Just a few photos of our week. Photos of Brian's trip to Aitape coming soon in a separate post.
Dr. Caleb was fixing me up all week. (I seem to have a lot wrong with me, most of which can be cured by having a stethoscope placed over the problem area for a few moments.)
On Tuesday the boys were bouncing off the walls with excitement because Brian was coming home. Two weeks is a long time, and everyone was very ready to have him back.
Waiting at the airstrip for the Daddies to come home. The other two kids are twins who are in Kinder with Greg. Their dad is a translator who works in Aitape who went along on the trip.
He got a little scruffy while he was gone. This is after he trimmed it up a bit. He kept the beginnings of a beard for about 24 hours, then couldn't handle it and went back to the usual goatee.
Unfortunately he was busy right off the bat when he got home. This week one of our Papua New Guinean employees, Arua Tepi, passed away after several weeks of illness. Even though he had been sick, I don't think anyone was really expecting him to die, so it kind of gave the community a shock. Arua had worked for us for decades as part of the team in charge of security. He was a God-fearing man who was extremely dedicated to his work. He often used to walk the center at night, praying over it and just keeping an eye on things.
How do you take photos of a funeral? Even though I've been to a PNG funeral where family members were snapping photos of the casket as it was being lowered into the ground, it just didn't feel right, so all I got was this photo of Brian getting ready for the memorial service.
So what are PNG funeral customs? It varies of course, throughout the country, but this one was typical in most ways. Arua had died at a hospital in Goroka, a few hours from here. His family returned to Ukarumpa on Tuesday (a wife and four unmarried children) and the haus krai began. The family is not left alone... people stop by the house, usually bringing gifts of food, and sit and talk with the family or just show their support by staying there a while. Brian and I went on Wednesday for an hour or so and talked and prayed with his widow, Rose. She told us about his death, and how he was ready to go and meet his Savior.
On Thursday a group went to Goroka to fetch the body. A memorial service was planned for 2:30pm, and it started on time, but the body didn't actually arrive until nearly 4:00. Another few hours of testimonies about his life and reiterations of the Gospel message, and then the real haus krai began when the body was taken to the home and people stayed up all night literally crying over the body. PNGns are not stoic in their greif - wailing is expected.
After the memorial service Brian was busy for a few hours with logistics. His cell phone had been ringing all day long as he worked with all the involved parties to sort out transportation and distribution of gifts. Funerals are one of the times in PNG when large amounts of money are spent. As the employer, our organization had an obligation to provide certain things - we bought the casket and paid for transportation of the body back to his home town several hours drive away from here. There was a cultural expectation though that we couldn't send the body back by itself. It would look very bad if we didn't also send thousands of kina worth of food gifts to his home village as a sort of thank-you for letting us "borrow" him for so many years. There was a community collection and people donated towards this gift, and then Brian was at the store late last night buying bales of tea, sugar, flour and oil to send back with the body.
Brian came home, exhausted at around 8:00 and had some dinner, and then by 9:00 he was out the door again to go back to the haus krai. He came home after 1:00 am.
This morning a caravan left to drive the family and the body back up to his hometown in the Southern Highlands, and our part of the proceedings is done. There will be another haus krai in the village before the body is finally buried. Arua will be missed in this community, and if you think about it, pray for his widow Rose and for the rest of the family.
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