Planes, Boats and PMVs
I felt myself falling. Instinctively, I reached out in the air for something to grab onto, and then I heard the laughing.
While in Papua New Guinea recently, the first leg of our trip to visit the Hickses’ Ama Project was a nine-hour overnight PMV ride to the river. A PMV (public motor vehicle) is a large truck with a covered, open-sided bed. There are two long, flat boards on each side for passenger seating, and the middle of the bed is for cargo.
That morning we had flown from the Kawito airstrip, about an hour’s dinghy ride from the Ericksons’ home at the Gogodala Project. What a wonderful time we had spent with them! We had enjoyed a mini camp meeting as delegations from five villages converged on the Gogodala Project. The high point of the weekend was the baptism of 46 brothers and sisters in faith. We also had the privilege to serve each other in communion. It was such a blessing to see Jesus working in so many people’s lives!
We had spent the day in Wewak with the Hicks family getting supplies and preparing for the long journey on PMV to the river. From there we would take a motor canoe 11 hours upriver to the Ama Project.
On this overnight PMV excursion, I was sitting in the front seat next to the driver. The seat was missing its cushion, so I was sitting on a board. As the hours passed, each pothole (and there were lots) made the wood feel harder.
The driver, Lester, is an Adventist Pathfinder leader in the Wewak area. He helped me pass the time by telling me tales of treetops overflowing with beautiful and diverse birds of paradise, treks on the steep Kokoda Trail and other adventures he had experienced while camping with the youth.
After a few hours of listening to Lester talk as he swerved around intoxicated men who staggered out of nowhere into the truck’s headlights, and swaying with the jolts of the PMV as he avoided (as much as possible) the deepest potholes, I started to feel my head droop with exhaustion. As I nodded off, I suddenly felt like I was falling. I grabbed at the air, trying to catch myself. I must have been quite a sight as I flailed, because Lester’s laughing woke me up.
It was a long night’s journey and an even longer day in the canoe. However, the beauty of the open sky, the river and the lush countryside took my breath away. As we landed at May River, reality came back with full force as mosquitoes swarmed and the muggy air enveloped us.
We visited several villages along May River. There are no roads there, only waterways. Time consuming? Yes, but it was worth it to meet our brothers and sisters in Christ. Seeing the growth in the local churches since our visit last year filled us with excitement.
The intensity of the sun’s heat as we traveled in the canoe is hard to describe. Arnold pointed. “Look at that huge crocodile!” From that moment onward, my imagination turned every floating log into another one.
AFM’s PNG projects are our most remote, and I am always amazed at the commitment of our missionaries to live so far from civilization and visit town only four to six times a year. Please keep them in your prayers! Also, please pray for teammates to serve with the Ericksons. By the time you read this article, the Lawrences should have launched to join the Hickses.
Thank you for serving alongside us! You are critical to the mission and vital to our team. Stay faithful. Jesus is coming very soon!