"I have an interesting proposal for you,” said the tour guide, a lithe, dark-skinned Papuan. His group was composed mainly of middle-aged couples from Australia and New Zealand.

“Along this river, deep inland, there’s a little village called Yango Bay,” he said. “It’s not on our itinerary, and there’s nothing very interesting there. But two young people from there, a brother and sister, are studying in university in Jerusalem.” He saw that they were intrigued. “These two young people left their cell phone numbers with our office in Wewak, and they asked for a special favor. They said that if anyone with a satellite phone should ever be in the area of Yango Bay, they would be so appreciative if that person would let their mother talk with them. Their mother has never talked on a telephone in her life. I doubt that she’s ever even seen a telephone. Those students left their number with us quite a while ago, and since then, this is the first tour group we’ve had anywhere near there.”

Papua New Guinea has few paved roads. Getting from one place to another is difficult, if not impossible, and tourists usually limit their itineraries to the coastal regions. Aside from the most stalwart and determined of missionaries, or the occasional frum Jewish magazine correspondents, white men rarely appear in the inland villages.

“Who wants to have a little adventure, go off the beaten path, find the mother of the two students, and let her talk with them?” Thirty hands went up.

“Who wants to continue our itinerary as planned?” Four hands.

The majority ruled. After a few hours of traveling upstream, the tourists climbed out of their motorized canoes. Following their leader, they made their way between the trees and soon reached a small village, where they beheld women washing clothes in a stream, hand-built huts artistically decorated in bold colors, carved wooden masks, neat vegetable gardens, and a lot of smiling people.

The tour guide began asking for Eldy. His Tok Pisin was fluent, but his accent must have seemed foreign to the locals. Still, it was nothing that some hand gestures couldn’t solve. After some minutes of ambling around the village, they came upon a short woman feeding a banana to a toddler.

“Hi,” he greeted her. “Are you Eldy? Joe and Bernadine’s mother?”

“Yesa!” Eldy’s eyes sparkled. Maybe these white people had brought her something from her children. A letter, perhaps. She wouldn’t be able to read it, but surely one of the younger villagers could.

On her way to the hospital for her morning shift, Bernadine got a phone call from her clinical supervisor, Betty. Professor Manor would like to see her in his office as soon as she arrived. Bernadine went straight there, and found Betty waiting for her with the doctor.

“You are Bernadine, yes?”

She nodded.

“We are pleased and impressed with your work performance here in the hospital,” said Professor Manor in polished English. Professorial English, Bernadine thought with a trace of amusement. “We would like to offer you the opportunity to stay with us for another year and train as an operating room nurse, or an ICU nurse. I’ve already spoken with Dr. Jackson, the coordinator of your study program, and arranged things with him. Everything you learn here will be accredited in the United States, and of course it will be recognized in your home country as well. What do you say? Do you accept the offer?” (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 694)