During June we’re focusing on seeking guidance. Each of the posts published this month will be about the author’s experiences seeking guidance from God. Please see the Prayer page to read our strategic prayer request for this month and to see how we, as a branch, are seeking God’s guidance.
By Delaina Spence
Sometimes we think we know how to do something, like we have it all figured out. No guidance necessary. On my third trip to PNG, the interns and I spent two weeks in the village of Likan in the East Sepik Province. The day after we arrived, some of our new friends took us a little ways off into the jungle to wash saksak. The men taught Aaron how to chop up the inside part of the saksak (sago palm) tree with a long curved tool, making it into woodchip-sized bits. The women taught Emily how to pour water over the chopped saksak and then squeeze the water out to release the edible starch from the pulp. The water and starch mixture flowed through several strainers, and the starch was collected to be later dried, fried over a fire like flat chewy bread, and eaten.
I thought I knew how to wash saksak, that I was a pro after having done it several times before in other villages. After all, this was my third summer in Papua New Guinea. When my turn came, I confidently walked up and began to squeeze the water out of the saksak pulp like I was kneading dough, just as I had been taught on my previous trips to PNG. I expected to hear something along the lines of, “Yu save pinis, you already know how to do it,” but instead the woman watching me stepped in and took over for a little while so I could watch her. Many cultures in Papua New Guinea teach by demonstrating instead of by giving verbal instructions, and she was showing me that I was not doing it correctly. I had learned to wash saksak in Madang Province, but this was the East Sepik, and the women in Likan used a totally different hand motion. I watched her and was able to catch on quickly, but I learned the lesson that each area of Papua New Guinea does things differently, and I can’t just walk into a situation and expect to know how things are done or how things need to be done.
Sometimes we do the same thing with God. What seems logical in our minds, what we have done successfully in the past, isn’t necessarily what God has in mind this time. We forget that we need to ask Him for guidance. We rely on our own knowledge, experience, or education and forget that the task God has called us to is only possible if we do it His way, empowered by His Spirit.
Delaina serves as a Bible translator.