This week has been quite the week! It seems that every day there has not been one, but two or three medical evacuations!
On Friday, 17-September, Our MAF Operations Center in Mount Hagen, received the call of a young man who was gravely ill and who needed to be transported from the remote village of Suki in the Western Province of Papua New Guinea, to the Regional Hospital in Daru.
Plans were immediately initiated. PNG National Pilot, Joseph Tua, was contacted and of course, he was only too willing to come to the airport and prepare the aircraft for a launch to Suki.
Departing Mt. Hagen at 15 minutes past 2pm, under fairly beautiful skies, Joseph flew the one hour, thirty-five minute flight to Suki.
Upon arrival he found a young man who several days prior, had been speared in the abdominal region during a fight. Time was of the essence! Infection had spread, the bowel had become blocked for the past few days, and this young man was in truly critical condition.
Joseph and the village helpers carefully loaded the patient into P2-MEW, one of our new C-208 Caravans, and Joseph was off to Daru, a life critically hanging in the balance.
At 15 minutes past 5 pm, Joseph and his patient landed in Daru. An ambulance was waiting and the patient was whisked away for life-saving surgery.
Had our MAF plane not been there on this day, this young man would have very likely perished. This is why we do what we do! Sharing God’s love each day through tangible expressions; providing help, hope, and healing in Christ’s name!
Thank you to each of our Ministry Partners! We are here on the front lines because you are there, sacrificially praying and paying the price!
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.
The Lord’s blessings never cease to amaze us! Literally traveling almost around the world under Covid-19 conditions has proven to be an experience we won’t soon forget. And neither will we forget how the Lord was with us each step. From transfers, baggage checks, paperwork clearances, Covid test results (in 6 hours versus the advised 24-48 hours) and right up to arrival in PNG. The gate agent in Kuala Lumpur asked us if we would like to move forward in the plane a bit. Sure – why not – this would allow us to process quicker on arrival in PNG…it did…and we were so grateful!!
The weather in the highlands usually deteriorates rapidly each afternoon around 3pm. Due to quarantine restrictions, Connie and I along with another family from World Gospel Mission, were to be traveling from Port Moresby to Mt. Hagen on a MAF airplane, a 2-hour trip. We needed to be airborne by 1pm. Arriving to Port Moresby after 11:00am on the flight from Kuala Lumpur, we would definitely be racing against the clock to clear the health controls, immigration, collect bags, go through customs, and get to the MAF Hangar, the aircraft loaded, and be on our way!
Again, the Lord cleared the way. The first bags off the conveyor belt were ours! As we approached the health desk to work through all of the paperwork to confirm our approvals and quarantine requirements, the lady looked at our passports and MAF shirt and said, “Oh, I’ve been expecting you. I received an email just a little while ago – you’re all cleared!!” (Thank you Sonali – our HR Manager – she was really putting in the overtime). The other family was shortly behind us.
We arrived at the MAF Hangar in Port Moresby and MAF Senior Pilot Mathias Glass had just landed in our C208 Caravan. We were also met by our Port Moresby office team, Leah and Sandra, and by our MAF Administrative Officer, Eric Eribiang, who also happened to be in POM. Together we all were able to get the plane packed and ready to go. As we taxied out I looked down at my watch, 12:45pm, we were well on our way and on time. Thanks team for your TREMENDOUS efforts.
And so, as I write this we are at 10,000 feet, flying northwest, paralleling the southern coast of Papua New Guinea. We will very shortly turn to the North and head across the lush rain forest and high mountains to our Mt. Hagen base. Looking down, I am beginning to see the winding rivers, muddy but bright, reflecting the broken clouds in the sky, as they make their way through the rainforest, remote villages nestled along their shores. There are no roads down there, only rainforest, foot trails, villages of people, and the rivers. Dengue Fever, Malaria, Typhoid, Tuberculosis, and deadly snakes make their home down there as well.
