Globally, especially within the mission community, connections are amazing. Just today, as Todd and I were on the ramp to welcome Ricky Poki back to Hagen, one of the pilots from the Air Niugini Boeing 737 walked across the tarmac towards us. He walked right up and said he wanted to say hi, and showed us his phone and he was having a video chat with Abdiel David, a friend working in the MAF I office in Cairns, Australia!!
It turns out that Ole was a pilot with New Tribes for many years and is now living in Cairns, Australia. He is neighbors with Abdiel and also with Stephen Charlesworth, who we work closely with out of the MAF I support office in Cairns. Not only did we have that connection, but we discovered another connection as well. We introduced Erwin Jungen, Todd’s outgoing Admin Assistant and Ricky Poki, Todd’s former Admin Assistant. Ricky is headed to train at SMAT in Michigan, with the goal or one day flying for MAF in PNG. Ole’s son is training at SMAT right now!!
Saturday, 11-June, a fundraising event was held in the Capital City – Port Moresby, at Vision City in support of Ricky Poki’s flight training. This event was sponsored by friends of the family and involved a dinner and presentations about MAF by Todd, and also the call that the Lord has placed upon Ricky’s heart. There were more than 150 people in attendance, including representatives from key governmental agencies, and corporations. The Lord was truly present during the event.
As follow up to the contacts made on Saturday, and facilitated by Ricky’s father, Dr. Poki, we had meetings on Monday the 13th with the Managing Director of one of the major corporations in PNG and a team from PNG’s newly formed National Identity and Unification project. Great discussions were had about how MAF, with its 70+ years of involvement in the building of PNG, could be further involved in bringing unity to the remotes areas of PNG. More to come on this.
Speaking of connections – if you would like to hear from us more often you can follow our new ministry instagram page @tcaeb.png which has more pictures – less words. With a glimpse of life here in PNG the fun stuff and the not so fun stuff.
We are in the midst of the National General Elections here in PNG – one of the hot spots for turmoil is Mount Hagen where we live and operate the main headquarters. There have already been a few issues, but so far the defense force has been able to keep things somewhat peaceful and we haven’t had too many non flying days due to associated unrest.
We have so many open positions that need to be filled – critical ones include HR Manager and IT Manager, and an XO for Todd.
Transition for our daughter and son-in-law coming out to PNG to teach and help with Comms – prayer for our other daughter and our only grandchild as this will affect them greatly.
As you may recall, we have been in desperate need of teachers here in the MAF PNG Program – actually, teachers are in high demand all across this country and the world. This has been a major prayer request!
We are so grateful to announce that our youngest daughter Courtney and her husband Landen will be joining us in PNG. Courtney (who graduated with a teaching degree from Northwest Nazarene University back in 2017 and has been teaching in the West Ada School District) will be Teaching at the New Tribes School in Lapilo. They are scheduled to arrive the end of August. While Courtney is teaching, Landen will be serving with MAF PNG’s Communications Team – doing some traveling (his previous adventure guide training definitely will help here) to get the stories, photos and videos to share what God is doing across this great nation through the ministry of MAF.
I had a dream a while back that all our kids were working here in PNG alongside us –I have been praying that God would work on their hearts, giving them all a desire to come and that dream is turning into reality. Two down – a few more to go! 🙂
Much prayer is appreciated as they go through the orientation process at MAF US starting on Monday 11 July, and as they pack up their home and begin to clear debt and raise funds to move across the globe to bless the lives of the children and families serving here. If you would like to keep in contact with them and help them on their journey with prayer and finances, you can follow their progress at their MAF link here. If you would like to bless them with funds for the needed purchase of items to bring with them, that would need to be done directly to them, I know they would appreciate that greatly!
Please join us in praising God for His answers to our needs – and His timing! And continue to pray for the PNG program as we follow the Lord’s leading and have so many staff needs in all areas!
As the crowd squeezed inside the two large tents Thursday night to avoid the drenching rain, they watched with eyes glued to the screen as Jesus was brought to life in the Jesus Film.
From the singing to the wrap up by Pastor Les, all was a bit difficult to hear over the pounding of the rain on the tents above and yet, in away, it caused them to lean in more than they might have otherwise.
What happy hearts we had as we walked to the field Friday evening in the sun and watched an episode of The Chosen along with a guest band from the Baptist church here in town which had everyone dancing with praise.
Godfrey, the MC held their attention with a story of a missionary boy growing up in the Sepik, learning the ways of the bush children he played with every day. Oh their delight when he revealed that he, Godfrey, was that boy. When he announced that his wife had just arrived from New Zealand, hundreds of children stood to their feet and waved their greetings to her as she sat by the sound booth.
Pastor Les had a powerful message bringing the children along with him as he spoke, grabbing their attention with stories and application to the scripture!
