Last weekend our family took the opportunity to visit the village of Mamit. MAF supports the work that is being done in this village by the missionaries Wes and Esther Dale, the teachers of the Lentera Harapan School (sister school of Sekolah Papua Harapan), and the doctor and nurse working at the clinic (sponsored by a major hospital in Jakarta and a Jakarta businessman with a heart for Papua). It was an amazing experience for us to visit for the weekend and see the work that is being done in Mamit and how great the need is for more help there.
We began our stay by visiting the Lentera Harapan School. I will blog about that in a separate post.
Later in the afternoon I had the privilege of speaking on parenting to the parents of the students of the Lentera Harapan School. Most of the people in the village don’t really understand Indonesian so my words were translated from Indonesian into the local language of Western Dani. Four years ago this language group received their very first full Bible in their mother tongue. So when you think about it, they’ve only had the world’s best parenting book for four years. I hope and pray that the parents remember just one thing that I spoke about and try to apply it to their lives and children. I feel for these folks, it wasn’t that long ago that their ancestors were living in complete darkness. I spoke with missionary Wes Dale about the difference the Gospel has made for these people. His own father was killed while bringing the Good News to these people and he said, “Was my fathers life worth it? Yes, yes it was. There has been such a change in the lives of the people here.” That being said, there is still much for them to learn. I urge you to pray for these people as they learn and grow in knowledge of their Lord and Maker and what it means for their lives.
The next day we went for a hike around the mountain. It was humbling to pass the simple, well cared for homes of the people, some of them so remote. As we walked a group of village children hopped and skipped alongside us hooting to their friends down in the valley. At one point an older man also joined us. He spoke a little Indonesian and was keen to tell us what he knew. We shared some snacks with our new friends part way through our walk. Not having many teeth with which to open his chocolate bar, the older man used his machete.
We attended the church service at the Bible school. All the women wore nokens on their heads which they removed during prayer. The women sat with their husbands and a female friend on the other side. They sat on the floor in rows facing each other. We sat against the back wall. The people sang in their own traditional way. They sing stories from the Bible which is the way of their story-telling tradition.
Late Sunday afternoon I spoke again on parenting to the Bible school students. Again my words were translated into Western Dani. The man who translated for me is amazing. He not only translates, but he interprets. He really made sure the people understood what I meant.
Hugo and the kids played lots of Frisbee on the runway with the local kids. They loved it! I loved watching groups of them chasing the rolling disk as it bounced its way down the runway. Hugo and the kids also checked out the hydro-electric system that Wes has set up for the village giving them power and also now powering a cellphone tower.
This village is quite remote. If the plane wasn’t an option, a person would have to hike four hours (local people speed, 6 hours white person speed) to the next village over. Then from there you could take a motorcycle a number of hours to another village and from there you could get in a pickup truck which would take you to Wamena. From there you could take a commercial flight to Sentani. And one person can’t carry much so this isn’t a viable option when trying to run a school or a clinic. As we visited the school and the homes of the missionaries and teachers, I was always reminded of the fact that everything they had was brought in by an MAF airplane. The plane usually comes about once a week. There isn’t much meat available and only a few vegetables so the folks working there are very happy when the plane comes and brings eggs, green vegetables and rice. We brought in pizza and cold cokes for Friday night and chicken and vegetables for Saturday’s dinner. It gave us great joy to bless the folks there in this small way. They are hero’s of ours. The stories they told us moved me immensely. Just a couple years ago there was a war in the village. The entire thing was started by an accusation of suanggi after a young woman (who was actually suffering from an STD) died. If you remember, just a couple posts ago I talked about how that belief is still alive and well here. There were 700 warriors in the village and a number of people were killed before things were resolved. Wes played a big part in helping resolve things. He broke arrows and stood bravely in front of the people. MAF also brought in some pastors to help with the peace talks.
On Sunday a young girl had broken her arm. The doctor, who was already busy helping a woman who had delivered her placenta two days after the birth of her still-born baby, and a woman with very high fevers and abdominal pain, set the arm as best he could and splinted it with crudely cut wood and strips of cloth. The next morning both women who had been ill were able to go home on their own steam and the girl came out on our flight with a family member to help her get x-rays.
This village is only one hour and fifteen minutes by Cessna Caravan from Sentani but it is another world. We are so thankful that we as a family had the opportunity to get a glimpse into life in this other world. Please remember in your prayers the folks who are working so hard to help the people of this village. Their job is absolutely overwhelming.