The good news squawked from our short wave radio on Monday morning, “Paul is flying the plane from Belem to Brasilia for a major overhaul and could stop at the Canela village on Saturday night.”
Alright! Paul would stop to refuel in town. That meant, I could ride my motorbike the 70 kilometres into town, buy 400 kilos (880 pounds) of salt, kerosene for lamps and other heavy stuff the village needed, and arrange to have it loaded on the plane to haul in. I would be back on Tuesday night.
So on Monday I rode off on my old Tote Gote, a limited edition off-road motorcycle. Powered with only lawnmower engine it was slow going, but I got to town in five hours, instead of in two days on foot.
By Tuesday noon, I had finished buying the supplies and left them with friends to take to the airstrip when the plane landed to refuel. As I rode back to the village I felt pleased with the way I was able to help bring in needed goods in this way which are so difficult to haul in on foot. But my happiness was short lived.
An hour into the trip my Tote Gote suddenly quit. Nothing I tried would start it again, so I pushed it into the bush to hide it from passersby, and walked the 15 kilometres back to town, arriving well after dark. On Wednesday morning, a friend and I drove a jeep out to pick up the defunct bike and hauled it back to town where it was diagnosed as irreparable.
It was a long week of waiting for the plane. It was an even longer week for Jo since with no phone or short wave radio in town, there was no way for me to get a message out to her. She had expected me on Tuesday night. On Wednesday’s brief short-wave radio schedule with the mission centre in Belem at 6:00 a.m., she asked our friends to pray for me. And again on Thursday morning, and Friday, and Saturday.
Finally, at noon Saturday, the plane arrived. When the pilot saw me on the airstrip he called the centre saying, “I see Jack: he is okay.” This was good news for Jo who was by her radio monitoring the conversation. An hour later, the plane arrived in the village, with me and all but 70 kilos of supplies.
On Sunday, after the plane left and the goods were distributed, Jo and I finally sat down to talk about how her week had been. “I was pretty worried. I imagined you lying out on the trail somewhere with a broken leg or worse.”
She went on to tell me that as soon as I left she had started to feel sick, nauseous and feverish with a lot of pain in her abdomen. “I thought it was just another case of diarrhea,” she said. But because of the fever, she treated herself for an infection with massive doses of tetracycline, a broad spectrum antibiotic. “By Friday I was feeling better, but will continue with the tetracycline treatment for a full week.”
The Rest of the Story
All this happened in mid-August. Fast forward to the week of November 7, Leanne’s tenth birthday. We were now on the mission centre, the girls were in school, and Jo wanted to bake and decorate a birthday cake, and plan a party for Saturday. But by mid-afternoon she felt a pain starting in her belly button and moving to her lower right abdomen. Soon she was feverish and feeling nauseous. I ran to get one of our missionary friends, a registered nurse to come and see her. “This is appendicitis!” she exclaimed, “We’ve got to get her to the hospital right now!”
Jo protested, worrying about Leanne’s cake and party, but within an hour she lay on the operating table undergoing an emergency appendectomy.
“The appendix was swollen and had started to leak,” the surgeon told me afterwards, “but I got it out just in time. By the way, I also saw evidence of a previous infection.”
Then I remembered that week in August when Jo had treated herself aggressively with tetracycline. Satan’s plan was to kill Jo, and without the antibiotic treatment, he would have succeeded—a massive infection of the appendix can kill within 24 hours. I would have arrived on Saturday afternoon to find crowds of upset Canelas, three distraught little girls, and one fresh grave.
God had foiled Satan’s plot to stop the Canela Bible translation project. (I could not have continued without Jo!) It was neither his first evil attempt, nor the last. The experience, though painful and dangerous, confirmed to Jo and me that the translation work we were doing as a team was a major threat to Satan. His centuries-long unhindered control over the Canelas would end when the Truth of the Good News was translated into Canela. And it did, a few years later, when the first Canelas chose to leave Satan’s kingdom and enter God’s Kingdom.
Satan will soon be in an anger filled panic mode. Every week two or three new Bible translation programs are starting in people groups that are still under his control.
“He (Satan) is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short” Revelation 12:12 (NIV).