With excitement and a certain amount of anticipation, Gary and Sam are preparing to begin a fifteen day trek around the Plama area of the Lumi district in Sandaun province November 25. Heading out, they expect to visit nearly two dozen new villages between the two of them. Gary has already visited a few of the villages in the area on a previous hike in August. In talking with a couple Papua New Guineans who will serve as guides, the hikes will be very challenging. From the ups and downs of the steep mountains, to walking through the river beds, many surprises await them.
Because of the remoteness of the area, most of these groups do not know that a team is coming to talk with them. After several hours of hiking, the teams hope to find the right people in the villages, including but not limited to, active village and church leaders. Because most of the people are subsistence farmers, there is a good chance that the teams will have to wait until late afternoon or early evening to have a big enough group to have the needed discussions.
The trip will have many facets:
- talking about who SPES is and how we may be able to help
- beginning to establish relationships with key people in the villages
- listening to them share about their needs and desires
- finding out about the vitality of the language through participatory activities
- spotlighting Oral Bible Storytelling (OBS) through an actual story as well as how OBS can help them
- capturing short word lists to see how closely each village is related to those in the surrounding areas
This venture will take a team of people to make it happen – from the veteran missionary who gave Gary and Sam a crash course on simple ways of taking a word list so that the sounds are depicted consistently, to the SIL helicopter pilot who will drop the teams off to begin their adventure, to the primary guides who are also a crucial part of our OBS trainer team, to those who will help carry cargo, to the communities the teams will meet in each place, to someone in each village who will show the way to the next village (there aren’t signs or road maps to get from place to place), to the pilot from another mission who will bring them back to Wewak on December 10, to the many who are praying for this trip to be fruitful and injury free. We are thankful for each part of the team who are vital to see this work move forward.
Even though the hikes hold many unknowns, we rest in the fact that God sees the whole trip already and knows how everything will happen. We also know that He will go ahead of the team and prepare the way each day.