Oh boy… Big shame on me… I’ve been back in the States since Feb. 13, and back in Orlando since Feb. 22, and I’m only NOW getting to an update?? Uh-oh… Well, lots to cover then!
In the last email I’d sent from PNG, I’d said I was able to go on the Side Trip with the students. We split into 2 teams for this, and my team went to Kandrian, West New Britain (in the Islands J) to a little village called Ais (“ice”) to visit the Kaul tribe. The church there is very small- 5 believers! 3 men and 2 of their wives. There is a large Catholic influence in Kandrian that goes back many years now, and leaving the “church” is highly looked down upon. These 5 men and women are very much shunned in the village and by their families- all for the sake of believing in Christ as their only hope for Salvation.
Their perseverance and love of Our Lord and of Truth is so inspiring! Because of their faith, they don’t have to look hard or go far to find trouble. It literally comes to them- in the village, in the market, etc. This was encouraging to me also because these men (and their wives) are roughly my age. They ranged from 22 to about 35 (hmmmm… Revolution age- let’s branch out! J)
My favorite thing by far was our time spent in worship with the Believers. At the beginning, one of the men got up and did a complete run-through of the Chronological teaching up to the point where they were because one family member was present who’d missed several weeks. He spoke in pidgin, so I could understand him, and that was really cool! Then, the man who taught the day’s lesson had never taught before, and was very nervous, being that he had “special company” to talk to also. He spoke in tok ples (“talk place”- pidgin term for the tribal language), so we couldn’t understand him. I could follow along in my Bible when he gave scripture references though. He was teaching on Cain and Abel, and how their offerings were different, and how God accepted the blood sacrifice of Abel, but not the grain sacrifice of Cain. I could see that he was so nervous his hands were shaking! I kept praying for him throughout- that his message would be clear and accurate, and for God to calm his nerves. Later on, talking to the missionaries, they reported that he’d done a very good, thorough, accurate job of teaching. Yay!
There was AWESOME beauty all around in the Islands, and plenty of fun stuff to do too- like swimming/canoeing (our house was literally a stone’s throw from the ocean), snorkeling (beautiful reefs!), hiking, playing with the nationals, etc. This side trip was amazing! Thank you so much for your prayer support for it!
I was glad to return to Goroka though! That, to me, is home. Interface specifically. I love the campus, the people I know will be there, the Bena people who are constantly walking thru Interface, their little villages, the dirt road, everything. I love riding in PMV’s to Lapilo (NTM Highlands Headquarters) and visiting all the missionaries there- several of whom I know personally now. And the thing I like most- the Market! (figures- I’m a girl’s girl, and I still love shopping- even if it’s for coconuts, kumu, and meri blouses J)
It’s funny to me- on each of the trips that I’ve taken, I have definitely learned valuable lessons. But when I really think about it, they seem to be the most obvious things! It’s just like a light bulb turns on for the first time in my head… I don’t like that these seemingly simple, obvious things aren’t so obvious to me naturally, but I am very glad to learn the lessons nonetheless, and know that God’s timing for revealing things to me (and you) is perfect regardless.
In 2004, the big lesson was that the fruit of my obedience to Christ is not my responsibility- my responsibility is to be obedient to Christ. I could do what the Lord tells me to do, and never find out the reason behind it, or see “fruit” of that action, or even fully understand why I’m doing it. But it doesn’t matter- He doesn’t call me to understand all things, but to follow Him in all things.
In 2006, the lessons were two-fold: first, that nothing is beyond God. No detail of my life falls outside of His gaze. He is in control of my life, and is worthy of my trust. I can’t even begin to convey how comforting that single truth has been- especially throughout the course of 2006 (a very “laden” year for me). The second lesson is taken from a movie I watched called “The Cross and The Crescent”- dealing with outreach to Muslims- “the power of the Gospel is greater than the powers of this world. Do not be intimidated by the difficulties you will face. We, as humans, can reach peoples’ ears, but the Holy Spirit will bring the message down to their hearts. We can water, take care, and cultivate. But GOD does the growing. That is very important for us to know! The burden is NOT on our shoulders- but is on the Cross. We must be vessels- the hands and feet and mouths of God to deliver the message as accurately and faithfully as we can.”
