Amid the noise of high pitched squealing, a woman carried a large bag into the church and placed it at the altar. I was surprised to see the bag begin to roll around on the floor. My neighbor leaned over and whispered in my ear, “liklik pik (little pig)”. It was Thanksgiving Sunday at this small bush church. Thanksgiving Sunday is a yearly tradition of bringing offerings of praise to God. Some people give money, others give whatever they have: garden fruits and vegetables, chickens, and even pigs. The offerings go to the support the local church as well as the district level church ministry.
On this particular Sunday, I was visiting Kopsip Church with Gabriel and Emelyn, my language tutor. Emelyn has become a dear friend and we enjoy visiting on weekends as she continues to teach me more about the Kudjip area.
In the past 2 months, I have visited several different churches in PNG and they vary as much as the villages and towns where they are located. This week, we trekked 3 miles on foot up a mountain to Kusin Church. On the way, we marveled at the beauty of these mountains, dotted with gardens and the gorgeous purple May flower which is currently in bloom. Maria, one of the local staff at the hospital, had invited Sheena (our dentist), Julia (a visiting PA), and myself to her home church.
Although the small building looked plain on the outside, inside it was elaborately decorated with flowers and filled with the joy of the congregation as they welcomed visitors to their church. Worship was a mix of English, Tok Pisin and Tok Ples (local language) songs led by a single guitarist. The simplicity accentuated the heartfelt praise and the emphasis on giving glory to God.
One of my favorite parts of the worship service here is the testimony time. Anyone can stand up and publically praise God for what He is doing in their life. It is so encouraging to hear how God is working in the lives of the people. Every testimony begins with “Mi laik tok tenkyu long Bikpela…” which means, “I want to say thank you to God…” I realized that I have much to thank God for. I thank him for calling me to come to PNG. I thank him for the work of the hospital and all that I am learning from my mentors. I thank him for all the lovely Papua New Guinean friends that he has blessed me with and for this opportunity to honor and praise Him together.
Although I don’t have a chicken or a pig to bring, I will offer what I do have: the talents and skills he has given me—and my very life—I lay down at His altar and tok tenkyu.