I’m afraid I left you all hanging with my last blog post. So let me continue the journey with you.
Saturday 12 October
Afio – government substation for the southern region of Malaita province, nestled at the southern mouth of the passage between small Malaita and the main island. The Phoenix turns up the passage at this point, by-passing the eastern side of the island and Sa’a village. So we disembark at Afio to meet up with Richard, the Chief Education Officer for Malaita Southern Region, and get a canoe to Sa’a. Richard has to attend a funeral today, so we are here until Sunday morning.
There’s not much to Afio; a few government buildings, a disused market hall, and a couple of guest houses are tucked in-between the shoreline and a steep cliff. Up the hill a bit is a small hospital and a few houses for its staff. Further up are a few more houses for the substation workers, and a mobile phone tower.
The guest house has screens on the windows, but nobody has informed the mosquitos of this. So I’m glad I brought my mosquito net. There is no power grid. The guest house has a small solar system and the owners also fire up a small generator occasionally when there is no town water pressure or to run the lights when it’s been cloudy.
I manage to make a few calls back to Martha in Honiara, and send a few texts back and forth. But coverage is very spotty due to the steep cliff, and I have trouble maintaining a connection even when the signal is strong.
Yes, the modern conveniences are coming, but it’s still a bit “hit or miss”.
‘m sitting in the MAF (Mission Aviation Fellowship) hangar in the capital city. My boss and I left the hotel where we were staying about 4 am. Tim is still there for another day of meetings before he travels to Melbourne for meetings on Thursday.
When we arrived in Port Moresby after an hour and half flight from Cairns. A vehicle and driver from the office here picked us up. We were expecting to be taken to the hangar right away for the flight to the highlands where Ukarumpa, the home of SIL in Papua New Guinea is located. But we were told our flight was delayed until this afternoon so we traveled to the SIL office here in Port Moresby.
When we arrived at the office, Jim and MIchelle, the office manager and his wife were preparing to go to the US Embassy to attend an election function. Apparently it was an opportunity to meet with other Americans and watch the results come in. Before they left I had an opportunity to chat with Michelle who handles public relations. It was great to meet her and to learn more about what was happening in the country and offer the help of our Pacific Area office.
I also had the opportunity to meet the office staff. These employees provide services such as finances and PNG visa and work permit applications. I was able to get information on how we will obtain a student visa for Sarah so that she can live and attend school at Ukarumpa next year when we return to the South Pacific.
We were planning on meeting with the head of the PNG Bible Translation Association next week, but now that we had time this morning, we took the opportunity to meet with David Gela, director of BTA and Steven Thomas who is responsible for church relations.
Tim and I know David and Steven from the years we lived in PNG and it was delightful to have this opportunity to chat together over mugs of PNG coffee.
The topic of our discussion was upcoming meetings in February of 2013 in the Solomon Islands. The Pacific Council of Churches meeting that is held every four years will be hosted in Honiara. This will be an outstanding time for our Bible translation partners in the Pacific to talk to church leaders about the translation work that is being done around the Pacific and the 462 languages in the Pacific that are still without translations.
Solomon Islands Bible Translation and Literacy Programme have requested the opportunity to host these leaders for an evening meal and program designed to educate these church leaders about the remaining needs in the Pacific. We discussed ideas for the venue, program and things that could be given to the church leaders to better equip them to share about the need for Bible translation as they return to their homes scattered across the Pacific.
As we drove around town it was fun to see signs of the recent visit of Prince Charles and Camilla. Apparently Prince Charles included some Tok Pisin in his speech – much to the delight of Papua New Guineans. He announced in Pijin that he is, ‘namba wan pikinini blong Mrs. Kwin’ (number one child of Mrs. Queen). Wish I could have been here to hear the crowd’s response to that!
Now we are at the hangar waiting for the last passenger to arrive so we can board the JAARS flight on a Kodiak which will take us to Ukarumpa. Oh, and our pilot today took me back a few years too. When we first adopted Emily he was working in the Philippines and we stayed with him and his wife the first 3 nights after picking up Emily. Now he lives and works here in Papua New Guinea. That was a fun re-connect.