Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Is It Worth It?

They must have wondered what the white lady was doing. I (Martha) sat a few rows from the back on a wooden pew in a church in Wabag. Adam had been invited to preach that Sunday and near the end of the sermon he pulled out an Audibible with the story of Abraham in Enga. I began to twist and turn, stretching any way I could, watching the faces of the men and women sitting near me on the wooden benches. I searched for a glimpse of something in their eyes. I wanted to see something that would tell me… it was worth it.

I have asked this question many times over the past two years. Is it worth it?

I asked this question while lying on the floor of a dark bush house shining a light on the rats circling the ceiling above my head. I asked this question while riding in the back of an open truck in the pouring rain with my husband and children and a pile of stinky pig poop. And most recently I asked this question when we were spontaneously invited to someone's home while shopping in the open market of Wabag, and the path to the home required climbing up a mountain of trash.

Truth be told, these inconvenient moments don't take up the bulk of our life here, they simply make for interesting stories. Most of the time we live in a western style house, and most of the time the hardship doesn't stem from the uncomfortable situations we sometimes find ourselves in. It comes from something else.

When Adam pressed the play button on the Audibible that morning, it took everything in me not to stand up on the bench and start hollering, "Do you know what I left to come here? I wasn't there when my niece was born...I really miss my friends and heart was wrenched when I watched my son say goodbye to his best friend, and it felt like I had died and the world was moving on without me." I wanted to say this… but I didn't. Instead I searched their eyes as they watched the tall white man pull something out of his pocket and press a button.

We've been here for two years now. If you had asked me two years ago if I had a heart for the people of Papua New Guinea, I would have said no.

But this past year there were sporadic moments when I fell in love. When I saw the wide toothy smiles of the three men my husband honored from the village of Immi, my heart opened up. I have never in my life seen smiles like that.

Earlier this year, we brought several men to Ukarumpa, many of whom did not know each other, to be trained in translation. I watched those men become a team, become a family. And they became our team, our family. I remember the moment well. I stood there watching as they all sat at desks, diligently trying to complete an assignment and flipping through their books. They didn't know it at the time, but I sat there and let the realization hit me. I love the people of Papua New Guinea.

Nevertheless, on that Sunday morning I got up on one knee so that I could see their faces, their eyes. Papua New Guinea is so far away, and we live a life that is filled with constant goodbyes, and I wonder if I will ever fit in here, and I worry about how all this will affect my children. As Adam pulled out the Audibible and pressed play, I could see everyone sit up a little straighter. They began to listen to the story of Abraham in their own language, while I continued to twist and turn and watch. It didn't take long for me to see what I was looking for, for God's assurance to wash over me, for me to say, "Ok God, I get it." Because when I watched their eyes as they listened, I saw it…I saw light.

These are the moments that help me answer the question, "Is it worth it?" Yes, it is worth it when I see the reactions of the Engans who hear Adam speak their language. It is worth it when I realize that my children don't have to live this life, they get to live this life. For every goodbye, there is a hello that follows. And even though I would give anything for Adam to be able to bring home a pizza for dinner, I know that it is worth it, because God is in it.