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Mourning in March #2

Thanks for your continued prayers and inquiries as we walk alongside various Waodani Christ-followers in the aftermath of the recent spearing by the Tagæidi and/or the Tadomenani.

According to recent reports, the children of the slain Waodani couple will each receive a home built in their community and a small monetary compensation from the government of Ecuador to keep the immediate family members calm following the spearing by the Tagæidi and/or the Tadomenani. Hopefully this will move the couple’s children to a place of not retaliating to avenge the deaths of their elderly parents last Tuesday morning while walking near their village of Yarentaro.

While the deaths of Ompore and his wife, Bogueney, have brought the Waodani into the political light once more, I am reminded of very similar patterns in most major cities around the world, namely, gang wars. The Tagæidi and the Tadomenani have remained a people group relatively uncontacted yet surrounded by Waodani villages (with distant relatives) and the ever-encroaching oil companies doing oil extraction in that region. This recent act of spearing could just be their way of responding to the advancing generators and hard hats nearby. It could be a number of things that occurred within this people group and this death was one way to avenge such things through killing. There is a good chance we will never know the reasons behind the spearing. What we do know is that death is an opportunity for examination of eternity for those left behind.

Speaking with one friend who journeyed the moments and days following the killing with the members of the Yarentaro village, her stories recall key moments both for her and the family of Bogueney. For approximately two hours after the spearing while Bogueney’s body began the process of life to death, she called for her children to be near her side. Sawing off the extremely long spears protruding from her body to relieve the weight and pain, her children listened as she sternly spoke a message to each of them. Her command was to calm down, not to go out and spear in retaliation as in the traditional way of the Waodani. She told them all that she was not headed where her husband just went. She was to be with Jesus. Her strong words told them of His imminent return and the need to be ready to see Him soon. Jesus IS coming! Her challenge: To not respond in anger and further spearing but to LIVE! Walk the trail of life well with God and soon we will be together again. She told of hearing the former voices of Tonae and others calling to her to come along (Tonae was the first Waodani martyr.) Her children argued with her that Tonae and other Christian Waodani were not present in the hut with them, but rather she was having a delusion. But Bogueney insisted that she was headed with them to Jesus. Her final words were her wish for her grown children, grandchildren and future generations to heed the warning she gave to them. Be ready for eternity! This life is passing quickly.

These powerful words from a woman in her final moments of this life, challenge us all to examine our hearts and current path of life. Will I spend eternity with Christ or am I headed to an eternity of separation from Him? What is this life going to be full of pursuing? Things of righteousness or selfishness? Am I ready to die today?

As this event has become a time to reflect on many things for the Waodani people, will you join us in prayer for the salvation of many more through this challenge to know Jesus? Please pray for the few Christ-followers who carry this burden alone and for the ones without God in their families, tribe, and communities. May these believers be renewed in strength by the words of the woman slain and rise up to the opportunity to reach out during this time of uncertainty we call the present!

 

Mourning in March

Signs of relief blanketed the face of our Waodani friend as she joyfully shared at our gate an update from behind her smile. Having just returned from meeting her family in Coca, she went on to explain her pleas to her father, brothers, and male family members NOT to retaliate the spearing in seeking out the Tagæidi and the Tadomenani. Avenging the recent death of her aunt and uncle, these Waodani men gathered together in the large city on the outskirts of the jungle territory for revenge. The young woman traveled hours to Coca to meet face to face in hopes of derailing this attack. IT WORKED! For now, her father has chosen to listen to his daughter’s cries to LIVE, to seek to walk not as their ancestors did, but to be available to the future generations of this family. For her, this strong cry to return to their village and not advance upon the remote territory of the killing was heeded that night. The agreement to return to their homes was the result of her coming, even if they were unwilling to relinquish their many long, prepared spears. They will carry them back home to each perspective village.

