We have been building an airstrip in Kotidanga since October 2005. It seems this thing will be my un-doing. I will either go gray from it, lose all my hair, or just keel over dead after it sucks all my life away. But at the New Year service this year, we outlined items for prayer, and I was encouraged as one of the prayer topics for this year is: The airstrip to be completed in 2013.

Let me tell you about some things that God has done to make that actually happen–

In 2006, a church in Maryland donated the money for us to buy a New Holland Skid Steer Loader and we were able to ship it over, including a chopper lift to get it into Kotidanga. That alone was pretty awesome.

Then, in 2007, God gave us a Papua New Guinean man to help drive it. And drive it, he did. He dug with that machine for the next 18 months. We watched as the jungle turned into a long, mostly-straight piece of dirt. Pilots that flew over the valley didn’t know the name of the village, but they did frequently refer to our place as the “Dirt Patch.”

Due to some very unfortunate circumstances, our driver had to leave the next year, and the project came to a stand-still for almost an entire year. During that time, I began to pray that God would give us a new driver, and one that had a heart for God.

At this point, it was 2010 and we got to meet Mr. Ricky Beyaba. After his 39 years working with another mission organization here in PNG (where one of his jobs was helping to build airstrips!) he decided to spend his retirement years with us here in Kotidanga. Ricky brought his sweet wife Dala and their two grandkids to live here, and he began to put his experience to work.

He introduced us to a process using water to help transport dirt from a mountain at the top of the proposed airstrip to an area we needed to fill along the side of the runway. It was simply amazing.

He also drove the Skid Steer, and maintained it meticulously. Then, in late 2011, due to no fault of Ricky’s, the crankshaft broke in the Skid Steer engine. It was only 2 hours after an oil change–everything was lubed; but the engine simply decided to give up. There we were–stuck in the jungle, with a dead Skid Steer. We were right where God would like us all: at the end of ourselves, where He gets to show Himself mighty.

A few days later, I was speaking with a PNG government official, who told me to simply write a proposal for a new engine. I did that, expecting nothing to happen; however, one week after that, I was holding a check from the Gulf Provincial Government paying for a new engine and the shipping to bring it from America all the way to Kotidanga!

A few months passed, and the engine arrived in Kotidanga, just in time for a good friend of ours Dave Wehner from Indiana to install it. The amazing things that happened while he was installing the engine are just too numerous to count. To name one: we needed a new engine mount. Where do you get one of those? It just so happened my dad was in Australia that week, and we were able to ask him to swing by a New Holland dealer and bring it back with him.

The engine ran like a charm. But the water system was also working good. The only challenge lay with getting the Skid Steer from the bottom of the mountain to the top of the mountain where it could dig effectively. It was an obvious technical difficulty, given the steepness of the mountain, and the sharp turns it would take to get up there.

Ricky stood on the airstrip with me as we tried to figure out how to even start. One wrong move and we would roll this small piece of heavy machinery right off the mountain. If that happened, we would never be able to recover the machine; and most likely someone (whoever was driving) would be killed. This was just too dangerous for an amateur to do! We decided to do the only thing we knew how to do: pray.

The next day, a group of “20-somethings” from YWAM trekked into Kotidanga. I knew they were coming–in fact they had sent word ahead of time, asking if they could eat with us, sleep in our houses, and use our showers. Of course we were happy to see them; but then, one of the young ladies spoke up: “I have 23 licenses in Australia to drive different types of heavy machinery,” she said.

Imagine my excitement–here God sent us a young lady, Naomi McCutcheon who quite honestly just doesn’t have the “look” of a heavy machinery driver! Our Kamea friends stood around and whispered when they heard that a lady would be driving that first day on the airstrip. They thought “There is no way a woman can do that job. It takes a highly skilled man to drive a small bulldozer.” But then, she put the key into the ignition and drove that small bulldozer in ways we have never seen before!

She spent the next two days trying to drive, and running into mechanical issues (the poor machine had slept in the rain outside for the last few years!); but she kept repairing the machine and before she got done a week later, she had dug a road up the mountain and had the machine running very well!

We aren’t finished with the airstrip; however we are getting a lot closer to our goal of finishing it up in 2013. Pray with us–Naomi walked out of Kotidanga yesterday but she is praying with us about coming back in May to spend two months with us here. Pray it works out for her–it takes a lot to just up and drop everything and go dig on a mountain for two months.

We have faith that He is able. He lined up some pretty amazing stuff just to be ready for Naomi to show up when she did…and then, she just walked out of the jungle like a hand-placed miracle of God.