Just a few days later, AIDS claimed another victim: Lopuwa Paul, a 30-year old Ik man who was our friend. He was the second Ik who ever helped me study the language, the first one being Lochiyo Gabriel, Janet and Lemu's father. Lopuwa was one of the first two Ik to ever get education past high school. A lot was invested in him, but he squandered it in his younger years, messing around and catching this deadly disease. Now he's dead. He left a wife and a few kids.
Then last Saturday, four young Ik men were way out in Timu Forest checking their traps. They rounded a clump of bushes and came face-to-face with a group of armed Turkana warriors. The warriors shot and killed one of the boys on the spot. They caught a second one a little later. Strangely, they walked with him for over ten miles, fed him meat and bread, and then stabbed him in the neck, killing him too. The two remaining boys made it home to tell the story.
On Monday we found out another Ik man, Charles, died in the hospital. Charles was also a bit educated and always greeted us with a sweet smile when we saw him in Kaabong. He knew English quite well. A few weeks ago he was speeding on a motorcycle, not wearing a helmet. He hit a bump in the road and went flying off the bike. He sustained severe back and head injuries and went into a coma. Nothing could be done for him, and he slipped away.
Just this afternoon, then, we found out Lono Alice, an old woman on Amber's regular visiting route, died last month. What we heard is that she went on a drinking binge with waragi, cheap gin that is sold in small packets affordable by the poor. But out of ignorance she was drinking it like it was the local grain homebrew. For three days, she only drank waragi and ate no food. On the third day, after drinking and dancing, she collapsed and died.
As if this all isn't bad enough, another Ik man that we know has gone missing. Way back in March, we sent Teko and his ten-year-old boy to a Catholic hospital four hours' drive south of here. The boy, Peter, had broken his arm badly and needed surgery. Since then, the two have been staying down there at the hospital, waiting for the boy to be discharged. Last week we sent them money to pay their transportation back. But before they left to come home, one day Teko, the father, wandered out of the ward, drunk and confused, and completely disappeared. And up to now, nobody has any idea where he is. What's the worst, though, is the fact that nobody seems to care. It's as if people are just resigned to the fact that a grown man can fall off the radar and nobody will try to do something about it. But we are trying to do what little we can over the phone from out mountaintop villa.
A lot of death hanging over the Ik these days.
This afternoon I headed outside to run our water pump. Not looking where I was walking, I rounded the corner of our garage and came face-to-face with an immense snake. As I leapt away, so did it. As it was turning around, it reared itself up against the wall, swiveling back the way it had come. I'm telling you it must have reached at least four feet high on the wall, and that wasn't all of its length---I'm guessing six feet at least. By its color and size, I think it was either a cobra or a black mamba, both of which are deadly and would most likely lead to death given how far we are from the kind of anti-toxins would be needed.
Death is stalking the ground in Timu.
We are okay. We are not overly worried or depressed or anything like that. God is sustaining us, protecting us, and caring for us. But we do ask you to join us in prayer for the Ik community these days. Pray for the Holy Spirit to blow over this place, for the light of God to shine brightly, displacing the darkness. Sometimes we feel so helpless and powerless; prayer is our weapon. Please pray with us!