Thursday, 21 July 2016

 On Friday, July 1, 2016, we left Auckland at 6:00 a.m. to fly to Brisbane and then catch a flight to Papua New Guinea.  I was feeling a little nervous because of all the stories we have heard about how dangerous it is.

We arrived in PNG at 2:45 p.m. and Sope was waiting there to pick us up.  His real name is Moasope McCarthy and he is the Self-Reliance Manager in Papua New Guinea.  He has been head of security but was just released from that job because he has now been called as the Port Moresby Stake President and with that calling and his Self-Reliance job he needed to let go of something.  He is a great guy.  He took us straight to the service center for some training because our flight was one and a half hours late.

The Self-Reliance Specialists were at the service center waiting for us.  Sope flew two of the ladies in from Lae, the Highlands, so they could be part of the training.  We were so glad to meet them.  These three ladies on the left are very strong, faithful, humble members and doing so much for the people in their areas.

This is Sope's Self-Reliance team.  There are full-time missionaries, church service missionaries, specialists and volunteers.  We had some great training going on.  The weather was perfect, a slight breeze and not too hot.

This is Sister Hota from Madang District.  She is the District Relief Society President and has been instrumental in getting eight Mum's Pre-Schools organized in Madang.  She is so kind and so helpful.  She told us how honoured she was to meet us, the authors of these booklets, and wanted pictures to take back to the other mothers so they could see us.  We trained all afternoon Friday and then all day on Saturday.  That evening we all went to the mission home and had dinner together.

Sunday we went with Elder and Sister Havea to the Port Moresby Ward.  Elder Havea is currently serving as the Bishop until they call a new one.  The chapel sits on a hill and this is the view of the Pacific Ocean and some of Port Moresby.

This gentleman met us as we got out of the truck and introduced himself as the first member in Port Moresby.  We did not write down his name.  Great Face!

Entrance to the Port Moresby Chapel.  It was a large building.

This is the chapel of the Port Moresby Ward.  They had about 200 members in attendance today.

View from the chapel.  The land was very dry, the grass all brown and dry and the air was very dusty, they have not had rain for a while

They asked us to bear our testimonies during Sacrament.  After the meeting we headed out and met these three ladies.  Each of them are running a Mum's Pre-School here in the Port Moresby ward boundaries.  Elder Havea is on the far left then Kaviera, JoAnn and Cathy with Nada.

Sope came and picked us up and took us to 4 Mile Chapel to attend another Sacrament meeting for the Korobosa Ward.  Again they asked us to sit on the stand and bear our testimonies.  After Sacrament we met the whole Poh family and they wanted to take a picture with us.  Laura and Cliff, the parents, had been in the trainings with us the last couple of days.  Yes I do not have my name badge on.  I left it in Auckland and felt very uncomfortable for two weeks without it.  We attended the whole three hour block and then did a devotional on the Doctrine of Education, how to read text better, the importance of routines and study groups for two hours after the end of the meetings.  We were staying at the mission home with President and Sister Taeoalii so Sope took us there and we had the rest of the evening off.  We had a nice dinner and visit with the mission president and his wife that evening.  They are great people.
On Monday, July 4, 2016, we went to the Service Center and Reed and I did a devotional for the employees and missionaries serving there on Self-Reliance.  We did a short training then we helped Renee, a volunteer, Sope and his wife May, get all the names laminated and attached to lanyards for FSY that is starting on Tuesday.  FSY is "For the Strength of Youth" and is like EFY in the States.  No one was getting it together so Sope took it over two weeks ago because he did not want the youth to miss out.  That evening we had FHE with the senior missionaries and President and Sister Taeoalii in their home.  We had a nice dinner and it was fun to get to know them all.  There are two senior couples serving there who are white skinned.  We did not know Caucasians could serve here but they are and they feel safe and are enjoying their missions.  They just know they do not go to certain places.
Tuesday, July 5, 2016 we headed to the Port Moresby Stake Center to help get all the youth registered and ready for their four day FSY experience.  They were patiently sitting here in the hot sun waiting for their names to be called out so they could go to the chapel to wait for FSY to begin.
I helped one of the YSA counsellors hand out the hygiene kits they gave to each person and punch their tickets to say they had received it.  It was nice to meet each young person.  The youth are just like the youth any where else except probably a little more quiet and respectful.  They spoke so quietly it was hard to hear their names.  It took two hours to get them all organized and ready to begin the conference.  They had 237 youth and YSA counsellors in attendance.

The chapel was full of young people.  They are getting instructions about the next four days of activities and about the tents they would be sleeping in.

Sope welcoming everyone and giving instructions.

President and Sister Taeoalii.  He spoke for a few minutes about what a wonderful experience this is for them and what would be expected of them.  He talked to them about how they should treat each other and how important it was to try to feel the spirit and learn all they could.

