Tyler's Trip to the Bulus
After much prayer we concluded that the Lord was leading me to go to the Bulu people. Many questions and thoughts were going through our heads as we considered going to serve the Lord in PNG. What are the Bulus like? Are there any Christians there? Have there been any other missionaries there? Were the people friendly? Has God really called us to go some 7,000 miles across the sea and live amongst these people? Would they want us to come? All these and many more questions were going through our minds. So, my intentions for my trip was to pray through everything and survey the territory and see what God would show me while being there.
My Travel to the Bulus
I had connected with a missionary family who are serving in the Bola tribe, which is the neighboring tribe to the Bulus. They invited me to stay with them for a few days and help me get up into the village. They connected me with some people in the Bulu tribe and told them that I was coming. The Bulus said they would like to have me and they prepared for my coming.
It was amazing how the Lord provided for my tickets to PNG. I apparently did not get my proper tax refund a year or two before and my friend helped me apply for getting the right amount. Well I got the correct amount as well as all the interest that money made over that time. So that basically covered all my costs to take the trip. I had no idea, but the Lord sees all things and knows how to provide for our needs. We do well to trust Him for all our provision.
The only trouble I had on my flights was in Australia. I was going through customs and I had to get rid of most all my food. I had a bunch of homemade jerky that I didn't just want to throw out so I tried to eat as much as I could. Finally I had to just throw the rest away. When I was in line one of the drug dogs sniffed me out. Maybe the dog just smelled all the good jerky and wanted some to eat. They began to open up all my bags and question me. They were a little suspicious about all the vitamins and stuff my wife packed because everything was in plastic bags and not professionally labeled and they were also concerned about me just venturing into Papua New Guinea by myself. Once they realized that I was not a drug smuggler and that I was going to Papua New Guinea, they let me go. They also informed me that I was in the wrong line and that I was not supposed to go through customs afterall. I sure wish I would not have had to throw all that jerky away but at least I didn't miss my next flight.
So after about 15 hrs. of airtime, I touched down in Papua New Guinea. I was a bit nervous and excited as I was watching the ground of Papua New Guinea get closer and closer. "Well, here I am Lord" was my thought.
When I got off of the plane I needed to find a hotel for the night and then I was flying out to the smaller island of New Britain the next morning. I was told that there were many hotels close by the airport so i figured I would find somewhere to stay. I did find somewhere to stay but it was not in any nearby hotel. The first man I talked to was very helpful about getting a hotel. He was determined to help me. He spoke a little English and I spoke a little Pidgin so we got by okay. The first hotel was $900 U.S.! The next about $600! I was shocked that they would dare to charge that much. I was not going to spend that much money just to sleep for the night. I told him that he had to find me something else. So he got on the phone and finally found a motel for locals for about $30. That was better! I told him that I'd take it and I gave him a tip and got to share the Lord with Him a bit. A driver soon came and picked me up and off I was driving through the Port Morseby to this motel. It took a little while to get to the motel but it was nice to see the city a bit. The motel had lots of barbed wire all around the fence tops. I asked them if it was safe, and they said Oh yeah it's safe it wasn't a good idea to go outside the gate. At the motel I realized that it was not a tourist motel, which was fine by me because I wanted to talk to the people. I talked quite a bit with two of the men there. Both said they were Christians. Most people in Papua New Guinea will say they are Christians.
That night the neighbors were in quite a fight. A man and his wife were fighting for hours. At one point point I heard the woman yelling out really loud and later I heard a gunshot. Apparently the man punched the woman in the nose and her brother came over with a gun and shot it off. I asked the men at the motel about it. They said "That's Papua New Guinea". They just let the families work out their own problems and the police don't get too involved. What a sad way to live. People are so lost away from the Lord. They need the glorious light of the gospel to shine into their hearts.
When I stepped off the plane in Australia I noticed it was humid, but when I flew into Port Morseby I realized it was really humid there. The day after my stay in the motel, I took my flight out to the island of New Brittain, that is where I experienced true humidity. It was much more humid than Morseby. The Bulus live on a peninsula on New Britain island and they are about 6 degrees south of the equator. That makes for hot humid whether. Brent, the missionary living amongst the Bola tribe, picked me up at the airport. Of course my plane was late, but that's very normal in PNG. He drove me to His house a couple hours away. It was wonderful to be out of the capital city and to be driving through the island of New Brittain. We went past many little villages on the way to his house. People just living life in the way they know how in a jungle on a small island. Children running and playing with what they can turn into a toy. A much simpler life in many respects than the U.S.A. Definitely a different world but people are people wherever you go. We went through Kimbe (kimbay) which is the capital town of the island which is about a 2 hrs. drive from the Bulus. Kimbe has about 15-20,000 people. It is the main center for selling goods. The town is powered by generators. There is a small shipyard, grocery store, bank, and few other stores. Also Kimbe has a few resorts nearby because it is a world famous bay for scuba diving.
