Let's travel to a new part of PNG: Oro Province! As you can see, the coastline near Tufi is known for it's fjords. (Yeah... and you thought they were only in Scandinavia...)
By the way, if you are into diving or snorkeling, then Tufi would be a dream come true for you. It's a little out of the way, but worth it. I didn't get to snorkel at Tufi, but from other places I've seen in PNG, I know that Papua New Guinea will ruin for you any other snorkeling experience.
From Ukarumpa we flew in a Kodiak to Tufi, and then the helicopter shuttled us inland to Erika village. It's only a 15-minute helicopter ride, but would take you several hours by boat if you traveled inland via the Musa River and its tributaries.
Erika village from the air.
Each helicopter shuttle was met by a sing sing group, which formally welcomed the visitors and danced them into the village.
The Baruga people took very good care of us. They had been instructed to build very minimal sleeping porches for us (i.e. a platform with a roof and no walls.) Instead, we got this:
A not-so-minimal longhouse with men on one end and women on the other. They probably used three times the amount of materials than they needed to in order to make really nice sleeping quarters for us. A ton of work went into this!
Inside there were little cubicles with two beds each.
My bed (before the mosquito net went up!)
There were also brand-new, rather deluxe men and women's toilets:
And a bath house each for men and women:
Bathing involved standing on the wooden platform and dumping buckets of water on yourself. Women from the village re-filled these water drums every morning for the guests.
I spent three nights in the village, which I loved, since it gave me quite a bit of free time to wander around and capture daily life in the village.
We hiked down to the smaller tributary near the village and saw their canoes.
And we even hiked all the way down to the much bigger Musa River. Baruga from other villages made these rafts from banana trees to come for the dedication. We could swim in the smaller river if we wanted, but not the Musa.... because crocodiles.
One morning I got up a dawn and saw all the women walking out of the village with their pots and pans. So of course I followed.
Since most of the people eat their evening meal after dark, the dishes don't get washed until first thing in the morning!
On Saturday some of the visitors held a mini VBS program for the kids.
This huge platform was loaded down with food contributions from all of the Baruga villages. I can't imagine how long it would take to eat that all!
There were also a couple of pigs brought to help feed the crowd.
Jim and Joan were the translation advisors for the program. The translation was started by Jim and his first wife (it was their second language program in PNG). When Jim's first wife passed away, he continued alone until he married Joan about 10 years ago.
They had a LOT of help! These are all the members of the translation team! Jim and Joan will be retiring this year, but the Baruga plan to continue with Old Testament translation.
The dedication ceremony itself started with a big procession and more singing and dancing. Then of course, lots of speeches.
Some of the translators were pretty emotional when they were presented with their copies of the New Testament.
After the dedication, audio recordings were also for sale in addition to the New Testaments. These were pretty popular, and I heard a lot of people listening to them the next day.
I've got more photos and stories than I could share here, but hopefully this gives you a glimpse of this corner of PNG. The people were just as beautiful as the scenery.
Now that the party is over and life goes back to normal for the Baruga, we pray that the Scriptures would continue to change lives in this community.