By GABBY MUGANG
AS the misty fogs were gliding over to the blue mountain tops, with the sun rising from the horizon in the early morning of Saturday, Jan 11, 2020 a convoy of tulait-tulait (dusk-to-dawn) buses lined up at the Erap junction off-loading passengers from the highlands.
These were delegates from church districts who were attending the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea’s (ELC-PNG) 32nd national synod at Boana, Nawaeb in Morobe.
Soon afterwards also trucks from Boana lined up to fetch the delegates up to the station. Those trucks came decorated with choko leaves since choko is the main vegetable grown there. It is one of their major cash crops supplied to the Lae main market.
I was seated comfortably in one of the trucks with my Jiwaka team and happily singing songs in our Waghi dialect as our truck drove through the array of tall coconut trees and off-ground high post coastal houses. As we passed villages along the way, locals gladly threw flowers at us and greeted us with the chant: “Oi, oi, oi” which was their way of saying “you are welcome.”
Not long afterwards the smooth path turns rough and the truck starts driving up the hill and further up into the gigantic green-bluish mountain range of tropical rainforest. Seeing the steep cliffs on the way, the rough terrain and the very long distance made me wonder what it was like back then in those early days when the missionaries had to walk on foot for very long hours, even days, climbing the rough mountain terrain, crossing sinuous fast flowing rivers, and overcame all odds on the way just to bring the gospel to the people.
I was also reminded of stories of my grandparents who, while serving in Jiwaka, had to move their young family all the way to Boana in the years 1958 – 1959, where my grandfather had to do pastoral training at Boana Bible School. (That piece of the story is stated in the book that I have written).
So I was also thinking about them and that made me so sad and I felt a cry within me but I am also grateful today that they did it for a good cause. And my going there to Boana was like re-tracing their footsteps.
We eventually arrived at Boana station after nearly a two-hour drive.
Boana mission station is a historical place where the Lutheran Mission first set up its base in 1932 and afterwards had produced many local indigenous missionaries to other parts of PNG especially up to the highlands.
Because of their acceptance of the gospel and dedication in mission work, today a lot of elites in education, business, polities, etc, in the country are products from there. Famous businessmen and politicians like Luther Wenge, Kelly Nauru and others come from there.
The week-long synod was officially opened on Sunday, Jan 12 by Prime Minister James Marape.
During the tutumang (meeting) week, I got hooked up with the people from the ELC-PNG resource center and assisted in selling books including mine titled Mugang Mugarewec Bitenggere – A Pioneer Missionary to the Highlands of New Guinea.
For those interested readers, you may order a copy through these contacts; Ph: 76474157 and email: email@example.com
The tutumang ended on Friday, Jan 17 with the re- election of Rev Dr Jack Urame as head bishop, Rev Lucas Kedabing as assistant bishop and Bernard Kaisom as church secretary. They will serve another four-year term.
The next church synod will be in the year 2022 and is going to be hosted by ELC -PNG Papua District in Port Moresby.
Early Saturday morning as we were leaving, locals waved at us and again with the oi,oi, oi chant.
Maybe this time they were saying “goodbye to you.”
Of course goodbye to you as well beautiful Boana – a memorable and wonderful place never to be forgotten!
- Gabby Mugang is an author and freelance journalist.