As things change here, it presents opportunities and challenges for us as well. We no longer have to hike in and out of the village and bring our stuff that way (under normal circumstances). Since 2011, we have had air service. New Tribes Mission Aviation now operates a helicopter in our region which provides transportation to and from our village, as well as servicing other missionaries as well. What a blessing that is for us!
Every once in a while though the helicopter is grounded for maintenance or repairs. This is generally ok, because the road is getting better into our village and there are more trucks available to hire. As the local guys here become busier in the fields, it has become much more difficult to secure them for hauling our cargo if necessary. That is ok too, seeing as trucks are usually able to make the trip.
Sometimes, though we end up in a situation where the helicopter is down for repairs, and the guys here are too busy to haul cargo for us. This is the situation we found ourselves in a couple of weeks ago, and not only that, but it is raining every day making it impossible for trucks to get in here.
We were finishing our break, and had returned to the flight centre to prepare for travelling in by land because the helicopter was still waiting for new rotor blades to arrive. The plan was for Kyle and me to travel back to the village the day before Shannon and the rest of the kids. I had arranged for a truck to take the two of us, along with all of our cargo into the village and then be there for when everyone else arrived the next morning. The village had been experiencing a bit of a dry spell where it hadn’t rained in over a week so the road was in good shape and vehicles could easily make the trip.
We arrived in the village that afternoon with no problems, and the weather was looking great. On the way in though, I overheard one of our companions on the truck commenting as he looked at the sky that it might rain that evening. I ignored the comment, thinking it really didn’t look that way to me. Sure enough though, at about 6:30 pm, a very strong wind suddenly picked up, and the sky quickly darkened. What followed was something we rarely ever see here in the Philippines. A very strong thunderstorm came upon us for the next hour, accompanied by much lightning and hail. Only once before have I experienced hail here, and it was in a similar situation here in the village.
As mentioned, the plan was for Shannon and the rest of the kids to follow us on the next day. One of our pilots has a 4×4 and was supposed to bring them in, along with remaining cargo such as all the vegetables and frozen meat. Not only did the storm make the road very muddy and impassable, we were also told trees were blown over and were blocking the road. So much for that plan!
Every day after that we had rain in the late afternoon or evening and most times it wasn’t just a casual, light rain. It was heavy and drawn out for an hour or more. That doesn’t make the road passable for any kind of vehicle. Fortunately, our co-workers, the Easton’s are already here in the village, so between our back up stock of supplies and them, Kyle and I were able to eat. Shannon and the kids would just stay out at the flight centre in town until the road dried up or the helicopter gets fixed.
The following week the Easton’s had a friend that was visiting and needed to leave, and they were getting low on supplies (meat, fruits & veggies). In the past, we could have easily hired any number of the local guys to take her out and bring in cargo for us but such in not the case these days. Because they are extremely busy in the fields, we had a difficult time arranging for someone to help us. Thankfully 2 guys were rounded up last minute to come out and get cargo.
Another week later the weather final dried up and the tree was moved that allowed us to get 3/4 of the way into the village in our pilots 4*4. We were so happy to be together again after 2 weeks apart.
So what’s the point in all this? A couple of things come to mind for me. First, it is a reminder that God is in control. We have an expression which we often say in this work: we make our plans with open hands. I can add to that by saying that we hold them out to Him and watch Him work out the details. He gives us the grace to continue in spite of our little difficulties and discomforts that we experience as we work for the Lord. We can trust Him regardless, knowing that He knows what He is doing.
The other thing that I think of is that this is a reminder that this is His work, and we are simply tools in His hands for the moment to accomplish His will. Things do change, and because He is in control, sometimes He needs to change us to adapt us to be more useful in His work here amongst the Ga’dang people. He also knows us well enough to know when is the right time to effectively use us here. I am thankful for the opportunity I had to become a part of this community before life became so consumed for them with work, making money, watching t.v., etc. Now He is working in my heart to change me into a more effective instrument for Him in this ever changing world we find ourselves in.