Originally published April 18, 2020
Surprise! Shortly after I sent my last update the US embassy arranged a repatriation flight. It’s a fancy way of saying— we recognize international travel closed very quickly and some of you ex-pats in Papua New Guinea may have wanted to go home some time in the next few months. So, since we don’t know when travel will resume, here’s an opportunity for you all to fly home. (Not a direct quote)
Our mission leadership had mentioned that this flight could be an option at some point, but for me, it came as a surprise. I wasn’t quite ready to go. So there were a whole lot of hurried “lasts.” Last Bible Study Fellowship, last hockey night, last group exercise . . . breakfast and class, last run with the running club, last ladies’ prayer time. And while I plan to be back and able to do those things again in a few months, several of the ladies in these pictures will be gone for at least a year.
Now, I know in my mind that those “lasts” would have happened anyway, just a month later, but for some reason, it’s harder. We were still in the middle of living life, things weren’t drawing to a close yet. There wasn’t that normal winding down, but instead, a cramming in of every good thing we could, because it’s the last time it will ever be this way. I’m sentimental like that.
We were originally told on a Wednesday night that we would be leaving on Monday. Thankfully, it took them a little longer to arrange the flight and we left on the following Thursday. The longest April 9th of all of our lives. Literally.
I leave behind a good team and a lot of good friends. Many of them (77) came to the US or the UK with me, but the work in PNG will go on. Because I can do a lot of my ministry from the US, it was the best thing for me to come home now to relieve any burden on the resources there, if the virus spreads in PNG.
But there are parts of my ministry that I can’t do from here, and so when travel re-opens I will go back. There will be blessings from being here as well. I look forward to family time and yard work and gardening as soon as my quarantine is over. Biking and walk/running and hopefully the end of social distancing won’t be too far behind and I can visit with all of you.
I live in and love two worlds. Pray that I can make good use of this time to encourage and care for both worlds well.
As I’ve spent the last few days unpacking and setting up my house the way I want it for the next few months, cleaning, putting things in place and setting up my ‘office,’ I have been reflecting on the idea of ‘control’. Being the task-oriented person that I am, I thought through a schedule of Bible Study, working, language learning and exercise.
But I can see pretty clearly how I allow those things— organizing my space and my schedule—help develop in me a sense of stability and control, when I really have none outside of Christ.
For someone who loves to plan and fill a calendar it’s a good wake-up call to have it all completely wiped out. My last few days in PNG were full of spontaneous events to spend time with people I won’t see for awhile, and they were such a blessing. It’s a strange thing right now to not be able to plan past the next 8 days. . . until then I’ll be at home avoiding all human contact and taking my temperature twice a day, just in case.
But I pray God will use this in my life. That I’ll remember that I’m not in control and that I should be grateful for who I am with and the purpose He gives me in each day. I’m praying that He’ll use this time to grow me in my relationship with and dependence on Him.
I want to remember that while I do want to be productive with this time and use it wisely, He will always be the one who measures what a good use of time is, and it will always include Him.