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.
A mother of one of the kids in our school came into my office today carrying a bag of potatoes. She set the potatoes down by the door and sat down across from me. She said, "I have something to tell you. When I brought my daughter to your school, she was just a baby (she just turned 4). But after less than 2 months, she has learned so much. She comes home everyday singing English songs. And she can say her abc's all the way to z. She can count up to 15 already. None of her older brothers could do any of that stuff until they were a lot older. I don't know how to thank you for all you are doing. These potatoes are for you. They aren't much compared to what you are teaching my daughter, but that's all I have to give. Thank you so much."
I didn't know how to respond her. I mean, what could I say? She was crediting me for a lot more then she should have. For one, we have a great staff at the college that works very hard. And what little I do, I can't take credit for either. But how was I supposed to explain to her about all the people who make our ministry possible? The people who are praying for us daily, those who generously support the ministry here in PNG, and those who send us supplies and things that we need.
Just as an example, we received two boxes a few days ago of school supplies for our kids. These supplies were gathered and sent to us by Bob & Amanda Blankenship and the people from the Circleville Nazarene Church. Here are a few pictures of some of the kids checking out the new supplies:
As the mother was saying thank you today, all I could think about was all of you who are really the ones making this happen. So I am passing her thank you on to you. But I'm going to keep the potatoes for myself!
Once again, Thank you for all you do!
I hadn't planned on writing another update on Pastor Richard and his family. However, so many of you have written me on facebook or emailed me and asked how they were doing and if I had another update coming. So I decided I should just write out something on here for all of you to see.
The reason I hadn't planned on writing an update, is that although this was obviously a big deal in their lives, its not something they have had time to stay fixated on. Here in PNG life has to go on. There is no time to sit and dwell on the past. Now some of you may be thinking that given what happened to Caroline, it is cruel to suggest that they shouldn't dwell on it (it has only been a month). But there are things that go on here that make it impossible for them to not move on. Like the fact that 2 weeks ago Richard's half brother went and did something stupid that caused a fight to break out between two tribes. And although no one from Richard's immediate family group got injured, 4 people total died in the fighting between the two tribes. Because of the fighting and the fear that they would also be killed, Richard and his extended family couldn't leave their homes for almost a week.
Then in the wake of the fighting that was just getting calmed down, Richard's half brother went and got caught stealing K4,500 (roughly $2,250) from someone from another tribal group. In order to stop another fight from breaking out, Richard himself went and hunted his half brother down, tied him up, and took him to the prison. The cultural thing would have been to protect his half brother no matter what. But Richard told me that the only way his half brother was ever going to stop doing these things long enough to learn not to do them would be if he got killed or was in prison. So he hunted him down and took him to the prison and filed a report himself against him. However, as the police officer took him from Richard and was walking him back to the cell, apparently he twisted the police officer's arm and escaped. Inside the prison. When he found out, Richard said lets go get him in your police car before he gets too far. To which the police replied that they had no vehicles available at that time. So Richard's half brother escaped. And here in PNG, the police rarely ever go and track someone like this down. So now he is just out there and we are waiting to see what stupid thing he will do next.
So that is the update on Pastor Richard. Now you see why it has been hard for them to dwell on the past. I have been passing on your comments and prayers to Richard and he has been so appreciative. We would like to ask that you continue to pray for us as well. It has been great to be here and work alongside Richard during all of this. We have been able to encourage him and he continues to encourage us when we have problems. That's one of the many reasons that we are working so hard to get our account back up. Currently our account has dipped down into the red and we are facing having to leave PNG and head back to the States early if our account doesn't come back up. Please take a moment to pray about Pastor Richard and his family, our ministry here in PNG, our account, and how God can use you to help out. If God is leading you to help in some way head over to our Partner With Us page. Thank you so much for your concern for the work here in PNG
It has been a week now since I posted the prayer request about our good friend Richard and his daughter Caroline. Since I posted that last week, Over 600 people from 19 different countries read about Richard and Caroline on our blog. As I was telling Richard about that the other day, he almost started crying. He said, "I can tell that people have been praying for me. God has been guiding me and giving me strength and wisdom. Can you tell them thank you for me?" So here is my way of saying thank you to all of you, by sharing with you how God has been working in this situation.
Last week, a lot of parents at the school that Caroline goes to called for a meeting with the school board. At the meeting, there were a lot of people in attendance. Parents, school board members, a lot of community leaders, and Richard. Although it is culturally normal for all community leaders to speak whenever there is any sort of meeting, Richard was asked to speak first. He got up and told the story of what happened, then went on to speak passionately about the need for everyone to work together to stop this sort of thing from happening. After he finished speaking, it was decided that he had spoken so clearly about what needed to happen that there was no need for anyone else to speak. The school board said that they would make a decision of what to do based only off what Richard said. That decision is yet to be announced.
