By Hunter Miller, Features Editor

Elijah Friedeman, senior, spent seven weeks in the Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea with World Gospel Mission.

 

What was a typical day like?

I was involved with a Bible recording project, so I spent most of my days working on that. I would wake up around 8 a.m., start recording [at] 9 a.m. and would record until 3 p.m., with a short break for lunch. In the afternoon I would take a several mile hike through villages, interacting with people along the way. Often I would play basketball or rugby with some of the young men in the late afternoon.

What was the most difficult aspect of being overseas?

The lack of community was hard. For most of my trip, I was the only person in the area who couldn’t speak the language. I was also one of only three white people around, so I was a constant spectacle everywhere I went. Because of the language barrier, I could only talk with people my age on a surface level. Between the communication barrier and vastly different backgrounds, I struggled to find significant points of connection during my trip.

What was your favorite moment of the whole trip?

We traveled to a waterfall one day. The scene was picture perfect. Walls of rock covered in vegetation formed a natural basin filled with the water from a thunderous waterfall. I remember walking up the river and coming into sight of the waterfall and being overcome by the majesty of a God who created this scene and this world.

What was one of the instances that tested your faith the most?

I don’t think any one moment tested my faith. I was challenged the most by seeing a culture so vast ly different than my own, that I had to reevaluate what comprises the Gospel and how Christianity should be expressed in different cultures.

What did you learn through your internship that you think you couldn’t have learned by staying in the States?

The tribal culture that I was living in was more like the Old Testament than 21st-century America. I was challenged and frustrated at times by cultural norms and perspectives. Because of my experience, I am able to better assess and critique my own culture, sifting through the good and the bad, in order to find what truly aligns with the Gospel.

If you could pick a verse to sum up your experience, what would it be?

“In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!” Colossians 3:11.