A year and a half ago, John Michael hiked over the mountain to a neighboring village and listened to a desperate woman begging to be evacuated, tell him that she didn't want want to be murdered. Her exact words were, "I don't want to be cut up with axes and machetes".
Her name was Usam. She was being threatened and we started making a plan to get them out. The threats kind of fizzled, so the family gave up trying to get her out.
Then Mifila was murdered and they came running, telling us that now they are ready to leave. We were relieved knowing that Usam could finally stop living in fear, until different family members came out of the jungle demanding they stay.
We had to throw a Hewa style fit to get it done, but we got them out (hey, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, right). There was a lot of yelling and I think at one point I even yelled that I was going to throw all my stuff out my window, onto the airstrip and they could just have it all, but my desperate rage has given me a little amnesia over the last two days (probably a good thing). As the plane was being loaded with the other family who was leaving we heard every excuse under the sun about why Usam and her children could not go out. They varied greatly but were all equally ridiculous. We knew the real reason was that her extended family was going to miss out on a lot of pigs and money from bride prices of her daughters. Their last excuse was simply, we don't have the money to pay for the flight, so my co-worker, runs in her house grabs a wad of cash and starts waving it in the air saying, "Here is the money. What's your excuse now???"
And it worked.
At that point there were only two seats left on the plane, so we put Usam's two teenage girls on it, so no one could change their minds. The next day, with the two bride prices already in the new village, they allowed Usam and all her little children to board the plane and fly away to safety.
Thank you all so much for praying. I can't tell you what a miracle and a relief it was to see them all go. But please continue to pray for this horrible practice. We have now evacuated almost an entire village. God has been so merciful to provide us with a place to send them, but this can't go on forever. The village that takes them in has a burden for these women and feels that God really wants them to help. Please pray for them as well. It takes a lot of work and resources to take these families in, who don't speak the same language, don't build houses the same way, can't swim or build canoes, can't fish, and who are in serious culture shock.
It is not a perfect solution, but it is good enough to save lives, so we are still doing it. As long as God allows we will evacuate these innocent women and children. Because we can't help but remember those being mistreated, as if we felt their pain in our own bodies. (Hebrews 13:3)
|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|