Another day in the bush….
But we were late getting started on the day’s work because….well, we’re always transporting missionaries, bringing in supplies, taking sick or hurt people back and forth to the hospital, but today Jack had to fly his own little girl to the hospital.
She has a broken leg, but she understands why her daddy can’t stay. He has work to do. She’s okay with that, and Mom is there to play and read stories with her.
So we’re finally off for a busy day. As usual, I’m watching the animals down below, enjoying themselves.
A busload of tourists are already out, taking lots of pictures. And there’s the train, one of many crisscrossing the grasslands.
Here we are at our first stop! The Christian school. Over the last weeks, we’ve flown out here a lot–with loads of equipment and lumber—and lots of people to help. The floodwaters went gone down faster than anyone expected. But what a mess! Mud everywhere.
But the work is almost done, and the children are back in school.
Today we came to bring a wheel chair to one of the teachers. He can’t move his legs. He’s so happy to try out the new chair. The old one had been around for a long time—one wheel is crooked, and that’s no fun.
Mr. Tilman, the math teacher, also has another special job—helping out a bunch of the orphan kids who have problems with their legs, too.
He does re-ha-bil-i-tation. That’s a huge word, isn’t it, but it just means helping people get better after an injury.
The kids know that he understands, because he’s in a wheel chair, too.
“Thank you,” called the teacher, happily. “It’s wonderful.”
Jack waved goodbye and we were off!
Our next stop was going to be even more fun. We have boxes of Bibles loaded in the back. They’re brand new, and in a language that has never been printed before.
Whoa. Jack isn’t concentrating as well as usual—or maybe it was just a bit of wind. Usually Jack’s totally in control, but he could be thinking about Cheri and her broken leg.
Oh, here we are! We’re circling over the village, and the people are waiting eagerly, waving and cheering.
As we land, they come running forward. Everyone wants to help unload the Bibles.
The pastor hurried forward, too. “No, no, no!”
They were ripping the boxes open. They wanted to touch and hold the Bibles.
“Let’s wait until our special service.”
So they took the boxes into the little church. It was being rebuilt too, after those bad storms. The walls were only up on two sides, so I could see what was going on!
There were already lots of people gathered. They prayed! They sang! They passed out the wonderful Bibles in their own language, and people hugged them to their chests and opened them reverently.
Afterwards there was a feast with more music and special dances.
Jack finally had to leave the celebration, for we must get on. He wants to get back to his little girl. One more stop first. A motorcycle for an evangelist.
The man would ride miles and miles to many villages on this motorcycle, sharing the gospel of Jesus. Right now, all he had was a bicycle.
The wind was coming up again, in sharp bursts that shook us. Suddenly I felt something strange. Something was wrong, I knew it!
“Come on, get your nose up, Charlie, or we’re going to be in trouble. Must be this wind.”
My nose wouldn’t go up. In fact, I was pretty sure I was going down!
Jack knew it, too, for he was trying everything to keep me under control—but it was too late. Down I went!
I landed in the brush at the side of a river.
“It could have been worse,” said Jack weakly. “we could have crashed into that tree.”
A huge tree rose beside us. The trunk was huge. I’d be a real mess if we’d crashed into that. We were still in a mess, though.
“Okay, okay Charlie,” said Jack, “we’re in one piece—I think. And…the radio works!
He called for help, and then looked me over carefully. He pulled out his tool box, for every pilot around here was also a good mechanic. He soon had me going, and was praising God that there wasn’t much wrong with me except a cracked wing.
We might even be able to get out of here—if we weren’t half in the river, with this big old tree and all these bushes on the other side of me!
There was an elephant hanging around, too but he didn’t seem interested in us.
But we’re stuck, that’s for sure. Well Cheri, guess you’ll have to wait a little longer for Daddy.
I felt bad for Jack. We’d been through a lot together. I knew him pretty well. He cared most about God—but second was his nice wife and Cheri.
“Looks like the motorcycle isn’t even too bad,” said Jack. “If there was any kind of trail I could get out of here, but I’d need a machete to chop through this brush.”
The radio squawked out suddenly.
“Jack, we’re going to be a while. Storm here but we’ll make it before dark probably. Cheri sends her love. She knows you can’t get to the hospital to see her right away.”
I hoped they would make it before dark. But how would they get us out of this mess? I was wedged in pretty tight.
But at least Jack was with me. I wouldn’t mind being here all night, really, by myself. But it was always nice to have my pilot around.
I’m thinking about all the things we’d been through together—well, I don’t have time to think of them all, even if we did stay here all night….
I hope Jack has a warm jacket. Days are hot here, but the nights got cold. But of course, I always have some blankets stored away, and even some snacks and drinks.
He sat in his seat, head back. I hoped he really was okay. Maybe he was just thinking about Cheri.
“It was the wind—or maybe it was my fault—I was distracted just before that….”
Uh oh, he was blaming himself. But I know it wasn’t his fault. He’s the most careful pilot I know. They all have to be super careful about every detail. But no matter how much they check and recheck, sometimes things happen. And I knew something had gone wrong. I could feel it. It wasn’t Jack’s fault.
I thought about the goats and other animals that people in America bought for the villagers. We carried them all. We brought in hundreds of wrapped shoeboxes, full of toys, at Christmas. We brought fresh water and food to the slums of a nearby city where thousands of people lived in shacks. We brought equipment to dig wells, for sometimes women in the bush had to walk miles to the closest waterhole to get their daily water.
“Dear Lord,” I heard him pray. “Help us. And let Charlie really be all right.”
It was several hours later, but our radio kept bringing us updates. The storm was over and they were on their way. But how was a plane even going to land nearby?
Even Herbie couldn’t land here.. I’d seen old abandoned planes before, in places that no one could get them out. Surely not…. I like being a missionary plane better than anything.
I heard the plane, even at the same time Jack cried out, “it’s here. They found us okay!”
I looked—and it was Marvin!
Marvin, the floatplane–to the rescue!
He swerved right in beside us.
Several people scurried out and got right to work.
“We’re going to tow him in,” one man told Jack. “You’re not that far from a town. He’ll be all right.”
Marvin pulled me out, and off we went! Sure enough there was a nice little dock and lots of people to watch over me for the night.
“I’ll be back tomorrow , Charlie. I’ll get you all fixed up.” Jack promised.
The floatplane made it’s run downriver, and then took off—up, up and away, toward home.
I knew Jack would be checking in on his little daughter before he did anything else.
The sun is going down and I’m tired. It’s been quite a day.
But I’ll tell you again, there’s nothing like being a missionary plane!
By Carol Bennett