by Bethaney Butler
I have always been extremely close to Arakun and her family. She and her husband, Taiwo (one of the local pastors in Likan) have always treated me like one of their own. They have been blessed with seven children, and they have adopted countless others along the way, including me. Arakun is one of the only women in our village who has such a large family and has not lost any of her children during childbirth or illnesses later on in life.
Her oldest daughter Tegira was one of my best pals in the village growing up, a true sister for life. We’d carry our baby dolls in our bilums (string bags) on our heads, carry water from the river, sweep the ground and gather firewood on the river shore just like all the little girls in the village do. It was with Tegira and our brothers Levi and Obed, when I was 5 or 6, that I had an accident and cut my hand badly. And it was Arakun who put me on her shoulders and carried me to my house and told my parents what had happened.
I was with Tegira when she tried to deliver her first child. There were many complications during the birth, and she ended up being evacuated to Madang, and eventually lost the child. She lost 3 more after that. But in 2006 she gave birth to a healthy baby girl, Jill. Jill is well loved, especially by her grandparents, Taiwo and Arakun. Not only are they happy that Tegira finally gave birth to healthy baby, but she is the first and only granddaughter so far.
Jill is extremely smart for her age and I always hear funny stories of things that she has said or done. Last week, her dad was getting ready to make a call on his cell phone, and she insisted that he give the phone to her, saying, “Papa, give me the phone, I need to call Bethaney Taiwo.” You see, here in PNG most people don’t have a last name, especially those in remote villages, instead they use their father’s name to identify themselves. Kind of like Bethaney, child of Taiwo.
Jill reminds me of how beautiful the family of God is. How it has no limits or bounds. Although Jill is only almost four years old and I have only spent probably a total of about 6 weeks with her here and there over the last few months, she has identified me as a sister to Tegira and daughter of Taiwo. She understands that I am part of her family, no matter what the physical differences are. Thank you sweet Jill, for the reminder that we are all in the family, the family of God.
So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding. Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross.
Colossians 1:18-20, The Message
Bethany grew up in Likan where her parents William and Robin Butler are translators in the Waran language.