And that is why we are once again here in Papua New Guinea. To be the wings of hope, the “life line” to the millions of people who make their home in the jungles. Bringing not just medical relief, but the message of God’s love to some of the most remote peoples of the world. Thank you for being part of the team that makes up this vital link!
A final note: Upon landing, we were greeted by our incredible team. We are so very humbled to be loved in this way and in many other ways (groceries in our home, furniture set up, a hot meal delivered in the evening, so many welcoming messages, and much more). It makes us want to serve and love our team even more! May the Lord continue to grant us the grace, wisdom, and perseverance to continue in the task that He has called us to.
And the journey continues. We are now at gate 33 along with probably 50+ other people from several different missions, all waiting to board the World Food Programme, special Malaysia Air Charter Flight 8796. This flight has been arranged so that there is a reliable way of reaching Papua New Guinea.
We arrived shortly after 8am local time here in Kuala Lumpur, some 35 hours after departing Boise. We have been so blessed as the flights have been smooth and we have had minimal issues at the transfers. So very thankful to Jan Bell (Journey’s by Jan), Sonali Ghosh (MAF PNG HR Manager) and Rachel Green (MAF Ashford Admin) who have been working tickets and paperwork all along the way. We are also so thankful for the many others who have been praying and paying the price for this return trip to PNG.
In about five minutes, we will be boarding for the final day (Lord Willing) of the trip. This will take us from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Kuching, Malaysia, to Port Moresby where we will be arriving sometime around 11 in the morning, Port Moresby time. We will then board a MAF plane (if the weather holds) for the flight from Port Moresby to our main base in the Highlands, Mount Hagen.
There are still some unknowns: 1) The weather has been very marginal in the highlands lately. If it is bad, we will need to quarantine for one night in Port Moresby before continuing to Mt. Hagen. 2) A new order has been issued by the Government of PNG, requiring GPS tracking devices to be worn by all persons arriving internationally for the duration of the required 14 day quarantine. This is something totally new and it is unknown if it will allow us to quarantine at our base in the Highlands as was the original plan. The alternative is to quarantine at a hotel in Port Moresby for the 14 days at a significant cost. Please continue to pray.
And for those who love aviation – here are some pictures taken from the flight cameras on the plane as we arrived to Kuala Lumpur.
Sunday morning started early at the Boise airport as we began the check-in process shortly after 05:00. Things seemed fairly normal at that point – but that would change quickly. The only way to describe it…surreal.
We had a small farewell with our transport team (Dad & Mom Aebischer, and Todd’s brother Jeff) and then it was down to the gate and onto the plane.
The flight to Los Angeles was uneventful – at least I believe it was. I (Todd) was sound asleep before the plane even pushed back from the gate. It has been a full-court press the last few days, getting everything ready for today’s departure.
Upon arrival at LAX, that is where things were very unusual. Hallways that are normally full of passengers moving between terminals…were empty. Store after store were empty – signs in the windows – this location closed. The normally bustling ticketing and security area at the LAX International Terminal…was markedly empty.
As I write this short post, we are now waiting at Gate 131. Our Visas, quarantine paperwork, Covid test result documents, and World Food Programme (WFP) charter flight documents (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia [KUL] to Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea [POM]) were all closely scrutinized. Finally we were given the green light and issued the boarding passes, along with our face shields and instructions for boarding. Yes…these are surely different days.
But…while surreal, we serve a God that truly is REAL and has once again paved the way for us. The gate agent at LAX was wonderful, putting everything together so that our bags and boarding passes were all set to continue on the WFP Charter flight from KUL to POM. No having to negotiate a transit desk at KUL. And so…boarding should begin in about 5 minutes…for the next leg of the journey – 15hours 45 minutes.
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,
It was late in the afternoon on Tuesday, 11 December when Dr. Erin Meier from Kudjip Nazarene Hospital called my phone, “Todd, what are our options for a medical evacuation to Port Moresby? We have a very critical patient!”
