Over the next few weeks, we want to invite you to get to know Lae with us.
To the left, the home of one of our church members in the settlment.
And to the right, here's the place we call home. We live on the left side. In what is called “Wong-Tim’s Compound”. There’s a razor-wire fence all around the 20 or so units, and security guards 24-7, although none of them are armed, so they’re more of a physical presence than anything. But we’re thankful for them. They pull open the heavy gate at the entrance for us at least 20 times a day, it seems, as we come and go.
Our house by western standards is nothing special or luxurious by any means, but compared to the homes our church people live in, it’s a castle. Just look at the photos and compare. I’ve seen some of their jaws drop open as they walk up to our house. And the curious looks as they ask who all lives here with us. Just your family??! They would probably have 20 of their “wantok” (literally-one language)—their family members living here with them. I think this is one of our biggest struggles. Having so much compared to those we minister to, those we labour beside in the church. We have done nothing to deserve any of it and yet we have a vehicle, and a nice, reliable one at that; we have overflowing cupboards, a fridge and even a large freezer; we have comfortable, clean beds to sleep in; flush toilets and showers. If we’re hungry, we eat. If our children our sick, we see the doctor, at the private hospital. We have toys galore for our kids. We regularly go out to eat. We can travel home to our families. The question has to be asked, is this a barrier to our work? Maybe, but we're not sure what our options are. Should we live more like the regular people do? But that seems impractical as we would be spending all our time just on living—trying to do things the way they do, and not be able to do what God has called us here to do! And not to mention the risk we would put ourselves and our children at if we lived anywhere without a secure fence and guards. Our white skin symbolizes wealth to every Papua New Guinean.
Just to share a little story. At the store today, there were some young boys, about 10 years old, who were selling orchids in the parking lot. We’ve bought some from them before. (To feed Ian’s orchid addiction!) But today I had no money on me and I explained that to them. I don’t think they believed me. They asked me a couple times. I got into my car and they were still hanging around outside it and talking to each other, and I overheard one of them say in pidgin, But she’s driving a church car! Meaning, we can’t do anything to her or her car. Most people here still hold a basis of respect for missionaries. I was so thankful for that today! If I had been a rich businesswoman, I’m not sure what they would’ve done…
Poverty is in our faces everyday. It’s overwhelming sometimes. It breaks our hearts. We hate to see children suffering and hungry and sick. We try to do what we can, especially to those in our church, but we could never do enough. Feed them today, and they’re hungry again tomorrow.
We have realized more fully our calling here. To feed their souls so that they will never truly hunger again. We cannot take away their physical hunger, but we can tell them about the Lord Jesus who will satisfy them for all eternity.
May we do that faithfully…today and everyday.