We found out yesterday that Hoax’s daughter, Ginalyn, died. Hoax came by to tell us in the late afternoon that she had died around lunch time.
Today I walked out to Hoax’s house where a handful of people were gathered. As I approached, one of the older women started wailing as is their custom. (After someone dies, it is important to show everyone around and the spirit of the deceased who may be lingering how sad you are.)
One of Hoax’s brothers told me that Hoax was in town trying to get a coffin and Margaret (Hoax’s wife) was in the house with some other ladies and Ginalyn’s body. He told me that we would go in the house after a while.
Thirty minutes later I was escorted into the house where I could not see anything until my eyes adjusted to the darkness. However, I immediately heard Margaret begin wailing. After she hugged me and in the midst of her wailing she was talking to Ginalyn, or her spirit, telling her “Joseph has come to see how you are. He is the one who would take you to the clinic. He is a good man.” She repeated this a few times.
Because we have learned about PNG culture, I know Margaret was doing this to remind Ginalyn’s spirit that I was nice to her and should not be treated badly (by the spirit.) This was sad and uncomfortable. After a few more minutes I walked back outside with Hoax’s brother then came home shortly after that.
As you read this, I expect that some of you are wondering if Margaret is a believer. I know she has heard the gospel as I have shared with Hoax and her; I know she would tell us she believes it; and I also know that the traditions and customs which are woven deeply into her life are hard to let go of. So I don’t know whether or not her actions today can be taken as an indicator of what she thinks about Jesus.
And I’m sure many of you would also like to know about Ginalyn’s beliefs. Similarly, I know that she has heard the truth about Jesus (though not to the extent that I have been able to share with Hoax.) And, additionally, last week while I was talking with Hoax about Colossians, Ginalyn was sitting with us and we were able to talk very directly about what Jesus has accomplished. But I don’t know for sure what she believed.
Despite the sadness of this situation and the unanswered questions, we are thankful that we have had the opportunity to be a part of Hoax’s family and community. We are thankful to be a part of the work that God is doing here in Papua New Guinea. And we are reminded of how dark this country is and how badly the people need to hear the truth of God’s word.