From our perspective, life under the COVID cloud has continued close to “normal”, as much as that is ever the case. With the exception of having to forego a trip to Australia for family reasons – which is a source of sadness – most of this year has played out according to script. There have been, over recent weeks, cases of COVID-19 in the major urban centres of Port Moresby and in Lae, but the appropriate responses are in place, and we are able to isolate ourselves from the primary risk. That in itself is a challenge for us. Back home, people have faced horrendous situations – the loss of family members; unemployment in the midst of a bleak economy; rising social tensions; fear of community breakdown. The impact on us personally – both here and with family back in Australia – has been minimal.
Over recent months though, there are a number of co-workers who are looking to head back to their home countries, in spite of the difficulties, for medical reasons, family crises, or just to have a break now rather than miss the opportunity completely. In the meantime, others are trying to return to PNG after a period of leave in their home countries, but obtaining approval to pass through three or more international airports with various transit and quarantine standards is proving complicated. In the coming days, several colleagues are making a second or third attempt to board flights, all with the complexity of quarantining on arrival in PNG.
The accumulative effect is that our community is quite obviously down on numbers. There are people holding down two roles; caring for the homes and pets of absent colleagues; delaying holiday leave as there is no-one to replace them. We are feeling a sense of loss, there is no way to sugar-coat it.
During this time of limitations and restrictions, two scripture dedications have been impacted, being down-sized or postponed. That is a hardship that is difficult to understand in terms of God’s sovereign purpose.
Yet, in all this…
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 2 Corinthians 4:8-11
Whatever comes, these moments that Paul later describes as “light momentary affliction” (2 Cor 4:17) are part of the context of our Kingdom service. What else is there for us to do but stand up and keep going?
Please pray …
Our community is coming together Friday, August 7, between 12 and 1pm to collectively and specifically pray for the doors to open between PNG and other countries, to enable desperately needed staff to return, and for those who need to travel home to be with family to have a way to do so. Please pray with us if you can…
- for six couples / families who are aiming to travel from the US to PNG over August 9-12.
- for effective processing by various government agencies and airport security staff in the US, in transiting countries, and on arrival in PNG.
- for patience and contentment for these wearied saints, as they make this journey full of obstacles.
- praise God that the PNG government has granted dispensation for these travellers to quarantine in their own homes at our Ukarumpa base. Pray that we manage this wisely, and show our commitment to respect the authorities God has placed over us.
- praise God that our PNG Prime Minister, James Marape, and the State of Energency controller, David Manning, are both committed Christians. It is an encouragement to see press releases which often appeal to people to pray and conclude with “Thank you and God bless”.