Dear faithful reader, Apologies for not finishing our Easter posts during the Easter season. As always, we are well occupied here in PNG. Last week was finals week for the first term, Brandon has been preparing a publication and revising the first chapter of the dissertation, and Tabitha can now take about 6 steps on her own! We also had the joy of hosting our friends Ellen and Dae for a week and taking them on various adventures. You may remember that for Easter weekend, we went with our former rector, Fr. Clement, to the remote mountain valley of Tsinsibai. On Holy Saturday, we accompanied Fr. Clement on his pastoral work. He walked throughout the valley, visiting the sick and shut-in in order to hear their confessions and anoint them. The valley was quite beautiful.
The center of the valley was an uninhabitable swamp of great width. The people live at the feet of the mountains on both sides. Fr. Clement said that the whole Waghi Valley would have been a similar swamp before the Australians drained it.
We walked across the swamp and visited the outstation church on the other side. We learned that Fr. Christian Sieland, who had painted a mural at Good Shepherd, had been stationed here for a time and had blessed the outstation with his art:
We also met and spend some time with the sister of Sister Janice (the latter had already departed for Australia). Martha is a single lady who seems to devote her time to good works, such as sewing clothes for the poor. Rebecca was feeling a little tired from the long walk across the swamp, so I went on a walk up to the top of the mountain, while Rebecca and the girls stayed behind to eat strawberries and play with water (both being favorite activities of Tabitha). A local teacher and some school children took me on a good walk up the mountain. I got some good views of the local method of growing kaukau (sweet potatoes).
The top of the mountain was rainforest, but I had a nice view of the valley from the treeline.
At the top of the mountain was a little hut intended for those who wished to make a private prayer retreat.
Though it was rainy, the views were amazing. The other side was a nearly sheer drop to the Kaugel river, with a full view of the city of Mt. Hagen and the Waghi Valley.
Once the Zimmerman family reunited, we walked back to the house at the main station. Fr. Clement stayed behind. He was going to celebrate the Easter Valley at te outstation and then walk back around midnight to the main station. We barely beat the rain and had a nice dinner of potatoes and cauliflower. We put the kids to bed. I thought about walking back across the swamp to join Fr. Clement, but it was raining and a long walk, so I decided to go to the vigil service at the main station while Rebecca watched the kids and rested. The vigil service was mostly in the tok place (Melpa) and was fairly low-key. Due to the rain, the fire was much smaller than the ones I’ve seen at Sacred Heart and Good Shepherd. Still it was very good to celebrate with other Christians, and to feel, despite all our difference, one in spirit with them. They were very excited that I was there – which meant that old ladies and the lay leaders kept interrupting my prayers by energetically shaking my hands!