Yifki, a small community nestled at about 3400 feet (1000 metres) in the Central Range of the PNG Highlands, became the host of the Edsmyr family’s village experience. Spending a week at a remote location is part of MAF PNG’s introduction for new international team members to enhance their Tok Pisin language skills, but even more so, the appreciation and understanding of life in remote places MAF serves.
Jonathan Kopf, missionary to the Yifki people with Ethnos360 (New Tribes Mission) organised his Yifki friends to welcome the Edsmyrs into their village life. Below you can get some glimpses of Yifki and its people seen and remembered through the eyes of 15-year-old Timnah, the Edsmyr’s oldest daughter.
Amazing and beautiful - the people and the place
Yifki is a really nice place. Nature is amazing. The people are so cool in the way they live. They are really kind and nice. They love their traditions and are proud to show them. It seems to be a happy village. They’re not as judgemental as many other people in this world.
You can see that in the way they greet you and how they behave. Like they were bringing some fruits and vegetables to us. They were sitting outside our house and were waiting for us to come out.
The small kids were coming up and started hugging us, which was really sweet.
A mumu and other traditions
One tradition they showed us was how to cook a mumu, where they cook food under the ground. And for that occasion, they actually killed three pigs, which is a pretty big thing to do for just to show us how to make a mumu.
So, that was really cool.
They seemed really happy to show us how they do things in their traditional way and also how they cook the food in their houses, how they made a fire without any matches or lighters and how they hunt.
People getting to know God and letting go of traditions
It’s an amazing place where the people are starting to get to know God, which is awesome. And sure, they had some really hard and rough traditions before.
But you can see that Jonathan, the missionary that has lived there for a long time, has helped in changing that. They are really happy to help and make things better for others and themselves, for their village, but they’re still a little bit scared of the change. Like how much they should change their traditions because sometimes it is really hard to let go of something you have known your whole life.
But the people are really getting closer to God, and that is really cool.
Building a new school
So right now, a lot of people are helping to build a new school building because the school building they have now is an old missionary house that is getting too small for all the students.
The kids are really excited to go to school and learn new things.
No connection to the outside world
They don’t have TVs, no power, no electricity, nothing. They have each other and flashlights, which is pretty cool.
So, when we stayed there, we had no internet. We had no connection or mobile reception at all. We just had some books that we could read.
Just to get out of society and get to know other people and see other ways of living was really exciting. For example, I don’t think they know what’s happening in Mt Hagen or in other parts of the world right now.
The elders in the village explained how they first reacted to airplanes and helicopters; something that really scared them in the beginning. And I can imagine that if you have lived in a village where there’s no power, no connection to the outside world or the main parts of the world, it can be hard to know what it is and what it can do to you.
Connected by MAF
MAF is there to help the people, but they haven’t had airplanes flying to their airstrip for two years. We could see that on their worn-out clothes and on how they have lived with a lack of food and only what they had in their houses.
So it’s a blessing that MAF is now flying into Yifki and working here in PNG.
Because a lot of people get sick. It can be infections, some accidents, it can be whatever. But they can’t get to the hospital because it’s too far away. They don’t know how to get there. They don’t know what to do. It can take days, even weeks.
But with MAF, they can survive and live their life longer. Which is really cool. They’re really blessed to have Jonathan there and they’re really grateful to have MAF as well. And you can see that they’re so happy every time an airplane comes.
Yifki – the perfect get-away-place
So yeah, they have a really beautiful village, and they are really proud of it as well. And for me, it was amazing to get away from my society and I would so easily go back to that place. It would be so nice to visit that place again. Just read books, play some sports, get to know new people, get to know God with other people, and see how other people have lived their whole life, which I just appreciate a lot. They’re unique people and really cool.