Walking through the Jackson International airport terminal in Port Moresby from baggage claim, a sense of happy relief washed over me: my feet were finally walking on Papua New Guinean ground.
After six years of planning, preparing, and training ourselves and our children to live in PNG, we were only one flight away from our destination. As I counted my blessings, I was overwhelmed by God’s provision and kindness:
- Just that morning, we had nearly missed our flight from Cairns, Australia to Port Moresby. When pretty much all hope of actually catching the flight was gone (and after being informed that the next three days of flights to Madang were sold out), God completely changed the demeanor of the lady helping us and she personally escorted us through security, the entire terminal, and all the way out onto the tarmac, carrying our bags and telling the flight to wait for the 11 of us who had gotten held up.
- We had made it safely through a total of four flights without one single whole-flight meltdown from any kid on our team.
- Our luggage—all of the luggage of our entire team—had made it safely through from Phoenix, AZ to Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, even after we were told back in Cairns that most of it would probably not arrive for several days.
- Once in PNG, we literally walked straight through customs without being stopped once to have a single bag checked. And, because of the ease of going through customs, we had plenty of time to catch our domestic flight to Madang.
All in all, I was walking through the Port Moresby airport excited and relieved to finally be in the place that had always seemed just ‘two more years’ away.
My excitement was short-lived.
After triumphantly marching through customs and arriving at the check-in counter for our domestic flight, my teammates informed me that our domestic flight had been cancelled.
The next flight would leave at 5am the next morning.Doing the math, I realized that to check in all of the aforementioned luggage, we would need to be at the airport with our children at 3:00 in the morning which meant…waking up at 2:30am.
As I tried very hard to not feel deflated about being in a situation I had dreaded, I tried to look on the bright side: the airport would be putting us up at a decent hotel and paying for our dinner. That was nice.
But still, I think all of us would have much preferred being in our final destination and sleeping in a bed we could call our own (if just temporarily) than the ordeal of transporting all of those children and all of that luggage to a hotel only to pack them all back up and transport them again at 2:30am the next morning.
As we sat in the airport waiting area for the next two hours, doing our best to parent our disgruntled children while showing them grace, my friend and teammate Cassidy said something very true and very needed that changed my whole perspective.
“You know,” she said, “if we had to go through all of this for just one tribal believer, we would do it.”
Thinking about that, I immediately agreed. I replied, “You’re right. We would choose to go through this. We would do it twice.”
That’s when I realized: we didn’t come here for ease and convenience and comfort and security.We came here to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to those who have not heard it. We’ve always known—all fifteen of us—that that would come at a cost, whether that be a cancelled flight in an ill-reputed city or grumpy kids waiting at the airport or something harder down the road.
We chose to come here and , come what may, we would choose to come here again. Because we did not come here for ourselves.
Hopefully and by God’s grace, we have come here for the name of the One who saved us and loved us enough to forgive everything we have ever done and set us free from the slavery of sin unto Himself. He it is who we proclaim and it is for Him that we would gladly suffer all things.
We did make it through that night and the next morning. Yes, our airport shuttle was a half an hour late and, yes, by the time we reached the airport—before we had checked a single bag of the dozens we all had—our flight was already boarding.
But once again, God provided. Once again, He had the flight wait for us to be personally escorted (this time, by multiple airport employees) through the check in process, through security, and all the way out onto the tarmac.
We landed in Madang an hour later and I burst into tears.
I believe God had us wait that night in Port Moresby because it was the best thing for us. We don’t always know why exactly. Maybe He wanted to have us eat a really delicious and totally free dinner where we could order anything we wanted and still have money leftover. Maybe He just wanted to show us His boundary-free provision yet again at the airport the following morning.
All I know is that He has been faithful every step of the way thus far, and I know He will be faithful today.