I trekked for 8 hours with about 150 ladies then stayed in a bush material tent, squashed up with people from our district. Curious people surrounded me wanting to hear me speak and observe everything I was doing. “She does the things that we do!”
I had forgotten what it was like when I first arrived in Dande and feel very thankful that in my village I am no longer such a curiosity.
What was I doing? It was a highlight for this month to join something like 1000 ladies for a camp centered around “Drawing close to God”. It was the Rumginae Regional Woman’s Convention for the Evangelical Church of PNG. The things one can do when one is not working!
The Bible was faithfully taught, and it was great to see a focus on the gospel in all the talks, all given by people from within this region but different language groups. People appreciated hearing the messages and texts in Aekyom, interpreted by my friend Jennifer.
I was concerned though about some prayers and emotional behaviours in the camp that seemed to reflect old tribal thinking. Many in the region are attracted to this.
The love of ceremony in the culture really stood out for me – there was an official traditional welcome, a flag raising ceremony, Jesus march, thanksgiving ceremony, passing on the flag… all accompanied by a lot of excitement and often dancing. You can see from the photos.
I was away from Dande, but did still did a lot of culture and language learning. But this time of concentrated village orientation is winding up. The farewell party in Dande is 29 November, then I will stay a week or so more in Dande, have a holiday at Rumginae, and then start work at the beginning of January.
Preparations over many years are now coming together. It was back in 2001 when I first came into my medical elective and knew God’s leading to come back to PNG. Since then I have chosen to get experience in particular medical fields, had a couple more trips to PNG as a doctor, a year at Bible College, built relationships with supporters and a sending church, orientated to PNG culture – learning pidgin then Aekyom. It has all been building to this point of working long-term as a doctor at Rumginae Hospital, serving in healthcare and discipleship. In fact, how this will all come together is rather unknown to me!
I am about to have quite different roles. The change from a village to a mission station, from a subsistence lifestyle to working in a hospital and from being told what to do to being a leader.
I’ve worked at Rumginae before, but only short-term and without all the background of the village that I now have. I wonder what the blend will look like.
God is confronting me again with my need to trust him, to know his grace is sufficient and to not rely on my own understanding. I’m inclined to feel inadequate for the task of treating the varied and severe sicknesses, let alone the many other tasks. I look across at the demanding lifestyle of my fellow doctors at Rumginae and am rather daunted. Looking at how God has helped me in the past and led me to this point is a real comfort. Knowing that many of God’s people reading this newsletter are praying is real comfort. Thanks so much. Let us draw close to God and look at him.
I’m so thankful to God for this time of village orientation. Dande people consider me as theirs, my love for them is growing, I can speak some Aekyom, I’ve seen culture, I’m learning patience and contentment, I’ve stayed the 9 months I desired, I haven’t done medical work and I’ve shared God’s word.
I will miss the close friendships, the outdoor living and the community life. A hard slog, but good.
- Pray for our region to have a hunger for God’s word
- Pray for the new Christians from the camp to grow
- Pray for peace and confidence in God in my transition to work and the mission station
- Pray for Jennifer as she continues to serve in Dande