Volunteer teaching on remote island in PNG

Nicole Graham from Biloela, North East Queensland, has had a desire to serve God as a missionary overseas for as long as she can remember. Having been exposed to this life by her parents, who have been involved in mission work, she felt that God had amply prepared her for this purpose. ‘I want to do more than just live in society, I want to serve Jesus and share his good news’.

Twenty-five year old Nicole has a Bachelor of Arts in Learning Management and felt that her skills could be utilised by the Lord somewhere in the world, and that she could truly be of service. She prayed, talked to family and friends involved in mission, read the bible, filled out all the paperwork, attended a short-term mission training course and listened desperately for something from God. She was ready to offer her skills, but she wanted guidance as to where and how. Frustratingly, she heard nothing – for a while.

Nicole visited the Lutheran Church of Australia’s Glenice Hartwich, in Archer Street, North Adelaide. Global connections are the speciality of the LCA. They are the door openers or conduits between volunteers and those seeking volunteer help. With many church partnerships particularly in Papua New Guinea and South East Asia, and countless other connections through schools, churches, missionaries and evangelists, they offer guidance and assistance in all volunteer matters.

Over a period of time, Glenice had been encouraging Nicole via telephone. But now, at the Adelaide office, Nicole was anxious; ‘I’ve done everything you told me to … and still nothing from God’. Not long after she’d left the office, Glenice took a phone call. It was an urgent request for a home school teacher on Karkar Island, Papua New Guinea (PNG) – ‘ teacher as soon as possible please’ – and with Nicole’s plea still fresh in her ears, she knew just what to do.

For Nicole, things happened quickly, ‘I have no doubt that was God’s will’, she said. She went to PNG for a year at the start of 2011, primarily to teach the daughter of a doctor from Madagascar who was working with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in PNG (ELCPNG). She also taught children of the German missionary doctors and local hospital staff, at nearby Gaubin Hospital.

‘I taught English, Maths, Social Sciences and Science. Just the usual’, she said, ‘but the rewards far outweighed the challenges of living in PNG though’. Sure she had to manage her life around an extremely unstable electricity and water supply, had to lean out of a second storey hospital window to get telephone coverage (on a good day), was restricted in dietary choices  – causing unnatural broccoli cravings – and had minimal resources for the children to work with. But, on the up side, they all swam together after school, they played, had sleepovers, meals and shopping trips together.

‘I didn’t go there to experience another culture, I wasn’t seeking adventure – I wanted to serve the Lord and offer my skills’. However, Nicole did experience another culture and was delighted in learning a different way of life and a new language too.  ‘My time on Karkar opened my eyes to the world and different cultures. It challenged my faith as well and helped me to realize what was important to me as a Christian … reinforcing the importance of the relationships between myself, God and other Christians’, said Nicole.

If you would like to consider the opportunity to serve as a volunteer in mission, serving in practical ways, teaching English, teaching in the seminaries and institutions of our partner churches, or in local churches, you are invited to phone Nevin on (08) 8267 7300 or email nevin.nitschke@lca.org.au. For more information, go to http://www.lcamission.org.au/join-gods-mission/volunteer/

Read more stories about volunteering at www.lcamission.org.au/category/join-gods-mission/volunteers/