Side Trip!

Last weekend, we went on a side trip to visit some missionaries with the Simbari people in another area of the PNG Highlands. As soon as we got out of the Cessna 206, the national people there circled around us in greeting. Within an hour, we were outside playing volleyball with the nationals. Two to three students would join each team of nationals as we played game after game. Having not played volleyball at all since injuring my elbow, my first few left-handed hits were interesting. In the U.S., when you make a mistake playing volleyball (or any other sport), it is the common practice to get slightly upset. The Simbari however, quickly said “em alright” and continued with the game. I thought this was kind of odd until one of the men explained later that “why should we get angry, we have so much to be happy for because Jesus has saved us from our sins.” Wow. No offense to anyone, but in that respect, these Simbari believers showed far more spiritual maturity than pretty much any Christian I know. The following day, we took a five hour hike down the mountain. I find it hard to explain the beauty and awesomeness of God’s creation displayed in this part of the Highlands. Standing on the airstrip, you could see five waterfalls in the mountains above. In our hike, we were planning on swimming in a quiet part of the river where you could jump off of a large rock into a pool. However, the river was a near flood stage – making it look more like a high-level river for advanced whitewater rafting than any sort of swimming material. If you had fallen in there probably would not have been much hope for survival. At any rate, we got the chance to cross a smaller tributary leading to the large river and create a human bridge for some of the not so adventurous to cross safely, and to walk over the large river on a vine bridge to the large rock, then on two small logs from the rock to the other side of the river. Good times. I absolutely loved every minute of our jungle trek, and would do it again any day. The following day was Sunday, and was without question the best day of the entire month. We started out the morning by crossing the airstrip into the village to watch them prepare a mumu for our lunch later. At this point, we had the opportunity for more interaction with the nationals and to learn a bit of Simbari. Eliau Kumu. (It is good.) Then we went up to the church building for the morning service with the Simbari believers. The believers started with songs in Simbari and Pidgin, some of which I could distinguish the meaning of…some not so much. It was incredible to see the complete sincerity in their faces as they praised the Lord together. We found out from the missionary’s translation that the believers had been praying for the weather to be clear enough for us to make it in and that they were very excited to see us now, and to see us again in heaven later. Several of the believers shared their testimonies as Dave translated for us, and then several of our team shared testimonies in return. All of the testimonies expressed how grateful the people were that the missionaries had come and given them God’s talk in their own language, for though they had heard some syncretised teaching in Pidgin, they could not understand, but once it was in Simbari, their eyes were opened and they were saved and God changed them. The service was completed by one of the national teachers doing a Bible lesson and a few more songs. That afternoon, we had the mumu, played volleyball for four hours with the believers, and then joined together again for a sing-sing. We sang songs in Simbari, Pidgin, German, and English, and once again I was amazed by the joy of these people in the grace of God. The fellowship with these Christians, though somewhat divided by a language barrier, was as if we were one with them. As one of the women put it: “Yu mi olgeta long brota na sista long Jisas.” (We are all brothers and sisters in Jesus). The next morning, we left Simbari and returned to ITF. The days since have been filled with a day at Lapilau, classes, and village exposure. It is hard to believe that in just a few short days I will be boarding a plane en route to the U.S. Without question, this month has held many life-changing experiences for me…but more than just “an experience” I pray that God will continue to use this time as a reminder of who He is and of my brothers and sisters of all language groups in all parts of the world.

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