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.
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.