Wednesday, November 25, 2015
I walk in to see my husband already at the computer working hard to gain the ear of those in the government or police force who will listen to our plea for help. He goes back and forth in conversation with a fellow missionary who is trying to help and our co-worker who is in the States. He tries to get as much background on the people and their histories as he can to give the police the most accurate and detailed report possible. Of course, their lives and stories are just a tightly entangled as the thick jungle canopy they live under. He spends all day sorting out people, relatives, past and present events. We both vent to each other (and anyone else who will listen) about our frustrations with this tragic and twisted situation.
The clock strikes four and the other missionary who has been helping us writes John Michael to tell him that he received a call from a Hewa person in town. This person reports that Wanapi (the murderer) has killed Kalefu, a man from our village. My heart falls all the way down my body, lands on my foot, and therefore cannot get blood to my head or my fingers. My head swoons, my fingers are numb, and my lungs can't seem to breathe with my heart so far away. It is a feeling I know all too well. And because I have had a lot of practice with it, I at least knew what to do this time. I quickly told my heart to get out of my foot and back where it belongs. It made the slow climb back up to my chest and began pumping blood to my brain again allowing me to think rationally.
Stop. Drop. And Roll.
No that's not right. I wait one more minute, then I actually have the correct rational thoughts:
Stop. Don't Panic.
This may not be true. You know how things go in the jungle. You hear lots of crazy stories, then find out later they are inaccurate or exaggerated. Wait until you hear from the village on the radio tonight.
Calm, rational thinking. Unfortunately, my rational thinking also reminds me that every "rumor" we've heard about someone being dead has turned out to be true. But still, this is not confirmed so I will wait to be sad or panic. Radio time is at 6:40 pm. I can wait until then. What time is it now? 4:30 pm.
Never before has two hours and ten minutes seemed so long.
I have to keep busy. I wash a few dishes. The stragglers left over from lunch. I sweep the floor. I check the clock.
I begin dinner prep. I chop onions and green peppers. I saute chicken and make sour cream. Think about Kalefu's two wives and eight children. STOP. Don't go there yet. I check the clock.
I dry and put away the lunch dishes. I wash the dinner prep dishes. I check the clock.
I call my children in from outside, get them bathed, and dressed and feel envious of their innocent and carefree conversation. I smiled and nod over stories of friends, and games, and birds, and weird bugs. I am thankful that God created lovely things for His children to enjoy in such a dark and broken world. I check the clock.
My husband gives up and just goes down to wait the last twenty minutes by the radio "just to make sure I don't miss it." Like his brain would be merciful enough to let him forget. I assemble dinner plates for myself and my children and we sit down to eat. I let one of them pray. I let my heart be thankful for the things they are thankful for and... just for a minute... not question. I check the clock.
I can't believe it!!! Ten minutes late. I run down to the radio as my husband finishes his conversation with Yanis (one of our church leaders). He says that Kalefu is alive and in the village. Yanis is totally confused about this rumor we heard, but assures us that Kalefu is there and the raiders have not come yet.
Relief and joy wash over me and I praise God that for the first time since we moved into Hewa territory death was just a rumor. I make my husband tell me every bit of the conversation. I am thankful beyond any words or explanation. I walk back to the apartment. I don't check the clock anymore, and I only realize it an hour after my kids' normal bedtime (oops). My husband and I put them to bed and I followed soon after.
Even though it ended on a high note, the day has exhausted me, so I climb into bed and contemplate my time in missionary training. I scroll through the memories of my time preparing for this job and remember thinking that my duties, my actual "job" would be the hardest part of this life. You know, the language learning, homeschooling, discipling, teaching, translating, those things. They seemed so hard. And they still are, but they are not the hardest part.
The hardest part is the loving, the caring, the relationships you have with people who struggle everyday to just stay alive. Death is their shadow. Pain is their ever present companion. And being right there beside them through it all is the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life.
