Part of a letter written to our church in the US.

Week 1, April 1-9: We arrived on the last day of March and arranged for staying over the weekend at Pacific Adventist University transit house. We enjoyed the weekend and had the opportunity to meet some lovely people there. On Sunday we left the University and went out to Mount Diamond Adventist Academy and stayed for a week with Bob and Vaseho Wagi while we waited for an available room at the Friendly Guesthouse belonging to my friend Jeffry Maliou. Bob Wagi was the farm manager at Paglum Adventist High School when I was principal there in 1997. Our main accomplishment during this week was to gather paperwork needed to apply for a bank account and to get driver’s licenses. We also initiated the purchase of a truck for our use in traveling the logging roads between Vanimo and the Sepik River. This was the beginning of a long saga that has yet to be completed. The transfer of funds for the U.S. happened in a reasonable timeframe but due to a complete system change in the Bank of South Pacific our funds got caught up in a tangled mess and it took until just last week to get it sorted out. We are still waiting for a refund due us due to a better exchange rate than we expected.

Week 2, April 9-15: On Sunday we moved in to Jeffrey’s guesthouse to be more centrally located while chasing down paperwork to finish the bank account application process. Most of this week was waiting time and we gave our transportation family a rest while we sat out a good share of the week. We enjoyed Wednesday evening prayer meeting at the small chapel at the guesthouse and on Sabbath we were picked up by one of my students from Paglum Adventist High School and taken to church where he worships. Kenlokai Sop Lepen was in my choir at Paglum and is now a very successful business man who has dabbled in politics only to find that he couldn’t abide the dishonesty there. He has traveled the world and most of his travels center on Japan where he has business mentors and partners. We were introduced to a number of influential people at the Hope SDA Church there in Port Moresby and they were very interested in our mission. They have pledged to support as needed.

Week 3, April 16-22 Monday we finally got word that we could to in to the bank and pick up our account papers and debit cards. Tuesday we finished up a few details and then on Wednesday we flew over to Lae to start the process of getting our container through customs. We had phoned ahead to book the South Pacific Division transit room at the Union headquarters for about $70 per night per room hoping that would only be needed for 2 weeks. Over the previous weekend Kenlokai had told us not to worry about the charges. I didn’t know what to think until my friend Leonard Sumatau, secretary of the Union called me and assured me that our stay there was covered. What a blessing. We also were given a handful of cash that amounted to over $1000. Just more evidence that God is in charge.

Weeks 4-7, April 23 – May 20 We wandered into this customs clearance process with no experience and relying on some dear friends who offered to make it painless. Lol. The first item needed was a tax identification number for becoming an importer. It didn’t do any good to explain we just wanted our personal items so we could get on with missionary work and we didn’t plan to start an importing business. It took 10 days to sort that one out. Then we could file the papers for customs clearance. It took a week and 4 tries to get that one done and then we found that was just the beginning of a string of papers that could only be done one at a time it seems. Each time we would be assured we were done only to have them tell us there was just one more thing…. Finally on May 17 our container was delivered to us and we quickly transferred everything into our own container and had everything picked up and taken to the wharf again before Friday afternoon. Our container was booked to be shipped to Wewak with an arrival date of May 25. The empty container was returned to the shipping company and we are waiting for the refund of the bond we had to pay to get it out of the wharf.

Also, while in Lae, I phoned the dealer in Vanimo to make a purchase of the motorbikes and outboard motors we need so they would be ready to pick up when we got there. We also were able to make purchases of the needed sawmill and solar panels and batteries. These were also shipped to Vanimo to be there when we arrived. I also arranged to ship the Isuzu truck to Vanimo and it was scheduled to arrive on the 28th of May. We ended up spending more than 5 weeks in Lae and had opportunity to get acquainted with many of the church leaders and local members there. We also began acclimatizing in earnest because our air conditioner didn’t work and many times the power was off so we couldn’t run the fans.

Week 8 May 21-27 Monday May 22 we flew from Lae to Wewak where the Sepik Mission headquarters are located. We were graciously offered a place to stay at the AFM transit just out of town a few miles. Also our AFM friends let us use their Nissan double cab pickup to move around and take care of market needs, etc. We decided to fly Peter and Ruth Oli over to spend the week with us in Wewak. Peter is known in Wewak as the longest serving mission president in that mission. He was there for seven years including the time we were in Tipas as AFM missionaries. It was heartwarming to see the love these people have for them.

Most of our time in Wewak was spent arranging for transporting our container out to the Sepik and up to Tipas on the logging company barge. I had been assured by a friend in Tipas who works for the logging company that everything had been confirmed so all I would have to do is go see the logging company boss in Wewak and then get a transport company to take it out to their loading point on the river. Unfortunately when I went to see the company office, nobody knew anything about it. The boss asked me to write a request letter and he would submit it to the main office in Port Moresby. I immediately imagined weeks of delay but with no other options, I went back to my house and wrote up the letter. I got it delivered to the company that same day and prayed that God would work things out. I gave it a day’s rest and then on Thursday contacted them to check on things. To my delight everything was approved including the shipping of our roofing metal and water tanks. So we made arrangements for transporting two truck loads out to the river and enjoyed our weekend.

