Ladies testimony

I just thought I would like to share a little about the journey that God has had me on over the last few years.  When we were called to MAF we said we wanted to go wherever we were needed most and to be honest if I had known back then how many moves that would mean I probably would have put all the countries MAF works in a hat and picked one out and say we were called there so that I didn’t have to move so much. This is our 9th year with MAF and we have packed and moved many times. 11 actual moves and more pack ups in between when we returned on furlough etc.. I had always said I wanted to move to one place and stay there wherever that was and it was a dangerous thing to say because God didn’t want me to get too comfortable.

I want to thank all of you because you have been a part of this season of our journey and I have learnt much from you. I have learnt about hospitality, cooking tips, grace, forgiveness, stress, being a part of a team and looking after each other. I have learnt how important these things are for being a part of a community. When we came from Melbourne and were sent to Kawito it was beyond anything I had experienced before and it was such a different way of life and I have learnt many lessons from that. So it has been a struggle to readjust my expectations to the thinking that I will be moving on from PNG back to Australia and it is disappointing. Disappointing to not be ‘on the front lines’ and seeing the difference every day. But I know God has a plan.

The verse that has particularly resonated with me these last few months has been Proverbs 3:5-6 which says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make straight your paths.” The part about ‘lean not on your own understanding’ rings true. Because I can see there are needs here and important work to do and everybody stretched to the limit and I had thought we would stay many years.  Yet I know there are needs elsewhere and MAF International have said it is more important to get the training school running and in line with MAF’s vision and that is the role they have seen us fit to do. I have wrestled with this because the need here is immediate but I can see how this role will hopefully multiply the efforts here. God has been helping me to readjust my expectations and he has been so faithful in affirming this decision in many ways. I’m so glad we are still going to be a part of the same team working for the same goals of spreading Christ’s love to remote peoples and I’m starting to look forward to this change. I’m so thankful that you all have been in our lives and for your faithful examples of Christ’s love you have been to me and for all the things I have learnt from you. I want to encourage you to press on in Christ and that while we don’t understand why God does some things the way He does. He will make straight our paths and we must trust in Him as Proverbs 3 says.

Life is different

This is a really scary move for us. It’s a return to semi ‘normal’ life when ‘normal’ has been so different. When you go grocery shopping it’s not a one stop shop it’s the many stop shop as you try to get everything you need. It’s the freedom to overcrowd your car if you want or go on the other side of the road if it just works better for the situation. It’s the crazy chaotic-ness outside the gate and the walking culture. The way most people walk making the roads busy and friendly and sometimes dangerous. The unmade roads make travelling hard but very interesting. The little villages along the roadside, the kids playing in puddles close to the road, the drunk man staggering, the lady washing her vegetables there is so much to look at and take in.

Moving

Both kids are finding it hard to believe that we won’t be coming back because that is what we always do. The conversation goes something like:
Kids “On Friday we are going to Mareeba, then we will buy a house and then we will come back to our house here.”
Me “No, on Friday we will go to Mareeba and then we will buy a house and then we will stay there. We aren’t coming back to our house here.”
Kids “Oh, then we stay in Mareeba?”.
Me “Yes”
The next day…
Kids “On Friday we are going to Mareeba, then we will buy a house and then we will come back to our house here.”
Me “No, on Friday we will go to Mareeba and then we will buy a house and then we will stay there. We aren’t coming back to our house here.”
Kids “Oh, then we stay in Mareeba?”.
Me “Yes”
The next day…
Kids “On Friday we are going to Mareeba, then we will buy a house and then we will come back to our house here.”
Me “No, on Friday we will go to Mareeba and then we will buy a house and then we will stay there. We aren’t coming back to our house here.”
Kids “Oh, then we stay in Mareeba?”.
Me “Yes”

I guess it’s part of processing!

People

James, the lovely guard on the compound, who serves us all faithfully. He plays tirelessly with the children letting them jump all over him and gently distracts when they start to fight. He kindly works on our gardens and watches out for you if you go outside the compound to walk. We will miss him.

Rebecca, our lovely haus lady, whose smile brightens our day. The kids run to the door when she arrives trying to catch her up on the news in their lives. She quietly works away in the background and does whatever needs to be done.

Maclan, a neighbours girl, who has become good friends with Annabelle. Who shouts ‘me less, me less’ (I don’t want to go) when her mum comes to take her home. Whose mischievous smile makes you smile back, who told me today that she wouldn’t be going home for Christmas because Annabelle is here and she wants to stay with Annabelle.

Elissa and Elijah, the twins next door, Maclan’s big brothers, who play with Theo and do a good job of including him in their games even though they are older.

