Living on a Ship in the middle of the Pacific Ocean comes with it’s own surprises, adventures, stories, and challenges. You add delivering medical care to some of the most remote coastal regions in the world using said ship, and you’ve just magnified all the surprises, adventures, stories, and challenges. Now, let’s put another spanner in the works and add on leading a group of young high school kids through these remote places and you’re on a whole other level.
We were on our last day of outreach and had already been to a heap of villages, including a tiny island called Budi Budi that’s as far east as you can get in PNG before hitting Samoa. These are places most people only dream of going. At this point, I felt like we were finished. It was the last day, and we had already worked so hard. With only one place to go, a small island called Kwaiwatta where no one had been to deliver care in decades – I realised there was still more ahead of us.
It was a 30 minute boat ride into the big waves on our small zodiacs, and there was a “long walk” when we got there UP to the village. As we made our way to the beach, we had to navigate our way in through the shallow corals and rocks. We got near to the shore and all jumped off into the warm tropical water and begun to carry our gear to land. Between the 20 or so of us we had a number of large backpacks carrying medical supplies, 2 boxes of medical equipment, a box radio for essential communication to the ship (and the 2.5 metre antenna to go with it), a big tub of water for our team and then personal bags for water, food and other things for the day. A local man met us at the beach and showed us to the start of the track that lead up to the village.
We began hiking which wasn’t abnormal for us, as many villages were away from the beach and required at minimum some walking to get us there. However, this village quickly redefined hiking to us. It started out nice and gradually become steeper and steeper. Pausing regularly for rests the team was struggling, but all wanted to persevere to get to the village in order to deliver health care that was so hard for them to access.
Then, we met a rock wall. The track was now very steep, but ahead of us was a cliff with a small path. There was no way around it, this was the only way to the village. We stopped. Many of us in the team thought this was the end, it seemed impossible to pass, much less with all of our gear. Some of the team were already feeling exhausted, including a seven year old girl that had joined her mum for the day. I thought this was where we would stop, give up on hope, and return to the ship. We had already accomplished so much on this 2 week outreach, maybe today really was just too much.
That’s when one of the Health Care team leaders had a bit of faith to keep going. She climbed up the cliff with a few others and pushed on to see how much further the village was, and if we could have some assistance from locals to get our gear where it needed to be. A short time passed and a few young men were there to grab our stuff and help us up. There was an excitement right from the beginning for our arrival, and we could tell they weren’t going to let anything prevent us coming. We reached the top with shouts and cheers from the locals!
As we made our way into the clearing of the village centre there was a flurry of excitement as about 200 children began running towards us and welcoming us to their home. The rest of the day was incredible. We delivered health services to people that had to literally climb 2 mountains and sail in small handmade boats in rough waters to access the nearest health station, which may or may not have had what they needed. We trained 30 young men in what happens during puberty, taught about gender equality and honouring children who would then use their training to go on and train the other men who couldn’t make it to the session.
As I reflect on that day I could see a great lesson that I had learned. I was faced with a wall before me, literally. Something that in my mind was impassable, but also blocking my view from what was on the other side. There was an incredible opportunity right before me, all I had to do was make it over this wall.
So often we in life I am faced with situations that look to hard to push past, so I turn around and give up. I accept that God wanted it that way, and so by simply making a choice to give up I shut down this opportunity without even knowing fully what it is. I’m thankful that on this day there were other leaders around that believed to push forward and had the faith needed to overcome the impossible.
What other rock walls are we facing? I never want to lose sight of the goal God has placed before me, even when obstacles come I have to face the giants ahead in order to see the victory. I’m learning how important it is to have others around me that can help me see past the wall, and instead see the bigger picture to help push me forward.
Tim has been involved with YWAM since 2009 when he completed Youth Adventures with his school group from Melbourne, Australia. Since then, he has gone on to complete DTS here in Townsville and has been serving on staff since 2015. Tim leads our Youth Adventure program, and is involved in our worship team.