Each night on our veranda I fed about 50 staff / families over an hour and a half between the children’s program that ran from 3-5 and the main event that started at 6. I had lots of help, and thanks to the large 30 cup rice cooker Todd got me for our Wednesday night Singles Dinner/ Study, and large cooking pot that made it doable! Mandy, our Comms gal provided salads and sweet kai (cupcakes) for each evening – a huge blessing!
Our final night was Saturday, and we saved the movie End of the Spear for that night. All eyes glued to the screen, often as tears ran down their cheeks, gripped by the story. They seemed to connect with the tribal fighting and killing, and were deeply moved as they changed their ways. Their understanding of who MAF is and why so many from around the world would come to their country was furthered, as they recognized the people in the video were from the same organization – with the same mission and vision.
As I walked home carrying some stools we had used for various things, I asked some young men for help to cross the ditch that separated the field where the tents were from the road. They not only took the stools and helped me across but said they would carry them to my house for me. They excitedly said that next year, when we have the event again, they are going to invite more people and it would be bigger and better! They were so thankful for MAF for coming to PNG and for the Outreach Event. My heart and face were smiling as I listened to them and got their names and interacted with them on the short walk home.
Fast forward a couple of weeks and as Todd and I walked across the road from having Sunday lunch with one of our families, we noticed an agitated crowd gathering at the corner across from our compounds. This is typically not a good sign and we asked the guards if they knew what was going on. Ramson, a relief guard on our compound said that some young men from one settlement across from us had been in a fight the night before at the bar down the street and were planning to go and fight the men from the other settlement. But that the elders from their settlement had come and were trying to convince the young men that fighting was not the way to settle this.
We prayed that the elders would have the words to say and that the hearts of the young men would be open to listen and follow their instruction. As we crawled into bed later that night – we realized that there hadn’t been a fight! We were overjoyed and praised God for this small victory. And couldn’t help but think that perhaps the movie had impacted hearts more profoundly than we had anticipated.
We are in the midst of elections, some of our team members have already left the country for early home assignments, more are preparing to leave in the next few days. We have encouraged this for those due to return to their passport countries for home assignment, just because of the unrest that typically comes to this area around elections. However, the streets have been eerily quiet the last few nights. We are very thankful for this, and for the extra military patrols on the streets, making sure that things remain peaceful.
Your prayers are appreciated over the next couple of months as elections are prepared for, held, counted, contested etc…. May we be a light shining the love of Jesus in the midst of it all. May we have the ability to continue to serve the isolated peoples. Just today Todd was able to negotiate with a group of peaceful protesters that have shut down the airport to the commercial operators, but allowed MAF and one other small aircraft/helicopter operator to continue operations today. Please pray for wisdom for our leaders and for peace for those families who have opted to stay here through it all to continue to serve and show the love of Christ.
Life – how does it get so busy? When will I ever find time to just get caught up?
I don’t think we will ever be caught up, life just has a way of moving along at an alarming rate of speed. And then all of a sudden……. as you are speeding along trying to get somewhere……… they close the freeway!
Last November we were working along here in PNG and then were advised that if we wanted to get a break – out of country in the next 12+ months – that we needed to go immediately. So we quickly called our trusted travel agent Journey’s by Jan who once again found an incredible deal – and within a few days we were on an airplane to the USA arriving the night before our only grandchild’s 7th Birthday. What a special time with family and a few local friends.
It was a whirlwind trip which included American Thanksgiving and Christmas with family and then thanks to a last minute flight cancellation due to snow in Boise, Idaho. We found ourselves in a rented 4 wheel drive heading across the mountains in the snow to get to the international airport so as to make it back to PNG in time for the 70th Anniversary Celebration and mini-staff retreat to be held the first weeks of January!
We felt that driving from Boise, Idaho to Seattle, Washington was the only sure way we could reach the airport in time……and then they closed the freeway! Wait – What? Yep! Closed the freeway! We sat waiting for a few hours shivering in the cold then attempted to find a back road to get around…….only to find a Sheriff Deputy’s car parked across the road turning folks around……. He took pity on us and looking at the 4 wheel drive we had rented, decided we could make it across ok, and let us go.
We made it to Seattle after midnight – found a hotel close to the airport and slept a few hours. After the 12 hours across the snow we needed it. Got to the airport – many travelers were being turned away at the check-in counter for not having the correct paperwork/entry permits/documentation of vaccination etc….but thanks to the great work of our team in PNG – we had everything in order and didn’t have any major hold ups. On to Doha then Singapore then Port Moresby and on to Mount Hagen. Including the 12 hours across the snow, it was 78 hours from leaving Caldwell, Idaho to arriving in Mount Hagen.
We landed and went right into meetings – what a blessed time to have all of our expat staff together in one location for some spiritual nourishment and some good old fashioned fun! One of the highlights was that we purchased a viewing of the Ends of the Earth movie that came out in America a few months ago. Although it is about the work of MAF on the other half of this island, it deeply impacted each one that watched it as we sat together with our teammates that have given so much to be there flying and doing their part to reach the isolated. It was a sacred moment. (Well hour and a half.)
