Sometimes ministry is all faith, no logic
Cadet shares his summer experience on assignment in Chuuk.
By Jeff Walters, Cadet –
Warm rain trickled down as we trekked into the jungle. Believe it or not, we were making a routine home visit. Our surroundings became denser and more difficult the farther we went. At times the trail was so thick with greenery that my feet disappeared beneath it all, and soon I began to wonder, “How did I get here?”
Majors Jaime and Lilia Macayana led us past the outdoor toilet and under the clothesline to the front door, where Maryellen, my wife, and I kicked off our sandals before entering.
Contrasting the kind of living room we’re used to, this Chuukese family had exactly nothing but the swept laminate floor. There was no television. No couch or carpet. As we sat on the floor in a spirit of fellowship, I could see the earth beneath the wooden floor panels. Yet, despite their humble living conditions something else caught my attention—their smiles. They were joyful and thankful for the presence of The Salvation Army.
Chuuk has a lot to see. If you look hard enough online you will see plenty of images revealing its crystal blue waters, private picnic islands and lush green mountains. These things are real, but what you will not see online is the hardship the people endure in one of the poorest states of Micronesia. As my wife and I stepped off the plane into the humidity of Weno, Chuuk’s central island, we soon discovered that reality.
Welcome to our summer assignment.
It was a unique sort of cadet training experience given the uncertainty of exactly what God was going to show us. As our vehicle dipped and bounced around potholes I looked hard at my new surroundings. Miniature shacks were set up for selling local goods. Slightly larger stores looked old and torn. No malls, no Starbucks, sometimes no toilet. We were far, far from home.
We were only there for a full two days before something went wrong. The Chuuk corps family kindly invited us to a barbeque where I ate something my stomach didn’t entirely recognize. Later that night I became seriously ill. The following 10 days were plagued with fevers and other gross experiences, but worst of all were the tears of my wife, who cared for me in those dark moments. The darkness, though, provided us with an opportunity—either we go forward in faith or seek a safer, more comfortable path. In hindsight, I am grateful that we stayed the course.
God gave us victory because we didn’t give up.
I find a portion of that victory in the memory of Wichap Outpost, an outreach of The Salvation Army in a village nestled on the side of Weno’s largest mountain. In order to get there one has to wait for a reasonably dry day and risk wrecking a vehicle, for there is no road. There is no logic behind it all, just faith. It’s like hiking, except on wheels. On our first journey there I remember holding on for my life as the vehicle tossed me around.
Eventually, Major Jaimie said, “Here we are!” and I leaned forward in awe, lowering the window to the sound of children singing so joyfully that it echoed from a distance. When we sat at the table prepared for us they crowned our heads with local flowers and offered a fresh coconut with a straw poked into it. “Yep,” I thought, “This is really happening.” It’s like heaven but with the sort of humidity that can put you to sleep. I’d sleep with a smile, if that were the case.
The adventure of serving in Chuuk this summer opened my eyes to brokenness and poverty, but also joy and the victory of perseverance. I’ve seen the most beautiful culture shine through rough circumstances—kids with machetes turning to Christ and families learning to harvest crops—all at The Salvation Army. But it would only be a dream had we not trusted in the Lord. Sure, we might see a few things along the way, but it was only because we had faith enough to keep going.