Well – how does that happen? 9 August 2017
I almost had the update email to you all done, then I had a huge allergy attack and had to go back on nasal steroids. I missed one day of meetings, and then started packing to go back to the village again. I am back in the village now – after a pretty rough truck ride out. We had three flat tires and the road was really dry – which you think would be a good thing – but actually means that we bounced around a lot more and I am sore and bruised today. Funny how you never realize how many muscles you have until everyone of them aches…here is the update that I wrote 10 days ago. Sorry that it has taken me so long to get it out!
Hello praying friends and family, 29 July 2017
Thanks for waiting till I could breathe again to write the details of the story! (As soon as I got back to Ukarumpa, I had about 20 articles to read to prepare myself to participate in the meetings for the executive committee – topics like: policy governance, consensus decision making, executive limitations, a constitution, by-laws, manuals, core values and even an action plan. Yes, absolutely as scintillating as it sounds, but definitely necessary in order to participate well and represent responsibly the ones who voted me onto this committee.)
So this is how the story goes (sorry – the pictures don’t really capture the dimensions of the hole):
The 4WD truck picked me up about 7 AM on Monday morning – with the aforementioned planks of wood and several muscly guys in the back of the truck. I got to ride in the cab of the truck – which helps a body feel tremendously better rather than bouncing around in the back of the truck for 8 hours. I happily gave my butt pillow to someone else riding in the back and jumped with a smile into the front seat.
Within a half hour, we came up to the 6 foot wide and deep hole in the ground. The driver and the muscly guys in the back took about 25 minutes determining the best way to position the 3 long and 1 short planks over the gaping hole in the road. (We could actually see why the hole had developed in the road – a tree had fallen and one of the branches fell into the water and diverted the water from running into the culvert underneath the road. The water created a hole on the side of the culvert to escape and with all the rains – the road washed away – leaving the big crack in the road.) We all waited on the other side of the road, while the driver attempted to cross. It was the short plank that did us in. Kablam! The short plank slide to the side and the truck went down into the hole!
Phase one of the truck rescue
As I mentioned in the last email, only the left front tire fell into the hole, while the left front bumper was resting precariously on the edge of the unstable ground. The right front tire was resting, albeit tenuously, on two of the long wooden planks. We immediately thanked God that the truck did not fall all the way into the hole! The guys started assessing how we might get this truck out of the hole and back onto the road. This is when they yelling started! “You – go cut down trees with the machete!” “You go find some loose logs!” “Don’t touch that! We don’t want the right tire to slip off the planks of wood!” “You – run back to the closest houses and get some help for us!” Bodies took off in every direction to follow the commands. Brianna (Emil’s second daughter) and I tried to get a connection on our mobile phones. Emil was back in the village and he could call the only other truck in our vicinity and ask that driver to come with more planks of wood and men to help us. About an hour later, with the sound of the machete still chopping, the truck was braced up to look like this:
Phase two of the truck rescue
About an hour into the rescue, the people living the closest to where we were stuck came walking up. There were about 20 people – more than half of them children. The children had brought their machetes and starting clearing away the tall grass – so as to have a clearer view of the rescue! The men had a jolly good look at the situation, everyone having their chance to say how the problem could be solved. Then, more yelling started. “You go chop down trees! Go bring the logs here! Children stay on the other side of the truck!" The men went off with their machetes. Now, instead of just one machete knife – you could hear 4 chopping away at trees in the bush. KTHUD! KTHUD! Trees started falling down around me! (It wasn’t like anyone was yelling timber! No – you just had to watch to make sure the tree did not land on you!) Things continued on in this manner for about a half hour. I don’t have a picture of this part – you will just have to imagine the yelling, the sounds of trees falling and the sound of children running around – curiously trying to get a look at the truck, before adults would shoo them away. Dogs were also running around now – they followed their owners and did not want to miss out on the party!
Final phase of the rescue
An hour and a half had passed since the truck went into hole. At this point, the only other truck in our vicinity came rolling up with about 30 guys in the back. (It is a white colored truck, and I couldn’t help but think – “My Heros” – reminiscing of the cartoons I saw as a kid with Dudley Do Right arriving to save the damsel in distress on the back of his white steed!) They jump out and now there are about 15 machetes all hacking up logs. The serious yelling starts now - action everywhere! KTHUD! KTHUD! Hack! Hack! Hack! Hack! "Don’t touch that log! Get down in the hole! Bring that log here! Get off the road and get onto the grass!" I try to stand out of the way – but now there are people everywhere, and logs and dogs and children and machetes! Within a half hour, they had chopped enough logs to fill in the 6 X 6 foot hole! They released the truck down onto of those logs and backed up the truck (of course having to push start it as there was a problem with the truck’s battery). The first picture shows all the action around the truck and the second shows the guys down in the hole, shoving the logs in to fill up the hole.
We are all happy now that the truck is out of danger. The men continue piling logs and jamming them tight to fill in the hole so that it will be level with the road. They also cut away the branch that was blocking the culvert – now the water is draining properly through the culvert instead of going around it. I went to stand in the back of the truck to get out of the way. As I walked to the truck – I was being very careful to avoid the ants. The ants are the new menace. Each tree that came down brought with it thousands of angry red ants running around, displaced from their nests up in the treetop. These are big, red ants that have a bite like a bulldog and measure about half inch long. People were randomly slapping at their bodies as the ants had crawled up their legs – angry and biting. When you whack the ant, it merely bites down harder and digs its head into your skin! Although I had tried to move quickly and avoid the ants – they still found me! Talk about ants in your pants! I whacked the outside of my pants to stun the ants. Once the ant was stunned, then it could be ripped it off the skin to remove it. It really is amazing how discreet one can be even whilst sticking your hand down your pants to rip an ant out of your skin! This last picture shows how they had filled the hole up with logs and it is almost ready to drive across!
It is really amazing to me that we were only stuck there for about 2 ½ hours. If only those of us travelling in the truck had tried to overcome the problem – we probably would have been there all day. But, because so many people pitched in to help, it only took a couple of hours. As I was standing back watching – I couldn’t help but think how this was a picture of the body of Christ. Many people all at work together to accomplish His purposes. This makes me think of you – and what a great support you have been to me and this work that God is accomplishing here in PNG. Thank you for praying – so many times for all the weird things I ask you to pray for! You are a blessing. Because His mercies are new every day, Beth