Last Frontier PNG Newsletters for January 26, 2024 and March 5, 2024

Dear friends, family and prayer support team,

It’s Jan 26 and I only have a few minutes early this morning to share what is happening in our little corner of God’s vineyard. We are all well and doing our best to get the house to a livable stage as well as doing what we can to build relationships and share the love of Christ.

Since the last newsletter we have had to make more than one trip out for materials. We have put up a smaller structure for a workshop and carport so we could bring out the remaining items that were in the container and empty out the spare room in our little bush house so the Oli’s could come and stay with us for a few months.

We are currently in Vanimo to purchase house materials and last evening we, with much excitement, met Peter and Ruth Oli at the airport! It will be such a boost to have them with us as such a major part of our team. So many things happened that show God’s faithful watch-care over the last month to bring this to pass! We tried one week previous to come to Vanimo but after a couple of hours going up the river to the end of the road where we keep the vehicle, we got loaded up and started the landcruiser only to find that when I let the clutch out, nothing happened. It was like the clutch disc had disappeared or something and of course that didn’t make any sense. I played with the 4wd shift lever and nothing made any difference. I looked underneath for clues but I didn’t see any issues. So we headed back down river to Tipas. The road was in such bad condition anyway that even the Landcruisers were having a time getting through.

I contacted Philip in Vanimo and he arranged for a mechanic to come out a week later. So Monday this week we were up and loaded by 5am to head up river again. Philip and the mechanic, (Elder Gabriel Lazarus) along with some boys of his that are trained mechanics were supposed to travel early and come out by 8am. We arrived at Mahane at 8:15 or so but they had not arrived yet. We had no way to contact anyone from Mahane unless we took the boat across the Sepik River and climbed up a hill to a place where, if lucky, you could make a connection. I finally decided at 1pm to make that trip and try to call. It turns out that I caught them just before they got out of network coverage and was able to find out that they had experienced car trouble and had to go back to fix the car before they could come out so they were just 1 hour into the journey to Mahane and would not arrive till closer to 5pm.

They were about an hour into the process of removing everything needed to get to the clutch when Gabriel noticed a linkage going into the transfer case that was wrapped in rubber and it appeared to be disconnected. Turns out that just after I parked the car and shifted it back from 4wd low range to high and then to 2wd, the linkage had dropped down right when it was in the neutral position between 4wd low and 4wd high and the vehicle was stuck in neutral. A few minutes later they were busily putting things back together and in an hour we were on our way. We have now put the Landcruiser in his shop for a thorough going over and have found many such things needing attention. Hopefully they will get it back to us today, (Friday) or Sunday so we can use it for our trip back out on Monday. Gabriel had told us that our frame and engine are great and with new springs, bushings and misc welding we should be able to travel safely. The body is a mess as we knew because of a previous roll over before we bought it. Gabriel said he has a good body he will be happy to put on for us when we can give him the vehicle for a month or so. What a blessing!

Ok, so the best part about the above story was getting a chance to get reacquainted with Gabriel, whom I had met briefly in 2011 on one of my trips over here. He is very mission minded and is excited to become part of Last Frontier PNG. We spent quite a bit of time talking about the pressing needs and challenges for reaching the remotest areas in this corner of PNG. This territory is so vast and so many villages have no school, health service, or church that it would bring tears to your eyes to hear the stories. I met a lady while waiting for the mechanic in Mahane who is married to a man who is originally from a village from across the river and about 20 miles into the bush. She says that basically every man, woman and child in that area would test positive for TB. They visit the village from time to time but have despaired of finding a way to help them. This is just one of many such places in this vast territory and the church directors in this district have no budget that could even come close to allowing them to plan a way to reach them. It is hard to comprehend how expensive it is to travel. For me to go to Vanimo from Tipas it costs for fuel alone several months wages for a worker getting a decent wage.

Long story short, we don’t have the answers but are praying that God will bring together people like Gabriel and others here that are mission minded to brainstorm after seeking God’s will and an outpouring of the Holy Spirit as to what might be done to reach these hopelessly impossible to reach places. Your prayers joining with ours are requested. We do believe that our plan for writing and printing materials in Pidgen is a key factor but many of these areas are entirely illiterate so literacy training needs to be part of the work.

Now that Peter and Ruth are with us, there will be many discussions along these lines and I am excited to have them here. Now I must get back to the task of getting the materials loaded up and ready for the trip out next week, get the oil changed in the Isuzu, etc. etc. LOL

I wish I had time to tell you about the individuals we regularly associate with in Tipas. Many stories of victories, failures and trials and rejoicings. But that will have to wait for another time.

March News: Obviously something happened to February. I didn’t get the above newsletter sent for January and we have been out in Tipas since then. Now it is March 5 and I hope to get this sent before the weekend.

House update: We have the roofing on and flooring installed for all but one corner upstairs. We ran out of the dry and planed flooring and have to wait for the flooring to dry for a few months for that corner. We are purchasing siding in town on this trip and expect to have the house closed in soon! Corrie just posted the latest video update on the house.

Church update: Peter Oli has been given the authority of church pastor by the Sepik Mission and is gearing up to organize the company. We have a list of about 70 names of baptized members but typically see about 20 attending. So we are inviting all to meet with us during the week and discuss their plans and desires regarding their memberships before we take the names to the parent church in Vanimo for action on their names. The ladies have started a Sabbath School for the children and what a difference it makes! It is apparent that it won’t be long before we need more than one division but only God knows how that will come about. We don’t have a place for them to meet so they go to the Elder’s house next door and meet on his veranda. Make sure you visit our Youtube channel or Facebook page to see the video Corrie posted today.

