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Life in Two Worlds

There is a sense of security living and working within fenced compounds with guards on the gates 24/7, but the mission of the Church in Papua New Guinea lies beyond the wire.

“What does your day look like?” The answer: “Which day?”

Working in the Archbishop's Office involves administration which supports Mission and Ministry throughout the Province. Mostly I’m working on Mission projects sponsored by PNG’s overseas partners such as the Anglican Missions Board NZ, Australia and the UK. Or I'm helping to send people overseas for further training. The aim of all of this is to assist with capacity building as the transition to a fully indigenous Church continues. As I work with groups and individuals I’m excited about new ministry projects as I see the feedback come in and realise the impact small amounts of funding have on outreach and ministry in the remotest parts of the country.

I officially live in a comfortable apartment with hot and cold running water, electricity, fridge, washing machine and yes a vacuum cleaner for the endless dust that is found in Port Moresby. The food is much the same as in New Zealand (except beef is too expensive and mutton and lamb are not available). Home is at St Francis Koki where there is a mission house (sort of). The Franciscan Brothers have run a Mission House there for many, many years. It is also home to young people who can’t or don’t live at home. It's here that I’ve been adopted and am known as Sister Margaret.

One of the challenges is that the Mission house is waiting to be rebuilt so the accommodation is basic. A converted classroom, a flush loo shared with the teachers, cooking over the fire outside, a 44 gallon plastic drum with a plastic dipper for bathing. There are usually three or four of us under mosquito nets in the church overnight.

To describe a weekend is to say ‘I just hang around with the young people who come and go’ as we prepare for the Sunday Service. I’m officially their choir mistress (just so long as I don’t try to sing). We laugh, we cook, we share life with its ups and downs. Often I just sit and relax or, like today, write this letter to you. Food is much more PNG style, cooked over an open fire and always includes rice, greens, probably noodles and usually some chicken or tinned fish. We cook for 12 - 25 under 35’s on a Saturday night. Mondays is my day for language learning and then I return to my apartment on Monday afternoon to start the week over again.