It's hard to imagine it still. It's hard to think that we are not going back. It seems so unreal. As we flew out of PNG, it was hard to believe that we would not be returning any time in the near future.
It was a busy and emotional few weeks. It was difficult, but it was good. It started with the mad, mad packing of our things, which involved lots of very frustrating moments (tiresome!!!), but the Lord saw us through. On our last day in PNG we managed to finally get our last piece of paperwork for the transportation of our things - just in the nick of time!
Here are our boxes packed and ready to be picked up (except they weren't picked up - we dropped them off!!!):
And below you can see that our room of boxes was also the sick room - packing and sick kids wasn't the best combination, but it all got done!
The hardest part of our time in Lae, was the goodbyes. Thankfully, our good friends from Tasmania (Gerald and Rosita VanAsperen) could join us for our farewell Sunday, and that was wonderful.
There were goodbyes to this beautiful little girl - dear Louisa - how we all will miss her special, smiling face:
I lead my last Women's Bible Study in PNG, which was followed with a farewell feast for lunch. Here are the ladies (and some kids) who attended the Bible Study:
Ashlyn and Karlyn did their share of hugging and playing. Yes, goodbyes to our colleagues were pretty difficult too, though thankfully we are now seeing them in Cairns and will, DV, see them in WA too!
Our farewell Sunday was a very emotional day. Andrew preached for the last time - a beautiful, emotive message from Matthew 13:44-46.
After the church service there was a special program to farewell us. First we were called to stand up at the front of church. Then member, by member, our brothers and sisters in Christ came to the front to give us gifts and to say their farewells.
The tears and the hugs were very difficult to go through, but also very necessary....Here are just a few pictures to let you get the feeling:
Then different groups performed various items. The women's fellowship group sang psalm 23 which was one of the psalms I translated, and the "whole" congregation below sang psalm 134 beautifully (this was one of the translations I did just before we went on furlough). It was beautiful to hear them sung, and sung so well!
Below is the group that attended on our farewell Sunday - a big day like that always draws some extra people!
After our emotional farewells we were blessed to be able to take a few days in Madang and Ukarumpa with Gerald and Rosita. It was a special time we could have with them (even though we squished both our families - 12 people in total - and our luggage into our 10 seater Nissan Patrol, and travelled across some pretty rough and bumpy roads!!), and also allowed us to farewell some other people and places which are dear to us.
Don't you just love the way that Andrew and Gerald stand so much taller than all the locals?:
We got to go back to "our" village in Madang where we did our training and see our loving Papa and Mama there:
And we were blessed to be able to share good times of fellowship, also over some great meals with our friends:
We also got to go to Ukarumpa where a dessert evening was organised by one of our friends there, for us to farewell some fellow missionaries who we knew especially from our time of training as we entered PNG some 4 years ago. And now we are still enjoying a few days of relaxation in beautiful Cairns.
Here we are on the church property on our last Sunday in PNG:
The chapter is closed. Really closed. Hard to believe, but how good it is to know that the Lord will be there as the next chapter begins. He is the Rock, the Fortress, the Stronghold who sustains all his people throughout the world. May He continue to bless His Church and our dear brothers and sisters in Lae, PNG. May He sustain and bless our dear colleagues (I think I can still call them that...) and friends (that they will remain), the Wildeboers, and also guide and bless the Sikkemas as they prepare to work in Lae. What a comfort to know that God is Faithful. Always faithful and that never changes.
As for us...I am not sure what will become of this blog. At least it will undergo a name change...We will still be serving an Awesome God, just not in Lae, PNG! I am not sure if I will continue to blog, and if I do how it will go.... However, we do want to take this opportunity to thank you for following with us the work that God has been pleased to do in Lae, PNG. We thank you especially for your prayers and also for which ever other way you may have supported the work and us personally. God bless you all and please continue to support and pray unceasingly for God's work in Lae, PNG, for your missionaries there, and for His Kingdom building work all over the world.