Experiences and stories from the recent Lumi trip are almost as numerous as the miles that were hiked. Looking back, our hearts are filled with gratitude for what was accomplished. Before departure, it seemed like a daunting and overwhelming journey, but God gave grace, strength, health, and knowledge. Awareness was done in thirty-five villages, with further awareness with individuals from four additional villages. Hundreds of miles were hiked on bush trails through rugged mountains, plains and river beds, with no more than minor cuts and sore muscles.
Both SPES teams were flexible as plans did change on occasion. They found places not marked on the map, as well as places on the map that no longer existed. Some places were closer together than anticipated so some days the hiking was shorter, but no one complained about that! Other things didn’t change. Each day they were served a gel-like substance made from the sago palm tree (saksak) and some variety of greens twice a day. Even though there was often wild game seen around the trails, there was almost none to eat. A few tins of peanuts were savored by all! Refreshing water from unripe coconuts (kulau) quenched thirst on numerous occasions.
People were hospitable and shared what they had – whether it was food, a floor to sleep on, stories to understand the community and culture, or their radiant smiles. It was difficult to hear some of their stories. One village had a school that serviced several of the neighboring villages as well. However, about eight years ago, the teacher died unexpectedly and there has been no teacher or school since then. Think about your children or grandchildren not having school for eight years. What would that do to your community or other communities around the area?
None of these communities have God’s talk in their language. Church buildings were seen along the way, but some were dilapidated and overrun with brush. Some had no trained pastors and others were poorly attended. We long for God’s Word to come in a way that will penetrate hearts, change lives, and enable pastors to better share Christ’s love with those around them. Will you pray with us that hearts would be receptive as His Word begins to go to new areas?
Photos by Gary and Sam