I can’t speak for a forrest, but when a tree falls in a village, it makes a sound and everyone hears it. And they all come to see. They do not, however, come to help which puts me in quandary.

On Saturday, Wes and I were down near one of our streams setting up a water filter. Rodni (pictured below) was just finishing a small structure he intended to use as a store. He called out to me to take a picture while he was on top thatching the roof.



On Monday I went down to see if the water filter was still functioning. As I inspected it with Wati and Roman, we heard a tree pop a few times. Someone had started a fire at the base–a common practice here to save effort in felling large trees–and the fire had done it’s job. The three of us were within range if the tree had come our way so we scrambled for safety as the tree swayed. Thankfully for us, the tree went the other way. Not for Rodni.






Within minutes there were at least fifty people on the scene examining the damage and carrying away firewood. One of the people was an unhappy Rodni. I felt sorry for him and wanted to help. Unfortunately, helping isn’t simple. My thought process was this:

I could get my chainsaw and be a lot of help quickly. But then I might have people coming to my house daily for chainsaw services which would slow me down learning language which would delay preaching the gospel and translating the Bible. People cut down and cut up trees all the time so my chainsaw isn’t necessary. Forget the chainsaw. I would at least like to help Rodni who is trying to chop and remove the branches which have crushed his store. But the other bystanders–most of them related to Rodni by blood–are not helping. Some are laughing. What message would it send for the white-guy-outsider to help in this situation? I don’t know.

We are in situations like this frequently. Without an obvious choice we have to make decisions which may prove to be significant. This time I helped Rodni lift a few heavy branches off his store while everyone watched. Will that prove to be significantly good? Significantly bad? Insignificant? Time may tell. Maybe.

  1. i’m not sure i would do well with all the ambiguity. praying for you guys as you navigate felled trees, giant spiders, coughing “neighbors” and helping without helping too much. or too little.

    • Joseph

      Thanks Molly.

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