There are certainly times I want to give up and go home. No...there are times I want to go back in time and never come in the first place. Because after having seen, heard, felt, tasted, even smelled their existence, I can't shake it from who I am now. Their world, their daily lives, their very souls, have penetrated my being so deep that there is no place that I can run that they will not be with me. And it will be that way from now until the day I die. No matter when or why God removes me from Hewa physically, we will be linked through the Holy Spirit eternally. When they hurt, I will feel it as if it were my own body just as I do now. And when they rejoice, I will rejoice with them whether I am right next to them, holding their hands or if I am 9,000 miles away.
And that is the hardest part. The hardest and most beautiful part.
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
On Friday, two men in leadership positions from our mission came in to give John Michael and I language checks. One of the men brought in his wife, one of his daughters, and a girl who is here in PNG helping them with home school (cough cough, hint hint REAGAN WEBB). They planned on staying for four days so we could do the checks, have a Thanksgiving meal (because we were going to be in the tribe by ourselves during real Thanksgiving) and just have an overall good time. And the guys helped JM get our new house batteries hooked up and about 1,000 other jobs around our house/village that will make all of our lives so much easier.
On Saturday John Michael and I took our tests. John Michael passed completely and is cleared to start helping with translation and teaching in the Hewa language. I ended up on level 7 of 9, so the plan was for them to come back in six months when hopefully (and miraculously) I might be able to finish.
|John Michael "winning" his language evaluation!|
Sunday, with much to be thankful for, Heidi and I started preparing the Thanksgiving meal while the guys and kids took off to the waterfall.* The guys came back after about 30 minutes because the trail had overgrown and they needed to find a Hewa guy to show them the new trail. Just as they were about to leave again, we heard shouting and wailing....the bad kind... (yelling and shouting across mountains is like their way of texting, so we have had to learn which tones and sounds to worry about and which ones are just passing information).
I immediately dropped what I was doing and ran out of the house only to see my husband half way to place where the shouting originated. We soon found out that a man was shot in a neighboring village by the same man (along with some accomplices) who killed the last witch, Yamene. We were completely confused and had no idea what was happening or why until a lady named Rosa came crying and running into the village to tell us the story.
Four men came from the village of Fiyawena where the previous witch killings took place, to the village of Pasife (just a few hours hike away from our village) and were on the hunt for anyone in Yamene's family. A man named Apiyan found out and hid Rosa who is Yamene's cousin, and when the killers learned that he did this they shot him in the stomach. So Rosa ran to our village to tell us what happened and to warn her brother, Kalefu, that they were coming for him as well. (Many of you may remember us speaking about Kalefu this past year on furlough).
We had the basic facts but were totally confused as to the the motive for these attacks. It made no sense for Yamene's killers to be going after her family when, as far as we knew, there had been no retaliation.
Meanwhile, our guests were witnessing all this and decided that we should not remain in the tribe. We agreed as things seemed to grow increasingly more tense and because we felt like our best chance of helping our friends get police support would be from town where we could call or even plead their case in person if need be (Our email is down in the tribe and has been for several weeks, so that is why you haven't heard from us). Because the plane that currently services us is small, all ten of us couldn't fit on one plane, so we planned two trips to get everyone out. The women and children left on Tuesday...because you know...women and children first and all that...plus the plane was bringing all the rice that we helped the people purchase for drought relief and JM needed to be there to facilitate the distribution of that.**
In the 24 hours that John Michael was there after we left he was able to get the full story. All this chaos actually started earlier in the weekend when Yamene's family started yelling at Wanapi (the man who shot and killed Yamene) from across a nearby river for killing their sister/daughter/cousin. Wanapi supposedly shot at them three times, and they fired back, killing a teenage boy who was with him. So there were actually TWO murders. Wanapi then gathered his posse and went after anyone in Yamene's family he could find in a blind rage. He, of course, feels like no one should be attacking him because he was only seeking vengeance for the death of his relative, Mifila, when he shot Yamene.
