What a wonderful time we had!
We took a group of new missionaries who are looking to the Lord for direction to where He wants them to serve Him to look at the Benabena area. We packed three adults and three boys into our small Suzuki and headed off up the Benabena River. There was Paul Swenson and his three boys in the back seat, Craig Noyes and I (David) in the front. We started from Lapilo, went around to Katagu and saw Buka. We then headed on up to Heti’s place and spent some time with him and Janet. From there we went on up to Koropa where we had lived for 8 years and where the people built us a small house. On the way up Craig asked me, “In your opinion where would be the best place to locate?” I said, “Well, I am biased.” He said, “But you are also experienced.” Then I said that we have established a good relationship with the people at Koropa which will be helpful, but that doesn’t rule out looking at other areas too. I didn’t want to put any pressure on them to locate at Koropa or even in the Benabena area.
From Koropa we went on up the river. The further we went up the worse the road got until I wondered how much further we would be able to go. But our little Suzy took it in its stride. At Liolofa we stretched our legs for a bit. Almost all of the Liolofa population is across the river with just a tree fallen across the river for a bridge. One of Paul’s boys wanted to try out the “bridge” so he scrambled down the bank and walked across the log. But when he tried to come back he found that the log was sloping down which made it a lot harder so he tried wading across. He got halfway and found the water flowing fast and deep and realized that he would probably be washed down the river. But he was able to get across further up. Liolofa was one of our areas of interest because of the large population but by that time of the day we wouldn’t have found anyone at home. Everyone would be either in their gardens or gone to town. The picture at left shows the group at Liolofa.
So we continued up the river to the last village at the head of the valley. We didn’t think the road could get much worse but it did!! Going down through washouts and bouncing over boulders. In places there was just a narrow road between a cliff and a looong drop to the river below and sometimes there were cracks almost on the road itself where the edge of the road was giving away and falling into the river. Anyway we made it to the last village where there was a school, clinic and Seventh Day Adventist church. The road ended on the river bank where there used to be a bridge. We had lunch there then went back down to Koropa.
When we got back to Koropa it was only 3 PM and they wanted to walk somewhere so I suggested going across the river to the village of Flegokonalo. There is no road access so the only way in there is either to wade across the river and climb the steep hill to the village or fly in by helicopter. Well, they didn’t mind the climb because they decided to climb the mountain behind the village to get a good view. But I had done enough climbing so I waited in the village. When they came back the people crowded around and asked questions like, “Where are you from?” “What is it like there?” And “Are you going to live with us here in this village?” when it came time for us to go back the people gave each of the three boys a string bag. We then returned to Lapilo through Goroka. We had travelled 99Km.
My impression of Craig, Paul and his boys was that even the boys took part in their discussions as can be seen in the picture above. Please pray for the Swenson and Noyes families. They are looking to the Lord to direct them to where He wants them to serve Him. So they are not only looking at the Benabena area but other areas in PNG. The Lord has a plan for where He wants them so pray that they will be sensitive to His plan.
With love from
David and Wendy