Changing Plans

The helicopter on the ground in Mawarero

The helicopter on the ground in Mawarero

Two days ago, I published a blog post mapping out our plans for this coming week.

As God would have it, those plans will be changing and while we’ll be transitioning to our Plan F, we know that we will be doing what God’s Plan A has been all along.

As we were in town on the 26th trying to purchase the remaining supplies in preparation for our departure the next day (Thursday, the 27th), we were met with our first obstacle—most stores being closed because it was a national holiday (PNG’s National Day of Prayer). While we were in town, we confirmed with the manager of the boat we’re using(the Manam), Jimmy, that everything was good to go the next day and it was. We then spent the afternoon packing, labeling, weighing and discussing what the busy morning would look like between loading the boat and preparing for the U.S. team’s arrival on Sunday — everything still going according to plan.

But at 5:00pm, when we were packing up to go home — SIL called. 

One of their helicopters had been damaged—a broken rotor. They hadn’t even been able to fly it back to their base. It was this helicopter that we had been depending on to shuttle our team (and ourselves) into the tribe next week, as well as tons of building materials. The earliest they could help us out with any of that would be Wednesday…maybe.

All of a sudden, all of our plans changed. 

We called the boat owner of the Manam to let him know we wouldn’t be moving anything the next day.

We called the hardware store to tell them not to deliver supplies the next day.

We called the dinghy boat driver to let him know we wouldn’t be unloading things.  We called Stephan from Mawarero to let him know not to hike out the next day to help us.  We called the truck company (Rukes Transport) to tell them we wouldn’t be moving lumbar to the Manam, AND we sent an e-mail to the leader of the team coming out from the U.S. informing him of the situation.

It’s strange, but my first feeling was that of relief because, hey, we wouldn’t be loading up 14 tons of material onto a boat in the morning.

But this relief was short-lived. Questions soon began to flood around us. 

What kind of helicopter support would we be able to get?  Would it still be worth it for the building team to come if it turned out they wouldn’t have very long in the tribe to build? How would we even fly them in? When would be able to fly them in? How much of our supplies would we be able to get moved into the tribe? When would those supplies be able to get moved in?

We met to discuss our options after picking up a few boxes of nails and another tarp.  By this time, Jeremy had talked to SIL again and heard that they would still be able to help us bring in 18 tons of material instead of the original 30 (which is very kind, given their current situation), but they couldn’t start helping us until Wednesday and they would need to take the team out of the tribe three days earlier. The team would have a total of eight work days left instead of the original twelve.

Our options were:

  1. Stick with the original plan—ship two loads on the Manam starting on Monday.  Then have the guys fly into the tribe on Wednesday.  We would be moving less supplies in and have less time to work, and probably get significantly less work done on the houses.
  2. Move everything to a later date when the helicopter would be working, but risk other formidable obstacles like building in rainy season, losing some or all of the original building crew, and paying the fees to change all the tickets—and that’s predicated on the notion that something else wouldn’t go wrong with the helicopter during the new dates. 

We talked through some crazy options like looking into using a commercial helicopter service (too expensive), or trying to build one house first, and then both of our families could live in it for a couple of months while we finished the second (ahhh!).

In the end, we decided to move forward with this week.  The guys from the U.S. will still come out, we won’t have as much time, but we’ll think through what we can bring in to get through as much of the house building as we can. 

And, hey, maybe we can all pull some all nighters working on the houses! 

Just joking…kind of. 

Or maybe we’ll see if some guys would want to hike into the village to get there early and start working! 

Just kidding again…sort of.

What we do know is that this is God’s sovereign plan for our life today.  In our minds, we had a Plan A, but in the last few days we have adjusted that to do God’s plan A!

Please pray for us as we think through the logistical changes of having the building crew here in town longer (more food and lodging, etc.) and how to maximize the amount of time we will have to build in the tribe! May God be glorified in unexpected obstacles as well as in smooth circumstances. 

4 Comments

  1. Praying for all of you!

  2. Got your message Matt! Good to hear from you brother! What joy it is to rest in His plans working out in our lives! Love you guys.

  3. The story isn’t over yet. I’m praying for the trip and looking forward to seeing what God will accomplish.

  4. Thanks for the updates…been watching on facebook. Praying now. Wish we could be there.

    Grateful that we know and can trust our Sovereign God when things like this aren’t going quite as planned.

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