“That was an excellent landing,” Steve said once on the primitive air strip.
“This is definitely a smaller area than I am used to landing in,” John said over the running engine. “Plus I’m not used to landing uphill.”
“This is probably one of the toughest landing areas you will eventually take over from me,” said Steve.
“Who lives here?” asked John. Their landing earned only a few glimpses and a wave from the villagers up the hill. John wasn’t sure, but he thought the half-naked males wore gourds to cover themselves.
“A branch of the Yali tribe. They inhabit most of the Balium Valley. We won’t stay though. The missionary that served here had to leave for personal reasons. I don’t know when he will be replaced.”
“Daryl told me that a lot of people end up leaving,” said John. He watched as Steve took the controls and pointed the plane downhill.
“Try taking off this way,” said Steve. “We do have some leaving. The Lawrences were as dedicated as any, but he had to take care of his family. There are a lot of hardships to being a missionary, but it’s tougher when your children don’t adjust,” said Steve.
John could feel his stomach drop as the plane lurched skyward. “Dedication to job verses dedication to the family,” he said.
“It’s going to be just as tough for you,” said Steve. “You’ll get homesick and lonely. Dedication takes on many forms and has many obstacles. I’m sure you are feeling some pangs.”
“Yeah, I guess I am. I’m not sure I will make it as long as most pilots do,” said John.
“Oh, in what way?” asked Steve.
John suddenly felt nervous. “I mean, I have no problem being here but I see myself flying airliners. That’s my future,” said John uncomfortably.
Steve seemed unfazed.
“You don’t see that as a problem?” asked John.
“Somewhat, but I think the Lord has you here for some reason. We’ll just have to work with you while we have you,” said Steve.
Jeffrey W. Bennett, is the author of Commitment-A Novel and other non-fiction books, novels and periodicals.