We are blessed to have Swiss Civil Service Volunteers serving with us here at MAF in Papua New Guinea. One of those volunteers, Ralf Hartmann, normally busy in the office assisting our IT department, had the chance to join a medevac flight for three patients with broken legs from Sengapi to Mt Hagen. Here is his story…
One sleepy Saturday morning, I was jolted out of my book by a knock on the door. The neighbour was asking if I would like to observe a medevac of three patients with broken legs. I immediately agreed and 30 minutes later I was at the Mt Hagen airport helping the ground crew move seats out of the plane so that two stretchers could be fixed to the floor of the cabin.
Before take-off, the pilot asked if I still wanted to come as he was expecting heavy turbulence. I decided to go, nevertheless. Shortly afterward, I buckled myself into the aircraft at the co-pilot’s seat and we were waiting for clearance from the control tower to take off for Sengapi.
Soon, the pilot received the take-off clearance from the tower controller, and we were airborne, heading to Sengapi. Fortunately, there was almost no turbulence during the 20-minute flight, and upon landing, we were greeted by about a hundred people and three injured patients.
For more than 50 years, MAF has been helping [the village] by transporting cargo and injured people. Without this lifeline, many of the people would have suffered permanent damage or even died if they could not be treated in a hospital. – Ralf Hartmann
– Ralf Hartmann
One of the patients was a child of about five years, carried by his father. The second one, a young teenager, was carried on a make-shift stretcher and obviously in a lot of pain. The third patient, a middle-aged man, was carried to the plane in a wheelbarrow.
While this man was transferred to the MAF stretcher and onto the plane, the teenager’s fracture had to be stabilised with the help of two branches. As the boy was stabilised and also transferred onto the plane, I came into contact with many kinds of people. They told me what life is like in a village without road access and how grateful they are to MAF. For more than 50 years, MAF has been helping them by transporting cargo and injured people. Without this possibility, many people would suffer permanent damage or even die if they could not be treated in a hospital. After the patients were loaded and the pilot was still busy with paperwork, they showed me what infrastructure they had in their village. They were especially proud of their church and their own school. (MAF has been serving in PNG for more than 72 years – beginning operations here in 1951).
When all the administrative work was done, we could start our flight back to Mt Hagen. Thankfully, there was hardly any turbulence, and we soon landed safely at the Kagamuga airfield.
Now it was time to take the patients from the plane to the waiting ambulance. We transported the three patients to the ambulance using one of the cargo trolleys. The ambulance, a normal Toyota Land Cruiser, did not have any in-built stretchers like our ambulances in Switzerland, so we had to move the people from the stretcher to the seat benches. After another 15 minutes, the patients were on their way to the Kudjip Nazarene Hospital to receive professional medical care.
Thank you for continuing to pray for and partner with us and the MAF International Team as we serve here in Papua New Guinea!
Pilot Ryan Koher taken into custody when preparing to fly supplies to orphanages
NAMPA, Idaho , December 2, 2022
NAMPA, IDAHO – Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) today urged officials in Mozambique to expedite the release of pilot Ryan Koher, a U.S. citizen who has been wrongfully detained in the country since November 4. MAF also called on U.S. government leaders to do everything in their power to bring Koher home, and invited Christians around the world to pray for Koher’s safety and swift release.
“Ryan Koher did nothing wrong,” said MAF President and CEO David Holsten. “His wife and children deserve to have him back home in time for Christmas, and the organization that serves the orphans in northern Mozambique needs the supplies he was trying to deliver when he was wrongly detained. I urge Christians around the world to pray for Ryan’s safety and swift release, and call on those in power both in Mozambique and here in the U.S. to do everything they can to resolve this wrongful detainment.”
Koher, 31, is a pilot for Ambassador Aviation Ltd. (AAL), which is a partner of U.S.-based non-profit MAF. He was detained in Mozambique November 4 along with two South African nationals – W.J. du Plessis, 77, and Eric Dry, 69 – on the apparent suspicion of supporting insurgents in the country. The two South Africans had brought in the supplies for the orphanages.
