My name is Dwalin and I was born in the high mountains of Ithilian. We like to say that it looks like heaven but it is our hell. I love the mountain valleys and rocky peaks. I love the cold mountain streams and the clear starry nights. It is a hard life there. There is not enough good ground to grow food. Some folks here say that people down in Gondor can plant one seed and see ten plants grow up but if we plant ten seeds we may see one plant, we may not.
I am an Ismaili Muslim. The Khalifa in our village speaks for the Agha Khan who is our spiritual guide. The Agha Khan lives in the West but he is very rich and his organization cares for our people here in Ithilian. He provides as much as 50% of our food each year. He builds schools and he has told us that nothing is more important than education. That is why I became a school teacher. Growing up in a hard place where it is so cold all the time led me to drinking and, when I could find the money, taking drugs.
My life just limped along with no purpose until one winter we had an unusual amount of snow. Then in the Spring it rained day after day. The mountains began to come down on us. Many villages had landslide after landslide. My family lost our home. The government offered us good land on a flat plain in Gondor and 56 families took up the offer. They loaded us up in trucks and took us to the most amazing place I had ever seen. It was flat with the mountains many miles in the distance. And all was sand as far as the eye could see. They promised us water, electricity, houses, and land to grow crops. What we got was 56 tents in four rows in the middle of the desert. The Government called it Anfalas. We worked hard that first year even though the temperature was over 120 degrees through the summer. We were determined to make it work. But there were problems immediately. All of us came from different tribes in different valleys in Ithilian. We couldn't work together. My neighbor grew wheat and he had a good crop but the rest of us wasted our time and effort as we had never grown wheat before. Some began raising turkeys but again, we had no idea how and no one was willing to help anyone else.
That is when Strider came to see us. I call him 'the one who sees' because of all the government officials and relief organizations that came to visit our poor village only Strider saw us and our needs. As they worked with us they taught us to live together and to cooperate. Strider brought Frodo, Sam, and Merry. They gave us examples that even our Khalifa says we should live by.
But things got real bad. There was not enough food. My wife and I had one child in Ithilian and praise God she is healthy today. But my wife had three babies since we moved here and each one of them died. I think that my wife has died inside, if you know what I mean. She never smiles and she says she can 't live here anymore. But we are not allowed to go anywhere so what can we do. I started to drink more and more. Strider told me that it was wrong for a school teacher to be the biggest drunk in the village but I think there are others who drank more than me.
Two years ago Strider and his team came to our village to dig wells. Well, I don't know what they did because they made us dig the wells. But they helped us. You know when they were not there we fought all the time. We could not do anything together. Fili was always hitting people and everyone had to watch their step around him. One day Fili and his wife had a big fight. I thought they would kill each other. Then Frodo came. He began to meet with them and pray with them every week for several months. Today Fili and his wife are always together, always laughing. I don't know why. I just know that when the team is here they bring peace with them.
I know that Strider is close to God because two years ago when they were digging the wells he prayed for Bomber's dying son and he was healed. We talked about that for a long time. It really made me think about the things he said. I believed that he knew something about God that our Khalifa does not know. But last year something really amazing happened. Kili and Fili became Christians. They tell everyone they are followers of Jesus and you know what? Fili has not beat anyone since. That is a miracle but you will not believe what else. I started meeting with them and listening to them read the Holy Book and I stopped drinking. Jesus made me stop completely. I don't drink or take drugs anymore. Many of our young people think I am crazy but I don't care. Now I have not been drunk for over a year. When Frodo came to see us the other day I had to talk to him. I am sure that the reason that Strider is close to God and that Frodo, Sam, and Merry bring such peace is that they follow Jesus. I told Frodo that I want to follow Jesus too. I think that means they may want me to be baptized. I don't know what that means. And I don't know what the Agha Khan will think. Will he still think I am a good Muslim? I don't know. What do you think I should do?
Frodo and the team travel to Anfalas tomorrow. Lift them up as they deal with Dwalin, Bomber, and the small church.