Monday, October 20, 2008


Butelgut was the second village we spent the night at on our 3 day hike.  We ate dinner and made popcorn for the family after dinner which they really liked.  This village had many more kids and Paul let them take turns pumping water with his filter.  After dinner we told stories and showed them pictures we brought from home.  We had a picture of David and Paul in front of Mt. Rushmore when they were kids.  It took a while to explain about how big the faces are and why they created it.  They asked if George Bush had his face carved on it.  They asked me to explain 9/11 to them and that took quite a while to explain. 


One of the big sources of entertainment was to take pictures of them and let them look at it afterward.  Every picture we took we would have a swarm of about 15 kids crowding around us and laugh.  There was one man visiting the village that they said was bush true.  I think that meant that he had never been to a city before.  He was fascinated when he saw his picture.  They also love to touch Paul’s head.  Several of the kids showed us how fast they can climb up a coconut tree.  Even the little kids seem very grown up and carry around very sharp bush knifes.  We brought UNO and they loved playing that.  Later in the evening several of the girls sang a few beautiful songs for us.


Here is a description of some of the pictures:

It is common for a man to offer Buai to someone when he passes or enters his house (I will blog about Buai or Betel nut later)

Women washing clothes and dishes in the river

One of the boys climbing a Buai tree

The village house we stayed in.  This one is 2 stories and is the biggest one we have seen yet.  The men all sleep on the upper level and the woman on the bottom level

A village house under construction.  The houses in this village use all materials obtained from the jungle

A man explains the process of growing and preparing rice to eat

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Thank you for your prayers for our 3-day hike.  It was a great experience and hard work – the mountains here are steep!  There were 8 of us in our group, including 2 national guides, Delores and Mohawk.  Much of our 1st day was spent hiking through the jungle.  It poured much of the way but the jungle canopy is so thick we didn’t get too wet- we were already soaked with sweat anyway. We brought a water filter with us and used it several times as we came across streams and between the two of us we drank several liters.


Our plan was to spend the night at 2 villages, Radaba and Betelgut.  When we came to the first house in Radaba we were invited to sit down under their covered area out of the rain.   They offered us the juice from a green coconut which was really refreshing.  They had a one month old baby which the ladies took turns holding and the men looked at the pigs and chickens they had in their yard.  The only sign of any type of modern material was an aluminum pot and the clothes they wore.  Their house was built entirely out of materials found in the jungle except for some nails holding some of the boards together. 


One member of our group was recovering from a stomach bug and became very weak along the way – we went very slowly and took a lot of breaks and didn’t arrive in the village until 4:30.  Shortly before we arrived at the home of our host family another group member used his bush knife for a support and slipped cutting two fingers  deeply – one to the bone.  There was a nurse in the group and she scrambled to dig dressing out of her bag.  Meanwhile our guide, Mohawk, stripped bark from a certain tree.  He scraped of the inner part, made a paste and packed it in the cuts to lessen the pain then used strips of this bark to bind the wound.  (We are never ceased to be amazed at the amount of practical skills the people here have.)


A few years ago cell phones were made available in PNG so we were able to call our training center and let them know our team member needed stitches.  The directors sent 3 workmen to meet our injured friend and our guide and another team member halfway.  They hiked back in the dark and he was stitched up by the local aid post doctor.


Our host family, Panu, Bernadette and their 3 children were excited to meet us.   Several other members of their clan or line showed up later and they cooked the rice and canned meat we brought.  We sat around on the veranda and storied until about 10:00.  Our Tok Pisin is getting better so it is easier to have a conversation with the people here.  It was good visiting with them and realizing how much they like to just sit around the lantern or fire and just talk.  We slept to the noise of pigs snorting directly underneath us.  Their house is built on poles so it is about 3 feet off the ground and the pigs and roosters run free. 


The children go to school in Kamba a village a few hours away.  They said they leave home by 5 am to be able to walk to school by 8:00.  The family spends any money they may get selling Buai (Betel nut) and food at the market on kerosene, salt or clothes.  Any money leftover they spend on school fees to send their kids to school.  Vanilla and cocoa used to be big cash crops but the selling price dropped way down so some don’t bother to harvest it anymore. 


The following describes the pictures:


Laura holding a young baby

Our host family at Radabad

Paul asking our assignment questions to one of the older men

Paul with a Kapul that the village kids caught.  It was kind of sad thinking they would kill it and cook it for dinner after we left.

The house where we slept

Laura putting a bandage on a boy that had a cut on his head from his brother accidentally with his bush knife

Our group just before leaving on the hike

Paul swinging on a giant vine hanging from the jungle canopy

Paul pumping water for the group









Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Daniel took a picture of some kids we met on a hike and they really liked seeing their picture.  They really laughed when they saw themselves on the back of his camera.




We found out Friday what village we will be living in for 5 weeks starting October 23rd.  The name of it is Garum.  We have not met them yet but the village allocator has told us they are really excited that we are coming.  There are several families that live in this village.  One family has been assigned to look after us and make sure we are doing all right. 


We will not have any internet access or be able to send or receive email during this 5 weeks.  Staff from POC will come at the midpoint of our stay and check up on us and deliver any mail or packages we have received.  We would love to hear from you if you would like to write us or send us anything.   Our address is…


The Dokkens

SIL - Pacific Orientation Course

P.O. Box 872

Madang 511

Papua New Guinea

Friday, October 3, 2008

Kamba Hike

Wednesday we went on a hike to a village called Kamba.  We walked down the 1200’ mountain we are on and then across a valley and then up a 1000’ mountain.  The total distance was about 10 miles round trip.  All the kids except Jessica and the other nursery children hiked there and rode back on the truck.  There were three boys that hiked back with the adults and Daniel was one of them!  A national lady that has worked here for many years said she has never seen a whiteskin boy hike back.  We stopped to swing from some giant vines that were hanging down from trees.  Our guide showed us a Cocoa pod that was growing that they sell to make chocolate.