Canoe trip cements friendship

POSTED ON 2010-02-18
  by Dena McMaster

A workshop for church leaders in Papua New Guinea forged deeper relationships between Abau and Siawi believers.

They traveled together to the workshop along with missionaries Frank Tertel and Kelly Luyendyk. The workshop -- a time of teaching and fellowship -- encouraged and challenged the young believers to accept their responsibility of shepherding other believers.

Kelly was privileged to go home with them in their somewhat unsteady canoe. The group had traveled for three days and home was just around the bend in the river.

"As the hot sun warmed my bedraggled clothes and steamed away the soaking from the latest downpour," wrote Kelly, "I looked at my dirty hands, caked with mud from the ongoing struggle to caulk our ship, scratched my scruffy chin and breathed a word of thankfulness. We were almost home."

Suddenly the tired men sat up and eagerly eyed a huge crocodile sunning on the river bank. Everyone watched as the crocodile turned and looked directly at them.

The four Abau men excitedly instructed the five Siawis on the wily ways of crocodiles, the serpentine river having its way with dugout canoes, and the names of the Abau villages along the way.

"I wished Frank could have witnessed the camaraderie on the return trip," wrote Kelly.

In the midst of driving rain, wind and darkness, the journey continued toward hoping to arrive home by Tuesday evening.

"Frustrated with our perpetually sinking canoe, frightened by giant whirlpools and oncoming floating debris, we nevertheless pressed on, wrote Kelly. "It fell to my lot to navigate into the blackness of night, totally helpless and completely relying on Funwk and Nomo, silhouetted up on the bow by their roving flashlights. They somehow guided us past all the hidden oxbows and islands on that serpentine river."

As they neared the Abau village, Kelly idled the motor and a Siawi man, Malakai, stood up and began praising God for their safe journey.

Pray for the Abau and Siawi believers and for the missionaries who labor among them as they continue to grow and learn in their journey with the Lord.

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