Koher was detained prior to piloting a charter flight to deliver supplies to orphanages near Montepuez, Mozambique. While conducting the normal security scan at the airport November 4, police took an interest in some vitamins, over-the-counter medications, and food preservative supplies Koher was to deliver for the orphanages and adult staff. None of the confiscated material belonged to Koher nor had it been loaded onto the airplane. AAL has been conducting these annual supply charter flights to the orphanages since 2014.
The three men have been jailed on a still undetermined written charge, but there appears to be suspicion that, due to its destination in northern Mozambique, the flight was supporting insurgent activity. In actuality, Ambassador Aviation has long sought to care for those who have been harmed by the insurgency, including evacuating innocent residents following a March 2021 insurgent attack.
AAL has retained a lawyer for Koher and the U.S. Embassy is engaged in the situation. Embassy officials attempted to meet with Koher on November 16 but were denied access to him at a prison in Inhambane. AAL later learned Koher had been moved to the Machava High Security Prison near Maputo.
“Ryan is a caring and gentle individual,” Holsten added. “Over the last couple of years, he and his wife have worked hard to learn the language and culture of Mozambique to better serve those who rely on our service. Understandably, this situation has been very challenging for the family. We fully believe in Ryan’s innocence, and we are all praying that this issue will be resolved very soon with the charges dismissed and Ryan released.”
Following Koher’s move to an undetermined location, MAF’s security protocols required that his wife and young children return to the United States to allow for better care by the organization and family. Information about the Koher family can be found at https://maf.org/missionaries/koher
Mission Aviation Fellowship began serving the people of Mozambique in 1999, and in 2014, Ambassador Aviation became the operational entity as a registered charter service in the country. Based out of Nampula with two aircraft, the Cessna 206 Koher was to pilot at the time of his detainment and a Cessna Grand Caravan, typical flights include medical care and evacuations through the MOZMED project, VAMOZ, a Mozambican humanitarian volunteer organization, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and JOCUM (YWAM).
In 2021, AAL evacuated over 800 people from Afungi following insurgent attacks on Palma in the Cabo Delgado province. They also provided 24,476 kg (approximately 54,000 lbs.) of food, medicine, and relief supplies to the area. AAL delivered 29 aid workers, primarily from VAMOZ, and 32 medical workers, the majority from the Mozambican Ministry of Health. In addition, medical evacuation flights were conducted in the area for several months in late 2021 and early 2022 as the region recovered from the attacks.
In 2019, AAL provided a disaster assessment by air following Cyclones Idai and Kenneth and conducted 184 relief flight legs, delivering over 45,000 kg (about 99,207.9 lbs.) of cargo and 691 passengers as part of the humanitarian assistance response.
# # #
Mission Aviation Fellowship (www.maf.org) was founded in 1945 by WWII pilots who had a vision for using aviation to spread the gospel. Since that time, MAF has grown into a global family of organizations serving in 37 countries across Africa, Asia, Eurasia, Indonesia, and Latin America, supporting the work of missionaries, Bible translators, and relief and humanitarian agencies around the world. MAF’s U.S. headquarters is in Nampa, Idaho.
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.
It was Saturday morning the 19th of March. It had been a long week with many very early mornings and late nights. Connie and I were moving a bit slowly on this particular morning. I had just stepped out of the shower and was headed to the kitchen to make some coffee for the two of us (I try to give Connie a break and handle the weekend coffee.) It’s a ritual we have each morning, sitting together in our chairs in the living room, reading our bibles and spending quiet time with the Lord, gathering the strength for another day.
The ringing of my phone interrupted my thoughts. I glanced at the Caller ID, Dr. Ben Radcliffe from Kudjip Nazarene Hospital. With Dr. Ben calling at this hour on a Saturday morning, I had a fairly strong feeling that this day was going to be quite different from what I was expecting. But then, that is our motto for PNG. The Land of the Unexpected! And that is why we are here…to serve!!!
And so it was. Dr. Ben quickly relayed to me the situation, that of a national team member suffering a life-threatening emergency during the night, necessitating a medical evacuation to the capital city as quickly as possible. There are no roads between Mt. Hagen and the Capital City. It is a one hour jet ride or two hour flight by MAF aircraft across the tropical rainforest of this rugged island nation.
