Once, Mark went to Myubak to remove items from one of the missionary’s houses. Here are his reflections on NTM’s work there.
Going into Myu was “interesting.” On one hand, I felt remorse with taking the house down. It was sad as I remembered my times up there – deliveries, getting stuck in the mud, talking with the missionaries, eating cinnamon rolls, hassling with the people. I envisioned the missionary’s life as well – living in the middle of the jungle, alone, lonely at times, not any action, sometimes sick, other times depressed and no one to listen. It was really a sacrifice. It probably was not considered sacrificial in the eyes of the tribal members as they have so little in comparison. That is their life. However, in contrast to life in America with all its conveniences, (which having just returned from furlough is fresh on my mind) they sacrificed much. They gave 15 years of their lives for the Myu people. Not many would have stuck it out. I wondered if it was worth it? So I asked Miyung, one of the Myu Bible Teachers, “What has changed as a result of NTM being in here?” Here’s what he said over the course of the day and my asking him different questions as we worked, ate and walked around the village.
“We are free. Before, we could never go into the jungle without being in fear of our enemies. Everybody was our enemy. Now, we have no enemies. We can go anywhere we want. The spirit places (masalai) don’t exist. I don’t think they ever did but our fathers and grandfathers would tell us where they were so we would have to respect those areas and not go by them or we’d get sick or die. Our ancestors were deceived into thinking these places were there but they’re really not there at all. Us older men remember those places but we don’t fear them any more. Our children have no idea where they are because we don’t even talk about them any more. They too are free.
“I used to do magic to make the gardens grow. People would ask me to do magic on their gardens to make them grow. I knew I didn’t have magic because there were times I would do my magic and the gardens wouldn’t grow and there were times they would grow. I knew it had to do with planting a garden at the right time but I wouldn’t tell anyone. Now I tell people, you plant your taro garden and do your magic and we’ll plant a garden and just pray to God. You know what happens? Our gardens grow better. The people see their magic is nothing.
“There are men who would do magic for sick people. It didn’t work either and if the people got better, it had nothing to do with the magic. We pretended to be someone so people would praise us even though we knew we had no power at all. Now we just pray for our sick. Sometimes they get well and other times they don’t. The women don’t wail anymore when they hear someone has died. Most of the “poison men” (witch doctors) are dead. They did have power to kill. I saw it. It must have been Satan’s power they had. We used to be afraid to throw our scrap food around or leave a shirt somewhere where a poison man could get them and do black magic on us. We don’t fear that any more. Even the poison men that are still alive have no power over us any more so we don’t fear them and they don’t bother coming around us.
“Not every Myu is a believer. Some of us still hold on to some of our customs that are hard to get rid of. We still do dances for the pig but have stopped digging up the heads of our ancestors and doing business with them. We don’t feel that is right. Some Myu are still Catholic and pray to Mary in hopes she’ll ask Jesus and He’ll ask God. That’s not in the Bible so why do it? We go straight to God himself.
“Yes, we are free. We can go anywhere we want in the jungle and not be afraid.”