We returned from the remote village yesterday but had quite an adventure while we were out there.
We met our pilot early in the morning and headed way back into the Sepik. We buzzed over the mission station to let them know we were landing and then descended into a valley and landed on the closest grass strip which is an hour and a half away by foot. The strip is alongside a river and is cut out of the jungle at the end of a long valley.
After landing we were met by our missionary friend, Greg Greenlaw, who had made the trek through the rainforest from the mission station to meet us. Greg is an amazing guy and has been living with a tribe that is eleven days walk from civilization for over ten years. He is translating the Bible into their native language and is also the only health care provider for miles and miles around. Although he has not had any formal medical training Greg and his wife have to treat the cases that are brought to them because they are the only option.
Since the mission station is down river from the airstrip we were able to jump in the river with inner tubes and float for an hour and half rather than trek. The locals were paid to carry our bags and we would catch an occasional glimpse of them when the trail and the river came together. It was funny to see a CURE kit carried on a pole the same way they carry a dead pig. The float was amazing and allowed us to visit with Greg and catch up on the latest news.
Their “car” as the call it, is a Polaris, six wheeler that has been broken down for the past six months. We brought the part they needed from the States and got to work right after a quick lunch. The “car” is very important to them and allows them to make the trip to the airstrip in only 20 minutes. We worked on it for several hours and finally got it fixed. People started yelling and running towards us when they heard it start. One native man dressed in only a tattered pair of shorts said, “thanks for fixing our missionary’s car.”
We also delivered the CURE kit full of medical supplies for their little clinic and took a tour of the village before going to the river with a bar of soap for our evening baths. Later that night we had dinner together and then climbed into bed for a much needed night of rest. Their house has a grass roof and is mostly made of “bush” materials.
We were supposed to leave the next morning early on the trek to the airstrip but woke up to a steady rain. After most of the day had passed we heard the short wave radio crackle with the voice of the pilot. He had found a way around the rain storm and would be landing in 45 minutes. This meant we were already late so we took off through the jungle and drizzle and sloshed through the mud for an hour and a half until we popped out of the jungle and on to the airstrip.
We finally made it back to Wewak and had several meetings the next day. The experience gave us a new found respect for the Greenlaws and the work they do.
Tomorrow we will have more meetings with the Hospital and local government officials before we head off in boats to some small islands off the north coast. We will be delivering more CURE kits to remote health outposts and will be checking out the needs on an island we have not visited before. Thanks for your prayers. We are all doing quite well.