We arrived at Popondetta airport to an overwhelming welcome from Bishop Lyndsley, the warriors and dancers. the evening before. There was much celebration and feasting and the evensong service in Popondetta Cathedral was wonderful. An open sided building in a community square.
We stayed at the Birdwing Butterfly Lodge, which was quite splendid and even had air conditioning. Polycarp and his family made us most welcome throughout the trip.
On Tuesday we visited Newton Theological College, to celebrate the Eucharist & Bishop David preached to sounds of gentle rain, and bird songs from the rain forest. We had chance for a tour of the college, where the students and their families live and learn and our first refreshments of the day.
Our police escort stayed with us all day and in the heat of the day we went to St Andrews church, where the whole village of Eroror had been flooded severely five years ago.
Further on we visited St Margaret’s Anglican hospital in Oro Bay, in much need of resources and help, and the staff were great.
Finally we made it, two hours late, to the Franciscan brothers and CV sisters, for evening prayer in the dark and refreshments, speeches and welcome.
By 7pm the police escort saw us back to the Birdwing Butterfly lodge. Rev’d Sue Martin
Our police escort led us to the Martyr’s School out in the country, about 30 minutes from the Birdwing Butterfly Lodge.
The campus was huge and our greeting was in traditional warrior dance welcome, which led us to the staff room at the school.
The Eucharist was celebrated in real style and dedication, about 1000 people attending, 800 of which were school students. The Papua New Guinea Martyrs were remembered and candles lit for each of them.
A whole afternoon of dances and speeches followed with gifts for us all.
In the evening we had a farewell dinner with Bishop Lynsley and his wife, Felicity and the team. We were presented with gifts, hats, large wood carvings. The bishops gave gifts from our dioceses too and all pilgrims left small gifts for the school and the women.
After lunch at Birdwing Butterfly Lodge we said farewells and went to the airport. It was a two hour check in and so in the one shed we had plenty of time! With Sister Anne, Polycarp, and other friends.
The young boys spotted the plane for the day and we set off for the 30 minute journey.
Arrived back at Lutheran Guest House for supper.
Image: Popondetta airport – Bishop Andrew and Father Benstead, Bibira and the boys…
First visit of the day was to Anglicare offices at the diocese in Waigani and the Chapel of the Good Shepherd. As well as the HIV work there are training and literacy programmes for young and older people.
Next visit was to a settlement, on the perimeter of the airport. There was a striking difference between the two. The area was incredibly dry and dusty but the houses had space and there was a good community feel. If you ignore the broken, rusty cars and see the people with their smiling faces you can see some happiness in severe poverty.
Christ the King School was a wonderful place. Set at the top of a hill we met the school children, standing waiting for us in 38C sunshine! We had gifts to give and children sang their songs, Paul played Happy Birthday to them all on the trumpet.
A tour of the classrooms and the large and cool chapel were brilliant. The teachers are largely voluntary, the classrooms varied from sheds to a container with windows, provided by Sue Ramsden. It was surprisingly cool.
Next visit was to the War Memorial Graves kept by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in beautiful grounds and incredible to see the headstones for nearly 4000 Australians, some Papuan’s and some British soldiers, airforce personnel and sailors. They fought to save Papua New Guinea from the Japanese army and to prevent the creation of a ‘launch pad’ for an attack on Australia.
Port Moresby Nature Park was the first stop of the day and by 10.30 it was already about 36C and we were given a tour of the Nature Park.
There was a graduation party from a primary school with 1000 people celebrating with picnics in cool boxes! Bit different from yesterday at the schoo
I was really interested in the orchids, and PNG has 3,800 species.
We then travelled to St John’s Cathedral, which was in the port area, next to the smart Grand Papua Hotel. Lunch there was very welcome and made us pretty sleepy for the two hour meeting that followed.
In the evening we had a celebration meal at the Laguna Hotel, very elegant with an enticing pool. A lovely meal and we managed a little dancing to the two musicians with Bishop Jonathan singing on the ‘mike’ for a while.
The night had been noisy, with karaoke next door, dogs barking and some street sounds at 4.00am, so we had a sluggish start.
We went into three groups for church, St John’s Cathedral, St Martin’s and Holy Family Church. Our group went to St Martin’s with Bishop David and had an excellent Eucharist with a congregation of around 300.
Canon Sally and I wore our clerical shirts for the first time in PNG, and this was very well received. At the end of the service we were asked to talk about our work etc.
Over some cake and tea we had chance to talk and this was a parish with some good people in good jobs in the city, e.g a psychiatrist, a lawyer, an ex High Commissioner.
There were many blessings for Bishop David to give and it was with some sadness that I realised that this would be the last chance to share worship together in Papua New Guinea.The afternoon was restful and a chance to catch up on rest and writing, or even pack the case!
In the evening we had a farewell dinner at St Martin’s and the spread was enormous and we also had some wine. The warmth of feeling and a sens of a sharing of ministry and lives was clear and after some serious speeches we ended the evening with gifts being shared and in song.
Monday morning we will leave Papua New Guinea and some of us will be coming home, whilst some are continuing on their journeys.
Farewell to all those brothers and sister with whom we have met and shared this pilgrimage.