So we are basically breaking out into an all out tribal war because one witch was murdered and appropriate action was not taken. One murder has now turned into three which is what you'd expect to happen when there is no law, order, and justice in place to handle these situations.
We are still kind of in shock over all that has happened, but are so thankful that there was a team of wonderful people in the tribe with us when it all transpired. It was a blessing to get some outside perspective and good Godly advice on how to handle all these things that we have never personally encountered before. I know it was a wonderful blessing to my husband to have their support during these intense circumstances.
During one meeting with the Hewa believers, they asked John Michael,
|The family of Apiyan, who have now been drug into this whole mess.|
Friday, October 30, 2015
The typical dry season is nothing like what we have been experiencing. This isn't a dry season, it's a drought. And during this drought the sun comes up bright and strong early in the morning, lasting all day with no clouds in sight. There has been an eery haze covering everything from all the fires burning gardens and jungle all over the country. It's like we are constantly looking through our screened windows even when we are standing out on the wide open airstrip…like there are screens on our eyes.
It took four days, but now on day five, the haze is gone and we can see the crisp clear lines of the jungle again.
So, if you are praying for rain - keep it up! We truly appreciate everyone's emails of prayer and encouragement. We also really appreciate everyone who has asked about donating money to bring in relief in the form of food supplies. Right now, we are trying to figure out a good way for you to do that. So please, hold off on sending funds specifically for drought relief until we figure out the best way for you to do so.
We recently received the unfortunate news that we can no longer get tax deductions for our children if we have foreign earned income (Which according to the IRS, we do. I guess they figure that since most other countries' child labor laws are more lax than those of the U.S. our kids must be working and supporting themselves now). Our income tax for the year has significantly increased because of this. So we are trying to figure out how you all can donate for the drought in a way that does not have to come through our personal income, as we would like to have 100% of your donations go straight to providing food for the Hewa.
The greatest thing you can do for now is pray that the rains continue. We read several news articles that said the drought is supposed to last through December because of "El Niño" but we know that God is bigger than any weather patterns. He created those weather patterns and can do with them as He wishes. If the rains continue as normal, the Hewa will need outside help for just a short time until the gardens start producing again. This is the best case scenario for all of us.
Wednesday, October 21, 2015
This has not happened in weeks.
There are other factors attributed to this drought that are making life hard for the people here (including us). The ground is so dry and cracked that bugs are going into the ground to eat the few sweet potatoes everyone has left. I walked through the dry anemic vines of sweet potato in my own garden yesterday thinking that it is now time for what I planted six moths ago to be harvested. Normally, harvest time for me is very frustrating. The vines are so full, thick, and tangled that it takes longer to find the original mound than it does to actually dig the potato out of the ground. This time it was very easy to see the source of the vine, although harvesting did bring some disappointment. I was able to pull out a couple of decent sized potatoes, but then noticed that I only had small nubs in other places with the obvious nibble marks of an insect's pinchers. It was hard to realize that the same thing is happening to my friends, who don't have frozen veggies to fall back on stored in freezers.
Another unexpected hardship with this drought is fire. I know that sounds dumb, because drought always brings fire problems in the U.S. but I just never considered it here. I tried to burn my trash a few days ago and the flames quickly spread into my garden. Fortunately, we were able to put the fire out pretty quickly. However, a huge part of gardening here for the Hewans includes clearing land and burning it to get ready to plant. People are still doing this in order to be ready to plant as soon as rain comes. Yesterday as one of our friends was burning a garden a good safe distance away from his house, the fire soon got out of control. The flames actually travelled underground through the dried root system, up into the stumps and logs surrounding his house. My husband had to run up there with his chainsaw and cut logs that were literally in flames, so everyone could roll them down into the river and away from his house.
