We live two and a half degrees south of the equator. For you surfers who are fans of "Endless Summer," come on out to Papua--we have an endless summer. We have some other things I won't tell you about until you're out here.
My son loves living here. When we ask him what he misses about the States, he typically answers, "Snow. Oh, and TV with channels."
Got to see some snow the other day. I dropped off a team of Indonesian missionaries at a place called Okhika and then had to fly over to the village of Langda, 50 miles to the west, to pick up a family and bring them out to our base on the coast. I can't recall ever flying this route before. A direct line between the two points would take me right over the highest point in Papua's eastern highlands, mount Mandala, 15,423 feet above sea level. In the mountains we almost never take a direct route, typically we follow the valleys, go through the mountain passes and generally try to stay away from the big rocks. Today, however, I didn't have any passengers, the weather was good, and an empty Pilatus Porter climbs like an ugly bottle rocket--so I made direct for Langda.
As I approached Mandala from the east, comfortably enjoying a cup of coffee at 16,000 feet (well, not so comfortably actually...it's a bit of trick to sip coffee with an oxygen cannula sticking up your nose), I could see that it was covered with a dusting of snow. By 9:30 in the morning the tropical sun would turn the snow to water, but now, in the early light it was a beautiful, rare sight. I opened the Porter's little side window and shoved my camera out and took a couple of shots of this magnificent peak as I went by.
The first Dutch explorers to reach the summit in 1953--incidentally the same year Everest was climbed for the first time--spoke of looking into a "stupendous abyss." This second photograph shows just a bit of what they were talking about--I'd guess the drop from the snow on the summit to the green in the valley is at least 8,000 feet.
I suspect that either the writer of Genesis is guilty of understatement, or our English translations don't do his words justice when we read:
"God saw all that he had made, and it was very good"
What God has made in this corner of His creation is way beyond very good.