Missionaries Jason and Shannon Swanson, who ministered among the Siawi people for many years, have now assumed responsibility for another ministry in Papua New Guinea.
They will visit the Siawis several times a year to help the elders mature in their leadership roles. As they leave the familiar Siawi culture and learn the cultural norms for the new area where they will minister they are experiencing many conflicting emotions.
“How do you wrap up 13 years of living among the Siawi people?” wrote Jason. “One last walk on the airstrip? One last hike through the village? One last journey, as a family, to our favourite water hole? One last delicious Siawi banana or papaya? Or maybe I should take down the two by four that has our children’s height marks on it dating all the way back to 1999 when we first moved in?”
Jason and Shannon tried to take pictures of each Siawi family so that they could better remember them. As they built relationships, learned culture and language, the bond of love grew strong.
The Siawi church is now beginning to function on its own and the need of missionary guidance is less critical. But to Jason and Shannon, leaving meant an end to many things.
“No more cooking popcorn and giving it to the women raking the airstrip in the hot tropical sun, no more watching our kids play soccer on the airstrip with Siawi children, no more helping them fix their skirts or tape up a hole in the plastic dish they make sago pudding in, no more exchanging bananas for salt or watching them walk up the airstrip carrying firewood over their heads, fish strung up on jungle vines over their shoulder or a large boar carried by two men using a large stick between them, no more sitting on our front porch talking about a certain Bible lesson or more going up to the village on Sundays for Church. No, these days are now going to be behind us.”
Pray for Jason and Shannon as they move from the village where they have lived for many years and tackle a new ministry while still keeping a semi-active role in the Siawi church.