She then went on to share with us her incredible testimony of God saving her life several years ago as a teen. She had come down with an ailment that no doctor could diagnosis, and had returned home to die. Upon her deathbed, she was visited by an angel who shared that God had important work for her to do and she would live! The miracle of her healing spoke to her family. Soon after she accepted Christ at a Christian camp, and has been a living witness to her in-laws (Shuar Indians), her family and her community. She feels compelled to share with her family to choose life in Christ, verses the “reality of Hell for those who don’t believe.” She has led a few of her loved ones to God in personal relationship and continues to challenge even her parents to walk well with God.

Her obvious strength and determination, coupled with mercy and love, drives this young woman in Christ. She is praying to return to the village of her parents, given her fathers strong request to spend time with her following their encounter the other night. To leave her home in Shell requires some decisions: her husband’s work, her small children, her home affairs, etc. Will you pray for her as she seeks to obey Christ and this opportunity to witness to the village of her childhood? We thank God that we can walk alongside her, pray with her, and share encouragement as she chooses to follow the calling clearly given her for her life in Christ. God answered YOUR PRAYERS too!! Keep praying for the Waodani people at this time of reflection and softened hearts!

UPDATE (Monday, March18th): Our friend came by sharing that she is headed Tuesday to her village with her husband and children. She came ASKING for a bible in Wao Tededo (we have them for purchase from Wycliffe for Waodani). She explained HER AUNT, the sister of the woman killed, has asked her to come and bring her a bible! We sold (in exchange for 3 necklaces) her 2 bibles in Wao Tededo that she can use to share God’s Word to her family!! Katie also sent her with some tracks in Spanish to help equip her where to begin in sharing verses. (Thanks to a recent team who left them behind to utilize!) God is working in hearts!!

March 4th, 2013

We appreciate your prayers and support for our family and ministry here in Shell, Ecuador. Tonight, we covet your prayers once more.

"The death of two seniors and attacking another person who's injured is the tragic outcome of an attack in Yarentaro Huaorani community, 230 kilometers of Coca, capital of the province of Orellana. According to early versions of the Huaorani Organization of Orellana, Monday night March 4, a group allegedly, the Tagaeri community, came up and perpetrated aggression. The Tagaeri with Taromenane are the last two uncontacted peoples in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Eduardo Pichilingue, coordinator of the Observatory of Collective Rights in Ecuador, told El Comercio that the dead are Ompore and Buganey, elderly (the hierarchy in the community) of Yarentaro." This content was originally published by newspaper El Comercio at the following address:

http://www.elcomercio.com/pais/presunto-ataque-tagaeri-investiga-Orellana_0_877112468.html.

Reports indicate that the killing took place around 11:00 am, March 4th.  Our Waorani friends, Mencaye (grandson) his wife Silvia, Cawetipe and Manuella have left to go and see if they can help the situation and accompanied the Ecuadorian military as they went into the area as well. PLEASE PRAY for these young leaders and Christian Waodani as they sort out the facts and are also vulnerable themselves as they try to calm those who are grieving or may be angry seeking revenge. 

We don't have all the details and often there are rumors which we try to confirm before passing on information.  There are strong leaders and elders among the Waodani who have had to deal with these kinds of incidences over the years. The pressures on them all is immense from every side; spiritual, political, cultural, etc. Your prayers for God's power to be demonstrated through this tragedy IS NEEDED TONIGHT! The Waodani Christians have been concerned about the salvation of this "unreached" group of relatives. PRAY that the Lord may use this incident to draw more individuals to Himself! PRAY that we may be an encouragement to these leaders in critical positions. Even tonight we met with and prayed with a woman who stopped by our home in Shell, visibly upset before traveling tonight to stop her father and extended family from further spearing. PLEASE PRAY!

Standing together with Christ,

Chet and Katie Williams
The Williams develop disciple-leaders ~ indigenous, nationals, and those from North American teams ~ to equip and empower them to advance Christ's Kingdom.

