Adventures at Sea

Lorae and her daughters sleep while travelling by ship to Makira Island in 2018.
(Photo: Naaman Brignall)

In the Solomon Islands, inter-island flights are expensive and dependent on weather conditions. To make the 200 km trip from Guadalcanal Island to Makira Island, the Brignalls’ only alternative is to board a small ship that stops frequently to pick up or drop off passengers. What would have been a 35-minute flight can become a two-day ordeal.

The Brignalls will never forget their first journey to Makira in September 2018 to visit their local Bible translation colleague, Ben. Exhausted after travelling over choppy seas for 36 hours, they arrived at the island around midnight. Both daughters, Thacia and Kyrie, had been seasick, and it seemed the long journey was finally over—until Naaman remembered there was no wharf. All 200 passengers onboard would have to wait their turn to be transported to shore by dinghy—along with all the cargo.

“I had known this,” Naaman wrote to supporters last fall, “. . . but I was not quite prepared for the reality. Three hours and many boatloads later, it was our turn.”

Their 10-passenger dinghy headed for the shoreline, only to have the engine die on the way. A crew member pulled out a paddle and rowed to the beach. By the time the Brignall family finally arrived at Ben’s house, it was nearly 5 a.m.

(Photo: Naaman Brignall)

Unexpected Provision

The return voyage can be just as challenging. On a solo trip to the island this past December, Naaman was looking for a way to get back to Guadalcanal when he remembered that the Anglican diocese owns a boat. He visited the local bishop, who gave him permission to travel home on the boat.

The bishop’s kind offer was a huge relief for Naaman; it meant he would be reunited with his family in time for Christmas. However, his heart sank when he realized he’d be travelling on rough seas for nearly an entire day.

“The idea of spending the next 20 hours seasick was a little daunting,” he says.

However, God had a gift in store for Naaman. After he had boarded, the captain led him to the bishop’s private cabin—which included a bed and a bathroom.

“God's care is overwhelming,” Naaman says. “He knew the sea was going to make me feel miserable and He provided me with a place where I could lie down, even though I hadn’t asked for it.

“Being able to lie down when the sea was at its worst gave me a glimpse of the mercy and compassion of my Heavenly Father.”

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Unexpected Assistance