Another special time was sharing with the entire MAF team from across the country as we gathered to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of MAF’s presence in PNG. We shared communion together as a team and it was a special time as we reflected on what Christ had done for each of us.
With everyone from all of the bases across the country gathering for the 70th Anniversary Celebration – we took advantage of the situation and had several different gatherings including Ground Ops and Pilots Meeting and National Ladies Conference. Fiona Stevenson, who has been our Finance Manager for the past several years, but is moving to the South Sudan Program, was our main speaker and it was a wonderful time of sharing together with these incredible women of Faith! We also took advantage of being together by getting photos albeit with masks.
Things have settled down a bit now, back to just the normal busy schedule. Up before dawn and out the door early, trying to get things accomplished before everyone else gets to the office – and typically not enough time, so staying a little later after everyone else has gone home for the night to get caught up. It is a daily way of life for us.
The Team that God has blessed this program with is incredible! They are so caring and compassionate, helping each other out when needed. Praying together and doing whatever it takes to keep things rolling along. We have had several new staff arrivals so we are all busy helping them get oriented to the program and the country with the unique way of life here. We have hosted several Sunday morning Brunch/Church gatherings as we wait for Covid numbers to go down so we can meet together at our different churches indoors. Such a blessed time as those who come don’t seem to want to leave and a simple brunch turns into a day event where people laugh and story together for hours.
Will we ever feel caught up? I doubt it – but isn’t it wonderful to know that it is not just up to us to carry this program. We are here to do what God has equipped us to do and to do our best to encourage others as we work alongside them. Thank you for your prayers and encouragement, it really helps! We are so grateful for the way the Lord has laid it on the hearts of so many to pray, encourage, and partners with us through financial support. We are so RICHLY blessed!
Sitting on the edge of the bed in the Surgery Ward, the mattress worn and stained by who knows how many hundreds, if not thousands of patients it has provided rest and comfort for over the years, my mind drifted to those patients. What had been their reason for being in this ward, awaiting surgery. What had their outcome been? I am certain that a number of them did not get the opportunity to go home… all these thoughts made my concerns for what lay ahead seem so very insignificant and trivial.
We were not prepared for me to need to be admitted to the ward when we had gone to the consultation with the Surgeon’s assistant. I had a water bottle with me and a bag of peanuts in my bilum (purse) but that was basically all I had. When we were led into the ward, and pointed to a bed that would be mine for that night, and possibly the next three nights, they asked if I had bedding. “I am sorry but no, we had not realized I would be admitted today,” was my response. So I sat on the edge of the stained mattress, praying that God would help me through this and would help me to have the proper attitude no matter what.
A short while later, a nurse said they found a sheet for me. I was so very appreciative, as it gave some protection from the well-used mattress, and helped to absorb the sweat that dripped from my body with the heat, not only from being just south of the equator close to the sea, but inside the tin roofed, 12-bed ward were probably 30 people, with a few worn ceiling fans that tried to keep the humid air moving.
I lay back and tried to relax as Todd left to go get some water, some food, and a change of undergarments for me, as the clothes I was wearing were really the only ones I had brought that were appropriate for me to wear being in a ward with men, women and children all together in one room.
We had flown on an MAF plane earlier that day from Hagen to Madang. Being told that it would depart by 7 am, we were to check in at 6:30 – so in true Aebischer form, we arrived at 6:00am to make sure we didn’t make anyone wait for us. No one was there at the base, lines had gotten crossed and other things had taken priority and we had not been informed and it goes on and on……. At first, we were frustrated, very frustrated, but I kept saying – “God wastes nothing” and tried to keep the smile on my face matching the smile I had drawn on my mask with a Sharpie. A couple hours later, through many different misunderstandings, including our Pilot Glenys having to unload at Hagen, 500 + kilos of rice that she was to have dropped at Simbai, we boarded the plane headed for Madang.
Because we had gone to the airport so early, as the sun rose, the sky lit up and I grabbed my phone and ran out to the plane sitting on the tarmac to try and capture the beauty I was beholding. I got several shots and as I walked inside and flipped through the photos one photo stood out to me and begged to be used. It was focused on the gravel in front of the plane rather than on the plane or on the colors of the sky – but I took it and used that photo and posted it.
As you can see, I wrote in the focused strip near the bottom – “What are you focusing on? And then underneath that “Look up- and see the beauty God has created all around you” I hashtagged it #seekingtobeablessing #eveninthis #usemelordtoday #whatsinyourhand #passionandpurpose . As I felt the Lord prompting me to see the bigger picture and not focus on the possibilities with removing the basal cell carcinoma (bcc) from my nose – like would it be disfigured? How would I react to the anesthetic again after just having a general anesthetic 10 months ago in the US, and so on.
