Sunday, October 21, 2007

Week-end in Ukarumpa at the International School

This is the first blog since leaving CLTC on Thursday of last week. I will describe our week-end for you.

On Thursday morning about 8:30 we left CLTC with a van load of people to make our way across poor roads into the Eastern Highlands province. Several rode with us only part way, as this was a ride to go see their families for a few days.

The trip took us through some absolutely beautiful, very rugged mountainous areas. The roads were for the most part paved (other parts were gravel/muddy & rough) with huge pot holes on both sides of the road requiring lots of swerving to miss them. Occasionally we’d meet large trucks with containers on them, which you hoped you would have room to pass. There were many one way bridges and we hoped Patrick would drive so the tire would go on the part that holds you and not into the space between those parts! Along the way we saw lots of goats along the side of the road as well as many pigs/hogs, not to mention nationals walking to and from their villages and wherever! Often Patrick would have to blow the horn so they would get off the road and out of our way.

We did encounter one group (8 or so) of ‘rascals’. They spread themselves across the road and tried to stop the van, yelling that they were 'fixing the road’ and we needed to stop. Patrick just barreled through, and they got out of the way, but what they are really after is money. We encountered two official road blocks by the highway patrol. One wanted to see Patrick’s license and the other just sent us on our way. They appear to mean business, with one man carrying an automatic weapon. Someone in our group questioned if it was really loaded.

We stopped in Goroka first at their market (see picture … wish I had first brought umbrellas into this country) and at a hotel called The Bird of Paradise, or ‘The Bird’ as it is sometimes referred. Here while we ordered food and while we ate poolside the kids had an opportunity to swim. Outside the hotel people were on the sidewalk selling their wares; baskets, bilums, etc. After the break at the hotel, we continued on to Ukarumpa. Our first stop was at the grocery store to pick up a few items. This store has a much nicer selection than Jan has in Mt. Hagen!

After settling into our flat (complete with kitchen) we walked around the campus of the International School. The high school kids were playing soccer (against some of the nationals) and we watched them for a while. After having a light supper we joined Jan and Doug Hanson in their home for dessert and coffee, after which we played a few games.

Friday we went down to the Ukarumpa market which lasts a couple of hours several mornings a week. Here we were able to pick up fruits and vegetables. A beautiful, sunny day but not as warm as it gets at CLTC, we wandered around campus and again went grocery shopping. Jan had a list from others at CLTC who wanted items they are unable to get even in Mt. Hagen. So she shopped for several families. Friday evening was burgers at the Teen Center and that was a fun and relaxing time meeting other couples. Ukarumpa school is for grades ……….. and serves the SIL (Summer Institute of Linguistics….originally named that for a site in Arkansas which later expanded to not just summers but year round and globally) community and for missionary kids from the surrounding area such as CLTC. SIL partners with Wycliffe Bible Translators and most of the work is translations of the Bible but also nutrition, health & agricultural information.

Close by campus is an air strip for MAF, Missionary Aviation Fellowship. They have several locations in PNG and carry passengers as well as cargo…for instance they delivered CLTC newest (large) copier. We visited the air strip and Patrick got us on a King Air plane which the Halls plan to fly out of here when leaving on their furlough next year.

Saturday evening Jim and I joined our host family, The Hansons, (We are staying in the Hanson’s home at CLTC while they are serving in Ukarumpa) and went to the school for swing dance lessons. (The Halls had an invitation for dessert to another family’s home.) The teens were having a blast dancing. Quite often brother and sister were dancing together….not what you would see in the states! The music switched from swing music to 50’s music and so of course we danced quite a bit.

Patrick preached in the English service on Sunday morning and we left to return to CLTC immediately following the service. Our trip home was thankfully uneventful, even with some rain.

All in all an interesting and relaxing week-end! Wish we could show you all our pictures.

Until next time we send our love and best wishes,
Mary and Jim


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