Street cleaning in PNG

IMG_6085 The hymn “Lead me, Lord” is very meaningful as I sit at my desk today and consider my situation. “Lead me, Lord, lead me in Thy righteousness. Make Thy way plain before my face. For it is Thou, Lord, Thou Lord only That makes me dwell in safety.”

Beautiful words and a beautiful tune that captures my agitations today. Living in Lae is not that comfortable although my house is in the best street in town with the Botanical gardens opposite and the Memorial cemetery just up the road. Not many cars go past but there are many lingerers and passers-by either on their own or in groups – walking, shuffling and parading past, day and night. Some even stop at my gate and talk to our Big Bird, the cassowary, too scared to put their fingers through the wires in case he bites them off.

Some people don’t walk on by, they actually stop outside my fence and sit, cavort, argue, fight and make love. When a man threatens and hits his wife, I shout out for him to stop. Some nights are quite unnerving as the sounds of thuds and screams echo through my open louvre windows. There are even threatenings to kill or screechings of “but I love him, not you.” After that can be heard running on the rough road and shouting as a crowd gathers and ‘takes off’ after the trouble makers. The shouting can be heard for a long time as the group swells and moves off into some other unfortunate area of town. Who knows what tragedies occur after these scuffles outside my gate? I often wonder who got hurt or who was murdered.

Today I went outside the gate with my ‘haus-meri’, Ellen. We armed ourselves with plastic bags and proceeded to go through the security gate, walk up and down outside our compound on the roadside and carefully pick up all the rubbish. It was strewn with plastic wrappers and bags, broken glass, bottle tops, ripped cardboard, pieces of newspaper, squashed plastic bottles, styrofoam containers, icrecream wrappers and lots of bits of condoms and their wrappers. It was a horrible task and we did not like it. Groups of surly looking men walked past us and I felt uncomfortable, the only white lady on the street. Who else would be stupid enough to do this? I came home and washed my hands over and over.

But, today I was determined to clean up the mess. I hate rubbish lying around and outside a mission compound is no place for it to be on display. Sometimes I dare to hope that others will see the difference it makes when everything looks tidy and clean but I also know it is not likely. I must continue to do what I can and leave the rest without judgement or anger.

God loves us all and despite our failings and hopelessness, He is still there for us all. He is still there for me with my arrogant and ignorant ways. He will make it right. I am just here to help, to make a small difference in my corner and to shout when God tells me.

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