God’s provision of an airplane for saving lives in Guyana’s jungles proved to David once again that God loves to work miracles. But how could they get the money to operate the plane?
Despite high fuel costs, David went forward in faith. He began transporting medical patients to the hospitals and back again. Each time David spent money for food, medicine, or fuel, someone would fly in and leave a gift, saying, “I feel impressed to give this for your expenses.”
David and Becky faced constant danger from the terrible disease malaria. To complicate treatment, they had to know from which type the patient suffered. Each required a different medicine. Because of all the malaria cases in Kaikan, Dave flew in a health worker to do blood smears on everyone.
One night they heard someone pounding on the door, calling, “Ingrid’s vomiting again.”
“We’ll come right away,” Becky and her mother answered.
They put on pants and shoes for protection against snakes and hurried to Errol and Ingrid’s home. One-year-old Tyaz was burning with malaria. Two-month-old Nicoleta cried because her mother was too ill to nurse her. Ingrid suffered from the kind of malaria that could be fatal.
Becky and her mother started intravenous fluids on unconscious Ingrid. Errol kept crying, “She’s dying, she’s dying.”
Becky put her arms on Errol’s shoulders, “I don’t know if you are a Christian, but may I pray to God for Ingrid?”
“Oh, yes,” he agreed. During the prayer he settled down. Becky hurried home and placed an urgent call to David, who was en route to the hospital. “Hurry home. Another critically ill patient.”
Two and a half hours later she heard him taxi up the runway. They carried Ingrid to the plane in a hammock. David pushed the passenger seat all the way back, padded the floor with a sleeping bag, and laid Ingrid’s head on Errol’s lap. He tied the IV bag to a hook on the ceiling. The little group gathered around the plane, praying for guidance and healing power. Then Becky and her girls took Ingrid’s two babies home to care for them.
David returned just before sunset with another mission successfully completed. As the family gathered for worship, Becky prayed, “How can we thank You enough, God, for that little airplane that provides life and help for these dear people? Please, God, may many learn of Your great love for them.”
* * * * *
A week later the Gates family and a few friends left their house to walk to the Friday night vespers at the church. Wearing only sandals, Leif Aaen, a student missionary and David’s copilot, stepped on a poisonous pit viper hidden in the grass and felt a bite on his toe.
Hearing Leif’s shout, one of the group ran back and immediately began to suck on the wound. Another ran to the house for charcoal and an Ace bandage to use as a tourniquet. They carried Leif to the house.
God must have arranged that just a few days before this they had read of the benefits of shock treatment for snakebite. Immediately one of the men connected a wire to the gas-powered weed trimmer and began giving Leif small amounts of electric shock at fifteen-minute intervals, beginning at the site of the bite and widening the area each time.
Leif suffered severe pain from the bite, but each time Becky applied a charcoal paste, he felt relief. When the pain returned, they applied fresh charcoal, and the pain lessened. Over and over all night they repeated the charcoal poultices.
Sabbath morning Leif walked on the bitten foot with just a little pain–an unheard-of thing. Usually if victims survive, the pain and swelling last for several months. God’s power and wisdom along with natural remedies had produced a remarkable recovery.
* * * * *
Living in the jungle brought many challenges and excitements. One time an experienced hunter began sneaking up on the dogs in Kaikan. In a short time the bold killer, a jaguar, had killed nineteen dogs, even entering the kitchen of a village home and dragging out the pet dog. No one felt safe, especially the schoolchildren, who had seen the jaguar run out of the schoolhouse where it had been sleeping. Obviously the cat had lost its fear of human beings.
The village people took a half-eaten dog to the policeman, saying, “Please help us. Could you set up a blind in a nearby tree to catch it?”
The policeman and another man waited in the blind all day. Just at dusk the villagers heard a gunshot and then another. Someone came running with the message: “The jaguar is dead. She’s a big one.”
The kids donned boots and long pants to protect them from snakes, grabbed flashlights, and with their moms and dads rushed to see the creature. Old and beautiful, her teeth worn down, she could no longer bring down bigger animals. After they skinned her, they gave her meat to the few remaining dogs that had survived her hunting.
A few days later a man knocked at the Gates family’s door early in the morning. “Please help us. I hiked seven hours all night through the jungle from the village of Arau. Eight-year-old Daniel is dying from snakebite.”
Running to the airstrip, David remarked, “I’m glad they’ve completed the airstrip there. What took seven hours by jungle trail will take seven minutes by plane.”
Rushing into the home where the boy lay, David’s heart sank as he saw little Daniel’s swollen leg. His gums had already started to bleed. David doubted that the boy would survive.
Villagers at Arau gathered around the plane to dedicate Daniel to God should his life be spared. After a long stay in the hospital, followed by Becky’s natural remedies, his foot returned to normal.
Again Becky praised God. “Thank You for Your healing power here in this jungle. Over and over again we experience Your promise, ‘[He] forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases’ [Psalm 103:3].”