By MALUM NALU
THE beautiful village of Laukanu in Salamaua, Morobe, received a timely Christmas present with the opening of its new Lutheran Churchbuilding on Sunday, Dec 18.
Hundreds of people from theHuon Gulf villages from Busamangtowards Lae, to as far southas Siboma towards the border withNorthern, converged on Laukanu tojoin in with celebrations for the Lutheran Church.
It was the culmination of several years of fundraising by the Laukanu villagers with assistance in cash andkind from individuals, groups, LaebasedNiugini Electrical and leadersincluding Morobe Governor Kelly Naru, Huon Gulf MP Ross Seymourand Salamaua local level government president Philemon Tomala.
It was built at an estimated cost ofK170,000 and opened and dedicatedby Evangelical Lutheran Church ofPNG’s Jabem District president-electReverend Yasam Aiwara.
Naru presented another K10,000 in cash to complement the K25,000 he’already given.
Church committee secretary Geamsa Gweso said Laukanu, whichis part of Malolo Circuit of ELCPNG’Jabem District, has had a long Lutheranhistory.
“Our grandfathers were good sailors and sailed to other areas likeBukawa, Finschhafen and Siassi totrade,” he said.
“It was because of this that theywere the first to bring in the Mitic(Word of God) into Malalo in 1905.
“After this, our grandfathers had astrong church building built with thehelp of missionaries.
“This building last until WWIIwhen it was destroyed by bombs.
“After WWII, the people of Laukanuworshipped at the beach, under the trees, and under houses.”
Gweso said in 1980, retired Lutheran pastor Gedisa Zauya of Laukanu, set up a bush material church.
He said in 1992, a permanentbuilding was set up, and wasrenovated in 2000 with K10,000 assistancefrom former Huon Gulf MPTukape Masani.
Gweso said in 2013, Laukanuleader Philip Gerson the office of Morobe Governor KellyNaru, to set the project in motion.
It was built solely by a village team under the supervision of Eric Katam.
Gweso thanked all who contributed in one way or another over the years to see the Laukanu church competed.
Laukanu, and Salamaua as a whole, are not exempt from the scourge of homebrew and drugs.
Salamaua local level government president Philemon Tomala says these new evils are a major menace in the district.
Tomala appealed to the young people of Laukanu to attend church services on Sundays and not to be engaged in other activities such as homebrew and marijuana.
“Let us go to church and help to in the Bible,” he said.
“We should not forget that development of this country would not have begun without churches.
“We have a new church building which we should use for our programmes over Christmas and New Year.
“Fire water – homebrew – and marijuana should not be allowed over Christmas.
“Those who engage in these will be dealt with by the law.
“I encourage parents to tell their children not to engage in these.”
Laukanu representative Lot Gedisa Zauya said the opening of the church posed new challenges for Laukanu and the Lutheran Church as a whole.
Zauya said he was not impressed to see people in Laukanu consuming alcohol the night before church opening.
“We must teach our young people, not only in Laukanu but in other parts of Salamaua as well, that we need to improve on this, to support the work of the church,” he said.
“We must encourage our young people to be involved in church activities.”
That said, there was much feasting, as the people of Laukanu and their neighbours from then idyllic Huon Gulf villages celebrated the continuation of the Mitic in this day and age.
By MALUM NALU