We began the day Celebrating Mass in the Franciscan Friary at 6.30am in chapel. At the start of the day the rain forest sounds were gentle and entrancing.
In the 2 trucks we travelled to Bialla, some 3 hours of Tarmac road and mainly dirt tracks with very large holes. Every so often passengers sitting sideways in the back slid uncontrollably towards the front and this was followed by a very large series of bumps. A thrilling journey for the scenery, the mode of travel
and the company. There were innumerable bridges, some of which were photographed, and river bed crossings, where the bridges had been carried away in the last rainy season.
Half way through the journey, we stopped at a roadside
market. We bought some green coconut juice, which was very
refreshing and chopped open for us by the girl with a very large
There was also a large use of Beetle nuts, which
stains people’s mouths and teeth, plus the spitting out of the
And then, somewhere in the midst of the rain forest we came
to Bialla. The entrance to the village was bedecked with flowers
Our welcome into the village was with the warriors, incredible,
beautiful and wonderfully rhythmic. The men and the Spirit Man led us ,in with the women and girls walking alongside. A very powerful entrance, based on welcome, acknowledgement and acceptance.
10 minutes later we arrived at our seats and were formally welcomed. In the middle of the rain forest, the remoteness of Bialla was obvious. This was a village that lived with its own resources,
food, water, toilets, and then there was the presence of The Company, the oil palm factory and plantation. There was a real benefit of being employed by the company.
There was entertainment including our own and we all talked
about our work, our homes and ourselves.
The journey home was just as bumpy and long. We stopped at
the bank in Kimbe and whilst we waited a woman carrying her
shopping came and talked with us, she was a missionary.
Back at the Friary, we ate an early meal and then In the
moonlight in the rainforest, the warriors arrived and danced for
us.One of the dances was as a snake wandering through the
Our entertainment was not quite so colourful but gave them
much chance for laughter; Mud, mud, glorious Mud with an amazing second chorus by
Bishop Jonathan, Bishop Andrew and Ryan sang, Tutira Mai, the four girls sang Any Dream Will Do, and Eleanor and Brian sang Early One Morning, followed by Sue leading on Heads Shoulders Knees and Toes. The Warriors and young dancers joined in with
all the actions, lots of laughter!
We turned in for sleep at 9.00pm, a really late night for us!
Rev’d Sue Martin