The guys in charge decided that the women should be on the first shuttle out, just in case the weather turned bad again and prevented further evacuation. Teresa, Becky, Susie, and I, along with Joel and Matthew climbed into the chopper. Seat belts fastened, door secured. A few minutes later we were taking off and up over the mountains. The 10 minute ride was absolutely breathtaking as skimmed over trees and through the fog that was lifting out of the valleys. Let's just say that helicopter is THE way to see PNG!
It wasn't long until we once again began to see signs of life on the earth below. There were a few areas where the rainforest had been cleared and bush houses had been built. Another stripe of green earth marked the early stages of a new airstrip. As we touched down and de-boarded, Susan and McKenna Kopf and dozens of Hewa villagers were there to welcome us to Yififiki. We were greeted with handshakes and even a few hugs.
Susan led us up the muddy jungle path from the airstrip to their family home. The two-story dwelling was simple, yet quite nice. In some ways it reminded me of Swiss Family Robinson, with a few modern perks. The second floor had two bedrooms, a bathroom, and a kitchen/living area. This is where the Sawyers and we gals slept. A solar power system provided enough electricity for lights and warm water. There was a radio for communication with the outside world. Apparently email worked through the radio as well. There was a freezer (but no fridge) to keep food cold and a stove (with a non-functioning oven). The men stayed on the lower level which had a room with bunk beds, a shower, and workshop and storage areas.
We settled in while we waited for the rest of the shuttles to arrive. The warm shower was quite a treat after a night on the hard floor. Susan heated up waffles for breakfast. Her fellow New Tribes missionaries form around PNG had sent in food to help feed our group for the week... sweet and sour chicken, BBQ pork, spaghetti, home made granola and cookies and pita bread. We were so well fed. In fact, I don't eat that well at home. The Kopf's certainly have have the gift of hospitality! The whole experience was rather different than the more primitive conditions that I was expecting. On my first CBHC trip to Vanuatu, we stayed in a bush house, used a pit toilet, "showered" from a bucket, and ate local cuisine.
One of the great things of this trip--and there were many--was getting to know this wonderful family. Jonathan and Susan have such sweet spirits, and a deep love for the Hewa people. That was so evident as we listened to the stories of their 10+ years in the bush. (And I mean big bush. This was the most remote of any place that Becky has traveled to, and she has been to a lot of remote places with CBHC.) I'll share more about the Kopfs and their ministry in a later blog.
Did I mention that the have an absolutely adorable almost four year old daughter? McKenna was especially excited to reunite with her cousin Susie.
Stay tuned for soon to be coming part 3--village birth attendant training!
"Above all, love each other deeply... Offer hospitality to one another... Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms."
~ 1 Peter 4:8-10