Six weeks in a foreign country, with foreign customs, people and languages may sound like a challenging and scary thing, yet after three weeks of being immersed in the beautiful culture of Papua New Guinea, the thought of having to leave in only three weeks makes me more sad than I had ever dreamed of being.
The first day of being here, God began to reveal His heart to me for the people and the way of life of Papua New Guinea. I was broken over the fact that I am here with three pairs of pants, three shirts, and a few other basic necessities, and I feel more complete and at peace, than I have at my own home where my closet is full of clothes, and I still worry about wanting more. We go to school to get an education, to get a good job, to buy a big house, to get more stuff, always looking for the next thing. It’s interesting to have so little here, and yet feel as though I have all I’ll ever need. To be God’s hands and feet has blessed me immensely, more than anything this world can offer.Our first village was Fife Bay, along with the coast of Milne Bay, isolated from other villages by tall, luscious mountains. The people fish, catch sand crabs and grow all of their food in gardens. Often, pigs will get in and ruin their fruits and vegetables, so the gardens are planted on slopes of mountains. In spite of having little and working hard, they are more willing to share what they have than many back home who have plenty.
One day, I was climbing up the side of a mountain to one of the village women’s garden. Her name was Joyce. She told me that the advisors had recently come to their village, and had told them to stop sharing food and water because of the drought. In spite of these instructions, they continue to share, because they believe God will bless them if they continue to give. The spirit of giving has been constant in every village we have visited, even along the treks. While walking, we would pass houses, and ladies would come out with a plate of freshly cut pineapple or watermelon, which are two of their favourite fruits to eat and share. Other times, we’d pass a man working hard in his garden, and he would gladly hand us some pineapples or coconuts for us to enjoy further along our trek. When staying in their homes, the women would always jump to the opportunity of cooking us a feast. This would include pumpkins, tapioca, kau kau, and greens, all cooked in coconut cream, which they themselves squeezed and cooked over a fire.
We’ve had opportunities to share at different schools and churches. Each time, people are eager to listen to what we young dim dims (white people) have to share. I’m so honoured by their openness and willingness to have us come visit their villages and churches. I know it’s plainly by the Grace of God that we are able to be here, and it’s Him alone that’s able to connect two completely different cultures in such amazing ways. We had to leave Fife Bay two days ago. When leaving, one of our friends unexpectedly jumped in the car with us so that he could come along the two-hour drive to drop us off. One of the women cried as I hugged her goodbye.The same morning that we left, the village had its market day. It’s held in a small grassy area, and the women sit in a half-circle on the ground, with their produce lying in front of them in woven baskets. I went alone with Frieda, one of the Mums we lived with. Because of the rain, I left earlier than she did. When Frieda returned, she was holding two pineapples. One of the other women had given them to her, saying “Give to my friend Michelle.”
Whether it’s holding an umbrella to keep the pouring rain away, staying up three or four nights in a row to keep watch while we sleep, or giving away two pineapples, my new family from Papua New Guinea has blessed and loved me in ways I can’t describe, and will never forget. Our team is looking forward to all God has in store for us these coming weeks. We are continuing to pray for Gods Spirit to move through us and in us, that our team would keep working in unity, and that we would do the Will of God, and not our own.
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Michelle was born in Switzerland but has grown up in Hawaii. Michelle is one of our Discipleship Training School alumni, as her DTS was October 2015. Michelle loves to travel and she has continued to travel since leaving Australia! She recently completed a second level school with YWAM, known as the School of Biblical Studies.