I am an Australian working in Papua New Guinea (PNG) in Bible translation and linguistics. Before I moved here I worked on traditional sailing ships doing sail training, and shared life with friends through our variation on intentional Christian community living.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinion of any of the organisations mentioned.
Saturday, 26 May 2012
Life in an NGO is full of arrivals and departures, particularly
when based at a regional centre. Teams coming and going to the village stop
here for a few days to pack and prepare or to rest and recover. Workshops with
all their participants and staff make a bigger and longer arrival. I myself
have gone on one village trip already and have two more planned in the coming
Arriving for dinner in style
Among all this coming and going, the people who hold the
place together are the centre managers and staff. They welcome people, prepare
rooms, look after the property, sign the cheques and generally keep the place
running. Yesterday we farewelled the centre manager and his family. When you farewell
the glue of a place like this, there is much sadness. They are returning to the
USA and taking up a new role with The Seed Company.
Staff serving extra guests first
On Thursday evening we had a farewell dinner. They had asked
for a simple farewell, but I’m not sure such a thing exists here. The VITAL
participants made flower necklaces for the family and lead them in a procession
of drumming and dancing to the dining hall. After dinner there were speeches,
gifts and more musical items. The next morning people lined the driveway in a
final farewell as they left for the airport. I admit to skipping the final
farewell, as it reminded me too much of leaving Perth at 15, with most of the
congregation plus my sister on the train platform waving goodbye. Many tears
were shed then too.
How to deal well with all these comings and goings is a
challenge that may take me some time to work out. I want to be able to be both
welcoming to new people, even if they are passing through, and able to express
grief with those leaving. I can see that a form of compassion fatigue could
easily occur and neither welcomes nor farewells be given much notice. Yet
another challenge of life here!