“Carolyn is putting on a Jesus Film showing and tech talk overnight at Simeon’s village on Friday,” Dad announced.
‘Overnight?’ The Jesus film was always shown late, after dark, but usually just meant getting back to our beds around midnight, not actually sleeping at the showing site.
Grace looked my way. I knew exactly what was running through her mind; I was thinking it, too.
Go watch our short video of the trip!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hsI8X8wem6o&t=20s
This was an exceptional chance. Usually any overnight trips were to remote places and made by smaller groups of just the guys, being either inappropriate or unsafe for us girls to tag along on. Grace, even more so than I, wanted to experience a village for more than just a day trip. While Dad and Jonathan had had opportunities, we had lived for two years in Papua New Guinea without ever sleeping overnight a village.
And here was a group outreach heading out this weekend to a nearby place, one of our staff’s own villages!
We discussed the trip as a family over dinner. “We don’t get these chances very often,” said Dad.
Grace agreed, “I mean, this is what we came here to do! We don’t want to stay in town the whole time.”
‘In fact, with only a year left, we may not even get another opportunity before we leave, the rate we’ve been going!’ I thought. Now we were over two-thirds of the way through our term, I was becoming more and more aware of the adventures we wanted to have here before I was off to university in the States.
Dad had to be on radio duty that weekend, however, monitoring CRMF’s emergency channel during the office’s off-hours. He was out of the outreach.
The day just before the proposed trip, Mom and Sarah came down with a cold that had been going around. They were both out as well.
In the end, Grace, Jonathan, and I joined the CRMF team heading down to Fifix in the Ketarobo area, the village of one of our electronic mechanics.
“…the Feka family is going, the Ruruks are going, Nancy is going, it will be so much fun…”
Surprised at the number of staff Grace listed who had jumped at the chance to be a part of this outreach, I realized we weren’t the only ones longing for some fresh air out of town.
Friday afternoon we quickly put together our overnight bags, ready to leave at 4:30 when the CRMF office closed for the weekend.
Surprisingly on time, a fifteen-passenger van swung in front of our compound gate with a honk.
“They’re here! Come on, Jenny!”
I rushed from my room to the front yard.
Grace, Jonathan, and I stepped through the gate and towards the van, where we attempted to squeeze our sleeping bags and large container of filtered drinking water into the already people and luggage crammed space.
After travelling for fifteen minutes down the rutted highway, we turned onto a gravel road leading into a grove of coffee trees. Before us was the river. The laughing, chatting group of staff and us exited the van, removed our shoes, and began carrying cargo to the riverside. Now how to get our amplifiers, computers, projector, microphone, and other gear across?
As we watched, several mangi (young men and boys) drifted toward us on inner tubes. Once they reached us, they began piling all our equipment onto rods laid across the inner tubes and taking it down stream. Then we were piled on, too. I straddled one leg around the width of the massive semi-truck inner tube along with Grace and several others in the group. While we rode the swift current to the lower drop off point, one of the young men steered our tube by swimming in the water behind it. After several trips, everything and everyone made it across, without once taking a dip in the river!
We carried our equipment, with a lot of help from Simeon’s relatives, to the village. Emerging from the short forest path, we stepped onto a small, grassy green. Bees and butterflies buzzed around the tropical flowers decorating this beautiful place, and a cluster of kunai (woven grass walls and thatched) houses sat at the end of the green.
‘This has got to be one of the most beautiful villages I’ve seen!’
Adults, pastors, and their grinning children came up and warmly greeted us. After we dumped our baggage inside of their large kunai prayer house, the youth and pastors welcomed us with a sweet ceremony of singing, tambourine playing, and encouraging words. I watched, fascinated, as the girls swirled and beat their tambourines, decorated with streamers, in time to the music–their playing was just as much a dance as a musical performance.
Back in the prayer house hot food awaited us. Our hosts had filled up the table with cooked bananas, vegetables, fruits, and sweet potatoes, not to mention the delicious fire roasted chicken. After stuffing ourselves, laughing, and talking, we got ready to show the movies.
Youth and local villagers gathered on top of the massive tarp spread out on the ground as we began to play short videos. Uncle Caine encouraged the youth in their walk with God in between the videos and explained more about their messages. When we got to God’s Chisel Skit, created by the Skit Guys, people laughed a lot. Yet as we looked at them, we also saw that they were soaking in every word.
After the short videos, we started the Jesus Film around 9:00 p.m.. The light from the projector pierced through the darkness, illuminating the children’s faces as they stared at the movie projected on the large white piece of cloth.
“This must be the part when Jesus calms the storm!” one child exclaimed excitedly to the girl sitting beside her.
Though the film didn’t finish until a little after 11:00, young children were still sitting in rapt attention on the cold ground until the end. Many in our group, however, were fighting to keep our eyes open; it had already been a long day of school and work.
We quickly dismantled the projector and sound equipment, then went back to the prayer house as the villagers made their way to their homes. Some of us fell to sleep right away; others stayed up, storied, and sang worship songs. Exhausted, I drifted to sleep to the crackling of the fire, watching the smoke eddy and pool high in the slanted, thatched roof of the house, before exiting.
In the morning there was more food! Several women had made banana bread over a fire and it tasted wonderful.
“A fire?” I had to make sure I had heard correctly; roasting or boiling was one thing, but baking over coals must take true talent!
As the large kettle over our own fire began to steam, we each poured a mug of the instant Nescafe the village had kindly provided. Cupping my mug in my hands, I blew on the steam and relished my first morning cup of joy in an actual village.
Around 9:00 a.m., we started our technology talk. Grace spoke on the disadvantages and advantages of technology, encouraging the youth to use platforms such a Facebook as a positive way to reach others. Caine Ruruk shared about what happens when one allows something like pornography into their life and how it can take over. Sadly, with the new access to technology, both beneficial and harmful content is entering PNG, without much education on how to wisely navigate it.
After the talk came the fun part. A large crowd quickly formed as we set up a volleyball net, and a small tournament soon formed, with Jonathan, Grace, and I split up between different teams.
To soon it was time to leave. All the young boys helped us carry our gear to the river’s edge, then started loading it up again on the inner tubes. This time most of us decided to swim down to the pick-up point. The sun was hot and the river refreshing; we splashed right along with the kids. While the cargo was being taken down in trips, Grace, I, and a group of the young girls made our way along the bank, just to be able to float down the current one last time together.
Tired but happy, our group squished our damp selves into the fifteen passenger bus between our equipment and several live chickens, a thank you gift from the village. As the van pulled in front of our compound, we grabbed our backpacks and chicken, then waved goodbye. It pulled away, ready to drop off the rest of the tired CRMF group.
As we stepped into the cool house, Mom greeted us cheerfully, “How was it, guys?”
We slumped into chairs, rambling off as many details as we could remember. It had been a wonderful weekend.
Please pray that God would continue to water the seed we planted in the youth and others of Fifix who saw the Jesus Film and heard the talks. Also pray as CRMF tries to meet the need for positive technological influences and fights the spreading of pornography in Papua New Guinea, one of the projects Grace is currently majorly involved in.
Some of our CRMF Team