Then, once we were airborne, I pulled out my Bible to read since we had left so early I had not had time for my normally daily time in the word. With all the crazy emotions going on inside of me at traveling to have this surgery, knowing the dermatologist didn’t want to try and remove it himself but wanted me to see a plastic surgeon to do it, I opened to my bookmark for the next chapter to read. And this is what I saw.
The book of Job. My mind raced – is this what I am going to face? As I read chapter 2 vs 21…The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. I echoed these words – no matter what happens today – Blessed be the name of the Lord.
We arrived and shortly after, were picked up by a Pioneer Bible Translators (PBT) Missionary. He drove us to the flat we had reserved on one of their compounds and as we rode, he told us about the issues one of their families was facing trying to get out of Madang to go back to the US for their furlough. Their flight had been cancelled 3 times already and there was just one more possible flight that they could get on to get to the capital (Port Moresby) in time for their flight to Singapore and on to the US. But it wasn’t looking very likely that the flight would actually go.
When we got to the flat, we met the family who live in the adjoining apartment and greeted them, the looks on their faces said it all. You could see they didn’t have much hope that they were going to get out that day or make their connections on what was already very expensive tickets…… what were they to do.
In walks Todd, and within 20 minutes, he had coordinated for them to fly back to Hagen on the MAF flight that Glenys would be returning for due to the issue of having to have offloaded all that rice for Simbai and many other “issues” that had caused our delay which ended up being God’s perfect timing! He was also able to personally call PNG Airlines and discuss getting them out on the last flight to POM – had his executive assistant meet them at the airplane, transfer them and their luggage to the Terminal and even stop to get them some lunch and a coffee before they checked in. As we prayed with them before they left the house headed to the MAF hangar, I would say, they were fairly shocked at all of this and how God’s timing was so accurate, for us to have met them and understood the story and had the connections to make it all happen.
Todd and I marvelled as we drove to the hospital to meet the surgeon for consultation, how perfect God’s timing was, how God had given Todd the opportunity to meet the person (just three weeks earlier) in PNG Airlines that he was able to call and coordinate them getting on that flight along with their luggage! We were on a spiritual high as we walked up to the hospital, and met the doctor. Which was another miracle in how Rickson Poki’s father, Dr. Poki had coordinated for us to go to Madang to the only Certified Plastic Surgeon in PNG to have this rapidly growing basal cell carcinoma (most likely) removed from the end of my nose. After he had coordinated for us to meet with a Dermatologist in Port Moresby the Week before who strongly urged us to have it removed by a plastic surgeon because of its location and the scarring that would most likely result.
Within just a few short minutes of our arrival at the hospital consultation room, I was close to tears, as the doctor stepped out to get a chart to start for me as he had told me that I had to be admitted to the hospital right then so that they could do blood work and to prep for surgery with a general anaesthesia and most likely a skin graft the next day. I had felt such a peace about the whole thing since the beginning, I had felt like God had orchestrated it all and that it was going to be such a simple thing, with a consultation on Wednesday and then back for surgery on Thursday morning. I was not prepared to be admitted and not within the next 10 minutes.
Todd took my hand while the doctor was out of the room and prayed, for wisdom, for peace and for direction. I opened my eyes and said OK. When the doctor came back and apologized saying there were no semiprivate rooms available due to covid and overcrowding in the hospital, and that I would be placed in the ward with the rest of the surgery patients, I said OK.
As we walked what felt like a mile down covered sidewalks winding around so many buildings, obstetrics, pediatrics, general wards and so on. The nurse pointed out the beautiful new operating theater and pointed out the old operating theater and told how blessed they were with the new facility. We arrived at Surgical Ward 3 and knocked, the door was opened and we entered and walked down through the center of the ward with nearly every bed full and people laying on the mats on the floor beside each bed. Men, women, children, babies. All eyes were on us as we walked past, I am sure they were wondering why the foreigners were there in their ward. The nurse had us sit on a bench while she spoke with the nurse in charge of the ward. A few minutes later we were led to the bed in the far corner. I sat down on the edge of the bed looking up at the quizzical looks on each and every face. I tried to smile at them, I waved at a sweet little boy about 3 or 4 years old with an untreated severe cleft palate who was awaiting the surgery to repair it to make eating and drinking less difficult. He just stared up at me wide eyed.
Todd and I sat there for a few minutes in silence, each deep in our own thoughts. Then Todd said he knew that faith is my #1 strength, but that he really would like to take me and put me on a plane back to the US and get this done there. And then he said that he realized that my having our youngest daughter on the island without him or my doctor, in the storm, was really a significant faith stepping stone for me and although he didn’t want me to have to go through this, he didn’t want to take away an opportunity for our faith to grow. We then discussed what I would need from the few items we had brought with us and a list was made for what he would need to purchase, and he was off. I laid back on the sheet the nurse had brought and prayed, I prayed for those patients around me that I would somehow be able to encourage them, that God would somehow bridge the gap in language and culture and allow us to be a blessing. After an hour or so, of me sitting up and smiling and trying to greet those around me, and laying back for a bit and praying that the breeze from the ceiling fan 3 beds away would somehow reach me too, a nurse came with a plastic covered pillow she said she found for me to be more comfortable.
