We’ve been in PNG now for close to 2 years. To say that life has been easy would be a flat out lie, and to say that it’s been hard would be an understatement. I remember crying every day for the first 4 months when we first moved here. My heart was still far away in a magical place called “America.” I still dreamt of fast food, still wanted to watch my favorite TV show every Tuesday night, and I missed my family and friends. While all of those things are still very true, the Lord has also used the last 2 years to show/teach/bash me over the head with a few things. I took some time to narrow it down a bit for your reading pleasure. So, here goes, 5 things that God has taught me in the past 2 years:
- There is No Better Country
America rocks my socks off, but it most definitely has its flaws! Papua New Guinea is not my culture and, at times, has seemed strange and unnatural, but there are so many wonderful things here that I will miss terribly when I return home.
It’s so easy for me to think only of my home and my own culture when I am away from it, but every now and then I am reminded of just how “great” (that was sarcasm if you didn’t pick up on it through my forceful typing) it was to live in America. Facebook is a big helper there! Thank you to all of you people who post horribly sad, disturbing, and shocking stories about either yourself or on the news. You help me to remember that its not “always greener on the other side” . Don’t get me wrong, I still love my home, but being there instead of here will not make everything all better like plenty of us newbie missionaries find ourselves feeling at times.
“If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had the opportunity to return. Instead they were longing for a better country-a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.” (Hebrews 11:15-16)
- I Will Always Miss Fast Food
We live in a world now where we are forced to be “trendy” eaters. We always eat all natural garden foods, free from chemicals, and meat (when we can get it) that is homegrown. But man, what wouldn’t I give to eat a tasty Gordita Supreme, or a BigMac and fires! There really is nothing in this world like fast food… Ok sue me, I LOVE IT! I miss it! It’s convenient! It tastes SO GOOD! Seriously we have tried over and over to recreate some foods we love from home, but, to my dismay, I am always let down! I don’t really have a verse to share with you on this one, but you get the idea.
- A World Without Christ is a World of Darkness
You can tell me all you want that these people are happy just the way they are, but they are not! I have seen it first hand. Over the past 2 years we had the privilege of traveling into three different bush locations (not including our own). Every single believer in those villages will tell you just how dark life really is without the Lord. They will tell you how terrifying, how hopeless, and how empty it is. Life here isn’t like it is in America. You can’t just cover everything up with food, TV, the mall, and booze (I guess you cant really do that in America either, but wait for my point). A lot of places here don’t have that kind of stuff to help them cover that darkness, so instead it translates to murder, rape, abuse, and sorcery.
In one of the villages we went to, I met a man who had killed so many people that he couldn’t remember the number. Now a believer, he will tell you just how strong a hold that Satan had on them. He will tell you how real that darkness is, and how truly terrifying it is to live that way. Life here is not just and adventure, it’s a war everyday with a very real evil.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12)
Comparison is a hideous, hungry monster that is never satisfied. We are all guilty of this. If you say that you never once compared yourself to someone else, then you are a big, fat liar. It seems to be the base of all of our human understanding of emotion, to be loved, accepted, and even thought of as “better.”
Let me fill you in a bit on the struggles of a missionary when it comes to comparison. There is always a better language learner than you. There is always a church that is doing better than your church. There are always people that somehow have more angelic children, even though they grew up in the middle of the jungle. There is always a more creative mom/wife than you. There is always a cleaner house than yours. There is always a mom who, even though she lives in the middle of the jungle, throws beautiful birthday parties, has a beautiful home, and learned the language just as fast as all the men even though she was only able to spend a 4th of the time learning it as everyone else (These are just a few!). Trust me, missionaries are not perfect. Many of you would like think that we all support one another, build each other up, and feel total joy when someone is doing so much better than us, but we are just selfish, jealous people too.
Earth shattered? Well it’s the truth. If I have learned anything about this, it’s that Satan can use our jealousy/longing to knock us out in minutes flat. It’s no joke. There are days when I am so mad at myself for not understanding more of the language, or not spending more time with the people, when all of a sudden I realize its because I am comparing my progress with my co-workers progress. Or I am thinking about how amazing this other missionary wife that I know is, and I feel like I am not up to par. It is a hungry monster no matter which country you live in. Don’t let it destroy you and keep praying for me. Pray that I will allow the Lord to work in my heart so that it doesn’t destroy me too.
“For freedom you have been set free, stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.”( Galatians 5:1)
- He is enough
In every situation, He is enough. Let me tell you, life in the bush is hard. There is no sugar coating it. It’s hard! The people all compare you and turn you against yourself and your coworkers. They call you a weak, white woman who has all the conveniences in the world. There are days when you feel like they don’t deserve the gospel because of how poorly they treat you.
Then there is dinner. Dinner isn’t easy to put together like it is at home (please refer back to point number 2 on fast food). Everything takes longer, everything gets dirtier faster, and people never stop asking you for stuff! Plus on top of all that you are trying to learn a language that has over 225 words to say the verb eat!
It’s exhausting, its emotionally draining, and I am not going to lie, on a weekly basis I wonder if the Lord realizes that he asked ME to do this. Why not someone so much more qualified!?!?! I whine about food for goodness sakes! That’s not really even a big sacrifice! I miss wearing “cute clothes” and not the same 3 pairs every single day of my life! Again, not a big deal, but for some reason it bums me out. Somehow still, in all of this, He is enough.
In Mark 8:27-29, “Jesus asked his disciples, who do the people say that I am?
They replied ‘some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.’
‘But what about you?’ He asked ‘who do you say that I am?’
Peter answered ‘you are the Messiah.”
That’s it right there. As I have been reading through the gospels the past month, the Lord has used this verse in all of them. Who do you say that I am? It doesn’t matter who everyone else says that I am! Who do YOU say that I am? If the answer is “the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God,” then what do you have to worry about? No promise that it will be easy, but there is the promise that He is enough.
“For nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37)
There it is right there people. 5 freebies I have learned right here in Papua New Guinea. I could fill pages and pages of all the things he teaches me daily, but these are a few that really seem to be sticking out. Keep lifting us up out here. We want to represent Christ in a place that hardly has him at all. Help us to be those ambassadors!
P.S. whoever can figure out how to get me a big mac out here…lets just say you would be my best friend forever 😉