Papua, New Guinea

Surreal Sunday

We are back in Papua New Guinea and we now get to celebrate Sundays with our missionary family here on center. There are two different services. First is a PNG service, which is conducted in one of the official languages of PNG, Tok Pisin. Tok Pisin is a mixture of local languages, German and finally to our great relief, English. Being a trade language, it is not a very descriptive and often you need many words to talk about matters of the heart. The second service we attend right after is called the “English service”. English is relative because does it mean, English from the US, Australia, English as a second language, or (as a few here believe) is it the only true English; Queen’s English from Great Britain? Even though we are hearing English, we all are not from the same denominations. Depending on who volunteered to run the service, our format can be anything from Episcopal to modern casual.

Now take those fundamentally different services and bring them together for a combined service. Hence you may think you discovered the reason for my title “Surreal Sunday”. Believe it or not, the service itself was not the reason for this blog.

The Surreal happened in both dimensions of this combined service. First, in the Tok Pisin scope we had a guest speaker who is from a mission school in Hawaii. The school sent its greeting and a lei, which was received by the oldest Papua New Guinean in attendance that morning. The surreal was that we heard Hawaiian translated into Tok Pisin. (Hawaiian) Ohana: (Tok Pisin) wanpela haus lain i stap klostu wanbel nau; (English) close family. My mouth was agape as I realized what was happening. I never would have guessed that I would hear that translation in a Sunday service.

The second surreal gave me chills. We took communion in the service. There are several sections to our meeting house and we were basically sitting in one of the front main sections. There were maybe 30ish people in all the bench rows that could hold up to 50. Some rows had four people with extra space like ours did. Some had more squeeze in. A few had only two sitting in them. As the bread pieces were passed, it worked out that since we were in the last row of this section, I was the last one served. I literally got the last piece of bread. Weird isn’t it? No one counted the pieces. In all my years of taking communion, I have never emptied a tray. Then came the juice . . . as I watched the tray come my way, I thought it would be totally bizarre if I got the last cup . . . I DID get the last cup. Jodi, sitting next to me, had the same thought. OK, God. You have our attention. What are you saying to us?

We visited with friends last night and we read 1 Colossians. Verse 9 continuing thru verse 10 struck me: We are asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God. (HCSB).

Jodi and I do desire to walk worthy in obedience to our Lord. I do not have the understanding from the second surreal, but I understand that our God will give us understanding when it is time. That God would even want to commune with us is surreal in itself. I will just rest in that fact for now.

Leave a Reply