WARNING: Long post ahead!!!
It’s been a week of ups and downs…
Last Sunday there was frustration as one of the Sunday School teachers did not show, even though it was his turn to do Sunday school. The thing that made it more frustrating was that a while back he had asked to go on the Sunday School roster again. He is a faithful member who actually does a great job with Sunday School, but was left off the last couple of rosters because of not showing full commitment by not showing up when it was his turn and not making a change with another teacher, thus leaving us in the lurch. But he had been showing more commitment again, and really wanted to go back on the roster. Anyway, he has done it a few times and showed up consistently, so I was really happy about that…until last Sunday. He had everything ready but then at the last minute on Saturday morning was called by work to go to another town for the weekend. Rather than pass on a message to someone else (he had every opportunity), he just up and left and the other Sunday School teachers did not find out till Sunday morning.
Then when I asked about another faithful member who was not ready at Biwat to be picked up for church on Sunday morning, I was told that she had some problems with her husband again. When I pried a little further, I found out that her husband had bashed her the night before so she was not up to walking. This is the same woman who’s daughter was badly bashed a few weeks back (I wrote a short blog about it) – seems like her husband is on a rampage again. So I was feeling pretty down as we arrived at church on Sunday. Just not feeling like singing for joy. It’s wonderful, though, how the Lord always sends things to cheer you up and it wasn’t long before the singing and worshiping had me rejoicing in all the blessings we see around us in church life too. And then there was this bunch of new faces, too. Now, even though they may never return, it is always a blessing to see new faces – we never know how the Lord uses the preaching of His Word. And there was one woman in church who returned for the 3rd week in a row (from Biwat – a sister of one of our members). And then the other Sunday School teachers managed very well to wing the Sunday School lesson considering the situation (they wanted me to do it instead, but I politely refused – I don’t want them to think that when someone does not show up that I will just fill in. I want them to realize the consequences of not showing up and also to take responsibility for the work. After watching them do it rather well, I was glad I had refused – they did it just as well, if not better, than I could have anyway!)
On Thursday the woman who was bashed on Saturday night, was the first to arrive at our place before we headed off to literacy class. As I had her alone I asked her how she was doing. She showed me her leg – badly swollen. She could walk on it a bit though, thus she had come for the literacy class, but last Sunday she was unable to walk very much. Apparently her husband had used his hard hat (you know those safety helmets which construction workers use) and had hit her extremely hard right in the centre of her head 3 times. She said she counted them, then she felt a strong pain in her neck and her eyes closed as she semi-blacked out and tried to run away. As she tried to flee, she fell in her confusion (after receiving such a heavy blow to the head) and landed heavily on the ground which caused her leg to swell. She still has a lot of pain in her neck too. “He often does that kind of thing,” she tells me, “I am sleeping at someone else’s house at the moment, but when he calms down again he will call me to come back home for a while again.” You feel so helpless in such a situation. What choice does a woman like that have in this society? And then I have to remind myself (and her) that our Heavenly Father is there, and that He cares and loves her. She is accepting and matter-of-fact, but I can perceive as she tells her story that, though resigned to the life she is forced to live right now, she is full of pain and suffering.
Oh, and then I had to chuckle to myself as we drove to the literacy class, past the Kamkumung markets. There on the side of the road was a young (6-year-old??) boy walking from bus to bus selling smokes. Not packets of smokes. Just one or two per driver or passenger from the one packet he had. One way to make money…and I do think that it is actually officially illegal (at least I am presuming it is, but I could be wrong) to sell smokes to underage kids in PNG too – does that count for underage kids selling to adults??
Then there were ups in the literacy class. I love to see their progress. Oh, true, sometimes I am frustrated and feel like yelling, “I’ve told you that before, and you still don’t get it!!???!!!” (Don’t worry I never say anything or do anything to show my frustrations….I think???!!...at least I try not to). However, there is progress. And on Thursday I took great joy in noticing that I now can write a couple of letters on the board (the start of a word) and ask them to suggest the final letter if we a trying to write a certain word. And this will be a new word, one that they have not learned, so they are adding the letter simply because of understanding the concept of sounds and phonetics. E.g. I will put a t and o on the board together: “to” and then ask them what letter we should add to write “tok” (the Tok Pisin work for talk). And they will be able to say that we should add a “k.” Now that may not sound like a great achievement to you, but let me tell you – it is. Though they are able to recognize many words, the actual concept of sounds and phonetics has been a lot harder to get through to them. But it is slowly getting there…I think!
And there were ups on Wednesday night when Andrew went into Biwat for fellowship. He commented on the woman who I mentioned has been coming to church the last 3 weeks. She showed great interest at fellowship, which is encouraging. Also, another newcomer (a male, grade 12 student), who is very keen and also quite wise and knowledgeable, showed a desire to do some mid-week singing and Bible storytelling with the young children in Biwat. Whether it eventuates is another thing, but seeing that desire and interest is a real blessing….
And then there were ups at the youth group this morning. A fairly large core groups seems to consistently come each time, and we are thankful for that. Most of them are present on Sundays too. Of course there are others who we know could be there, but choose to stay away….but God knows what He is doing also in the lives of the youth!
So there you have it. Our week. Ups and Downs, no doubt just like you have experienced in your week wherever you are. It’s wonderful that God gives us the ups to keep us going through the downs. He is good.