First time to leave Kiari!

Greetings from the village of Aibai! On Thursday I made the long, slow trip here from Kiari to visit the experienced missionary teachers here and observe their school. It has been such a HUGE blessing as I plan for teaching in Kiari on my own next year!!

I guess I should back up and tell about the week in order. It was a full one! Monday was our last day of school– no classes, but lots of fun activities: making thank-you cards for parents, practicing our closing program one last time, giving/receiving school awards for the fewest demerits, never late, top student in each class, encourager, helper, etc.; and cleaning the classroom. I also showed a missionary DVD, Kwassi of Togo. The kids loved it and it was so interesting to see it again, this time through their eyes.

Tuesday was our school program. Tiffany, the Smith kids, and I went up to the school and swept it out in the morning, but nobody else was there so we came back down and did things around the house until we started seeing people going up. Then I went on up and watched as the students’ parents got the mumu ready. The ladies sat around peeling kaukau (sweet potatoes) and taro and grating something else the name of which I can’t remember, and the men “cooked” the stones and killed and butchered the pig. After it was finally all in the ground cooking we waited a while longer while someone made the rice/Maggi soup, because nobody wanted to miss the program to tend to it. Then finally about 2:30 we went inside and had our program. The kids did a great job. They said their verses and sang their songs in English and Pidgin, completely from memory. The only thing they forgot was the middle verse of Jonah in Pidgin, and even though they realized it right away they did a great job of covering and not giggling. J Then Mr. Smith preached, and finally the scholarships were given for Christian Leadership, English, Math, and Most Improved. When that was all done we went down for the mumu. My piece of meat still had some bristles on it, but it was still yummy. The mumu finished up just in time for everyone to head out to one of the hauslains near the church for an evangelistic fellowship. One of the men visiting to work on the airstrip preached, and the folks enjoyed hearing a “new mouth.” Then came the hike home, and boy did our beds feel good that night!

Wednesday was a more leisurely day. It was really strange not to have school! I helped in the clinic a little, then ran errands for the guys who were fixing our generator. What a blessing to have it running smoothly again! In the afternoon I cut Tiffany’s hair for her, and she helped me make up our supply list. She will be leaving just a couple of days after we get these supplies, so it was a good time for me to learn the ropes. We ordered supplies for the next two months-hopefully I didn’t forget anything! Our church service was at 4:30, and when we got back I packed for Aibai.

Thursday morning we left Kiari about 6:30 am. Ten of us (the Smiths, two Rodgers, and I), plus everyone’s luggage, bounced along in the pickup truck for about an hour before we caught up with the Jeff on the dozer. He had left at 4 am-I’m really glad we didn’t have to leave then too! The dozer, along with the Rodgers brothers to operate it, was going to Aibai to work on their airstrip, giving Brother Randy and Jeff a welcome break from the stress of our airstrip project. The Smiths were taking immediate advantage of that by heading for Goroka for their annual week-long vacation, which has been being put off for quite a while, and Jeff is planning to build his house and finally have a real place to live after camping out in the old school storeroom for close to a year. Anyway, all that to say we followed the dozer till about noon, when we finally reached Nomane, the nearest village with an airstrip. Following the dozer meant that we just crawled along, but we were thankful for its presence because we came across a number of landslides which the dozer was able to easily clear away. A tree across the road was another matter-the dozer couldn’t budge it, and it took a good bit of cutting (our chainsaw was dull, so some of the local men came to help with axes) to finally free it so the dozer could pull it off the road. At Nomane a couple of planes came bringing supplies and taking the Smiths, and Brother Matt Crain came to pick up the Rodgers, the dozer, and me. We continued on our slow, dusty way to Aibai, finally arriving a little after 6 pm. It was a long trip, but honestly not that bad. The scenery was absolutely beautiful, and it was fun to spend time with the Smiths until Nomane and after that to chat with Brother Matt’s helpers who were riding in the back of the truck with me. We also had a pretty much continual train of children thronging after us, so it was fun to play with them and talk to them. “Whiteskin meris” are still quite the novelty here, it seems, especially when they make bilums just like PNG ladies!

As I said at the beginning, the time here in Aibai has been a tremendous blessing. The folks have been so welcoming and helpful. I just wish I had the brainpower to remember all of the great teaching ideas and the capacity to properly thank these missionary friends for their generosity with their time, ideas, and teaching resources. I’ve spent a good deal of time with Becky and Tara, the two teachers, both of whom have a lot of experience, and have been observing at school. On Wednesday I will teach 4th and 6th grades, and they’ll give me pointers after having seen me teach. It’s an education degree in a nutshell, and I’m so grateful to these kind ladies for all of their help. It’s been a blessing too to get to know some of the church folks. I must say, though, that I miss Kiari already and can’t wait to get back and start planning in earnest for our next school year.

This has been a long post, so I’ll close for now. Thanks so much for your prayers-please keep them up, particularly in regard to the decisions about our next school year. Also pray if you will that the Smiths would have a relaxing and refreshing vacation, and that we’d all have safe travels back to Kiari on the 31st. Thank the Lord with us for the many blessings He has sent.

One last note-here in Aibai I can receive phone calls, so if you’re up to international phone calls I’d love to hear from you! (011 675 7138 0913) That won’t work once I go back to Kiari because I leave my phone off (searching for a nonexistent signal kills the battery), but until then I should be able to answer unless I’m in school. We’re 14 hours ahead of the eastern US, so the easiest way to figure the time is to add 2 hrs. to your time and switch from am to pm.

Hope you have a great week!