Sunday, December 18, 2011

Office Space

It was empty, just like the others.

I, along with the other new arrivals to Ukarumpa, were following our friendly tour guide up and down the hills of the center, learning important tidbits on how to survive on center—such as how to know if you got a package and what hours the store’s kai bar was open and serving fresh, hot chips (that’s French fries for the US people). And now, we were finishing our orientation by walking the halls of LCORE—the language resource building—and I was once again standing before a deserted office.

When I first arrived, I was rather overwhelmed by the enthusiastic welcome of my Ukarumpa co-workers. Oh, thank you! We’re so glad you’re here! I shook hands until the individuals mashed into a smiling, blurry crowd, and I vaguely remembered someone called John. I could hear them murmuring together, shaking their heads in amazement: Three new translators! So many! How wonderful!

So many? I was disoriented. When did three become a multitude? Did not three hundred languages still wait?

But now, as I stood before yet another office, the nameplate blank and computer dark, I began to understand that excitement. And it wasn’t just the language department—construction, finance, education, music, the clinic, media, graphic arts, the store, Bible courses—every single department was what the average US company would consider grossly understaffed.

Nearly every person I meet here seems to wear three or four hats, each job worthy of a fulltime commitment (which is significant, seeing as basic living itself, from cooking to laundry to house maintenance, takes far more time than it would in the States). One important job is put on hold to fill a need in another—translations still in progress wait on a shelf while those workers fill desperate needs elsewhere.

300 languages left to be started—with this kind of resources, how would this even be possible? Looking at the numbers, counting the vacancies, hearing the calls for yet more help in the valley children’s VBS program, even as the Lord blesses our leadership with new strategies and partnerships, it could be very discouraging, if not deemed impossible.

And yet, here I stand. And here you are, reading, supporting, sending, going. And praying.

Every Sunday, faces appear in the morning service’s powerpoint slides of people who are “in the pipeline,” on their way to join us here in PNG. We see their faces, read their needs, and then, we corporately pray for each individual by name. Every first Thursday of the month is the Morning of Prayer where we gather to worship, praise, the Lord, and pray as He brings His plan to completion among the people of Papua New Guinea. It is no secret that this task is far bigger than what we can handle, but such knowledge, rather than becoming debilitating, reminds us not only of why we are here, but who called us.

A year ago, when I was merely one of those faces on that powerpoint, I started this blog to chronicle a journey that I knew would travel far beyond my own imagination as the Lord works out His grace and glory in my life. It certainly hasn’t been disappointing, and I’m excited to see how He continues to unfold His plan as I take my own place among my colleagues—my brothers and sisters—here in Papua New Guinea.

And, I’m so delighted you’ve joined me—please feel free to sit down! Perhaps this empty chair next to me is for you :-)