The end of the world – Part 2
The finding of Ok Tedi

A dream of a missionary

Finschhafen
Moru in Finschhafen 1884–1885. Sketch by Otto Finsch

ISO YAWI

A SILHOUETTE passed quickly through the tree line beyond the fence at the back of Yamang’s compound.

He could see it clearly. It looked like a woman looking for something, maybe lost children, or a lost animal.

Slowly nature’s clock turned.

The dim twilight faded as the darkness came over the evening sky. Stars coloured the night skyline giving minute crystal lights, not very bright, but helpful.

Such ghost scenes had never happened before so Yamang began to wonder and looked into the place where he had seen the shadow.

It was a test of his fate, as his body hairs stood up. His parents had died recently of suspected sorcery and that left him and his small brother alone to look after a huge inherited land mass. He had hunted this land with his father, uncles and grandfather since his childhood years. 

Yamang and his younger brother used to live alone on the forest edge away from the entire village. His parents had moved there more than twenty-three years ago when he was still a toddler. Yamang was all alone that evening, as his younger brother; Maigun, had left him to visit their aunt in the main village, three kilometers north of their home. He was alone, still, thoughtful and alert, and he looked again at the spot where he had seen the silhouette earlier.

But as he looked again, it was so strange. The woman’s figure appeared again and walked from the exact same spot where Yamang had first seen her. It was a single narrow road and if anyone walked on the grass edge or bush there would have been audible sounds but this was not the case. It was a weird strange scenario on normal sense analysis. This made Yamang’s entire sense developed alertness as looked at the same spot again.

In that instant, as he looked again, he saw the same scene.  He saw the woman’s figure walking the third time on the same spot.

“Hey, who’s there?” Yamang shouted, as he peeped with fear of ghosts.

No one answered. He waited and shouted again, repeating the same question. But no one answered or responded back. He looked again and with little confidence he walked over to the spot where he had seen the woman’s silhouette.

“Maigun, is that you?” he asked out aloud, and walked to the spot where he had seen the shadow.

As soon as he reached the end of the yard fence to where he had seen the figure, he heard a woman cough. He stopped and called again.

“Hello, is someone there?” Yamang asked again.

There was no answer. Yamang tried again.

“If you are a human being come closer where I can see you, or if you are a ghost cough or show some sign.”

As soon as Yamang completed his statement, he heard footsteps but saw no-one. The footsteps came closer then passed by. But he saw no-one. 

The twilight had vanished and the place was dark. He felt a spirit’s presence and walked quickly back to his house, said his night prayers and went to sleep.

His mind lingered on the scene, too scary for him to let go of what happened. He could not let it go so easily. His thoughts still swirled around it as he dozed off.

Yamang’s mind slept but he was captured in a dream. He saw a white woman standing in the place where he had seen the silhouette. The woman was wearing a white robe as worn by a Lutheran bishop.

She stood and waved at him as if she needed help. He walked towards her and spoke.

“Hello, friend….”

“I’m a Lutheran missionary and lost and trying to find my way out of here.”

Yamang looked at her blue eyes and blond hair. She was as in her mid-twenties. The white robe was a perfect match. She was beautiful but sad.

“Dear friend, what is your name and how may I help you?” Yamang asked.

“My name is  Emma Flierl, and I am a missionary,” she said with tears in her eyes. “Our home has been ravaged and I am looking for help.

“The people of upper village did not want to help so I came to you.”

Yamang took her inside his compound. Emma hugged him and cried. In his dream Yamang also cried. His eyes were still wet as the sound of the first bird awoke him.

By now the birds and other creatures were having fun in the morning light.

Yamang rubbed his sleepy eyes. Yes, they were still wet with tears.

He had never had such an experience. He remembered he had seen a white woman and she had introduced herself as a missionary with the name Emma Flierl.

Now awake he remembered that Flierl was the name of the Lutheran missionary who had come to Finschhafen.

Stepping from his bed Yamang looked through the open window at a group of men gathered just outside the compound.

He saw the village chief and some songang [village leaders]. Together. Yamang thought he might have done something wrong.

“We’re here to let you know that our neighbouring village burnt down the Lutheran missionary’s home, the chief said. “They came to find refuge with us.”

“We saw that your land is suitable to build a mission house. Perhaps you will stay with the missionary and work alongside him and his family.”

Yamang recalled his dream. He knew now that this was a divine responsibility and he was the one assigned.

He looked at the chief and stared at the people there with him.

Almost whispering, Yamang said: “My father died, my mother died. I hunted and planted crops on this land. My ancestors did the same before me. Now change has come.

“If this will make a change for generations to come, I say yes, chief and all songang. I accept your request and will look after the missionaries.

“They can build a home near me and we can live together.”

The chief looked at him and the elders around him. “As the spirits of our ancestors have witnessed, you have made the decision. The great spirit watched over our forefathers and now has seen and heard your answers.

“Yamang, may our ancestors’ spirits protect and bless you. May the great spirit of the missionary bless you.

“Thank you son, your response pleased me. I am more than happy to let the missionary know about our discussions,” the chief proclaimed.

And so the work of the gospel was spread.

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