On August 26th our party of pilgrims from three dioceses in England, New Zealand and Australia left Brisbane airport for Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea.
A pilgrimage of journeying in company with each other and with God to meet friends in a very different part of the world. This was not a journey of mission but of pilgrimage and we were travelling to explore and receive from fellow Christians.
A few weeks after returning home and in reflection, this was an amazing adventure, a journey of trust and of exploration, of shared fellowship and of ways to be a true Christian.
This blog gives a taste of that journey and an indication of the place and the land, the people and the customs. And perhaps above all shows that it was a journey of learning, of letting go, of finding ourselves and reaching out to others.
Our pilgrimage to Papua New Guinea in August 2015 is a real adventure and the journey of a lifetime. The 23 pilgrims are preparing to leave the cosiness of home for a journey across the world to a land of rain forests and islands.
We are a small group from three countries, the U.K. , New Zealand and Australia.
Pilgrims from the UK are from the Norwich Diocese, including myself. Others have
been before, led by the Bishop of Lynn. Bishops of
Papua New Guinea have returned to Norwich, so in some sense it is a well travelled
This travel blog will be updated throughout the pilgrimage, as we arrive,and journey on,
the places we travel to and the people we meet. It will provide a snapshot of the
journey in pictures and words.
For pilgrims it will give a record of this special time and for those at home it is a chance to follow the journey as it happens.
As we make our preparations we gather clothes, apply for visas, buy the right insect
repellant, have inoculations. We also get ready in our thoughts and prayers.
Thoughts about the New world we will visit, the people we will meet and the
chance to see how God’s world is fulfilled in different ways.
In Papua New Guinea, there are times for celebrations.
Children and families, young and old, gather together with flowers, dancing and masks! The photo of the children getting ready is one of my favourites. It was taken from the last visit to PNG from the Norwich Diocese.
This blog of our pilgrimage is just starting and our journey is yet to begin. But the preparations are well underway, the itinerary is finished and on this site you can see where we are travelling too and the things we will be doing.
With less than 3 weeks before we will be setting foot in Port Moresby, it is time to look forward and make the final preparations. For me it is the time to make sure that my case or back pack is going to be able to hold all that I am planning to take.
As well as things for myself, there are things to take for children. I have lots of ideas for stories and fun and maybe even trying on the odd mask or two!
Papua New Guinea is 0.6 degrees south of the equator. it is an Oceanic country With offshore islands in Melanesia in the South West Pacific Ocean.
It is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world with 848 languages. It’s 7 million people live in mainly rural populations and in the few towns and cities.
The country is situated on the Pacific Ring of Fire and there are earthquakes and active volcanoes. It is surrounded by coral reefs and in the highlands there are dense rainforest and a rugged terrain across the mountains, the highest of which is Mt Willhelm at 4,509 metres.
The islands are at the east of the main land and some of the pilgrims will be visiting New Britain Island.
We all arrived safely at Riverglenn, just outside Brisbane.
Three countries, three dioceses and 23 pilgrims shared time, lives and thoughts. We found out more about our journey to Papua New Guinea and the people we will meet. We learnt to say ‘ thank you ‘ tenke yu tru !
And we bought even more insect repellant for those ferocious mozzies.
At the end of the day we said Evening Prayer together and prayed for our journeys, the communities we are going too and our families that we have left behind for a while.
Tomorrow morning seems very close now and to me is unbelievable that in a few hours we will be flying to the beautiful lands of Papua New Guinea.
Once on our way in the Virgin plane the journey felt very real. What would we see, who would we meet, where would we go?
Our pilgrimage thoughts and prayers were with us all as we set off along the way.
We arrived in Port Moresby, where we were met by Bishop Denny. The heat of the day hit us as soon as we walked out of the smart airport. We travelled in a small bus to the Lutheran Guest House, where we were greeted and shown to our rooms. Basic but good accommodation, although the neighbours and the dogs and the road were very noisy throughout the night.
That evening was our first meeting with warriors, dancers and the church. Quite a culture shock! But amazing and beautiful people, and we were going to get to know them really well in the next two weeks.
First meeting with Papua New Guinea Warriors!
Four very scared bishops, and fortunately responses were good and we were allowed in to the feast. There followed the most spectacular warrior dance.
