When we got back there was the normal checking of the house/unpacking/catching up with the people. I have learned exactly how many minutes* I can leave boxes full of frozen goods on my floor while I visit with Hewa ladies. It always feels kinda jerkish to come back after a break, give a quick, "What's Up?" and go straight into the house to unpack.
The house was good. Nothing broken or stolen and no rats (Please sing the Hallelujah chorus with me). And even though the spiders wrapped every single solitary thing they could in cobwebs, I outsmarted them by putting every single solitary thing I could in a plastic tub or drum, so HA Spiders! I win. Although, it didn't feel like a win as I was unpacking every single solitary thing we own.
As I was visiting with my friend, Ofa, I found out that there had been a bride price payment right before we arrived and there would be another one in the next week. My anxiety rose slightly as I knew that this was an event where a lot of people from surrounding villages would be here and a lot of those people would be looking for a fight. It gets real around here when people start passing out pigs and money.
A few days later I hear a one of the many yells/chants that Hewans use to communicate to the whole village. It didn't sound good, but I didn't hear the tale-tell high pitched "oooooh-WOO" at the end which usually means death, so I didn't worry too much. Then I started hearing screaming. Then there was all the running. Hewans running is never a good sign. They can out walk/hike Bear Gryllis, but they rarely ever run. My kids were in my co-workers Mulberry tree, so I yelled at them to get down and get in the house. My husband was 600 meters away at the bottom of the airstrip cutting grass on the tractor. I ran to where I knew he could see me and jumped up and down while waving my arms. Those still running toward the fight, stopped to give me a questioning look, then started running again…(an even worse sign when you don't care that the white lady is doing something weird.) John Michael drove as fast as he could on the tractor (not very fast) up to me to see what was going on. When I told him it was a fight, he jumped off the tractor and headed in the direction of the yelling.
I went back to house with the kids, and tried to get in touch with someone on our mission base just in case things got out of hand and we needed to fly out…the next day…it was 5 pm. There would be no flying out until the next day no matter how bad it got.
Fortunately, people were only armed with sticks and rocks, and John Michael was able to take them away from most and in one case, spike a huge rock to ground as the person holding it started flinging it towards his target. I told you, these people don't play about pigs, y'all.
It turns out, some guys from another village got mad because no one paid them a pig in the bride price, so they circled two people's houses with guns while calling out fighting words (chants). Then they just stole the pigs they wanted. And they stole them from the two most hot headed guys in our village, so naturally a fight ensued. John Michael was able to get everyone calmed down, and some of our Bible teachers acted as middle men to get everything under control until they could all formally discuss and appropriately punish the instigators.
Then the next day, there was another bride price.
We attended this one as a family and listened to an impassioned speech by the groom's family telling the bride's family that a fair price is being paid, and if anyone on their side is mad about not getting a pig then you have to deal with it within your family. It seemed to work pretty well because the only fight with this bride price was between two brothers. There isn't really a way for a bunch of people to take sides in their own family so they just calmed them down and worked it out.
And that was our week. How was yours?
*37- this is the tropics