Here in the Highlands

Burning Field    Smoke hangs heavy on the hills around Ukarumpa. Locals burning the dry grass, partly to clear for planting, but also to get the attention of the spirits they worship, pleading in flames and embers for much-needed rain.

Dust lays thick on everything, inside the house and out. It billows from the gravel roads, blurring the eyes and choking the lungs.

There are whispers of drought. Water tanks are running dangerously low. People are borrowing jugs from neighbors who have some to spare, relying on kindness to be able to wash dishes, to cook, to quench thirst.

The rainy season is coming, they say. It couldn’t be here soon enough.

The hillsides burn on, a deadly and silent cry for help to spirits who neither hear nor care.

And then it starts.

One drop, two, twenty, and then a torrent on the tin roofs all over this valley. It rains through the night and into the next chilly morning. God’s liquid goodness, putting out fires and calming dusty roads, washing the highlands until everything is crystal blue and green and breathtaking.

The Creator of these hills isn’t worried about imposters getting the glory for the gifts he gives. He has heard the cries of those who are his own, and he pours out grace in a tin roof symphony. He sings a love song to those who know him and whispers through the rain to those who don’t, “Taste and see that the LORD is good.”

There is so much raw beauty here in Papua New Guinea, and darkness too. They are mixed together in ways I can’t wrap my mind around, ways that leave me laughing and hanging on for dear life all at once. I do not understand, and I probably won’t. But I do know what I need to know.

    That God is good, and he is here.

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