We celebrated Evening Prayer together, with Bishop Denny and Archbishop Clyde, even when the electricity failed! Afterwards we had the most amazing feast, songs and fellowship!
(As a note to followers to this blog, wifi and Internet systems are bit patchy! Will add more images as we can).
So far, absolutely brilliant welcome!
Under Bishop Denny’s house we gathered after prayers in the dark as the electricity had gone out, but that did not diminish the warmth, presence and light of God with us.
An early morning start for 2 parties in the group. The seven travelling to Dogouro had to leave early for their journey by plane, boat and overland vehicle. The 7 leaving for Mt Hagen left shortly and after a plane journey would in the highlands.
The nine pilgrims left were all going to the New Guinea Island of West New Britain, and had the morning to sit and talk, re pack the cases and enjoy the warm weather.
Bishop Denny joined us for an hour and talked about the Anglican church in Papua New Guinea and his life and education in a rural community. He grew up in an Anglican family of 13 children, and was the seventh child. He received a full education and trained as a teacher, then worked as a banker before being called to ministry 21 years ago.
The minibus arrived for us just after midday and after some mechanical change to the vehicle, we set off to the airport, where we caught the twin propeller plane across the island to Hoskins airport.
At Hoskins we were welcomed in wonderful style by the warriors and dancers and Bishop Alan. Greeted and 10 minutes of procession with garlands to our bus and open topped truck.
A delight for me to travel in the back of the truck and see this beautiful island as the evening approached. Walkers on the road waved and called Oro, Oro( Welcome, welcome).
We arrived at Banuale at the Franciscan Friary, a real retreat in the rain forest
, and a place of peace. We met with Father Eduardo( who was also an excellent cook) and brothers.
That night I slept under the mosquito net and to the sound of the frogs just outside.
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
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
We started the day after breakfast on a drive in the
trucks to Mosa. Forty minutes only in the truck with
the cool air shreaking through the system.
The start of the journey was through the oil palms
and was on Tarmac. But we soon turned off onto a dirt track, through the plantation and carried on through the dusty road to Mosa. The village was beautiful, an open green space with flowers and plants lining our way. We were met by the warriors and led in procession a welcome into the village. A wonderful sight and experience, the sounds, the smells, the bright sunshine, the clear and strong colours.
This was our first service on the island and simply
The procession in with the bishops, awe inspiring
led in by the girls gently moving in Immaculate
rhythm to the drums and singing of the men and
This procession was repeated for the entrance of
the gospel and also the offerings.
Communion was received and blessings were given
to many many children and people, those in the
church and the children sitting in the door
entrances and on the grass outside.
The service lasted for 2 hours and followed by food
like a banquet with speeches and. entertainment.
We left Mosa at about 1.00pm and in the burning heat made our way through the tiny and pitted track to Saraclock, a really small settlement. But the welcome was huge and we followed the children and musicians into a small areas with an awning and side covers, for the speeches and entertainment. The children were intrigued and for many of the women I talked with, I was the first white woman they had seen. Lots of people to shake hands avidly and exchange names.
More good food and although the bread became toasted in the sun it was very welcome.
We were about to leave when we asked to visit the school. This was an eye opener on to their real life. Two small rooms with wooden benches for chairs and tables, a board and 2 teachers, a husband and wife team, who managed with no resources, no paper,
no pencils, no books, nothing a part for themselves and a programme of work.
We visited the Diocesan oil palm project, a 10 acre plantation, which is now starting to be harvested. Bishop Alan has stared this project and it is aimed at enabling the diocese to create its own income. A great project idea and lots of potential.
A hot journey back to the Friary for a swim in the South Pacific!
So many stories and pictures to share. The photo above is from the islands, at a church service bringing in the gospel.
Our party started the day at 4.30am at Kimbe airport before the gates were opened. It’s quite an informal airport! But the regulations for somethings are strict, like no lawnmowers allowed on the flights.
We had a wonderful view of the island and I was sad to be leaving and wondered if I would ever be back, but know that I will be in touch with some of those we have met.
We had a long wait at Port Moresby but after about 4 hours we had all arrived back and were ready to board the flight for Popondetta. Many stories from Dogura and from Mt Hagen to follow.