My defenders

One thing I have accepted living in the remote jungle with great appreciation are my personal defenders, the tarantulas. In our home in Tiweno this time, we have nightly enjoyed the appearance of “King” who lives directly center on the main bamboo beam of our one room, thatched roof home. King hides in the shadows until dusk when he daily makes his grand appearance to his post-mid center. He is grayish brown with a black abdomen, almost blue and quite a marvel to gaze upon. His lesser soldiers that we discovered day two and three in our home, linger close by too; one on the lower wall opposite the door, one on the north corner of the roof, one on the south corner, and another tracking the mid beam of the home. Let’s not forget the other one that makes a grand stance in the top corner of the outhouse/toilet behind our home. Yep-that’s a grand total of 6 healthy tarantulas living in our one room bamboo house, ranging in size from a man’s open hand to dinner plate sized.

While spiders haven’t been my most feared nightmare, these creatures are impressive and I do appreciate the fear they elicit in many humans. I have come to treat these as welcome guests, although I am not really sure WHO the guests are-us or them. They have done well to keep the severely dangerous spiders and snakes away, as well as the other creatures I oppose-the ants and cockroaches, which don’t seem to have taken over thanks to our built in control force. But mostly the “buya” (Waodani word for this spider), a extremely venomous spider that lives in abundance here, is “looked” for by my defenders and taken out. It is for these reasons I acknowledge my comrades with an accepting glance each morning and night.

Sunday morning, I was even more grateful as we left for church only to discover the dreaded “buya” in our empty water bucket caught with no escape (unlike the ants that marched freely over the smooth turquoise plastic). Ha! Thanks Lord for way you protect, reveal and provide.

Later in our time here, Skyler woke, dressed and prepared to go out for the day, dumping his rubber boots like he has been taught to since he learned to walk. Sure enough, a HUGE “buya” came right out on the bamboo floor and escaped through the cracks to the underside of our raised house. While it freaked him a out a bit, we all thanked God for His protection and praised Skyler for his habit of dumping boots EVERYTIME before you insert your foot. I immediately ran outside with the machete and found our attacker upside-down camouflaged on the bamboo floor. He was quite large even crumpled up and cut in half on the dirt below. I love taking out things that threaten my kids! It seems we understand why our tarantulas are so “healthy” and large this year! I think I’ll keep them around.

One moment in time

From my journal before Christmas in the village of Tiweno, mid December 2012

I felt unsure watching for the first time "Through the Gates of Splendor" sitting among one of the former killers and his offspring. Four generations of children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren scattered around me on the cool, rough planks of wood benches. There was a sort of surreal silence among the young, watching their ancestors traditional daily life captured on film. The occasional holler of laughter, in full Waodani style, echoed the rustic church building in Tiweno as they recognized an old friend or family memeber in their former days.

The story of God's plan unfolding in old film, projected on my white borrowed sheet, played out a performance of God's splendor, depths of love, and burning passion to reach all people. The five men-Nate, Pete, Jim, Roger, and Ed, along with their wives, had set out to reach the once fierce, uncontacted Waodani had set in in motion a wave of events that led to THIS DAY-the 2012 Waodani Annual Conference held by the Christian leaders of the tribe. Unbelievable!

As I sat with them I felt so completely overwhelmed with God's love, the incredible depths, for each and every one of these precious faces all around me. Yewe, Oma, Pegonca, Toni, their kids and grandkids, who sit beneath my legs, beside me searching for understanding of the fullness of God, all hearing the story of His hand reaching down from Heaven to save one-them! I am so honored to call these people, the Waodani, my dear friends. That same love that sent the five men into feared territory to bring the love message of Jesus Christ  in 1956, now filled my heart with a love not my own. Thank you Lord. Thank you for the obedience of missionaries past. Thank you that while the war rages on for the Waodani souls, YOU give glimpses of a hope and future in Christ. Gratitude overwhelms me as my heart is bursting with love for my friends to know you personally, to walk the trail in Christ alone, living apart for your glory.

May you take the seeds sown at this conference and multiply the coming harvest of hearts following hard after YOU until Your Kingdom Comes. I am privileged this holiday season to be your princess warrior in this war. Use me for your glory as your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.