Mission trip: We’re Off. Day 1, 2 & 3.
Getting a family of four boys out the door and ready to jet across the world is really enough of an adventure in and of itself. Would the passports be ready in time (exit and reentry visa’s)? They arrived 36 hours prior to departure. Would the texts and phone call’s stop coming in regard to sick missionaries? In the end, I had to ignore my phone and turn down a flight interior to assess a 80 year old visitor who had a mini stroke. She had travelled there with her husband to be part of the dedication of a newly translated version of the Bible. In the midst of packing we discovered our aggressive female eclectic parrot had a baby male. Will the baby do well with us gone? And so many goodbyes to so many dear friends, even though it is just “for the summer”. The hardest goodbye was to Jan. When will we see her again? We will always be indebted to Jan and Bob for helping us to settle so well in Papua. If it were not for their love and concern and care for us during that first year, who knows how we would be fairing now. And so we boarded the plane with mixed emotions.
Darron met us in Sorong. Always great to be reunited with this dear man whom we call “Dad” and “husband” (well, I don’t really call him “husband” more like “Baby” ; )). He spared us the misery of sleeping in the low budget hotel that he sleeps in when travelling alone and checked us in at the Mariot. Which sounded more lovely then it looked. There were many things that made us cringe, including the rats running around the pool at night. Yet, we were spoiled knowing this was the best option in town.
The next morning our adventure truly began as we set afloat on a 2-3 hour boat ride and then caught another speed boat ride to Raja Ampat. Our plan was to travel straight from the western resort (Papua Diving) to the little village that we are going to work in. The owner of the resort asked us to spend a few nights. Unable to resist a little TLC we agreed to stay two nights and then sleep the rest of the time at the village. We were put in the Eco lodges. A lovely twist of natural materials and Papuan crafts. Complete with comfy beds and romantic mosquito nets. The ocean bay soothingly scoots in and out, lapping under the eco lodge all day and night. Calming one. The coral and fish are like peering into a vast aquarium, only no glass sets the boundaries. Only God who holds the ocean in His hands.
Speed boat to Raja Ampat
The board walk to our Eco lodge
As soon as we had eaten a tasty lunch the pastor was ready with his boat to take us to the village.
We have travelled to hundreds of cities, towns and villages around the world. But never have we been welcomed like we were to this village. As we approached the dock, they signaled to the pastor to wait….while many from the village gathered. As we pulled up onto the beach the native drums were beating and the native flutes were chirping out such a happy welcoming sound. The tradition is to stand in a large pottery bowl like plate and native woven hats were placed on Darron and my heads and we were welcomed. Then after a prayer in the church, the band piped and banged out there happy tune as we were walked to the home we would stay at. Ok, some of us did a little dance on the way. Clearly the local people had taken great effort to make the 27 of us who had descended on their village as comfortable as possible. Many of the people had cleared out rooms in their homes for us to stay in. Including the pastor and his family, which is where we would stay. A simple bamboo hut, no running water. With outhouse out back.
The pastor’s home.
Aubrey and Jacob were prepared with clothes to swim in the aquarium like water. That evening the evangelism meetings began. The church was full. Lovely to hear Pastor Desmond and Darron preach together. They have worked together so much that Pastor Desmond hardly allows any lag time in the translation and it is very smooth to listen too. Where often there is long lag time while the translator is processing the information and then putting it into their words. By 9:30 we were on the pastors boat heading back to our Eco lodge by the light of the moon. We knew that we would need to make the transition soon to live with the people, as this was creating extra work for the pastor.
After enjoying a tasty breakfast and a refreshing nights sleep, we were off again at 8 a.m. to the village. Here we spent 75% of the day in church or doing children’s programs. I think the highlight of the day for me was how thrilled the children and the mothers were with the simple crafts and activities that we had prepared. We had photocopied papers on the days of creation (1-6) and when folded the paper created little pockets marked with days # 1-6. Then there were little pictures of different things God had created on different days that went in the pockets (i.e. sun, moon, flowers, man, woman, animals, seeds, water, etc.). They spent well over an hour coloring all the little pictures and putting them in the different pockets. Also we gave them a very small ball of clay each to represent the world when it was without form and void. Those children played all day long with their clay. Some were even trading it for rubber band around their wrists. We wondered what they would think of silly bands? From 6 months to late teens all the children participated with no eye rolling, or this is boring. I was refreshed by their joy in simplicity.
9 p.m. we head to our Eco lodge. It is over a 30 minute boat ride on a long skinny boat. The pastor is quite experienced in knowing where the coral gets really shallow. A guide sits in front of the long boat with a simple flash light checking for large debris or coral. We fall into bed at 10:00 p.m. tired, sea salty but refreshed after a day of ministry.