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Hey guys–tOdd here.
On February 1st I blogged about a ‘Bread of Life’ sale we did as a way to connect and communicate what we do daily in the Store as it pertains to supporting the work of Bible Translation in Papua New Guinea and the celebration and excitement we all feel when a new Bible Translation comes to our loading dock.
Ultimately, we desire to celebrate Life as given by our King, which is Jesus–the Bread of Life (John 6:48).
That said, enjoy the “video version” of the blog (it’s much better than my below thumbnail expression would indicate–hopefully). :)
To see more relevant videos, including a similar video as spoken in the language of Tok Pisin by one of my Assistant Managers, please visit The PNG Experience.
“I am the Bread of Life” – Jesus (John 6:48)
As some of you know, I (tOdd) have had the great honor of managing over two dozen very dedicated Papua New Guineans in the work of a Support Department disguised as a Store & Shipping Department. That is to say, we sell everyday consumable grocery, household, house-ware & even meat department items in a ‘General Store’ setting.
When I say that we are a ‘Support Department’, I mean that we are part of a team of other such departments (Auto-Shop, Computers, Clinic, Aviation, Construction/Maintenance, Schools, etc.) which exist for the sole/soul purpose of supporting Bible Translation in Papua New Guinea. The adage “it takes a village” is evident here throughout Papua New Guinea as well as in the Centralized Support area called Ukarumpa (ooh-kuh-rum-puh).
This is important and vital work for all involved in, around & through Ukarumpa (I mean, one does get hungry, right? :) ). Sometimes, though, one can feel (OK, I can feel) a bit disconnected from the ‘boots-on-the-ground’ work that is taking place out in villages and even amongst our Language workers here on Center.
I confess to you right here, right now that I have sometimes forgotten during the craziness of a day the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ that brought our family from Gresham, OR USA over to this beautiful “Land of the Unexpected”, Papua New Guinea (PNG).
But today we did something a bit different…we sought to incorporate our day-to-day work at the Store with something that recently arrived on our loading dock – Bread. Well, not the flour and baking kind of Bread, but the verse-listed-above kind of Bread—to be exact, the arrival of the Arop-Lokep New Testament Bibles that are awaiting a dedication and release later this year (in the Province of Madang)!
The timing, as always, is all God’s. We (our Store & Shipping Staff) were a little tepid in implementing something on the ‘sales floor’ before because we did not want to come across as trivial or to be seen as making ‘little’ of The Word.
At the conclusion of a Multi-Language Initiative (MLI) Conference last week, we were extremely encouraged and decided at the next opportunity we would increase our daily supply of sliced bread and then offer it at 50% off. At that point, we just needed to wait for one of these ‘special’ shipments to come in. Well, the very next day the above New Testament’s arrived. OK, God. :)
These are special occasions that we (the Store staff) would like to see increased around here. When a recently translated New Testament or Scripture portion is sitting there in a box on the dock…waiting to come to Life for a group of people who have NEVER had the Bible in their mother tongue–their heart language!?! I mean, THIS is it! Truly, one can’t use enough exclamation points when talking about the significance of such realities.
The first time I saw a box of translated Scriptures, I immediately started wiping tears from my eyes. My eyes may have been wet on the outside but on the inside I was rejoicing with a proclamation of “Wow!” :D
Keep in mind, the boxes on the loading dock don’t hold the latest best-seller from the current crop of best-selling authors—they contain the Bread of Life!
I’ve had the privilege of pulling popular books out of similar boxes in the past (and keep in mind that when I did they weren’t yet ‘best-sellers'; I did so when I managed Christian Bookstores)—books—such as Rick Warren’s ‘The Purpose Driven Life’, Bruce Wilkinson’s ‘The Prayer of Jabez’, Donald Miller’s ‘Blue Like Jazz’ and Randy Alcorn’s ‘Heaven’ to name but a few. With all due respect to the authors—and I’m pretty sure they’d emphatically and quickly agree—these boxes sitting on this loading dock right now are MUCH more valuable and worthy of “acclaim”.
