Connie and I are so blessed to be leading such a tremendous team of servants. This is a great story written by one of our pilots about a couple days in the life of MAF!
Story and photos Remi van Wermeskerken
Today was a bit of a mess. My schedule was supposed to have been Madang-Nankina-Madang-Dusin-Madang-Simbai-Madang-Simbai-Madang with the Airvan P2-MEW.
The ﬁrst Hick-ups: No passengers and bad weather
But… the ﬂight to Nankina couldn’t happen because the truck bringing the passengers and goods had broken down. Fortunately the passengers to Dusin were ready, but as they didn’t have a full load we added 75 kg of goods for Simbai. I landed in Dusin as the low cloud was getting worse I and took oﬀ just in time, perhaps by two minutes, or it would have been completely closed in. Simbai, which is only a 7 minute ﬂight from Dusin, was completely closed by low clouds. After trying to get down and trying to ﬁnd a hole to descend through, I had to return to Madang as my fuel was starting to run low.
More Hick-ups: Cancellations, to many overnights and the plane due for inspection
By the time I got back to Madang, weather in Simbai had improved enough to go there again but the passengers for the second ﬂight to Simbai had cancelled. We had to ﬁgure out how to most eﬃciently get me and the plane to Simbai and to Goroka as there was no loading back home to Madang and the next morning I’d have an empty load to Goroka to get there for training with Sebastian Kurz. With already 3 nights away from home this week, I wasn’t too keen on another night away. When we found out that there were 3 passengers from Simbai to Goroka, it seemed the right thing to do to save MAF a lot of expense and just ﬂy Madang-Simbai-Goroka and overnight there. However we ﬁgured out that my plane would be due for an inspection before the end of the week and Sharlene Coker, Flight Operations Coordinator, suggested that I swing by Mt Hagen today to swap planes which changed the routing to Madang-Simbai-Mt Hagen-Goroka.
The Outcome of the Hick-ups: A last minute compassionate flight..
The rest of that ﬂight was quite uneventful and because I was quite high in duty hours, I was looking forward to having a short day, getting to Goroka by 2 pm and calling it a day. But whenever we seem to have a short day (seldom…), something happens. And as my plane was parked and being washed in Goroka and I was ready to go home, Sebastian dropped by and suddenly things got urgent in the oﬃce. A man came in asking for a charter to pick up his daughter in Chimbu, who had just given birth to a baby who had died. The clinic in Chimbu did not have formalhydrate so they needed the mom and body of the baby brought to Goroka for burial as soon as possible. It was now 3 pm and the weather didn’t look all that great. Sebastian, who wasn’t even in his ﬂight uniform as he only wanted to check on the next day’s training program, was very keen to help this distressed family. So we quickly got the plane ready, and took oﬀ to show Christ’s love to this family.
It was very diﬃcult to see the mother constantly kissing her little deceased baby, knowing that she will not have a mother-child relationship with this baby she had carried for 9 months. I can’t imagine the agony she must have been in.
It was good to be able to support her and the family during their sad time. What started out as a very frustrating day with lots of hick-ups, turned into a day where all those circumstances caused this ﬂight to Chimbu to happen. If all had gone according to plan, there wouldn’t have been time to add the Chimbu ﬂight.
Another Last Minute Call: A Medevac
Only a couple of days later, when we were about to leave on our last training ﬂight of the day, there was suddenly another emergency call from Jungkaral. A young teenager had fallen out of a coconut tree and badly broken an arm and a leg and they wanted to know if we could assist. To pay for the ﬂight, they only had seat fares for two people to Madang. So we had a lot of decisions to make. Madang was out of the question as we’re training in Goroka and I would end up with way too many ﬂight and duty hours at the end of the month. Because we don’t normally ﬂy to Junkaral and could ﬁll up the plane, this medevac would have to be declared as a charter ﬂight. After discussing this with Sebastian, we decided that this is one of those medical emergencies that MAF has some extra funds for. So we departed towards Jungkaral. Due to the late afternoon, clouds were already up to 10,000ft so we had to climb over those and then start a rapid descent into Jungkaral.
Upon landing we were amazed that the community was carrying the boy without a stretcher or mattress without him crying or complaining, even though he had multiple broken bones. Many of the women were wailing, as if someone had passed away.
We got the young man to Goroka in the late afternoon and our base staﬀ transported him to the hospital. I don’t even want to try and imagine what they would have done if MAF had not been able to help and the community would have had to transport him through the jungles for days or weeks to the nearest hospital.
Thank you for partnering with us as together we connect isolated people and see lives physically and spiritually transformed in Christ’s name!
Todd and Connie Lou