Sunday, July 29, 2012

Last Time

Two little words (last time) kept cropping up in our conversation as we headed to church that Sunday.   Last time to worship with the believers at  Eastern Gate Baptist Church   in Papua New Guinea.  Since 2004 we had called this our  church.  They actually called it Machine Gun Beach Church for there is an old machine gun right across the street right on the ocean left over from World War II.  

It was to be our "last time" with the believers and I was struggling.   Not only do I not like goodbye's but I could come up with several reasons not to go.

1. too steamy hot... 
 2. ants would be crawling all over me...
 3. usually only understand half of what the preacher says…
 4. tired from the week of packing and cleaning in the heat... 

I could go on with more reason but that’s enough to express  a heart not in a thankful mood.    We parked in the pastor yard which also housed the small church with gravel floor, thatch half walls around it.  I looked for the pot of meat I had cooked early that morning for the pot a flash I could see it sitting on our porch step where I left it as I ran back in the house to get something I forgot.  So now we have come to the pot luck empty handed.   

Oh no, add another reason…number five..shame..for not wanting to go to church.  But I put on my happy face, shook people hands, talked a little, finally went to the women side of church, my husband to the men side as they gathered for a last time service with us.  Then the singing without any instruments started and God begin to work in my anxious heart and I could not stop the tears from flowing out.  Song after song I thought my heart would burst from emotion.  It dawned on me….they really were going to miss us and  I was going to miss them, these dark skinned believers who lift their voices every Sunday to the Lord.   This was the last time we would sit in this little church across the sea.  Soon we would be heading home for a stateside ministry probably never to return. 

Recently I  was cleaning up some old drafts and came across the above and  thought I would finish this one even though I started it Sept 2011 and  it is now July 2012.  Memories flood my heart  as  I  recall those dear saints of God attending the little church there in Papua New Guinea.  Our first Sunday there was quite an eye opener. Their needs are so easy to see, more comfortable seating,, concrete or wood floor, fans to circulate the hot humid air, teaching material, an office for the pastor and their list could go for while.   Yet I never heard folks sing with such passion. You know they did not even have enough silver wear or plates at their pot lucks to give as soon as one got through eating their fork or spoon and plate  would be wash and handed to someone in need.  They were insistent we always have the first turn with a fork.  As we ate that last Sunday I just kept thinking, this will be the last time we will share a meal with them.

Now we worship in a church with  air con, comfortable chairs, carpeted floors and an abundance of silver wear among other things.  Sometimes it's hard to hear the words of a song due the loudness of the instruments.  My mind floats back to those hot sweaty Sundays , sharing forks and hearing them  sing Rock Of Ages in four part harmony and knowing their every day struggles to just provide enough food to feed their families.  People ask if we miss our ministry across the sea...YES WE DO...yes we wish we had another life to give...but  we believe God is in the "last times" as well as the  "firsts."

Through the years we've  had lots of first time.  First job, first car,  first and only marriage, first child, a last child and first and only house, .   First time and last time of hearing the gospel before I became of believer.  First overseas ministry in Bolivia, last in Papua New Guniea.  At this writing, first time to live in California...wonder WHERE His last place will be for us...hummm?

Like all believers I wait for the ultimate last time of events to happen in God's time span.  I can think of no better ending to this post then this:
  He came the first time to die; the last time He is coming again to raise the dead.

When He came the first time, they questioned whether He was King; the last  time the world
will know that He is King of kings and Lord of lords.

The first time He wore a crown of thorns; the last  time He will be wearing a crown of glory .

The first time He came in poverty; the last time He is coming in power.

The first time He had an escort of angels; the last time He will come with ten thousands of His saints.

The first time He came in meekness; He is coming again in majesty. 
 (core of message by Adrian Rogers.)

                                 Come on Lord Jesus...for the last time.

This post is linked to Tell Me A Story


  1. I am awaiting for that time too.

    I hang on to it.

    I imagine what it would be like.

    I will be with Him and all the saints and there will be choruses sang in unison. (I will be a sweet voice then, as in this state I am just a gong).

    Yes, Come Jesus for the last time.

    I love how it would be when He will rule on earth for a thousand years. How the last of the Jews will be converted and so on.... peace and prosperity, real life in a garden earth.

  2. Sometimes the simplicity of things makes for a more meaningful time.

  3. There is a last time for everything, thanks for the reminder. The last time will be the last stop for our souls... At home with our Father...

    Thanks for your honesty and heart, it seems to pull the same from us...

  4. I sure am ready for the Last Time!
    Praise God we don't have to fear the returning of Christ.
    I pray the world will all eagerly await His arrival!

  5. Lolita, what a blessing to know across the sea you sit waiting for the very same event to take place. And while you wait you serve Him with all your might and with passion. You encouraged me my sister. Blessings

  6. Bill, my brother you are so right, I find it hard sometimes to find that simplicity here in the states. It's so fast pace and so many are distracted by all the stuff available. When you share plates and utinsils it makes you very thankful for the few that are available. Abundance can breed a lack of thanksgiving for sure. God knows I pray often for Him to convict when I step in that trap of abundance and am not thankful. Blessings my brother.

  7. Floyd...on your post about finding the book. We are unpacking tons of books that have been stored away for years. I notice my husband too was reading old books again...some never lose their value.

    Thanks for the encouragement. Blessings my brother.

