It’s another hot and humid morning as you fill your backpack. Clothes, paperwork and toiletries are crammed in around as many Bibles as you can carry.
From the minibus you watch the jungle speed by, interspersed with occasional villages, shops and petrol stations. At a quick pit stop, you leave the air-conditioned vehicle and remember the heat and humidity you’d been sheltering from. You search for toilets, hoping for something comfortable and clean. Not today. Two more hours of jungle, then you reach the border. Your palms sweat. “Will I be allowed through? What if I’m stopped? What if they search my bag?” You complete your paperwork, taking every precaution to avoid undue attention.
- Point of departure:
- Purpose of visit:
- Next destination:
- Passport number:
- Home address…
- The questions go on…
You must approach the officials to submit your forms, then the waiting game begins. “How long will it be? Do they suspect me?”
Finally, you’re called forward. Your passport is ready, your visa granted. You lift the heavy backpack once more, concealing the effort you’re exerting, then it’s a minibus into town. You’re halfway there.
The local guest house is basic but a shower, bed and ceiling fan are welcome relief. You sleep well before taking an early taxi to the river. Some locals gather at the jetty, along with government officials. Your passport is checked before you’re ushered down the steep bank to the river’s edge.
You cross a rotting plank, backpack and all, to the ‘speedboat’ – a wooden canoe with a car engine attached. You’ve read about these in Lonely Planet: “Very fast, exhilarating, deafeningly loud, uncomfortable and rather dangerous. Not recommended.”
Your legs are cramped, your seat uncomfortable, and the monsoon rain begins to pour. The engine roars and in no time you’re flying down the vast river, the boat jumping, bumping and swerving between driftwood and whirlpools at 50mph. You use every inch of your poncho (and anything else you can find) to shelter from the bullets of water which assault your face.
Hours pass before you stop at a pontoon. A woman serves you noodles along with mouldy chopsticks, you use the “toilet” and then you’re back in the boat.
It’s two more hours of rain, wind and noise before you breathe a sigh of relief. You leave the boat, stretch your legs and haul your bag up the steep staircase.
When darkness falls you hurriedly hand 20 Bibles over to local believers. 20 families will receive God’s Word, in their own language, for the very first time. They will be strengthened, overjoyed, and eternally grateful. Perhaps one day you will meet them in glory; you can only wonder.
One thing is for sure – you’d do it all again.
HistoryMakers runs short-term teams every summer to carry Bibles into a country with restricted access. We call it Operation Monsoon. Could you join us next time?