Saturday, March 3, 2012


As we received our mission call to Papua New Guinea we were told that American missionaries were not allowed there because of safety issues.  We were saddened to think that we would never be able to see the country where our mission headquarters were.  We have been excited from the start to serve in the Solomon Islands and feel it is a great privilege to be on a mission here.  It was such a blessing for us to be able to go to Port Moresby in December to be with all of the other missionaries of the mission.  Now a double bonus, to return for District Presidents training and Coordinating Council Meeting with Elder Vinson of the Seventy in February.

 Elder and Sister White at Papua New Guinea "mission Central"
where they run the day to day operations of the mission.  Very little is accomplished without them being involved. 
They have extended their 18 month mission and will actually be serving for 26 months in order to help the new President for the first
few months after he and his wife arrive in July 2012.

This mission would not run without this great couple.
They are amazing people and we feel privileged to know them and have learned so much from them.

Our mission, like all missions, is in desperate need of couple missionaries.

One couple has been here for 9 years, 3 as mission president, and in other mission capacities since.

Some of the health issues that the 6 couples in our mission deal with are incomprehensible to us.
These health issues include knee replacement, open heart surgery, advanced diabetes with the possible loss of a foot, multiple bouts with cancer, severe osteoporosis which requires a trip home every couple of months for special treatments, and artery of the heart blockage.  These are only the ones we know about.

They also deal with the normal problems of aged parents, separation from family and grandchildren.
Each couple is such an inspiration to us and we almost feel guilty with our good health and super supportive family.

Flag ceremony at the mission home in Papua New Guinea.
The American flag was flown as an act or respect to us.

Missionaries at the mission home stand at attention and sing with passion, the Papua New Guinea national anthem.  It was very moving for us.

Elder White and Elder Mitchell traveled out into the country to pick up some missionaries.  We traveled until we came to this washed out bridge and waited for the elders to come from the other direction.

Yes they are using shipping containers filled with gravel to stabilize the approach to the bridge.  Not a bad idea.

This bridge is about 125 yards long.  Here, our Security force of Elders who traveled with us, pose at the washed out section of the bridge.  In Papua New Guinea whenever we travel, we always take at least 2 extra Land Cruisers with 4 Elders in each one and travel in a convoy with lights on and pedal to the metal, just for safety. 

The bridge is vintage WWII and is in remarkably good condition except where the high water washed out the supports on one end.  The structure is aluminum and all connections are made to pin, bolt or clamp together.  It was originally built by the Seabees.  These were put together fast under difficult combat conditions to move military equipment across rivers as the army advanced against the Japanese.
In Paupa New Guinea and the Solomon Islands these bridges are still serving the needs of the people. 

While the bridge is out the locals have enjoyed a windfall by filling motor boats with desperate travelers who pay $5 kena each plus extra for their luggage to get across the river to catch a PMV (public motor vehicle), or open truck, with 40 people and everything else you can imagine to continue their journey.

Local children swim in the muddy water at the edge of the river to cool off.  Bathing suits are optional.

This woman is headed to the markets that have sprung up near the damaged bridge with her produce to sell to the waiting travelers.  The bags are strapped over her head to carry the weight.  This is the common way to carry burdens, but it must be hard on the neck.

An ant hill we spotted on the way back to Port Moresby.  It is about 2 feet in diameter and 4 feet tall.  We didn't get out to see the ants, but we are sure they must be enormous.

While Elder White took Elder Mitchell out in the country, Sister White and Sister Mitchell also traveled out to remote Chapels to teach the sisters literacy classes.

Elder and Sister White with Sister and Elder Mitchell back at the mission home.

When we flew into Paupa New Guinea our plane was about 30 minutes early and no one was there to pick us up.  We tried to call the mission home, but our cell phone doesn't work in PNG and airport security would not let us back into the terminal to make a call so we waited for about 45 minutes until the Whites came to rescue us.

It seems every time we fly into the Solomons there is no one to meet us at the airport here either.  This time our plane from PNG was delayed an hour and when our Zone Leaders came to pick us up at the scheduled time they were told that the plane was not coming in until Sunday, so they drove back home.
Here we wait with our three Solomon Island Elders for the ZL's to return. We are looking sad because we have been stranded at the airport AGAIN!

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