The following is a portion of a long email that Pastor Bob & Gail Jackson received on April 18, 2004 from Jerry Jackson. We are making it available because we thought it might be interesting for folks to read a little of what goes on in the life of a missionary. These are some of the things that never make it to the prayer letter.
Dear Dad & Mom,
Today has been a strange day for us. Becky needed to do laundry, so we started up the generator around 10:00. It is now 7:30 and it is still running! Just about the time Becky was getting done with the laundry, it was getting dark outside.
Before I start on anything else, I want to tell you about our trip home on Tuesday. I was concerned about bringing the Hilux [the Jackson’s 4x4 Toyota pickup] home due to the 15-inch tires. It seems to drag on everything it can, which holds up the truck, or stops it completely. I had wanted to start home pretty early, but was help up at the workshop when I went to pick up the truck. I think that it was about 4:45 when we finally were able to leave town. That made me even more concerned about the trip home, because it had been pretty muddy when we had come into town that morning. Well, we started out just fine. We got out to where the worst part of the road begins, and that is where we got stuck. We started down the hill, and I stopped to look the road over to see which way would be the best for me to go down. I did this because the ruts were deep enough to catch the diff [differential] , if I didn’t choose correctly. It had apparently been dry most of the day, so there was one spot that looked really dry, and I went that way. As I came down the hill and around the corner, I saw that there was a large hole in front of me, and I would have to get over into the ruts to avoid the holes.
Well, somehow I never got over and went face first into this huge hole in the road. We went in and stuck. I tried to back out of it, but there was just no way that that was going to happen. A few young guys started to help push the truck, but it was firmly stuck in the ground. Finally, someone showed up with a spade, and they began to dig out under the front diff. That would probably have worked out fine if it hadn’t started raining right then. It just poured for about 30 minutes, and most of these guys stayed right there to help dig us out. They finally borrowed a rope from a passing PMV [Public Motor Vehicle - a private vehicle used as public transportation], and tried to get us out with that. Nothing seemed to work. Then, they looked at the back of the truck and saw that the back end was buried in the mud from working to get the front end out of the hole. So, we were pretty much stuck, without any possibility of getting out before the morning. We got stuck at about 5:45 [pm], and at about 9:45 [pm] they told me that there just wasn't anything else they could do until morning. I didn’t know what we were going to do, until one guy offered to let us stay at his house. He is a FFC [an interdenominational, charismatic group] pastor at Hairo, and was walking home from where the PMV had dropped him off when he came across us. He worked as hard as anyone else to get us out, and was good to let us know what was happening with the work being done. We were a ways from Hairo, so we
would have to walk in the dark from where the pickup was buried. I was hoping that something would happen to prevent us from having to spend the night somewhere besides our own home, and that is when the Lufa ambulance came by. Everyone ran over to ask if they would help to pull us out, since they already had a rope, or if they could drive us up to Hairo. Well, they just wouldn’t hear of either option. They said that they were low on fuel and just couldn’t afford to pull us out, and all their other vehicles were broken down (whatever that had to do with it). So, they just pulled off and left us sitting there. It was at least 3 kilometres to get to Hairo, but we really didn’t have any choice. We had help with the Boys, until Jason got scared or something, and I had to carry him the rest of the way, on my shoulders (my neck still hurts from that). Most everything we just had to leave with the truck. This FFC (Faith Fellowship Church) pastor, whose name is Martin Jonah, along with a LGC (Local Government Council) member appointed two young guys to watch the
truck for us during the night, so that nothing would be taken. I put as much stuff as I could into our white box [a large, locking plywood box that was always used with this truck] , and we took the diaper bag and Becky’s bilum [woven string bag] with us.We borrowed a kerosene lantern for K2 (approximately 70 cents) and started off. It was overcast that night, so we had no moon to help us walk, and since it had rained, the road was very slippery and muddy. It was after 11:00 when we finally arrived at Martin’s house. He lives at the Hairo FFC station, in one of the missionary homes there. So, it was a nice house we stayed in, with indoor toilet and running water. We sat down and talked with his wife and five daughters for a little bit, and then they took us back to where we would sleep. Martin and his wife let us stay in their room, and they laid a double [foam rubber] mattress on the floor for the Boys to sleep on. There were pillows for us and blankets. Becky froze all night long, and I couldn’t get comfortable, so neither one of us slept much. The Boys were worn out from the walk, so they slept pretty good. I got up at 7:00 the next morning, and Martin and I walked back to the pickup. I thought that I was going to die before I got the where it was stuck, and I had sweat dripping off my face, even though it was a cool morning. I did make it though finally. I climbed up on the back of the Hill and sat on the white box while they worked to free up both the front and back diff. They worked for over an hour to get everything dug out like they needed to. While they were working to dig us out, the Lufa ambulance came by on their way to town. The driver wouldn’t even look over my way, which is probably just as well, since I wasn't very happy with him. But, just as the ambulance got even with our truck, they got stuck!! I almost busted out laughing when that happened. I wanted to tell them that the Lord was judging them for not helping us the night before, but I just kept my mouth shut. No one that was helping to dig us out went over to help them, although they were saying all sorts of things to them in tok ples (the local tribal language). They worked for about 15 minutes and then were able to get on through. They hadn’t been gone too long when I was told that we could try to get the pickup out. There were folks pulling on the rope in front as well as pushing from the back, so we were able to get out of that hole on the first try. I was thrilled about that.
