For this trip, we all went. Even Finn. It would have been a bit of a stretch without him, but with him, it was quite the ordeal. I can’t blame him, he’s 21ish months old. He really didn’t know what was going on, and he probably though we’d moved to another planet.
First thing I’d like to note is that I’ve rewritten the part of my brain that says “helicopter only” locations are the toughest. Nope. More remote, yes. More expensive, yes. Harder, I’m not so sure. I did the helicopter thing on the last trip. You put your stuff in the helicopter, and then you sit, and then you get dropped off. This trip was different. “It’s a 45 minute motorbike ride from a nearby town,” they said…Here’s how “not” straightforward that can be…
Finn was ecstatic when I told him that we were going to the mountains to visit his friend. I think that enthusiasm kept him semi-occupied for the better part of 2 hours, plus the endless supply of snacks also kept him happy. Then, the winding road started to get to both of us. Nausea set in. He also didn’t want to sleep. Lots of tears from both of us. Finally, 5 hours later, we made it to a nearby town and met up with our friend who had come down the mountain to meet us. It began to rain, so he said the motorbike taxis were hesitant to take us up the slick path. Two hours later, we finally hopped on the back of the bikes. Lots of mud, slipping, and general terror swirled together as we climbed steep hills. I’m so glad Payton held Finn in a borrowed carrier. I don’t think I could have done it. After 45 minutes of adrenaline fun, we hiked another 1km up through the muddy jungle with some of our gear in tow. We crossed the flooded creek up above our knees and finally caught sight of their little home tucked away in a clearing not far from the creek. It was a welcome sight!
These new friends fed us, sheltered us, and even shared their home with us! We felt so blessed to be able to get to know them better, gain a little jungle experience, and mostly hear a bit of how God’s been at work in their lives and ministry. So much of what we learned in training was on paper. Then suddenly, with a trip like this, everything is alive and bursting with color, including the giant, poisonous centipedes and big spiders.
I’m not going to lie, it was not super easy or comfortable, but I learned soooo much. I’ve discovered, I learn best when I’m outside of our comfort zone.
These guys have chosen to live simply and rearrange their lives to fit in to their location and team better (they have national coworkers). They have only a very small solar power system, a generator to run some power at night was well as the washing machine, and no fridge or freezer. It seemed impossible to function like that…then I remembered, duh, most of the world didn’t have freezers not that long ago! I took a few ideas home with me to try out here in town, like a big thermos for the boiled water (less reheating the kettle), stainless steel plates and bowls (light and durable), cooking something for lunch and eating the same thing for dinner, returning to using my pressure cooker more, and generally appreciating things that don’t need refrigeration.
Finn was delighted to have his little buddy around, as well as their two older boys. He especially liked the sand box and feeding the chickens. He thought it was quite fun to wake up very early, as well as keep mommy and daddy awake at night. But, that was more to blame on the fact that he was already not sleeping very well before we left and even now is still having trouble sleeping at night again. He also had sore/boil that had been getting ugly before we left, that required us to clean it out. Nasty stuff. Lots of crying and compresses. I also became a fan of black drawing salve.
We stayed for three nights and got to experience a bit of everyday life in their world: homeschool, language study, people stopping by, cooking/eating without a fridge, only 2 hours of electricity at night, church, etc…
The ride down the mountain was far more harrowing than the climb. It wasn’t even raining. I kept calculating the likelihood of me dying on the way down—or at least ending up seriously injured. Turns out, I just got a driver with a really junky bike—I could hear the plastic parts rattling and we lurched at every downshift. I estimated that there was a 50/50 chance that the bike would explode into pieces and I would be injured in the process, or I would be catapulted off the bike as we careened down the hillside, trying to beat the rain that was coming! I only ended up exhausted with really stiff muscles, so I considered myself blessed beyond measure. On the other hand, Finn was with Payton on a different bike and took a 20 minute nap!
By the time we arrived at the car, Finn already knew what was ahead. He screamed whether he was in or out of his carseat. He was like a wild animal. After hours of screaming, I managed to get a 45 minute nap out of him as we came down Nausea Road and out into the valley as the rains steadily poured down. I was so excited to get home to my ice cubes and fridge and the comforts of home. Little did we know the flooding was going to knock out a huge tower and we would be without electricity for quite a while….
Stay tuned next time for “what I learned from “mati lampu”…