"Hey! You're still here? I'm so sorry. How are you doing?"
"Oh, I'm fine." (frustrated)
"Hey, sorry you didn't get to go back into the tribe. How do you feel?"
"Ok." (like a failure)
"When will you go back in?"
"March. After Sepik Conference." (Or possibly later. But when I try to add this phrase a swarm of angry bees flies from my stomach and nests in my throat, so I shut my mouth and just smile and nod)
We didn't go home yesterday. Nothing major happened (that we know of). That is the problem. We didn't "know" anything because the group of people who left to find out where everybody stands in all the fighting never came back to give their report, so my husband didn't feel comfortable with us coming in.
When the village leaders told John Michael that they thought it would be ok for us to come in, he asked them if they thought the enemies would come to our village. Their answer was,
"Miu fcle. Miu pefcle."
They might come. They might not.
So a party set out to find out more information. Who is still angry? Are they even trying to start peace talks? Are they still threatening to come to our village? They left on a Saturday and we expected them back just a few days later, so we prepared to go back in.
I packed a bunch of our things. Bought food supplies. Tried to order some wood/carpentry stuff my husband asked for that I neither understood at the time or remember now. I wrote a blog post telling all of you how we were excited to go back and how safe it was.
We were ready.
By Thursday my husband starting getting nervous.
"They aren't back yet and I don't want you girls coming in if they don't come back before Monday."
I wasn't nervous. It was only Thursday. They'll be back for church on Saturday or at the latest Sunday.
I could here the frustration in my husband's voice over the radio when he said, "I just don't know what to do."
But after lots of talks and prayers and bouncing things off other missionaries, we decided that it was probably best to wait to return to our jungle home. After all, we still have no idea why the last murder happened. Was it revenge? Revenge for what? Is it at all related to the last few murders or did the guy just enjoy getting away with killing two other people and decided to go for a third?
On top of that our people were still carrying their guns around everywhere they went, patrolling the village, and firing randomly to "scare off anyone hiding in the jungle." Tensions are obviously still pretty high.
So yes, we are still here in town (John Michael flew out to join us yesterday) and are not happy about it. It feels wrong. It feels like failure...abandonment...neglecting our responsibilities.
We really feel like we should be beside the believers right now as it is a crucial time for discipleship. And I question God as to why things are happening this way.
"But God...their lives are so hard! Why do you let these horrible things happen to them? All they have is You. Don't you want them to grow? Don't you want them to have Your Word? Don't you want them to be able to be able to share Your message with others?"
And He answers, "Yes. I want all those things. I want them more than you do, and I know how to achieve them better than you do."
"Stop doubting and believe."
So that is what I am trying to do. I'm trying to stop doubting and believe. I'm trying to release a grip on something I never really held in the first place. I'm trying to trust God with the bigger picture, the longevity of the Hewa church. The maturity of the Hewa church through times of intense trial and suffering. After all, what has "ease" gotten the American church? A faith that is a mile wide and an inch deep and that certainly is not what we want for the Hewa believers.
We want strength and long-lasting life. We want generation after generation after generation from now until the return of Christ to be able to share the love of God throughout all the mountains marked as Hewa territory.
And that is exactly what my husband shared with the church when he told them we wouldn't be able to come back yet:
"We want to be here for a long time. We want to be able to stay until we finish God's talk in your language. If someone gets killed while we are in here, we won't be able to stay. We are going to be out now for just a little while longer, so that we can make sure that we can stay until the work is done."
And then as hard as it was, he got on the plane and joined us again in town. Right now, our plan is for John Michael to wait until our co-workers get back in early February and then go back into the tribe with Jonathan. They will assess the situation together and then decide if it is safe for the wives and kids to return. Unfortunately, we will not be able to go back in until late March no matter what they say because we have to be here while the U.S. consular comes to have our two oldest daughters sighted for passport renewals and we have to attend our area's annual conference that won't end until March 22nd.
So that's two more months in town away from home. Two more months of waiting. Waiting, listening, trusting. Two more months to stop doubting and believe.
|Young teenage boys doing their part to patrol and protect the village|