I decided that I would ask if I could go for a walk around the walkways inside the hospital compound. They were puzzled at my request, but said yes. I have been doing at least a 30 min workout every day, closing all the rings on my watch for the past 179 days and I was not about to stop! Several people outside asked if I was lost as I walked around and around. It was amusing but I just told them I needed surgery the next day and wanted my body to be strong for the procedure.
I was so overwhelmed by the kindness of the nurses even though they were not very comfortable having a foreigner under their care. I tried to reassure them and let them know how appreciative I was of their kindness. They warmed up little by little and became more comfortable, but with each shift change I had to work hard to reassure the new nurses and they too warmed up after the initial shock of seeing a “white mary” (any foreign woman) in their ward under their care.
Todd returned a couple hours later, making several trips from the car to the ward. His first trip included a wooden folding chair he borrowed from one of the PBT missionaries – so he had something to sit on all night to watch over me and care for me, along with two boxes of Snax Crackers. He dropped those off and out the door he went. He returned with his backpack filled to capacity and a large bag with everything he could think of that I would need. And let me tell you- he thought of everything! What a guy! I am truly blessed.
Once he was settled and set up – we walked around the ward handing out the crackers to each patient that was able to eat and all of those that were there to help/watch over them, along with all the nursing staff. They enjoyed that and it helped to break the ice a bit and to open up a little more conversation with them. Then we returned to my bed in the corner and he brought out a container of warmed up Chicken Curry that I had made in Hagen for our trip to eat that night. He also bought me a lot of water, some peanuts to snack on, a large bed sheet that would wrap around the mattress well, my toothbrush and Bible as well as several other items he thought I might need.
With so many patients, the lights stay on all night and different patients had to have their vitals taken every so often, and with all the others in the ward, it was hot and sticky and noisy and sleep was not something that came easily. Todd, sat up all night working on his computer answering emails, in that hard wooden chair. I dozed off and on, waking from time to time to find him walking around or working from a standing position next to the nurses station with his computer on a tall shelf.
About 3:30 I convinced him to trade me places for a little bit so he could take a nap and lay flat. He didn’t stay there long and after we traded back, I was blessed with about 3 hours of solid sleep – right up till they came to take my vitals and prep me for surgery.
Todd went with me as they wheeled me down the covered walkways to the Operating Theater building and we were able to talk with the surgeon before the procedure and we discussed what he would be doing and the need for the skin graft and how we had hoped we wouldn’t need to do that but we left it to his expert judgement. He thanked us for having confidence in him and his team. We also discussed me being discharged after the procedure once I was awake and up and around, so I could recover at the flat that was just about a mile down the road. With Todd’s medical school training, he could care for me well at the flat and we would come back to the ward for any check-ups that they wanted. They agreed and I was taken back, IV started, O2 mask in place and I drifted off to sleep.
After the procedure, they wheeled me back down to the ward, where I was warmly welcomed by nurses and patients alike. They put me in a bed closer to the nursing station and on the little table next to the bed was a water bottle vase of flowers from the hospital gardens. I can’t explain how that brightened things up – and they had taken my bed-sheet and tied all the corners so that it hung on to the mattress and didn’t slip off so fast. As I woke up more from the general anesthesia, they brought me food, chicken with veggies over rice (it tasted like Panda Express) and a coconut to drink, along with a large knife wrapped in a red and white towel that Todd could use to open it. If you know Todd’s history with big knives, you will understand why he took it outside and had one of the guys sitting outside open it for him. J It was so refreshing in the heat.
After a few hours, I was released to go back to the flat – Christina the head nurse seemed bummed that I was leaving – but we told her we would be back the next day for a check-up – and asked when she came on shift – not till later in the day so we said we would come back during her time and we did with more crackers to hand out. We stopped at the store on the way and picked up a box and a couple packs as we hadn’t used two boxes the first round. We handed one to every nurse, patient and family member there to watch over them and we had exactly enough! A God thing for sure.
The day of surgery, later in the afternoon and the next afternoon, I was so thankful to be able to go for a walk with Todd next to the ocean, to see the beauty and feel the breeze – and to get all my rings closed! 181 days and counting!