Yesterday (Sunday) at church, the place was packed. It is my opinion that mare people are coming because of what they have seen in Pastor Richard. After a great service, Richard finished off by saying that he wanted everyone to know that his house was always open. He said "if you want to talk, come see me. If you are hungry, come and I will give you food. If you have no where to sleep, my house is always open." And everyone knew that he really meant it.
So thank you for praying for Richard and his family. I can't say that Caroline is completely over what happened, but that isn't to be expected this soon after. But God has definitely been answering your prayers as he has worked in this situation to grow His church here in Papua New Guinea.
Thank you also for praying for Erica and I as we help minister to Richard and Caroline and the rest of the family. If you want to hear more stories about what God has been doing here in PNG, check out our latest newsletter by clicking here.
We would like to share a prayer request with you. In this picture is Pastor Richard and his family from the Mt. Hagen Church. Richard's wife is Dorothy and the kids are (from oldest to youngest) Caroline, Mark, Georgina, and one to be born any day now. Richard is a graduate of the Christian Union Bible College and continues to work closely with us.
Last week Wednesday, as Caroline was walking home from school, she was attacked by some men. I will spare you the details, but Caroline was left emotionally and physically damaged. After everything else they did, they then tried to drown her so that she wouldn't be able to tell on them. Luckily, Caroline lived and found someone to help her. As you can assume, Richard and Dorothy were furious and of course concerned for Caroline.
As soon as we found out, Erica went to find them and help drive Caroline and her family to the hospital. A medical report was filed and tests were done to make sure that she had not ended up with HIV. Thursday, Richard and a few men went down to the elementary school to talk to the Headmaster (Principal). They wanted to inform him of what happened and talk to him about what could be done to prevent future problems (it turns out that Caroline is the 6th girl in a row to have this happen to them just outside the school property). Unfortunately, the Headmaster got defensive and called some of his relatives. They came and chased Richard and the others off, beating them up and leaving two of them with serious injuries.
Now, the culture here is very much an eye for an eye type of culture. The police (although a police report was filed) will do nothing about this. So culturally, what would normally happen is that Richard's relatives would all go and beat up/kill some of the people related to the Headmaster. This would result in a tribal war and who knows how many would die. So immediately a whole group of men headed down the road towards the school to go start a fight. But they had to pass by the church that Richard pastors and Richard was there waiting for them. He got them to stop and he calmed them down and told them he didn't want to start a fight. He told me later that he just kept thinking of the church members, the ministry he has worked hard to develop, and the new Christians that have just recently gotten saved. He said that he knew that it would all be for nothing if he went and started trying to get revenge. And so no fight started.
However, Richard is still in a very difficult position. What would you do if that happened to your 8 year old daughter and the police did nothing? Richard is still trying to get the Headmaster to talk to him about what can be done.
Please be in prayer for Richard and his family right now. Richard told me this morning that Caroline wakes up screaming at night. And she is afraid to go near any stream or river. Also pray for the Mt. Hagen Church that Richard pastors. They had a special prayer yesterday in church because they feel that Satan is fighting against them because of all the people that are getting saved recently. and continue to pray for Erica and I as we try to help in these kinds of situations.
During July we were privileged to have a team from OCU come and do ministry here in PNG. They spent two weeks here, one week in Mt. Hagen and one week out in the Southern Highlands. During the first week in Mt. Hagen, they ran a VBS for kids and youth from Ban Village. Each day they had close to 100 in attendance. Because of the VBS that the team did, there are now many more kids and youth in attendance at our local church in Hagen. During that week Jason Beavers also taught a class at the Christian Union Bible College on Sacraments. This class was very challenging and eye-opening for the students. They are still talking about what they learned.
The second week, we headed out bush to the Southern Highlands. During the time out there, they went to a different area each day and did an outreach ministry with the kids and youth. In some of the areas it took place in churches, but in one area it took place at an elementary school. It was neat to see as the Principal, teachers, and students all came out and took part. A lot of lives were touched by the coming of this team. The kids and youth that they spent time with will never be the same. We appreciate Jason & Anastasia Beavers, Chelsea Breuer, Jazmin Frank, and Kayla Conley so much for their willingness to listen to God's direction and sacrifice their time and money to come here to PNG!
Here are some random pictures from their time here:
Now, don't you want to come on a team too?!
This last week the students from our Christian Union Bible College traveled to the Pangia area in the Southern Highlands Province. As part of their training, we send them out on ministry outreach trips where they preach, sing songs, perform dramas, and give their testimonies in churches. They left on Monday and had services in the evenings and in the mornings starting with Monday night. I was privileged to join them on Saturday and return back tot he college with them on Monday.
