Thursday, September 4, 2014

When a Log Is Not a Log and other Gulf Adventures

The sleeping by Rebekah Drew
“Look! Look! It’s a crocodile!” Hanna, Rebekah, Susie and I all gaped in amazement at the giant creature lounged on the bank. He was over three metres long and smiled at us indulgently, as we kept a respectful distance. 
Look, Mom! Across the water is Australia! (I'm second from left) photo by Debbie Petterson
And thus began our three-week trip around eleven villages in Gulf Province this past August, where we were assisting Robbie and Debbie Petterson, the primary translation team in the province, with a whole slew of tasks. (Eventually we saw 10 crocs, from monsters ruling the riverbanks to smaller creatures cared for by villagers. And I discovered that yes, indeed, they look very much like logs floating in the river. But they are not logs. They have teeth. And a taste for, well, anything remotely edible. And those are very important distinctions.)

We travelled everywhere by river, so Susie (middle) got very adept at burrowing into her lifejacket and catching a bit more sleep (alas, most of the time it rained while we were in the dinghy, including a massive downpour for 2.5 here I'm enjoying the sun (left)); photo by Debbie Petterson
Those eleven villages up and down the Purari, Era, Pie rivers encompassed 6 different languages, where we trained teachers, did linguistic analysis, assisted with the Jesus Film back translation, tested hundreds of school children, translated storybooks, recorded songs, analyzed dialect and language use, typed up portions of a draft of Acts, and encouraged some local translators.

And we even built driftwood sea-monsters! photo by Debbie Petterson
It was a whirlwind trip, but God blessed it enormously, and I am so grateful I was able to be a part of the work God is doing down there!

The rivers were extremely smooth and there were lots of little channels everywhere

I look forward to sharing more stories with you about our adventures, but for now, enjoy some photos of the beautiful Gulf Province!

The villages were built right on the water, with canoes and boats as their version of "cars."

One village, Kivaumai, was right on the Pacific ocean (called "Deception Bay")
Houses are built on stilts so they don't get flooded when the tide comes in (rivers here are tidal--they flow both directions depending on the time of day!)

photo by Hanna Schulz

This little girl had a pet cuscus photo by Rebekah Drew
photo by Hanna Schulz

Everyone travels by canoe here, even the tiniest children. photo by Rebekah Drew

Look at this giant fish! It fed the whole village and was very tasty photo by Rebekah Drew

There were many beautiful butterflies everywhere; photo by Rebekah Drew

photo by Rebekah Drew

photo by Rebekah Drew

A hornbill! photo by Susie Pederson