Hauna culture is rooted in the Family – especially children. Their language, Sepik Iwam, doesn’t even have a word for divorce or orphan! To dissolve a marriage was unthinkable. If a child’s parents died, the relatives would raise him or her as their own.
The family would be together during the day, but at night the men sleep in one long house and the women in another. Children stayed with the women, and when the boys reached a certain age, they would move to the men’s house and be discipled in Hauna traditions. Marilyn, seeing all the pregnant women and all the babies, wondered about those arrangements. Then she heard that a couple’s time alone was in their garden in the jungle. Riddle solved!
Each house would have three medicine men who were responsible for the health and well-being of the people. When someone was sick, these men would call on the evil spirits to relent. They’d use fetishes and animal sacrifices to try to appease them, often without success. They’d also apply medicinal herbs and plants, often chewing some and then spitting on the part of the body affected by the illness. Their word for doctor was “Spitter”.
In many ways, Hauna culture is like that of the Bible, so it’s not surprising that they readily embraced it. They also saw the power of God’s Word over evil spirits. When they heard the story of Jesus healing the blind man by spitting in the dirt, making mud and putting it on the man’s eyes to heal him, they exclaimed, “Jesus is the most powerful Spitter in the world!”
It’s truly amazing how the unique culture of Hauna has been strengthened by the Scriptures. It has helped them resist the encroachment of foreign traders who have tried to cheat them in business, introduce vices, and otherwise corrupt the God-honoring aspects of their traditional culture. They have built schools, clinics and churches. They are healthier, happier and better educated than ever before.
One of their major activities now is to reach out to other villages – to people who were their traditional enemies – to share the love, forgiveness and eternal life that is found in Jesus Christ.
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
On those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.
– Isaiah 9:2