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Dr. Varney’s Mission Trip with YWAM

Flying home on a 23 hour flight gives one plenty of time to process and reflect. Having spent 2 weeks doing dental missions work on a small ship in Papua New Guinea with 40 college age kids from all over the world and a handful of silver haired adults was an experience that left me with a boatload of mixed feelings as intertwined as a bowl of cooked spaghetti.

  • These were college age KIDS following God’s leading trying to make their small differences in the world before they started “the adult journey of life”.
  • This was a third world COUNTRY struggling to move into a more abundant system yet dealing with the heat, the dust, the poverty and the lack of opportunity that shackles cultures like these.
  • These were simple, ordinary PEOPLE who worked hard but had so very little, and yet so much. I observed that they had TIME, which then actually nurtured some basic enviable values. TIME to wait for what they wanted without frustration. (That sometimes translated to waiting patiently all day in the heat and then coming back the next day to wait again with undemanding patience.) TIME to smile, to talk and to gratefully say thank you. TIME to live in the present rather than continually looking to the future, being content with what they had rather than wishing for what they did not have, and fully embracing whatever little surprise “blessings” the present day happen to bring.

View more pictures from the trip here!

My Feelings:

THE KIDS: Keeping up with their level of energy especially in the third world conditions exhausted my old body but reenergized my soul, sweeping away the cobwebs that settle in ones mind with age. Being with them decentered me and put more life and light into my heart again. They restored my faith in the younger generation even on the global level. I am no longer cynical and fearful about the future of this world. We can confidently pass the baton and not look back. They will do just great, meeting their world’s challenges their way, probably making the world more better than we did.

THE COUNTRY: My heart cries out in frustration, futilely feeling that I could have done more, if only, I did…….. I am reminded of the last scenes of Schindler’s List where he recounts the things he could have still given up in order to save more lives. Yet my mind is reminded of the Bible verse that says “The poor will be with you always.” How do I reconcile the poverty of these people with the abundance that my adopted country has provided me.

THE PEOPLE: The soft spirited, always smiling people, whose faces reflect peaceful contentment that is foreign to my western mind and spirit. They have so little compared to me, and yet I have so little compared to them when it come to emotional wealth and contentment…….So many lessons to take away in my heart.

AND yes, a PERSONAL NOTE: there is the challenging feeling of “Chosen” and “Why me, God?” I was an immigrant many years ago escaping the Ukraine as a baby in WWII. I can quickly slip into painfully identifying with these people and their poverty. It was my childhood. Even with years passing and America allowing me to achieve a life style I never dreamed possible, my heart can still unexpectedly flash back to the vivid feelings of that little peasant immigrant girl of long ago, reminding me of my amazing life’s journey.

Why was I brought to America at a time when it truly was a land of opportunity? Why was I allowed the privilege to work hard in a land where my hard work could achieve great fruit? Why me, and not this woman who is my age yet looks more like my mother, whose soft wrinkles on her face carry an untold story of hardship and labor, whose teeth I am pulling just to get her out of pain? Yes, why me, Lord? I will never know, but I am grateful.

The Organization Behind My Mission Adventure

YWAM Ships Kona, HI, is part of the worldwide Christian movement, YWAM (Youth With A Mission) offering global opportunities for volunteers (mostly young people) to serve individuals and communities with:

  • Access to quality health care
  • Food, clean drinking water, and shelter
  • Opportunity for education
  • Expression of culture, arts, and entertainment
  • Healthy relationships
  • Exposure to Christian faith and values

In addition to Papua New Guinea, we have ships operating in Panama and Micronesia. There are many opportunities to serve.

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