Like the riddle Samson told, Out of the eater, something to eat; out of the strong, something sweet. That was our day. Out of the heartbreak, something humorous; in the midst of calamity, something comical.

Missionary flying, like all flying, is hours, weeks, months of monotony punctuated by moments of sheer terror, great joy or at very least, intense suspense. Today was punctuation.

Just as Matti ran into our room, arms high, from the door smack to the bed, as she does every morning, Slick read a text. A man we’d met often on our trips to Angaur, father of three kids around the ages of ours, was missing from a capsized fishing boat the night before. A third man swam to shore but two and the boat were still missing.

On the second three-hour flight of scouring the deep blue a sudden commotion drew my attention to the back of the plane where two of our "eyeballs" sat. I expected them to be pointing adamantly at something in the water. Instead a mass of wriggling reddish claws filled the space above their seats. A fat, mad, foot-long sand crab apparently didn’t like his seat assignment of cardboard box in the cargo hold behind the aft seat. He’d joined our passengers, uninvited. We continued searching the seas while crustacean rode docilely in the lap of an experienced crabber, though I don’t believe it ever put on its seatbelt.

Back home, the question still haunts me. How long is long enough to look? We may have seen someone on the next pass. The boat was found. From there maybe we could have found the two missing men if only there were more time. If only darkness weren’t coming. If only we’d started out with better info. If only, if only, if only. How much have we prayed today – how much have so many people prayed? Yet at the end, the decision for life or death remains in the hand of the only One to whom it has ever belonged. And only in submitting to His ruling do we find peace in the swarming "if only’s". Will not the Creator and Judge of all the earth do right?


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