SGBM –PNG mission report (# 23)
Date: 19th March 2012
Dear Pastor, Church, and Supporters;
(Ps 127:1) “Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.”
20th September 2011 (Tuesday)
0500 hrs the day started for me, the candles were lit, the wood stove had already been fired by 0400 hrs and was hot enough for the making of the coffee and some fried sweet potato chips. As Hepe was assisting with kitchen duties, I spent some time making sure that certain items were in my own backpack, i.e., salt, the water bottles, etc… that would be an easy reach during the hike. Today’s journey would take us deep into the Duna Tribesmen and even further according to our scheduled program.
In the Tropics many folks who are not accustomed to the climate oftentimes make the mistake of under estimating the body’s expulsion of body fluids, in different ways. Thus creating a recipe for dehydration and muscle cramps, this is quickly remedied in the bush with salt, water, and honey. When ascending mountains and the altitude climbs most folks think that because it’s cooler in temperature, they are not perspiring much. I have learned to listen to me own body and give it what it needs, when it needs it, especially in the bush.
We had our coffee, and some breakfast to start our day; the men who had accompanied us on the other patrols were all there and eager to start the day. I assigned the cargo to each carrier; we discussed the route, as there are three different ways to cross the mountain ridges in going where we were headed. We had our prayer for the morning, locked up the house and set off for what would become a long hard day.
After the first thirty minutes of hiking along the main road, we then diverted off the main road into the bush and within a few meters we were crossing a river over a log bridge and immediately the mountain in front of us greeted us. Only one direction to go and that was up, the climb continued as the minutes passed by, rising in elevation quickly. After the first three hours of nearly straight up we finally came to a clearing where we could view the valley we had departed from earlier, the clouds had not yet ascended and were lazily covering much of the rain forest below. With the air crisp, temperature cooler and our bodies heated from the hiking it was time to replenish some of the fluids, which had already been lost. At this altitude it is not good to linger and after a short break, we pushed on. The kilometres clicked behind us, and the hours ticked away as we wound our way through these jungles. I was reminded of the days when my father would hike these same mountains, and trekked through the same rivers, and swamps to take the Gospel to a people whom had never even heard of Jehovah. I recalled in my memory how at times he would take the family, me Mum and the children (five of us) to the same area where we were hiking to now. As my mind was stayed upon the thoughts of those days I began to think, the Gospel really is not free. The Gospel cost our LORD, HIS life; it cost men who are called by GOD, to preach it, and many times in that going to preach there is a high cost, both in terms of financial and physical means. We are saved [by GOD’S GRACE] Amen! We are saved through [Faith] believing what the Gospel is; but it is [NOT FREE]. The Saviour of men has given HIS life, it cost HIM, everything; HIS messengers [preachers] it cost them a great sacrifice to preach the [Truth]; and those who are truly saved, will [cost] them again in their lives to stand for this same [Truth]. However, in the light of eternity what will this sacrifice mean, whereby (2Co 5:11) “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.”
Our descent of the first mountain ridge, we crossed a second river and then started climbing the second mountain ridge. A few more hours passed, with our water depleted we came to a mountain stream and took a small break filling our water containers. The Natives took their turns washing off with the cold mountain water to cool off. We had some of our sweet potatoes; water, with salt and honey. The day wore on and as we topped the third mountain ridge we were able to view the valley below which, would bear witness to a people whom had been preached to long ago, and taught Baptist doctrines. At times it was difficult to stay upright due to the grade of the mountain, however we managed and soon we reached the bottom where we hiked out the last thirty minutes of the day on a stone/ dirt (mostly mud) road.
We arrived at Tabiya Bap Church, where we would pitch our tent and spend the next few days in a Revival meeting with these folks. It had been a long day indeed; we were tired, hungry, but mostly needed to just bath and change clothes. After the normal greetings and welcome we began to set up camp, as it would not be long till the rains would set in.
Water was fetched and put onto a fire to heat for bathing, and food was being prepared for the evening meal. There was not much daylight remaining, the day was far spent and soon nightfall would be upon us. The twelve miles we had hiked seemed much further due to the slower pace, which we kept for my wife, however I give her much credit for enduring the hike and finishing the course up to this point.
