Joyce Chiles is not new to WGM. She and her husband, Paul, served with WGM many years ago at Tenwek Hospital. Joyce found a natural alignment with what was going on at Tenwek Community Health and Development. Her experience and curiosity to find solutions to whatever problems people faced made her time as a volunteer richly rewarding. On one trip she taught the Africa Gospel Church missionaries who lived in drought prone areas how to dry vegetables on large pieces of thick plastic sheeting covered with mosquito netting. Her teaching is always practical, uses locally available supplies and is served with a measure of humility and scriptural truth. She recently asked if there were opportunities for her to teach again, anywhere in the world. So we took her up on her offer and sent her to one of the remotest countries where WGM serves! Papua New Guinea. Erica Jenkins writes about Joyce’s time in PNG.
It’s not often someone like Joyce Chiles crosses our path. Especially since our path is in the middle of the remote jungles of Papua New Guinea. But Joyce is a bird of another feather.
Her long history of being a world traveler aside, Joyce brought a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table. It was no small added bonus that she remembered Tok Pisin from her time spent in PNG some 30 years ago. Joyce has a heart for the people of underdeveloped and developing nations.
Joyce held nine public health sessions with eight different groups of men and women in the three weeks she was here. Her understanding of and compassion for the basic living challenges facing Papua New Guineans was evident in her teaching. One of the most memorable moments from her sessions was always the parable of the man and the fly. She used the tradition of oral story telling to teach about why it is important to keep flies away. She had a captive audience at every telling.
Joyce was able to use conversation to touch on the preventable health issues locals saw in their community. She showed how to clean a bottle of river water with a drop of bleach. I have seen many women following her example and cleaning the water in this way before giving to their children. She spoke on many ways to treat and prevent common health issues.
Joyce also had opportunities to speak on the relationship between a husband and wife, and conflict resolution in general. These concepts were brand new ideas, and have given the locals much to think about.
Since Joyce’s visit, missionaries have reported seeing the fruits of her labor. One woman learned from Joyce how to make lotion from candles and ashes, and has already sold some of her product. Women have baked banana cake over an open fire and shared this special treat with their family. Her impact has even been seen in simple things like ladies covering their face when they sneeze or cough with the crook of their arm. All changes that lead to a healthier community!
Check out this Prayercast Video on PNG to help guide your prayers for this needy country.
Erica Jenkins serves as the Field Treasurer in Papua New Guinea. She and her husband, Benji, and their four children live the southern highlands of PNG.