And it isn’t just because I’m telling you about it, or because of the people involved in the actual translation work, or because I’m “too close” to the work and therefore emotionally compromised and prone to say such things, but because this is what “it” all rests on and what “it” is all about: the Word of God.
I mentioned ‘realities’ earlier.
Imagine the reality–if you can for just one moment–of not having had access to God’s Word in your language. Of not ever having had that special ‘life verse’ moment while you sit in church listening to your pastor preach from it. Or, perhaps, over-hearing this Truth in a language not your own that is geographically close to you and trying to put ‘bits & pieces’ of wisdom and knowledge next to the clarity & understanding of your tongue…trying.
That is the reality for nearly 300 languages here in PNG right now (which represents over 12% alone of the “Other languages” in the graphic above who don’t yet have Scripture in their heart language). That represents thousands of Papua New Guineans who live with such a reality.
Much great work has transpired and is currently in process–and that’s the exciting reality. We, you & I, are a part of bridging this so that our fellow brothers and sisters around the globe have access to this Living Water…which, if you ask me, has always gone great with Bread.
I’m pretty sure Peter, the Papua New Guinean translator for the Arop-Lokep language team seen here with the Bibles, thinks so, too.
It is our hope and prayer that such a small gesture or token will provide reminders and even create some awareness to the very reality of why it is we are here—from customers and Staff to our kids and ‘yumi olgeta’ (all of us).
Let’s pray we begin selling a LOT of 50% off Sliced Bread in the future! :)
It seems logical that I would experience homesickness while living on the other side of the world from where I grew up, but it has been especially difficult lately. I’m realizing that my natural response to homesickness is to seek comfort. When I can’t increase my comfort, however, I become frustrated, then homesick, then depressed.
Life for us in Papua New Guinea means changing houses every 6 months to a year, not even owning our own pots and pans, and bringing in wet laundry that I moved around all day between sun and cover and still never got dried. It means not owning a dryer, or a comfortable mattress for our bed. It means really regretting that we forgot to change our washing machine and shower over to river water before the dry season came, which in turn means boiling river water so it is clean enough to drink because we ran our tank water dry. It also means trying to take a shower at the end of a long day only to find that there wasn’t enough sun to heat the water or it’s scalding hot and we can’t add any cold because our pump is broken.
There are those days when my husband says, “Doesn’t Taco Del Mar sound good tonight?” and for just a moment we dream of buying dinner instead of making it from scratch, but there are no restaurants here. There are no coffee stands or movies or even ice cream right now. (At least I currently have a very large stash of chocolate that friends and family have sent.J)
But lately things have been so hard that I have begun to realize that the comfort I actually desire is only found in heaven. Even if I were surrounded by all I desire now, I know that I would simply desire other things. I try to make myself comfortable here, but I cannot. So then I see that it is only in heaven, free of sin, fully as I was meant to be, that I’ll truly be home.
How many of us are homesick for heaven and we’ve responded by trying to make this life more comfortable? What if we had a bigger house or remodeled the one we own; if we bought a new car or got away on a vacation; if we could wrap up a project and spend more time with our kids? On and on goes the list. Are they really any different than my wish for dry clothes and a hot shower?
Is it possible that we are seeking comfort because we are seeking home? It’s very enticing to believe that comfort will make it easier for us to be separated from home and in a way it does because it distracts us. If I can make a comfortable and busy life for myself here in Papua New Guinea, then maybe I won’t long for life in the US or . . . heaven.
But perhaps as Christians we should be longing for home. Maybe if we can accept that homesickness is a good part of life, something that keeps us focused on what matters most, we’ll be able to listen to what God is calling us to instead of spending so much of our lives trying to be comfortable.
I feel I have two choices no matter where I live. If I seek comfort, I will be forever striving and never satisfied, but often frustrated. If I seek the Spirit, I will be uncomfortable but filled with God’s strength to see life for what it is, temporary.
So my prayer is not “Lord, take me home to the US where I can be comfortable,” but rather, “Lord, teach me to be at peace with discomfort because it is a constant reminder that I am not home.”