And so…plans were put in motion! I would like to now transition to a post by our PNG National Pilot, Joseph Tua (Initials JET), and let him describe the day…
TuaFlyingForLife: Woke up at 7am and had a cup of coffee and the weather was absolutely beautiful outside and we thought “What a nice day to fly!”😍
And then the phone rings and it’s our Country Director… “Joseph, are you checked out on the Hagen – Moresby Route?”
“Yes sir, I am”
“How soon can you get the plane ready? We have a medevac patient who suffered a heart attack at Kudjip hospital and needs to go to Moresby right away”
“I’ll have the plane ready to go by 8.30am sir”
“Good. They’ll be here at 9am”
And boom! We scrabble into the shower, grab our overnight gear just incase… Headset… Water… EFB… Phone… Etc etc and off we went to the airport! 🏃♂️
We were ready to go by 8.30am…Patient and Doctor arrived at around 9am. Loaded them all up, strapped the patient down as comfortable as we could. And off to Moresby we went. It’s a 2-hour flight and the weather was great the whole way😍
PIH ambulance was already there waiting. We transferred the patient from the plane onto the stretcher/bed that PIH had brought and basically handed over everything to them. We returned to Hagen with no issues. Weather was absolutely beautiful! Thank you to whoever was praying for this flight! ❤️
Totally Worth It!!
We got a message just around 6.30pm that the patient received whatever care and attention he needed and was stabilized at the PIH ICU in Moresby. Totally worth it! 🤩
Thank you for the continued prayer and support fam! Have a great weekend! 🤩🤙
This was an awesome day. I had the opportunity to fly with Joseph on this flight and work side-by-side with this incredibly capable and competent young pilot. It’s hard for me to explain how proud I am of this young man who willingly forgoes the lure of greater money and fame to pursue the the call of the Lord to serve his people here in Papua New Guinea, flying with MAF.
JET (as we affectionately call him) is also a great writer and frequently posts of his experiences “Flying for Life” here in PNG. If you would like to live life through the eyes of one of our pilots, I would encourage you to follow him on Instagram.
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!
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!
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.
This past week I had the incredible opportunity to pack a bag, leave the office, and venture out into some of the most remote parts of Western Papua New Guinea. MAF has entered into a partnership with Aerial Health Patrols (AHP), and I was taking the opportunity to see how this very strategic partnership was impacting the people living in the remote communities of the Western Province.
Departing Mount Hagen on Wednesday morning, we flew to a couple other remote airstrips delivering passengers and freight before arriving at the “town” of Balimo in the Western Province where I met up with the AHP Team. Balimo is the hub for the AHP initiative.
The heat and humidity of the lowlands is definitely different from the cool temperatures of the highlands. Shirts are immediately damp (ok – often soaked) with sweat, the buzz of mosquitoes and the cacophony of singing jungle birds permeates the air. It immediately transported my mind back to our very early days (Connie and I) on the island of Yap in Micronesia, nearly 30 years ago. I felt very much at home.
We made our way to our lodging for the night and prepared our supplies and equipment for the next day’s flight to Debepari an airstrip and village deep in the jungle of the Western Province, not too far from the border of West Papua (Indonesia).
Thursday morning we heard the distinct sound of our MAF plane arriving. We made our way to the airstrip, loaded the medical supplies, equipment, sleeping mats, mosquito nets and food on the plane, climbed aboard, and headed from remote….to REALLY remote!
Upon landing at Debepari, we were met with a great throng of people, all waiting for the much anticipated arrival of the AHP Medical Team. The team is made up of a doctor, nurses, WASH (Water, Sanitation, Hygiene) personnel and members for family Health / Planning. The AHP initiative partners with the village Community Health Workers, coming along side them in their village, supporting, encouraging, educating, and assisting. The purpose is not to supplant the residing Health Worker, but to work with them on more complicated cases, bring further education, and help to build the respect of the community for their health worker. Each AHP team will only be present in each respective community/village for a few days every quarter. The local village worker is there 24/7. By empowering them, the work of the team can be exponentially multiplied.
