It’s Wednesday evening, and I’m sitting in church as I think about the irony of what surrounds me. I’m sitting in the middle of a group of small Kamea boys to try to calm them down, and try my best to keep them from distracting everyone else’s attention from the Pastor’s message.

To my right, Noel is scraping the dirt off his toes with a razor blade.
To my left, Pex and Job are playing marbles, using poisonous, oblong, seasonal seeds.
Right behind me, Caleb is forcefully (and loudly) pulling phlegm back into his throat. Again and again. I think I’m going to throw up.
Juwen has fallen asleep right in front of me, and the puddle of drool on his leg is approaching three inches in diameter.
Konden is “all dressed up” for church–his pink sweatpants clash nicely with the red button-up shirt he has on backwards. Nobody seems to care, so why bother changing it?
All these boys are within an arms reach of me.
The little boy that I don’t know is just out of reach, and he just decided to smack someone in the head.

My pilot’s mind wants to push a button and make this chaos stop.

This day is approaching its end, and it has been a long day. In fact, its been a long week. Last week, we had horrible winds out of the south and that caused flights to be put off until Saturday. I usually try to take Saturday’s off, but last week, I had to move preachers and missionaries on Saturday. Sunday was the normal day of ministerial busy-ness, with preaching, counseling, and the other stuff that we missionaries do on Sunday. Monday was filled with a flight to Port Moresby dropping off missionaries, and carrying back medicines and supplies. I arrived back in Kotidanga just in time for Bible School orientation–we kicked off the new school year on Monday. Tuesday was filled with flights to pick up missionaries and preachers and bring them back to Kotidanga. …and that’s when I found out about the unexpected medivac.

A man in Aminawa had fallen off his roof, and several reports of his injuries filtered through to us in Kotidanga. I was the only one not scheduled to be doing anything “special” for the rest of the afternoon (keeping in mind, I was already 9 hours into the work-day, and this was going to be a 2-hour job minimum, and quite possibly, could turn into a 6-hour job). I reluctantly jumped in the Kawasaki Mule and drove to Meiwari (45 minutes away) to find that the patient was nowhere to be found. The local health worker knew nothing about the alleged injury.
We sent two people to run to Aminawa (the road does not connect to that village) and find out if the story was true. Sure enough, an hour later, men carried this patient to the road. He was in excruciating pain, and it was quite evident that he had broken his hip. There was no way he would be able to sit in the back of the Mule, much less be able to handle the pain of this extremely bumpy road. Everyone agreed that the only way to transport him would be by carrying him on a stretcher all the way to the hospital at Kanabea–that would be a 5 hour hike!
I drove home, and along the way, we informed people to get ready to help carry this patient. I was quite surprised by the way people just jumped in to help!

Wednesday morning, I started towards the airstrip at Kanabea at 5 am. Along the way, we met someone who was carrying a hand-written letter from the health worker at Kanabea. It said, “Please help us by flying this patient to Kerema. He is in desperate need of an x-ray.” Immediately, I thought to myself, “Today started yesterday.” I changed up the flight schedule and took him on the first flight. Problem: we don’t have a stretcher for the plane, and he couldn’t sit up in a chair! What do you do with that?

Well, I laid his foam mattress on the floor of the plane, and we laid him on top of the foam mattress. Then, we spread the cargo net over him, from over his feet all the way up around his shoulders, and using 8 tie-down points, I sewed him into that net. I’m not quite sure the legality of this maneuver, and I’m not looking for condemnation from the aviation community. I just didn’t have any better ideas.

I dropped him off in Kerema, where we waited about an hour for an ambulance to come (not from the hospital, but from the market where the driver was getting some food for his family). I then completed the rest of the day’s flights, the last of which was bringing Missionary Wil Muldoon back from Ihu.

I got to the house with 15 minutes to spare before I was scheduled to teach in Bible School. I’m teaching Hermeneutics and we covered the topic of Zion for the next hour and a half. Straight from Bible School, I went to Team Meeting, which I led for the next hour.

Then, off to church. Where I watched little boys be little boys. Turns out I’m experiencing “Wacky Wednesday.”

It’s now Thursday morning, and I’m taking the day off (except to be teaching in Bible School for an hour and a half this afternoon). Looks like Thursday will be Saturday this week, because Saturday never came last week.

Never a dull moment in the jungle.