“Son wake up – get up, the sun is going down and it is time for you to eat.”
Those are the heartbreaking words sung in a wail-ful cry by Unai, our neighbor who was mourning the loss of her firstborn son. Unai is the wife of Yanis. Many of you will recognize Yanis as one of our key translation helpers and teachers. Yanis has worked tirelessly to teach the Hewa people God’s Word. He has taught the Hewa people to read so that they can see for themselves what God’s Word says. He has an incredible deep understanding of God’s Word. He married Unai about 18 months ago and a month or so ago they had their first son John. Yanis and Unai were so proud of John.
Right before we arrived, a really bad respiratory infection started to affect everyone in the village. Yanis was very busy distributing medicine as he is also the village medical aid. John took a course of medicine and seemed to be on the rebound. Yanis, Unai and John live right next doors so we saw them every day since our arrival in May. John was doing a little better and eating and sleeping like normal. However, mom was giving John his bath this morning and noticed that John was not acting normal during his bath time. Yanis was down in the school assisting me with literacy – someone came and asked Yanis to come quick. We all immediately went to the house to see what was wrong. John was glassy eyed and breathing very shallow. We tried giving him a breathing treatment as his respirations had become very shallow and labored. Within 15 minutes, he just stopped breathing. We tried all we could, we prayed for a miracle – but God chose not to revive John’s little body.
It has been a very long day. Yanis is a true brother in The Lord that has labored vigorously many hours over translation and teaching material. Yanis is one of the sharpest men I have had the privilege of working with. His wife is a beautiful believer that seemed to be the perfect fit for a leader in the church. Today we have listened to crying, tears, sorrow, heart pain, anguish and tremendous grief. The Hewa people are extremely vocal when they mourn. And they stayed on our porch mourning for the first hour or more.
They have moved down a few houses to a larger house that can accommodate the crowd. As we have mourned with our friends, we have taken time to sing songs of God’s salvation and Jesus’ precious blood that was spilled to pay the debt for our sin. We have prayed for strength and encouragement. We have read from passages including Romans 8:26-32, 2Sam 12:22, at Lindsey’s suggestion we read Psalm 139:13-16, and we concluded with 1Thessalonians 4:13-18. It has been a very difficult day listening to Yanis talk through tears expressing all the plans he had for his son. “He was going to God’s work, and teach all over these mountains and I was going to go with him and support his ministry, and now he is gone.”
This afternoon Eyaka, another key man in the church, and I spent a few hours building a casket on our front porch. Layla came out to watch and said, “It is so sad that the casket is so tiny.” Her and Lexie had a good cry over the loss or their baby neighbor. We all spent several hours today in the “house-cry” shedding tears, listening to wailing that is deafening at times, and just being there in solidarity with a church that is in mourning. Lauren and Lindsey stayed with me until dark even after mom and the little ones left.
We need your prayers, the baby will be buried early in the morning. Less than 24 hours after his passing. We will have a small graveside service. Pray for Yanis and Unai. Pray for the Hewa church. Pray for the Copley girls to learn that God is good, even when things don’t turn out the way we prayed. We have HOPE because we know The Savior that lost His son, so that we could have eternal life.
Resting in HIM –
The Copleys – Working with The Hewa People of Papua New Guinea Pictures of Yanis, Unai and John are available on our FB Page.