Dave the Helicopter Pilot

One of the best parts of living and working in Ukarumpa is all the cool people you get to meet and interact with. Dave and his wife have served in PNG for many years and they have four children. The first time I met Dave was at a “Broadway Name that Tune Night” where we discussed the origins of Boxing Day. Then a few days later he was the pilot who took me on my first helicopter ride. I am very thankful for all the support personnel whose jobs enable translators and other language workers to do their jobs more efficiently. Without a helicopter pilot, it would be possible for us to get to Kapawa. However, instead of an hour and a half flight we would have a longer and more complicated journey. This would entail taking a car or PMV (public motor vehicle) to Lae, catching a boat to Finschhafen, taking another PMV up the coast and then hiking the 3000 feet up to the village. Steve and Debbie have taken the long way to the village before but now with their 4 children it would be too difficult. Maybe sometime I’ll try it but for now I will just be thankful for people like Dave who provide me with another option.

Away in Kapawa

I have been in Kapawa for a little over a week now and have two weeks left before I will return to Ukarumpa. I will be sure to post pictures when I get back but for now you will all just have to use your imaginations. It has been great getting to know the people who live here and they have been very helpful- showing me around and talking with me about their customs and language. Kapawa is in the mountains so the water that they use to wash (clothes, dishes, themselves) and drink is down a steep hillside. I have been down there three times and I make the nationals nervous because I am not very nimble or graceful as I slip and slide down different muddy parts. They worry about me falling and getting hurt or getting dirty. But it’s ok cause at the bottom of the mountain we wash anyway, even though by the time we get back up the mountain I am dirty and sweaty again. While I was walking back the second time, I saw what I thought was a piece of rope on the trail- I thought for a second about kicking it out of the way but didn’t and just walked on by. When I looked back I saw that it was slithering away- it was a snake! I don’t know what kind of snake it was but most snakes here are poisonous. I am very glad I chose not to kick it. I had an encounter with swarming insects too. The room which is now mine had some buzzing coming from it that sounded suspicious. On closer inspection we realized that in the year Steve and Debbie had been gone, wild honey bees had made a hive in the wall. Steve neutralized them with some rounds of mortein insect spray and then they opened the wall to remove the hive, which was quite large. Unfortunately the mortein left the honey inedible but I am glad to have the hive gone. Now I sleep comfortably with my head against the wall where the hive use to be. Since this seems to be all about animals I might as well tell about the grubs that we found in the firewood today. I was working on a word list when Debbie called me over to see a grub in the wood Steve was cutting. It was white and thicker than my index finger but probably just as long. After taking a picture- Steve asked me if I wanted to eat it but I declined because who am I to deny the village children of such a delicacy. Then Steve took a video of one of the boys happily eating it. I thought the entertainment was over but then they found another grub in the same wood. This time Steve got the whole action- from the removal of the grub, to the consumption of the grub on video. I’ll see if there is a way to post that for your viewing enjoyment. Some day I may have a video of myself enjoying the bush delicacies but maybe I will fry it first.

My Support Team

Tomorrow I leave for Kapawa. It has been complicated trying to pack for bringing exactly 40kg and enough food items for three weeks worth of breakfasts (I will have lunch and dinner with the McEvoys) but I am finally ready. Everything is packed, weighed and labeled. I have also cleaned and moved out of my apartment in preparation for my early morning departure. So for two nights I am staying at Brian and Susan’s house and they are generously allowing me to store everything I am not taking to the village in their extra bedroom.

Let me introduce the generous Brian and Susan. Brian is a diesel mechanic from Oregon and Susan is a linguist from Colorado. They met during training camp, then dated and married a year ago this January. Now living at Ukarumpa, Brian works in the industrial department and fixes machines and equipment. He’s the one who will fix the generator when PNG-power goes out or repair the tractor that maintains the roads. Susan will be assisting in various roles in the language office- which will include material distribution and advocate work with a people group in the Mt. Hagen area. Both of them have very different interests and talents but PNG provides opportunities for them both to contribute positively to the work of bible translation.

At the end of POC Brian and Susan volunteered to be my support team for my village stays. Support teams are one of Ukarumpa’s safety nets for village teams. I am still learning all of the roles that a support team can play but mainly they are there to help prepare me for the village, provide moral support via radio and help with various other practical tasks while I am away from Ukarumpa. As a support team they will also be learning about the province and language group. But I think Brian and Susan are most excited about the opportunity to have a subsidized visit out to Kapawa at some point. I am excited about that too!

But for now, I am looking forward to radio skeds with Susan and sharing village stories with them when I get back. I will be sure to come back with lots of blog material to share with all of you as well.