Papua New Guinea… So much to say about this wonderful island nation. :) From the time we left Denver, CO until the time we set foot in Wewak, PNG – our final destination, 52 hours had passed (you can get there in far less time, we took the long route to save money – wouldn’t do that again!). When you board Air Niugini in Singapore to make that final 6 hour connecting flight to Port Moresby, the capital of PNG, you feel like you’ve gone back in time to the early 60’s or 70’s. The flight attendants uniforms are a mint green color and their hair is in a beautiful island style (for lack of a better term – wish we had taken a picture! Next time.)
Stepping off the plane in Wewak, you realize that not only did the flight attendants take you back in time, the island itself takes you back to an era that we have heard spoken about but had never seen with our own eyes. In PNG, you can find tons of World War II relics – from sunken battleships (which make for some of the best diving in the world) to old overgrown U.S. airstrips. The people still find scrap metal from bombs that were dropped – they try to salvage the metal but unfortunately, not all the bombs are inactive. While we were there, we sadly heard many old bombs explode and knew that we had more than likely just heard someone lose their life or limbs.
We were based in the coastal town of Wewak. While we were there, we taught english at a Christian school, spoke at youth groups, attended some wonderful Assemblies of God churches, took part in an open air several night revival meeting, and shopped along the one main street in town. Wewak had one blinking red light on top of a stop sign, otherwise, there was not one stop light in the entire town. Where we stayed, there was no hot water in our shower so on occasion, we would purchase a soda at a local motel that had a restaurant and private beach. We would swim for a while and then take a lovely hot water shower afterwards.
From Wewak, we caught an 8 passenger plane with Mission Air to Mt Hagen which is in the Highlands of PNG. This was the first flight where we had ever had to weigh our bags and then step on the scale ourselves to make sure we and our bags didn’t weigh too much. During our flight we had to land in two separate small villages – one runway was a grass runway that lay between the Sepik River and a rather large mountain, the second landing was a grass runway that was on the side of a cliff – when we took off (while it was raining), we knew we were either going up or???
Mt Hagen is a gorgeous town. It’s the 3rd largest city in PNG with an elevation of 5,502 ft. While we were there, we stayed at a YWAM base which ended up being a complete Divine appointment by God. Micah had gotten bit by some sort of spider in Wewak and became extremely ill after we arrived in Mt Hagen. The wife of the YWAM base leader had studied as an Aids nurse and once she got word that Micah was not feeling well, she immediately went to check on her. Once she saw her, she jumped into action as Micah’s leg had become extremely swollen by the poison. Doris was able to lance it, get the poison squeezed out, and put Micah on some antibiotics which along with prayer, knocked that infection completely out of her system.
While we were in Mt Hagen, we explored the town, spoke at youth groups, spent time with the children near the YWAM base, and completely enjoyed our time with the YWAM students and staff.
Once our time in Mt Hagen ended, we bought tickets for a PMV 10 hour van ride down to Madang which is on the coast – the town is full of beauty but also full of giant fruit bats that hang in the trees above all the streets and sidewalks – you had to step over lots of bats that were smashed into the asphalt . From Madang we bought tickets on “The Rita” – a large ship that would take us overnight back to Wewak. The Rita was quite the experience. As soon as we set our bags down on our bunks, cockroaches scrambled out from under our mattresses and went… Well, we’re still not sure exactly where they went!! The ship was humorously nicknamed, “The Roach Motel.”
We loved PNG. The people are loving and beautiful, the fruit is plentiful, the beauty is nearly unmatched. If you’re looking for an island to visit in the South Pacific, you will not be disappointed with this place.