Thursday, December 14, 2017

Words with the power to kill

In PNG someone can yell out "stealman" and point to someone, and a mob of people will surround the person, often beating them to get back what was stolen.  In some ways, this brings quick justice, which can be a good thing, if someone stole something as it can be recovered, but in many ways it is bad.  There is no trial, no judge and no jury – there is no way of knowing that the person accused of stealing actually did so.  If someone wanted to, they can yell "stealman" and can falsely accuse someone, but the same outcome happens – the mob and the beatings, with no one thinking twice about what they are doing or if the person accused really did it or not.  

It is one thing to have someone be accused of stealing and another thing to have someone be accused of being a witch.  In PNG, as in some other countries, the belief that there are people who are witches, who are working to harm other people through black magic are very real.  It is often hard for people to accept that someone has died in PNG no matter what the cause, so there is a cultural belief that someone is usually responsible for illness and death. So when someone becomes ill or dies, there are times when someone will accuse someone else of being responsible for it.

Just like when someone yells "stealman" and a mob of people are quick to decide what the punishment is, the same happens when someone is accused of being a witch. Without trial, judge or jury, the person who is accused is beaten, at times burned and too often killed – all without confirmation that the accusation was true.  Too often the accused are women who are defenseless when left in the hands of the unruly mob, and too often the outcome is lethal before anyone could change the mobs mind.  

It is tragic when it happens to anyone, but even mores when it happens to a child.  Children are supposed to be looked after by their parents, by their families, by the adults around them, but when the accusation of being a witch comes up, the family is powerless to do anything.  Very few can stand up to a mob, even when it is your loved one who is in harm's way.   Thankfully, when bad things do happen to kids or women, there are people who do care, people who do try and get help and save or rescue the woman or the child.   

Pray for the people of PNG, for the false witch accusations to stop, for the safety of women of children, for police to have the capacity to enforce the laws, for lawmakers to stand firm and make laws that matter, and for the culture to change, for love to win over fear and culture.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

NHM Farewell

Jim and Kathy have been such a big part of the ministry of Kudjip Nazarene Hospital for the past 32 years and have touched countless lives, that the thought of planning a farewell was daunting.  So many questions were being asked as to when, where, how, who speaks, how to honor Jim and Kathy, etc.  Thankfully, we had a great team who put together a great program where we heard very encouraging and touching words from community, church, hospital and fellow surgeon coworker - Father Jowarski from Kundiawa Hospital.  All talked about Jim and Kathy's faithfulness in coming, their service and desire to see people know Jesus and their love of the people of PNG, and how they aren't really leaving since Ben is continuing on the work with his family.  

Jim and Kathy also shared their thanks to everyone, and shared some words for us.  Jim sent us off with a trumpet number, one of the many we have enjoyed from him through the years.   We put together a book with pictures of the staff and notes written from them that Jim and Kathy can look at in the years ahead, as a gift for them as they go.  Our DS's prayed for them and then everyone came up to shake their hand, give them a hug and get their picture taken.  We even had the police come for a police salute.   While there will continue to be personal goodbyes for the next 2 weeks, there shouldn't be too many more big goodbyes, outside of the OT one tomorrow.  The weekend of farewells is coming to a close.  

The beginning of a farewell weekend

The mission family gathered together on Friday night to share a fun PNG themed night with Jim and Kathy as we get closer to their departure.  We all enjoyed the pizza, the fellowship and the time to remember some of Jim and Kathy's meaningful and memorable times with us.  Tears and laughter were common throughout the whole evening, as each of us has been touched in more ways than we can count or even now realize by Jim and Kathy.  We all are better for knowing them and having served with them and can count ourselves blessed.  Thank you Jim and Kathy for serving for 32+ years.  We love you and we will miss you.  

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Christmas English Lotu

We had our annual English Christmas church service this past Sunday.  The kids were cute as always, singing 
songs and sharing the Christmas story, always a good way to get us into the Christmas season.  

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Kumul Lodge

I had the chance to head to Kumul Lodge a few days ago with the McCoys, Williams and Charity.  Kumul Lodge is in Enga Province, and for birders, it is a place everyone wants to go to in order to see some of the Birds of Paradise.  I have been there a number of times, as it is a nice place to get away for a day or overnight, as time allows.  Having been there before, there is the risk that you don't appreciate the beauty of what you are seeing, but when you go with new people, once again everything seems new to you as well, as you are appreciating the little things that you may have missed the last time you were there.  

When you really look at the birds and watch them, they are anything but ordinary. There is a Common Smoky Honeyeater that changes the color around it’s eye from yellow to orange to red.  I don’t know why this happens, but it happens often and to watch it happen through binoculars is pretty neat.  There are Ribbon Tailed Astrapias who have long tail feathers that are about 3 feet long, which amazingly don’t get caught on anything as they fly.  We saw moms who have juvenile babies who are bigger than them, but who are still feeding them.  We saw a few new birds that I had never seen with the blue capped Ifrit and the Eastern Crested Berrypecker, both of who have amazing colors on them.  When given the time, birds are pretty amaing to watch - so different and unique, even in their own species.  

The rainforest is also amazing when you take the time to stop and look at it.  When you see the number of different ferns, orchids, flowers, and trees growing.  When you hear all the sounds from the animals that inhabit them. We went on a night hike, and although we didn't find the Kapals, we know they were watching us and enjoyed the beauty of the rain forest at night.  It was definitely a great 24 hours (outside of the car ride) and I hope to do it again.