My final days in Papua New Guinea were hectic, exciting and sad all at the same time. It doesn’t matter if I am in a location for 3 weeks or 3 months, I always get a little anxious when I get close to leaving. It is a weird mix of regretting that I am leaving/excited to see my family and eat soft pretzels 😉
During the last couple of days, I was trying to make sure I didn’t forget any tasks, material or lessons. We had a lot of visitors and a going-away ceremony the night before our departure. The morning we were leaving was full of visits and sweet gifts from everyone in the community. We received beautiful handmade bags and I was even gifted a headhunting arrow (luckily, a replica that they made and not one that actually killed anyone…although they still use animal blood to bind the arrowhead to the shaft…so, really authentic).
When it came time to leave, everyone lined up to shake hands and say goodbye. It was an extremely slow procession as most of the village seemed to be standing along our path to the airstrip. I got really sad during that final hour. Some of the drillers brought their families so I finally got to meet some of their little babies and wives. In that moment, when the plane landed, I did not want to leave. I wanted to stay, continue drilling, and training. Leaving is always tough, but this particular group was such a great team that it made it so much harder to say goodbye. The guys don’t need me anymore. They are very capable drillers and educated in good hygiene practices, but it is fun to drill with them 🙂
I’m not going to talk much about all the flights back, but my stomach is not very strong when it comes to small MAF flights and turbulence. Augh.
I arrived in the States, exhausted, and with a lot of work ahead of me. I had one day to complete a video for my presentation at Coastal Christian on Sunday and a few days after that to complete a longer video for my presentation at Vineland Rotary. The hardest part of my return was the jet-lag. For some reason, I really struggled to adapt and couldn’t sleep at night. I made it through my long presentations with a 24-oz cup of Earl Grey tea and creamer. I had to make a quick recovery because I was leaving the following week for training in Calgary, Canada.
In Calgary, I was trained on various methods of serving as a Water/Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Engineer for Samaritan’s Purse (SP) Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART). The biggest part of the training was on how to respond appropriately and safely to an Ebola outbreak. We had to learn how to put on/work in/safely remove Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and what our role would be as the WASH personnel. It was a really overwhelming and draining week. I learned a lot, but I also learned how much more versatile I need to be to be a reliable DART member.
I got home from Calgary on Saturday afternoon. I presented an update to Calvary Chapel Gloucester County on Sunday and on Tuesday I was called to deploy to the Bahamas for SP DART. I was asked to fly out on Wednesday. A whirlwind for sure! This is what I signed up for though. The reason there is a contract for the International DART staff is that SP expects you to be able to leave in a moments notice. I feel prepared when it comes to what is in my duffle bag, but I am surely nervous about my abilities. As far as I know, I’ll be working on desalination machines to convert the seawater to drinking water (but that could always change). I did that for 6 weeks in Barbuda (Dec 2017/Jan 2018) when I responded after Hurricane Irma. It was really hard, but this time, other WASH people will be there.
Thank you to everyone who prayed for the project in Papua New Guinea. It was a wonderful success and the men continue to drill! They have drilled another well already! Please be praying for the residents and relief workers in the Bahamas. Please pray for me that I have the ability to serve those in need with love and wisdom.
P.S. I’m still managing Hydromissions full-time and most of my work is with manual well drilling. This Disaster Response is under Samaritan’s Purse, which is a side “job” that I’m available for when I’m not on a Hydromissions project.