Sunday, the last relief packages arrived in two Mamusi villages suffering the damages of a recent deluge that triggered mudslides.
For the past two months the Mamusis have lived in rough conditions, after mudslides and heavy rainfall wreaked havoc on their homes, destroying much of their gardens as well as the meeting house in both villages.
But they were not left long to fend for themselves.
News of the disaster reached missionaries Jan and Annette Wols. And many were spurred into action.
“Believers from five different language groups, missionaries in the region as well as some in other parts of the world have responded to the news by giving and helping,” wrote Jan.
The Wols then purchased canvas tarps and food supplies for the Mamusis and discussed the situation with neighboring Ata church leaders. The supplies, 63 packages totaling more than 2,000 pounds, had to be carried on foot across the steep, rain-soaked mountains of East New Britain.
“The response from the Ata church was humbling,” Jan wrote, “as they were willing to take on such a large project.”
Ata believers from different churches volunteered to carry the relief supplies to the Mamusi villages.
The packages, which included letters of encouragement from Jan and a leader of the Maleu tribe, were brought in by truck to where the road ended. Joined by missionaries Randy Wise, Aaron Weatherl and son Micah Weatherl, Jan and the Ata believers set off on their journey.
They shouldered the 2,000 pounds for nine hours over steep, muddy terrain until they came to an Ata village, where the trail forks, leading to the two rain-damaged villages.
Two Mamusi Bible teachers and 19 others were sent from the damaged villages to meet them. And neighboring Ata churches supplied 35 more carriers to share the load.
With another full day of hiking ahead of them, the group spent the night in the Ata village. “The leaders asked us to stay on for an extra day,” wrote Jan. “We all used that day to rest up.”
They also asked Jan to share from God’s Word.
The village believers and all the carriers from the different villages gathered, and Jan spoke on how God desires all believers to function together as one body, showing the love of Christ to others.
“We talked about doing this with whatever the Lord has given us to work with, not only in a big project like this but also on a local level, in our families and our local church.”
In the afternoon, the missionaries met with the leaders and Bible teachers to discuss how to assist people who have endured a traumatic event and discern the stages of shock, pain, denial and rejection of God, before experiencing acceptance and rest.
“The leaders expressed that they recognized some of those symptoms and they talked about it with each other until midnight,” Jan wrote.
In the morning, the two carrying parties headed on their way to bring the offering of love to the struggling Mamusi people.
Nine packages stayed behind, and were delivered Sunday by carriers from two more Ata churches.
When asked about their reaction to the relief supplies, Jan wrote that many of the Mamusis are still in survival mode and not very expressive.
However some did show their gratitude, using words such as, “We praise the Lord for you. We see how we are one in Christ. It is God helping us to see what it means that we are brought together in one body, the body of Christ.”