From The Home Front - November, 2002
was good to see the pastors once again who recently arrived in Port Moresby
for the organizational services in late December. They told Frank they
left their home at 2:00 a.m. one night to start walking towards Mardia,
where they planned to get a ride to Tari on a public transportation bus.
From Tari, they planned to get a flight on to Port Moresby. Their luggage
consisted of a few small bags that had their Bibles and a few extra clothes
in them, plus they took some cooked sweet potatoes and taro for their food
along the way. They also carried a bag of coffee beans that they wanted
to sell at Mardia or Tari to help pay for their trip. They decided to walk
along the main road since it is a faster route than walking on a bush trail
through the rain forest. However, one of the pastors who was walking barefoot,
had to slow down because the rocks on the road started hurting his feet.
This in turn made them late to Mardia and they missed the bus to Tari.
They thought they were going to have to spend the night there, but they
told the village councilor how they were trying to go to Port Moresby for
a church related event and he decided to help them. A truck that was hauling
coffee came along later that day and the councilor was able to negotiate
a ride for them for the regular bus fare cost. When they got to Tari, they
were told that the planes were full until after the first of next year.
It is the end of the school year here and with the upcoming holidays, flights
are booked out. This was discouraging news to the brethren, but they decided
to show up the next morning anyway and see if they could go as stand-by
passengers. The Lord answered their prayers and their names were called
out to board the plane. They were really happy about being able to get
to Port Moresby safe and sound.
Traveling in Papua New Guinea is not easy, especially in the highlands.
I know I couldn't do what these pastors did. I especially felt sorry for
the pastor who walked barefoot. I have seen that road and it is rough going
with lots of sharp rocks on it. And one other thing that I know I couldn't
do is fit everything I need for a month in one small bag.
Frank heard three really loud bangs at about 4:00 a.m. the other night.
He thought someone was trying to break into our apartment, so he ran and
grabbed the only weapon we have -- a big dowel rod that we use to secure
our balcony doors. When he looked outside, he saw the security guards running
by with their handguns ready and realized the loud bangs were gunshots.
What happened is that several criminals had cut through the razor wire
fence that surrounds our apartment complex and jumped over and were stealing
what they could. The security guards saw them and gunfire was exchanged.
They were able to catch one of the thieves but three others got away.
The mission guys and Frank were working out on the property recently and
they saw a man abruptly jumping out of a vehicle, which then quickly sped
off. They later learned that the man who jumped out was the driver and
in actuality he was being pushed out because his vehicle was being stolen.
Just a few minutes after that, a man who attends the mission and who is
a policeman drove by. He was informed of the incident and went chasing
after the stolen vehicle. We never did hear if he caught the culprit though.
There was also an armed robbery and shoot-out at a bank in the highland
town of Mt. Hagen this past week. The shoot-out lasted for three hours
and killed several people. The town was shut down that day and part of
the next. On the evening news, the police made an appeal to the criminals’
families asking them to give information on their whereabouts and to turn
them in. One of the most frustrating things for PNG policemen (especially
with the highland people) is that the family and friends of these criminals
are afraid of retribution and won't tell where they are hiding or give
needed information to solve the crime.
Last Sunday after church, a young man named Ben came to the door. He is
a member of a "Christian youth group," which is a group of unemployed youths
who claim to be reformed gang members and criminals. They solicit funds
from businesses and residents in their area of the city as a community
watch service. He told Frank that with the school break and Christmas coming
up that there would be a lot of parties and drinking going on, which would
in turn lead to more crime and reveling. He asked him for money to help
out his group and they would in turn keep the other gangs away from our
apartment complex. It reminded us of the Mafia -- pay us and we will make
sure all the other criminals leave you alone. Frank gave him an earful
on the Scriptural reasons why he couldn't give him any money, why Christmas-time
is associated with revelry and violence, and what it means to be a Christian.
I could hear Frank talking from the other room and it reminded me of when
he used to give our boys one of his "lectures." It was kind of funny because
I could tell it wasn't what Ben expected to hear. He listened politely
for awhile but then excused himself to get on about his work of asking
someone else for money.
A friend in Christ,
Sister Cyd James
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