PNG report #6

July 13

Another wonderful Sunday worship celebration! Wore the mari blouse that the ladies had given me – they were all genuinely pleased to see it! Doris and Martine gifted us with large bilums and locally made napkin rings – all very wonderful.

We spent a couple of pleasant hours doing a little walkabout at the Kikuru Lodge along the Mendi River with Miri, Srs. Maria and Agnes. Agnes drove, and announced shortly after we started out that her license had expired but that she was a good driver and would get it renewed tomorrow. She IS a good driver, taking the pot holes in the pavement much slower than Martine.

The lodge is a lovely set of buildings along the river in a lush section. A pond full of koi and water lilies was invitingly peaceful. The rooms were quite modern and very comfortably appointed – better than a lot of motels I’ve been in!

The river was running swiftly as only mountain rivers do; cool in the warm sun. Lots of people/kids were out in the river – some washing themselves, some doing laundry, some just having fun. The perfect tree was in use as a jumping off spot for dropping into the river. Most wore clothes of some amount; some didn’t see the necessity. Miri was just itching to get wet and cool off, so we found a spot we could step down into the water away from everyone else – the national nuns were a bit shy about this – and quickly took off our shoes. Miri rolled her pants up while I just zipped mine off! Took the nuns by surprise to see the shorts where pants had been without taking anything else off. J We all wound up getting our feet wet – and cold.

Maria gave us a running commentary on all the plants we encountered, most of which were edible. Agnes gave us a drive-through tour of the town of Mendi – which took all of about 5 minutes. On the way back to town we saw a Hooli man dressed in native attire – stopped and took pictures with him. His only request was that we buy him a coke, but we had not brought any money with us. The rain came just as we got back home.

The national nuns were preparing a coastal version of mumu (pronounced moo moo) – original one-pot meal – for dinner. They heated stones (only certain ones could be used) and then swished them through water to clean them off and dropped them into a large pan with coconut milk. Within minutes the milk was boiling. Layers of chicken pieces, kaukau, cabbage and greens were put in the pot along with more stones. The whole thing was then covered with large banana leaves cut off the trees in their back yard. About an hour later, after evening prayer, we joined them for dinner – it was delicious! Additional fried potatoes, broccoli and mixed veggies were added. Fresh pineapple complemented the meal. (I didn’t get any pictures of the mumu preparation due to the rain that was falling during the whole procedure. Didn’t dappen their spirits – or dinner – in the least!)

And then….. they had a presentation of gifts for Miri and me along with the pineapple/peanut upside down cake that Martine had made earlier. They processed in carrying the cake and gifts while singing a lovely acceptance song. Brought tears to our eyes! The gifts were lap-laps with all the flags of the country and provinces along with lovely bilums. Just as we finished dishing out the cake – along with the freshly whipped cream to go with it! – there was a knock on the door and the bishop came in. He had final news of Tari and was about to leave us to our celebrating until the mention of whipped cream caught him!

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