Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Final week

I can't believe it's already time to say goodbye to PNG. My plane leaves Ukarumpa Friday morning, and then I'll leave Port Moresby Sunday morning. Has it really been a month and a half already? It went so fast, probably because I enjoyed my time here so much. I'm excited to be coming home again, but I'm definitely going to miss it here too.

Everyone here who hears about all I've been able to do will inevitably say something like, "wow, you've really seen almost everything" or "you've jumped in with both feet" or (my favorite) "you've really jumped off the deep end, huh?" (no, I'm pretty sure that wasn't supposed to be an evaluation of my sanity :)

Looking back, it really is incredible how many opportunities I've had and how many things I've done. You've already heard about most of them through my blog entries, but I didn't really explain that it's not normal to do all this in less than two months here. For example, there were some people at the Kuman dedication a few weeks ago who have been working with SIL for eighteen years and had never before been able to go to a dedication. Then, I was not only there, but I was also one of a few people who actually got to help sell and distribute the New Testaments. I've gotten to live in a village for a week (Elim), eat several mumu meals, take part in a Scripture check (Minimimb), see the impressive mountains and beautiful coast of PNG in all my travels, land on a dirt airstrip, take my first helicopter ride, and more. I've really been blessed to be able do all this.

It also seems that God led me to come at the perfect time for the finance office. They started using a new computer accounting system in the month of May, so I was here for the first end-of-month cycle. Even though sometimes I was only doing data entry or rolling coins, it was a help to the full-time workers there who were trying to learn the new system, which meant that they weren't able to work as fast as normal. We were able to mail May account statements out to all the SIL members here by June 10th (I think it was that day), which is apparently about as fast as it's ever done. And as I've shared before (early in my time here), I realized how everything that's done has importance to the ministry, even some of the small things that seem boring or insignificant.

I'm also going to miss many of the wonderful people here. Many families and individuals have done a lot to make me feel welcome and at home here, and I've enjoyed spending time with them and getting to know them. Last night, Mrs. Bandy hosted a going-away dinner for me. (and she even made shoo-fly pie! many of you probably have no idea what that is because it's a regional dessert from PA, and those of you who know what it is probably also know how hard it is to find it anywhere else)

This might be the last time I update from PNG, since I will be taking my computer in to the computer centre soon so that they can take it off the network and know to stop charging my account for internet access. I know that I won't have an internet connection at my hotel in Port Moresby either. Please pray for me as I travel back this weekend. I will have to stay two long days in the POM hotel before my first international flight departs. Then, I'll get up very early in the morning to catch my first flight to Brisbane, which leaves at 6:40 AM on the 13th. From there, I'll have a short layover before flying across the Pacific to LA and then another short layover before my next flight to JFK in New York, which lands at 5:20 PM, still on the 13th, yet more than 24 hours after takeoff in POM (don't you love the way the international date line works?). Pray that the short layovers don't become an issue if there are delays on the flights or through customs.

I also want to say thank you for all of your prayers and encouragement throughout my time here! I have definitely felt God close to me. Thank you for praying for the Kuman dedication; all of the Bibles were able to arrive on time. Also, the visa situation here is not resolved, but it is certainly much better. I don't know of any families that were not able to get their visas and passports before they left the country, though some had to wait until the very last day before their departure. Currently, there are still many visas to be processed, but the stress levels are very much reduced.