All Papua New Guinea is currently in mourning over the loss of the “papa bilong kantri” (father of the country), the 1st Prime Minister of the nation, The Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare. He served 17 years as the head of their government plus functioned in other various leadership roles from the time PNG became independent from Australia in 1975 until his final retirement in 2017. Sir Michael died last week of pancreatic cancer. Regardless of people’s politics, he was a much beloved figurehead, especially in his hometown of Wewak.
Standing behind & between Sir Michael and his wife Lady Veronica (above) are persons even more beloved to me – Lisa & her children. Many of you have prayed for Lisa for many years. I’m sure she’ll appreciate your prayers now too.

Pictures to the left and right are gleaned from Facebook. I think Lisa took these of a march down the main road in Wewak in remembrance of Sir Michael Somare. We can be praying for the day designated for hi s burial – 12th March. May the people of PNG peacefully and respectfully express their sorrow for their loss.

The number of people wearing black in Lisa’s pictures surprised me. During my years living with the May River Iwam, MUD was the traditional funeral attire. Living in town – black was for weddings and white for funerals. So when and why did the change to black attire to show mourning take place??? They will probably continue to follow their PNG custom of using strips of red material to decorate their vehicles as the funeral entourage makes it way from the airport and to his final resting place. The road will likely be lined with split banana stalks adorned with leaves and flowers. Perhaps more mud will be in fashion for his funeral. I used to have pictures of these local customs but alas, they were all lost when my backup drive died. Use your imagination instead – blazing heat, heavy humidity, HUGE crowds, probably traditional wailing ….. May God use the loss of this treasured national “hero” to cause others to realize how short life can be. May many consider their spiritual state and realize their need of Jesus as their Saviour.

Since Wewak is much on my heart these days, how about a couple of fairly recent pictures of some of my PNG much
loved friends!

You may remember these ladies from past updates. They are all sweet believers, our sisters in Christ who you will meet in heaven one day. Please do pray for opportunities for them to share their faith in Jesus thru this era of national mourning. We can pray too for their ongoing personal growth in knowing and loving our Savior and their continual walk with Him.

Meanwhile in SEMO – Work continues on Iwam projects. The fifth formatting proved to be a charm and the triglot spiritual terms booklet (Iwam, Melanesian Pidgin and English) for the Iwam is finally finished!!! Thank you, Lord!

Regarding the concordance for the May River Iwam New Testament: An expert on the concordance program sent instructions for me to update the Paratext program. He then proceeded to find one more thing for me to try to fix the spelling of Bible book abbreviations quandary. Eureka! One click and it’s fixed! I still need to write the Iwam Preface to the concordance and it can then be taken to the last step. The expert forewarned me though that once I click that “format” button it will become garbled gibberish on my computer screen. I will then send that file it to someone else who has another program to do the formatting steps. Since I need to make sure it IS indeed finalized and ready to put into a book for printing I continue to comb thru and tweak the entries. Are 880 headings / 8241 verses too many ????? How big is this book going to be???? At some point I’ll have to move on – but changes after the formatting step aren’t straightforward. I want to get it right the first time!!!!

Meanwhile – after our week or so of wicked winter, spring has sprung!

  • The 1st “Take cover NOW!!!” tornado WARNING was issued today while I was out walking in the woods. Heaven above was a blazing brilliant blue with nary a cloud in sight. The warning “expired” announcement was given 5 minutes later and Facebook  posted after the fact that this was a TRIAL of the emergency warning system. Everyone in town now knows – it works!
  • Crocus are in full bloom! Tulips & daffodils are budding and surprise lilies have broken thru the ground!
  • Trees are budding, spring breezes blow, and flocks of geese honk and wave as they head NORTH.  Ahhhh! Spring! My tropical blood is SOOOOOOOOOOOOO ready for you!

Thank you again for your faithful support of God’s work in PNG. Heaven is ahead when you will be able to see the fruit of your labors and meet God’s people when we all stand together before His throne.
Co-laboring to bring back Christ as King!
Hope Sharp