That afternoon, Elder and Sister Havea took us for a drive around Port Moresby.  Until now we had spent most all of our time at churches or the service center.  This is a settlement built over the ocean.  They believe bad spirits cannot cross the water.  These homes are much nicer than those built up in the hills in the settlements.  When we pulled out our camera this family came running out of their house so we would take their picture.

This is the fish market.
Elder Havea took us up into the hills above their ward building.  A lot of the ward members live in this settlement.  The settlements are built on government property.  People just find whatever they can to build their houses out of.  They are virtually squatters.  After a while the government decides there are too many people and it is too dirty and congested so they give them little warning and then go in and knock down the houses and bull doze the area clean.  Then the people have what they can carry and have to find a new place to put up some kind of shelter.  We met and spoke with some of the members.  We never felt unsafe while we were with Elder Havea or Sope.

From the hill we looked back onto the settlement over the water.  These are very poor and humble people. 
That evening we went back to the stake center for the evening devotional.  They separated the youth into 12 companies and one of the companies sang the prelude.  For such short practice they did a very fine job.
This is Sope's adopted daughter.  She took second place in Papua New Guinea's version of American Idol.  She sang the FSY theme song and did a great job.  She is headed to BYU-H in August.
At the end of the first evening we had everyone go to the front of the chapel and took a group photo.
They served them all some hot chocolate and cookies and then they headed to their tents for the night.  The boys slept on the other side of the chapel and the girls were across the parking lot, past all the class rooms and up in another open field.  They even had make shift showers for the week.

Reed and Nada standing in front of the Parliament building.  We drove in the truck with Havea's but all the kids were on buses. 

Wednesday morning July 6, 2016, we headed to the Parliament Building for a tour.  This building was completed in 1984.  Because there were so many of us they divided us into two groups.  They would not let us take any pictures inside.  They had some gifts from other countries and a very nice collection of butterflies, moths and stick insects that live on the Island of Papua New Guinea.  Some of the butterflies were more than 8 inches from wing tip to wing tip.  They took us into the room where Parliament meets when in session and explained all about the government.  The kids asked some good questions.
We got all the youth and YSA finally together on the steps outside of the Parliament building and got a group shot.  Reed took the picture and Nada is on the top left.
All the kids walking up from the buses.
Nada and Sister Moyers.  She and her husband are the auditors here.
On the drive back to the church we passed this outside market.  They do not have stalls they just have small tables and put up umbrellas to keep the sun and rain off.  Most of them sell Betelnuts.  They chew it and it makes their mouth and teeth turn orange.  If they mix it with lime (smashed up seashells) it is like some kind of drug.

They always give Reed the worst time to present.  After we had been to the Parliament building, waiting in the hot sun and had lunch we headed back to the stake center for training.  Reed presented information on the Doctrine of Education to them and how to read text, take notes better, how to self-monitor when reading and how to organize study groups and why.  Then we had them all break into their companies for 45 minutes and put together a skit to come back and perform for the whole group.  They had to take one of the things Reed had presented, teach it to their group and create the skit so they would understand more of what they had learned.  Part of the criteria was they had to use the word crocodile (puk puk in Pigeon) the number 17 and some kind of music in their skits.  At first they did not get it but as we went around to the individual groups and explained it again they started having fun.

One of the groups trying to put their skit together.  They are sitting outside the chapel.

This group is under one of the tents trying to create their skit.

One of the groups performing their music part of their skit.  Some really got into it and had fun.  I think if we did it again they would be much more creative after seeing it done a few times.

Another group teaching their skit.  Some did more reading and some more performing.  That evening we went to Airways restaurant for a very nice dinner with the mission president and his wife.

President and Sister Taeoalii outside of the mission home.  They are from Hawaii.  He is Samoan and she is Hawaiian.  They are doing a wonderful job and having so many interesting experiences.  We are so grateful to them for allowing us to stay with them and learn more about them and their mission.. 
We are so grateful for this wonderful opportunity that we had to visit Papua New Guinea.  We enjoyed getting to know Sope and his family better.  We enjoyed learning more about this country and the people here.  Thursday morning we packed our bags and President and Sister Taeoalii took us to the War Memorial and Cemetery.  The graves were soldiers from World War II from Papua New Guinea and Australia. There were quite a few unknown graves. It had a very reverent feeling and was very well taken care of.
They took us to the service center to meet up with Sope and he took us to the airport.  It is hard to believe we may never see Sope and his family again.  It was a little hard to say good bye.  We feel so blessed to have had this opportunity and so grateful to Sope, Elder and Sister Havea, President and Sister Taeoalii and the Self-Reliance Specialists who treated us so well and took such good care of us.  The gospel is true and meeting members no matter where it is, is always a wonderful experience.  We hope you enjoyed learning a little more about Papua New Guinea and seeing some of Port Moresby.  We sure enjoyed every minute of it.  Until next time, Love Elder and Sister Spencer (aka Reed and Nada)


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