Capture the Story with Pat Tucker

My Missionary Journey: From New Zealand to Papua New Guinea

Hello, my name is Pat Tucker. I was a missionary in the Western Province of Papua New Guinea from 1985 to 1994. I embarked on this journey with my husband, Graham, who served as the surgeon superintendent of the hospital and the nursing school. I managed the dental department, leveraging my two years of training as a school dental nurse. Given the lack of dental training, this was a significant challenge. I treated students from ten primary schools and numerous adults in the dental room.

My Spiritual Journey

I became a Christian at the age of five and was baptized at nineteen, marking a pivotal moment in my spiritual life. Shortly after, I watched a film by the Leprosy Mission and felt a call to serve overseas. Graham, who had proposed to me, shared his dedication to overseas service. He asked me to marry him, emphasizing that our life together would be in a mission setting.

Preparing for the Mission Field

As we prepared to leave New Zealand, our church pledged their support. Remarkably, on a Sunday night, the support we received exceeded our expectations, reaffirming our belief that God was in control.

Trials and Triumphs in the Mission Field

While serving in Papua New Guinea, Graham fell seriously ill, suffering from pressure in his brain that left him wheelchair-bound and incontinent at times. We traveled to Melbourne for medical help, where a specialist performed a successful third ventriculostomy. Graham, who had been given three weeks to live, walked out of the hospital three days after the surgery. This miraculous recovery extended his life by 23 years, allowing him to continue his ministry.

Challenges of Isolation and Overwork

Living in Papua New Guinea brought challenges, including isolation and communication difficulties. Graham was overworked, performing surgeries at three hospitals without much-needed breaks. We lacked a reliable phone connection for most of our time there, relying on letters for communication. Celebrations and special occasions were simple, often limited to what the local store offered.

Experiences of Danger and Divine Protection

We faced danger, including a break-in shortly after our arrival. One night, an intruder entered our house, but fortunately, he was scared away before causing harm. Another time, in Mount Hagen, a young local man warned me about a planned theft, allowing me to seek safety. Graham often played the role of peacemaker, dealing with conflicts involving weapons and ensuring everyone's safety.

Reflecting on Our Mission Work

Graham and I were in our early fifties when we went to Papua New Guinea, leaving our grown children behind. Despite the distance, we didn't want to impose our decision on them. Graham's experience and skills were crucial in his role, from fixing generators to performing surgeries.

Scripture and Inspiration

A verse that sustained me through tough times was Isaiah 40:31: "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint." This verse inspired a song that I would sing and dance to during my walks, reinforcing my faith and resilience.

Continuing Our Ministry

Back in New Zealand, I served as the president of the Baptist Mission Fellowship at our church for 22 years. Graham and I continued our ministry, welcoming people from different countries and enriching our lives with diverse friendships. Our involvement with people from Romania, Hungary, and Cambodia deepened our understanding and compassion for those adapting to new cultures.

Final Thoughts

My missionary journey taught me the importance of empathy and trust in the Lord. Facing Graham's deteriorating health and the challenges of adjusting back to life in New Zealand were tough, but our faith and the support of friends and family helped us through. Our work wasn't about our professions but about who we were and how we lived out our faith. This journey has been a testament to God's love and the strength we found in Him.


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