In 2014 we found ourselves grieving yet rejoicing with Notsi families as well as our own. Although our work kept us in town managing the missionary Guest House much of the time, we drove down to the village for short visits when we could.
On one occasion we arrived to find that Angela, a young woman we knew, had succumbed to cancer. I first met her when she came to our house to ask for pain medicine. In our discussions I found out that she was a seamstress. I gave her fabric to sew a ‘meri blaus’ for me but she would accept no pay for her labor. She seemed perfectly healthy at the time but months later we heard that her female relatives/friends danced around her coffin to celebrate her life.
In June, we received sad news that Kevin’s brother-in-law, John, had died suddenly. We grieve with Karen, Kevin’s sister, and family in their loss.
We continued to receive news of other dear ones who had died. I stayed in touch with my family in the USA regarding my aging mother who lived with different siblings in their homes. It seemed that she was thriving earlier in the year but in the spring her health began to wane. I recall feeling desperately far away in Papua New Guinea but as I prayed I asked the Lord for His will to be done, to ease her suffering, and for the grace to let her go.
When I received the sad news that she had passed, we grieved but not without hope. He had answered my prayer. Yes, people die every day but in 2014 it seems death came for our loved ones.
Emily Dickinson wrote,
Because I could not stop for death
He kindly stopped for me
The carriage held but just ourselves
And so it was with Angela and three loved ones in our families. John, Kevin’s brother-in-law, passed in June; Gertrude’s Mother passed in early September and a dear friend to Kevin, Mrs. Chase, passed a few weeks later. We grieve but not as ones without hope. God has put in us the love of life and activity but He has also numbered our days on this earth. In Christ, we have hope of eternal life.
In times like these, friends and family ask us, “When are you coming home from the mission field for good?” My prayer is that God will show us when our work in PNG is done. Then, we will come home for good!