The word brings images of things, new and different; experiences not known before; people with unique and beautiful contributions to make; and vision and missions not yet explored. In the last couple weeks, the Wewak regional center has been privileged to host a twelve day orientation for a Wycliffe US Discover team. These young ladies came to explore what mission work looks like in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and how it could possibly fit with their future goals for work and ministry. They all came with unique skills and abilities acquired in life. This allowed them to see PNG from their own individual perspectives.
A portion of each day was spent learning Tok Pisin, the local trade language. Following the lecture time, the participants spent time with a Papua New Guinean teacher hearing and putting into practice what they had learned. Several hours were devoted to looking at culture and other aspects of anthropology, learning about many of the nuances of the culture. Then there were the questions of how do you maintain a vital spiritual life while living overseas where there are fewer opportunities for others to feed you? What does it look like to work on a team with people from other cultures whose values might differ from what you have known before? Even as there is a certain amount of risk living in the home culture, what are the risks of living in this culture and how are those risks managed?
Outside the classroom, hands-on experiences enriched their learning. Experiencing hikes in the rugged terrain and seeing unique plants and creatures filled a couple afternoons. Time was spent on several afternoons learning to cook PNG foods in traditional ways. Scraping coconuts to make coconut milk, cleaning and fixing a variety of greens to mix with the coconut milk, and cooking over an open fire were all part of the experience. A trip to town to buy market food and other goods gave a new perspective to going shopping.
Two different villages each welcomed some of the participants along with their host family for an overnight in their villages. Some were decorated with leis and welcomed with a traditional singsing. One young lady shared how worshiping with the people was so touching as she realized how God is here to bring us together. They saw how the people grow their food, harvest their gardens and sago, and prepare their fish. The warm hospitality of each village was felt by the whole team. We are thankful for the relationships that God is forging as we work with different language groups. Both villages have been involved with recent Oral Bible Storytelling workshops held in Wewak.
Pray for these ladies as they have now moved on to the next phase of their training in different parts of PNG. Pray for great learning experiences, good health, and opportunities to be able to serve. Pray that they will be able to discern the Lord’s leading for their futures.