In that moment of potential fear I felt incredible strength and peace. It was as if time stood still, people were moving in slow motion. My thoughts were clear. I kept praying. I had no idea what was going to happen, but I had a deep sense that it was going to be ok.
On our first night in Wewak, the PNG women who had travelled with us from Perth, met with some family members and shared a meal. They met just outside the gates to our accommodation near the Mangroves of Wewak town. There was so much food left over that they shared it with the security guards on the beat in the town. In a matter of minutes a number of guards were eating and laughing with the women, sharing stories and asking about Living Child. At the end of the meal the security guards told the women that they would look after the Living Child team and thanked them for coming to help the mothers and babies.
These personal encounters count. A lot. Who would have known that the next morning the Living Child team would be in an accident and who should be travelling along the same road shortly afterwards? One of the security guards. He recognised the PNG women on our team and stopped to offer assistance.
Through the wise actions of two women on our team, together with a convergence of ‘fate’ or what I rather term, ‘God incidences’, the angry men were calmed down enough for us all to get out of the vehicle and retreat to a nearby house situated above the scene.
Team members and vehicles from Samaritan Aviation and Living Child arrived and we left the scene to return to our base in Wewak once again. Just before getting in the car I looked at the place where the accident had occurred – a narrow bend in the road with a steep drop off on either side. I had a deep sense that God had protected us all from certain serious injury or death. The reality hit hard. My shoulders crumbled under the weight of the burden and I sobbed.
On our way back, Jim took us via the fuel station. He filled up the car and then bought us all an ice cream cone. What joy! I will never forget the taste sensation of that ice cream.
Once back at our accommodation we sat in the lounge sipping on cold drinks and sharing our experience. It was important for us all to debrief, shed some tears and hug one another. It was very powerful. At no time did anyone say that they wanted to go home. There was an incredible sense of gratitude that God had protected us.
I didn’t tell them then that I was secretly planning my escape home. The burden of responsibility leading a team of women to remote PNG was weighing heavily on me. My confidence was waning. Voices in my head were undermining me. Was this a sign that we were not meant to go to Angoram and Yamen? Should I pull the pin?
We decided to go for a walk down to the beach and have a swim. It was very windy, but still quite warm and very muggy. We had such fun diving into the waves with the locals, eating freshly cut papaya and playing the fool in the wind. It was good for the soul. My spirits lifted and I felt secure in the strength of this amazing team of women. If they could all laugh and joke and enjoy life after such a confronting incident earlier that day, we’d be ok.