Last week about 20 of us traveled to a bush church.  When I first heard about going to bush churches I imagined long car trips with plenty of hiking to follow.  As it turns out, since we’re already living out away from the main towns, going to a bush church doesn’t take long.  This particular church was a 20-30 minute drive.

I have two choices when driving off station.  Be brave and drive the roads or be a passenger and get car sick.  This time I opted to drive one of the two vehicles.  There are four P’s that a driver has to be aware of when driving here:

Pigs – There are pigs of all sizes (tiny and huge) along the side of the road.  Occasionally they run into the road.

People – The walkways are right along the side of the road and people often use the road itself to walk on (it’s easier than walking in the dirt and brush).  Little kids often play along the side of the road and will sometimes dart out.

Potholes – POTHOLES would probably be a better description.  There are many and they are big.  You can’t travel 80 kph (50mph) very long before having to slow down for the next pothole.

Police – The police have check points occasionally that need to be stopped for.

When I drive there is one more P that drivers need to watch for.

Pokey Little Beckey – I am getting  better, but tend to be one of the slower drivers on the road.  Thankfully, last Sunday there weren’t any vehicles that pulled up behind me and I wasn’t too far behind Scott, who was driving the other vehicle.

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One of the bridges we drove across and then walked across after the service to play in the river

We arrived at the church a little early and soon had a crowd of kids around to watch us.  Most of them enjoyed having their pictures taken and then being able to see themselves on the camera.  Some of the kids were curious, but shied away from the camera.

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On the way in, our big girl  was disappointed to miss seeing the pigs along the side of the road.  Once we got to the the church, though, she was able to go back behind the building and see a little pig there.

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A PNG couple that attends the Nazarene Bible college near the hospital were the special speakers for the morning.  We all were enjoying the special music they shared so much that I neglected to get a picture of them.  Their as ples (place of origin, hometown) is near the capital city of Port Moresby and the music reflected the area.  He made some fun popping sounds during the songs, which were met by roars of laughter from all the kids in the congregation.

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Recently, I was talking with Dr. Sheryl, who is a surgeon that arrived the same time we did, about how hard it is to see the violence against women here.  A lady will come in after being stabbed by her husband and we care for their wounds, but they often times do not come back for follow up visits.  There’s not a lot of resources for women in abusive situations.  I also recently read this article about PNG being one of the worst places in the world for violence against women.

The visiting pastor had a sermon all prepared, but when he saw how many women were in the church he decided to go a different direction.  I quickly stepped outside since our baby girl wanted to help him preach, but was able to hear much of what he said from just outside the door.  He spoke about the Samaritan woman at the well and told the ladies that they are important to God and He has a plan for each one of them through this church.  In the midst of a culture that looks down on them for being women, it is through Jesus Christ these ladies are given value and purpose.  Towards the end of the sermon I stepped closer to the door to peek inside and saw the front of the sanctuary filled with ladies praying.

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As foreigners we can tell women they have value, but the impact is even greater when it comes from one of their own people.  Please pray for the national church leaders (men and women) as they communicate the good news of Jesus.  Pray that Christian husbands will love their wives as Christ loves the church and their clans will see the difference that this love makes in their marriages.  Pray for the women of this church as they seek God’s direction in how He will continue to use their lives.  Pray for the women in abusive situations, that they can find safety and find hope in Jesus.  Pray for the doctors, nurses and chaplains as they treat the ladies whose bodies and spirits are beaten and battered.

After the service we drove down the hill for a picnic and a chance to play in the river.

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It was quite a steep trek down the hill and going back up was even trickier.

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It was a great morning together and an encouraging time at church.

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