Hope you are doing great! I have been out of “town” lately and when I came back I hit the ground running and so I am thankful for an early morning Saturday, while everyone else is sleeping, so I can quickly give some feedback on what has been happening lately.
As I share a bit about our trips these last weeks, I would like us to keep in mind the importance of unity! Over these years, I have learned that we must choose unity. Unity is not something that automatically manifests in our lives, because we rather tend to default to our old selves and what we as individuals want. Therefore we need to intentionally choose to live and act in unity with each other, even though we may differ in character, personality, preferences, strategy etc.
Unfortunately disunity has been the fall of many tribal teams, and often have been the cause of a team acting anti Christ like, especially within the context of the cultures we live in. Often people here will play us off against each other, “You and your wife give us a whole bag of salt for our sweet potato and your co worker only gives us a little bit of salt in a piece of paper.” Slowly but surely they are working towards gaining our favor and if we are not careful this will start creating division in our team, and it does! Soon I can start believing that I am much better than my co-worker and pridefuly I start avoiding him and looking down upon him. Believe me I have been there! Unfortunately I have seen many eager new missionaries working hard in learning language and doing culture study in preparation for the gospel later, but their disunity within the team and the broader support team are damaging to the end goal!
Let us remember Paul’s Words in Galatians 6:7-9 says, “Don’t be misled – you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”If we want to see success at the END we need to learn to NOW already set the right example of unity in diversity!
Trip to Bali
With this idea of unity in mind we had the opportunity to travel to a “neighboring’ work and part of the process was to model how we as a broader team can work together in unity. The team consisted of me, and Jan Wols (left in pic), a veteran missionary working in PNG the last 25 years roughly and then Josh Butler (right in pic), a new missionary in the process of learning language and Culture.
It took us about a 4.5 hour boat ride to the island called Bali, and no this is not Bali the famous island holiday destination:) The team has been on furlough, so they have been gone for a while from the island and we had the opportunity go and visit them as the reentered and also spend time with the local villagers. Contrary to what many
think, these boat rides are NOT fun! Often its over rough seas, other times boiling sun not to mention a ton of safety issues! But the Lord has been good for us and we arrived safely on the island.
After that we spend allot of time visiting with the people. We just build relationships, introduced ourselves, and re-emphasize the focus we are having about language, literacy, translation and teaching through Gods Word chronologically.
This for me is really the best time! I just love hanging around with the people, not pushing any agenda and seeing what the conversations bring up. It often eventually drift towards our goal of wanting them understand Gods Word and then out of that arises so many questions and good conversation.
For example, Joe (picture on left) came to me after one of our chats and said he would like to speak to me in private, and late that night he came around and asked me many great questions. For example, “I am part of a certain denomination, and I follow all the rules they prescribe, so do you think I am good enough to live eternally with God?” Or another question, “I know God cannot lie, and the Bible says there is an eternal fire, so is this really true or what?” Or another question, “Why has Jesus Christ come to this earth and what is the meaning of his death and resurrection? “Just imagine the good conversation we had based on that question!
In between all our chats and visits we also had the opportunity to helping the missionary family getting their house sorted out again. This involved allot of cleaning and fixing. I did not contribute much but really appreciated my co worker, Jan Wols, who over and above his responsibilities in the village and with the village elders also washed down all the walls, ceiling and floors and did many more tasks to help the team get started again! I tried to fix one of the genies but unfortunately my 2 left thumbs failed me:)
The last day we had a bit of a party with a pig being prepared and lots of food being cooked and of course some coffee! PNG’s new official drink:) This is a good way of showing unity and friendship and appreciation within these cultures.
For us it was just a great opportunity to come together as a team of three missionaries, one new from America, one Mengen missionary from South Africa and one veteran missionary who worked many, many years amongst the Lamongai people, all the way from Holland. We come from different parts of the world, we work in different areas of PNG, we have different opinions and convictions about things, we have different strategies yet we can be united in Christ. This is the kind of picture we want to show others especially the future Church!
Next week I will share about the second part of trip.