So what do helicopters have to do with building a house?
If you are Jag and Abby Dunn, who are committed to tribal church planting in a Hewa village where there are no roads, then you are well aware of the connection.
From the time they had to decide whether or not to build with steel or wood, they knew they would need a helicopter to make it happen. Even after deciding on a wood construction, the process doesn’t continue without the helicopter flights with the crates full of their equipment, building materials and living needs.
But even that takes second place to the tractor that requires several flights to get out to the village where they will live.
Before all this can finally come together, someone has to hike 14 hours over mountains to the village to start slabbing wood. The trees to slab are another hour from the village where the men will sleep in tents while they work.
There is concern about malaria and other sickness but the men are strong and trusting God to give them all they need to succeed. They know ahead of time that a lot of the trees that are cut down can be too rotten on the inside to use and this can get discouraging.
Jag and Abby are keenly aware of the children’s sensitivity to any worry they might have as they prepare. They determine to trust the Lord as well. As Abby prepares and freezes food for the building team she tries to remember, “this Gospel message that we are bringing to Hewa is the very message of how I am going to get through every day.”
Jag gets some recycled housing stuff from a nearby village. But it still won’t be built well enough to keep out the rats and termites.
Last preparations of the crates to send out to the tribe are exhausting. Fitting the tractor pieces into the helicopter flights is like putting a puzzle together.
After the whole family arrives they wait and rough it “bumming” off of their partners for things like stove cooking and electricity since all that is in the crates to be flown in eventually.
The children enjoy the adventure for the most part. Kasen isn’t eating the non-edibles anymore and Kirra loves to walk around with her bag like the Hewa and collect sweet potatoes. She certainly doesn’t understand why the other kids don’t realise their noses are running and constantly tells her mommy that they need a tissue. But the mud and bugs aren’t too much to keep them from chasing chickens.
It was the attack of the cassowary bird that made Abby realise she had to teach the kids how to defend themselves against the wild side of things. Rock throwing was quickly learned by all. Jag is proud his boy will have that story to tell when he’s a bit older.
When the house has running water, inside walls, shell and roof it’s time to move from the partner’s home to their own, still somewhat communal environment.
Even before the house is done the airstrip has to be worked on. The helicopter flights are so expensive they want an airplane to begin to supply them as soon as possible. So levelling with the tractor continues until it’s done.
Being a part of funding a project like this would help missionaries like Jag and Abby to give more of their time and energy to language and culture understanding which ultimately leads to sharing the Good News of the Gospel.