Ed and Janet Landry with son, Dan
He Works Out Everything For the Good of Those Who Love Him
Back in 1999, as missionaries in the Philippines, my wife and I had developed a program to help impoverished churches support their pastors. One of the things we trained the people to make was paper handmade from banana plant fibers, and the beautiful products sold well.
Processing the tough fibers into pulp required several operations, one of which was cooking. At first we cooked them over a wood fire in a small pot. As the project grew, we needed bigger pots. Finally it became obvious that to get serious about cooking large amounts of fibers, the best solution was a steam system. That meant a boiler.
As a California boy, I knew nothing about boilers, just that they were big and expensive and extremely rare in hot places like the Philippines. I hardly knew how to approach God with my strange request. Surely that was too much, even for him.
It happened that a missionary associate was attending a small barrio church where a Filipino banker was the pastor. When my friend mentioned that we were looking for a boiler, Pastor Vern calmly replied, “I have one that I could give to you.”
It turned out that Vern was not just a banker and a pastor, but he was also an entrepreneur. Ten years earlier he had been approached by a Korean businessman who had plans for an exciting new product. Since it was much cheaper to set up a factory in the Philippines, he needed a Filipino business partner to run the production side. The product? Liquid goat.
The plan was to use high-pressure steam to produce a cool carbonated soft drink, so the two partners erected a large building and the Korean imported a huge stainless steel steam system with a boiler and all its components. When it arrived from South Korea, operations began. In went the goats (don’t ask) and after the cooking, spinning and filtering, the remaining liquid was carbonated and bottled.
The anticipated moment had come. The partners popped a lid and downed the fruit of their labors. Then they stared, not with the joy of accomplishment, but the abrupt realization that liquid goat was anything but refreshing. In fact, it was horrible!!
The Korean businessman boarded a plane for home the next morning and was never heard from again. Vern locked up the giant, glistening, goat-liquefying facility and got on with his life.
Years passed and one day Vern put his property up for sale. He found a buyer, but they didn’t want the goat factory. What was he going to do with all that equipment? It was just then that an American missionary approached him and asked, “Do you know where I can get a boiler?” Two days later we toured the deserted factory where everything we needed was there for the taking. Vern visited our paper-making facility and loved the ministry so much that he donated the entire steam system to us. Then, just as quickly as our friend had come into our lives, he left, killed in a car accident two weeks later.
Suddenly, we were in possession of a very costly steam system, but had no idea how to install or operate it. It was time to pray again. “God,” I said, “I really am thankful, but if I could just ask one more thing–we could sure use someone to help us set this thing up and show us how to use it.”
Before we had gone into missions, I did what many thought was a foolish thing. I quit my secure job with the San Diego Fire Department, packed up my wife and five children, and headed off to Bible school in Canada. For the next three years I studied the Bible and waited on God for direction. I also worked as summer staff and got to know many behind-the-scenes workers who kept the school running. One of them was a quiet-mannered steam engineer who helped to operate the huge campus boiler. Now, twenty years later, the name of Art Krahn suddenly came back to mind. Was he still at the school? Would he even remember me?
I sent out a hopeful email and before I knew it, Art had agreed to come to the Philippines and help us. What a treat to have him there! He set up safety equipment, rebuilt parts and modified others, tested it and hooked it up, and then trained us to run a fully functioning steam system with confidence. It worked flawlessly over the years and allowed us to cook tons of banana fibers to help keep impoverished churches alive.
I can just picture sitting down with Vern and Art in heaven, laughing and marveling together at the unfathomable ways of God. I think we will all agree that the entire experience was unforgoatable!