Well I stayed with the Wiebe's for a few days and Brent introduced me to some of the tribe that he serves among. It was nice to ask him all sorts of questions before venturing out into a secluded tribal group where few foreigners have ever been. Brent drove me up to Bulu. It was about a 2hr. drive. Halfway up the road turned to gravel. Actually the road was not too bad because it is maintained for the red palm oil plantation up in the Bulu territory. This road was just put in about 7 yrs. ago. On the drive up we would pass little villages of the Bola tribe. I was in the back of the truck so they would all stare at me as I went by. Not many white folks travel this road.
MY VISIT IN THE FIRST VILLAGE (BULU DABA)
We finally arrived at the village of Bulu Daba where I was greeted by many curious eyes. Brent stayed for about twenty minutes and then said farewell. I was wanting him to stay a little bit longer so that all the attention wasn't just on me. It's a little out of my comfort zone to just drop myself into the middle of the jungle and live with the tribal people. But God is so faithful and He gave me the courage and strength to go on. Thankfully I stayed with some of the few English speakers of the village. They kindly arranged two english speaking brothers to be my guides and interpreters for the week that I was in that village. Their names were Tamana Vini and Sydney. They showed me my room, which was the best house in the whole village. They also dug me an outhouse. They were very hospitable and kind to me.
The first night in the village was amazing. They started singing around dark and they had a few fires lit in one area of the village. They were commemerating the departed spirit of a girl who had died one week before. The singing was beautiful. They harmonized and sang with a lot of gusto. A group of about 30 were sitting on the ground just below a house's porch, and they were singing partially to console the mother of the girl who was on the porch mourning and wailing during the singing. It was quite a mix of emotions. The girl who died was buried some 50 ft away and they had some candles or something over by the grave. From what I understand, traditionally they would sing their tribal songs in this ceremony but they replaced them with many catholic songs. They sang like this all the way till sunrise. There also was a makeshift hut with a fence that they made and Sydney told me not to go into the hut or else his father would have to pay the family some money. I think many from the village will come into the hut in order to show respect to the spirit and the family and they pay some money. Almost everything in their culture is bound by customs. They have all sorts of ceremonies that people do for different aspects of life. For example: If a boy catches his first fish then he takes a public bath and they rub this white stuff from a tree's bark all over him or if a woman has a baby then the husband has to pay the woman's family. It's this way for every baby. He has been blessed by the woman so he must pay her family. It seems that almost every aspect of life is bound together in this way. It creates a very communal group. I asked Sydney if everyone does customs like this or if there are people who choose not to. He said that if someone chose not to do the customs then they would be looked down upon. They have a tight bond but it is not the bond of perfection which binds the church of God together. It felt very strange to be in the middle of such an atmosphere.
Everyone was curious and wanted to know why I was there in their village. So Sydney and I walked around talking to people. They have men houses that they call haus boi and this is where all the men would gather and discuss important things. So they wanted me to share with them why i was there. All they knew is that I was a missionary associated with Brent Wiebe and I was interested in meeting them. So I shared the story of my wife's dream and of our praying to come to them. I didn't want to say that I was there to do this or that because i didn't really know at that time what God was wanting for us. I wanted to leave the ball in their court, so I told them everything and I wanted to see what there reaction was. Just after my story the men began to discuss all of this amongst themselves and kinda left me out of everything. Then after some time of discussion they told me that they think that God sent me to them and that they want a Bible in their own language. They related the dream to a legend they have and they believe that we are supossed to come to them. They were very excited and amazed at my story. They wanted me to tell them that I was coming to them, but I could not promise because I didn't know the Lord's will, so I told them that I was going to go back home and pray about everything and talk to my church family about it.
I had a lot of fun in the village. Walking around was fun because many children would follow me wherever I went. They were very curious about me and they loved my digital camera. They thought it was the funiest thing ever. I had fun looking at all the different plants and animals. Coconuts were everywhere. I drank lots of coconut milk while I was there. We went fishing one day in a boat with about ten of us all together. They stopped at a certain beach and started throwing a bunch of rocks into the boat. Then we went to another beach and one man climbed up a big coconut tree and started hacking off big palm branches. Then they took the branches on the boat as well. I was trying to figure out what they were doing. Well they would take a "leaf" (which was a long strip) off of the coconut branch and then they would tie it around the rock a certain way and then put their hook into the top of the long strip and throw it in the water over the reef. They were using the rocks as weights and the strips were used to pull the hook down to the bottom, then they would pull the hook out of the strip and the hook would have some shiny plastic bag on it or something else in place of a luer. Then they would pull the fish up by hand (no fishing poles).
