Last week was dominated by outreach preparations, as the first 2 teams left on Thursday evening! We were taught by Jagua (from Papua New Guinea) about the country, the language, culture and useful do's & don'ts! There are more than 850 languages in Papua along with numerous dialects, but the most widely spoken language is Pigeon (a type of broken English).
In addition, we were taught by Ben about how to keep your body healthy under harsh conditions in the tropics. Sometimes it is necessary to create your own shower / toilet because it simply is not there. I am very curious where we all end up!
The first 4 weeks of our outreach we will tour in Hula (PNG). We hope to stay in a different village every week, but where we will sleep will become clear by then. Previously, outreach teams went to different villages to repair broken water taps, for example, but noticed that little had changed with the people themselves when they returned a year later. That is why, after years of experience, they have developed 'CAP training'!
CAP stands for Community Action & Participation. This is an intensive training program that we will be giving to the people there, focusing on discipleship to bring about real heart change. The goal is to make principles that Jesus teaches us applicable in the Bible to the people there. This relates to all kinds of different topics from daily life (health, education, worldview, relationships, education, interactions, etc.). They have noticed over the years that this is bringing about tremendous changes in the villages. In general, the people in PNG are super eager to learn and willing to come to the training and apply their knowledge and pass it on to those around them.
In addition, we will give a lot of 'health promotion'. Many countries view 'healthy' as the absence of disease, while health is actually so much more. The WHO describes health as "a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not just the absence of illness or other physical defects." Health therefore relates to all kinds of facets of society.
As you may know, wildfires are going on in Australia. According to recent figures, 10 million hectares have been burned out, 1,200 houses have been destroyed, 26 people have died and 1.25 billion animals. That is why we fasted Monday evening through Thursday evening (only water and tea) with a group of 6 students. We have gathered many times to pray against these devastations. After all the temptations (such as icing 200 cupcakes in the kitchen) it was great to break the fast on Thursday evening with a delicious Dutch stroopwafel sent by my dear ex-roommate Hannah!
This weekend we went to an outdoor pool, next to the river. Great so many free facilities here in Australia!
Next week we have the last week of classes (about spiritual battle). Sunday, January 26, we will leave for Papua New Guinea, where we will first travel around the country for 4 weeks and then stay on the ship for 2.5 weeks (Medical Ship). From the ship we will enter the country in small boats to provide medical care to the villages along the coast. On March 8 we will fly back to Townsville. I will probably go back to the ship after the DTS ends (March 20) for an extra outreach!