Dr Paul Inglis and his wife Robyn from Dayboro Uniting Church had done plenty of research on what to expect on a YWAM medical outreach in Papua New Guinea, but the adventure was still full of surprises and challenges. Dr Paul Inglis reports.
Things got busy as soon as we joined our daughter Emily, son-in-law Jason, grandsons Hugh and Monty and 100 other volunteers for the sixth YWAM (Youth with a Mission) outreach for 2017.
We didn’t have time to worry about the heat, humidity, trekking up hills and across mangroves and holding on tight in the Falcons and Zodiacs (small motor boats) that took us ashore.
YWAM Medical Ships Australia is headquartered in Townsville. It is a charity focusing on access to health, appropriate food, clean water, shelter and education for the peoples of PNG.
In the six months to June 2017, 19 000 patients were seen, 170 000 healthcare and training services provided and 144 villages were visited by YWAM volunteers.
Our son-in-law Jason had already volunteered for seven months as chief mate and supervised much of the navigating and team movements. With an absence of accurate maritime maps, the crew was reliant on Google Earth and advance parties doing technical studies of the coral reefs between the many islands of Milne Bay Province.
The friendly welcome from villagers belied the reality of the lives of the PNG people. We soon became aware of what World Health Organisation statistics have shown: this nation is in dire straits with serious mortality and disease rates.
When Dayboro Uniting Church commissioned us for this mission, we were sent forth with 200 pairs of glasses, soap, toothpaste, medical supplies, knitted toys and 100 simple model plane kits which the islanders loved.
Volunteers on our outreach came from PNG, Australia, Sweden, Germany, USA, New Zealand, Norway, Denmark, Ireland and England and were assigned to various groupings—medical, dental, optical, community engagement, meal preparation, media, crew and ship maintenance tasks. The team followed strict cultural protocols respecting indigenous values.
People came with diverse faith perspectives, but all had the same agenda as far as responding to Jesus’ call to serve sacrificially and they did this with amazing humility and energy.
It was a privilege to be a part of this important contemporary and practical mission to our neighbours.
For more information visit ywamships.org.au