Actually, it was planes, feet, and canoes that carried us to and from the most recent Oral Bible Story Telling Workshop in Yabru. Tuesday, we returned to Wewak after nearly three weeks in the village. The small Kodiak plane flew us one hour to the Green River airstrip. Yabru airstrip was closed due to excessive amounts of water, so Green River was the next closest option. Along with many men, women, and children, we trekked and carried the cargo from the airstrip for nearly an hour to the canal where we caught a small canoe that took us to Yabru. After another hour and a half, we arrived at the Abau Training Center in Yabru.
The team welcomed us and showed us where each person would sleep during our stay. The staff and trainers were situated among three houses. When the participants arrived, they would then be allocated to another three houses. It is highly advised for each person to sleep under a mosquito net as the mosquitoes are prevalent day and night. We began giving the participants mosquito coils to burn in the evening while they worked by light from the kerosene lamps. Without screen on the windows, mosquitoes can be vicious.
Each day four ladies came to cook for those in the course. Stoves heated by firewood were used to heat the water for tea and dishes, as well as other cooking needs. Due to frequent rains that destroyed gardens, there was little variety in the food, but there was always food to eat. The staple of those in the Yabru area is saksak. Saksak comes from the pulp of the sago tree and can be mixed with water to make a gelatin like substance or can be fried like a fat tortilla. Greens harvested from a variety of trees and bushes are also used as their main vegetable. This was eaten every evening along with either fresh fish or tin meat. They have both small ‘bone’ fish as well as a much larger ‘bolt cutter’ fish. The bolt cutter has a lovely flavor to it. In the morning, rice, greens, and tin meat were the fare of choice. Some days we also had some variety of crackers and other days, fresh buns were served. As there are no stores nearby, we carried in the store goods including rice, flour, sugar, milk powder, salt, oil, crackers, and a few other things.
Although it was a much different scenario, we were so thankful that God allowed us to be there and to begin to give training to language groups where no work has been done before. We are excited to hear reports in the future of how the stories from OBS have been shared and the impact they are having.
Written by Deb Smucker, Photos by Gary Abbas