This is the second in a series of stories from my brother, Edward, about my mother, Elaine Knadle, and her missionary trips to Indonesia.
No story about mother would be complete without the story of our incredible experiences in our month-long mission trip to Indonesia in October of 1989. Mother had met the Overseer of hundreds of churches in Indonesia, Pastor Pardede, while she was in Jerusalem, the kind of orchestrated meeting that God led her into all the time, everywhere she went, all over the globe, as she trekked the Earth for Jesus in over thirty trips overseas since 1975. He invited her to come to Indonesia and preach in churches all over the country. She did, for years.
At Pastor Pardede’s invitation, after she had already been in Indonesia on three or four previous and successful preaching trips, I was invited to accompany her. We left DFW and flew to Hawaii, then to Hong Kong, and then to Singapore, where we stayed for a week to attend the World Pentecostal Conference there. God did some very memorable things for us that week that neither of us will ever forget.
We departed on Indonesian Airlines for Sumatra, and were served a meal on the flight, a meal that caused both of us a great allergic reaction! Our lips and eyelids swelled up to four or five times their normal size, and we looked like ogres when we landed in Medan, the capital of Sumatra, where we were met at the airport by Pastor Nainggolan, mother’s translator or interpreter for her preaching excursions throughout Indonesia. We looked horrible. It took several days for that allergic reaction to subside, and our faces to return to their normal appearance. Talk about a good first impression!
Pastor Pardede lived at a large orphanage there in Medan, where he maintained his Overseer’s office. On the way to the orphanage, we were driven through the poorest part of Medan, and I remember crying because then, at age 39, I had never seen poverty and misery like I witnessed on that drive to the orphanage. I had been to Mexico on mission trips, but had never seen poverty like that. No words can adequately describe it. But the contrast came when we saw the smiling faces of the orphans at the center. But maybe they were smiling because of our allergic reactions!
There were, I think, 300 or so orphans, of all ages, for whom they cared. All would rise at 5AM each day, and sing praises to God and Jesus for at least an hour. You would have to see it to believe it, but it was beautiful!
After several days, we looked human again, and began going out with Pastor Nainggolan to minister and preach. The staff of pastors there ordained me at the orphanage, which was quite a thrill and privilege. Soon we were on a bus, enroute to the Southwestern coast of Sumatra, so we could get to the Mentawai Islands, the least evangelized place on Earth. Occasionally, as you would slow down at an intersection, you’d get a horrible whiff of rotting durian, the fruit all Indonesians love, which I discovered had something in it that made you a little “high.” I never did develop a taste for it, though. But there are all kinds of strange fruits in Indonesia that you’ll never see in the United States, some really tasty.
Our bus trip was several hundred miles. About halfway to our destination, our bus was traveling on the road, and as I looked out, there was a smoking volcano on our right, and then I noticed another one on our left. We drove right between two live volcanoes. I later learned this was only one of several places on Earth where there are twin active volcanoes. I was glad when we distanced ourselves from them. Another unforgettable memory.
Mother and I boarded a little four-man Cessna for the short forty-minute flight to the Mentawai Islands. When we landed, the runway was just large enough for us to land, and the pilot never turned his engine off. He immediately took off again after our bags were given to us. From touchdown to takeoff was only a couple of minutes.
As I stood there watching my only way of escape disappear into the sky, Pastor Nainggolan spoke up and said, “Oh, by the way, the natives here put poison on the tips of all their spears and arrows, but I think we’ll be okay.” There was a silence of about 5 seconds, which seemed like 50 seconds, before mother and Nainggolan both broke out in raucous laughter, and said I looked like someone who was definitely having second thoughts, or like a person whose fate was sealed. I swore I’d get even with them, but I never did.