This department is based on the philosophy of integral human development. Its emphasis is on the youth of today. A major aim of the church is to develop young children about ethics, fairness and justice so that they will grow up to make meaningful contributions towards their communities, province and the country. It is a multi-programmed approach to development, dealing with issues such as spiritual, physical, social, intellectual developments.
Melpa Church invests in David
In 2001 the Melpa Lutheran Church in Papua New Guinea (MLC-PNG) in Western Highlands province decided to support David Ketepa Ulg to do further studies in the United States. David, 32 is from Minimp village in Mt Hagen, Western Highlands. David’s parents were committed members of the MLC, and he and his two brothers and a sister were raised under strong Christian principles taught by their parents. David completed primary and secondary education in his home province and in 1992 was selected to attend Balob Teachers College in Lae, Morobe province where he graduated with a Diploma in Teaching in 1994. He taught for six years. In 2000 he decided to become more involved with church activities, committing himself to planning, worship, stewardship and preaching.
The church was confident that sending him for studies overseas would equip him with new skills and knowledge that would benefit the church in future.
The MLC recommended David for a scholarship in the US to the German Lutheran churches in Hannover, Germany.
The trip was made possible in Aug 2001 with all expenses for the first four years of his study at Waldorf College in Forest City, Iowa, USA to be paid by these churches in Germany.
David’s graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Financial Management in 2005 from the college.
He currently is living and working in Savannah, Georgia, US and working part-time as a financial analyst as well as taking classes for his Masters in Business Management (MBA).
Describing the experience of living in one of the world’s wealthiest countries, David said all material things that one needs is here.
“The US economy works 24-hours a day seven-days a week. The only hard work is putting the food into your mouth but everything else; you can sit in your room using the computer.
“Technology plays a vital role here and people sit back using the comforts of the internet.” His main problem is being homesick. “I miss my family, friends, and PNG dishes and of course my sweet home Mount Hagen – as they always say home is where your heart is!” David is thankful that there is a programme for international students known as the “host family”. Through this programme the college arranged with the Dyste family to take David into their family. His host dad Pastor Jerry Dyste is a retired pastor in the Lutheran Church. His wife, Sonja, retired in 2004 as a librarian from the Waldorf College. He described the Dystes as caring and loving people who provided the best for him. The couple have two children, James, 38, Melanie, 45 and three grand children. “They came and picked me up for places to visit, invited me for dinner, took me out to church, and provided accommodation for me during the long school holidays. “They helped me financially too for my books, personal expenses and other stuff that I needed during the course of my studies.” He recalled some of the best times with the Dystes were during Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving Day. “The very fun part comes during Thanksgiving Day – where we cook huge turkeys and all kinds of food to celebrate this with all other family members, their children and grand children. “During this time, we have many games to play and lots of stories to tell and of course, I do more storytelling for them about how life is like in PNG which they are so interested in hearing.” Other activities David is involved in include the Toastmasters meeting to learn public speaking and English improvement skills, the men’s choir at the Evangelical Lutheran church of Ascension, and teaching at Sunday school. David attributes his success to God and people at the MLC that worked to make this dream come true. “After living, working and studying here for seven years, I have broadened my knowledge and acquired a lot of skills that I think I can utilize within the MLC. He thanked his family and friends for their support and prayers. To the young men and women who want to continue further studies, his advice is “to look beyond the horizon for opportunities to enhance your knowledge and skills”. Education, he says does not end when one is considered a dropout or when working for a living. “Always have hope and tell yourself that you can do it but most importantly, have constant relationship with God and show Him what you need and like to do in life. He will show you awesome and marvelous things and take you to places where you knew nothing about.”