Heart to Heart, Glory to Glory P.2/3

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story by Kairu Tumae

(Kairu is a Papua New Guinean graduate from the Ukarumpa International School, this is his testimony continued…)

It all started on graduation night when Dr. David Mills came up to me and congratulated me. He told me that if I ended up not going to college, if I was still interested in medicine, to give him a call and come visit him at Kompiam District Hospital. After saying goodbye to all my classmates, I decided to call the Mills family and I headed up to Kompiam to stay a couple months with them.

After just a few days in Kompiam, I was ashamed of myself for not truly knowing my country. I realized that much of PNG still lacks the basic services that people need and many kids, teens, and young adults in my generation don’t realize it – just like me.

During the months I was up in Kompiam, I assisted Mrs. Mills at the primary school, helped out with maintenance, and of course went on medical patrols. The patrols showed me so much.

First of all, I saw the need for the Word of God. Sure there are churches out there but many people still don’t understand the Truth. People still mix traditional beliefs with the Gospel. I realized, too, that there is a big need for Papua New Guineans ourselves to be missionaries to our own people. We cannot expect missionaries to be expatriates only.

The second thing I saw was the great medical need that many people groups in my country have. Pregnant moms and sick or injured people have to walk more than to two hours to get to the closest health center or aid post, traversing many steep hills and rocky mountain paths, which turn to slippery mud in the rainy season. It’s a tough walk for them.

Some people have to walk more than five hours or even up to full day to reach Kompiam station. From there they can travel to Wabag or Hagen. Now imagine having to carry someone who is very ill, or perhaps has multiple gunshot wounds from a tribal fight, in a homemade stretcher while trying to cross fast-moving rivers, climb mountains, and descend steep muddy paths for many hours to reach the nearest hospital with a doctor.

After a few months with the Mills family I went back home.  Just before I departed, Dr. Mills mentioned briefly that they needed someone to run their small radio station. I left Kompiam hoping to find a job near my parents and earn some money to save up for college, but God brought me back to Kompiam.

I came back up to Kompiam in the beginning of February 2017 to start running the small community radio station called Sauan 99.9 FM, which is under the care of the mission hospital. I had no training whatsoever, I had never talked on a radio, and I didn’t know how to use the equipment! The one thing I did know was that God wanted me to be in Kompiam even if it meant doing something that was totally new to me.

We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9 NLT

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Earthquake Relief 2018

Story by Stephanie Ernandes
Video by Chad Owens and Stephanie Ernandes

In the early morning hours of the 26th of February 2018, the Southern Highlands of PNG were rocked by a 7.5 magnitude earthquake. Since then there have been approximately 150 earthquakes recorded with a magnitude of 4.0 or greater, with countless smaller tremors. This seismic activity has brought havoc including mud slides, ruined gardens, and displaced villages. There is a widespread lack of basic necessities such as food, water, shelter, medicine, clothing, blankets, mosquito nets, and cooking pots.

One of the major effects of the earthquake has been that people have traveled from bush areas into the larger villages that have airstrips to seek refuge. An airstrip is a remote village’s connection to the outside world and people want to be there where the aid arrives. Food, clothing, and news of the outside world arrive by helicopters and small planes. In addition, medical help, both basic supplies as well as evacuations for life threatening emergencies comes and goes via the airstrip.

Albert is a Papuan New Guinean who lives in a village with one of these airstrips. He shared that inhabitants of seven villages located in the bush surrounding Huya have come to stay in their town, bringing their numbers from 750 to between 1200 – 1300. This stretches their capacity to provide food and shelter. Albert pointed to a large mountain nearby with its face missing, explaining that they’d lost 11 people in the landslide. Local men have been searching but found only two people to bury. They cannot find the other nine.

“Fear is one of the biggest things affecting the people now,” shared Erik Lofgren of the SIL PNG Aviation Department. “There is fear to go back to the gardens because they are afraid they’ll get stuck out in the bush or fear that their houses will fall on their families while they are away. All these continued tremors, even though they may not have a physical effect on people, still have psychological effects. When a tremor happens in the middle of the night everyone jumps out of bed and runs outside to wait for it to stop. Some people have not had a normal night’s sleep for weeks.” One way SIL and others would like to help is with trauma healing.

The four villages where SIL serves that are closest to the epicentre are Walagu, Huya, Bosavi, and Dodomona. SIL was able to transport men from the Rural Airstrip Agency into Huya via helicopter to survey their airstrip, which was closed to due to earthquake damage. Although it will need future repairs, they were able to re-open it so aid supplies could be delivered.

SIL has been working together with other organizations such as MAF, Adventist Aviation, and New Tribes to bring in supplies. Since the earthquake, SIL Aviation has brought in 5200 Kilos of rice, 10 temporary water collection systems, and 250 cases of tuna, among other things. They have also delivered supplies donated by other organizations and local churches, including clothing and tools for rebuilding. SIL has picked up and delivered large amounts of garden vegetables donated by other villages that heard about the tragedy and wanted to help. Medical evacuations have been part of the way SIL has helped as well.

“When faced with a crisis like this, your natural inclination is to help, and that is exactly what our community has done. As this event unfolded we realized quickly that other organizations were more adept at delivering supplies and handling donations and so we’re thankful for our partnership with them.” said Chad Owens the chief communication officer for SIL PNG. “Leadership deliberated over what specific skillsets SIL PNG had to offer this victims of this crisis. It came to light that we had people experienced in trauma healing training. Since training is one of our core values, we have begun putting together trauma healing workshops and are currently working through the logistics of helping people in that way.”

Amid the sorrow and suffering, it has been awesome to see various organizations,  local government, Papua New Guinean villages and individuals pulling together to help with the earthquake relief.