It’s finally lived up to its reputation. The phrase is almost trite. We heard it before we came, and we’ve heard it often during our nearly two years here. The nationals themselves use it frequently — it’s a badge of honor. “PNG, the land of the unexpected.
Not four weeks ago, we were called into the Chief Secretary’s office and received the news that we were transferring back home to the US! Our departure was to be August 15!
Talk about unexpected!
Our hearts and minds were immediately filled with many conflicting emotions. The move was quick. We would miss so many things that we thought we still had four months to experience. What would become of the work we’ve poured ourselves into? What about the relationships we’ve developed with so many wonderful people?
At the same time we imagined that in one months time we would be home. We would get to see our grandson Landon. We would be near our kids, we could visit dear friends … Oh, and what about our appointment? (Folks keep asking on social media, and all we can tell them is that only God and a few people at THQ in Chicago know!)
We’ve had a crazy month packing and cleaning and wrapping up things at the office. Daily we’ve battled between discouragement and excitement. We know God’s got a plan, and we’re just trying to move forward in trust.
The thing that stands out for me in these last couple of weeks is that God has over and over again sent us His loving arms to encircle us with encouragement, compassion and love. At one staff farewell after another, we’ve been reminded that our time here has been about relationships — about making a difference in the lives of those we’ve worked with or come into contact with.
I was asked to preach our last Sunday at our Koki Corps. Sandy gave a children’s message, after which they presented here with a weaved basket and a hug. God had me preaching to myself as I talked about not being anxious, trusting that God’s providence is assured. In the sermon on the mount, Jesus said don’t worry; seek as our first priority His kingdom and righteousness, and He would take care of our temporal concerns.
The service ended with the entire congregation standing and singing a Prophet Song for us as a blessing. (Prophet Songs are a cappella, close harmonies, loud, boisterous, repetitious phrases, telling stories of God’s goodness and His love.) The presented us with a beautiful gift of a hammered copper picture of a Bird of Paradise, and colorful bilums. Then we gathered in the youth hall for an abundant meal of homemade goodness. Again, we were overwhelmed by the love and friendship offered to us.
This final week has been spent in bustling through various matters to pass along to whomever is to follow, giving instruction and training to others who will fill the gaps, sorting and cleaning the office and home to get ready for the shipper, and making plans for a week of rest in Sydney before arriving home.
It’s hard to believe this adventure God started for us nearly three years ago is now coming to the final curtain. Our hearts are filled with gratitude for God’s goodness and provision for us during this time. We become ever more aware that the magnitude of this adventure is only beginning to be realized, and that it will take us some time to discover all that’s different about us, how we’ve changed, and how this experience will impact us as we move on to the next great adventure our God has planned for us.
Thank you friends, for taking this journey with us vicarously through this blog. I pray that you’ve been blessed, inspired, encouraged, challenged and entertained. We’ll see where we go from here …