You may have noticed that the frequency of our updates has reached something of an all-time low of late. Over the last 4 months we have posted no more than three newsy items. Normally, I would feel obliged to apologize for such negligence, but this time things are different. This time it’s not my fault!
About 4 months ago, the cell network that we use for all of our communications in and out of our jungle location totally went on the fritz, leaving us, for all practical purposes, completely cut off from everything. No exaggeration, there was a 6 week stretch of time wherein I was able to partially send/receive emails twice. Our teammates, the Williamsons, live on a small rise in our village, and since their house is a little higher, they were able to tap into a weak signal from another tower, which allowed them to sometimes send texts and make phone calls. Otherwise, our location has turned into a dead zone.
To help you fully grasp the degree of our “off the grid” status, here’s a little story: For security reasons, we are supposed to check in with our support center every day and say something along the lines of, “We are not dead.” Standard protocol says that if they don’t hear these encouraging words from us for 5 consecutive days, then they will take emergency measures. In our case, this means sending a helicopter to check on us. And, of course, that helicopter would be billed to our team (this is known as “incentive”).
This policy is general knowledge, but I had always kind of considered it as a “fun fact.” Well, it wasn’t nearly as fun when Jason received the following text one day: “If you don’t respond to this text we will be sending a chopper tomorrow morning.” You can imagine the scramble that ensued as he tried to find the one bar of signal that had allowed him to receive that text so he could respond to it!*
Now, some of you more engaged readers might be thinking, “Wait a minute, I thought you told us a year ago that you were going to install a satellite dish to solve all of your communication needs?” A really funny story will answer that question: Once upon a time, we were led along for a whole year by a company that promised to help us, but then ended up pulling the rug out from under us and totally reneging at the last minute, even though we had signed contracts and sent them a large sum of money. Ha-ha-ha! Isn’t that a riot!? It makes me giggle every time I think about it.
So, there you have it, the reason we have not been keeping you updated is because we have had zero means of doing so for several months. It occurred to me on one occasion, while I sat in our thatched roof office and stared at an error message telling me it couldn’t send my 4KB email, that I would literally come closer to delivering my message if I were to throw my laptop across the room in the direction of the recipient. Thankfully, it was only a fleeting thought.
All that to say, if you have been a little frustrated at how little you have heard from us over the last several months, just know that we have been feeling the same emotions, but ten times more so. We are currently pursuing another option for a satellite-based system, and we are hoping to have it installed and online when we head back into the tribe next week. As always, there are about 3,000 variables in play that all need to line up perfectly for the installation to work out, so there is plenty of room for prayer support.**
If all of our hopes and dreams come true, then we should be able to post a super happy update from the bush in about a week! If you don’t end up hearing from us though, you can just assume that another bubble has burst, and we are wallowing in self-pity in our little corner of the swampy jungle. Rest assured though, you are not being ignored. Actually, I will probably be throwing my laptop towards you on a fairly regular basis.
*Thankfully, he WAS able to respond. We dodged a $1,500 bullet on that one!
**We are maxing out our weights on the chopper flights, the technicians and the hardware (as well as our two families) have to be picked up and transported from two different locations, the pilot has never transported a 1.8 meter dish on his skids before, we are using a refurbished system with components that “should” work together, everything costs a bazillion dollars…etc.