Welded together: Queensland and PNG sister schools

Eleven people from the Peace Lutheran Primary School community in Gatton, Queensland, have visited their Papua New Guinean (PNG) sister school, Bemal Lutheran Primary.

John Trappet, a teacher at Peace said, ‘The journey took us out into the remote bush via a very bumpy and dusty route, including an unsealed logging road.

‘When we drove through the village our group quickly began to realise that something special was about to happen. There was a buzz of excitement as villagers appeared from their homes to wave at us.

‘The school is located in the middle of the village, and when we approached the entrance to the school we were deeply humbled to see hundreds of villagers, school students, teachers and other community members assembled to greet us.

‘There was a huge traditional welcome ceremony with much singing, music, dancing, prayer and speeches by the many people who have made our three-year relationship with Bemal Lutheran Primary School so successful. For many of us, this was our first real experience of the amazing Papua New Guinean culture of tradition, loyalty, generosity and an amazingly deep faith in God.’

During the ceremony, Jeffrey Baisen, principal of Bemal Lutheran Primary School, said, ‘Although the weather is quite hot here, there is a breeze blowing, and that is the breeze of our living Lord’.

Over the next four days, the Peace group became a part of the school community, taking part in school assembly, worship and devotions, visiting classrooms, talking formally and informally with students and discussing with Jeffrey and the teachers the problems Bemal is facing.

In his farewell speech Jeffrey said, ‘We have spent many years building a relationship through letters, sending gifts and so forth, but this visit welded us together.’

John said, ‘We made contact with this community in a profound way and everywhere that we went, we were accepted with open arms.

‘We were deeply touched by the generosity of the people and how loyal and appreciative they were to us. Peace Lutheran Primary School is definitely in the hearts of the people of Bemal.’

The group spent the remainder of their time travelling through PNG and visited Lae, Buakap, Busamang and other communities around the Morobe District. They also visited two other schools which are interested in creating partnerships with Australian schools.

‘There is much that we learned through this experience in PNG’, John said. ‘God was definitely a part of our trip, and our group was constantly reminded of his presence during our time there.

‘The children and teachers of Bemal are strong witnesses to God’s love and shared their faith openly with us.’

If your school would like to know more about how they can connect to the mission of God through a LCA International Mission service-learning and ministry partnership, you are invited to phone Erin on (08) 8267 7300 or email erin.kerber@lca.org.au. For more information, go to www.lcamission.org.au/join-gods-mission/service-learning/

Read more stories about school partnerships and school service-learning at www.lcamission.org.au/category/stories/local-partners/schools/