Sitting here in the flat, looking out the window past the rooftops and gently blowing palm fronds, I can see little glimpses of the gorgeous blue water of the ocean, I feel the breeze off the water and all I can say is thank you Lord – for this opportunity. The opportunity not just to be here in Madang by the ocean, but to be used as an agent of blessing for others, for helping me to look up and see the beauty God has created all around me in the people He has placed around me, and not to focus on my pain, my fears, myself, but to be open to what He has for me each step of the way.
b: continuity without deviation or change (as in purpose or action)
3a: the quality or state of being made one : UNIFICATION
One of the prayers Todd and I have for the MAF PNG Team is that we would have Unity, as Jesus prayed for His disciples in John 17. That is asking a lot when you consider that we have a group of people from 11 different countries with National coworkers from many different tribal areas (that don’t always get along with each other). Now add in the fact that they all come from numerous denominational backgrounds and there is a significant age range to consider as well. Now put them all together living in close quarters, in what can occasionally be a somewhat hostile region of the country, and then expect them to work together in unity.
With all of those variables, am so very thankful that we do have unity within the MAF PNG Program! And this is once again evident in the way the team has come together in this crisis we now find ourselves in across the globe.
I am so very thankful for the team we have there in PNG that is looking after my husband as he opted to not come to America with me for the surgery that I am needing, but rather, we decided together that he would remain in PNG to help guide the team in this difficult time for the best possible outcome that we can obtain! From dinners, to snacks, to checking in with him – the team has been so great at making sure that even though he as the Country Director is putting in really long hours every day, he is taking as good of care of himself as possible.
The PNG Program is on stand down (not flying) and now the Government there has issued a stay at home order for 2 weeks that includes NO crossing provincial border by foot, vehicle or air. With this order, there is very little movement at our main office or other bases, however many of our staff continue to work long hours from home. Prayers are greatly appreciated, as some of our mechanics are working to get a plane operational in case of emergencies, as well as HR and Finance working to get payroll out when possible.
The team went out and purchased food stocks for the National team members, as many did not have cash available to do so at such short notice of the stay at home order. I am so thankful for the whole team and how they have been looking out for each other.
The Immediate Response Team (IRT) have been meeting daily in conference calls to keep everyone informed and have been putting in long hours working on getting approvals for emergency flights from the government and working with Kudjip Nazarene Hospital in the next province over from our Hagen Base to verify that they will accept patients, should we have anyone of our staff contract the virus, along with approval from the govt/police to cross that border if needed.
As I sit here in self-isolation, alone in a small flat in Idaho, I read facebook posts of people in the US struggling with the isolation. I am doing all I can to keep in contact with our team back and in PNG and those who like me, for various reasons have had to leave the country, and as I focus on ways to do that, I forget about my own isolation. I am thanking God for technology that allows me to what’s app video talk to my friend in India who is recovering from a recurrence of cancer, and with my husband in PNG. I am thankful for the group chats I am a part of that help me stay connected to our team and to individuals around the world. And I get to witness via those messages, their love and unity!
I just posted on social media a photo of a girl from an isolated community we serve and that I was blessed to be able to visit with medicine, eye glasses, solar lights, and Bibles. The community was so thankful for everything we brought. I have thought of those people so much over the past days of isolation….. Especially here in America with several stores open within walking distance, we cannot comprehend what isolation really is. My prayer is that everyone across the world would really take a look at what is important and what is just stuff! That we would all look beyond our comfort zone and see the needs of the world around us, and that each one would take steps to help meet those needs.
Our youngest daughter is a 3rd grade teach in Boise Idaho, the school has a large refugee population and serves the underprivileged, with the schools shutting down by government order, she and some of her fellow teachers, along with the help of her sister, have been putting together healthy snack bags with reading books for her students and then leaving the boxes filled with them at the apartment complexes that many of her students live in with a note to take as many as needed…..I love the big hearts of my girls, to see the needs around them and do what they can to meet those needs.
My email signature has included a quote from a great Christian woman. “Victory in life isn’t about personal success; it is about helping others who have a need that you can fill”.~Ellen Cole Landreth (yep – that’s my Mom) J
What is a need of others / your neighbors that you could help fill? I challenge you to think about that and then act on it! As you do, reach out and help, your perspective will change and you will be filled with a joy that doesn’t come from binge watching your favorite TV program, or eating all the isolation snacks you bought. And don’t stop with one act of kindness – keep it going, looking daily for ways to bless others. And it doesn’t have to be physical – it can be spiritual or emotional as well, as you reach out in prayer for those you know need it, or with a word of encouragement via social media or email or even with an old fashioned card or phone call.
Lets turn Covid 19 into the starting point of a better tomorrow! Of a more caring, others focused, life for everyone across the globe! Don’t let it bring you down – look up and as you do, your body will follow, your spirit will soar and you will be a blessing to others!
As I sit in my tiny studio flat on this the 3rd day of self-isolation, I reflect back on our lives in ministry/missions across the globe. This was prompted by a fb post I saw from one of the younger brothers of our twin sons who just lost his newborn baby.
