Laurens Ikinia: Trash cans and study, a short story of Papuan prayer and hope

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Cans collecting
Can collecting in Papua ... saving and paying for education needs in Papua. Image: Laurens Ikinia

COMMENT: By Laurens Ikinia

The above photo is an image of how I grew up in Papua.

But before I share my story, I would like to extend my warm greetings to my fellow brothers and sisters who were on the day that I wrote this piece commemorating the 166th anniversary of evangelism in the Land of Papua.

As a fruit of evangelism, my parents had committed to be Christians and until now they still practise Christian lives.

My mom, who is the role model of my faith, has become a central part of my life. And I believe so do other people.

The following is a short story of faith which was accompanied by deeds that came true.

When I was studying in elementary school from grade 3 to 6 and in middle school from grade 7 to 9, I used to collect aluminium cans and sell them to a workshop so that I was able to buy a book, pencil, pen, and other school stationery.

For a 20 kg rice sack, I earned 5 cents. If I was lucky on the day, I sometimes collected 2 sacks in one day.

Needed new textbooks
I did this job when I needed a new book or to buy a textbook from school and sometimes to help my mom buy detergent to wash our laundry and dishes.

I normally started collecting the cans from the afternoon around 1 pm to 4 pm. I did this two or three times a week.

Sometimes I took my younger brother with me.

If I went with him, I bought him noodles and candies. Otherwise, he would cry and demand that I buy him candies, noodles or cakes.

As an older brother, I had to indulge his wishes and I always did.

That’s why sometimes I could not buy what I needed from a day’s earning. So, I normally saved left over money in my piggy bank.

I asked my mom to keep it. I had to do that to be able to buy a NZ$1 exercise book or NZ$5 textbook from school.

Hard-working out on the farm
My mom was and is a hard-working woman, so from morning to afternoon she was and is always out on the farm – traditional Papuan garden. Because she was so busy, she always asked me to look after my younger brother after school.

And my mom always prepared steamed sweet potatoes – sometimes small (just as big as a handful) and sometimes bigger than that, which was enough to still our stomach.

We are so fortunate that she always prepared something for lunch. My younger brother would always wait for me to come home and have lunch together.

My mom worked extremely hard herself as our dad was a chief and lived with his first wife. My dad thought that my mom’s children would not be successful in the future, so he paid more attention to his first wife and our older step-sister.

Long story short, we were and are so grateful to have a great uncle, my mom’s older brother who always treated us like his own children.

Due to my dad’s careless behaviour, my uncle took us in and raised us in his family. That’s why, when I was with my mom, she always advised me to work hard and never rely on other people and never forget to have some time for prayer.

She always encouraged us to go to Sunday school every Sunday morning. In my university studies, she always asks me to study hard and seriously.

Guiding your future
She always said that “Mom never went to school, but I have faith that when you study and pray, God will open many ways for you to be successful in the future.

“My prayers and hope will always guide you.”

My mom’s advice always became my inspiration to study; that’s why in middle school and high school I was always in the top 1 to 4 in the class.

In commemorating the 166th anniversary of the evangelism in the Land of Papua, let’s have faith and hope that the true mission laid by the missionaries (Carl Wilhelm Ottow and Johann Gottlob Geissler) as a foundation of the direction of our lives becomes our strength in viewing Papua as a land full of hope for future generations.

Waaa waaa waaa!

Laurens Ikinia is a Papuan Masters in Communication Studies student at Auckland University of Technology who has been studying journalism. He contributes to Asia Pacific Report. The article was first published on Ikinia’s social media blog.

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