We ate our dinner in the bush house with the men as there was more room to sit and easier to eat. At 2100 hrs we were calling it a day, had our prayer of thanksgiving and switched off the headlamps. The rains continued as we fell asleep, it did not take much persuasion to be satisfied with a simple sleeping bag. We needed no sleeping aids, or medication, we had received the best sleeping aid that one may receive so long as they are healthy, and that is simply a good hard day’s work for the human body as GOD so ordered with the curse of sin.
21st September 2011 (Wednesday)
Our day started at 0600 hrs, I had the coffee ready and some breakfast for my wife and I, and then I met with the Pastor (Bro. Ayane), this man, seems to be as old as the hills, he also was a young man when my Father came through back in the early years of the 60’s. The LORD saved this man, called him to preach and he has been faithful all these years. For many years he was pastor of two Baptist churches, but due to his age and the difficulty of hiking he has been restricted to one church.
We went over the program and he wanted me to know that they had planned for me to stay all week in a Revival, but he did not know how long they would be able to keep us due to the shortage of food from their gardens. I told him that we would stay as long as the food was available and then when it ran out, we would move on so as not to be a burden to him and his people ‘regarding the food issue’. However, I did tell him that I did not believe GOD had sent me there for a service or two and that I believed we would make it through the week.
We started the services that day at 0900 hrs and with the house packed out we had a wonderful service, there was a break for about an hour and then we resumed again for another service that day. They would have stayed for another service but due to no lighting conditions the folks were forced to return to their homes.
The day ended and we all felt like we had been blessed to worship together in the LORD. We finished out the day with our evening meal and spent some time fellowshipping with the pastor and some of the older men who were members of the church.
22nd through 25th September 2011 (Thursday – Sunday)
The Revival meeting carried on through the week, we had several visitors from other denominations, which attended, there were several Tribal leaders, and government officials who came to attend the services. The LORD blessed in the meeting as one lost soul was won to Christ, and seven excluded members repented and asked to be received back into the fellowship of the church. I had preached twelve times in this short span that I was given and though it was physically tiring, the spiritual benefits were worth all the physical demands. The church voted to authorize me to do the baptizing for them, so we walked a short ways to the water and performed the baptism.
26th September 2011 (Monday)
This day would end the Revival meeting with a traditional Mumu to honour the guests, but most of all to honour the LORD with a free-will offering. Though it would not be a service as in preaching, most of the church members would congregate for visitation and fellowship with us in a relaxed atmosphere.
I rose at 0400 hrs to go with the Pastor, his daughter, and wife in order to view a pig, which I had bought back in 2009 for fifty dollars and they had raised for this very purpose. In tune with the PNG customs, the owner of the pig, the one who reared it sit together and agree on what to do with it. We agreed that this was the purpose for which it was procured and now was the time to put things into motion. The pig (hog) was led slowly to the site where the Mumu would take place, some of the men who were in our group assisted us in this act of killing the hog. The Huli’s have their way and so too the Duna’s have their way as well.
I would become one of the main characters that day in officiating the cutting up of the meat, the selection of what went to who, and how much. This position is one that is given in great honour and the men will take note how you direct to cut and serve the meat. As time wore on and the pigs were cut up the rocks were heated, others were bringing in fern leaves, greens, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, fresh maize, other foods etc… then the pit is prepared and the food is sandwiched between hot rocks and steamed for one to two hours.
We took this time to discuss the work with the people, and address some questions of concern that the people had.
I spent most of my time rehearsing the history of the work, and what GOD had been doing in my life for the past sixteen years in Africa. Soon the time came for the food to be taken out and so it was, and then came the task of cutting up the meat and distributing to those who were seated for the banquet.
The day ended with a wonderful time of fellowship and I felt the LORD had used me in a great way to encourage the folks at this church. We ended the day and the meeting with the men playing their guitars and singing into the night about our LORD.
To be continued…
Missionary Peter A. Halliman