July 27, 2012

Family Conference, Part One

We have reached the half-year mark of being Papua Residents.  Some days, it feels like we've been here longer than six months.  We've packed a lot of living into our time here, and we have felt very ready for a break.

So it was with great anticipation that we headed off to our first MAF Family Conference in Papua.  I hoped for times of rest, a break from cooking and cleaning, time to get to know our co-workers better, and a break from steamy Sentani.

I was not disappointed.

David flew our family and the Perez family to Pyramid, a village in the Baliem Valley and site of the MAF Family Conference for many years.  This was the first time we've gotten to fly with David since we've been in Papua.  I love flying with D; it never ceases to amaze me how well - in my totally unbiased opinion - he can handle the plane and understand the static-y voices of the ATC controllers.  

The first part of the trip reminded me of Kalimantan jungle - winding rivers cutting through rolling hills dotted with broccoli-like trees.  Then as we approached the bigger mountains it started to look vastly different - craggy mountaintops, sweet potato gardens on the steep slopes, conical honai (traditional Papuan dwelling) clustered around an airstrip.  

Becky Perez holding her cutie-pie twin girls.  I love the bored expression on Ellie's face.  Grace, in the back on the right, enjoyed holding one of the twins for much of the flight.

Three of the MAF planes lined up on the runway at Pyramid.  We took turns doing "pig patrol" to keep pigs from wandering onto the runway while planes were landing and taking off.  Very exciting.

The lodge, where we ate all our meals and had our meetings.  
The honai (traditional Papuan hut) where the youth met.

The kids were anxious to start VBS each morning.

The conference grounds are a bit rustic and run-down, but the setting is beautiful and the weather perfect.  Nice and warm during the day, cool at night.  Mosquito nets helped keep out unwanted critters at night.
The accommodations may have been rustic, but one of the highlights for me - and I know this will sound silly - was the shower.  Our shower at home has low pressure and the hot water lasts about a minute, so we luxuriated in the long, steamy hot showers at conference, made possible by someone lighting fires under water drums twice a day.
A team from New Heights Church in Vancouver, Washington has been coming out for many years to help with the MAF conference.  They brought a group of young adults to help with VBS and the youth, as well as Pastor Matt and his wife Cindy, and their worship leader to lead the adults.

It fed my soul to have a solid week of daily corporate worship and teaching from the Word.  And the kids loved having big people to play with them.

Every evening there were crazy-fun family activities.  The first night we were chosen to sit in the MAF Family Fun Box Seating, where we were given M&M's and served fresh-cooked Spam.  Mmmm-mmm, nothing says camping like Spam.

The New Heights team staged a "Top Gun" game with water guns.  Every one who wanted to play (adults and older kids) received the name of the person they were to shoot.  Eventually the participants whittled each other down until there were just two people left.  Guess who??? Me and my buddy Linda, that's who!  Linda and her family served with ours in Kalimantan.  I don't know how we made it to the Top Gun finals - I wasn't that into the game until I started taking down all these teenagers, and Linda and I formed an alliance and helped each other until it was just us.  Then we had a show-down and her water gun proved to be faster than mine.

The kids enjoyed sliding in the mud, running wild with their buddies, and going for hikes.

We ate really well, with the meals prepared by two couples from other mission organizations who volunteered their time.  They were assisted by a group of Papuans.  They cooked meals for 130 people, all on a wood stove.  Impressive!  This woman in the photo below helped out with the baking; here she is rolling out doughnuts.  The fingers on her left hand have all been chopped off above the middle joint, a custom of some Papuan tribes to show (or perhaps induce) grief after a loved one dies.

One afternoon we all hiked down to a pig pond for a baptism service for two MAF young people.

We were sad - but rather exhausted - when it was time to leave.  It was quite an operation to get everyone packed up and sent out, but it was all organized amazingly well.  Pilot types - you gotta love their efficiency!!!

**Please forgive the varying fonts in this blog post - Blogger and I are not getting along at the moment!!!**

1 comment:

Mary said...

Sounds like a great time had by all!! Remind me to never challenge you to a duel! Ha!!