Highlights from PNG...
The last few months have flown by and I’m excited to get the chance to catch you up on some of the exciting happenings. There really is sooo much going on around here, so I’ll try to bring you up to speed without writing a novel!
Being back up on the Medical Ship in Papua New Guinea was incredible! I led the optometry team again, and as in past years - I absolutely loved it. It’s a role that combines my passion for the nation of PNG, with an opportunity to connect with individuals and share with them God's love and truth. Furthermore I very much enjoy the team dynamic and the opportunity to meet, lead, and connect with so many incredible volunteers.
There are so many highlights from my time up there, but I’ll just share a few that stand out:
There was a little boy named Aaron* who came through our optometry clinic on the last outreach of the year. He had very poor vision, much worse than any glasses we typically have with us. It was incredible to watch my team go above and beyond and to see this little boy marvel at regained sight! If you’re interested here is the whole story I wrote about him!
Another wonderful memory was a young mother named Makasi. When I met her in our registration line she was completely blind; unable to see my hand even inches from her face. We referred her over to the ophthalmology team and the next day after surgery this dear woman opened her eyes to see her own children for the very first time!
I was there in front of a group of 60 or so high school girls and all the sudden I wasn't sharing about hygiene anymore, I was speaking about the value that God's created in them. I was challenging them to depth in their walks with God, I was calling them to purity, to lives of prayer. We were talking about whole relationships, about honour, about true love. We were discussing domestic abuse and violence and the strength needed to find a safe place. We were marvelling at God's faithfulness through it all, the good the bad and the ugly, and we were being real... It's not that I haven't had those opportunities before - those are fairly standard topics that I share on, but it was just the unexpectedness of this particular day that caught me off guard and reminded me yet again what a privilege it is to be a voice of hope here in some of the remotest parts of this nation of Papua New Guinea.
It is a very exciting season here in Townsville! There’s so much happening that even for us here it’s hard to keep up. There’s two major highlights I’d love to share...
Number 1: We have well and truly outgrown our current property! As we went to finalise the plans and preparations for an expansion to our facilitites, earlier this year, we were asked to consider a training campus in the heart of the city. We hadn’t even known this facility existed. To make a long story very short - it’s now ours! It is a huge facility right in the heart of the city. There is so much potential and the plan is to move down (it’s about a five minute drive away) early December after a red carpet auction sale of our current base and surrounding housing. As you can imagine, there are sooo many dynamics that go into this and it’s all hands on deck to see this become a reality. We’ve had teams down there working incredibly hard since we received the keys, and there is certainly much still to be done before the anticipated move.
The biggest thing at the moment is getting the offices painted and student housing built. We are waiting on a few approvals and the job can seem overwhelming, so prayers are most appreciated!
Number 2: Along with out-growing our current base, we’ve completely maximized potential with our current ship, the Pacific Link. We’ve spent the last few years researching how to move forward and in September put a down payment on the Ship pictured above, the Ipipuri! This vessel ticks all the boxes, having a shallow draft to unable the river travel necessary to reach the villages, being able to mother support vessels for medical excursions even more remote than we’ve previously been working, and having housing and kitchen space that will enable livability for staff on a long term basis. This will mean that we’ll be able to operate up in Papua New Guinea for 11 months of the year rather than the current six, a prospect that is very exciting! We’ve seen an initial incredible donation of 4 Million Kina (approx. $1.6 million), and we are believing for the remaining $7.5 million by the New Year.
On a more personal note, since arriving back in Townsville I’ve been transitioning into our Ships Team. I’ve been apart of this team for months up in PNG but never back here in the office. I’m enjoying getting to be involved in more of the behind the scenes projects and learning a completely different side of things. Most recently I’ve been writing our Annual Report, which is used to share with our sponsors who we are, what it is we really do up in PNG, and how we’ve been meeting our goals. It’s about a 100 page professional document that last year was written by our health professionals. I’m feeling a little out of my depth at times but certainly learning lots and enjoying the change of pace. It really is a privilege to be able to articulate the incredible things that have been happening.