Dr. Erin would go on to describe a young man around 25 years of age who had suffered what appeared to be a significant heart attack while playing rugby. As Dr. Erin described the case my mind was weighing the facts. It was already late in the afternoon. The rugged rain forest jungle over which we fly does not allow for safe operations at night, and given the 45 minute drive from Kudjip station to our airstrip, a late afternoon departure for the two hour flight to the capital city was already out of the question. Dr. Matt Woodley (ER Doctor at Kudjip) and his team had already resuscitated the patient four times. Would he be able to survive the high altitude non-pressurized flight that is required to clear the high mountains of the highlands on the way to the coast? We agreed that at this point, the best plan was to see if the patient could remain stabilized through the night at Kudjip and then plan for an early departure on Thursday morning.
Shortly after 0600 on Thursday morning, Dr. Erin called. The young man had stabilized through the night and although still critical, they felt he could survive the flight. They would be on their way shortly. Quick calls to our Flight Operations Manager, Captain Brad Venter and Church and Community Partnership Manager Godfrey Sim put the plan in action. P2-SDP was readied and the base team awaited the arrival of the patient from Kudjip.
At 0850, the ambulance from Kudjip arrived at the MAF Mount Hagen Base with the patient, family members and Doctor Matt Woodley along with Anesthesia Specialist Officer (APO), David Wan. The team quickly went to work to prep the patient for the flight. Simultaneously, our team at MAF headquarters continued to do their part – praying for the patient, family, doctors, and pilot team as they prepared to launch.
At 09:49, pilots Brad Venter (South Africa) and Andy Symmonds (UK) lifted off with their valuable cargo on the wings of P2-SDP and much prayer from both the Kudjip Nazarene and MAF teams. Touching down 1 hour and 59 minutes later in the capital city of Port Moresby, the patient was transferred to the waiting ambulance and rushed to Pacific International Hospital.
On Friday morning our Mount Hagen team met for morning devotions as we do every morning. When it came time to list our praises and prayer requests, Nancy from our operations team said that she had received news from the family. Our patient had successfully undergone surgery, was in the Intensive Care Unit, and it was expected that he would make a good recovery.
“Seeing isolated people physically and spiritually transformed in Christ’s Name.” This is why we do what we do in one of the most remote countries in the world. Accomplishing this Vision requires a team. Doctors, nurses, pilots, ground operations, flight operations, finance, IT, engineers, and on an on. It also requires you!!!
Thank you so very much for praying for and partnering with us as a family, and our greater MAF and Nazarene Team!
Learning a new language is always an adventure! We are learning Tok Pisin which, is the trade language used by Papua New Guineans as there are some 800 +/- different languages in PNG! Luckily for us, Tok Pisin uses quite a lot of English and German words that are spelled slightly different but have very similar meanings to the English and German words they came from.
Here is Genesis 1:1 in Tok Pisin
(Read it out-loud as the sound of it helps you understand the words.)
Bipo bipo tru God i mekim kamap skai na graun na olgeta samting i stap long en.
A few years ago, Gary and Eleanor Zweigle, from Tumwater CotN in Olympia Washington, introduced us to the Gideon Bible App that has many of the different translations of the Bible in one very easy to use App. The App has the entire Bible in Tok Pisin as well as an audio version of the New Testament. What a great help that has been to hear the language spoken and read along with it!
Although there are many familiar or similar words, there is a tendency to “Pidginize” English words to make them sound like Tok Pisin which, does not work! Tok Pisin is an independent creole language that originated as a Pidgin. There are some words that we have been advised not to use! Some words that in English are very common and do not have a negative connotation, and yet their Tok Pisin equivalent can be offensive. We need to really watch our language!
Friday, August 18th was a Staff Development Day that we were blessed to attend along with the MAF Staff in Cairns and also the folks from Mareeba.
Dr. David Riddell of Living Wisdom, Nelson, NZ, was the presenter and we worked through a lot of helpful information on leadership and making friends with your mind. He explained what that means and how it helps each of us deal with all the different things we deal with. He wrote a book on this and once the dust settles a bit for us, I will have to see if I can download this book!
