Daru Islanders Now Have a Stake
There is a new stake in Daru, PNG. Its President, Tom Songoro, thinks nothing of catching a four-hour canoe ride through rough seas of crocs. and sharks to visit one of the wards. His faith and devotion is matched by that of the stake members, who come to church walking or riding crude “busses,” on long roads beset with armed robbers, and sometimes without the luxury of shoes.
Daru is the second stake for Papa New Guineans. It will not be their last. The Church members in PNG face many times the challenges of their neighbours in Australia and New Zealand, but the trial of their faith is now being rewarded with many entering the waters of baptism.
The progress rides on the shoulders of faithful and fearless district presidents, branch presidents, mission president and members now numbering well over 19,000. Daru, a small island off the southern coast of PNG, has a population of about 20 000; ten per-cent are members of the Church.
Last November the Sogere District, consisting now of nine branches, was created. Meli Fata, President of the PNG/Solomon Islands Mission, could not domicile missionaries there at that time as there were no telecommunication services to the area. He could send them there for a few days every couple of months to teach those who were ready. As many as 143 villagers at one time have accepted baptism as a result of such
In May this year, the Suki District, consisting of five branches, was organized by Area President, James Hamula. The event brought members out in large numbers to their bush chapel, located on an island in the Fly River. They made elaborate preparations for the joyous occasion.
The creation of the Daru Stake was no less well celebrated. Hundreds of Saints made long and dangerous voyages to attend the conference. From the total stake population of 2 700, 2 386 people attended. In the five weeks following its creation, 116 people have been baptized into the new stake.
The rising generation, particularly, are rallying to the call of President Monson and the Area Presidency to gather together in activities. Young Single Adult Conventions have been held over the last few months in Port Moresby, Goroka (in the PNG Highlands), and in Daru, with several hundred attending each. The participants sleep on the ground in tents, or on the floor of a bush chapel. Their shower facilities consist of a hose draped over the side of a canvas framed space in the chapel grounds. Yet they present themselves beautifully attired. Never is there a hint of immodesty, and all the young men wear shirts and ties.
Shoes may not be worn because they are not had, but what is worn everywhere is evidence of love for the gospel and of complete commitment and obedience to the doctrines of the Church.
(Excerpts from the writing of Elder Terence M Vinson, Area Seventy)