Friends, greetings from beautiful Ukarumpa! I was able to go out to Kokopo for a few days recently to take care of some things we needed to deal with.
My first priority was to reconnect with some key Mamusi leaders in and around Kokopo to begin discussions about how to resolve a conflict that has come up in our village. The issue stems from Papa’s death back in July, and it’s currently preventing us from going back to the village. Two village brothers are apparently blaming the building of our house/translation center for his death and have lashed out violently against the house. It doesn’t seem that there is anger against us specifically, just some resentment over the house, for reasons that are still a bit unclear. Our friends and leaders have advised us not to return until there has been reconciliation among the family. We’ve been praying hard and seeking godly counsel about how to move forward with this so that we can get back to our friends and our work there. We’ve been wisely advised that this is a cultural issue, and it needs to be handled in a culturally-appropriate way, which is to say that the solution needs to be the responsibility of the church and community leaders. I came to Kokopo not yet knowing if any of the people I needed to see would be around, whether they’d be willing to or interested in talking with me, or if we could make progress toward a solution. As always, the Lord had come before me and started arranging things before I got here. Not only were the three people I wanted to talk with available, in one place, and eager to discuss things, but it turns out Uncle Nick and another brother (who is also a respected village leader) were in town as well!
The six of us met all day on Saturday, crying together over Papa’s death and the ensuing disturbances, praying together for wisdom, and taking action. I mostly kept quiet, just answering questions and filling in some information when needed; all the discussion and problem-solving was done by Father Matthew, a high-ranking priest in our diocese. I was advised to send the customary gifts (appropriate after a close family member dies) to our village family along with a letter explaining why we weren’t there and how sorry we were, and expressing solidarity with them, that we were feeling Papa’s loss heavily as well, even from far away. Father Matthew, for his part, is sending a letter back to the community with Nick when he returns in a couple weeks, outlining what needs to be done to reconcile and restore peace in the family and community. I am to await news of compliance with his wishes and an invitation to come participate in the formal reconciliation ceremony. Of course, waiting around is not a particular strength of mine, but we are confident in the Lord’s plan and in the wisdom of all these leaders. Praise God for answered prayers!
In addition to this main concern, I was able to check things out at our Kokopo Regional Center, getting a clearer picture of how things stand, what the plan is for strengthening security, and even helping out with a few things. I’m pleased to report things are well on their way toward re-opening the Center soon, and the security situation is improving daily. I re-connected with my car dealer friend about our vehicle purchase for the village, but it’s turning out to be very difficult to find what we want, since these vehicles are in very high demand and don’t stay on the market very long at all.
Please pray with us for:
- Peace in Sivauna, and in our adopted family especially
- Safety for those travelling on very rough seas (our gifts should be on the water now, carried by a Mamusi brother returning home from town)
- Uncle Nick to find the medical treatment he needs for his bad knees
- Receptivity to Father Matthew’s instructions, and willingness to reconcile
- Work at the Kokopo Center to continue and continued peace so that it can re-open soon
- The right vehicle to come available at the right time and right price
- Safe travels as I head back to Ukarumpa Wednesday and reunite with my precious family
Thank you for your prayers! Our God is moving!