A light southeasterly breeze rippled the kunai grass along the Balimo airstrip. The Twin Otter transport plane waited at the gate with an open door, seeming to beckon us aboard. But Laurie and I were not going to embark on this voyage. We were saying our goodbyes to some friends from America who had come to help us work on the training center for a few weeks. They were actually leaving a few days earlier than planned because of the threatened lockdown and changes in flight schedules that were coming on the world at that time.
While we stood talking, a minivan came sloshing along the rutted, muddy track leading to the airstrip. Stopping near the gate, its doors flew open, and a half dozen PNG men jumped out along with a white man. Obviously the man was an expatriate worker trying to leave PNG before the COVID-19 lockdown closed all the provincial borders.
Wait a minute, I thought. Shouldn’t we be getting on this plane, too? There is a crisis happening in the world. Shouldn’t we be going back ‘home’ in such a crisis? I longed to be with our family. As I stood there on the tarmac, my heart began to ache for heaven like never before.
It was three months before the next passenger flight to Port Moresby became available. Although our food and construction supplies ran low, we never ran out. Our furlough, which was scheduled for May, got postponed until late August. But during this time we were comforted by the thought that in heaven we won’t have to worry about pandemics, death or lockdowns. This thought still gives us comfort. We pray that it brings comfort to you as well.
“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Rev. 21:4).
This is the “new normal” that I am looking forward to.