By ZACHERY PER
PIONEER Lutheran Missionary couple Reverend Len Tscharke , 85, and wife Clare Tscharke, 87, may have paid their last visits to two founding Lutheran schools they started in Eastern and Southern Highlands.
“Its in God’s hands,” Rev Tscharke said. “If it is God’s plan for us to come back, we could come back – perhaps in wheel chairs.
“We came to PNG in 1954, stayed at Asaroka Lutheran Mission (Eastern Highlands) for one year and went to Ialibu to start the Ialibu Lutheran Mission in Southern Highlands.
“We came back to Asaroka in 1960 and started the school (today Asaroka Lutheran Secondary), and after spending 12 years we went back to Australia.”
Last month the Tscharkes returned to Asaroka and Ialibu with son Tim Tscharke, and grandchildren Justin Tscharke and Kara Tscharke. Also with them were husband and wife Jim and Judith Tscharke, brother and sister Lynette and David Heinze and Kevin Luke and Rhonda Schiller.
They visited Gama Lutheran Primary School – outside Goroka town – Asaroka Secondary and Ialibu Secondary.
Asaroka and Ialibu secondary schools have produced people now in politics, business and in the public sector. They include Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, Henganofi MP Robert Atiayafa, and University of Goroka Vice-Chancellor Professor Musawe Sinebare.
“God blessed the work at Asaroka and Ialibu very much and we love PNG and the people very much, we came with family members to continue the relationship with the two schools,” Rev Tscharke said.
“We established new partnership with Gama Lutheran School in Goroka that the family members and others can continue to support.”
Rev Tscharke has written books about his time in the PNG highlands. The book about this life and church work in Asaroka is titled, Seed Time in God’s Garden. Another book on his work in Ialibu is titled, The Dawning of a New Day. Sinebare launched the first book in Goroka last month.
Rev Tscharke said a group from Adelaide’s Golden Grove Lutheran Church will visit Asaroka and Ialibu this month to continue the partnership programme.
Under the programme, Gama Lutheran Primary School had its computers in the computer lab networked.
Head Teacher Gibson Sikondowe thanked Rev Tscharke and the team from Golden Grove Lutheran Church in Adelaide for their support to Gama and other schools.
“We have witnessed parents and stakeholders completely re-embracing their schools as a valuable part of their communities, and these have also been upgraded in the PNG education system and are highly respected in their province.”
In 2006, Golden Grove Lutheran Church and primary school began a partnership with the schools in Asaroka and Ialibu.
There are about 5000 students across the three schools in elementary, primary and secondary levels. There have been a number of visits by the Tscharkes and members of Golden Grove Lutheran Church and schools to establish projects that have strengthened the relations between the sister schools and congregations.
By ZACHERY PER