By Brian Paris
I recently went on a trip to visit some groups that PBT does not yet work with. This is what I do. I’ve done it in four different provinces in PNG. So when I sat down to work out this trip I scheduled the amount of time I thought I would need to complete my work based on past experience. What I did not count on was John*. This was the first time I went on a trip like this without another expat. It’s not a good idea to travel around PNG alone, so we arranged for two Papua New Guinean men to accompany me.
In the first village we visited, John sat back and watched what I did. I walked around the whole village, going house to house to see who lived there and where they came from. I then talked with any church leaders and teachers in the village. Finally, I sat down with as many people as possible to ask them questions on a variety of topics. When I finished John asked, “Is this what you want to do in every village?” After I said yes, he walked off and got out his cell phone. By the time we got to the next village things were different; everyone was waiting for us.
Usually we get to a village some time in the late morning. When we arrive there aren’t many people around because most are off getting work done; building houses, working in the garden, fishing, these are all tasks that have to be done every day. People can’t sit around and wait for us to show up. So inevitably we end up sitting around with children and the elderly waiting for everyone else to come back to the village. This is what I’m used to. But in that second village and in every village from there on, when we arrived everyone was ready and waiting.
We finished the survey a week early, all because John called ahead. He was able to use his clout in the area to explain what I needed and to ask people not to go out to the garden until after we finished our work.
In PNG we are blessed to work with amazing national Christians. John and the other gentlemen who joined me gave up time at home with their families to come with me on this trip. They believe, along with all the other national men and women we work with, that God has something to say to all the people groups of PNG. Without them we would not be able to do the work we do. Some help us translate, some advocate in the village, some organize, some teach, some help in the office, but they all serve God with us.
Brian is a language surveyor.