Rocky and I were invited as speakers to the first South Seas Evangelical Church missions conference in Yagrumbok on January 19 – 23. We left Wewak around 10AM in the Yagrumbok ambulance that was sent to transport us. It is not unusual here for company or government vehicles to be used to transport people. Unfortunately this car has a unique side to side motion that makes people car sick very quickly, which is ironic for an ambulance!
We arrived at the side road about 6PM. This road was impassable due to slick mud so we removed our sandals and hiked the next hour to arrive at our destination after dark.Many times when we stay in rural areas we sleep in a house made of “bush” materials. Imagine our surprise when we arrived and found out we were staying in a “permanent” house. They even had a mosquito net set up for us to sleep under which is very much needed with the ferocity of multitudes of mosquitoes and the risk of malaria.
The next day we walked down to the church and were welcomed by a “singsing” group. This is the traditional way that Papua New Guineans welcome visitors or important people. Singsing’s are like dramas and they tell a story through song and dance. They usually start with the path being blocked and then opened for you to go through. Most times the welcome tells a story of suspicion and hostility towards outsiders and moves towards an acceptance and welcome.
In some places they will shoot their bows with an arrow in place but not against the bow string. It sure seems like you will be shot! While this group had bows and arrows, they also had spears. I immediately noticed that they had oranges on the tips of their spears as a safety precaution, and I was both reassured and amused.
One funny thing that happened was that Rocky had just told me of one place he had been to where they had actually been “whipped” by small flexible sticks. As we approached the entrance the person on the other side swung a plant that made a huge noise when it hit the ground. I visibly jumped which provided no end of merriment for them! They hit their “kundu” drums, danced, and chanted our way towards the church.
Thanks for reading this far and I’ll share some more about the welcome and the rest of the day in my next post.
More pictures from this part of the journey can be seen below.