Everyone is getting desperate, and is constantly coming to tell my husband that their gardens are done and in one or two weeks time they will no longer have any food to feed their children. Meanwhile he is doing all he can to plan for and get help. He's writing anyone he thinks will listen and help and we are paying for flights so that our village can buy rice. It's a lot of pressure and frustration for him. Kinda like a doctor trying to save a dying man while his entire family knocks on the door of the operating room to tell that doctor, "Did you know this man is dying? Can you help him please?" And when he tells them the days the plane is coming so they can start gathering money to buy food they ask, "What about our brothers in ________ village? Their gardens are dry too." All we can do is say we're sorry. The plane is small and can only carry so much and we can't afford to pay for a flight for every single Hewa village (there are a lot of them) nor is there an airstrip in most of these villages.
Today he held a pray meeting for all the believers to remind them that they need to put their trust in God, not him, and not the government or other aid relief. He planned to have everyone read and study Matthew 6:25-27, but then realized those verses have not been translated into Hewa yet. So here we are in the middle of the jungle, desperate to help desperate people. Doing what is supposed to be our "real job" in discipling believers in times of trouble rather than just solving all their problems for them, and we can't even share meaningful, life-giving verses to the people.
It was a great reminder, though, that this IS our real job. To get the Word in their hands because we won't be here forever. We may not be here for the next drought, but if we do our jobs correctly then God's Word will be. They won't have us to turn to - only Him, and He is a much better source of help. The ONLY source of true help and comfort.
But…that doesn't mean we sit here and do nothing. We're still doing whatever we can: writing reports, petitioning - begging everyone we can, paying for flights so they can buy rice. They may be missing a lot of God's Word right now, so we must become that Word. The living verses. Showing them that God WILL provide for them, and maybe this time he is providing through some inadequate Americans pleading their case to whoever will listen.
Saturday, October 17, 2015
Here are my random thoughts and the dates I had them:
9/30- We're back in the tribe! Listening to my friends tell me how all our guinea pigs, some of our chickens, and one of our cats died while we were gone. This is a typical "coming back" conversation.
9/30- It's been 30 minutes of listening to village news. I have seven more minutes before my freezer goods become a melted pile of bacteria and wasted money.
10/4- Listening to a Sunday sermon on not eating food sacrificed to idols or spirits. In the literal sense. That's a first.
10/5- My husband just ran off to try to stop a fight over a bride price. Freaked out a little. Will he come home with an arrow in his leg? #missionaryproblems
10/5- No bows and arrows, just rocks and sticks. Fight is over for now. Husband is exhausted but safe. Thank you Jesus!
10/5- The fight in the village today over pigs given in a bride price makes me question how many pigs I would be worth?
10/5- Probably not very many. I am not that great at gardening/cooking/raising pigs.
10/6- I made homemade mayonnaise today and now I feel like I can accomplish anything. Also, this should make me worth at least two more pigs.
10/9- The drought here is getting really bad. I keep hearing this phrase over and over, "My garden is dry. What will I eat?" #worried
10/16- Mia is throwing up. Vomit laundry in the jungle is THE WORST.
10/17- Up all night with a sick kid. The church horn blows at 6 am. #notgoing #badmissionary
10/17- Mia hasn't thrown up since early this morning. Going to bed. Might actually sleep tonight! PTL
10/17- My husband just woke me up to tell me there is a snake in the house, and he needs to me watch the other side of the wall to make sure it doesn't slither in here. Instead, I'm trying to figure out how to purchase international plane tickets at 11:00 at night over a satellite phone.
10/17- The snake is dead. He said it was small and not poisonous. I guess I will stop looking for the gasoline and matches.
10/17- My husband says that even if it were big and/or poisonous, he wouldn't let me burn the house down. #wordsthatleadtodivorce
10/17- Snake is gone. Kids are settled back in bed. Seriously, I WILL sleep tonight.
10/18 (a little after midnight)- Mia threw up in her bed. Another sleepless night and more vomit laundry.
