31 August, 6:45 – It feels odd to be just hours away from being back in Australia, sitting in Lae airport awaiting a flight to Port Moresby (POM) and a Cairns connection. The mission dentist at Ukarumpa Clinic had identified a broken molar which required more attention than he was able to provide. The re-entry carries with it a sense of unease at making this journey before being emotionally ready to be ‘home’.
4 September, 7:15 – As ‘medical evacuations’ go , this one was very low key. Three flights each way – Lae / POM / Cairns / Townsville – complete with six tiny buns, six tiny drinks, and six fairly emotionless safety demonstrations requiring “my complete attention”. [Just once I’d love to see them quiz some iPad engrossed passenger in the old public school style – “The young man in 14D… perhaps you’d like to tell us what happens if we lose cabin pressure?]
The trip was all about ticking off the to-do list.
- Grab some stored items that we now know would have been useful [I wonder if Paul was better prepared on his second missionary journey?]
- Have a broken tooth extracted
- Purchase equipment for the Lae Centre that never hits the shelves in PNG
What wasn’t on the list was taking time out to visit old friends. Being in Australia felt odd, as if I was out of place. Admittedly Elspeth wasn’t with me, which added to the oddness, but it was more the certainty that this was not where God would have me feel settled just yet. Only with the eventual return next year will there be the task of reconnecting and renewing the friendships that make Townsville home.
We were told repeatedly during our training for work in PNG that building valuable relationships takes time. Ross Webb, a former field Director in Vanuatu, stated that “One of the best things about Bible translation is that it takes a long time.” The process can only occur within the context of relationship, and the work is enriched because of it. To share the word, we must share language, experiences and emotions – we must walk along together.
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” Romans 10:14-15
Please pray …
- praise God for a successful surgery and that the after-effects have been minimal
- for us both to be prepared emotionally when the day comes to return to Australia
- thankful that God will always provide the people and resources to see His work completed in line with His purposes and to His glory