I described the past week as much to a friend recently. I realize that an English teacher may frown upon that description, but that is exactly what it has been. As a result this post may be longer than usual, but I wanted to share.
In the midst of overwhelming feelings to be back in the States, God provided several opportunities for me to see why I am here instead of there. On Saturday I got to go to the Goroka Show, a once-a-year festival put on in conjunction with PNG Independence Day celebrations. Representatives of tribes from all over the country display traditional clothing, dancing and music. As I moved between the groups and took pictures, I was amazed at their costumes and their energy. I saw more things than I am able to describe, but the thing that I was most grateful for was getting to lock eyes with the people of PNG. It is evident in their traditions that they acknowledge the existence of a creator, but many have never heard of the unconditional love of Christ or experienced the peace and hope of God. The Goroka Show allowed me to put faces with the reason I am here.
I also spent four days this week working at another campus at the NTM Highlands Conference. During this time, tribal missionaries come in from the bush and spend time learning and fellowshipping. I was part of providing nursery care so that these missionaries could attend sessions. Through caring for their kids and evening conversations, I was able to connect with several families that are in tribes learning the language and culture or teaching and translating the Bible. As a support missionary, I am grateful to have met and worked more closely with the people that we are supporting from the field office. I am now better able to put faces and personalities with those that I pray for in the bush.
I mentioned that these opportunities occurred during a time when I just wanted to be back in the States. My sister, who lives most of the year in Africa with Mercy Ships, is in Dallas and had surgery on Monday. I can’t provide her medical care, but I longed to be at her bedside before and after the surgery. She is fine and recovering well with my parents, and I find myself jealous that those in Texas are getting to spend time with her. Additionally, a dear friend passed away over the weekend. Ken Sessions, a missionary that Live Oak partnered with in Mexico, lost his battle to cancer. I can’t seem to express my sadness for his wife and fellow missionary Yolanda well over the phone or honor Ken appropriately in written words. It is certainly a time when I want to mourn with friends.
The school term also ended Wednesday, which meant the scurry of final assignments and grades. The sleep deprivation associated with this simply added to the intensity of feelings this week. So, in the end, the week can only be described as much. In the end, I am grateful for God’s providence of the big picture in the midst of sadness.