Zach Cann

Zach Cann

sent out by Grace Bible Church to plant churches among the Ndo people

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People from 16 different villages and 6 different language groups converged on our small village for a week of sports competitions to commemorate Papua New Guinea’s 40th year of Independence.

One of our tribal dads, Luen, wearing traditional dress. His loincloth is made of tree bark, his necklace is made of pigs tusks, and his headband is made of dog teeth. His bow and arrow consists of very special arrows made for shooting enemies (which they are not legally permitted to do anymore).

For being as remote as we are, it was a surprisingly modern affair. There was one guy who donned a traditional outfit to mark the occasion, but most preferred to celebrate by playing sports, watching sports, and drinking beer—surprisingly similar to American holidays, minus the commercial breaks and shopping sprees.

One of Mawerero’s two teams is in the green jerseys.

We live just down the path from the basketball court, where they held a women’s basketball tournament. (Evidently, basketball is considered by many here to be a women’s sport.) Our whole family went everyday to cheer on the teams from all over our language area and beyond. There was even a team from Mibu (a 3-days-hike away), where our director helped plant a church over a decade ago.

On a few days, we all made the long hike down to the soccer field to watch 16 teams compete in the Men’s soccer tournament. The grandstand is a small hut, the goals are made of bamboo, and the field is not exactly flat, but these guys know how to play soccer and they do so for hours without a single water break. It is an impressive feat to behold.

Amidst all the festivities, we not only got to witness their great strengths, but their weaknesses as well. Particularly noteworthy was a fight that broke out on the final day of the soccer tournament. Several drunk men stormed the soccer field while a game was in progress. The tournament hosts tried to remove them from the field, but family member’s of the drunk men resented their censure. This confrontation awakened old scores and people were eventually wielding clubs and throwing stones. We were safe (I think). Some members of the community whisked us away to the grandstand when the fighting broke out.

Jude was very curious about it all. The whole scene was a great visual aid of where foolishness leads. We had some good conversations with him about why all people (including him) desperately need God’s mercy and forgiveness.

Oliver, on the other hand, was oblivious. He was way more concerned with what was for snack than what was happening on the field.

Here is a video of the competitions:

Pictures from Independence Day celebrations:

Cass and the boys watching a soccer game from the grandstand.

While I did not participate in any of the sporting events, I did draw a crowd on the first day by making a coin vanish and reappear. People asked me to keep doing the same trick over and over again until they were sure that I was just hiding the coin in the other hand 🙂

Mr. Kais and his family came to visit us from a nearby village. He was blessed by the New Tribes mission to Mibu and now is excited to see the Gospel come to his family who live in the Ndo language area.

Iti is our local law and order guy. He took extra good care of us with all the hundreds of new people around. He not only provided security, but also helped encourage people to sit and talk with us.

We all enjoyed the Independence Day celebrations! The boys both loved the hikes to and from the soccer field… expect that one time when we got stuck in the rain.

Our long-lost friend, Steven. He helped us tremendously during housebuilding, but has been in Lae (a large coastal town) since January 2016. It’s the first time we’ve seen him since moving into the tribe.

One of our leaders, Ronofo, painting his arrows with red paint that comes from a very unusual and inedible tree fruit.

We met many old friends from our survey days. This is Joel and his wife. They helped us during our first hike through these mountains. He is a believer and bible teacher in the nearby Mina language group.

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