Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Yopno: Where Once the Boulders Stood

For the past 27 years, Wes and LeeAnn and their children have had to either hike three hours or use a helicopter to reach their isolated village. In 1995 the Yopno people began to construct an airstrip, using hand tools and muscle. By early 2009 they had nearly completed the strip, except for many large boulders which were too heavy to remove. They were dependent on God to solve this problem, and he helped them in unique way.
When God created the animals, He made a very special kind of tree kangaroo and placed it in the same area as the Yopno people. Several years ago an animal conservation organization from the USA began studying these tree kangaroos and helping the Yopno to set aside a safe habitat for them. To show their gratitude for being allowed to study the tree kangaroos, the organization helped complete the airstrip. They obtained funding for equipment and dynamite to blast the many large boulders. Now in the place where the rocks once stood, airplanes are able to land...just in time to deliver God's Book to the Yopno people.

The Kodiak aircraft arrives on Dedication day, where once the boulders stood.
Photo by Karen Weaver

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Saturday, October 2, 2010

Strawberry Wars

There has been a lot of drama and grief over strawberries these past couple of weeks. Three days a week there is fresh produce market from 6:00 to 8:00 am. This is the only place to get any fresh food unless we grow it ourselves or buy it from friends. As a result, pretty much everyone here rolls out of bed at least one morning a week and makes the trek to market.

Most of the food at the market will be eaten in the village if it isn't sold to expats with one exception...strawberries. Strawberries are grown for expats alone - the only cash crop sold on center.

Women are basically in charge of preparing and selling the produce with one exception - men sell strawberries. In the past some men were sneaky, putting the big, beautiful strawberries on top and the small, bruised berries on the bottom. Several expats stopped buying them at market and started purchasing from their national friends or the people that worked in their yard or home. If the berries aren't bought they generally won't be eaten by nationals and all the labor goes to waste. Sometimes national ladies buy them at the end of market time at a greatly reduced rate and then go sell them to their personal friends. Thus the beginning of the strawberry wars which have led to...

heated words
guards called one at least one occasion
Sam - the community mediator between nationals and expats has received personal abuse
Apa, strawberry grower and our friend, has received personal threats
Koto - banned from center for three months for trying to intimidate people into buying his strawberries

Who would have thought that a small, sweet fruit, the symbol of happy summers in the US, could have caused such conflict!

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