10/18 (a little after midnight)- My husband said he would stay up with Mia tonight, so I could sleep. #wordsthatleadtophysicalaffection #butnottonight
10/18- There is a big village discussion going on about who Lona will marry. It is between two guys...the one with the most pigs will win. Her opinion counts the least.
10/18- Keti cut off a finger in order to marry the man she wanted. I wonder if Lona prefers either of these guys enough to go that far?
Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Sunday, October 11, 2015
Saturday, September 26, 2015
|Portions of scripture translated into Hewa language. Don't worry, it's supposed to look like that.|
Sunday, September 20, 2015
Is that writer's block? Or is that something that needs therapy?
Anyway, my husband told me to just write and see what happens. He told me to look at pictures and get inspired from the things I see in them. That was actually great advice and apparently he is a genius. (He's been telling me this for years, but it is hard to recognize someone's genius when you are constantly cleaning their toenail clippings off of end tables. He actually hasn't done that in a long time which may be why the veil has been lifted and I can now see him in all his intellectual glory).
The pictures worked, I think, because everything here in this missionary life is starting to become normal to me. I don't have quite as many feelings about every single thing that I experience during the day like I did in the beginning. And it is hard to come up with words when there are no feelings attached.
But the pictures....
The pictures make feelings. Lots of feelings.
Like this one...
This is the day that Baby Girl's heart stopped beating several times and Susan breathed for her for hours until we all thought it was over, but God decided it wasn't and she became Talitha.
In the picture Susan is actually giving the baby chest compressions while the mother holds her hand over the baby's fontanel.
Hewans believe that the spirit of the baby can very easily slip out of the infant's soft spot causing the baby to die. It sounds crazy but it is actually pretty logical from their perspective. The infant mortality rate has historically been very high (around 85%), more than any other age group. So, what is visibly different about babies that makes them so vulnerable? This little spot on the tops of their heads that after it closes seems to significantly lessen the chances that the baby will die.
If you don't know any different. It makes perfect sense.
This is a great example on why becoming very fluent in your people's belief and culture is crucial in discipleship. Is this truly an animistic practice or is it just like that time we all thought the world was flat? Understanding must precede teaching.
Sure the word "spirit" is involved, but the baby does have a spirit or soul. That is a Biblical truth. We do not believe that a person can prevent the spirit of an infant from leaving it's body, and therefore control life and death. God ordains life and death and only He directs a person's spirit once the flesh is no more.
But for the Hewan, the spirit is just as much a part of the body as the arm or face or lungs or heart. As Susan breathes air into those tiny lungs and pumps blood through her little body with the pressure of two fingers to keep her alive, the mother does her part to keep the spirit in the body, so it can do its function as well.
But while this seems to be a more benign act than say, sacrificing a pig so that external spirits will intercede and save the life of the child, it does display the root of the belief that spirits, all of them, can be controlled or manipulated for the benefit of people. The simple act of the hand on that tiny baby's head says, "I have some control over the spirit of this child." It shows us, the missionaries, the disciplers, that there needs to be a distinction made over the flesh and the spirit. (Many of the more mature believers do already know this, but we still see it a lot with parents and infants, so it is still an issue). Does it mean that anyone who does this is not a true believer? Absolutely not. As people from a Western culture with heavy secular humanism influences, there are probably hundreds of things we do or say everyday that come from a non-Biblical worldview and we don't even realize it. It doesn't mean we aren't saved. It means we need to be taught and to grow and this will be a need we have until we die. This is true of all people everywhere in every cultural context.
The significance for us is simply in investigating and understanding the people. From our perspective seeing this act would simply mean the mother is trying to keep the baby warm or protect that soft spot. If there is no investigation then we would have missed a significant outward behavior of their internal thought process. (Fortunately for us, our co-workers are champions of not only language but also culture study and have been steadily showing us the things as they have learned about Hewa culture over the last 15 years).
