We are on the verge of collapse now. Here are some things we've heard in conversations just in the last three days…
"Everything I just planted is ruined. Nothing is growing."
"My new garden is completely dry."
"My garden isn't making food, so I am wondering, 'What will I eat?'"
A couple of days ago we walked around several gardens to see the damage, and honestly, it was frightening. We felt the impending burden of hundreds of hungry bellies placed on our shoulders.
But the latest statement/question really got to me...
"Can you give me milk for my piglets? Two have already died because they root in the ground for food but there is nothing there."
If/when the pigs start dying, people are gonna lose it.
Unfortunately, there are no easy solutions for us. There are no provincial government funds to feed these people. I have no doubt, that we could raise enough money to feed our village (and maybe even a couple of others) to get them through these next few months, but that will bring a lot of trouble into our backyard.
We could feed the Hewans, but if no one is feeding their more aggressive neighbors who are used to bullying whoever it takes to get what they want when they want it, then guess where they will come to get their food?
Right now there are some people with a large local company who are trying to raise funds/supplies to help. We're praying that it is enough help for the surrounding area so our people don't become targets/victims for their hungry, angry neighbors. And we aren't certain how much or how often this food will come. These people have no way to store food long term. Rats will eat anything not in sturdy containers (which the people don't have). There are no refrigerators, freezers, or even can openers. We're praying for answers to all of these obstacles, but most of all we're praying for rain.
My poor husband is shouldering most of this burden. Thankfully, one of the first Hewa missionaries who is now in a leadership position here in PNG, made the contact for the company who is trying to help. So, John Michael has been emailing reports, collecting data, taking and sending pictures (not easy over a short-wave radio). All the while having to stop to listen to someone else in the village telling him how bad it is and begging for help. Between breaking up fights, listening to complaints, and writing reports, he has accomplished a lot in the last two weeks. My greatest accomplishments were making homemade mayonnaise (in the blender, not even by hand) and getting my kindergartener to successfully write the letter "e" (it's a tough one, y'all). Basically, the only support I offer him is... "I'm sorry for all that is going on, here is a sandwich (with mayonnaise) and at least you can celebrate that your child won't be illiterate for much longer."
It seems like the really difficult things always happen here while one set of co-workers is in America. While we were gone, the huge measles outbreak happened and I'm pretty sure Susan didn't sleep at all for six weeks straight. And now we're here trying to figure out how to feed people who live day to day off of the food they grow in the ground when the ground won't grow any food.
Jesus take the wheel. And you guys take a knee…or two.