Saturday, April 16, 2016

A Rat/Gnat Welcome

So coming home has been interesting. Most of you enjoyed the pleasure of my whining and complaining on various social media outlets while we were "displaced" because of the recent murders, and I know you think I must be a such a good missionary* lady to long to be back in her jungle home. 

And I am… NOT. I have decided that unlike Paul, I have NOT learned to be content in every circumstance. In fact, I have a familiar tendency to be discontent for at least the first two weeks in any new circumstance and after that, when I settle into a routine, I do ok and until I am uprooted and have to change again. My mom is reading this and thinking, "You were always like this. You never liked change as a child." It's true. I still don't. 

So by the end of my four months out of my jungle home, I kinda got in a routine and liked it. I didn't really know this until I came back to the home I whined for and didn't have that routine anymore. At first it felt really nice to land on our grass airstrip and greet all our friends and feel that comfortable feeling of "home" and then I opened the door. 

I opened the door to the colony of spiders that had taken up residence in my house all simultaneously turning their heads and millions of eyes my way. I immediately went to war unwrapping everything in my house from the webs the spiders had spun in order to make it feel more homey to them. If they wanted it to feel  more spidery when you walk in the door and less humany then they certainly accomplished that goal. I definitely thought, "Wow, someone with eight legs is certainly responsible for this decor." 

Once all the spiders were evicted I went to work washing every single dish in my kitchen. Have you ever washed every single dish in your kitchen? No? Why would you? You probably live in a nicely sealed house that doesn't immediately get overrun with every kind of insect and vermin imaginable as soon as you walk out the door (and often while you are still in the door). While washing every single dish in my kitchen I discovered that rats decided to chew holes in almost every single piece of tupperware I owned. That made for less dish washing at least, but then I had to burn all that tupperware, and crawl half way inside the cabinet to clean up the confetti of masticated plastic and rat droppings left over from the tupperware eating party. There was a lot of gagging and repeating, "You wanted to be here. You wanted to come back" over and over. 

Then after I unpacked every article of clothing we owned, made the beds, and swept the roach poop out of every corner, I popped the casserole that I made before we flew back (because cooking from scratch after a day of cleaning up spider, roach, and rat poop is less than ideal) into the oven and was thankful for the first time for the tupperware destruction. My oven only smelled vaguely of rat pee. The last time we were gone for a long period (our furlough) the rats took up residence in my oven, and every time I turned it on the aroma of rat pee filled the house and made everyone gag. The tupperware cabinet was a happy alternative to that at least. 

At the end of the day, we all climbed into bed to watch a movie before going to sleep. It was at this point we noticed that dozens of biting gnats or "No Seeums" as we call them out here were flying around the room and biting us. We've rarely had them in the house, so we just brushed it off as a fluke and went to bed. 

Unfortunately, it was not a fluke. The little jerks have been invading my relaxing evenings every night since we got back. All I wanted to do was get in bed, watch old episodes of Project Runway sent to me by another missionary friend, and go to sleep. Instead I spend the evenings counting tiny red dots left by biting gnats and then turning off the lights while the last few stragglers bite at my face. The highest count so far has been 36. 36 bites in the span of 45 minutes. I feel like if they really worked together they could accomplish a bite a minute, but I am not sure if I should expect too much from something with the life span of less than 24 hours. Anyway, just after a week of being home I was tucked under my covers in the fetal position longing for my guesthouse in town with glass louver windows that I could shut and keep all nature out of my bed time routine. I no longer wanted to be back in my jungle home. 

I was Israel looking back at Egypt and thinking, "Sure we were slaves, but at least we had food to eat." And I am like this anytime I change places. Everywhere new is the desert. The last place I was comfortable is always Egypt. Sigh. Humans. The same issues since the beginning of time. The patience of God is incomprehensible. 

But the next morning I woke up, the red spots were gone, and I watched my kids take out everything they forgot they owned and dance around the house like it was Cinderella's castle. Nothing feels better to kids than home. And nothing feels better to Moms than when their kids feel at home. And just like that... the desert becomes the Promised Land. 

