Three Strikes Death, You’re Out!

Flying off to the nether regions of the world, sans electricity and modern convenience is almost par for the course for me now. I’m a travel junkie infected with a wander lust that defies my own understanding. Maybe it’s that feeling of ‘going somewhere & doing something’ that I like so much. No matter what it is, I’ve done it enough that very little surprises me when I travel. Suffice it to say I am surprised to have found myself surprised: in one week I’ve escaped death three times. I set a new record.

Jennifer and I were patiently waiting for our next flight on China Airlines from Taipei to Manila. We had managed to endure the 13.5 hour flight from Las Angeles and we were Three Strikesanxious to be at our destination. When the time came, we boarded the plane and we taxied to the runway to await liftoff. While we waited, we couldn’t help but notice a passenger running from his seat towards the cockpit. He rattled something off in Chinese to a flight attendant and she ran back with him towards his seat. They both peered diligently out the window for a moment and then she ran back to the front of the plane. We waited. We waited. We waited some more. After quite some time, the pilot announced a ‘mechanical problem’ that needed to be fixed. It turned out that the mechanical problem was someone forgetting to put on (or close) the fuel cap. While we taxied down the runway, fuel was spilling down.

As a matter of principal, I try to forgive and forget. However, I don’t apply that principal in business and especially not so when said business tries to kill me. You get one shot at that. Afterwards, I take my business elsewhere. I have no desire to use my seat cushion as a flotation device so it is needless to say, I will not fly China Airlines again.

Death it seems is not satisfied with failure and less than a week after our arrival in Sara I fell ill. By ill, I mean “please shoot me and get it over with” ill. A bacterial infection had taken hold on me to the extent that I expelled (from both ends) all of my bodily fluids and could not retain water. Drinking water created an abdominal pain that was excruciating. Additionally, I was shaking with fever. This situation created a dilemma for me because I refuse to go to the provincial hospital (you can read why here).

Jennifer, of course, freaked out. So did Momma and Papa. Papa was so scared he took my sweaty t-shirt to the local witch doctor for advice (which was of course worthless). “Relax”, I told Jennifer, “it’s not my time.” And I meant it. It’s not my time.

Eventually it worked out. I managed to swallow enough water, and retain it, so that I could take an antibiotic. Jennifer of course played nurse (quite faithfully I might add). After about 3 days, all was well again.

Death took one more shot though. Jenn forgot about a lit candle while I laid exhausted from illness and she laid exhausted from nursing me. We woke up in the morning to find a portion of our coconut lumber table burned with the table cloth. Soot covered the area. How the dry wood didn’t become utterly consumed in flames is a bit of a blessed mystery. It should have easily caught fire and spread to the plywood walls. We are most happy it did not!

That’s 3 strikes for death – I’m going to enjoy the rest of my vacation now. Granted, I was enjoying it anyway but I feel a better air of freedom now. The grim reaper can’t waste too much time on one soul.

In the midst of all death’s fatal attempts, we managed to keep our obligation to assist the poor. An outside donation, coupled with some of our own funds, helped to purchase and distribute over 1000lbs of rice. Even more people will be fed tomorrow with the pig we’ve donated for the church anniversary.

Helping people somehow makes you worry less about death: life takes precedence and that always strikes out death. I’ve no doubts that one day my time will come and the reaper will have his reward: death will take me. Until that time comes, I have the pleasure of making his life miserable. But even when that time comes, I still win. As it is written,

“So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” 1 Cor 15:54-55

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