A few weeks back we had the opportunity to travel to the Molima Bible dedication on Fergusson Island. The Molima people group are very remote and can only be reached by several hours of hiking through the jungle from the coast, or a few minutes in a helicopter. Kim flew in on Friday morning, and Jacob followed on Monday. The weather did not cooperate, and an airstrip that had been cut from the bush was too muddy for the plane to land safely on Fergusson Island, more than once that is, so an alternative drop point had to be found. That alternative was Goodenough Island. Goodenough Island has a paved runway that was constructed during WWII by the Australians. Goodenough is very bush, with no roads, no cars, and well not anything except the old airstrip. This airstrip was chosen as the location from which helicopter shuttles were to be made to the Molima village on Monday morning when Jacob arrived on the first plane.
When Jacob's plane arrived, the helicopter was already waiting at the end of the runway near a grove of mango trees and was surrounded by a large group of men with bush knives and spears. Upon deplaning, the helicopter pilot pulled Jacob aside and told him of a small problem that had come up that he needed Jacob's help with. The problem was that there were seven people on the plane and the helicopter could only hold six. As everyone else on the plane was coming in just for the dedication and did not know any tok pisin, the helicopter pilot felt that Jacob was the best suited to wait while the helicopter shuttled the guests to the dedication and the airplane went back to the mainland to get the next load of guests. And so all the the passengers exited the airplane and boarded the helicopter and then both aircraft left...and as Jacob watched the helicopter slowly disappear over the jungle, he looked around him at all of the men with spears and knives that were beginning to gather.
Thinking that his best chance to not be a late breakfast for these men by the time the aircraft returned, Jacob walked over to the mango grove, found a nice rock in the shade to sit on, and started telling all kinds of stories about ice fishing, and snow, and elk hunting in the mountains of Montana. Then the men would return with hunting stories of their own. It turns out they were out hunting wallaby that morning when they heard the helicopter come in and so they gave up on the wallaby and came to watch the helicopter. After about an hour the sound of a helicopter was heard and then an airplane, and both aircraft landed and taxied to the end of the runway. Jacob walked over towards the aircraft only to count six passengers deplane and climb aboard the helicopter. Jacob waked back over to the mango grove where Aslon, and Joseph, and Mathias, and Atson, and Steve and Simon, and all the rest of his new friends were waiting. He passed the rest of the day with them sharing stories, and eating sweet bananas while watching helicopters and airplanes land and take off and land and take off two more times. Then finally, on the last trip of the day, Jacob said good bye to his new friends and climbed aboard the helicopter with the airplane pilot and flew to Fergusson Island.