When I heard a loud crack and felt the sudden shift of the car while crossing the simple bush bridge, I thought this must be God’s daily lesson in flexibility.
Living in Papua New Guinea, like many places in the world, requires a lot of flexibility. Organization, timeliness, and efficiency are all of secondary importance to friendships, teamwork and community. Today was certainly an opportunity for patience and building stronger bonds with our PNG friends.
We started the day with the idea of going on a hike to the top of a nearby mountain. While we could have walked straight from Kudjip, we decided to take a car part way, as we would not be able to make it up and down in a reasonable time with someone else watching our kids. While crossing one of the bridges, I accidentally aligned the tires slightly off track. Two of the logs snapped in half, our car shifted to the left and we were stuck in mid-air with the two back wheels free floating.
The ingenuity of the PNG people really came out. The locals were quick to help and worked to rebuild the bridge under the car. Unfortunately, even though there was now good support under the car, it wouldn’t budge as a piece of wood was stuck up into the bottom of the car.
Thankfully, we still had cell service and were able to call Earl and some other missionaries for help. With a few decades of missionary service in Ecuador and PNG and a car to help pull, Earl saved the day, almost three hours after our initial descent into the creek.
While we didn’t get to go on the hike to the top of the mountain, we did get a chance to learn a little about bridge building, strengthen relationships and had yet another chance to learn how to be flexible. Wherever you live, it is impossible to completely map out your future. We can try to control our destination, but it is far easier to rely on our Creator to guide us to what He has for us.
“Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’”
– James 4:13-15