By HELEN TARAWA
THE Tufi Tapa Tattoo Festival was scheduled for the weekend of Nov 9 and 10.
Due to the flights being fully booked we had to arrive in Tufi three days earlier and were accommodated at Saidado Guest House in Baga Village.
As the sun was setting in the horizon with the dusk and the nightfall fast approaching we carried out bags and headed to the Tufi jetty.
Tufi station is located on a plateau surrounded by the beautiful fiords and it was quite a walk down to the jetty.
The crew of the dinghy was already waiting for our group which comprised the Ijivitari District Development Authority officials, the festival sponsors’ representatives and the media team.
By the time we left the jetty the wind had already picked up and the sea was beginning to be choppy.
We were told that it would take only a 10-minute boat ride to the guest house.
It was already dark as we approached the village and from the shores we could see some lights flickering in the distance beckoning us home.
The Saidado Guest House was formerly the missionary home of Americans Jim and late wife Cindy Farr.
Saidado is the local name for chestnuts which were plentiful in that area and the name of the guest house derives from that.
The Farrs were among the first Bible translators under the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) who arrived in 1972 and had worked in a lot of the communities throughout the country.
From the SIL headquarters in Ukarumpa, Eastern Highlands, the Farrs made their way to Northern where they worked with the Managalansi people in the hinterlands, the Korafes in Tufi and the Barugas in Lower Musa.
Baga village was the translation centre for the Farrs where Jim was adopted by Michael Mota as a foster son.
He and wife Cindy lived and worked among the Korafe people and translated the New Testament.
As we settled into the four bedroom guest house, the history of the Bble translation centre was being retold by the Mota brothers, Tony and Didimus.
Winnka, third of the Mota brothers, had taken on the responsibility of the Bible translation work from his father Michael and foster brother Jim with the help of his family members.
Soft-spoken and timid Winnka didn’t come around for a chat with us at the guest house until I took it upon myself and visited his home and got the story out of him.
“I was 12 years old when Jim and Cindy came to Tufi and I have since joined them in this work.
“I am not educated, haven’t been to school but by the Spirit of God I came up to be where I am doing Bible translation work.
“God is with me and it’s very interesting work. I have six children; three daughters and three sons and seven grandchildren.
“It is very challenging job, especially without power source, computers and laptops but we have managed with the little resources we have.
“After completing the New Testament I took up the Old Testament translation until the SIL management recommended me for training.
“I started off with smaller – books, Ruth and Jonah and then to the book of Psalms.
“SIL then extended its work to the Baruga people in lower Musa, carried out translation work and completed it last year.
“My brother Tony, his wife Ann, my two sisters and my younger son joined me to attend the training in May this year.
“After the training I was tasked to start on the book of Genesis which I have completed and I’m working on Exodus,” he said.
“Language development is the identity of our God-given language and I call on the Government to look into this.
“We Papua New Guineas work on this programme out of our hearts because it is voluntary for God’s work,” Mota said.
The Farrs worked with the Baruga people on the Bible translation until Cindy passed on in 2006.
She was buried next to the Sadodo Guest House. They have worked for almost 49 years in PNG and their only son was born in PNG.
As part of the missionary tradition those who served in ministry must be buried in the land where they worked.
Jim remarried to his partner Joan so she could assist him continue the translation work.
Upon his decision to leave Baga village Jim handed over the property including a dinghy as a gift to the Mota family.
Jim declared that his house would no longer be used as the translation centre but as a guest house.
That is when the Mota family opened it up to the visitors and tourists who visit Tufi.
It is the second time that guests from the Tufi Tapa Tattoo Festival had stayed at the guest house.
Boniface Aikeba from the National Broadcasting Corporation who had stayed in the guest house last year while attending the same event, said it was a great place and he was happy to be back.
Aikeba was encouraged by the community’s effort towards organising the guest house and empowering the people in terms of promoting tourisim.
“It is a guest house in a village setting with beautiful scenery, the sea and white sandy beaches which are peaceful and quiet and I urgethose visiting Tufi for leisure or for work to stay at Saidado.
Miriam Zarriga from Post-Courier was a first timer to Tufi and she loved it.
“It was awesome, the food was awesome, the people were great and friendly.
They did everything to make our stay enjoyable and I enjoyed myself.
“I would recommend visitors to call into the Baga Guest House for great company and good food,” Zarriga said.
Popular singer and artist Alanlee Herove said he felt blessed staying in a missionary home that had now been turned into a guest house.
“It was no ordinary guest house and I felt moved that people from overseas came to live in this village and brought the good news of Christ to our people.
“For them to leave their home it was a great initiative to turn it into a guest house which is now benefiting the people.
“The guest house is like a light house, the missionaries have left a light in this house and it is a beacon of hope to the people and those who come to live in that guest house will feel blessed too,” Herove said.
Deputy Chairman of the festival organising committee and executive officer of the Ijivitari District Development Authority Stanislaus Ivahupa said this was an opportunity to empower the local people to embrace tourism.
“The hospitality that you provided to our guests had been very welcoming and we thank you and the community who have supported us and I’m sure we have enjoyed our stay.
“We will continue to support you and we encourage our people to step out and be part of the drive to build small to medium enterprises and to experience their stay here,” Ivahupa said.
On our final night, the coordinator of the guest house and the youngest of the Mota brothers Didimus hosted dinner outside.
“I want to thank this team that the first guests that came to stay here was the team from the Tufi Tapa Tattoo Festival last year.
“Earlier this year we received two guests from the dive resort who stayed here and we were happy to look after them.
“You are the third group of people to stay in the guest house and I hope that you will continue to come here and more guests will also come here,” Didimus said.
Tufi is an untapped paradise that is yet to be discovered and Saidado Guest House and the Baga community have a lot to offer so when you next visit Tufi make sure to take a boat ride there.
The SIL missionary home that was once the Bible translation centre has now been transformed into a lighthouse that is a beacon of hope not only for the Baga community but also those to visit.
Next week: It’s almost 22 years and Patrick Ifuda is yet to find his twin brother who was lost at sea between Oro Bay and Tufi together with his mother and nephew.