A little while back, Seth and I attended a Compensation that was happening in our community. To give you a little of the backstory, about 8 months ago a man was killed down at the end of our road. There was an altercation between some guys from our community and a guy from another area. The guy from the other area got killed. When that happens in this culture, one of two things can happen. The two communities can start a tribal fight. Or the offending community will pay compensation to the other group. Luckily, no one wanted to start a fight, so for 6 months, our community had been gathering money in preparation for this day.
So what is the price of the life of a young man? In this case, it was K140,000 ($70,000), just under a hundred pigs, 2 goats, 2 horses, and 7 cows.
K75,000 of the money was given in a lump sum to the immediate family of the deceased. The rest of the money was divided out to different family groups.
They also had the mother and brother of the deceased come sit in the middle of the area. Then a lot of the community paraded past them dropping of whatever money they could give ( mostly K2 or K5 bills).
Overall, it was a very interesting thing to watch.
It's been about two weeks now since my good friend, Rondy Kingal died. Her death was a surprise, so much so, that I still find it hard to believe she is gone. It was Tuesday morning when I got a text to call my friend Malin. When she answered I heard crying in the background. She was saying that Rondy was dead. Finding it hard to believe what I had just heard, I told Benji. He said not to get upset until we knew she was really dead. They have a way here in PNG of saying "dead" when they really mean fainted, sick, close to death or actually dead. Just a few minutes before the phone call, I had remarked to Benji that someone must have died because we could hear the wailing of a "haus krai" from inside our house. Now I knew it was true. I quickly changed clothes and had a bite to eat. I had no idea what I would find up in the village, nor how long I would be there. As I walked up to Rondy's house, I passed a few people on the road. They all knew where I was headed. It usually isn't safe for me to walk up the village road by myself, but on this day no one was going to try anything. Listening to the crying and wailing all the way, my thoughts raced. "Is she really dead? How did she die? What happened? Will the villagers and extended family blame black magic and punish someone for her death? What about her children and husband?" So many questions and fears. As I started on the path to her house the wailing grew. I had to stay focused on my feet as the ground was more mud than stone. I reached her home and found her niece, Christina holding onto the porch post crying. I went and hugged her and my tears started to flow. While we embraced she told me of how Rondy had come to her in her dreams while she was sleeping and said, "Sweet, don't you see that I'm sleeping?" Christina right away went to Rondy's home and found her dead in her bed. From that time until I arrived, it had only been about an hour. I worked my way to the door and slipped off my flip flops. The front room of the bush house was filled with women sitting on the floor wailing. I sat for a few minutes and then decided to go into Rondy's room where the closest friends and her daughter were gathered. As soon as I saw her, there was no controlling my grief. I joined the ladies in their wailing and moaning as I stroked her forehead and touched her hair. In that room we were all sisters, grieving the loss of an amazing woman and friend. I stayed until the air was too thick for me to catch my breath. Once outside I stood for awhile, trying to wrap my brain around the situation. There were all sorts of people already gathering. I watched as more came into the yard and I could see the shock on their faces. Women were covering themselves with mud and pulling on their hair. I have never felt grief in the air as I did that day. Eventually I sat in the mud and cried some more. After a while I decided to walk home. There wasn't anything else I could do. The next few days were a blur of mourning and surviving. We found out that Rondy was recently diagnosed with a heart blockage, and was scheduled to fly to Port Moresby for heart surgery the day after she passed away. Because most people knew this, there was no talk of black magic being responsible for her death. Rondy was buried a week after she died. The following Sunday was a difficult one. Two of her children played in the worship team, and they all sang a special song along with other youth. Most of the women in the church cried during the entire service. It was just so sad to see her chair empty, and her children worshiping as they always did with her.
Rondy was an amazing woman. As I have thought about her over these last few weeks, I realize that she was truly filled with the Holy Spirit. She went to her job early every morning and did not get home until dusk. She was extremely involved in church ministry, as a board member, leading Bible studies, and many other ways. She did a lot to bring the Know Your Bible studies into PNG and translated many of the studies into Tok Pisin. She raised her four children and helped pay for her husband to study in the Philippines. I never heard her complain. We held an English Bible study with one other woman on being an excellent wife. The three of us shared deeply during this time, but still she never had a harsh word to say.
I am challenged by Rondy's life. She did so many things, and she did them well. She did them with a good attitude. She did them in God's strength. Our pastor shared a brief sermon the Sunday after her burial on the vine and the branches. Rondy truly was abiding in Jesus, and He abided in her.