As I push myself back into the red leather of my airplane seat I stretch out my legs into the back of the seat in front of me trying to getting comfortable and I start to reflect on what I am about to embark on with my wife and son still at home. I put in my earphones, find some music, and start to wade through all the thoughts I have about my trip to Papua New Guinea.
What an amazing privilege to go to Papua New Guinea (PNG). PNG is found above the east coast of Australia. The reason I went up there is that YWAM Australia has a medical ship and Townsville (the base Adriel and I serve at) is the base that operates it. I headed up there to be a part of the ministry that we are involved in but also to see for my own eyes what the Lord wants to do in this beautiful nation and people through the ministry of Ywam Medical Ships that is in so much need of the outwards working of God’s tangible love.
I have heard much about the needs of this nation, and as I land in Port Moresby (the capital) I quickly start to realize that we are not in Australia any more. I get in the van that will take me to the ship and as I look around I see a beautiful landscape that is covered with streets lined with rubbish and buildings that haven’t been maintained since Australia handed back the running of the nation in the 70’s. We head down the side of a hill and as I look out the window across water I can see the ship sitting there waiting for me and the volunteers arrival.
There is an excitement on the ship with people from all over the world, different ages and skill ranging from doctors, dentists, nurses, deck hands, mechanics, sign writers etc. ready for a 24 hour sail to the Gulf District that will be full with a beautiful sunset, a blanket of bluely green seas, and the sounds of people throwing up and walking around with a different shade of skin colour than what they arrived on the ship with.
As we pull in to the river system that we will be spending the next two week in I start to see little villages along the waters edge. Kids are running to wave at us and adults are getting in canoes to come see us as they know that this is the ship that will help their sick people with infected teeth or give glasses to those that can’t see well enough to work to support their families.
We drop anchor and two others and I go a shore to see the village elders and organize medical clinics for the next few days. It doesn’t take long to see why they say this is the poorest region in PNG and why God has called the YWAM Medical Ship to these people. You listen to their stories and you begin to understand why they feel like they are forgotten by their own nation.
As I spend the next two weeks travelling around the water systems of the district visiting many villages, meeting many people, and listening to their challenges I can feel God’s heart say to them: You may feel forgotten by the world but I haven’t forgotten you and that’s why I sent you this ship to tell you I love you and I care about your well being. And each day I gain a greater understanding of why we must persevere through the challenges to see this ministry succeed. There are now real people and stories in my heart that need to not only know the love of God but also experience the practical outward working of it.
Over the two weeks I was there we:
- Visited 6 villages and served people from 16 different villages
- Treated 669 people with primary health care
- Gave 256 immunizations
- Treated 167 dentistry patients with 364 procedures and 304 extractions
- Saw 241 people come through our optometry clinic
- Gave out 77 pairs of glasses and 23 sunglasses
- Gave out 109 eye referrals for cataract surgery that the ship will do in August when we have an ophthalmologist on board
- Educated 620 people in basic health care skills
- Distributed 1421 health resources in total (toothbrushes, toothpaste, mosquito nets, eyeglasses, birth kits, etc.)
Thank you so much for praying for me (and Adriel and Levi at home) and for being a part of this important ministry. If you would like to know more about the YWAM Medical Ship ministry please go to our NEW website: www.ywamships.org