As I mourn with Louis and think about his loss and the way he became “one of my boys” and how many people there are across the world that are so precious to me it causes my heart to overflow with gratitude for all the amazing people God has placed in my life!
I also am reflecting on different situations that we have lived through, such as the devastating Hemorrhagic Dengue Fever outbreak in the islands (flu like symptoms resulting in death within 24 hours of onset) where Todd was flying to the places and bringing these patients back with at that time, an unknown illness that we assumed might take his life as well and yet we knew God had called us there to help as best as we could. And we trusted Him for the outcome!
Then my mind drifted to the war in West Africa when 3 moms and 11 kids were evacuated to South Africa leaving all the Dads in the civil war zone to wind things up for the mission and houses, and then attempt to get out if they could…. The longest 3 weeks of my life as we waited, hoping to hear anything we could from the men…..trying to keep the homeschooling going with all 4 of our kids in our tiny apartment with the kids all sleeping on thin foam mats spread across the tiny living room. And how we as a family had a pow-wow and decided that we would do what we could to help the other two families, so the girls would go and wash dishes for the other families, or volunteer to feed the baby breakfast, and the boys would help babysit so I could take the other gals out for coffee to de-stress and have some adult conversations, and also have a safe place to voice their fears and then pray together. Our kids look back on that time with fond memories because they didn’t just sit and feel sorry for themselves, they concentrated on others and they thrived through that time. (yes there is still some ptsd from it all but the overall memories are good ones for our family)
Then my mind drifted to the Super Typhoon in the central Philippines where Todd was going down into the middle of the disaster zone repeatedly for over a month to assist with assessing the needs and relief efforts. The World Mission Communication (WMC) team and I worked long hours, several times we would go home from the office well after midnight as we attempted to keep the global church informed of the situation, calling for prayer and also assistance to help the people with relief supplies and to rebuild. And yet God….. gave us the strength we needed, the wisdom and insight and abilities throughout it all.
Now we are dealing with a global pandemic with Covid 19. I am in the US in isolation, trying to keep in contact with our friends and team spread across the world now, and Todd is in the Highlands of PNG helping to lead and encourage our team still there in country.
I am seeing a trend here…..being separated from my wonderful husband with each of us focusing on helping those that God has placed us with……
This morning about 5am Idaho time, and 9pm Mount Hagen time, as Todd had just come home from a long day at work, we were able to talk on the phone. I was greatly encouraged by the sound of his voice and the things he told me about, and asked me about (how to make the dog food, ratios of water to veggies and rice etc…) and how normal it felt.
Since being in isolation, I have had a few distance visitors come see me. What joy it brings to my heart to see family and visit in person rather just by facetime. I have yet to be bored! Working with the team across the world on several different projects and with issues that have come up, doing my best to be a support and encouragement. I have some plans to work on organizing my photos etc… but have not had a chance to work on that yet. However, I am only on day 3 of isolation, so I still have time. Haha
I pray that each one who reads this would see the opportunities to encourage and bless those around you as you have more than normal time on your hands no matter what your situation is, with the restrictions and closures of so many schools, businesses and churches. Look for ways to be a blessing to others – you will be blessed in your efforts and you will be given what you need, strength, energy, wisdom and insights, to do so!
Your prayers are still very much needed and appreciated,
What crazy/uncertain times we are living in right now. Just when we think things are going to start to normalize, Covid 19 shows up and turns life upside down. And yet God…… (still my favorite saying) along with He Is Able!
In the early morning hours of Saturday, 14 March 2020, amidst the multitude of emails coming in and going out from the CD’s home office (aka bed) it was decided to send some of our higher risk staff out of PNG along with myself over the following days. Given the fact that there is next to no advanced healthcare support available in the Highlands. (Big thanks to Journeys by Jan for organizing my tickets! Always perfect planning!)
I was due to head to the US on 21 March for Doctors appointments and an upcoming surgery that is not available in PNG (Female stuff) But with the rate at which we were being notified that borders were shutting to different countries, we decided it would be best to get me out immediately rather than risk having to postpone surgery even longer.
After a very long 32 hours of travel, with very tight connections, I arrived in Boise, Idaho minus only one of my two action packers – yes, filled with TP and Peanut Butter J And a little coffee/tea from PNG.
My welcome party met me at the curb shortly after midnight, keeping strict social distances from me, giving air hugs and leaving the car running with the heat on high (of course I was freezing in Idaho). I had to load my own bags to avoid possibly contaminating them after my travels, luckily TP doesn’t weigh too much~ Haha. And soon I was headed down the freeway to MAF US Headquarters and a cozy studio apartment set up and waiting for me for the self-isolation period of at least 14 days.
