Incredulous, I must have simply stared at the ticket agent when she asked us if we knew of any other route we could fly to get to the city of Jakarta, Indonesia. I do remember thinking, “You are the ticket agent! Wouldn’t you know the answer to that question?”
It was Christmas of 1996 and our family was making the trip of a lifetime to the jungles of Indonesia to visit family ministering with Mission Aviation Fellowship. After saving money for weeks and months, we flew out of the Minneapolis airport, headed to Jakarta, by way of Salt Lake City, Los Angeles and Tokyo.
Our connecting plane in Salt Lake City was late in arrival and departure. So much so, that when we finally arrived at the international terminal in LA, we could see an Indonesian agent standing on a pedestal giving away our tickets to those waiting in a circle around him. My shout of “We are here!” brought the response that we were too late. Abruptly we were faced with two decisions. What do we do now? And, do we fret, or dive into the adventure? Choosing the adventure God was orchestrating, we were in for quite a ride!
Since all planes bound for Jakarta were booked fully with Christmas passengers, we consequently found ourselves bent over a world map with the ticket agent, searching for a destination city that would be accessible to a MAF plane. I was sure I remembered that Doug, our MAF pilot brother-in-law, flew to Malaysia. So we booked ourselves on a plane to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, took a taxi to a nearby hotel, and began wondering how to let Doug and his family know our plans had changed. It was a strange feeling to realize that none of the people important to us knew where we were! They all assumed we were flying over the Pacific Ocean, while in reality we were beginning to wonder if the trip was actually going to take place.
In 1996 communication access with anyone living in the jungle was quite limited, but we finally arrived at the conclusion that the president of MAF could certainly discern a way to get a message to the right people. Knowing the man lived in California, we found his phone number, placed the call, and went to sleep hoping there really would be someone to pick us up in Kuala Lumpur, rather than Jakarta.
We boarded the plane the next morning and several hours later were met with more adventurous news as we stepped into the Singapore airport. Singapore was to be just a stopping point on the journey to Malaysia, but it was to become much more than that!
As we moved through the airport, we could hear “Bri – eee – n Harr – eee – s” being paged in the late night quietness. When Brian, my husband, answered the page, he was given a phone number to call. This trip was becoming surreal! And with that phone call, once again our plans were changed.
MAF leaders had been able to reach a friend in Singapore who could stop us from going to Malaysia. Unbeknownst to us, MAF pilots were unable to fly to Malaysia without a great deal of paperwork preparation. What city would now become our destination?
The five of us spent the night in Singapore with the Hong family. Strangers, but followers of Christ, so family! With the morning light, Brian was in a taxi, headed to a travel agency to hopefully purchase new tickets to get us on our way. We had no choice but to go with the adventure!
We knew time was short in which to purchase the tickets and get to the airport. I nervously watched the window for Brian and prayed for the strange details to fall into place. With great relief we were finally all piled into a taxi, with our luggage, and on our way in the bright morning sun to Pontianak, Indonesia. We were getting closer!
This time as the plane came in for a landing, we could see Doug waiting on the tarmac ready to load us into his little MAF plane to take us to his family’s home in the jungle. It was a great relief to be able to hand the “travel reins” to someone else and just enjoy the ride!
This entire experience became a turning point in the life of our family. For the sake of trusting God, we chose the adventure then and still attempt to choose the adventure now. We have had some remarkable experiences!
Adventure of this sort is described quite well in Matthew 6: 33-34 (The Message): Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” Begin your adventure!