Wednesday, July 27, 2011
You're too late, Pete!
We are in Goroka. Its this whole other city in Papua New Guinea. It is actually cold here. OK, so not seriously cold, but it starts getting cool in the evening and by morning I have to put on socks. I have not worn socks in 3 months. It feels weird. There are a few other things that are different about this place. One is all the options in the stores. We stopped at a store in town and had to get food for the next 3 days before we went out to the base. I had to think quickly and was a little overwhelmed. The meat was sketchy, so I had to be creative to think about what meatless meals I could make for 3 days. I figured it out eventually but not before I bought a $15 box of Fruit Loops. And, no I am not exaggerating. I really wish I was. I know it is ridiculous and crazy, but I was seduced by the familiarity. It was a real box of Fruit Loops. Not Fruit Scoops, or Fruity Ring-O's, or some bizarro world version of the colorful tasty artificial goodness. Toucan Sam was staring me in the face and I could not resist that ginormous beak! We can't get a lot of cereal in Wewak, and what we can get is a little different. Like Rice Krispies are Rice Bubbles. They probably taste the same, but the Snickers Bars here taste weird and I am not about to fork out the $9 to see if Rice Bubbles are the same.
So the food is good and the weather is good, but there is one thing here that is haunting me. We were put under the care of a great couple named Pete and Joy. Pete is a Sepik guy to the core even though he lives here now. His dad opened the work in the Sepik region many many years ago. He was born in the Haus Sik (hospital) in Wewak...and he survived! Anyway, he told us that he was excited about all the new families moving to the Sepik and all the possible new tribal works that will be opening because of it. We then told him about a survey trip that some guys just took to a place that I can't pronounce (or spell) but when my husband correctly pronounced the name, Pete told us that he had actually done the initial survey in that tribe 10 years ago.
When we told him that the people were excited and really wanted missionaries to come live with them, he told us that they felt the same way 10 years ago, but the mission was not able to support any works that far away at that time. It would take a considerable amount of money and man power to have a team that was so far away from a support base (it is still pretty far from our mission base and other tribal works, but if a team is well funded...meaning the each family or single is close to %100 of their recommended support level... it is do-able ). But then he told us about an old man in the village who looked at him and said, "You're too late, Pete." This guy knew that by the time the missionaries moved in, learned the language, and got to teach the Gospel, he probably would not be around anymore. That was 10 years ago. It is hard enough to think about one man for whom the "Good News" came too late, but now how many others have missed out because the resources to send missionaries were not there. What is harder to think about is the fact that where I come from there were (and are still) plenty of resources available to send any amount of missionaries anywhere in the world, but those resources are often used for other things. Things that are of this world. That moth and rust can destroy. Things that are seen. Things that are temporary. Rather than things...no, not things... people, souls, created in God's image, that are eternal. It made me feel very sad and small, and made me hate that box of Fruit Loops. I mean that beak is ridiculously too big. If a real toucan had a beak that big, he wouldn't be able to hold his head up, much less fly. Stupid big-mouth bird!
**You can read more about that survey trip here