By the end of the week at Ukarumpa Center, both Justin and Tammy had been given several bilums (traditional woven bags) by our friends and Steve gave Justin his bow and some arrows. It was a blessing for us to see our national friends embrace our brother and sister as family.
The second week of Justin and Tammy's visit we flew to East New Britain, an island to the east of the mainland. We have friends who are translators in Kilu, East New Britain. They offered to let us stay in their village house while they were at Ukarumpa Center. By coincidence, their village happens to be next to Walindi Resort, a world-class dive resort that offers snorkeling and scuba diving on some of the most pristine reefs in the world. Our time in East New Britain was a great opportunity for Justin and Tammy to see village life, get to know village people and see firsthand the commitment and sacrifice that Bible translators make to get the Word of God into the hands of the peoples of Papua New Guinea. (We also enjoyed seeing some WWII airplane wrecks, snorkeling and hiking through the rainforest to the summit of a volcano.)
During the month of October, tensions between Ukarumpa village and Ukarumpa Center rose dramatically. At the center of these tensions was Jacob's water project. During the past few weeks, there have been altercations between the Ukarumpa villagers and our guards, unreasonable demands from Ukarumpa villagers towards our leadership, and threats to the Construction Department and personally to Jacob, as he is the lead man on the water project.
Threats are a part of living and working in Papua New Guinea. While living in PNG, Jacob has had his shoes and watch stolen by a man threatening him with a knife. Once a man threw his sweet potato and hit Jacob squarely in the kidney while Jacob drove past on the Construction three-wheeler. When Jacob stopped and hollered at the man, the man charged and threatened Jacob. Threats are not new to Ukarumpa Center nor are they new to Jacob. However, as this situation with Ukarumpa village became more tense, the threats towards Jacob were repeated They became more aggressive and they were directly from the leadership of Ukarumpa village. It is for this reason that Jacob made the difficult decision that our time at Ukarumpa Center was over.
Once Jacob made this decision, we had 5 days to say our goodbyes, pack our house and leave. The show of support we received from our fellow missionaries during this time was wonderful as we never could have done all that needed to be done without them. The hardest part of saying goodbye so quickly was leaving our national friends. It is very difficult to keep in contact with nationals once you have left as they don't have email or mailboxes. Most of them would tell us that this is not goodbye because "we will see you again in Heaven!"
Our early departure meant that Kim had to leave her classes mid-semester. This was a very difficult thing for her to do as she really enjoyed her time teaching at Ukarumpa International School and had developed many close relationships with the students and her fellow teachers.
Walking away from the water project was also very difficult for Jacob. But the Lord used our leaving to bring about something good. The afternoon of the day Jacob stopped working, the Directorate called for all able-bodied men, women, and children to go down to the water project and finish it. This was in direct defiance of Ukarumpa village, and it sent a powerful message to them that we were not going to be bullied anymore. Plus, the remaining work that would have taken Jacob and his men weeks to complete was done in three days. In addition, the water project, which up until now had been taking place without anyone's noticing, suddenly became the rallying cry for the entire community. We were blessed by the outpouring of community support for the water project and for us as we prepared to leave.
- Praise the Lord that the water project was completed prior to our departure.
- Praise the Lord we have arrived safely in Cairns.
- Please pray for us as we adjust back to Western Civilization (i.e. no bars on windows, the ability to go out safely at night, modern conveniences, etc).
- Please pray for us as we are looking for a way to serve with Wycliffe in Australia to finish our 1-year term.
Saying good-bye to good friends.........