Come with me on a picture tour of an Extreme Mission trip, to an extreme airstrip in the making, to an extreme and quite colorful people – enter the Moni tribe. Enter Ndugu-Ndugu. If you can say that fast three times in a row correctly you get an A. The Moni people are in the mountains of near the neck of the Birds head peninsula. In times past they wore precious little and still do at times. Located at approximately 7,500 feet elevation the night time temps are quite cool – probably 50 degrees F.
Bob Roberts, Adventist Aviation Indonesia Pilot, dropped us off with 650 Kgs. of tools, food and personal items on this Airstrip about 3-5 hours hike away from our destination in Pogapo. This airstrip was built in the same fashion the one we were headed to help with. Every rock and piece of dirt that is in the wrong location has to be moved by hand. He then filled up the plane with 8 people headed to the Papua Mission Women’s event.
The area has mountain peaks going as hi as 12,500 feet and not far away from Papua’s highest peak of 15,000+ feet. The streams and rivers are icy cold. Likely snow melt in some of the streams. Yes you heard me right. It’s kind of wild to see alpine trees in a place 2 degrees below the equator. Zach Roberts who joined me for this trip said, “If I didn’t know better I’d think I was in the Pacific Northwest of the USA.” (Zach is the Grandson of Bob Roberts).
Colorful people are everywhere. Here is the tail of a Lorakete that this guy had for dinner but how could he resist the decoration. Most wear clothes these days but it’s not uncommon to see men in nothing but a gourd and women in nothing but a grass skirt. Their sense of modesty is not defined in the same way. When they see westerner women dressed in swimming suits they say, “How can she expose so much leg? She is a naughty woman.” For the sake of your children I’m not including the shots that happen to include a passing man or woman who wore traditional style “clothes.”
Here we are passing a school just off the runway where we were let off to hike in with 6 wheel barrows, 12 shovels, 10 picks, 12 large breaker chisels, 180 Kg of rice, 4 cases of oil for cooking, salt, sugar, spices, our personal things, and lots more. Opin (not in this picture), Zack and me and lots of gear were coming to these extreme places to help encourage our Pastor (wearing yellow) in this extremely remote tribe. I’m carrying 2 wheel barrow backs stacked together.
We pass native homes along the trail.
We were in clouds along the way. Here is a village on the opposite side of the valley.
A crashed plane on a runway half a mile below us is a sobering reminder of the challenge that mission pilots put themselves in every day they fly to make it possible for pastors like me to spread the gospel. The rumor was this pilot made it but in the last year 4 pilots have not. Papua has claimed the lives hundreds who were caught in some of the most difficult flying conditions in the world.
We are here because of this man, Yacobous (middle), who in 2003 had a dream in the night that God was going to send more truth through a visiting pastor. The next day the very Pastor who he saw in his dream came walking up the trail. Today, there have been several pastors assigned to this extreme mountain district and slowly the Moni people are hearing the Adventist message that Jesus is coming really soon. Mr Yocobous here helps teach a bible study with the current pastor to several eager listeners. Ironically its Mr Yocobous’ son Opin who is with us as translator and helper. Opin attends our Adventist school near by where Ruth and I live. Mr Yocobous helped influence the tribe chief and several other key people to let the original Adventist pastor come. He told them that they should not persecute him but listen to his words. The documentary of that experience is on shareHim.org. About half way down their web page click on “Irian Jaya” video.
Today the work is slow yet steady. The challenge nearly everything has to be brought in by plane or grown or hunted locally. So any pastor spends hours learning language and just surviving before he can be effective. There are 3 small groups meeting in 3 separate villages. Yet Pastor Richeel is making goals to see 1,000 Moni come to accept Jesus and the message of His soon return.
Even the pig stops to hear Pastor and Mr Yacobous share the gospel.
The original Adventist Church in the Moni tribe. The small shed in the front is the offering shed. The natives bring 10th of their vegetables and goods they make as their tithe. Then the pastor and student missionaries and kids in our school live off this food. Today, there are about 40 baptized members in this church who attend every Sabbath.
This is the Adventist school (left is grade K-2 and behind the church is 3-6), Church (center), and parsonage (right).
The reason we came was to baptize some newly coming members and to work on the air strip which consists of some 100 meter long piles of rock and dirt that need to me moved over the hill to make a place for the plane to fly in. This picture is from about 1 year before we arrived. The natives work on this pile for about 2-3 hours 2 times per week (market days). To give you a perspective imagine digging 20-35 feet of dirt, rock and clay off a football field one shovel at a time in high elevation with mal-nurished bodies.
We started early before the natives came.
Young mom’s and babies stand watching spell bound. Ladies with traditional mesh bags that carry hundreds of sweet potatoes each day sell to the gawkers their wares. It’s market day.
The chief, who is an Adventist, saw an opportunity for lots of help. And he standing here preaching in Moni Style for the people to come help so they can improve their lives when the airplane is able to land. i'’ll try to post a video of this in a few weeks when I have state side internet speed.
Part 2 will follow soon