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.