*Recently an article came out about my family and I that was picked up by a couple of internet media outlets, and it has made some people really mad and hate us for what we are doing here. Missionaries are apparently the worst. But, I seem to recall being warned about being hated by you know…JESUS, so it's no big deal. We knew the article was coming out and were able to read and approve it ahead of time, and really enjoyed working with the writer and editors of the piece. I really didn't think we would be interesting enough to be picked up by other news outlets though, but I guess people love to hate things, so it did. The beauty of being out here in this remote place with no internet is that I can't read all those ugly comments. Sorry internet haters. I won't be able to feel your wrath for another 4 months and by then I'm sure you will have already moved on to comment aggressively about something else you know absolutely nothing about! Ha ha! Foiled by the remote jungle and its lack of technology! 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Lonely Planet

Where are we? We are in Hewa…and have been since March 24th. Honestly, I have been scared to post anything because it seems like every time I do, I have to immediately write and say JUST KIDDING our plans were thwarted by murder again! Actually, two days before our flight in this time we found out that there was more fighting, and another murder. I immediately, thought, "Here we go again. We get really close to our return date and then are postponed by chaos."

But what do you expect when we are in the middle of a tribal war? And at this point the situation has escalated to a tribal war.The weapons more sophisticated, the strategies more perverse. However, there are two positives about the way these people fight that allow us to be here. As another missionary friend pointed out, these guys do not "do war" like say, Africa does war. They pick off someone in the opposing family then that family does the same in a couple months, and the cycle continues until people get tired of it and someone eventually makes a payment of pigs and money to settle the problems. Then 10 years later, someone will get hungry for pig, demand more pigs for these deaths, and the cycle starts all over again. It's not like other places where they come in and wipe out entire villages.

The second positive (if you can call it that) is that the conflict has now focused down to two men, who are repeatedly attacking each other. And those being killed are people who are fighting with them. Because the people in our village have resisted all the pleas, taunts, and threats to join the fighting, the war has focused in on those who gave into the call for revenge.

The truly tragic and horrific thing about it all is that they no longer have much family support in their fighting so they have to "hire" people with guns to come support them, and they appear to be paying them by prostituting their sisters, daughters, wives…any females that they can capture and control.

And we are here, just a day or two hike away. Meeting on the weekends to hear God's Word, then playing soccer on the airstrip all day in the tropical sun. The kids (and some adults) are attending school everyday taught by my co-worker and walk around proudly displaying mathematics papers. It's hard to believe that there is a war going on just an eight minute helicopter ride away. This is a different planet. A planet with life, laughter, learning, and miraculously the love of God.

Every now and then we get a glimpse of that other planet. "Refugees" from that place have come here, and find it really hard to leave the those ways that are so foreign to us. One young man heard that his father was missing, so before taking off to go look for him on the trail, he fired his gun into the air without warning, immediately drawing everyone and their guns into a big panic. It was settled fairly quickly and made clear to everyone that they are not allowed to fire guns here unless they have to.

Then another got into a fist fight and threatened to kill the guy he was fighting with. Again, he had to be instructed in the ways of this new planet. Peace, joy, settling disagreements without violence these customs are alien in this galaxy of mountains. And it takes time to learn our ways. Most will eventually get frustrated and just leave. Some however, have and will, see/seen the difference. They will see a blue planet full of clean air where it's inhabitants can take full, deep breaths instead of being choked by air poisoned with fear and despair. A planet flowing with living water that once tasted their thirst is quenched eternally, instead of a red planet covered with rivers of blood flowing into their gardens and polluting their food supply.

This planet that supports and sustains Life, is a lonely planet. But it doesn't have to be. Those around us have all the elements needed to live in freedom and in truth. And without decades of exploring and terraforming to make them livable. All the elements were created 2,000 years ago when the most Holy Blood was shed for each person in this little galaxy.

For now, all we can do is hope and pray that our neighbors will see it for the treasure that it is and simply allow the King of the Universe to change their world as He has ours.