Thank you for all you did

Dorothy Heller returned to Papua New Guinea after 40 years and was touched by the commitment and vision of women in the Church

In November last year, I realised my dream of returning to Papua New Guinea to show my husband, John, where I had lived and worked at Baitabag Girls School in the 1960s. We invited my co-worker, Connie Landstrom from Canada, to join us. She brought a friend, Joy Ann Detzler. What a wonderful time we had meeting former students and many others.

The highlight of our trip was the visit to Baitabag Girls School near Madang, where Connie and I were the first teachers in a two-year program which provided girls with training in the Bible and Home Economics.

The girls and teachers warmly welcomed us with their singing, actions and music. Connie and I spoke to the girls, sharing the Word of God. We were thanked for returning and the contributions we had made to the school. They presented us with bilums, made the traditional way by the girls. Following a tour of the school, we were invited to lunch, prepared by the girls.

What a joy to see the school still training girls and working towards developing a three-year program. We were humbled by the welcome and the love shown to us. We would not have wanted to miss such an experience. It was a “God moment”!

Wherever we went, people were so friendly and welcoming. The people of ELC PNG remember the work of the missionaries with grateful hearts, and asked us to tell former missionaries to come to see them! They love to hear stories of the missionaries – this history has become important to them.

The work of women in the church impressed us most. While in Lae, we spoke with leading women of ELC PNG. These women are Co-ordinators in Women’s Work, Stewardship and Socio-Economics. Their vision and commitment to make a difference in the lives of others touched our hearts.

In Madang, too, we were encouraged by the work of the School of Nursing, where women have taken up the challenges in health. A group of women in Madang have taken the initiative to set up a Women’s Health Facility. This will enable women to have tests (such as mammograms, currently only available in Port Moresby), as well as educate them in female health issues.

To return after 40 years, we saw changes in PNG – some not so good, but many that were pleasing. Security is a major change, but at no time did we have any difficulties. We were always accompanied, and cared for, by New Guineans. It was indeed a great experience for us all and we were truly blessed. Thanks to our Heavenly Father for His protection and for the joy of being with our PNG sisters and brothers.

This story was also published in the June 2011 edition of Border Crossings, the magazine of LCA International Mission.

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