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Learning From PNG Posted 4.24.2015

I guess I ought to be brutally honest this morning.  This was a tough week.  I’m glad I had the extra days to prepare for today, getting home three days earlier than expected.  The jet lag wasn’t that bad, sleep was great. But my emotions were raw as I relived my days in the bush of Papua New Guinea over and over and over again.

 

Many things made those days very special.

 

o   The natural brown “banners” of dried palm trees which dotted the river bank as we approached Wenim from at least a couple of miles away.

 

o   The refrigerator they brought to our house so that we could enjoy some cold water during our stay.  Really?  Of course that required a generator.  Where did all of that (with the proper extension cord) come from?  They cared about our comfort.  There was a new outhouse too!

 

o   The extended welcome upon our arrival, which required the careful placement of feet as we navigated between two rows of people sitting down on the ground with their legs extended toward the person who sat opposite from them.  Finding ground between all those legs and not crushing any bones was tricky.  And overwhelming.

 

o   The continuous singing of the same melody over and over and over again and again on dedication day is a sound I’ll never forget.  And always miss.

 

o   And then there was the sign.  No, signs.  A welcome sign at the water’s edge.  A sign at the brand new dais built on the soccer field for this occasion.  And then there was the sign spray-painted into the grass with a welcome message. In English.  Really?  How did they do that?

 

o   And the dancing….oh, the dancing on dedication day. It was such a day of celebration as the women made their way around and around what we would call a “Maypole” where I come from.  The joy was measureable.

 

But then came the moment.  As the Melendes family brought up from our house a quarter of a mile away the brand new Bibles there was joyous celebration.  But then came the moment that Waxe children will never forget.  The joy became silence as names were called and elders from the churches in Wenim (where we were) and Meska (which we had passed coming up the river) and translators were each handed a personal copy of the New Testament (and Genesis 1-22). 

 

There were tears.  There were shouts of joy.  There was an impromptu receiving line as the men came down off the platform clutching their Bibles.  But for those moments the dancing stopped.  The music was hushed.  And in those moments the Word of God was central in the village.  The Bibles were here.  Finally.

 

They knew what that meant and they honored those moments with tear-stained faces and hearts full of love for Jesus.  Don’t every take your Bible for granted.  But don’t just cherish it, read it.  You owe it to those who translated the Greek and Latin Bibles into English, at the cost for many of their lives.  We are Waxe too.

 


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