If we simply assume that a behavior has a specific purpose based on our own background then we miss huge opportunities for understanding the cultural context in which we are trying to teach. Without that context the message gets blurred, misunderstood, and often completely rejected.
One of my (favorite) Bible professors* in college used to always say, "The context is the message." Meaning that the Bible must be understood in the context that it was originally written. And is is equally important to understand the context of the opposing culture or worldview in which you are now introducing Biblical truth.
For instance, a person with a secular humanism worldview you would have to start with the truth that there is a spirit world. You don't have to do this with a Hewan. They know the spirit world exists, but need to know Biblical truths about the spirit world and what it means in their daily lives.
And this is applicable no matter where you minister. You have to really know where people are coming from, their background, their thought processes before you can speak deeper truths into their lives. It's why relationships are so important in discipleship and why YOU are so significant to in reaching the people that surround you in life. You have the opportunity to really dig into- just like we do- their worldview. You can hear their stories, know their thoughts and feelings as certain events play out in their lives, and you can really minister to them in deep in meaningful ways.
But just like us, you have to put in the time, energy, and sometimes awkwardness and difficulty it takes to get to know and understand someone. You can't just assume they think like you do.
It is a high calling that God has given to all believers everywhere. Because He wants us all to one day be able to worship Him in Spirit and in Truth.
*Big G, I dare not hope that you ever have or ever will read this blog, but if you do, please know that I consider everything I learned from you pure gold and have tried desperately to hold onto everything you taught me even though pregnancy brain and the long sleep-deprived infant years took most of my high-order thinking skills. I'm not even sure I was saved before I took your Teachings of Jesus class. I have also considered getting "the context is the message" tattooed several times. Thank you. That is all.
Thursday, September 17, 2015
This picture was taken in town last week. You read that correctly. TOWN. We were on our way back from hanging out at a local pool/restaurant with some friends (Aaron Jex- long time no shout out). And this is what we saw driving down the road next to us.
This is not an everyday occurrence in town, though. This past weekend an event occurred in the town of Goroka where several of the area tribes dress up and do cultural dances and songs. And if you so desire and have 150 Kina, then you can watch. We opted out.
Anyway, whenever we come to town in PNG, no matter what town that is, we speak to nationals about where we're from and where we live now. The conversation almost always goes like this: (I'll spare you the Melanesian Pidgin and go straight to the English translation)
National Person: "Where are you from?"
Us: "America, but we live here now."
National Person: "Where do you live? Here or in another town?"
Us: "We live in the bush. A place called Hewa in the Enga Province"
National Person- looks horrified then lowers and shakes head side to side: "That is a really bad place. Those people are lawless, violent, and stuck in the old ways."
Us: "It's not that bad."
We were used to hearing the horror and shock from our Western friends when we told them we were moving to New Guinea, but hearing horror and shock from our New Guinea friends when we told them we were moving to Hewa was a surprise.
It is funny to us now because we are so used to it, and also because our village is the exact opposite of what they describe (thank you Jesus). Everywhere around us is a pretty accurate portrayal of that description, but our place is relatively happy and peaceful.
We also frequently hear about how far out or remote we are. When other missionaries come in they often say, "Wow you guys are really out here." Or something similar. But again, when we heard the same thing from PNG Nationals we kind of did a double take. A few Community Health developers from a national hospital came to do some instructional classes for our people last May and mentioned that all their coworkers were teasing them about coming so deep into the jungle.
Even Les Stroud "Survivorman" when asked to be sent to the most remote place in all of Papua New Guinea was sent to...wait for it...Hewa. (Please note that if you have seen that episode of his show it is mostly...false...false is a polite way to put it)
Because the Lord has blessed us with an airstrip and an amazing aviation team, and because we joined a work that already had a young church, we don't always feel the remoteness and isolation in those ways.
Ironically, one of the biggest reminders or eye-openers of our people group's remoteness came from a series of emails from our own mission describing the changing world and how very few untouched and monolingual tribes are left and our need to adjust our strategies for reaching people groups.