After a 2 1/2 hour drive we parked our truck and started our 2 hour and 15 minute walk. This is the road at the start of the walk, it wasn't near this good by the end! Traveling with me were Martin's (our teacher at the college) family and DJ Casto (a volunteer who is here for the year helping teach at the college).
Sunday evening we didn't have a service, so we just sat around in the kunai houses around the fire chatting. We then got up and started walking at 6 in the morning and made it back to our truck around 8. After a short (2 1/2 hours) drive back to Hagen, I was back with my family again. In about 10 weeks I plan on sending the students out again. Continue to pray for them as they prepare for full time ministry.
Last week, I was honored to attend the Regional Conference for the Christian Union Church here in PNG. I rode a PMV (Public Motor Vehicle or bus) out on Monday and returned to Mt. Hagen on Friday. The meetings took place from Tuesday through Thursday all day.
I really enjoyed being there with all of the pastors and leaders that we work with. Every day, I woke up to the sound of a group of the pastors praying (starting at about 5:30 and going until 6:30). Then the pastors would switch to singing for a while before hearing a short devotion. Then about 7:30, we would all head over to get our morning tea and scone (roll). The meetings would run from 8:30 to 12:00, when we would break for a lunch of kaukau (sweet potato), kumu (greens), and sugarcane. We would then have meetings again until about 4:30. Supper consisted of typical Mumu food (food cooked in the ground by hot rocks): Pig, kaukau, taro, kumu, and bananas (the kind that you cook). What followed next was the best part of the day. The pastors would go hang out in their grass houses (each district had its own house) and sit around the fire talking. Each evening I would slip off and join in with a different district in their house.
Sitting and talking with the pastors is one of my favorite things to do. It is the best chance for me to really get to know them and for them to feel connected to me. Many of them start out afraid to talk to me, assuming that I am so much different than they are. But as I sit around the fire with them, joking and laughing about things or talking about something out of the Bible, I become one of them. And that is the best way that I have found to be able to make a real impact on their lives.
Pray with me for the pastors that we work with here as I do my best to disciple them in the way that Jesus demonstrated and that Paul taught about in 2 Timothy 2:2.
One of the many things I love about our ministry here in PNG, is getting to travel. Not that the roads are good at all, but I still enjoy it. Just this last week I got to travel to Sumia (Past Mendi in the Southern Highlands Province). I went there to be involved in a meeting with the Regional Board of Trustees of the Christian Union Church.
When I travel out to Mendi, I usually ride in a pmv (bus). I do this for a couple of reasons. One, our vehicle is not able to handle the rough roads between Hagen and Mendi very well. And since I don't have money to constantly fix it, I just don't drive it out that way. Two, most of the pastors and church leaders that we work with have to travel by pmv because they don't have vehicles. I do my best to try to work under the same restrictions or conditions that they do, so that I can relate to them better.
So after riding the pmv to Mendi, one of the Board members who has a truck picked me up and we rode out to Sumia. The meeting was held in our church at Sumia, and the pastor and his wife fixed us a meal of chicken, kaukau, bananas, and kumu (greens). We started our meeting at about one o'clock in the afternoon (the pmv ride takes about 4 hours), and didn't get finished until close to six o'clock.
After the meeting was over at six, everyone was trying to catch a ride back to their homes. Several men were able to get a ride to Embi and Montanda, the guy from Kar just decided to spend the night with the pastor of Sumia, and the guy from Poroma was the one with his own truck. The two guys from Waralai had no way to get home, so they decided to spend the night at one of their in-laws place (Yagen) which was close by. Since I had no way to go home either, I went with them. Now, it is very common in this culture to just show up at someone's house and expect them to house and feed you. However, it isn't very common for a 'white man' to just show up at your house and expect those things. So the family was pretty shocked when I came walking up to their house with the two other guys. However, they quickly made me feel at home. We sat around the fire in the Haus Kuk (Cook House) for a while and then I headed off to bed. They actually had a couple of bedrooms built into this Kunai (bush) house, so they gave me my own room.
We got up the next morning and went out to the road to wait for a pmv to come along. It was about a 20 minute ride into Mendi. Once we got to Mendi, we went and hung out a Haus Kai (small fast food place) and got some breakfast. I had some broccoli and a fish flour (kind of like a big corn dog, but with fish in the middle). About eight o'clock or so, the pmvs were loading up to head to Hagen, so I jumped in one and made my way home.
That is what you call traveling 'PNG Style', and I happen to love it! If you ever make it over to PNG some time and want to travel with me, I will gladly take you along!