Summary of our Family Mission Trip
Many of you have “asked” for the rest of the story of our time in the Islands of Raja Ampat. Sorry it has taken me so long to get this into a blog. By the way, I am so humbled as we travel about in America, how many of you tell me that you read my blog. It is releasing to write and rewarding to know I have an audience. YOU! Thank you for honoring me with your time and your interest.
By mid week, Nathaniel was well enough for us to join the rest of the family, in Sawendaurik, the remote village. So from Wednesday through Saturday night we fell into a pattern of breakfast, children’s program somewhere around 10:00 ish, lunch, kids swimming, an afternoon lull, supper, then evening meetings.
Nothing amazing happened. Many of those days my children’s hearts were full of anticipation of the upcoming trip to America. We didn’t do anything radical as missionaries nor did anything radical happen to us. I met with several people who had complicated medical problems going on, but rather then wave my magical white missionary wand and give them some random pills I encouraged them to continue going to the local health clinic or take the boat trip into town and seek further medical help. Several cases were quite heart pulling: a girl in her late teens who was blind about 1 year, from a high fever (possibly malaria). Also a listless baby (I encouraged them to get help ASAP). Most of the families had 8-10 children. Needless to say, we had many children at our programs.
What did we take from our experience there? What did we leave?
It’s hard to measure. We probably took more then we gave.
We took a deeper awareness and understanding of how simple many people in a 3rd world live. We saw first hand children that are not tainted with technology. The only technology I saw was a radio and a few cell phones (that got no coverage unless you took a 10 minute hike up the mountain) and a few cameras. These children were thrilled with the simplest crafts and the slightest bit of attention. My children experienced little children grabbing their hands, sitting in their laps, longing for just a little bit of love. We experienced the hospitality of the pastor as he and his family shared their simple home with us. We experienced their food. They worked very hard to try and make us comfortable, even cooking bread for us one day over hot fire places. Are my boys now verbalizing a desire to be missionaries the rest of their lives? No. Yet I sense that this experience was INVALUABLE. That even if they can’t put it into words God will take memories from this trip and use it to shape their hearts.
Darron throwing boys off the dock. They loved it!
Bread making. All of the food for our group of 27 people was made in this outdoor kitchen.
Inside the pastors home.
The blind girl.
Another timeless game of “Duck, Duck, Goose”
Darron interviewing each of the “barefoot seminary students” and giving them positive feedback.
OK….this was no simple craft. We spend hours cutting and preparing this little puppet out for over 80+ children. They loved it!
What did we give? Well as Aubrey put it, “They probably felt like they took more then they gave, just like we feel we took more then we gave.” Well said, Aubrey, well said. We gave our love, our time, our energy and our smiles. Darron gave lot’s of teaching and preaching and counseling. How do we measure?
On Saturday afternoon, after church, after baptisms and potluck, Aubrey and Andrew loaded up the sea kayaks and headed back to the Eco lodge where our trip had begun. A 3 hour journey. Also Jacob and Nathaniel jumped on a speed boat from Papua dive company (where church members had come for the day) and sped off with them. As we waved goodbye to our children, I thought, WE ARE INSANE!
I will never forget the following scenes as long as I live. They are my most favorite memories from Sawendaurik. Unfortunately, the camera battery was dead. So I have no images for you. They are all in my heart and mind.
A wedding is going to take place that afternoon. So all the children are just milling about inside the church. Waiting and waiting for the 2 couples to get ready. They know that we have balloons. We began to blow up over 100 of these long specialty balloons. Then they were all distributed to the children. The children then run outside with them onto the beach. From our perspective inside the church, we could look through the open double doors which created a perfect picture frame. All the children were dancing on the beach, throwing their long wavy colorful balloons up into the air. Full of joy and energy and happiness. Their bright church clothes complimented the balloons. The sand absorbed their dancing feet. The deep blue ocean was a gorgeous background. It was a magical moment.
My take home message from our mission trip was: GO! Being stretched out of our comfort zones is healthy. Giving and receiving is beautiful. No regrets.
You can see a glimpse of a few of the balloons in the background that were handed out. Maybe that will help you imagine my favorite scene a bit better.
Thanks for reading! AND PRAYING. Hope we get to see many of you on our travels.