If there is a word that I would NOT use to describe PNG life that word would be comfortable. The capital city especially gets hot this time of year and our tiny tin house feels especially stuffy. Now that’s on a normal day not just on days when the power goes off for hours or running water is shut off for a whole day.
I was sitting on a backless wooden bench this Sunday sort of attempting to keep my one and a half-year-old from getting completely covered in the dirt at our feet. I was trying not to worry too much about my four- year-old who was off climbing trees and playing in the rubble of the knocked down stone church building which was demolished in the name of development when a road was put in several years back. The church is nowhere near the road, but when all the evicted settlers started moving their possessions onto the church property a sudden decision was made to just bulldoze down the church building as well. Of course there have been talks that the church should be compensated for what happened; but, as of yet, no money has actually been given to rebuild.
So we sit under a makeshift tin roof, moving benches out of the drips if it starts to rain too heavily during the service, and I try not to sit too close to the edge of the structure; or I end up with a sunburn on one side of my face.
I didn’t catch every word of the sermon between taking care of kids and concentrating on Pidgin, but I agreed with the opening- life is hard. City life can be especially hard. Sometimes you have enough food, sometimes you don’t. Sometimes your boss pays you on time, sometimes he or she doesn’t. Sitting two benches in front of me sat a family who lives at 14 mile and whose permanent house is currently in danger of being demolished, once again, in the name of development. Already this week, the newspaper reported that 400 people were evicted from their homes in that area.
Life in PNG is not what I would describe as comfortable. In our own little compound there are frequent fights both outside in the street and even within the corrugated metal walls of the living space we share with around 10 other families. These sudden, often violent, outbursts leave me feeling on edge, the strain of feeling that I constantly have to watch the kids’ every move leaves me saying “no” more then “yes’ to their frequent requests to play outside.
As the Sunday service wrapped up, the message did end with a word of hope. A reminder that in all of our discomforts Christ is our ultimate comforter, a reminder that trails we go through are opportunities to minister to others. The youth closed the service with the beautifully simple song, “The blessing,” A song that has become quite popular during this recent pandemic. I closed my eyes and just let the simple words really soak into my soul.
The Lord bless you
And keep you
Make His face shine upon you
And be gracious to you
The Lord turn His
Face toward you
And give you peace
In the midst of my discomfort I did, I did feel the Lord’s gracious face turned toward me. He is so gracious to me. Tears welled in my eyes for a moment as I realized that He does keep us each and every day and while life in PNG may not be the most comfortable it definitely is blessed in many ways and in the midst of it all God does send His peace.