Worries Go Down the Drain

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“Lord, as we go across to Balimo this morning, help us find the things we need to finish the work.” This was the prayer I prayed at the waterfront before we pushed off with our teammates, Charles and Lara Cabral, for the 45-minute motorboat ride downriver to Balimo for supplies, mostly some plumbing pieces to finish up their house. I wasn’t too worried about finding the pipe connectors we needed, but I didn’t know if we would find a drain that would fit their bathroom washbasin. It was kind of a specialized piece.

Perhaps finding a drain doesn’t seem like a big deal to you, where a well-stocked hardware store or mega building supply is just down the road, and Amazon Prime delivers next-day. But construction projects in remote areas like ours require careful planning and exhaustive shopping lists for visits to Port Moresby. When we fly back across the gulf to the floodplains of the Aramia River, we are committed to being away from stores and postal services for several months. Anything we have forgotten we will have to do without until our next trip. However, we are blessed to live somewhat close to the government station of Balimo, which has been booming in recent years. It now boasts a number of small shops and even a hardware store.

Having just made a shopping trip to Balimo a week earlier, I knew the chances were slim for finding a drain that would work. I found and purchased a plastic drain that I thought would fit the basin only to find out after getting it home that it was two millimeters too big. This time, however, I took a drain from another sink of the same size with me so I could compare sizes in the unlikely event of finding a drain.
Walking down the main street of Balimo, we went into every shop looking for the illusive item. None of the shops had what I needed. That is, until I got to the last one—the hardware store where I had purchased the wrong-sized drain. The building was divided into two parts with two entrances. The first door opened to a grocery store, and the second to the hardware shop.

I walked into the grocery store first because I knew they sold more than just food, and I wanted to leave no stone unturned. A grey-haired Asian man smiled at me from behind the counter and asked what I was looking for. I showed him the sample. He shook his head apologetically. “Sorry, we don’t have any. I am the owner of the hardware store next door, too. But the guy who does our buying just left today for Port Moresby. I will send him some photos of your drain, and maybe he will find one.” He pulled out his phone and snapped a picture of my sample. That gave me small comfort. I needed the drain now, not a month from now. The Cabrals need to be in their house before our Training Center dedication, and time was of the essence.

I went to the hardware side of the store determined to find something that would work. I spotted one of the staff who had helped me the week before, and I showed her the sample drain. She shook her head doubtfully. “No, I don’t think we have anything like that.” But she dutifully went back to recheck her shelves.

Just then, something caught my eye. On a shelf by the back wall behind the counter, I saw what appeared to be a chrome drain sitting upside-down by itself. I quickly signaled the saleswoman and asked to see it. “It’s not a complete set. It’s missing some parts,” she said, handing it to me. It was beautifully polished chrome, not like the plastic drain I had purchased the previous week. I quickly pulled out my sample drain and compared the size. It was just right! The only part missing was the tailpiece, a small pipe that screws onto the bottom. Seeing my interest, one of the other workers said he would make a plastic pipe to fit for me.

“I’ll take it!” I exclaimed. Fifteen minutes later, he brought out the fabricated pipe and showed me how it would fit onto the drain. They even sold the drain to me for half price because of the missing part.

Praise God! I think He had one of His angels move that little part to a place that would catch my attention. He cares for all our needs, including wash basin drains.

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