The main reason that Brian, Joy and I made this short trip to Walagu was so that Brian could fix the lawn mower that is used to maintain the airstrip. Walagu is a remote village. The nearest town is a few days’ hike away, and so the airstrip is a lifeline. Not only is it used to fly in SIL workers, but the government also uses the airstrip to fly in medical supplies for the community clinic.
Whenever Brian worked on a machine, he always gathered a large crowd of onlookers. In addition to the airstrip lawn mower, there were actually several other mowers in the village, most in various stages of disrepair. I had to laugh as Brian used creative analogies to teach the men the importance of checking oil, changing air filters, and other basic maintenance. “Imagine hiking to the top of Mt. Bosavi with your hand clamped over your nose and mouth – you wouldn’t be able to get any air! That’s what it’s like for the machine when the air filter is as clogged as it is now.”
Before we left home, Brian thought that there was a problem with the transmission on the airstrip mower. That’s what it sounded like from what he had been told. So those are the parts that he brought with him. When he examined it, however, he found that the transmission was fine, but that there were a lot of other little things wrong with it. So he fixed what he could, and then got on the radio and asked a friend back in Ukarumpa to send out some additional parts on the flight that was coming to pick us up. We asked the pilots if we could have an hour on the ground before taking off, and so Brian was able to straighten a few last things right before we got on the plane to fly home.