe dehydration and diarrhoea!! I’m still feeling a bit whoosy and suffering with stomach cramps and of course I also feel a bit weird being back in the big smoke again. It’s as if I’ve been abducted by aliens, taken to a planet elsewhere, dropped there for a while and now plucked back to Earth again…
I used to write ‘remote village’ not really knowing where we were going and how far it was, BUT I now know! It is a very very far away place. It is really really remote. Even the people in villages closest to the town of Angoram (which in my books is also remote) said Yamen was in the ‘bush’! So that is the first thing that hit me as we reached Yamen – it is really far away from anywhere, in particular from Perth, Western Australia!
I have experienced so many things in such a short time. It will take time to process them all and then share them. Writing will be good. I find myself dreaming about being back there in the village waking up to the crying baby or the fighting maingy dogs. I actually haven’t ventured out of the house yet. I’m coccooned here for now, letting the experiences, pictures in my head, words spoken, prayers offered, wash over me. I keep looking at my photos and reliving the moments, the expressions on people’s faces, the sounds. I also keep thinking of the future and what to do to further help the women in the villages. I have a vison in my head and so I keep praying that God will give me further clarity and direction for this vision. I know He will, in His perfect time.
I’m so thankful for what I have experienced. It wasn’t easy. Getting to Wewak, the capital of East Sepik Province was a trek and a half. By the time we got to the hotel we were tired, hot, dirty and suffering with culture shock. In the Lonely Planet Guide they described Wewak as a beautiful beach paradise and that the hotel was neat and clean. Our experience was opposite! Fires were burning everywhere, there was no beach in sight, there was an aire of aggression around the town. I had my sunglasses stolen from my backpack at the airport (funny, I did bump into some people I know – parents of friends who are long term missionaries in PNG!). The hotel was gloomy, the airconditioner didn’t work and there was no running water. Both Lyn and I couldn’t help ourselves and we started to cry. We were desperately trying to be strong and not show our weakness to Mike, our team leader, and the 2 men, Yabru and John, who were our hosts, but we couldn’t stop ourselves. The tears welled and came from deep within our souls. We were feeling overwhelmed and wondering what on earth had possessed us to think that we could leave our families behind and travel to PNG! I remember thinking “what made you think you could do this Sara! How foolish! You thought you were tough, but you’re weak!”. I also was thinking that Mike would be regretting bringing us, blubbering women who were now showing their true weakness!
But, Yabru, being the wise man of strong faith spoke so gently to us and encouraged us. He thanked us for leaving our families behind to bless the women in the villages. He told us that no other mission people had journeyed this far before and that he knew that we would make a huge difference to their lives. He said that the effects would be rippling and we would not see them, but long after we leave the village, he and the other locals would see the difference. I felt overwhelmed and humbled by what he said. He then prayed for us, for our families back in Australia and the journey ahead the next day. It was truly an amazing and holy moment.
Back in the hotel room (aka sauna) Lyn and I hugged each other and at that moment I knew why God had made it possible for her to be there with me. I felt overwhelmed with gratitude to my Heavenly Father who knows my every need and supplies my every need.
Lyn and I then thought we were clever and opened the fridge door to provide ‘refrigerative airconditioning’. Alas we learned the next day that doing that actually exaccerbates the heat in the room!!!! How silly.
After a restless and hot night of broken sleep (loud shouting and banging from the street outside our window) we were woken up at 4am and then left on our car journey to the Sepik River town of Angoram. We slept quite a bit in the 4 wheel drive and really the car journey was not bad at all – only 1 flat tire and I didn’t have to repair it. Lyn and I were feeling calmer and were enjoying the scenery – misty mountain vista, jungle and brightly coloured birds floating by every now and again. There are 7 bridges to cross before Angoram and that was fun counting them. We even named a golden parrot the ‘Golden 7 Bridges Parrot’ because the locals didn’t have a name for it. The road trip took 3 hrs exactly…