Why I love it…
A lot of people may wonder why there is such a large community of expatriate people living in PNG…this is a very good question! Papua New Guinea is one of the most linguistically diverse areas of the world. This means that we have a higher concentration of languages for the size of the land (about the size of California, for you Americans). Our goal here is to make the scriptures accessible to everyone in the language that serves them best. So in order to reach this many language groups, we need all kinds of people to get the job done—bible translators, literacy workers, pilots, mechanics, teachers, accountants, security personnel.
I love this place because the people I work with have a common goal with me. That is, we all want to see Papua New Guineans accessing and using God’s Word. I don’t have to explain my life or my goals to everyone I bump into. We share this passion, otherwise we wouldn’t have left our home countries, friends, relatives and conveniences to come here.
In my last post I mentioned how sometimes we get into each other’s business. I have a love/hate relationship with this aspect of living in community. The thing I love about it is, when someone is in trouble or sick, people step in willingly to help. If you have followed some of my former blog posts, you might remember that when Jenny Beth needed a medivac to Australia, all kinds of people stepped in: aviation, finance, doctors, nurses, member care, etc. While Australian medical staff took care of Jenny Beth in Cairns, my friends delivered meals to Ben and helped him watch Jacob. Our friend Beth bought a ticket to come to help me, even though she had to organize a road trip to get out of here.
Another example of people helping one another happens when one of us needs something. Even if it’s a food item (like, say I didn’t make it to the 6-7 am market) or something to keep a household going, we can post a ‘wanted’ and we often receive multiple offers of help. This may sound funny to others who don’t live here, but we have no super Walmart or 24 hour grocery store to visit if we run out of something.
I also love the school. The teachers I have met consider my children to be their ministry for God. I am grateful more than I can say for this. Added to this are the people who work with youth (which is a great deal of people!) and those who run the hostels. (On Tuesday, our son Josiah will stay with a hostel family for one week and join us in the village for the school holidays.)
I could go on and on about the various things I love but the real underlying reason I am glad to be here is that I love living and working with my friends. I like it that I run into people I love and admire at the store, post office, school and wherever I go on center. I know I can call up any one of my friends for a spontaneous playdate or stroller walk on any given day. These little encounters provide sanity relief for me and my little ones, and ultimately DO serve to further the task of bible translation here, because it helps me stay healthy emotionally (thus allowing Ben to keep serving in the roles he has as Aitape West team leader, Greek/exegesis trainer and translation advisor.)
When conflict arises, I pray that God will help me remember these things…I want to practice the ‘discipline of gratitude’ (as Henri Nouwen so aptly puts it) for the place he has put me, and for the chance to work with a diverse and gifted group of people.