Following our day of hiking we arrived in Menya after dark, so we didn’t know exactly what to expect in the morning. This is what we awoke to:


We had descended from about 5800′ to around 3700′ on our hike so the landscape was quite different–a lot more grass and noticeably warmer. Through this experience I learned that, in PNG, the phrase “It’s all down hill” means that you will end up lower in elevation than where you start even if 75% of your path is actually up hill.

Dave, T-ball and I were pretty tired from Friday’s hiking so we spent most of Saturday recovering and just talking with Wes, the missionary who has been working in Menya for a few years. On Sunday we spent a couple of hours walking around the area. Here is some of what we saw (guess which of these bilii is holding a baby.)






These are the three missionary houses currently in Menya. One belongs to a family that completed planting a church in another tribe and moved into this tribe just to help get things started. That family is done with their task and won’t be returning to this tribe. The closest house in the picture belongs to Wes and the house low and on the left belongs to the family whose future is uncertain at this point.

These houses are located in a village of about 600 Menyans of the approximately 30,000. This village is just outside a government “substation” with an airstrip larger than most bush locations, a large high school, a clinic, and some other government administration facilities. This makes the Menya work a bit different from other tribal locations we have visited. I wouldn’t describe Menya as urban or developed, but the area does not seem as primitive as most tribal locations in PNG. There are certainly more people and there is more activity.

Here are some kids peering in the window to see what the white folks are up to:

On Monday we packed up to fly back to Goroka on the chopper. We walked about forty-five minutes to the airstrip inside the substation.

We talked with this guy and I couldn’t pass up a picture of his shirt.

This is some of the high school–a boarding school for students from Menya as well as neighboring tribes.

This is one of a few dozen stores in the area. They are all basically the same: a counter with a few shelves of goods behind it.



Monday is “big market” day in the substation and people walk from many miles to buy and sell their goods. This covered area is not a normal feature of bush locations.

This is the airstrip which is currently closed to planes because of ruts and high grass.

This is me walking back through the market area after we heard the helicopter couldn’t get through the clouds to pick us up. And that is “Mount W” in the background. Can you see why?


  1. Kelley Haff

    Found the baby this time 🙂 I find something intriguing about the guys with the umbrella in the last picture. Looks a bit like he’s ready to attack the camera.

  2. Kelly K

    So many questions… but the foot bridge!!! You crossed it! And lived… amazing!

    Did the man know what his t-shirt means? Did you explain it to him? Priceless.

    • Joseph

      We didn’t talk about the shirt, so I don’t know. But he did say he is blind and then asked to see the picture I took.

  3. Molly Burns

    question: if you can ride a chopper out from there to Goroka, why didn’t you just fly in as well? maybe i missed something in an earlier post. hopefully that was a helpful trip, I know Elizabeth is glad to have you home!

    • Joseph

      We wanted to see Umba and Menya–both places have closed airstrips and are only accessible to us by helicopter or many days of hiking. But they are only a day from each other so hiking from one to the other meant that we used the helicopter for two flights instead of three.
      Hiking: Free
      Plane: $$$
      Helicopter: $$$$$$$$$

  4. Terri

    What were the little pictures on the side of the huts near the top of this post? Those seemed a little odd to me.
    And what a beautiful place!!

    • Joseph

      Those are political flyers–it was election season.

  5. Mom O

    At long last! We are so happy that you have a tribe and they have you. Many prayers have been answered. God is so good to us.

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