Our trip here went like clockwork and the 16-hour trip was not so bad. I took a melatonin and slept quite a bit and Bill seemed to also. We discovered the night before the trip that we didn’t have seat assignments for the long 16-hour leg from Dallas to Brisbane. I was rather agitated to say the least and imagined the agony of sitting in the middle two of four seats. The Lord kept reminding me to trust Him and I asked Him to help me do that. Then Brent helped us get seat assignments on that Qantas flight, which were an aisle and a middle of four -quite acceptable- even if we had to pay $20 for each seat. That was the first “Thank You, Lord.” Then, after boarding we discovered the seat next to me was empty giving a little more wiggle room. The flight attendants were great and we were near the restrooms, so what more could we want. We left Raleigh at around 4 pm on Saturday and arrived at Ukarampa, Papua New Guinea at about 5pm on Monday. We are 14 hours ahead here and we lost Sunday when we crossed the International Dateline. It boggles my mind if I try to figure how many hours we were in transit. If you figure it out with the info I gave you, let us know.
We are staying at the guest house here so our meals are prepared for us. That allows me the freedom to go to the clinic and help Bill if he needs an extra set of hands, take pictures, meet the staff at the clinic, take a tour of the compound (although that’s my term), and I’ve met some interesting people while walking and while at the clinic and heard some of their stories. The internet has not been the most cooperative so I’m not sure what Bill has shared, so forgive me if some of this is repetitive BUT I’m sure it’s from a different slant.
We’ve been told this is the largest mission compound anywhere. It’s the headquarters for Wycliffe translators and support staff for PNG. We were welcomed warmly upon arrival in Port Moresby and taken to the MAF hangar a short distance away, loaded us and our luggage into a JAARS plane and flew 3+ hours to Ukarampa in the central highlands of the country about 5000 ft elevation. Bill began work on Tuesday. The work of de-installing the old machine and installing the one he shipped here went fairly smoothly ( thank You, Lord). We were impressed and thankful for all the very qualified and eager help so many of the expat missionaries gave. They manufactured and/or found parts Bill needed, mounted stuff, provided muscle power for moving heavy stuff, and generally lightened Bill’s load. It was truly refreshing and helped maintain a relatively low stress level during installation. Still, he slept better after installation and did his usual Hallelujah dance when it first WORKED (on Thursday.) Since then Bill has been teaching the expat and national staff how to use the machine and having them take some xrays on volunteers who have issues they would like to know more about. Today (Saturday) we did some scatter radiation studies and Bill is tackling a new-to-here dental panorama machine.
We’ve experienced the gracious hospitality of a number of couples for supper and it has been interesting hearing their stories. What a variety of occupations performed by these couples: clinic administrator, art teacher, physician, translation projects assistant, radio engineer and high school principle are using their training and gifting as they serve the Lord here. Ukarampa is like a village itself- schools for the kids, a store, maintenance, housing dept, fire dept, power generation, waterworks, airport, pilots and planes, a fleet of cars, a church and more I’m sure.
I met an older woman as I was walking and exploring one day. She and her husband have been here since 1962, have completed the New and Old Testaments, and began schools so the people could learn to read the Bible in their language. She mentioned had they had seen this group of people go from Stone Age to the current fairly modern lifestyle. She told how these people prize their Bibles written in their own language and their lives confirm they truly believe the Bible to be God’s spoken Word to them personally. She also told me of an incident of a young woman in their community having died. They carried her body to be buried and just as they were going to lower her body into the grave, she suddenly spoke and said “God” in their language. She then sat up and told those around her that Jesus had sent he back from heaven. He obviously had more work for her to do. I have no doubt there are many more accounts of His supernatural working among the various tribes as the translation work of the Bible has progressed. It’s been a privilege to visit here and learn firsthand of the important work done here to further the Kingdom of God. In fact, today there was a dedication of the Bible in the area of Medang.
We say good-bye to this place and move on to Kudjip Hospital Tuesday or Wednesday. Please pray those plans will solidify as they’ve been rather muddy. Likely we’ll fly to the nearby town but even that seems unsure. We are told flying is way more reliable than going by car.