Time is a funny thing in the tribe. Our Hewa friends are pretty relaxed about it, and that usually makes us a little more relaxed. Most of the time I don't even know what day it is. But we are a family from a Western culture where schedules are very important and people who don't show up on time are viewed as flaky, irresponsible, or unreliable.
This village is more community focused, though, where people are more important than time. They do things as a group and if someone doesn't show up on time, then we all just wait a little longer for everyone to make it. We meet as a church on Saturday and Sunday mornings, and the way we know it is "time" for church is by the blowing of two horns (and by horn, I mean a piece of PVC pipe with a plastic bottle that has been cut in half attached to the end).
The first horn is the alert to everyone that we will be having church soon. It gives people time to cook their sweet potatoes in their fire pits and feed their families. The second horn is supposed to mean we are starting, but most of the time after the second horn we wait at least 30 more minutes for everyone to show up. Then when everyone is present and accounted for, the service finally begins. Can you imagine this is a Western church? Not a chance.
Most of the time it doesn't really bother us because after all, this is what we are here for, and I mean what else do we have to do? As a mom of three little ones it can get frustrating if I just wasted all their nice quiet patience just sitting there doing nothing. I mean, I can only keep a two year old sitting quietly for so long. I figured out early on, though, since I can see the church meeting area from my house, I just watch until most of the village is there and then go up with my kids. Like I said before, the inconsistency usually doesn't really bother us, but we have an exciting event coming up and all the uncertainty is a little frustrating.
The church leaders here have been talking for some time about starting the Creation to Christ teaching in our village for those Hewans who have never heard the Gospel or who are unbelievers. They have gone back and forth about when to start this teaching until randomly last week they announced that it would start on Monday. We were very surprised but excited to hear that it was finally going to take place. Then over the weekend we heard that they were going to delay the teaching, but we didn't know why. The latest news we heard was that the pictures needed to illustrate the Bible stories were in another village, so someone must go get them. Right now, we have no idea if the teaching will start tomorrow or not, but either way it would be great to have as many people praying for this huge event as possible.
Several new families have moved into our village and many are unbelievers. Some because they have never had the opportunity to hear the teaching of the Gospel in their own language before, even though missionaries have ministered among the Hewa for many years. The reason for this is because our people are spread out all over the Central Mountain Range and live in many different hamlets, and most of those hamlets are of people who speak different dialects. So, please pray for those hearing the Gospel for the first time. Pray that the Lord will give them understanding of these deep truths and pray that the dialect differences would not hinder that understanding.
There are others here who have heard the Gospel before but rejected it the first time. We have one man in particular who once told the missionaries that he was working for Satan, but now he is practically begging to hear the Good News again. I truly believe that seeing the way the believers live in this village has softened his heart and drawn him to the Lord. The hard work of evangelism, discipleship, and translation by the missionaries before us has left a strong core body of believers among the Hewa and their lives are a huge testimony to the rest of the villages surrounding them.
We are excited to be witnesses to this event, even though our language skills are not strong enough to participate in the teaching. We know that each of the leaders who are teaching have the same Holy Spirit that we do, and are fully capable of this huge task of evangelism. It is thrilling just to come alongside them with prayers and encouragement.
So we ask that you come alongside them as in prayer as well. Even though you may be on the opposite side of the planet you can support these men by going to the Father on their behalf. Their names are Ken, Yanis, Maikol, Kefeson, Faimpat, and Fato (ps- you can find a video of Fato's story on www.ntm.org.)
The teaching may start tomorrow or may start next week, but either way we would love for you to be a part of it through prayer, and I will try to update regularly about what is happening during the teaching, so that you can keep praying all the way through.
These are exciting days for this tribal wife and I feel honored and privileged to be even a small part of the Lord's story of redemption among the Hewa people.