But, as soon as we got out of the hole, we had to change the front passenger side tire, which had gone flat during the night. My big concern was for the weld job that they had done on the frame. I was afraid that the stress of being in that hole, as well as the effort to get out would be too much for the plating. I checked it out while the tire was being changed, and it was just fine. It didn’t look any different than it had when I picked it up at the workshop. I was really relieved about that.
I had to pay these guys for helping me out, which I was happy to do considering all the work they put into it. The only trouble was that I didn’t have any money with me, to speak of. I think that everything Becky and I had was less than K20 (approximately $7), which would be near enough. But, before we left the house that morning, Martin had mentioned that we would have to pay these guys, and did I have the cash for that. I told him what I had, and he agreed that it wouldn’t be enough. He then offered to loan me K60 (approximately $21) that he had so that we could take care of these guys. I agreed to that since I knew that we had at least that much in our little bucket at the house. Well, I gave them everything we had, plus what Martin loaned me. They were thrilled with that, and everyone was so happy. I ran back up to Hairo this morning to take the money back to Martin, as he needed it for his two daughters who go to school in town. They are out on holiday, but return to school on Monday. Almost as soon as I had given the money to everyone, the FFC missionary pulled up. He had come down to help pull me out. He doesn’t live at Hairo full-time, but goes back and forth between Hairo, Gouno, and some place beyond the end of the road. It just so happens that he had just come back from furlough a couple of weeks ago, and had been staying there while he waited for the roads to dry out and he could get further down the road. They were already in bed by the time we got up to the station [the night before], but he was not happy with Martin for not letting him know that we were there, so that we could have stayed with them. As soon as he heard that Becky and the Boys were there, he went over and brought them over to his house, where Becky was able to wash out the Boys’ clothes and hang them up.
When he got the whole story about our situation, he took off to come pull me out. So, we went back to his house, where Becky and his wife were talking. They are both in their mid-to-late 50’s, and were very nice to us. We sat and talked with them for a long time, and even ate lunch with them, while we waited for the Boys’ clothes to dry…
We were able to leave Hairo at about 1:30, and were finally able to make our way home. We got back home a
little over an hour later, since I was taking it very slowly, not wanting a repeat performance. I filled up the generator and started it, filled up the Hilux with diesel, got all our church things in the truck, came in and gave the Boys a haircut, shaved and took a bath myself, and left for church just a little after 5:00. I was pretty happy that we were able to get all that done in such a short time. Of course, Becky was busy at the same time ironing clothes, bathing the Boys and herself and getting everything and everyone ready for church. Not to
mention that she also got supper on in her Aircore pans (I do not know what we would do without them).
I already wrote an email and told you about church last night, but I didn't mention that we got stuck on the way home! I don’t go all the way down to the school anymore, because they need a little bridge thingy, and what they have there isn’t wide enough for either truck. So, we park halfway down the school driveway, under a tree. Well, last night, I pulled out into the driveway, going back up after service, and I dropped into this huge hole. I knew there was a hole there, but I didn’t realize that it was that big. We worked for a good thirty minutes to get it out of that hole and on the road again. Becky and I just kept looking at each other, not saying anything. I told her that at least we could walk to our house, if we couldn’t get the Hilux out! Well, we finally got it out and had no other troubles on the way home. I tell you, I was so exhausted when I got home that I never knew that it rained all night long!
Like I said, I had to go back to Hairo today, to repay the money I had borrowed. I had just gotten up to the junction (about 2 kilometres from our house) on my way there, when the diffs got stuck on the ground between the ruts. I was not very happy about that. There were about four guys walking along the road who pushed me through that spot, and I just plowed my way for another 20 yards to get through that area. I ended
up giving those guys a ride to Hairo as a result of there help, but I figured that would help me out, if I got stuck again. I wondered what would happen on the way home, but I had no trouble at all…