But I am sitting in the middle of one of those tribes as I read those emails. Sure there are other religious influences, but not many, and not many people have allowed themselves to be influenced. And we have a few people who speak basic Pidgin (our national language), but probably only a handful that I would consider fluent (and only one person in our village). Yet there are thousands of Hewans scattered all over the Central Mountain Range speaking their own dialect of Hewa (that is totally different from ours and neither we or our people can understand them) and only their dialect. They are constantly asking us for missionaries or to at least come teach them, but no one can. And there is no way that they could understand our translation of the Bible.
So then I realize that our people are really "out there". I am sure there are other missionaries reading this and giving me a big eye roll thinking that I am doing that thing that some missionaries do trying to prove that their work is the ______ (fill in the superlative) in the ______ (fill in the category) but I promise I am not. For us Westerners ALL these places are remote and out there. I thank Jesus everyday that our airstrip is in my front yard and I don't have to canoe down a river to get to it. Sure your people consider that a "road" but to everyone from the modern world...just no. And for those people who have an actual road, I cringe at the tales of your drives back and forth to town. So, I promise I'm not competing. We all have it rough and let's all let out a collective sigh of frustration. SIIGGHHH. There. Moving on...
So the Hewans are very isolated. It is very difficult for them to get anywhere that isn't home. Therefore they have mostly stayed monolingual, and with it being so difficult to get even to the next village, the dialects have developed into distinct languages. And that makes me worry about them. I worry because they are all called "Hewa" and yes, the "Hewa" have heard the Gospel and yes there is a "Hewa" translation in the works. But this translation will only be able to be read by a few hundred of the thousands of people classified as "Hewa." It's like handing a Spanish Bible to the Portuguese and Italians and saying, "You're welcome!" I'm terrified that there are thousands who will be overlooked simply because they bear the name "Hewa." And there is so much pressure and guilt as I post these pretty pictures of "Hewans" in church on this blog and the internet thinks, "Praise the Lord, the Hewans are reached!" while thousands still live in darkness.
Bottom line. These people are remote. Isolated. Monolingual. Animistic. They are still out there and they still need missionaries. We can't learn all the Hewa dialects. We are already a team of missionaries who speak two separate dialects. Did you read that?? We don't speak the same dialect as our own coworkers! It's crazy!
So I'm asking you now. Will you pray? Or better yet...Will you come? We need you. They need you. Sure it is an extreme place with an extreme people. But that also produces extreme change. And it is an extreme privilege and blessing to get to experience it.
Monday, August 17, 2015
Yesterday, I wanted to talk to the doctor over the radio because our email was not working very well. However, the doctor's radio was broken, so I tried to call him on our satellite phone. The satellite phone wouldn't connect. Very frustrating. Email finally worked, and the doctor asked us some questions and suggested a few things, but nothing seemed to really point to a clear diagnosis, so after much frustration I decided that we should just go ahead and plan to fly out of the tribe for John Michael to see the doctor since email wasn't really helping either of us out.
So, my husband is not and was not ever dying. I wrote a few people just to tell them that John Michael was sick, and I have given all the medicine I know to give because I am not a doctor. I asked for prayer because I didn't want to spend the money and do the work it would take to leave the village. I meant we were out of options ***IN THE TRIBE*** not out of options for John Michael's life. And because it is hard to communicate clearly over email (see the paragraph above) it got really blown out of proportion and somehow people thought my husband was dying.
He was never close to dying. Ok, maybe once after the third night of him being up all night with fevers, moaning and groaning and waking me up to tell him how bad he felt, he came close to dying…if you know what I'm saying. Wives, if you've ever treated the "man flu" then you know what I'm saying…
Anyway, he's fine. We think he has something called Dengue Fever which is not fatal, but will have him feeling like he has the flu for a few weeks.
