Monday, September 30, 2013

Happy Independence Day

"When you look at our country's flag, it may seem like no big deal.  But, if you ever leave this country for any period of time, and then you have the opportunity to see that bird of paradise again, you will cry."  ~guest speaker (translated), PNG Independence Day celebration, 16 September 2013

The tropical sun is still rising in the clear Eastern sky, warming the earth from its overnight slumber.  As I approach the gate, I hear cadence being called.  
Left, right, left …

The whoops of the crowd are evidence of the joy and celebration of the day.  A marching sea of red, yellow, and black ends its parade near a small raised platform.  The crowd rises for the singing of the national anthem.

O, arise all ye sons of this land.  Let us sing of our joy to be free, …

A sea of faces, young and old, black sprinkled with white.  Hundreds of eyes lifted toward the rising flag.

… praising God and rejoicing to be Papua New Guinea!

One by one, individuals stand to read verses of scripture in their tok ples, or mother tongue. Though I do not understand the words, the sound is beautiful ...

... for it is the voice of God speaking to his people in their own languages.

The laughter of children rings out behind me, and a rusty trio of handmade swings screech back and forth while a visiting pastor steps behind the flag-draped music-stand-podium.

Usually political freedom comes at a cost, requires bloodshed, he says in Tok Pisin.  But, 38 years ago PNG was offered freedom as a gift.  Then he suggests that God’s continued blessing on PNG depends not on its natural resources, not on its buildings or development, not on any riches it may claim.

Just like God chose David, out of all the sons of Jesse, for kingship based on the condition of his heart, he says, God’s continued blessing on PNG depends on the hearts of its people.

The child next to me crunches on a cracker as crumbs fall on the woven mat on which he sits.  The breeze picks up, and the leaves overhead rustle with its breath.  A smattering of umbrellas shield people from the increasing heat of the sun.

Traditionally-clad dancers (some clad more than others) take their places.  Several hands alternately tap and pound lizard-skin-covered kundu drums.  

Shell necklaces and anklets rattle with every thumping step.  Traditional grass skirts (and some made of yarn) sway clockwise, then counterclockwise in time with the music.   

Feathered headdresses bob up and down as singers chant in haunting, traditional melodies.

Wena, wena moyo …
Ay oh wye-ee ayah …

1 comment :

We are missionaries serving God and the task of Bible translation by serving the missionary community in Papua New Guinea through Personnel Administration and MK Education. We thank you for your prayers!

For the Bibleless Peoples of the World ...

(Updated 13 April 2013)