Three months have gone by so quickly.
I’ve always been warned that somewhere around the 90-day mark, the excitement wears off and “reality” sets. It’s at this point that many people realize the whole missionary thing isn’t nearly as romantic as it first seemed and they start to wonder if they were crazy for ever leaving home. It’s so much harder to keep yourself alive in most of the world. Without the luxuries of clean tap water, clothes dryers and microwaves, life just takes more time. Even basic items like yogurt, sour cream and evaporated or condensed milk have to be made from scratch…a concept which never even occurred to this American girl!
But ever since I first stepped foot out of the the US in 2002, I knew I was meant for a 3rd world life. I didn’t really think the adjustment would be hard for me, and in many ways, I’m more comfortable here than I ever was during the past 12 years in the US. Yes, I miss my independence and simple things (like actually feeling clean!) and I’ll readily admit that if sushi or Chick-fil-a were to fall out of the sky, I’d probably cry tears of joy. But the rest has become normal and I often forget how foreign outdoor island kitchens, jungle huts and dugout canoes must look to other eyes.
During the last month, I flew out into the bush, landed on the muddy brown Sepik River and traveled several hours through the jungle by boat to stay with a remote tribe. I went barefoot for 16 days, got malaria (a mild case, thank God!), trekked into the swamp to spend hours making their main staple of sago paste , at times balancing on the narrow middle vein of palm fronds that were laid across the deeper water and muck. Life out there was different.
Snack time for a 5 year old like Doyce, Mia or Justin means climbing to the top of a twenty foot oil palm tree with a knife in your mouth then walking out onto the branches like a tight-rope walker to cross into even bigger trees.
Beautiful, smiling baby girls like Alissa might be given away to neighbors because Lucy was never able to have kids of her own and Esther, who clearly adores her daughter, already has 5 other children.
Rosa was out in the swamp chopping down a 30 foot palm tree for food when it fell on her, breaking her humerus in two. Her 100lb friend Ronica managed to free her from the tree, but now Rosa’s right arm hangs limply, the upper arm shaped like a lightning bolt. For months now, she’s had a string tied around her wrist, the other end looped around her neck. The pain is terrible still and yet she’s always smiling.
After my time spent in the jungle, the statistics have become the faces of friends and I’m even more excited about the opportunity I have to work with the people in tribes like these. The smells that bothered me so much before my time in Pukapuki are hardly noticed now… in fact, I almost appreciate them. I now realize it’s merely the badge of hard work and a really hard life. A life that I have a deep respect for. If you want to check out my pictures, Click Here.
Next week, Kirsten and I will be traveling to the Highlands to meet with the regional and national directors for the Global CHE Network before going through a week long CHE (Community Health Evangelism) training specific to our work here in PNG.
Every day I’m growing to love the ministry of Samaritan more and I often think of how proud I am to be a part of this organization. In many ways it seems like God has handed us a completely blank canvas to paint on and the ministry potential is unlimited!
Thanks so much for being a part of it,
- In order to really be able to jump into my role and be more hands on in the ministries I’m over, I’m going to be buying a car. Many of the missions organizations here order them from Japan as it’s the cheapest option. It’s crazy that even a $1500 car could end up being close to $8000 when all is said and done, but I know God will provide as He’s been doing all along! Please pray that gives me wisdom in choosing a dependable car…something that can be tricky when you can’t actually see it!