Saturday, May 16, 2009

Saturday, May 16 - Ukarumpa

What a refreshing morning: it was cool, crisp and the air smelled so good!

After our debriefing last night I wasn’t sure how today would be met. Jessie gave an encouraging devotion and our prayer time was sweet.

Our first stop was at 9:30 am at the new primary school. It had a great auditorium where our team would work with middle and high school students to create stories.
This would be the first time I would see Rhett in action teaching. With great anticipation I sat myself in the audience ready to take it all in.

Our group of MK’s ended up being pretty much middle schoolers. And they were a lively bunch. When Rhett got up to teach he became so animated! It was really something to see.

First Rhett took the group through theatre exercises and a game. Tempest. After that the entire group, both GFU team and middle schoolers, were divided into 3 groups. Their assignment? To create a still picture of: Hope.

It was amazing watching the creation of this story. I had never seen anything like it before.

When each group performed it’s picture, Rhett led us through a discussion to explain what the picture was saying. I apologize but I cannot fully describe what I witnessed. My words would fall flat and perhaps you would draw false conclusions. You will just have to trust me. The finished product was inspiring.
For the final picture Rhett asked the groups to create a picture that tells a story about their community. I can hardly tell this story without crying.

I took notes for these pictures. Group number showed a circle of people doing various things: whispering, pointing, sneering, laughing & playing. One person was on the outside of the group hiding behind a chair with a pencil pointing at them.
This group was trying to show the routine of life at Ukarumpa which in part includes gossip, having fun, conflicts, but trust even in light of the negative things that go on. The person outside the group is a ‘rascal’ threatening with a spear.

Next, Rhett asked the group to resolve the picture. They changed the essence of the picture to reach out drawing the ‘rascal’ in and depicting a more caring community.
Group number 2 had Jesus standing on a chair reaching out to the audience. Behind Jesus was a group of people obviously worshiping. Then a one person reaching out to Jesus but also with her hand on a young man clearly depressed. Then sitting on alone was a girl who was clearly lonely but no one was reaching out to her.

The resolution was to bring Jesus down from the chair, amongst the people and everyone giving concern to those who were hurting.

Group number 3 – well, this one got to me. Two different groups with one person sitting in the middle, looking as if she was praying but also looking sad. One group was obviously happy to be together but two of them were pointing to the other group with a mocking kind of smile. The other group had a person shielding them from the other group, sneering. This picture told the story about the tension at Ukarumpa between the adults and the teenagers.

The resolution was to have one side reach out to the other in love and understanding.
Basically, it was amazing. To watch these two groups work together to produce such deep and meaningful stories in two hours of time astounded me.

We all left rather suddenly as our time ran over what we expected. We scurried back to have lunch at the guest house while the students either fixed a sandwich from the food I had bought at the store, at a sack lunch from their host family or ran back to their host family for a quick lunch before meeting at 1:20 to meet Wendy and John Bailey. The Bailey’s are amazing people.

They are Irish. They are ‘tent makers’ and working with the PNG government to improve agricultural and conservation of water and resources. They used to live off center, but due to an unfortunate situation (not of their making) they moved to SIL housing. What a privilege it was for us to work with them this afternoon. They are exactly the kind of people we needed to see here.

They have coordinated a drop in center at the old primary school site. Although the buildings and property now belong to the district of Aiyura, they allow the Bailey’s to control the old auditorium (where we held a dance back in the day). Each Saturday they take a few people out to minister to the children and teenagers of the valley. Wendy especially has such a deep love and passion for the people of Papua New Guinea. Our team performed Wantok (and they loved it) and the Weave. We then created picture stories. Most of the kids flocked to Stephen and Jordan, as usual. But each of the groups were pretty amazing.

However wonderful it was to watch the dramas that were created, everyone was stunned by the two deaf young men who came. Although Emily speaks American Sign Language and these two men were taught English Sign Language, the image of their encounter will stay with us all. I hope my pictures turn out to give you a glimpse into what we saw. Emily said they learned from each other. She’s so precious and loving. I am sure these two young men will never forget Emily. We were so blessed to be able to witness such an encounter.

So I have been doing a lot of thinking today. My emotions have run deep.
While things are familiar in the sights of Ukarumpa the essence of our time in PNG is no longer here: our friends, the students that we came to know and love.

The things that I didn’t like about Ukarumpa remain and in some way are accentuated by the perimeter fencing and Guard Dog Security. I know that SIL must protect the people here especially if they intend to draw workers to complete the task. But I have some serious concerns that haunt me, reminding me of the times when I was ‘in trouble’ for interacting with the Nationals that went contrary to popular opinion here.

The work that SIL does here is the entire purpose of Ukarumpa. I can’t lose sight of that. My short time here does not give me permission to cast judgment. I wish all of humanity could just get along.

As I anticipated out debriefing was long and meaningful. I so enjoy listening to the perspective of each team member. Their words are so inspiring: their perspective refreshing and heartfelt.

As a talker, listening to them has been such a great exercise. I am grateful beyond words for this experience. I am learning so much from Rhett, in the way he leads discussions, drawing out the thoughts, words and emotions from each of the team.

Our group scattered to the winds at 6 pm. After a nice dinner we dealt with internet issues and then electricity outages. My outlets don’t work but neither do some in the main part of the house. At least we have lights and water. And it is almost bed time. Sunday will be here soon enough.

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