You’re in the Village now

Once we’d set up our beds, the girls in one room, the boys in the other, the birthing kits in the third room, Yabru announced that there was a bucket of rainwater in the wash room for us to use. What a pleasure. Clean fresh rainwater to use as a shower. There was a shower head but the taps were not working. It was quite luxurious to be able to strip down in the privacy of a wash room and tip a bucket of cool water over me. “What a blessing,” I thought. Even though we’re on the edge of the village, we have no nice view of the river like we did in Yamen, we do have a lovely place to have a wash!

After showers, we walked up to the main ‘arena’ of the village where there was a ‘stage’ set up and a band playing music with an electric keyboard, guitars and even a drum set. It was loud. We were led to a bench at the side of the stage where we sat and took in the surroundings, music thumping loudly. The beat was in sync with my thumping headache! The sun was going down. The coconut palms were looming in the distance, a beautiful silhouette against the cloudless sky. All I could think of was, “what are we having for dinner tonight?” and “When can I go to sleep?”

The village/church leaders welcomed us to Bunam. We took to the stage and each had a chance to introduce ourselves, with Yabru interpreting for us. I took this opportunity to pass on greetings from John and Joyce Bolton, the first missionaries to this area (in fact, they helped establish this village in the early 60’s). I had met with them a few weeks earlier as they are now retired to the Southern suburb of Mandurah in Western Australia. There was an audible response to that message and I felt there was some connection with this village. That seems to be the way in PNG. I’ve mentioned it earlier as the wontok system. It stretches across a whole range of activities. If you can show you have some connection with someone from the area, the response is more welcoming.

I don’t know what was wrong with me, but I felt really heavy. Sad. Emotional. Missing my children. Wondering what I was doing back here. It was strange. I had to work really hard to cover my feelings as I did not want Deb and Debbie to be unsettled. They were fantastic actually! I remember thinking to myself, “why can’t you just relax like they are and be flexible”. I was tense and uneasy. The lovely people in the house next to us brought some food: rice with greens and coconut cream. They also brought a kettle with some boiled water – a cup of tea at last. Amazing what a lovely hot cup of tea does for the soul!

After dinner, we sat around with our torches on our heads and Mike reminded us of the things we could be thankful for: the vehicle and driver arrived eventually, the boat was there to meet us, it was a smooth journey on the boat with no breakdowns, we arrived safely – no danger. We had a nice house with a nice toilet and even a wash room! We prayed and went to bed.

After securing myself inside my mosquito net, sorting out what I was going to use as a pillow, I settled down to go to sleep. But instead of slumber, the tears flowed. I really felt alone. I felt like I was a princess and could not cope with this hardship for a whole week. I’m not sure whether it was just a reaction to everything that I had had to deal with and prepare for before coming to Bunam (house, kids, pets, money, travel arrangements, infections, sick kids, husband away etc) and now that I had finally reached the destination I was overcome with emotion.

At one stage I said to God, “I can’t do this Lord. I am weak, this is such a distant and remote place and I don’t like feeling uncomfortable. I feel overwhelmed by the needs of this area. I feel overwhelmed by the longstanding and ingrained problems and corruption. I don’t like Bunam, it’s not like Yamen. But, I’m here now, stuck for a week. There’s no turning back, so you’re going to have to help me, because I can’t do it on my own. I need help. Use me for your Glory”.

Once I’d prayed and put my true feelings out there to God, I felt a lot better. I took some deep slow breaths, stretched out and went into a deep sleep. I was dreaming about being back in Perth with my kids and whenever I turned over to the other side (read, other hip bone) I’d have to think about where I was. “Oh yes, I’m in the village now”.

Kitchen area – no, the taps did not work


Spare room with all the birthing kits


The girl’s room


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