We're still going to leave the tribe tomorrow (we were supposed to leave today, but there were issues with the plane) because I packed up this whole house, and gave all my good food away- my white potatoes, my passionfruit- it's all in a Hewa person's belly now, so we're headed out.
I promise as soon as we get out to internet land tomorrow I will post a picture of my very much alive husband!
Friday, August 14, 2015
We are still uncertain as to why Yamene was killed, but most of the Hewans here still believe it was a revenge killing for the death of Mifila. Because of this, there is a lot of anger and tension that nothing was done to bring justice to Mifila's killers. It is a big mess right now, so please pray for wisdom and calm hearts and heads for all of those who feel they were wronged.
Please also keep in mind that Mifila's killers came from a village that is at least a day's hike away with no airstrip or roads in. It will be very difficult to catch and prosecute them anytime soon, if ever.
Please continue to pray for justice, and for God's truth to shine brightly from this side of the jungle. Pray that their eyes will be opened to the truth and they will see, the same as others have seen, that even though they continually kill "witches" people continue to get sick and die. This is not solving the problem of sickness, pain, and death in the world. Pray that their ears will be opened to hear the truth that Jesus solved that problem for them- not by taking someone else's life, but by giving up His own.
Thursday, August 13, 2015
Monday, August 10, 2015
|Mifila, pictured here with two of her three children was brutally murdered on May 18th.|
Sunday, August 9, 2015
Tuesday, July 7, 2015
|Sitting with Usam the day before she left|
|Weaving string bags with Tisam as she waits for her evacuation flight|
|Tisam and her her kids ready to go|
|Our pilots are our partners in evacuating these women and children|
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
|Giving Susan a little break...|
|Susan giving Talita CPR for the last time...|
Thursday, June 18, 2015
Wednesday, June 17, 2015
The baby has stopped breathing twice but was able to be revived by our village medical worker. The mother of the baby has not been taking very good care of this baby girl, so we are very concerned. Please pray for God to heal the baby and protect the women and children here who are marked as witches.
Please pass on this to anyone you know who would be willing to pray.
Tuesday, June 16, 2015
Tuesday, June 2, 2015
Thursday, May 28, 2015
Fourth Months from when the police, missionaries, and government officials went into our neighboring village of Fiyawena to warn the people that witch killing was illegal and would carry severe consequences- four months to the day- a woman named Mifila was brutally murdered.
I'm going to be honest I knew that the warning from the police would only buy these women time. That these people fear the spirits who live above, below, and right beside them, spirits that breathe down their necks, more than the police who are far away…who they can hear coming in the roar of the engine of the airplanes above them. But I really thought it would buy them more than four months. At least a year, I thought. I was wrong. Literally, dead wrong.
Apparently, there are articles going all over the world about this with Mifila's picture attached and an outcry for justice (we even made the Dredge Report). But we're out here in the middle of the jungle with just our short-wave radio and email that works only half the time. So the only reports that we are reading our coming from the village itself. From the eye-witnesses. From her family. From the ones who are demanding payment because her contaminated blood flowed down into their gardens, splattered on their houses and ruined all their possessions.
Those are the reports we are hearing. We are also hearing that the government is angry and preparing to come in and do exactly what they said they would do just four short months ago, and we are thrilled to know their plans. We are praying that with actual consequences this will be what finally sets these women free from this horrible label of oppression and brutalization.
Knowing that the articles are being shared helps. Knowing that there are people who care and are outraged for these innocent women and children makes us feel less alone in this. So, I am asking now that all of you who read this blog will share these articles (I imagine you can google "Hewa witch killing" to find them) as much as possible to continue to raise awareness about this tragedy. I also ask that if you bought an "I love Witches" shirt from us that you post of picture of yourself in your shirt with the articles.
Please do this in memory of Mifila and all the other women and children who have been murdered as witches and in honor of those who are marked and are still in danger.
It's not a bucket of ice water, but it's something.
"Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked." Psalm 82:3-4
"Is this not the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?" Isaiah 58: 6