Sunday, April 15, 2007

Goodbye Alotau

So we’ve been a bit slow with posting about the last days in Alotau – after having left 2 ½ weeks ago – but here it is.

The last week was fairly blurred – parties, books, drama and the rest. Obviously it was a fairly emotional time. Regardless of any negative experiences, or readiness to go home and see family and friends, there is a lot to miss in Milne Bay.

We spent much time packing, and cleaning up, and repacking. We sent most of our stuff home the week before we left only to experience the true generosity of Milne Bayans and receive another bags worth of gifts that we had to find somewhere to put.

Our second last night we had dinner with the missionaries that lived across the road from us – lovely wheat free lasagne and theological and evolutionary discussion into the wee hours of the night. Our last night saw Maxine and Elaine cooking up some delicious farewell food, with Jeannie, Charlie, Joby and of course Kaure all joining in the eating and compulsory farewell drinks (Kaure was strictly on a juice and water mix).

There were a couple of particularly emotive moments. There was a final farewell luncheon at Jane’s work. Nice speeches were said, Jane and Cam were thanked for their contributions, the students sang a song, and certificates were handed out to the drama group. There were gifts from the staff – beautiful gifts such as clay pots (traditional cooking vessels used in PNG), t-shirts, billums etc. And an amazing collage put together by Maxine with help from some of the staff, featuring the drama group. It is such a special gift that will surely take pride of place when we actually have a place to live in where we can hang it.

Later that same afternoon the drama group presented some special pieces they’d been working on – both a traditional story and a song that they’d written. There were many tears, and Jane felt both sad and loved.

On our final day in Milne Bay there was much running around to do, as there always is before a major departure. In the afternoon we eventually left for the airport, and were accompanied by the drama group and assorted friends. Farewelling from the airport seems fairly important in PNG.

So Maxine drove a busload of us there, and we met up with others and hung around for an hour or so after checking in our luggage. It was all a little bit surreal. The plane came, we got on – trying to make the last minutes as happy and positive as possible. As the plane took off we all waved madly through the window at each other. What a great image to leave on – all of our friends waving and reminding us of all the good things, wonderful friends and amazing experiences we have shared this year.


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