Hoax, our language helper, recently told us about a tradition here in PNG surrounding the death of a family member. Apparently it was customary to have one’s finger cut off to express the sorrow associated with such a loss. After explaining this, Hoax showed us his mother’s hand. As you can see, the ends of two of her fingers are gone. These were cut off when she was a child–one for each parent.
Though this tradition is not practiced around here anymore, there may be places in the bush where it still happens. And even without such shocking outward displays it is clear that many people here are still enslaved by traditional thinking. We are still learning a lot, but we can already see how people’s lives are shaped by their traditional animistic beliefs. Even in some who claim to be Christians we can see some of the lingering impact of generations living in darkness.