Stephen Erickson

Next-Level Resourcefulness

Stepping into the dinghy on the muddy bank of the Aramia River, our boat operator, Awani, lowered the 30-horsepower outboard motor into the water and pulled the cord to start it. Put-put, put-put-put. The motor sputtered and quit. He pulled again, but the motor did not start. Zing. Put-put-put. Zing, zing. Put-put. He pulled again and again. Finally, after many tries, the motor roared, and we were on our way.

We had just deboarded the plane after spending months on furlough. The mission plane left us on the grassy airstrip in Kawito with our suitcases and backpacks. We had one final leg to complete our trip home to Kewa Village, a forty-five-minute boat ride downriver to our mission station. I did not think too much about the difficulty of starting the motor at the time. The spark plugs probably need cleaning, I mused. We made it home with no further issues with the motor, except I noticed fuel dripping into the water. Maybe the problem is more than just dirty spark plugs.

The next day, Awani confirmed there was an issue with our boat motor and that he had talked with the village mechanic, who said that we might need to replace the head gasket. I had plenty of other things to do, and it sounded so appealing to have someone else do the troubleshooting and repair work, so I decided to try the mechanic.

He came with his bag of tools a week later and took the engine apart while I hunted through my spare parts, finding an extra head gasket. He put it on and tested the motor. The situation improved a little, but we still had a fuel leak. “Let’s check the fuel pump,” he said. He took the pump off and opened it up. “Here’s your problem,” he said, handing me a piece of clear plastic, “The diaphragm is broken.”

Sure enough, the diaphragm had a slit in it. I knew I did not have a spare one, and it would be an expensive plane trip back to the city before I could find a new part. With no parts supply store around, I asked, “What are we going to do?”

I could see he was thinking hard. Living in a remote area demands a lot of resourcefulness at times. Soon he asked, “Do you have two Kina?”

Having plenty of Papua New Guinea cash with me, I said, “Sure, but what are you going to do with two Kina?” (worth about sixty cents in U.S. currency). Even a used part costs more than two Kina, I mused. What is he thinking? But I pulled a two Kina note out of my pocket and handed it to him.

Taking the bill, he said, “You see, the bill is made from a thin sheet of plastic, about the same thickness as the diaphragm in the fuel pump. We have done this fix on other motors, and it has worked.”

If he can get it to work, it is worth the sacrifice of two Kina, I figured. I pictured him cutting the bill to the shape of the fuel pump. But he left the bill intact except for the two small holes he made for the screws to pass through. When he got the motor back together, my two Kina stuck out the sides of the fuel pump. This way, when I could get a new diaphragm in the city, I would be able to retrieve my two Kina. Wow! That is resourcefulness to the next level!

When God called Moses to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt, God showed him how resourceful He could be. He asked Moses, “What is that in your hand?”

Moses replied, “A rod.”

God told him to throw it down on the ground, which he did, and it suddenly became a scary snake. But God did not stop there. He said, “Put out your hand and pick it up by the tail.” When Moses obeyed, he got his walking stick back. (See Exodus 4:2-4.)

How resourceful are you with what you have “in your hand”? We do not always know how God will use us, but when we trust in the Lord with all our hearts, He directs our paths. “Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established” (Proverbs 16:3).

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