Love, Life and Fertility as a result of Natural Family Planning
By John Smith
Australian Lay Missionary - Mendi
Cycles, charts, hormones, love, life and relationships were closely studied by men and women from all over PNG during a week-long course in October. The training course for Natural Family Planning (NFP) teachers was held in Goroka at the Haven Resort form Oct. 8-12. Organised by the National Catholic Family Life Apostolate (NCFLA), the course was the follow up to an earlier course in Port Moresby run by Australian NFP teachers.
Most informed Catholics already know that NFP is 99% effective at allowing couples to avoid pregnancy. However, less well known is that NFP is very effective at helping couples who are having difficulty getting pregnant and can also be used to increase the likelihood of having a boy or a girl. These were just some of the interesting topics of the NFP trainers course.
Participants came from a variety of backgrounds all over Papua New Guinea but mainly from the Highlands. Parish catechists, Diocesan Family Life Coordinators, religious sisters, medical workers, dedicated parishioners and two Seventh-Day Adventist pastors were among the 26 participants. Educational background was no barrier to the course as the Billings Method can be taught even to illiterate people. Some participants had university education level while others had not completed primary school.
The main aim of the course was to enable the participants to understand the fertility cycle of women so that they would be able to teach women and couples how to use this knowledge to plan their families responsibly and either achieve or avoid pregnancy.
Betty, 25, came for the course because as a pastor with the Seventh-Day Adventist Church she wants to be able to help couples to plan their families without using expensive pills that damage the body. She had heard from many people that NFP also strengthens the relationship between husband and wife through greater communication.
Lucy Tomdia, 42, was one of the course instructors and an experienced teacher and user of NFP. She thinks that any couple willing to try NFP will benefit, “It builds relationships – it needs a good relationship to start but then it will build the relationship to be even stronger. In my experience it helps to build intimacy in both a sexual and non-sexual way. It makes the couple fall more deeply in love. It strengthens your communication. Through the cycle of waiting and coming together it is like the joy of a honeymoon every month. The women who use NFP become more open and less shy with their husbands. It brings them closer in all areas. My husband really understands how my body is working, we can speak openly”.
Mrs Tomdia also stated that she thinks any couple would be wise to use NFP instead of contraceptives to plan their family, “God has given us intellect and free will, we need to use them to discipline ourselves. The pill and other chemical contraceptives damage the body and reproductive system of the woman. She also loses her dignity and the man can come to view her as an object who should always be available for sex. Using NFP teaches a couple to treasure each other’s bodies and the marital act.”
Sr Mary Anthida of the NCFLA was the main course organiser and spoke about why she organised the course, “We wanted to update NFP training in PNG, especially for those in the Highlands. We want to establish teams of NFP teachers within each diocese who can work together and support each other. Finally, it was important to provide experience for local women who use the method themselves and have been teaching it to other couples for many years to become trainers of other NFP teachers.”
During the closing Mass at St. Mary’s Church, retired Bishop Henk te Maarssen of Kundiawa handed the Certificates of Attendance to all the participants.
(CBC Communications 20121101 – firstname.lastname@example.org)