Emirau, Papua New Guinea
We have six churches on Emirau. There are about 300 residents on the islands—many of the people from our island live in Kavieng on New Ireland where there is employment.
Our greatest struggle now is with our young people who are tempted with all the usual things—betel nut, home brew, marijuana and so forth.
During World War II, the Americans turned our island into a huge air base with both bombers and fighter planes flying from here. The airstrip we continue to use was constructed by them during that time. Today, we still have a lot of materials from the war on the island. Our entire population was moved to nearby Mussau Island by the Allies during the war.
When we moved back from Mussau, we all settled on the other side of the island. But then we had problems as our families grew and tensions mounted over land usage. So we moved back to the area we were originally from. We first built a church here in 1961. We replaced it with our current church in 1985.
We have the largest church on the island. All our homes are clustered around the village green, and our church is the centre of the village. Our greatest struggle now is with our young people who are tempted with all the usual things—betel nut, home brew, marijuana and so forth. This is particularly an issue when people move off our island and into a town.
We live in a very cooperative manner. We garden together, we worship together—our life is all around our faith and our family. We recently all went on the island of Tsoi and built a church for the people over there. We love doing outreach!—as told to James Standish
Watman Nennek is Emirau district pastor. Barry Stephen is an elder at Buaniloe Memorial church.