I hope you enjoyed Thanksgiving last week. We enjoyed a quiet day remembering how grateful we are. We're especially grateful for Jesus, whom we celebrate not only at Christmas but all year long. If you would like to sing along with me this Christmas season, simply visit www.paulieheath.com/music to find my music. Let's celebrate in song. I will be singing at a ladies Christmas Tea this coming Monday, in Rockport, Maine. "It's the most wonderful time of the year!"
I'm still basking in the afterglow of my recent mission trip to Papua New Guinea (PNG). Trips like that are life-changing. And yet, it's hard to describe to folks back home, all that was experienced. But I'll try sharing bits and pieces to give you a picture of life in PNG.
Traveling halfway around the world itself, is quite an experience. I am so grateful for advanced technologies that can make travel really quite simple. With my handy "Mobile Passport" app, I breezed through customs and into the TSA pre-approved security lines. (So glad my husband helped me find this. He's good with this stuff!)
But more than the lovely people I met in airports and on the ten plane rides, was the adventure of experiencing PNG. Our hosts at the hotel were gracious and kind. The people of PNG I encountered were kind and helpful, though we were warned not to wander outside the gates of the compound where we held the Thrive retreat. The safety, law and order we take for granted in the United States is not as evident in many developing countries.
Thankfully, English was spoken in cities and hotels where I traveled; so signs were in English, but the coffee description left me scratching my head. "Coffee from Papua New Guinea especially made for use in plungers, dripulators and stoves." What's a plunger? Could it be a French Press? I know what those are. (Thank you, Sue F. for giving me your 1-mug "plunger.")
Twice, while in PNG, I had an opportunity to travel outside the compound where we stayed.
Once we visited a ministry center called "Pacific Orientation Course" (POC) where many global workers spend fourteen weeks upon arrival in PNG; becoming oriented to the local culture.
Shown here are Matt & Liz Gentry, of Wycliffe Bible Translators. Matt is the director and Liz is the nurse at POC.
We were given a tour of the POC compound and local village neighborhood.
Click here to watch some brief youtube videos of life at POC.
I had the privilege of getting to know Liz, who came to the Thrive retreat and was part of my small group for the week. After visiting POC, it was neat to have a closer connection with the leaders there.
On our second adventure away from our hotel, Matt took the Thrive volunteers to visit a village, where we were taken on a "banana boat" ride. Four foot swells with rain, in a small boat on the way to a remote island was NOT my favorite part of the trip. But please don't tell Matt! I'm glad I did it. That experience gave me a greater appreciation for missionaries who have to ride in small boats over rough waters, drive old trucks over bumpy dirt roads, and even hike mountainous regions to reach the people they serve.
The day of the boat ride, we visited a small village and learned how these Papuan people live together in community - and survive economically. Many of them are farmers - selling their produce and crafts at local markets. The above videos show missionaries visiting an open market where everyone shops for fresh produce.
Locals also sell shells and crafts to tourists. We were glad to help their economy. I purchased a beautiful shell and a homemade "billum" baby sleep bag, which hangs from a tree. Babies take their naps in bilums, as we would snooze in a hammock.
Papua New Guinea's official language is English. "Tok Pisin, an English-based creole, is the most widely spoken." However, throughout the country over 800 different languages are spoken. FOr the Bible translators, it can take decades to understand, write down, teach the people to read, and also translate Scriptures into one of these languages.
My father-in-law just finished reading the book "Lost in Shangri-La" which is based on a true story of US soldiers being lost in the jungles of Papua New Guinea during World War 2. Michael is reading it now, and I hope to read it, too.
Thrive retreats are designed to bless women serving in most all regions of the world - including remote South Pacific islands. Thanks for YOUR part in sending me to bless these dear ones, who give sacrificially in many ways. What a blessing to meet the Papuan people. My eyes were opened to see how God uniquely loves each people group. He's doing more than we can even dream or imagine. Praise our Great God!
My desire is to bless others with inspiring messages from God's Word - both in song and sharing. Mike and I also support other front line ministries with the gifts you share with us.
Plus, we have more exciting ministry upcoming in 2018. Stay tuned for info on what's coming next.
Will you partner with Helping Hands, today?
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Blessings as you celebrate Jesus,