As I was preparing to hurriedly leave, I was deeply touched by the love and well wishes and send off from the MAF PNG Team – both National and expat! Bon Voyage parties had been planned and that really means a lot to me. Todd, along with “Our Boys” and Sonali saw me off at the airport and the guys all stayed airside to wave, and I got a quick hug from Todd, as I walked to the awaiting aircraft. It really touched my heart that they all took the time and stood in front of the MAF Base to wave good bye as my plane taxied to the runway as well.
As I traveled, I saw some who were fully decked out in anti-virus gear (The woman at the airport in Brisbane speaking with Godfrey about self isolation) while transiting to NZ. And yet hundreds of people not taking any precautions whatsoever! I had been supplied with a mask that I saved to wear when the social distance got greatly reduced once I hit US Soil! As I read that prolonged use causes the mask to be less effective as breathing causes moisture and then it becomes somewhat useless – although I will say it was difficult to breath with that mask the way it seals so well! I wore the mask until I was settled into my little hideaway in Nampa.
I chose to self isolate not just so I don’t get the virus, but to protect those I love, and also those I will come into contact with here in Idaho, as well as those that they will then come into contact with, from possible contamination because of where I have been! Social distancing is the key to reducing the spread so that health centers can keep up with the sick once they contract it and need intervention. Most of us may just get nasty flu symptoms, but it is not most of us that I am concerned with – it is the elderly, the pregnant, the premature, those with significant health issues to begin with, like my sweet nephew Ronan that recently received a Kidney transplant at a very young age!
My heart yearns to see may granddaughter Noortje, that I only get to see once every year or so…… She is just 10 minutes away from here….. but I choose to self isolate to keep her safe, and to keep those safe that she will then come into contact with.
As I sit here in my little hideaway, stocked with food by my daughters Courtney and Jess, and also other family have brought things for me, like fuzzy blankets and books from my Mom. I am praying for Todd and the team as they make decisions on how to address this virus in an area of the world with very little access to healthcare. And as they deal with the social issues that will come once it hits the highlands…. I have lots of time on my hands to do so!
And Surprise! My last action packer showed up on my doorstep! Thanks MAF US, especially, Ruth, Barb, and Gene for your love and support!
I look forward to seeing how God will use this time to grow me spiritually as I spend more time in His word and reading books that will help me be a better person/leader/wife/mother/friend. I would love to hear what God is teaching you through this time….He is Able!
Your prayers are greatly appreciate for Todd and the team still in PNG as they continue to serve the remote communities, taking every precaution possible and having continual update meetings to be sure we are doing just that! These are difficult times as we deal with the unknowns, and yet maintain a positive outlook – None of this has caught God by surprise. He is still on the throne and still working things out for our good. When we need wisdom, He gives it. And boy do we need it!
Your prayers especially for the team to keep a positive attitude, to be wise in decisions and safe are very much appreciated! God hears and answers – and He calls us to lift our requests to him, with thanksgiving and praise!
Oh how I miss hearing this from the back seat as we drive. Mother’s Day is a perfect day to remember, especially for those with children spread across the world – or having gone before them to heaven…
For Mother’s Day, Todd took me up the mountain to a beautiful little resort to walk around the gardens and get a bite to eat and relax for a couple of hours before heading back down the mountain to the business of another week. The drive was long and slow – because of the uneven, rocky terrain that they call a road. Our vehicle works, fairly well, and usually gets us where we want to go. We made it up and back and once back in our parking spot, it stopped and wouldn’t go any more. Oh well, a problem to solve on another day.
Despite the vehicle problems, my day was picture perfect. Talking to my girls, parents, and friends across the world via many forms of communication. What a blessing to have this level of communication available to us where we can not only talk, but see each other across the world!
Are we there yet?
I still miss hearing that, and now I find myself asking Todd this same question as we work through the many challenges along with the great joys of working here in PNG.
Are we there yet? Have we arrived at where we set out to go in Missions?
Are we there yet? Have we accomplished what God has called us to?
Are we there yet? Is our life reflecting our Lord and Saviour in such a way that it draws others to Jesus?
No, not yet…a little farther still…
I was reminded to enjoy the journey and not just the destination as we meandered slowly up the road to avoid having to replace tie rods and ball joints too soon. The many different shades of green in the tropical highland foliage and gardens. The neat and tidy houses along the road that someone has taken much pride in cleaning and weeding. The gorgeous views as we round the bends along the winding road up the mountain. I sat and thanked God for each blessing as they came to mind – and I prayed for many with great needs who came to mind.
As we finished up with Mother’s Day weekend, I have been busy working on preparing our calendar for our time in the US the end of June through July. We do hope to be able to catch up with many of you as we pass through your area. We welcome any and all connections! A coffee date, chat over a meal, or an invitation to speak to your church / group. You can see our schedule by clicking here. Please let us know if you will be anywhere near where we have a scheduled event and let’s catch up! J
Please check back often as the schedule will be filling up fast!
To share God’s love through aviation and technology; seeing isolated people physically and spiritually transformed in Christ’s name.