Hello from Morobe Province!
Ben and I arrived on the M/V YWAM PNG in Lae on Friday evening after a long day of travel. It was exciting to step foot on the ship after our early start getting up at 2am for the train followed by 3 flights. We spent the weekend in orientation and getting to know the rest of the crew who are awesome. There are around 120 people on board, made up of a mixture of health professionals, general volunteers, marine staff and galley staff. About half of the crew are from PNG and all of the crew are volunteers. Its nice getting to know such a large group of people who know the Lord and are here to serve him. And it is so great to get the locals involved along side the volunteers that are from 18 other countries.
We arrived at our first destination, Finschhafen, on Sunday where we were met by a huge welcome from the villages. Some of the villages dressed up and came out singing in small boats to meet our ship. As we rode our smaller boats into shore the whole village was lined up singing to meet and welcome us into the community. Its was a very exciting occasion as the the medical ship had not been to this area of the coast before. They gave us necklaces made of leaves and accompanied us to the large church in town to attend the Sunday service. The church was packed and many people stood outside the windows as they had given us their seats. They then showed us to the hospital and gave us lunch which was very generous and no small feat for our huge crowd.
Today was our first day of clinics which was both exciting and daunting. I am on the primary health care team which is made up of doctors, nurses and myself as the physio. I help out in general health checks, triaging, seeing any people requiring physio and doing exercise classes and education for people with back and knee pain. Ben is on the community engagement team where he is involved in establishing relationships with the villages, providing education on health as well as installing water filters and taps for water tanks and providing any building needs. The dental clinics and ophthalmology clinics are run on board the ship and we had two health care teams going into two different villages. Ben was on the team that went back to the hospital and I was on the other team going to a village called Kelegia. Unfortunately Kelegia was over 1.5 hour drive away which cut down the time we were able to spend with patients so it was a short clinic. The drive was rough, a mixture of dirt roads, mud and ditches and crossing deep rivers. We were lucky it didn’t rain as that would have made the trip somewhat impossible. The people all come and crowd around the clinics when they hear that we are coming and there are so many we can’t get through everyone. When running an exercise class there are over 100 people all crowded round trying to see the exercises and laughing at each other trying to do them. Kids from all over crowd around Ben and his team to learn about health. We head out to new villages again tomorrow and another adventure to be sure.