Nimrod, who plays with Theo and doesn’t let him win. He seems like the ‘bigman’ of the playground.

Itchika, who plays so beautifully with Theo even though he is older. Who is patient and kind and smiling as he plays.

Ricky, another guard, who lights the fire when the kids ask him and makes sticks into points so that Theo can have a ‘knife’ (an important item in a kids toy box in PNG).

Janet, the lovely mother of some of these kids, who I meet in the playground often. We talk and smile at each other and probably understand about half of what we each say. Who is so engaged with kids (unusual to see) throwing the ball with them, playing volleyball and sitting and watching them play.

These are some of the people who we meet each day and some of the many friends we are really going to miss. We are going to miss being able to walk outside and have friends and fellowship close by. We are going to miss this amazingly beautiful place where people are so friendly and willing to help. Often people come and help me load the car with my groceries when I’m shopping. Often people just want to shake my hand and greet me – just because. As you drive along people wave and smile or help me back out of a carpark spot. They often give way to you as you walk or drive or push you to the front of the cue when you have 3 kids with you who are on their last legs.

These are the people we have grown to love. This the place we call home. This is the place we are leaving and will miss a lot. Life goes on and we are privileged to know that many of these people we will see again when there is no time limit and where we can all just rejoice. We will miss you!

Full Circle

Yesterday I had the privilege of attending the graduation for the latest group of Community Health Workers at Rumginae Hospital. What made it so special for me that this lovely lady Martha was graduating and her and her family were friends from Kawito.

It was over 2 years ago that I was talking with her mother, who had tears in her eyes, about how she had got into the Community Health Workers program at Rumginae, but that they had no money to send her. It was after then that during a conversation with some of our supporters I shared about Martha. Later they came back and gave a donation which paid for all her airfares to and from Rumginae and Kawito for those 2 years. Then later talking with one of the MAF ladies about this need, she and her friend who were both departing PNG MAF said that their farewell gift was to go to help Martha’s schooling. And so it was that she able to go to Rumginae to study.

After the first year she won a scholarship to continue her study for the second year. As I sat there and watched the ceremony it was exciting to see this first step in her dream to become a doctor complete. She was given an award for 2nd place for theory in her class as well. What a blessing to see this journey come full circle and see the conclusion of this season.

As we left Kawito over the weekend Topa said with tears in her eyes “thank you for the part you have played in our family, you have been a blessing”. And I pass this on to all of you because we have all been a part of this journey with Martha and we have all been and are instruments in God’s plan for this girl, this family, the Gogodala people and the people of PNG. So thank you for partnering with us.

We attended church with them on the weekend and Martha stood and sang a solo of “How Deep the Father’s Love for us”. Because our Father loves us so much the love He pours down on us overflows from us so we can be lights in our communities. And this was the theme for Martha’s graduating class ‘Beams in the community’ and I think she will be. A beam of Christ’s love to all that she physical treats and spiritually impacts through her work as CHW and God willing a future doctor.

Martha’s journey to become a doctor is a difficult one for someone in PNG and particularly for a woman in PNG. From here she will work for a couple of years as a CHW working out of Balimo hospital a village down the river from the MAF base of Kawito. Then she hopes to study to become a nurse and from there get a scholarship to Australia to study medicine. She has a long road ahead but what a blessing she will be if she can do it and come back to the Western Province to serve her people. The people in the Kawito area are an hour’s flight from the closest doctor and so for most of them they will never see a doctor in their lives and it is only the very sick who get transferred to the closest hospital at Rumginae.

Roots or wings

As we sat around our kitchen table talking with a friend he made a comment that intrigued me that most of us grow up with either ‘roots or wings’. Roots being we lived in the same house our whole life, went to the same school, lived close to our family and had a very strong connection with what ‘home’ was in a physical sense as well as an emotional sense. And then there are the people who grow up with wings, they move around or live overseas ‘home’ is where there close family unit is but they don’t have such a strong physical sense of where home is as it could be anywhere where there family is. I realised that I had definitely grown up with roots but my kids would be growing up with wings and I needed to work hard to understand that aspect of them. While I will share many of the same experiences I will not be coming from the perspective as them. In the end I really want them to have both I want them to feel like they have the certainty of a ‘home’ but I also want them to feel free to fly. It is hard knowing how many times we have moved (21 total house pack-ups in the 8 years of marriage) and sometimes how temporary our ‘home’ is. Yet I think my perspective on this was a little wrong and I figured out that really our life on earth is just temporary and really our home is in heaven and that is where their roots should be. But they should also feel free to fly where God wants to take them as they journey through this life on earth. ‘Roots and wings’ = ‘Fly where God calls and root yourself in Him’. Just some pondering…