This week I attended all the night meetings at the festival of mission at the Watson Park Camp grounds... it was absolutely AWESOME!! I loved it so much that now that its over, Im suffering a bit of a let down!
but anyway, on Friday night, I got there nice and early to get a seat in the middle near the front to take a couple of photos. Two Papua New Guinea ladies came and sat in the two spare seats next to me. We exchanged smiles, and sang in praise together. Towards the end of the program, we had communion, and I mentioned that it was cold that night. They both told me that they had been so cold at night all week, that they had swollen legs and feet, and did not sleep well at all due to the cold. I said 'dont they have blankets for you"? and they said that they were only allocated 2 blankets each, and they were woollen. I said "I wish I had known, I would've brought you some from my home, perhaps I could get some for you tonight?" They agreed, and so straight after the meeting, they followed me to the van, and we got in, having a little giggle! What an adventure!
Their names are Cecile, and Rosina, and they told me a little about their homeland, Rosina has 2 girls, and had lost her husband about 5-6 years ago due to a car accident.
When we got to the house, they were going to wait in the car, and I said 'no!! come up and meet my husband, he will make you a hot drink while I get some blankets!' So we giggled again, and came upstairs.
Hubby was a little taken back but quickly understood when I explained how we needed to supply blankets! So while they sipped hot cups of milo, I gathered our winter doona, a feather doona, and 4 woollen blankets and some of the kids blankets too, and bundled them up into one of our suitcases. I said to them, share them with your friends, so that they are not cold too! So off we went back to the camp ground and they guided me to where their tent was. I went inside, and found that they were just living on grass, which made the tent really cold inside, so I got our picnic blanket out of the back and put it down on the floor so that they had something to stand on when they got dressed.
Remember, just because they are from PNG doesnt mean they live in a grass hut, they lived in houses too! So to know someone is cold, is a really uncomfortable thing to suffer!
Cecile said to me, I have a 'meri blouse, and a lap lap back in my tent, we are going to wear ours tommorrow for Sabbath, will you wear it with us?' and of course I said 'really? of course I will, but its not necessary for you to give me anything!' She insisted that she had been waiting to meet someone that week of mission to give this outfit to a friend that she had made. So it was an honour to accept it.
So I drove home, and tried it on in front of hubby and also looked in the mirror... well, I looked like a big Mamma, 9 months pregnant, and very fluffy.
I said 'oh man, this is going to be kinda embarrassing to wear this tommorrow, because I look so big in it, but I said Id do it, so I will. Its important.' I wore normal clothes to Sabbath school the next morning, and said to my friends how embarrassed I was to have to get changed into the outfit for church over at the camp ground. They looked a little embarrassed for me and had a bit of a giggle at how I looked.
I went to the big tent and started to look for my new friends, I could not see them, but what I did notice is that other Islanders were looking at me and smiling!
At first I thought it was because I was holding Eden and they were smiling at how fair she was, some even took photos which I found a little.... not comical, not strange, but 'new'.
Eventually I found my friends, and showed them my new clothes with humble pride which could have been tinted with a little embarrassment, but they did not see that. We exchanged addresses, and phone numbers, emails, and kisses and it was kind of sad that there was only Sabbath to see them. They took their seats inside and I remained outside with the family. And still, the growing realisation of all the Islanders, and there were heaps of them, looking at me and smiling and waving, and saying to me they liked my outfit and I looked nice. Slowly, my western world embarrassment diminished and dissappeared and was replaced with humble pride! So many beautiful dark people recognising me as their friend, because I had befriended one of their own. We were all one! no barriers, no westerner embarrassment, but a growing satfisfaction of belonging to them, and they to me. It is hard to describe - it was such a beautiful lesson, and a beautiful blessing from my beautiful God.