Dramas, puppets, clowns, songs, games and stories all captivated the attention of the Aiyura Valley children that attended Vacation Bible School (VBS) in mid-January. This was the first time the annual event was conducted in more than one location. With identical programs held simultaneously at two different churches, children from a wider section of the valley had the opportunity to attend. While many, many children came at least once, each location averaged about 210 participants a day.
The groups were aware of God’s help in many ways throughout the week. One example was answered prayer about the rain. “God gave us a miracle when He made the rain go away just as we were about to start,” testified VBS teacher Darlene Clark. Since the program was conducted outside on the church lawn, having dry weather was essential. Darlene recalled, “I told everyone to look up at the sky and ask Jesus to please make the rain go somewhere else. Since there was not a large enough place to meet indoors, we really desired for God to answer our prayers…and He did!”
The leaders focused on teaching the kids the story of Joseph from the book of Genesis. The daily stories about Joseph’s life also included a personal application, encouraging the children to honor God like he did. The lessons were reinforced through songs and games that related to the message. The excitement of the children was obvious as they participated in each event with enthusiasm. The last day of VBS was especially moving as many children indicated their desire to be like Joseph and give their hearts and lives to God.
This year was a milestone for the VBS program in that it was the first time the majority of the teachers were Papua New Guinean, and the first time it was held at two valley churches. Many of the Papua New Guinean teachers said they learned a lot this year and they all grew in their ability to work with groups of lively youngsters. They were thankful for the opportunity to get out into the community to teach the children.
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Have you ever been TPed? I know anyone whose been in a youth group knows what I’m talking about. Well kids in Ukarumpa have their own way of “TP”ing a house. Unfortunately Toilet Paper is so expensive here that they have found their own way of playing pranks. Everyone is Ukarumpa has old video tapes, and no one has VCRs anymore. So what do they do? Its called “Taping”. Last night we got “Taped”. I guess as a sort of introduction to working with the youth in Ukarumpa. Don’t worry, we’ll get them back!
Last week during the Center wide two week Christmas break, Evan and I didn’t get much of a break because he was on call. Every guy that works in the Auto Shop was required to be on call for 5 days to be able to fix flat tires, rescue cars that had trouble, rent out cars and fill up gas for the cars on Center. We had more excitement during this time of on call than any other Auto Shop guy on call-for years! (they informed us later)
One of the most exciting things about going on call is when you get to help rescue a vehicle that has had car trouble. This particular time Evan was called out to tow a car that had been stuck in a ditch. It was quite exciting because well, anytime you get to go off center is exciting! And plus there was a wedding ceremony going on. Weddings in Papua New Guinea are quite different than America because the groom has to pay a “bride price” to the family of the bride. So while we were pulling out the vehicle from the ditch, the groom was presenting all of his best pigs, chicken and vegetables to the family of the bride. After this was over then the couple would be married, and the bride would go to live with her husband. This practice of a “bride price” is widely practiced in the Highlands, and not so much in the coastal regions. Many brides can be priced at 15,000 Kina (roughly $5,600) or more, plus a number of pigs, chickens, goats and produce from their gardens.
The pile of vegetables and chickens sitting on top were in the middle while everyone gathered around to watch as the husband presented his goods to the bride’s family.
Everyone gathered around to watch the excitement.
And as always, some cute kids who smiled at the camera.