Saying Goodbye

Some of the women who didn’t want to leave the building

I have shared my experiences with many people and in different places over the past week and a half. I feel tired and emotionally drained. Each time there will be something that really stirs deep within my soul and sometimes this leads to a show of emotion or tears. Today it was sharing about saying goodbye to the women of Yamen, the other day it was when I told of the sad stories the women told us about the many women dying in their villages and earlier it was when I shared about how grateful I was to God to have Lyn as my travel companion. Talking about these experiences allows the feelings, smells and memories to remain alive in my heart and drives me to keep working towards making a difference for the women in this part of PNG. Call it my calling, my destiny, my purposein life, but I really feel that this is what I have to do.

Today as I remembered saying goodbye to the women, I had a deep sense that I can’t turn my back on them. It was not an easy trip to make, it was uncomfortable, hot and sticky, but I can’t not go back now. The doors have been opened, I stepped through once and can never turn back. Turning back would be to wipe all those women from my mind forever and I can’t do that. On the Friday afternoon, after the final teaching session which was all about Obstetric emergencies, we then wrapped up the week’s teaching and said a farewell. We were both emotional, Lyn and I, and we really tried to encourage them to take what they had learned from us and share the knowledge with others to make a difference. The women all sat silently and watched us. The air was thick with sadness. Then a lady named Suzanne stepped forward. She was a beautiful woman that we had spoken to a few times, but was very shy and quiet. She came to the front of the church and she spoke in Pidgin English, thanking us for coming to Yamen and teaching them. We could understand quite a bit of what she said but not all. She spoke with passion and her thanks were from her heart. It was very emotional.

We then prayed for the women and asked God to be with them and help them as they returned to their villages to begin the task of taking small steps towards change and better outcomes for  the women and babies.

Again the room was thick with emotion and sadness. It was almost like a funeral. Slowly some of the women moved out of the building, others lingered and chatted quietly, some were still writing down some of the information from the earlier session and others came up to us to shake our hands and say a personal goodbye. Suzanne came to me and said ‘that group of women sitting there are saying that they just want to cry because you are leaving tomorrow’. Oh how I just felt for them. My eyes filled with tears again. I felt like I was abandoning them. But I also knew that they were strong women, they were intelligent and that they could make a difference with the information and hands on teaching we had given them.

Near the entrance to the church an older woman Margaret clasped my hands in both of hers. She looked at me intently without saying a word, but with tears brimming in her eyes. I felt she was looking straight into my soul and at that moment I felt likea spiritual connection with her. I then reached over to give her a hug and she clung to me firmly for a long time. I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this before, but on the Monday Margaret was introduced to us by the other women as their prayer warrior. Whenever a woman was in labour in the village, Margaret would pray for a safe birth (I can’t remember which village she was from). They said that they had seen many miracles happen because of her prayers. I’m sure that she had cried out to God many times for help and I am sure that He heard her and that is why we were there.

God does care. He does Love us and He does hear our prayers.

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