Man, these past several months have been a whirlwind. Building houses in the middle of the jungle is no joke. When I look back at all of the obstacles that stood in our way, and all of the things that went wrong it is difficult for me to understand how we have three houses and an office standing in Kuyu. How were we able to stay on schedule? How did no one get seriously injured? How was a helicopter able to fly in enough material for three houses?! There are so many quandaries that don’t have a straightforward answer. As we have been able to settle down for a few weeks and reflect on housebuilding time, Katie and I have mulled over these questions, and we have been left with only one answer: God. We are where we are only because of God. And I do not say this flippantly. I don’t say “God” as if invoking His name is some super spiritual answer or to make myself feel holy in any way. I say it because I have come to the conclusion that He is the only thing that makes the last several months make sense.
Allow me to paint a picture of what the housebuilding experience has been like for us. I do not share this to impress anyone, but rather to convey just how impossible this task was, so that we can all appreciate God’s faithfulness together. The logistics of house building began with locating an adequate shuttle point for a helicopter to fly in all of the materials for three houses. We also had to purchase materials, get the materials to the shuttle point, work with a local milling operation to get lumber milled, do several shuttle trips where we would load our material onto a helicopter and send it into Kuyu (many, many, many times). We then began to actually build in the bush beginning with an office and then moving on to the three houses. We coordinated several build teams to be flown in at different times to help with the construction, while continuing to coordinate shuttle trips for getting more materials in. During this time we also were coordinating with local transportation companies to continue transporting materials we had bought in town up to our shuttle point for the helicopter. All of what I have written so far does not really begin to convey the difficulty of the task, but suffice it to say doing all of these things at once in a different language and culture over a six month period became very overwhelming.
Now here is a list of all of the things that went “wrong” during this entire process: A container full of our building materials and tools ended up in a ditch on the side of the road and wasn’t able to be shuttled into Kuyu forcing us to build the office with almost no tools. In attempting to get the contents of the container to the shuttle point, my coworker Jonathan got stranded several hours away from the shuttle point and had to hike several hours back in the middle of a storm in the middle of the night. The company in town that we bought materials from ended up not fulfilling large parts of our orders. This left us scrambling the day before our house builds looking for materials as critical as floor joists. I was robbed at gunpoint at an airport while trying to get into Kuyu and lost everything I needed for the trip. My coworker Michael got malaria and missed an entire shuttle trip. The local milling operation was too small to fulfill our order in time, and their only vehicle broke down, which meant that there was no way to get the milled lumber out of the jungle and to the shuttle point. This required us to get down and dirty, throw the lumber on our shoulders and hike it to our shuttle point. At one point we had a couple tons of materials loaded on a truck trying to get to our shuttle point that got stuck in a river. We ended up having to unload the entire truck including 12 drums of jet fuel for the helicopter into the river just to get it unstuck. At another point we ran into rascals on a road who set up a roadblock and held us up for money. The spiritual attacks were also real at times, sometimes even in physical ways. We had many days where the helicopter could not fly due to rain.
Honestly the list could go on and on. The sheer volume of obstacles and setbacks should have completely derailed us several times, but somehow there is an office and three houses standing in Kuyu, with a group of people who eagerly await our permanent move to live amongst them. God is the ONLY reason all of this has been accomplished. And this is not a one-off thing. There have been countless missionaries who have come before us who could all share similar stories, and there will continue to be missionaries in the future who will experience God’s faithfulness as well. God has been, is, and will continue to be faithful. And here is the coolest part. All of these roadblocks have been extremely difficult and burdensome, but in the middle of the most difficult times is when we have felt God’s presence the most. And again, I don’t write this to be cliche. I write this because I have experienced it, and it is true. When I was robbed at first I felt angry and that I had been wronged, but my anger quickly turned to peace and an overwhelming sense of gratitude. God gave me an overwhelming peace and showed me just how much of a privilege it is to suffer for Him while doing what He has asked of me. When I found myself in the midst of spiritual attacks God used these times to remind me that we have a real enemy, and He gave me a sense of gratitude that I get to be a part of fighting against this enemy and taking back ground for the Lord. And when I couldn’t hike a single step more during our surveys while initially discovering the Kuyu people I was overcome to the point of tears with thankfulness for the privilege that it is to play a role in bringing the gospel to these people. Those are the difficult moments, and those are the moments when I feel the most overwhelmed with God’s presence. Those are the moments I feel the most fulfilled. Those are the moments where I am filled with the most joy. The truth is this: nothing brings more joy and fulfillment than suffering for the Lord.
My encouragement to anyone reading this is to not seek out comfort. Seek out what the Lord has for you and pursue it with passion. The Lord is calling none of us to do easy things. If we are truly following the Lord we will be forced out of our comfort zones often. We will suffer and be persecuted. But the encouragement is this: those difficult times are when we feel the most joy. They are when we feel closest to our Creator. They are when the Lord uses us the most powerfully. So don’t shy away from those things that seem insurmountable, or difficult, or uncomfortable. If you do you are robbing yourself of joy and effectiveness as a tool for the Lord.
Please rejoice with us as we move into Kuyu. God has brought us to this point and He will continue to go ahead of us as He prepares the hearts of the Kuyu people. Pray that just as God is the reason for our houses being completed, that we will not forget that He is also the reason for all progress to be made in the future as well. Pray that we will continue to be willing to sacrifice for the Lord.