Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Is Canceled

Well, shoot. We had big plans for our first Christmas in the tribe.

Our family would spend the morning opening presents under the tree and drinking hot chocolate while we listened to Willy Nelson's "Pretty Paper." (aren't you proud, Mom?) Then we would go outside to have a big meal with the entire village.

It is called a "mumu". The guys of our village go out hunting and bring back pigs, snakes, tree kangaroos, pretty much anything that can be considered meat. The ladies spend the day gathering garden food, and then they bury it all in a big hole in the ground with big hot rocks and let it cook for several hours while we all hang out and just enjoy each other's company.

We were all looking forward to it, but we had to postpone. Why, you ask? Well, think of reasons you may have to postpone your church's Christmas fellowship or potluck. Snow storm? Icy roads? An outbreak of the flu?

Well, none of those are our reasons for the delay. We are postponing because all the village dogs are in heat, so none of the dogs will go hunt, and there will be no meat for the party.

Didn't see that one coming did you? Neither did I. My life is always full of surprises here.

Anyway, we will still have our regular family activities and one day, later this week, we will get together with the believers in our village to celebrate. I don't think Jesus will mind since it isn't His real birthday anyway.

So, to all who read this blog, I hope you have a very Merry Christmas filled with joy, hope, and peace that is uninterrupted by the menstrual cycle of your pets.

With Lots of Holiday Cheer,

The Tribal Wife

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

How To Save A Witch

This past week was a very interesting one in Hewa-land. As I mentioned in my last post, we sit in this nice peaceful village full of believers who love each other and are working together to live life in a way that honors the Lord. But all around us is chaos. Throughout the week we heard rumors of a neighboring village going to war with another tribe, a revenge killing for a murder that happened two years ago, and plans to kill a young mother and her 18 month old son because people accused her of being a witch.

The first two were far away and there was really nothing we could do about them, but the last one came to us from the believers in our village who assured us that this lady's time was up, and if we didn't help get her out soon, she and her son would surely die.

You see there are many women and young girls who have been accused of being witches. When someone young or youngish dies then someone has to be blamed. It wasn't malaria, or cancer, or the infection that the person refused to take medicine for, it was a witch who worked sorcery on you and ate your insides causing you to die. And if a lot of people are dying then the only way to stop it, is to kill the witch.

So how do you get the ugly finger of blame pointed at you? First you typically have to be from a small village that is more remote or out of the way of the other villages, so people don't visit you often. Then if you are shy, quiet or keep to yourself at all then your chances just skyrocketed. No one wants to blame their friends, people they like, or people who give them things.

Finally, someone has to call you out. This happens when a friend or relative says they "heard" the last words of a person and they said your name. Or someone has a dream that tells them you are the witch. Or you just happen to be a sister, brother or child or someone else who has been accused of being a witch. (this is why most children are killed with their mothers, even if they are small babies)

Anyway, this particular young lady named Tiko had actually been accused for a while but because of an increase in sickness and death all around Hewa territory, people decided it was time for her to die. Our coworkers previously made arrangements with another village in PNG where there are missionaries and a strong believing church (remember Mariama, where we did our bush orientation? Well, that is the place!) to send this family to live with them. The believers there agreed to love and protect this precious family. So, some of the leaders of the Hewa church went to Tiko's village to tell them that if they were ready and could come up with the money to fly out, then they would be safe and welcomed in a new place. Even though there were lots of family members arguing and fighting about this, they agreed and hiked back here with the leaders to finalize all the arrangements. They spent three days here getting prepared, and allowing our people to convince Tiko's husband that this was the best decision for his fam
ily. (Her husband's family told him to just let her go, and begged him to stay saying that they would buy him a new wife). In the end he agreed, since the believers in Mariama told him it had to be the whole family or they would not be able to take them in. (a young single woman would have a very hard time making it on her own and the people would have a hard time protecting her) It was strange to sit with this lady, to hold her baby, constantly wondering if they were going to make it out of here alive. There was no way that they (or we) could afford to fly them out on the helicopter, so our only option was for them to hike to the village that has an airstrip and our NTMA pilot would pick them up there. The problem was that the village with the airstrip was full of the very people who were planning to kill her, so our coworker, Jonathan hiked out with them to try to make sure that nothing went wrong while they were trying to get out. All of it was very complicated, but we were truly thankful that we had so
mewhere to send them.

It might not seem like that big of a deal, but after having spent time in both villages, I can tell you that it is a big deal. Tiko and her family will experience culture shock as they do not speak the language of the people there or the national language of Melanesian Pidgin. There are also different beliefs, customs, and foods they will have to get used to as well as different types of houses.

It will also be a challenge for the people of Mariama as they will have a hard time communicating with this family who are not believers and who will probably be suspicious of everything that goes on. But it is amazing to see this church body come together to save a lady and child that they have never met. To see them live out their faith in a way that is not convenient or easy. I hope and pray that this Hewan family will see that all this was only accomplished through Christ Jesus and the love He has for them.

