On the 24th of February I arrived in Yabru after a 1.5 hour plane ride, a 1 hour hike, and a 2 hour canoe ride. Over the next two weeks I would spend 5 days in a canoe, 3 days hiking, and visit 14 villages in 4 different languages to invite them to an Oral Bible Storytelling workshop in June. None of these languages have any part of God’s Word in their language.
Yabru is close to Indonesia on the Sepik River. There is a small training center and a guest house located there that would become my base of operations for the next 2 weeks. I brought 2 pairs of shorts, a pair of long pants, 3 t-shirts, a pair of sandals, 5kg of rice, a small jar of peanut butter, 5 cans of tuna, 3 packs of instant noodles, and 20 packs of biscuits. It won’t be the tastiest of meals but at least I won’t starve. All the food is packed away in metal pots with lids so the mice don’t get to my food before I do. I also had a cut on the arch of my foot sustained from playing outside with my daughter Abigail. It was a good thing we spent the first week traveling by canoe.
I cooked up a pot of rice and tuna which was pretty bland. I forgot the salt! The air is so muggy and hot that I sweat laying in bed until the rains come and cool it off. In the morning I eat the leftover rice and tuna which had sat on the stove overnight. There is no refrigerator!
We travel up the Sepik river to Hufi in a Kwila (wooden) canoe with a small motor. After 5 hours we arrive and are taken to a house to relax on the veranda. There are some long poles with spikes on the end leaning in a corner for killing crocodiles. I wish I had taken a picture of them. We drink a kulau (the water from the inside of an unripe coconut), have a meeting with the people of the village, and then the food comes. Bowls of cooked bananas, fried sago, fish, hot water sago, and greens. Fried sago kind of tastes like eating a mouthful of cooked flour. Hot water sago is a lump of brown to grey gelatin like substance which you bite off and swallow in chunks. It’s not to bad if you eat it with greens or dip it in the juice from the fish.
After telling stories, I hang up the mosquito net, curl up in a sheet on the hard, uneven floor and sleep till morning. The next three days are similar as we visit 10 villages along the Sepik River.