Friday morning we went to the mission office and joined them for worship. We had a great time getting acquainted and talking about plans to work together. During our time in Wewak I began getting phone calls from Tipas villagers wondering exactly when we would be arriving in Tipas. They are anxious to arrange for the necessary canoes for transporting our goods down river. At this time I was pretty sure we would only need to spend one weekend in Vanimo and our truck and solar equipment were scheduled to arrive over the weekend and we could plan to head for the river on Monday the following week.

For Sabbath, Peter was asked to speak at one church and I went to another. The president of the mission, Henry Monape had me give a short presentation during the church service and then they asked me to take the afternoon service and tell the full story. We were greatly blessed!

Week 9 May 28 – June 3 Sunday May 28 we flew on over to Vanimo on the evening flight. We were welcomed by Pastors Jefferson Kisa and Gideon Kend at the airport. Gideon is the regional supervisor and Jefferson is to be the pastor of the church on the hilltop in Vanimo where I have always attended on previous trips. Currently Jefferson is staying a little out of town at the district headquarters until a new house can be built for Gideon and his family. Once he moves to a new house Jefferson will move up to the Tower Church and assume his duties there.

Monday I went down to the shipping wharf only to find that the ship had come and gone and we had nothing on it. A phone call to Lae turned up the sad truth that the ship was too full and our truck and cargo was scheduled 2 weeks later on the next ship. At least we are comfortable in the home of Jefferson and Maria and right across the road from the beach. Also our motorbikes are now in our possession so I can get around.

Friday we took a trip out to Aimbai on our motorbikes. Jefferson drove one with Corrie on the back and I drove one with Elana on the back. It was a fun trip of about 80 miles round trip. We met the district director we will be working under for the Bewani, Green District, Pastor Campbell. His home is in Bewani about 35 miles from Vanimo. His district is a huge unentered area where there is much work to do! They are all excited we will be in the hardest to reach area.

Sabbath I was asked to preach at a small branch church 10 miles or so out into the bush. Then they asked me to do the afternoon program at the Waterstone church where we are staying. Again we were greatly blessed making new friends.

Week 10 June 4 to present: This week we have been doing more exploring, getting acquainted with the stores in town. Tuesday Pastor Gideon Kend agreed to go out on the road we will take after the road is finished all the way to Tipas. I was hoping we could make it all the way into Namia territory to the village of Mantopai. We had heard the road was complete as far as there so we planned to spend the night and come back on Wednesday. It was about 110 miles to Mantopai and we were traveling in a Toyota Landcruiser with bench seats lining both sides in the back. It is called a 10 seater.

We got to about 5 miles from Mantopai and we reached the end of where the gravel had been applied and due to heavy rains in the past few days it was a miry clay mess. We decided to head back so all total we spent over 10 hours in the vehicle that day. I did get to talk to some people along the road at a small bush camp and found that they were from Mantopai and we had actually made it into Namia territory. It looks like the road is currently being worked on so hopefully we will be able to see it completed this year.

Along the journey we checked in on a brand new church plant with only 3 members. How exciting to see the push being made into these unreached areas. We had picked up a pastor from an organized church about 25 miles out of Vanimo. He was responsible for this little branch church. He kept us entertained with his stories along the way.

Often in late afternoon we go out and play in the surf. The beach is amazing and the waves perfect for gentle body surfing. It’s the best way to get throughly clean and then rinse the salt off with rain water from the tank.

Our hearts are overflowing with thanks to our creator. I love to go out in the early morning before any light in the east is showing and sit on the beach and talk to my creator. Vanimo is the most peaceful town in Papua New Guinea and we are comfortable going anywhere in town or countryside.

We are about 10 days from our newest target for making the last journey out to Tipas. It will take two trips with the truck to get the sawmill, solar equipment, motorbikes and things we purchase here for our home such as mattresses etc. So Elana and Corrie will probably only come out on the second trip which is most likely going to be on Tuesday the 20th of June. We will probably arrive in Tipas late in the day and possibly even after dark on the 20th . That will be the beginning of the most challenging time as we try to get the basic needs addressed as soon as possible and find a way to get most of our stuff under shelter. It is possible that our container will actually be waiting for us just a few miles down river and we will be transporting those goods by canoe to the village as well. The company has agreed to deliver the empty container to us but they don’t have equipment to deliver it when full. It will be about 3 miles away by road but no road goes clear to our house site.

P.S. We have met a church member here that is part of the Health Administration of the province. He has assured us there will be no problem with getting authorization for the clinic in Tipas. Also the church administration is very interested in starting wellness centers here so our dream of the health work will be fully supported by administrations involved. There may be some limited funding available but I am sure this is one area where there will always be needs above and beyond what will be available here.

Also there is much need for support for national volunteer pastors for these remote areas. The mission is really anxious to push the work into the large unentered areas in this region and so any support for these workers will be a blessing. I have been trying to get an idea what would be needed to support a worker in such a remote area and in my estimation we would need a monthly commitment of around $200 a month and I feel the launching costs should include initial housing and water tank needs as well as perhaps a motorbike to give them mobility. A basic home with metal roofing and water tank would be sufficient and total expense for bike and home should be less than $10,000. Some areas where clean water can be found in a mountain stream would not need metal roofing or water tank so that would cut expenses in half. We have a unique situation that God has provided for a limited time. These logging roads are currently in useable condition but all bridges are just logs buried under gravel and dirt. They will last for perhaps 10 years if lucky and then the roads will be impassible. It is time to finish the work!!!