We were all on pins and needles when they hiked out of the safety of this village, and waited anxiously by the radio to hear from our friends in Mariama if they made it or not. It was definitely a 24 hour period of praying without ceasing and during that time the Lord gave me this verse to pray over Tiko:

"Lord, you know the hopes of the helpless. Surely you will hear their cries and comfort them. You will bring justice to the orphans and the oppressed, so mere people can no longer terrify them." Psalm 10:17-18

Honestly, there are days I wonder what I am doing here. I wonder if I will ever be able to learn this language when I am confined in my house, cooking and homeschooling for the better part of my day. I get overwhelmed with all that I am supposed to accomplish here: kids who are well fed, well behaved, and well educated, maintain nice clean house that is a comfortable home to my family and to guests, and learn a tribal language so I can minister to and disciple young believers, and help them to reach the surrounding Hewa villages. I wonder why God didn't give me more hours in the day or at least two more arms for all these plates I am juggling. But this experience taught me that if I do nothing else. I can pray. I am here. I know the people, their names, and situations. And that is saying a lot for these people who are some of the most remote in all of PNG. They are mostly unknown and forgotten. They even have diseases that they rest of the world believes to be
eradicated. But the Lord has brought me here to show me that He has not forgotten them. Even in these mountains blanketed with thick jungle they are not hidden from Him. He brought me here, and I can pray. I can call them by name to the one who knew that name before it was ever on the lips of their mothers and fathers. I can do my best to learn to communicate His love and truths to them, but until that happens (or even if it never does) I can pray.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

House Living

Hey, remember me? I live in the jungle and I write this blog? I know I promised blogs from the bush via email, but that was a dumb promise to make. I expected that our email would just work like it was supposed to, but no. That was a very presumptuous expectation. I will spare you all the boring details, but our email doesn't really work, so we have to use our co-workers computer to email, which makes it difficult for this homeschooling, potty training, language-learning mama to do. This morning I barely made it to the bathroom much less to my coworker's house to write emails (and yes, I did say �potty training��Mia quit going to the potty as soon as the helicopter landed, so now that we are somewhat settled, we are trying again).

Anyway, I think it is going to take me a while to figure out what works with writing out here and what doesn't. There is so much going on and so much I want to say, but most of it really needs a picture and that I can't do. I will save those posts for when we come out to town. Right now I will just try to fill you in a little on what life is like out here in my remote jungle home. My last posts were about house building, but there is a huge difference in building a house when you are not living in it, and then finishing the house while trying to maintain a normal daily existence.

1. There will be bugs. Oh yes, there will be bugs. When we all moved in as a family, I had a working bathroom and kitchen. I had beds, and even a desk to do school with the kids. I had a washing machine and a nice laundry line to hang my clothes. I also had two huge gaping holes in the house on the gable ends. The priority is to get everything functional and then you can close everything up, so it is just you and your family and not you, your family, and one million moths. I actually had to make sure everything was covered while I was cooking because anytime a lid was off a pot for more than a second, three moths would plunge to their deaths in my family's dinner.

2. You are living in a construction zone. There are still cabinets to be made and put up, and lots of other projects that have to be done, so you can stop living out of boxes and suitcases. Those projects get done right inside your house. There is sawdust everywhere. Go ahead and sweep, but know that what you are doing is the equivalent to shoveling snow while it is still snowing. Also, your kids now know every tool ever created and how fast that tool can kill them if they touch it.

3. Your team is gone. It is just your husband trying to finish the house all by himself. So guess who just became his right hand man woman. That's right. You. With your weak upper body strength and lack of spatial skills. You will be frustrated. He will be frustrated. That is all.

4. You are not just here to build a house. Guess what? You're a missionary. You have to interact with people. You can't just finish your house like you want to, and get it over with. You have to make time to build relationships and learn language. This is actually a nice fun break from the construction, but then you have to walk back into your house and be reminded of all that still needs to be done. That is not fun.

5. On top of all this, you are also a mom (if, in fact, you are a mom, if not, ignore this one). You have to feed, clothe, and educate your children. So there may be a day when you are simultaneously calling out spelling words, holding a ladder, stirring a pot full of moths, and incorrectly yelling greetings out your window in the new language you are learning. You may have to stop all this to do some wiping�either of rear ends or walls, but if you have a toddler similar to mine there will be many interruptions no matter how many plates you are juggling.

Ok, there it is. It is crazy, but it is life for our family. There are some mornings I wake up feeling overwhelmed, and a few nights I go to bed totally defeated, but most days are overall pretty amazing.

To live in this tiny hamlet of the Hewa people is sort of like perpetually living in the eye of a hurricane. In full candor, the Hewa are liars, thieves, and murderers by nature. But in this small village tucked between the mountains and the river, live people who no longer live by this sin nature. They have heard and believed the good news of the Gospel and their lives reflect that. We hear the tremendous winds of fighting, sorcery and witch hunting all around us, and sometimes we have to walk into those winds to help out. Other times people come running to this little eye for relief. They have heard that something is different here, and they long for the peace they see in the lives of their relatives.

It is beautiful, but also motivating. We see that this little eye could collapse very easily. That to truly call the Hewa people �reached�, all the Hewa need to hear. Every village, every dialect, every person made and loved by God. It is a giant task, one that we know we are not capable of completing. But He is. And He is allowing us the privilege of a front row seat to watch Him do it.