Sunday, June 24, 2012

Bringing Silas home

Some of you have read about our friend Silas on Ian and Nadia's blog. If you haven't, do read this and this first before reading this update.

Silas has been living at the house of our friend a short ways down the road. There he has received a lot of love and attention. He has had plenty of food, and regained a lot of strength. Two weeks ago, he had a hard time walking on uneven ground. But several times in the past week, he left the house in the middle of the day when no one was home, walked 500 metres to the grocery store near where he used to sleep on the street, and tried to buy some food.

Silas has become a new man in so many ways. Physically, he looks so much better and stronger than a few weeks ago. Emotionally, he has been receiving a lot of love, and has been reciprocating that, opening up a lot more. Spiritually, he is being fed, joining in worship times with our friend's family. A week ago, I went to visit him. Before I left, I prayed with him, and then, on his own initiative, he prayed as well – a beautiful prayer! We were all left in awe of how God has been working in him.

We had been talking for a while about bringing Silas back to his village. The city is not a good place for a man like him, whereas in his village, at least his close family will take care of him. So we planned to take him back as soon as he was strong enough. We notified his relatives so they would be prepared to receive him, and on Friday we drove about 150 km out of Lae to meet them.

We met his family at the end of the road, at the base of the Finisterre Mountains. Silas was very excited to see his youngest brother. His brothers and cousins were also ready to help him out. The plan was that they would take him into the village here at the end of the road, and after a few days, take him to his own village – about a five hour hike into the mountains.

Silas leads the way home, supported by his brother. A few weeks
ago it would have seemed impossible for Silas to cross a bridge
like this. Even now we were afraid he might fall in. But he made it!

We said good-bye to Silas at the end of the bridge in the picture above. It was very hard to say good-bye. He had come to know us and trust us, and now it must have seemed to him like we were abandoning him. We entrust him into the hands of the Lord now, through his family. We trust that they will take good care of him. The Lord willing, we will be able to make the drive and hike and visit him again one day. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Snapshots of PNG Election Campaigning

For the last few weeks, it has been election campaign time in PNG. There are a lot of interesting things we could say about that, because elections are so different here than in Canada. But we'll try give just a few snapshots.

The campaigning officially concludes tomorrow (Friday), and voting is to begin on Saturday. Because PNG has so many remote areas accessible only by helicopter (or a very long hike!), voting will be spread out over about 10 days in different parts of the country, to allow election commission officials to be present at each polling station.

Election time has the potential for unrest in PNG, especially in the Highlands. So far, that hasn't affected us in Lae at all. The only inconveniences to us have been when election campaigns hit the road and slow traffic down.

Maybe another inconvenience: the noise. Candidates have their rallies – all-day events with lots of speeches and lots of food. But they also like to drive around town in cars, either playing music or making speeches. They do that through megaphones mounted on the roof of the car. Yes, they are very loud, but we have yet to understand a word of what's said.

There are about 4.5 million registered voters in Lae. And there are 3435 people running for just over 100 seats available in Parliament. Do the math, and that's one in 1300 Papua New Guineans running for Parliament, and an average of 34 in each electoral district (but still, only an average of 4 per language group).

Some of you have been following the PNG politics that hit world news in the past year – the tussle between two Prime Ministers (and between the Supreme Court and Parliament) that seemed to never end. Even at the beginning of the election campaign, the courts decided that Sir Michael Somare is the legitimate Prime Minister, a ruling that was quickly overturned by Parliament, which voted for the third time since August to make Peter O'Neill the legitimate Prime Minister. We pray that this election may bring some stability to the political situation.

Here are a few pictures to round things off. First off, an election-induced traffic jam heading into Goroka. A former Prime Minister and now still-prominent politician was speaking there the day we happened to drive in, and so there were many trucks and buses headed into town to hear him speak. We avoided the rally.

Some people like to dress up for political rallies. This was part of a procession of hundreds of people that took over the road and walked by our church building.

The way some people dress up really makes you wonder.

And of course, the ubiquitous election campaign sign. In PNG, signs prominently feature the face of the candidate (and not so prominently his or her name). And they are often hung from trees, the more of one face the better.

I really wanted to get a picture of one of those cars with the megaphones, but haven't had a chance yet.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Goodbye to our co-workers

Yesterday we said good-bye to our co-workers, Ian and Nadia Wildeboer, and their children. They are leaving on a six-month furlough. Here they are at the airport, just before sunrise:

We wish them a good break from the work, and look forward to seeing them again, DV, at the end of the year.