One day we hiked up to Lake Dakataua. This is a huge crater lake in the middle of the peninsula. I would gues it is a couple miles across and 4 or 5 miles long. There are crocodiles in the lake that the Bulus hunt. It took us probably 2 and a half hours to hike up there. It is a beautiful hike going through the jungle. All the nationals usually just go barefoot. I had shoes on of course but Sydney seemed to warn me of every thorn so that I would not step on them. One time I climbed up this tree a little ways and they were all nervous and kept telling me to come down. Finally I came down. They thought I was going to fall because they don't know how to climb trees very well with shoes on and I had shoes on. I laughed.
As we were coming down the ridge that went to the lake I asked them if they do any fishing in the lake. They quickly said "SHHH, don't talk about any sea creature around the lake". They told me later, when we got back to the village that there is a sea creature that inhabits the lake and they are very terrified of it. Also, at the lake they offered some shell money on a stick to their ancestoral spirits. Every time someone does something special for the first time in their life, they usually have to perform some ritual. This was done for my sake. They said that I would get very sick if they did not offer this and that it might start thundering on all of us.
While we were at the lake they shot a pig. They had one shotgun in the village and three shotgun shells. I guess they were pretty good because They shot the gun and killed the pig after only about 20 minutes of hunting. The funny thing is that all the village thought we would not get anything in our hunt because two of our wives were pregnant at the time. Mine and the man who shot the pig. So when we came down from the lake with a pig they were amazed and I told them in pidgin that we shot the pig because my wife was pregnant. They laughed and laughed and thought that was the best joke. They really like to laugh.
MY VISIT IN THE SECOND VILLAGE
After my stay in Buludaba I went to another village or rather group of hamlets they called Kinticue. I really enjoyed my visit here. I stayed with David Pilak and his family.
David is holding the harpoon. David was unique. God had been at work in His heart for a long time and he had a genuine hunger for the Lord. I was encouraged by talking to him. I left a pidgin crank up audio Bible with him before I left and he was very excited and listened to it for hours one day. Pray for David Pilak
Also Chris and Gabriel were my interpreters. Chris is pictured below.
Chris had grown up going to Catholic church. Yet when he was younger he was in another village and had an experience with God at some gospel meetings. Also he has experienced some answers to prayer. He is very hungry for the Lord and he and I talked about being born again for a couple hours. He believes there is something that needs to happen in his heart. Pray for Chris. I enjoyed him very much and he filled me in on a lot of their culture and beliefs. He seemed most excited out of anyone to have a Bible in the Bulu language. He speaks really good English but he says his people cannot understand the English Bible. One day we decided to have some fun trying to translate a little bit into Bulu. We took a couple of scriptures and using the English Bible and the pigin Bible we translated. It was so much fun. I think the best part was seeing their passion for their language. At one point two of them were arguing about how to spell a certain word in their language by using English letters. They went on for a good part of an hour writing it all out in the dirt. Then i finally stood up and told them that they were both right and both wrong. For English does not posess the sound that they were trying to spell, so it was impossible to accurately spell their word using English letters. They at last quieted down but I decided to stop the translating for the day. Most people seemed semi interested in having a Bible but there was a small group who were really excited. This was encouraging to see.
I sensed a real hunger in a few from this village. They usually have two or three church meetings per week. They did an extra meeting because I was there and they had me preach about 5 times. We also sang together and had a lot of fun talking about God.
At one point in Kinticue we went fishing. This was the funnest fishing trip I think I ever had. Maybe it was because I caught about 6 big fish. We had a little motor and we would pull a jig behind the boat as we wnt over the reef. Then gabriel would say 'Get ready" and sure enough within seconds I would have a bite. Then we had to pull the fish in as fast as we could before the sharks got to them. On one occasion I had a fish on and started to pull but then all of a sudden I was being pulled very fast and I finally had to let go of my line because I was about to be pull over board (We were on a dugout canoe about 25 ft. long and only 3 ft. wide) Thankfully I didn't get pulled in and thankfully Gabriel grabbed my line. We still got the fish although it was halfway eaten.
Here's some of the children holding up the fish we caught. The fish on the far left is the one bitten in half.
The evening before I left was very special. The people took an offering and sent me away with probably an equivalent of a months wages in their money. They were very greatful that I came and they want us to return. It was hard to say goodbye to them. As I was leaving I was waiting for the Taxi truck to come pick me up. An older man came up to me and shook my hand. Then, while continuing to hold my hand, proceeded to ask me if I was coming back to his people. I said "maybe". I didn't want to leave any promises with anyone because I was not sure about the will of the Lord at that time. He replied, "Don't say maybe" and then he proceeded to tell me about some other men who visited to do a language survey for a possible Bible translation but that they never returned. I hadn't met this man until then and I can still clearly see his face in my mind. He looked at me with such longing and desire. Please come back he was saying Don't just visit and then leave. There are definetly some souls in those jungles who are longing for the Lord.
So I left the village and spent a few days at a missionary organization's base and then I made my return home. I was definitely going home with many more thoughts than I came with. Many things to pray about and to contemplate. God was so faithful to keep me safe and well on my trip. I know many people were praying for me. Thank you to everyone who did. Please continue to pray for the Bulu people.