Following a visit to Scarborough in 2012 from UnitingWorld representative Lee-Anne Burnett, the Scarborough and Waterman’s Bay Congregations agreed to sponsor a student from the Indonesian province of Papua to be a part of a group of students undertaking a three-month intensive English language course in Perth early in 2013. A good grasp of English enhances the employment prospects for Papuans.
As we had visited Papua in 1995, Jan and I offered to host one of the students. With mild anxiety as this would be a new experience for us, we met Ditrich Rumburoisi early in March 2013 when he arrived with the other students.
We soon discovered Ditrich’s warm and engaging personality as we began to know each other. Ditrich, who is studying to be a minister, quickly became a part of the two congregations’ life. Learning was a twoway experience. Personally, having Ditrich stay with us was a rewarding and enriching experience: we soon ‘gelled’ as he embraced many new experiences. Ditrich quickly became a part of our household. Many were the conversations about theological issues. There were also conversations about such things as his family life, being Papuan, as well as all manner of questions posed to us.
As the time approached for Ditrich to leave us I began to realise something had changed. I thought we were having a house guest, yet somehow we seemed to gain another son.When the time came for Ditrich to return home our family insisted we have a special time together to say goodbye. There were moving farewells at church on Ditrich’s last Sunday and at the airport two days later. The experience lives on for us and now we receive emails proudly signed “your black son.” Such was the impression Ditrich made on all whom he met, the Church Council agreed to explore a partnership arrangement in some way with the GKI in Papua. This exploration is ongoing and we are looking forward to the possibility of visiting Papua in June.