  8. TC...honest I wake up every day expecting this could be the day. I am not disappointed but grateful He has given us one more day to tell the lost around us. I know all of us who blog have lost loved ones. I just met my neighbor recently and within a few minutes I realized she was not saved. I am waiting for another opportunity to talk to her. She is very interested in what we have been doing and still doing. Yeah I wish for one more day for those souls but my own soul longs to see Him face to face. Thanks for the encourgement. Blessings

  9. Thanks for stopping at my blog!
    I can picture that last time you had and can almost feel the tears flowing. We could learn so much from those believers, who don't have what we have in physical things, but their faith is so much stronger.

  10. Mari, thanks for hopping over to my site. We served in Bolivia, SA also and found the same thing with the Christians out in the remote tribes...seems the less they had , the more content they were. Could be the abundance we have is a curse instead of a blessing.

  11. Oh my. This is bringing up such fresh memories from only one week ago when we were worshiping the last time with church family in El Salvador. It began raining and we could hardly hear but it didn't slow them down. It's an open-air church, so the rain was blowing in, but everyone just scrunched closer. Tears flowed very heavily from my eyes, wondering if and when I'd see these precious people again this side of heaven. I sure hope.

  12. Lisa, New Tribes has a phrase that speaks the heart of God. "Reach Beyond Your World." Which is exactly what you did along with others, your life will never be the same. I must trust the Lord now to not be judgemental of traditional church service in America. Looking foward to your blog post that tries to describe all you have seen and heard. God bless you for reaching beyond your world. Blessings

  13. To have that kind of hope of what is to come, truly is exciting knowing how faithful and true He is! Glory be to God! I can't imagine the sadness you had upon leaving that special place...Your relationship with them just proved how it would always be the unseen things that have lasting values. God bless.

  14. Thanks Rosel for stopping by. You are so right my sister, it is the small simple little acts of kindness that give value to this life here. I know those sweet generous believers will be rewarded by the King of King in heaven.

  15. This is so moving. You described your time as a missionary so vividly that I could just feel how it must have been to stand there singing with those beautiful people you had come to love. Thanks you for such an inspiring post. It was the first thing I read this morning and I hope its message stays with me today. God bless!

  16. This is so moving. You described your time as a missionary so vividly that I could just feel how it must have been to stand there singing with those beautiful people you had come to love. Thanks you for such an inspiring post. It was the first thing I read this morning and I hope its message stays with me today. God bless!

  17. Oh, courgeous, wise-hearted, Betty...

    I could feel your sorrow at your last worship time with your precious PNG family. My heart ached for you in that moment.

    Every ending has a beginning and so it will be with us when we shed this body suits once and for all. What seems like an end, will only be a new beginning. Hallelujah!

    I love the poem!

    And yes, Come Lord Jesus, come!

  18. Colleen, thank you for your sweet comment. I am so grateful for the seven years God gave us there. It was life changing.

  19. Diane, your heart for mission always encourages me. I believe it's the reason God put us in touch with each other. Blessings my friend.

  20. Dear Betty
    Thank you for taking time to visit my blog, and especially for taking time to leave a comment. I know how it is to visit a blog hurriedly, skimming through the words, half reading, absentmindedly what the blog author had taken time to put together and write, and then leave without saying anything.

    A few times in the past I had done this, until I decided that I would choose only a few blogs to read in a day, read wholeheartedly, and then leave a response. That way I honor the blog author, and actually, I honor God who is the real author of all our life stories.

    Your post brought tears to my eyes. I can just imagine the painful emotions that went through your heart as you sat in that thatched roofed church, for the last time.

    And I can relate with your list of first times and last times.

    Jesus is coming soon. It won't be long... Meanwhile, He holds our lives in His hands!


  21. Lidia...thanks you for kind comments. There are so many good blogs out there and yours is one of them. I have a small core of ones I read daily and from comments left on those I venture out to read more. I too sometimes read to hurriedly and really do not grasp the heart of the shame...for it is our heart that we write from. YOur comment is a good reminder for me this morning to be more careful. Thank you. Blessings.

  22. First and Last times. Changes occure sometimes before we desire them. Contentment even in an air conditioned church. I smile at you leaving your meal contribution at home by accident. Been there done that!

  23. Betty-
    What a gift you have given to anyone that reads this story! You did not paint the surroundings of Mission work to be something beautiful-instead you described everything in its actual light~!

    I believe God has really blessed both of you with this experience, and something tells me there is much more HE has for you to do! Even if its sharing your stories of living, loving, worshiping in a far away land-that only few can really grasp!

    You have gifted so many with this amazing story! My heart is touched. It also gives me the reminder of my Dad telling me about being in New Guinea during WWII...

    He never took the story beyond describing his surroundings, the heat, rain-the worst was something that stayed silent in his heart.

    Thank you Betty. What a rich blessing.


  24. Dear Helen, you so encourage me with your comments. Especially knowing that your Dad served in Papua New Guinea. My step father was in the Navy and he told about going ashore and these naked native came out of the jungles and tried to converse with them. He said they were frighten because of the stories of head hunters which they did do back then. My step father too did not share the worst. I have seen lots of old film from the war, horrible place to fight in. so many died from malaria and denge fever that got them before a bullet could. There are war relic left in the jungles and underneath the ocean for deep sea divers to see.

    Hope this day finds you with some relief from the pain. I am sending a fb message on something I am trying for my fibermyagia. It has helped me greatly. Love you my friend. Blessings

  25. was suppose to read...Dear Martha, not Dear Helen...forgive me my friend...was working on two different things back to back, I bet I called my other friend to check on that...hehe...what can I are dealing with a getting older women here..