Wewak town trip and Tipas Clinic: Currently the road to Vanimo is impassible in the last 10 miles from the Sepik River. Fortunately we have the option of going down river and out to Wewak though it is 3 times as expensive. Yesterday, Mar 5, we came down and as we drove in to town we stopped in a town close to the river called Maprik, and purchased the siding and other materials we needed and had them trucked out to Pagwi village at the river for us to load up and take up river when we are done in town.

Today we visited the mission headquarters and talked with Daiven, the health director about the clinic we want to start up again in Tipas. The mission is definitely interested in this project and I told them we would help raise funds for the main clinic building and two worker’s homes, probably not more than $20,000. In May, Daiven plans to travel to Vanimo to visit with the West Sepik provincial health authorities to get things started. Please pray for this much needed project! I could fill this newsletter with stories of the dire need for health services in this corner of the world. We get people from miles around coming to see Corrie on the veranda of our little bush house. All we currently have is malaria treatment medicine and test kits. One of the latest patients came from Ama and she had fallen on a knife. Corrie had some antibiotics we kept for emergencies and family issues and she also had charcoal for the surface wound. In a couple of days the lady was able to undertake the arduous journey back to Ama, a journey that required a 6 mile boat trip and 9 miles of walking including over a small mountain pass. They were hopeful of being able to catch a ride on a company vehicle headed to base camp from the log point on the river.

May River visit: Early last month Orion and Keren Lawrence, AFM missionaries, let us know that AFM president, Conrad Vine and field supervisor, Stephen Erickson would be paying a visit to May River and we were welcome to come down for a visit. We made it an overnight trip and were greatly blessed. Our time was filled with discussions on much needed Tok Pisin written materials and evangelism plans for the next 5 years. We felt it a real privilege to be included in these discussions.

Ama needs: Those of you who have followed our project from the beginning are aware that we have a real soft spot in our hearts for the neighboring language group to the south of us. Ama has had SDA influence since 1960 when a missionary from down river came up and spent 6 years breaking through the initial resistance and establishing the church there. AFM sent a worker there in the early 90s who couldn’t stay due to their newborn being unable to take malaria meds. And then again in 2012 when the tragic accident took the life of John Lello who was working towards getting established there. Since then the little church has all but died and the area has declined to the point that the government can’t keep workers there in the government station or the community school. They have no health services and their population has been declining. Peter Oli and I visited them on our initial visit in 2022. Gaspar is the fellow that is holding on and keeping things going. He recently visited Tipas and told me he has 3 that are nearly ready for baptism. He also asked me for nails and a few tools to aid him in building a guest house for when we come visit. Please pray for Ama! I am hoping we can get a volunteer worker established there by the end of this year. I am also hoping to be able to put a vehicle on that side of the Sepik River so regular trips will be possible.

Edwaki High School principal: Recently it came to my attention that the new principal for the Edwaki High School is a mission minded Seventh-day Adventist. I decided to attempt a quick visit over there to see what the school is like and see if I could meet the Principal. It is less than 8 miles to the school from Tipas but road conditions make for a 1 hour journey on our little scooter motorbikes. I was fortunate to be able to meet with Otto Yvia. I have heard that as many as 40 SDA students have attended in a given year but haven’t confirmed that number for this year as school has only now started for this year and Otto is new. Jason rode over there with me and we found some definitely challenging mud holes along the way. It is another indication that God has big plans for the Namia people here in the Edwaki area that He has ordained that we have someone like Otto at our high school. Please pray for him as it is very overwhelming for new workers in these areas where resources are so limited and difficult to get to.

Health Team to visit Tipas in April: We are excited to be able to host a medical team of 10 health workers including a dentist and doctor in early April. We need to pray for improved road conditions before April 1 when they plan to come out. Phillip Kairu, Waterstone SDA church elder, will bring them out in our Isuzu truck and we will meet them at the waterfront in Mahane and bring them down to Tipas with our boat. Our next town trip will coincide with their return trip on April 12.

Communications: We are getting closer to the anticipated roll out of Starlink here in PNG. If all goes as they have projected, we will see it in 3rd quarter or as early as July. Until then we will continue to be out of touch during our time in Tipas. We do have the ability to call out on the limited 2g service we have at our new house location but it is difficult for anyone to call us due to the fact that when I am down at the new house site where the network is good, I usually have the generator on or am making other noises that make it difficult to hear the phone ring.

It looks like I have already stretched the limits for 4 pages so will say goodbye for now. Please pray for our clinic project, Ama, and our little Sabbath School class for the kids. It started 3 weeks ago with 9 kids and last week it was up to 28 and we could hear them from the church! One little boy apparently was singing at home and his father wasn’t too happy and told him to quit. The little boy supposedly pointed right at his father and told him he better start coming to church. “Out of the mouth of babes!”

I included a link below to a video done by a foreign correspondent about the Edwaki and Ama areas. I am not as much sharing for the content as for the beautiful footage of our area, some of it drone footage. The high school where they met with the villagers is the one I mentioned in this newsletter.

Thank you for your prayers and generous donations. We know God has a harvest here in Namia land and the many other people groups in this district.

Facebook: more pictures with great descriptions and comments.

Youtube: Check out latest videos Beautiful video footage of Namia and Ama areas from a foreign correspondent.