2007 didn’t exactly bring a new message, but it really drove home something I think the Lord has been revealing to me since about August of 2006- and that is the importance of relationship. It’s all about relationship. It really is! If you want to share Christ with someone, BE Christ to them first. Love them. Meet them where they are in life, instead of insisting people meet you, and elevate to your expectations. This is true service!! I see this in several ministries I support: “To Write Love On Her Arms” (reaches out to people battling depression and/or addictions), the XXX Church (reaches out to porn stars and others in the pornography industry), Word Made Flesh (meets a variety of community needs in different parts of the world- and specifically working with women in the sex industry in Calcutta).
I saw this first hand in New Guinea too- both the principle and the practice. Lots of missions organizations will go into a place, and immediately present the Gospel to the people they meet. They feel such an urgency- and that is surely to be commended. But when haste is the practice, and “conversions” the goal, there is a danger that arises: that the Message is distorted, that beliefs will be mixed, and that true faith is not the fruit.
I love that what I witnessed was completely different! A lot of time is spent with these nationals. Time learning their language- extensively, not just “enough”, time learning about their culture and practices, time learning about the people- their families, their joys, sorrows. The missionaries I’ve encountered pour their lives into the people they are there to serve. It’s so inspiring to see too… They want to be a part of their lives, and they want to be able to see them in Heaven some day, and they want them to understand clearly, without question, that Jesus is the only way to the Father. Not any work of man, not any chant, not how much money they have or give.
It is not about the day you worship, or the songs you sing, or order of prayer. It’s not about what you can give up “for God”, or what you do or don’t practice. It’s not about being right, or letting someone else know they’re wrong. (oh man do I feel convicted on those!!) It’s not about having the answer all the time! It IS about loving the people God has put in your life. Meeting needs. Showing them Christ thru your actions and words. Dying to self. (that’s huge by the way) And all of this can be summed up in the sweet word “Relationship”. It all boils down primarily to our relationship with the Lord, closely followed by our relationships with others, and our ever-dying relationship with the World.
So it’s all about relationship. Building relationships. My close friends can vouch- this is tough for me. (ask me about my homegroup history some time ) I welcome the challenge though, and look forward to what God’s doing in my heart and in my life. Praise God that I can at least see the importance!
And it was the relationships on this trip that were the most enjoyable element to me. I loved getting to know the students- what an awesome, dynamic group of people just sold out for the Lord! I got to know the staff better too, and I treasure them even more now! But the best was getting to know some of the Nationals. Remember- some of them remembered me from last year, so they got to know me better too. Julie, Rose, Efeke, Kessie- just to name a few. I absolutely loved being with them every day in the kitchen, and then seeing them on occasion in the villages or on the road, getting to sit down and work on our bilums together, or just “story” back and forth- practicing my Pidgin. Meeting little Lime (leemay) and Apahe (a-pa-hay) again (the children from the road at New Camp) and getting to spend time with them, playing “pig pig dog” and tag and the limbo in the villages- that was pure joy for me. I even got to see the lady who’s baby died while I was there last year. That was why I went!
And now, that is why I am returning in July and August. To continue to build relationships with those same people. I will be serving in the same capacity as I did this time- helping in the kitchen, doing office stuff where needed, running the snack bar occasionally, and just meeting needs for the students in any way that I can. I can’t even tell you how excited I am! My local friends will vouch- I’m literally bouncing off the walls I’m so excited!
Back here in the States... I wanted a buffer between the trip and "home", so I spent time with some friends in Colorado before diving into life here. A very good thing too! It was wonderful to be in a completely different environment, collect my thoughts, ask for advice, play with the kids, and sleep. There's been some inevitable stress, but different from last year (and anything is better than that experience!). I'm being daily reminded of my dependence on the Lord, and the importance of staying connected with my friend relationships here too.
I beg you to pray with me:
1. For this new trip (praise for the opportunity), for finances, and for the other team members.
2. For wisdom in planning, time management, money management, etc. I still have not completely ruled out going to Calcutta, and am earnestly seeking the Lord’s will on this.
3. Satan loves attacking after mountain top experiences, and this was no exception to that. Please pray for heart issues that have arisen- that I’d leave God in control, and be submissive to His will- consistently.
I want you to know you are cherished! You are so important to me! May I pray for you as well? It would be an honor to serve you thru prayer, or in any other tangible way. I thank you so much for your support and encouragement.
Thank you so much for sending me!!