When I was a young teenager struggling to understand something, my dad gave me a piece of advice that I still carry with me today. He said, “Julie, there is not one situation (whether good or bad) that God cannot use for His glory and to help mold and shape you into a better person.” As I have gotten older, I have begun to see just how true those words were. Over these past few years God has allowed us to walk through some very challenging moments that in all honesty we are still dealing with some of the side effects. However, we also saw God during what was going on. Like how he protected our family through the deadly earthquake, how he kept us safe through nights of flooding, landslides, and getting us to a place where we could get the medical attention that was needed.
So, when the news started breaking about what was going on in China there was really no fear about the virus for either Greg or I. And even when it did finally reach our little island, I can say I had moments of excitement and curiosity about how God was going to use this virus to bring him glory. And how was he going to mold and shape us through this new challenge? Now, that does not mean we totally felt immune to the problem and brushed it off. We started to follow the guidelines of our organization with stocking up on food, making sure we had drinking water on hand, wearing mask when out and about, and not letting our children out of our gate. For there is a grave difference being filled with dread and fear and just being prepared for the next challenge God may ask our family to walk through.
One of the first challenges came over a month ago for our family as confirmed cases were announced in our small town of Merauke. Next came word that the governor of Papua was planning to ban all passenger flights within the next few days. Which meant that our MAF plane was about to be grounded as we haul more passengers out of Merauke then cargo. As the date drew closer, we felt that it was time to talk with management about how our family was going to ride this out. One concern was that I had only been out of the hospital a couple of weeks before with a serious digestive issue. And I was in the process of making dietary changes to help prevent the same thing from happen again. Which made us wonder if it be wise to be so isolated. Then another question surrounding Greg and what he would be doing for work. Was there a different base that could use help since he was most likely not going to be doing any flying?
At 9am on the last day that we could fly passengers it was decided that it would be best to quickly transition across island to our Sentani base. This meant that we had 4 hours to pack up all the school supplies, clothes, our food supplies, and anything else we may need. Once completed we head to the airport to load up our MAF plane for our afternoon flight across the island. After we arrived our family settled into the guesthouse and tried to adjust to this new normal for our family and prayed for all our friends and national staff members that we had just left behind in Merauke.
Now it has been four weeks since we left home as the governor of Papua felt the need to extend the flight ban until May 6th. Here in the city of Sentani they tried to curb the virus here by limited store hours for people to shop and there is a curfew in place for this area. Along with making it mandatory to wear a face mask when you leave your home. Which in all honesty is not the most pleasant thing to wear when you live in the tropics!!! While I have been busy keeping the kids working on school Greg has been doing a wide range of things here at our Sentani base. He has been a part of two flights that delivered much needed medical supplies down to Merauke. Then when he has the supplies on hand he has been working as an electrician in the new IT building that is in progress here. And if they need a hand with any maintenance at the hanger, he goes over there to lend a hand as well. He also keeps in touch with our national team back in Merauke and tackles any paperwork or meetings that come up for this role as well.
Even though this seems like the whole world is facing a new situation now there are still things that remain the same. Our God is still in on His throne and He is still in complete control (even if the media says otherwise). And I can find comfort in the fact that even though I am living very differently than I thought we would be. I can rest in my Father’s arms through this time and try to let go and just be content were God has placed my family. And pray for the strength that will be needed for whatever comes our way next.