Gavuone, Papua New Guinea

11:59 pm Papua New Guinea, SDA Church, Travel

The Koiari Park Pidgin Church (Pacific Adventist University) organised a weekend trip to Gavuone, and I was keen to go. Unfortunately, Rebecca had an assignment overdue, so she was unable to go. At first I decided not to go either, but there weren’t enough seats on the organised truck to cater for everyone. So on Friday morning, I offered to go if that meant that more members could go.

However, I had some critical things that needed to be attended to on Friday afternoon, so I chose to leave at 4:00pm – three hours later than the truck. I ended up running late, and we left at about 4:20pm, and then had to fuel up in Port Moresby. Finding fuel at that time is always difficult, because of long queues at the petrol stations. By 5:10pm we finally left 6-mile.

We made great time for the first hour or so, but once the sun set, we slowed down. Despite driving very sedately, we still had some passengers getting car sick – especially those sitting in the very back. So we stopped three times along the way.

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When we arrived around 9:00pm, we were offered dinner. The others had conducted the opening Sabbath service a the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and had just finished their dinner.

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The plan was for the group to sleep in a classroom – two classrooms for the boys, and one for the girls. Although I had brought a tent, there was no good place to pitch it. So I was offered a mosquito net and a place in the classroom with the boys. Here the pastor is putting up the mosquito net for me. He also provided the mat for me to sleep on.

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I stayed up late talking with some of the boys. There is a diesel powered generator for the region, and it runs all night. During the day there is no power.

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Most of the boys were asleep by the time I got to bed.

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The next morning I slept in, as I had little sleep the few nights before this trip. Most of the members were students from Pacific Adventist University, and they were asked to run the early morning devotion. The Gavuone Seventh-day Adventist Church has worship for all Seventh-day Adventists in the village every morning from 6:00-7:00am, and every evening from 5:00-6:00pm.

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The church is the big white roof in the center of the picture above. Below is a picture of the classroom where I slept, and another classroom where two others had pitched their tents for the night.

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The Gavuone Seventh-day Adventist Primary School is situated on a small hill surrounded by mangroves. The path below is the only access to the school – and it floods during King tides.

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In the pictures above, you can see a ‘metal shed’ in the middle of the picture, directly in front of the church. This is the elementary classroom. Here is what it looks like inside.

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When I arrived at church, it was still empty – but that changed very quickly, with every seat being filled and almost all the floor space used by people sitting there. Approximately 600 people worship here every week, two-thirds of them are youth and children.

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This photo shows how almost the whole floor is covered by people sitting on the floor.

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Lunch was prepared by the village women, who put on a superb spread. Given that Gavuone had 16 cholera cases in the previous few days, some people were a little anxious. However, no-one got sick, and nurses who were with us ensured good hygiene standards were followed.

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While we ate, the ladies who had cooked the food waited outside. Once we were finished, they took the leftovers back to the village.

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Following the afternoon program at church, we went for drive to see the village and the beach. Gavuone is situated at the mouth of Marshal Lagoon.

This is the national primary school.

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Here the beach faces the open sea, and in about the center of the photo is where the lagoon meets the ocean.

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Unfortunately many of the youth have little to do, so they sit around on the beach and play cards.

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After dinner and telling stories, it was time for bed.

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On Sunday morning I again slept in. When the others came back from the morning worship, we decided to go for a quick walk before breakfast. The mangroves looked very beautiful in the morning light.

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The youth were busy practicing their volleyball. The village is largely divided into two halves – the Seventh-day Adventist side and the Uniting Church side.The Adventist youth were going to face the United youth in a volleyball competition – something that was a first in this village.

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And on Monday, the famous canoe race was going to take place, so people were busy getting ready for that also. People from all over the country come to watch the canoe race.

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This man is busy working on his canoe for next year – the shell you see on the left, needs to be ‘doug out’ further, until the wall is just 1cm think (currently it is still almost 3cm).

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A few houses are built over the lagoon.

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Getting a haircut!

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Everywhere I went, children were looking at me – I guess they don’t see tall white men very often.

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The house below had these two children look out between the cladding.

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And, of course, people were going about their normal business. This woman is weaving a basket.

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Here is a shot across the lagoon fro one of the highest points in the village.

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The main street of the village.

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The school where we stayed from the distance – this makes it easy to see how it is one hill surrounded by mangroves.

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The beauty of the mangroves is that it attracts many herons. Here are two landing on the water.

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Yes, everyone helped where required.

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After we finished breakfast, we were told that the church had put on a farewell feast for us. We were expected to eat again! When we arrived at the church, sure enough, here was a long spread with lots of food. Notice the bowls for hand washing? Just making sure no-one gets cholera.

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While we were eating, the ladies sat on the lawn and sang – they sang for more than an hour without stopping.

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After the extra meal, there were some short speeches and then it was time to leave.

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And here are some shots showing some of the terrain we saw on our way back to Port Moresby.

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One of the little churches along the way.

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We spotted some locals processing sago by the side of the road. These men are cutting up the palm with hoe like instrument.

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The ladies then take the shavings and wash the starch out.

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A common sight in Papua New Guinea – washing the car (and everything else) by the river.

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We passed the truck, and shot ahead and looked for a nice spot to take some pictures of it passing.

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And some more photos of the varying conditions of the road.

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Just before we reached Gaire, the truck driver decided it was time for a short stop. For some reason Papua New Guineans must sit in the middle of the road (Magi Highway), as sitting by the side of the road is clearly not appropriate.

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When vehicles come, there is a quick scramble to get off the road.

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Our nurse, Annie, who made sure we were safe.

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And then we were on the road again.

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Arrival back at Pacific Adventist University.

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One Response

  1. Paul Kos Says:

    Thanks Ben for the job well done on putting Gavuone trip experience on the webpage for viewing. I really enjoyed riding with you that weekend to and form Gavuone and that report makes me recall every detail of the trip and moment spent in Gavuone village. Thanks Ben and I’ll let others know about that.

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