I was dreading the milling trips. I’ve got a set of skills and strengths, but house building and chainsaw skills aren’t anywhere near them! Every time I saw a video of a missionary team building a house I inwardly despaired of how hard it was going to be.

Notice all the bracing keeping the log upright – every tree is a unique puzzle

The night before I didn’t sleep a wink, not a second all night long and then all too soon it was 4 am and it was time to get ready to go. Thoughts were racing through my mind, sudden bursts of panic “We never checked the milling chain fits the bars we have; if it doesn’t we’ve got problems!”

After settling into the routine though it hasn’t been too bad. I’m comfortable working with chainsaws (although I’m making sure I don’t become complacent with them) and life on a milling trip isn’t too bad. We have our own little shelter where we can get a good, dry night’s sleep and even though it’s work all the day long it doesn’t feel too bad.

Setting up each log is a mentally rewarding job, not the drudgery I was expecting as for each unique tree you figure our how you’re going to drop it, how to rotate it, how to stop it sliding down hill, what pieces you can get from it and ensuring that the planks you’re cutting are straight and level.

It’s been an enjoyable 2 weeks actually. You get into a contented groove and focus on one problem at a time.

A new Kovol house going up, the little house on top is for their little boy 🙂

And there have been problems. Both our Magnum 880 chainsaws are down for repairs – bearings and chain tensioners need changing. We’re working on finding replacement parts before the next trip. Losing the first Magnum 2 days in certainly slowed our milling production.
Digging in our spare parts kit we found we had incorrect parts, too many air filters and zero of the critical components we needed.

We have 4 packs of chain that we can’t use as it turns out a 36″ chain doesn’t fit a 36″ bar – you measure chain from the bumper spikes to the nose of the chainsaw bar, not from the sprocket, so all our spare chain is too short. Our files wore out and we couldn’t keep the chain sharp.

All things we can hopefully rectify before the next trip in a week and a half.

Rhett is more optimistic than I am but progress has been slower than expected. We have a build team booked for October and we need to ramp up production multiple times over to have the minimum amount of wood we need for the team to have a productive building time. In two weeks we cut about 120 pieces of wood; and granted it was the bulkier and longer pieces that take longer it’s not looking promising that we can crank out the minimum of 1200 pieces required for an October house build. Our build trip may turn into a third milling trip.

One side level, time to cut the second side square

I think it’s all pretty stressful. I’ve not been sleeping well since getting back, my halasleep mind is thinking it’s working on logs, setting levels, snapping string lines and cutting with chainsaws.

At the same time I can look back and be thankful for no injuries, progress and how excited the Kovol people are. The more I get to know them the more I see how genuine their excitement is to receive us, and they really know nothing about the Gospel, they don’t have access to it at all! The sleepless night before I went in the thought crossed my mind “and why am I doing this again?” After being in Kovol for 2 weeks I’m excited to get back in there and get to know the language and culture of this amazing people. They’re hungry for God’s word and I’m excited to get to be one of those working towards bringing it.

Milling wood and building a house out there is filling my immediate future like an impassable mountain range, but sharing the Gospel with the Kovol is God’s work and I’m glad I can count on him for strength to continue.

Please be praying for us as we continue! Pray we’d remain safe, encouraged and productive.

Categories: EnglishStanley


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