Wind hits your face, temporarily freezing the blood capillaries that lie fresh under your cheeks. It continues past your ears, filling them with the noise of cyclones mixed with the loud roar of the motor engine that already fills the atmosphere. Rain falls from the heavens, running over the bright yellow vest that you wear, before draining into the swollen rivers that adventure throughout the land of the Gulf Province, Papua New Guinea. Around you are the people that have become your family. The volunteers, the locals, the health care workers that have flown many miles for this single opportunity. The chance to see the lives of many changed for the better. To see hope and to see life being fulfilled each new day. The Flight of the Zodiacs. The chariots that gently glide across the visible calm rivers bringing songs of celebration to untouched villages. The protectors of self, the delivers of heroes, the birds of hope.
It is pouring now. The zodiac flies quickly along the river surface towards the village where we will deliver doctors, nurses, aid workers and educators. Physically, every inch of my body is soaked in the tropical rain that leaves poor visibility. Yet my emotions tell me that this is the best day in Papua New Guinea. And though tears of rain stream down my cheeks, the locals bring rainbows of sunshine every time they smile. Because no matter how limited the sun’s shine will be, nothing can dampen the brightness of hope that we bring. We stand for life, and bringing life to the full.
Our zodiac rocks gently up to the banks that line the rivers edge. Up a rocky lean-to ladder made out of sticks, locals wait, dressed with welcoming smiles and clothes scarring evidence of a hard working life. One step ashore and you can feel the mud squelch between your toes – a strange sensation bringing emotions to your face. Beady eyes peek out from the cracks in the rotting wood, held together to make a home. This life is simple, and I can learn from that.
As clinics begin for the day, and education sessions commence, lives are transformed and hearts are open to hope, new life and freedom. What we have been given so freely in the western world is a matter of life or death for these people. Where we see a bandage, they see healing. Where we see immunisations, they see release from disease. See, what we call free, they call freedom.
Parallel to the goodness that comes throughout the day, opportunities arise with individuals that plant seeds of restoration, new life and release. Testimonies and stories reach the surface that inspires locals, communities and supporters on an international level. One such conversation witnessed the innocence and hope that we brought to the people of this land.
Diane, a local woman, showing lines of an estimated 58 year old, shared with fellow volunteer, and dear friend of mine, Mckenzie, the great gift of God that we brought to her nation. In her simple broken English, she confessed, “It means so much that you come and teach us, because it gives my people hope.” Mckenzie continued sharing the importance of not keeping this hope to ourselves, but sharing it with others. Because it is through blessing others, that we find ourselves blessed. It is in sharing life with others, that we find ourselves really living.
Hope is being restored in this nation.
And I will witness to that.