To Sabbath School teachers: This story is for Sabbath, October 8.
’m homesick!” Evangeline said, flopping down on her bed as sweat beaded up on her face and back. “It’s so hot! I can’t get cooled down for anything.”
The 10-year-old American girl felt out of place in this new and strange land. She and her family had just arrived in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea’s capital. They were preparing to work as missionaries in a remote outpost in Papua New Guinea’s Western Province.
“Mama, can we please go home?” Evangeline said, almost bursting into tears. “I miss Grandma and all my friends. I don’t have any friends here.”
“I’m so sorry, honey,” Mother said, handing the girl a cool rag to wipe her sweaty face. “I know that it feels strange to be in this new country. It’s hard to be so far away from all your family and friends. But I’m sure that God has new friends and family for you here in PNG.”
PNG stands for Papua New Guinea. Everyone says PNG because it is easier to say than Papua New Guinea.
It all sounded good as Evangeline listened to Mother talk. But it didn’t help that feeling inside, that feeling of being an oddball, of not belonging in PNG.
The next day was busy. The family went into town together to buy supplies. The place where they would be living as missionaries did not have shops where they could buy groceries whenever they needed them. So, they had a lot of shopping to do. Mother had a long, long list of things to buy — enough supplies to last for four months!
“Evangeline, can you please organize these cans of food? We need to put them neatly in the shopping cart,” Mother said.
“OK, Mama,” she said. “I’d be happy to!”
She enjoyed making all the cans, boxes, and small packets look nice and neat.
A few weeks later, the feelings of homesickness were not quite so strong. The family made an exciting boat trip to their mission outpost and moved into their new home. The land of the Gogodala people in Papua New Guinea’s Western Province was proving to be a very interesting place to live.
“Evangeline, Nato is out front playing games with some of the other girls,” Mother said. Nato was a young Gogodala girl who lived nearby. “You should go out and play with them,” Mother said.
“But Mama, they stare at me, and I can’t understand them,” Evangeline said.
“I understand, sweetheart, but the more time you spend with them, the better you will get to know each other,” Mother said.
“OK, I’ll give it a try,” Evangeline said.
Day after day, as Evangeline went out to watch the children play, she got more and more comfortable around them.
On a Friday evening, as the missionary family was welcoming the Sabbath, Father asked Evangeline and her brother and sister what they were thankful for.
Evangeline thought for a moment. Then she said with a big smile, “I’m thankful that I’m starting to feel more like a real PNG person.”
Yes, there would be many more adjustments to make, but Papua New Guinea was starting to feel like home.
Thank you for your Sabbath School mission offering that helps spread the gospel in Papua New Guinea and around the world.