Pretty inspiring, huh?
That’s why I swore I wasn’t going to post this week. Who wants to listen to something like that? Who wants to hear about struggles and illness, about how Satan can grind you down? Good Lord, most people have enough of those issues in their own lives and the lives of their loved ones. No need to add to that, right?
Rather, just model Job’s agonizing faithfulness in Job 1:20-22 and pray that next week is better. I prayed that verse repeatedly this week, as the temptation to say you know, maybe this just isn’t going to work out kept buzzing at my ear like a demonic mosquito. I brushed that temptation away over and over again. And decided not to blog about it.
But sometimes Satan overplays his hand.
Sometimes he thinks he has you on the ropes and winds up for the knockout blow, which turns out to be a stinging, glancing blow, the momentum of which carries him over the ropes and out of the ring and leaves you dumbstruck, dazed, and then doubled over not so much in pain as in laughter.
Because sometimes when things are bad enough, you just have to laugh.
We were sitting around Friday evening having a simple dinner of popcorn and some crackers, happy we were all able to sit around the dinner table together for the first time in a week or more. There was a strange noise, sort of like a WHOOOMP. I thought at first it might have been thunder, but then Caedmon yelled out there was fire in the kitchen.
Let me back up for a moment.
Our house has an outdoor kitchen. This is apparently not an uncommon feature in Southeast Asian architecture, where trying to keep any additional heat from building up in the house itself is an important goal. We thought it gross at first, then odd, and now very normal (as it turns out to be not gross at all, something we’re very relieved about). Where the refrigerator is in this photo, we placed the stand-alone oven/stove we purchased and the external liquid propane gas (LPG) tank it runs off of. We moved the fridge inside.
Houses here generally aren’t plumbed with gas lines as gas is generally just used for cooking devices. So external LPG tanks are used. Quite similar to the kind that might fuel your outdoor grill. We had a new tank delivered a few weeks ago and I thought the guy who delivered it and kindly installed the regulator did it rather quickly. But it seemed to work fine so I didn’t (stupidly) double-check his work. After all, this guy does this for a living, right?
So WHOOOMP. Fire. Gena yelling at me she doesn’t know what to do and me yelling back that I don’t either and the kids yelling about how it’s going to explode because, you know, that’s what gas containers do. We’ve all seen enough action movies to know those suckers can wipe out a whole holdout of bad guys.
But, we have no idea how to get help. We have no idea if help even exists here. Do they even have a fire department? I’ve never seen or heard a fire truck in eight months here. And even if it does, I have no idea how to contact them. Without a better course of action, I realize I have to be the one to jump in and figure out a solution.
We start filling buckets with water and throwing them on the tank. But as some of the sharper of you might already realize, that didn’t work. Then I tried soaking towels and throwing them on top of it. A better idea but the tank was back in a corner and we were afraid of dying so our aim was not the best and the fire continued to flare. Suddenly there were a couple of guys from next door (the owner of our house lives next door), and they were helping throw water and then we tried a hose. I’m sitting there trying to hold the hose to the faucet because it doesn’t fit on the faucet and I realize none of this is working.
Now our two friends (practically daughters) who teach at our language school are there at the house – Mika and Caedmon had wisely started calling and texting them. They’re freaked out and trying to get us away from the fire but I have a new plan. I grab one of the unused hoses and manage to lasso the flaming LPG tank. I start to tug it out of the corner, realizing unless we can get a better angle on the leak that is feeding the flames, we aren’t going to extinguish them. The tank starts to tip over and I figure I’m going to die. And frankly, after this week? I’m not so bad with that idea. I loosen the hose and let it slide lower on the tank and continue pulling. I drag it about 20 feet into the center of the uncovered courtyard right next to our kitchen. The tank falls on it’s side, still flaming. Someone manages to aim a good bucket of water at the now-exposed hose that is pumping gas out and keeping the fire going. POOF – as suddenly as it started the fire is gone.
But I know it’s still leaking gas, and we have to get the regulator off to stop that. So I’m pulling off steaming hot towels until we can get to the regulator and get it knocked off, which stops the leaking gas.
The fire department shows up about five minutes later. It felt good to hear our friends had never called the fire department before and had to Google how. Then they weren’t sure when the fire department would arrive – if ever. They were as amazed as we were when the big truck pulled up outside. The firemen took some notes and sprayed some water to make sure there were no hot spots in the cabinetry or the wall. Since the wall is plaster over brick, I wasn’t too worried about that. I was stunned to find the cabinets were not badly damaged at all. A few minutes later the fire department was gone. Our friends helped us mop up the water in the house where we had the bucket brigade. Then they left.
And we started laughing.
Really? Really?!?! After the week we’ve had together and separately, filled with fever and coughing and lack of sleep – all while slogging down to the immigration office nearly daily trying to get our visas renewed – after all of that, Satan threw this at us?
What can you do but laugh? Laugh and pray and give thanks to God for protection. For protecting us so nobody was hurt. Protecting us so the property damage was minimal. Bringing us through flu and flame still together, still committed to staying here. God is very, very good.