Another PNG Story begins

I’m not a very disciplined writer as you can tell. I had someone email me because they were very concerned that my last post was about a hostile reception in the village of Bunam and then no more – she was just checking I was ok. I do apologise to those who have been following this blog. I know I’d find it frustrating to be drawn into a story only to have it end abruptly. After I wrote the last entry we returned to South Africa to see my husband’s parents who are quite elderly. 4 days after we returned to Perth my mother in law died, so as a family we have had much to deal with…

And now I am recovering from my most recent trip to PNG, 9 days between Madang (Karkar Island) and Wewak. The opportunity to go again came quite suddenly as a contact of mine Wendy Stein, a Rotarian who has been working tirelessly in PNG for the past 8 years, was relocating to Karkar Island to roll out a Family Planning initiative – the Sino II contraceptive implant that lasts for 5 years. It is inserted under the skin of the upper arm. Wendy suggested we travel across and she could train us officially in inserting the implants. We could then introduce them to East Sepik Province beginning with Wewak. Mike Bullard was already going to Madang to spend time with Yabru and some other church leaders and so we piggy backed with him. We are Debbie Butters and myself. Deb came to Bunam in July with me and is also a midwife.

When I booked the tickets I suffered with sudden onset of fear: this trip was going against my normal route of preparation – control, control, control, especially when travelling through a third world country like PNG. Are we crazy going so soon after our latest trip, nothing in Wewak is set in concrete and organised, the tickets are sooo expensive, there’s only 2 weeks before we leave. But amazingly the money came through in donations and selling of sausages at Bunnings and we were able to fully fund the trip which was just wonderful and certainly something to thank God for.

So, on Nov 15 I set off for Brisbane. This time I travelled through the day and had a sleepover with a cousin in Brisbane. I think this made a huge difference to my overall experience in PNG as I wasn’t so tired and emotional this time round. While transiting in Port Moresby I met up with Norah and Omega again, the 2 MOPS Mothers of Preschoolers leaders in PNG. It is always so good to meet with them and hear about what they’ve been up to. We had about 2 hours together.

Whenever we travel we always meet significant contacts while queuing up at the airport. This time was no different. A guy called Mike overheard us mention Wewak and so he introduced himself and said he was heading to Wewak to visit friends associated with Samaritan Aviation. We said, oh yeh we haven’t met Mark Palm yet but we’re meeting him when in Wewak too. This guy Mike was travelling from California and is an engineer. He was going to help SA by surveying a piece of land that had been given to them by the local people next to the airstrip and which they planned to develop as a mission home base for Samaritan Aviation. We spent some time talking with Mike while waiting for our respective flights. It was amazing, but his flight to Wewak got cancelled and he couldn’t get a SIM card for his ‘locked’ phone so was not able to contact Mark, but we were able to help. Deb gave him her phone to use and a SIM card and I was able to give him Mark’s mobile phone number. I got to see Mike again in Wewak which was great – he’d lost a few kilos by then after sweating it out in the jungles of PNG, uncovering Japanese antiaircraft guns, unexploded bombs and bullet remains from the war! He showed me photos and it was amazing. He said there were bomb craters deeper than his height still scattered over the land.

Thankfully our flight to Madang was on time as we had a tight schedule. As I boarded the plane I began to feel slightly anxious again as I was going to an unknown place. I sat back in my seat and looked out the window taking deep breaths. All of a sudden a magnificent rainbow appeared across the sky. It seemed to envelope the whole area and was very clear. The rainbow extended up over our plane and seemed to form a tunnel for us to go through. I started to relax and feel at peace again as I remembered God’s promise to Noah after the flood. New Beginnings, I thought and God is watching over us.



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