Connie Lou’s new passport with more pages came back this week!
VP and Nirmala’s (our colleagues) Visa/Entry Permits were granted this week!
Our Visa/Entry Permit process. We are still waiting for the paperwork to be approved so that we can obtain our visas.
Please continue to pray for our language acquisition.
Pray for VP and our Regional Director as they will be going to PNG for meetings Monday, August 28th to Thursday, August 31st.
We are only able to be here because of the prayers and financial partnership of you, our friends and family! If you are interested in partnering with us financially, please visit the MAF US Website – Be sure to mark your gift – Aebischer #8214
As we finish up our first week Down Under, our heads are full with all the information that has been given to us in the meetings with various leaders and department heads.
We are thankful for jet-lag that has helped us to wake early in the mornings so that we can get a lot more reading done before we head to the MAF Cairns Office for each day’s meetings.
On Monday we met our colleagues VP and Nirmala on our trip to visit the Mareeba site. We are so excited to be working with them in this capacity.
We have a nice apartment in a complex owned jointly by MAF and SIL missions. It is located just north of Cairns by a few miles. We are doing training here while we await the finalization of our entry permits and visas. It is a 3-step process. 1) Work permit, 2) Entry Permit, 3) Visa.
Our Work permit was granted last week (we had applied in June) and we immediately made application for the Entry Permit.
Connie’s passport was getting low on pages so we also had to apply for a new passport through the embassy in Sydney, and it should be back the last week of August.
Also for the finalization of the Visas / Entry Permit process.
We start language school on Monday and this last through about the 3rd week of September.
Thank you for partnering with us in prayer! We know that God hears and answers your prayers and we so appreciate your willingness to lift us and this new ministry in which He has placed us to the Father.
MAF has just added a new profile bio for us! You can view it here:
Well, it’s almost 9pm here in Asia on the night of Thanksgiving. It has been a full day – in the office, meetings, chapel service, ministering with team members, answering scores of email. Now the sun has settled brilliantly into the blue oceans on the western side of the Philippines, as it makes its way to bring Thanksgiving Day to North America. God is good!
I have stopped several times today and pondered how thankful we are. How thankful that God has given us one more day to serve.
Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.
For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.
Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.
Psalm 95:1-7 (NIV)
Every day is truly a gift from Him. We thank God for the safety of travel over literally tens of thousands of miles by air, train, jeepney, bicycle, car, and foot. How many times have we narrowly avoided accidents? Through it all, God’s protective hand has been with us.
We thank God for allowing us to serve in many capacities. From sharing the story of missions and challenging others to use what God has placed in their hands; their time, talents, skills and passions… to sharing in house Bible studies, or traveling to different countries encouraging, sharing, and teaching.
Then there is the “outside of the box” ministry that we are so privileged to be a part of. Meeting at the motocross track each Sunday, sharing the word of God with those who might never enter the four walls of a traditional church.
We celebrate that on November 19th, we were able to recognize the Motocross Messiah Fairgrounds (MMF) fellowship. We are now a recognized organic church ministry!
But more than being recognized as a church, we are a faith community that is living out what it means to be the tangible hands and feet of Christ. To serve our brothers and sisters in their times of celebration as well as their times of greatest need.
One of our greatest blessings for which we are thankful – YOU! We are so blessed to have family, friends… faith communities literally around the world who lift us in prayer and partner with us in ministry. We are continually overwhelmed that you have allowed us to serve as your ambassadors here on the Asia-Pacific Region. This is an honor and privilege that we do not take lightly. We couldn’t be here without you there. Together we are making Kingdom impact.
Today, as you gather together as friends and family, sharing the goodness of our God and giving thanks, know that 15 hours away, across the international dateline, on the other side of the world, we are giving thanks and praying for you! Thank you for being such a vital part of our team!
May our Lord abundantly bless you and your family during this season of Thanksgiving.
Yours and His for the harvest,
Todd and Connie Lou
To share God’s love through aviation and technology; seeing isolated people physically and spiritually transformed in Christ’s name.