February 27, 2015

What to Do About the Drunks?

This post has been brewing in me for a while now (no pun intended).  It’s about the drunk young men who terrorize the area where we live known as Pos 7. 

I used to find drunks humorous, or at the least, mildly entertaining.  Otis Campbell on “The Andy Griffith Show” cracked me up, the way he’d stumble in to the Mayberry jail, let himself in, and sleep off his binge on a lacy pillow tatted by Aunt Bea.  If only the drunks I met in real life were like Otis.
Drunk dude passed out on our driveway
Instead, they’re mostly angry and unpredictable.  Sometimes they’re so drunk they can’t even stay upright as they totter across the road.  The worst is when they’re angry, clutching rocks or waving sticks and threatening to hit you or your vehicle if you don’t give them money.

My fellow Pos 7-ites and I sometimes exchange text messages with warnings, like the morning traffic or weather report: “Expect a few drunks at the T in the road, heavily intoxicated, should taper as the morning goes on and they finally pass out.”

Once, two drunken teenagers on a motorbike chased me in my car up my driveway then stood outside the car yelling at me.  I was so shaky I could hardly hold my phone to call for help.

A few days ago, in the middle of the day, a drunk young man came into our yard and attempted to steal a motorcycle helmet.  David was able to chase him off, but it’s hard for me not to think, what if David hadn’t been home?  What would I have done?

Even now, as I write this, I hear an inebriated man singing his lungs out down the hill from our house.

The reasons for the drunkenness are multi-layered.  Lack of education.  Lack of work.  A feeling of hopelessness.  Peer pressure.  

And there’s no AA.  There’s no rehab.  There are churches galore, but they don’t seem to know what to do.  There are families who cower in fear of their drunken loved one – a son, brother, husband – and wish they knew how to help.  David has had conversations with some parents, and they seem utterly hopeless.

They make me at once angry and sad and frustrated.  We try to joke about it.  But truly, no one who’s had an angry drunk man lunging at their car thinks it’s even one bit funny.  And for those who saw my “Let it go” video this summer where I sing the line “the drunks never bother me, anyway,” you need to know that was me poking fun at myself, because the drunks very much do bother me.

I don’t want to live in fear.  Nor do I want to turn a blind eye to this huge problem or adopt an “I just want to be left alone” attitude.  But I honestly don’t know what to do.  

So there it is.  What do we do? How do we become part of the solution?

Would you join me in praying for the families affected by the drunks?  For the churches?  For those of us who live here and long for this to be a safe place? And for the drunks?

February 14, 2015


If the blog seems to have a more mature timbre to it, it should.  I'm now 40, and as of this weekend, so is my husband.

40!  It just doesn't seem possible.  I've been dreading leaving my 30s, which were awesome.

I think I've been dreading it because of the memory I have of my mother turning 40.  She had a terrible bout of the flu the week before her birthday.  One night while she was sick, she got up, passed out, and gashed her head, resulting in a midnight trip to the E.R.  A few days later it was her birthday,  and I can see the photo in my mind's eye - my brothers and I gathered around our mom, who is sporting a tired face and a head wound.  I hope I gave her a nice present that year, but seeing as I was a preteen goofball, the chances are good that I didn't.
Not "the" photo, but same era

Now, I know her appearance in that photo had nothing to do with being 40, but my subconcious has held on to the idea of "40 = tired and wounded."  And I'm happy to report that the Big Day arrived and it felt normal.  Not old.  Not wounded.  I spent a lovely day with my five favorite people in the Big City, doing some of my favorite things - eating good food, and sitting on a beautiful beach.  Then -to take advantage of being in the big city - we did one of my most unfavorite things - shopping for jeans. (Grace: why can't I find jeans long enough? Me: Because you're a giantess living in Asia, my dear.)

After pondering 40 for a while I came to the conclusion that it feels about right. We're past the little kid years and firmly planted in the middle years with kids in elementary school and high school.  
I still play basketball (more than I ever did as a junior varsity Jenkins High School Warrior Bench Warmer), I watch cartoons, I love candy, I like comics, I listen to whatever music my teens do.  I Just Dance.  That all makes me feel young, and like I couldn't possibly be older than 26.  But then, there's the side of me that seems a bit old, if not old-fashioned, the side of me that likes to take naps, read Jane Austen and Charles Dickens, and resist new technology. I took an online quiz that said I was 64.  David says I was born a hundred years too late.

So maybe 40 is about right.

In other news, we sent our two high schoolers off on the annual Outdoor Education trip this week.  They're deep in the interior of Papua now, serving the people of the Kosarek area in a variety of ways: water storage projects, kids' clubs, HIV-AIDS awareness programs, and medical clinics.  Grace left not feeling well, and she was a bit nervous about the whole thing.  Carter - this being his third OE - was hyped about the trip.  David got to fly them in and see them off.

I struggled with saying goodbye to them.  Each small goodbye like this feels like a warm-up, a rehearsal for the BIG goodbye that looms in the not-too-distant future for our family.  Carter graduates from high school next year and will be moving back to the U.S., and it is a scary thought to ponder, him on one side of the globe, and us on the other.
The updates we're getting are very positive - kids are healthy, they're vaccinating people against measles, hiking to other villages, doing work projects, just all kinds of cool stuff.  Hopefully in my next post I'll have some of their stories and photos to share.