In a nutshell, the purpose of our trip was to spread the
gospel, and strengthen a local congregation in Port Moresby, the Capital and largest
city (population 170,000) as well as learn about and experience the Papua New Guinean culture.
We did a lot of singing (including a spot on the radio), performing puppet skits, meeting
people and evangelizing. The residents of Port Moresby were very receptive for the most part,
and we had quite a lot of success attracting them to meetings and Bible studies. Our
accommodations were at a hotel in Port Moresby, and the church provided our transportation
around Moresby in a long flatbed truck, and a van or two. Most of our meals were provided at
the Murphree's house, a missionary couple, except for lunches that we usually got on our own.
We also traveled some by public transport. Everywhere we went it was hard not to attract
attention, so we were constantly meeting people.
The three main parts of the campaign involved: (1) a week visiting the University of
Papua New Guinea, (2) attending the Port Moresby Show--an annual festival--where we sang and
had puppet shows, and (3) spending about five days on a "bush campaign," traveling in smaller
groups to other parts of the country, such as the highlands, or to Lae.
My group of five people flew to Lae, which is located on the east-side of the country,
for our bush campaign. Not many people know this, but Lae is famous for being the last place
where American aviator Amelia Earhart (1898-1937) took off, at noon on July 1, 1937, on
her infamous flight to Howland Island in the distant Pacific on her trip around the world. When
I visited there in 1984, Lae was a growing city of about 50,000 people, but had a smaller,
less developed, frontier-like feel to it than Moresby. We visited with missionaries there (the
Lock's, the Page's, the Ford's, the Franklin's, and several single missionaries); attended the
local church on one Sunday (I even got to preach at one service), and went on a further trip,
hosted by missionary Ken Page, into the country to the villages of Bulolo, Wau,
Some of our activities in these villages included: visiting a butterfly
farm near Bilolo, and an Ecological Institute & Zoo near Wau, and we got to visit the
"Bossman's Haus" in Winima, along with a local church. These were the most remote people we
met, in a village accessible only by a wire bridge, and we exchanged gifts with some of them. Next,
We drove to the top of 8,000 foot high Mt. Kaindi, basically, to see what was up there
(a big satellite station, to our surprise), and saw a lot of other interesting sights on this tour
with Ken. PNG used to be rich in gold deposits, and you could still see where large gold mining dredges were
abandoned in the 1930s-40s. As we passed some men who were panning for gold in a river, one of them
proudly showed us his prized pillbox which contained gold dust.
In Wau, we spent one night with an older missionary couple, the Bundt's, who were Dutch-Australian. They
had lived in the "outback" of PNG for many years, even among tribe people, and one night Tom wanted to show
us some slides of their house in the bush, and, still tired from jet lag, I just couldn't stay awake. On
another evening, we visited some Baptist missionaries with a Peace Corp worker. Most of the meals we ate
on the bush trip were cooked by Ken and ourselves on a portable gas stove.
Back in Lae, on our last day there, we visited the school of
Life, a medical clinic, and went to the International School, and played some soccer with
the kids. I had to play barefoot, because I didn't want to run in my sandals. The bush campaign
was, for most of us, the most memorable part of the whole trip because we visited "remote"
areas that were hard to get to except by a four-wheel-drive vehicle. This was
in many ways, an exciting adventure, that, let me put it this way, would probably qualify for
a National Geographic documentary! Unforgettable scenery, and friendly encounters with native
people were the norm from beginning to end.
The last full day that we were in PNG, the whole group was allowed to tour the newly
constructed parliament building, in Moresby, which was designed in an unusual
South-Pacific architectural style (it was a brand new building at the time). We also went to
the PNG Museum of Culture, and to the Moresby harbor where we saw a submerged
Japanese ship that sank during WWII.
For the trip we had two layovers in Auckland, New Zealand, where
on the return trip we had about a three-hour guided bus tour of the city, ate dinner at a downtown
McDonalds (we were on a tight schedule), and visited a sheepskin souvenir shop. An odd thing
that happened at the airport that evening, was that the fire alarms went off and everyone
(quite a large crowd of people) had to go outside and stand/wait till the fire drill was
over. That has never happened to me before or since. All-in-all, it was a short, but fine
introduction to New Zealand. I would love to go back there one day. Then, we had a short
layover in Fiji (in the middle of the night), and continued on to
Hawaii, (which was sort of a culture shock after PNG) where we spent two and a half days
and three nights at the end of the trip.
We stayed at the Hawaiian Isles Hotel in Waikiki, not far from the beach. In Hawaii
we saw many interesting sights in Honolulu and Pearl Harbor. We climbed to the top of
Diamond Head, an extinct volcanic crater where there was an old WWII look-out point.
From Diamond Head the view of Waikiki was spectacular! We visited the
U.S.S. Arizona Memorial which was about as somber as any war memorial I have
ever been to, and we went snorkeling in a coral bay that I think is where "Blue Hawaii" was
filmed, with Elvis Presley. We also went on a free tour of the Dole Pineapple Company in one
of their buses, and went to the International Market. This foray to Hawaii was fun-packed
and admittedly too short to really experience our 50th State properly, but it was
In the end, we crossed the International Date Line twice, which
was noteworthy, and spent a lot of time in the air and changing planes at airports. We flew
American Airlines, Air New Zealand, and Air New Guinea. It was on Air New Zealand that I first
began to enjoy drinking hot tea, and I got in the habbit of drinking at least one cup a day in
PNG. We also had two layovers in Los Angeles. On the return trip we had to change airports, so
we took a bus from LA Airport, across town (passing downtown LA, and the HOLLYWOOD sign)
to Ontario Airport, where we waited for a late-night flight to Nashville. We talked a lot and
played charades to pass the time!
Since this was my first trip overseas, I was able to absorb everything without feeling
too tired or bored (although I lost my voice toward the end). It was an amazing experience
which could involve a lot more description, but I will close right here to keep it brief.
After this trip I would never be the same. The travel bug got me, that's for sure!
Note: I have a small diary from this trip consisting of brief descriptions and
itineraries each day. I am surprised that I still have it, as much as I have moved around
since 1984, but the words in it really bring back memories.
PNG's Prime Minister
The New Zealand Herald
Government of New Zealand