As we first met with the community John, the PNG National team leader, opened in prayer for those in attendance and the community as a whole. A couple hundred were present. We outlined the purpose of the visit and what we hoped to see achieved. We then invited them all to an evening video showing that would take place at the health center, prayed a closing prayer and left to the health center to prepare for Friday and to do some training with the local health worker – Michael.
It just so happens that in Debepari, the village health worker Michael (25) and his wife (who was gone to another village at the time), are both recent graduates of the Nazarene College of Nursing – Kudjip Mission Station. I have seen many health outposts over the years, and this one was exceptional. For his young age, Michael had his health post in top shape. Gravity fed running water from the rain catchment tanks, medicines organised, instruments clean and tidy, solar-powered LED lights and a solar powered-vaccine refrigerator. (The AHP team came with many vaccines to provide vaccinations as well as stock Michael’s refrigerator). Michael’s smile was infectious as he told us of his passion for caring for his people in the village. The health of the children and the village was truly a testimony to Michael’s training, care, concern, and compassion.
Thursday night we found a local creek to rinse off in, removing the dust of the day and sweat of the jungle heat.
Friday morning we started out early. The AHP team made their way to the health center and I began working with the MAF Agent and airstrip maintenance officer. There were several airstrip marker cones that needed replaced. Making sure that these airstrips are in top condition is a priority. Short of walking for days through the jungle, aviation is the only connection to the outside world for the people of Debepari. The grass must be kept mowed, ant hills addressed, and any holes made by wild pigs or dogs, filled in.
With the help of several young lads and a hearty wheelbarrow, we walked the airstrip, inspected for condition, re-aligned several cones that had been moved by children, and replaced missing threshold marker cones.
Returning to the health center, drenched in sweat, I found the AHP team in full action. At least a hundred children with their moms, dads, or both, were waiting to be seen, weighed, and for many – vaccinated. There were many adult patients waiting to be seen as well. Some had walked for hours and even overnight to be seen. As there was no way that the team doctors could see everyone in the short time, Michael triaged the more complicated cases. Cysts, infections, epigastric pain, suspected cancer, Tuberculosis, and hernias were all concerns that were identified with the patients. Some could be treated with the medicine at hand, several would need referral to one of the larger care centers / hospitals in the Western Province. All could be touched with caring hands, encouraged, and prayed for.
As Debepari is just being added to the regular patrols, it was planned that this first patrol would be shorter. Relationships would be built with the community, surveys of the greatest needs would be conducted, vaccinations would be started, as many patients would be seen as possible, and then the next scheduled patrol would capitalize on what was learned during this trip.
As the blazing tropical sun crossed overhead making its way to the horizon, the team continued seeing patients. Around 2pm in the afternoon the all familiar distant and increasing hum of the MAF airplane could be heard as it approached to pick up the team. With so many still waiting to be seen, we checked the weather and asked our pilot, Israel, to give us as much time as possible. Finally, with the afternoon sun waning, we packed up our bags, completed some final training with Michael and climbed aboard our MAF plane for the return flight to AHP headquarters in Balimo.
Lifting off of the airstrip, my mind was reviewing all that had been seen and accomplished in this short visit. The number of lives touched, those prayed for, and the ones who had diseases that would ultimately take their lives in this remote part of the world where access to curative measures is just not possible. Even if we could get access to the Chemotherapy necessary, the costs and followups would be absolutely out of reach for these precious people of the Jungle.
What we can give them is love, care, compassion and hope of something better to come. I’m so thankful that Michael and his wife not only completed nurses training at Nazarene College of Nursing, but also training to be ministers. We all know that any physical comfort we can bring now, pales in the light of the everlasting comfort of a life transformed by the Great Physician.
And so is the journal of a trip with MAF and the Aerial Health Patrol Team. Thank you to each one who prays for, encourages, financially supports, and advocates for the ministry of our family and MAF around the World!
Hope and Healing truly does come on the wings of love – the wings of MAF – and you are the wind beneath those wings!
I read the above statement this week and it really caused me to reflect. It was in combination with a devotional thought taken from Isaiah.
Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it?
Isaiah 41:19 (NASB)
And in just a few hours from now the sun will rise and 2020 will spring forth here in the South Pacific. A new year will be underway. New visions, new projects, new plans, new expectations. But whose will they be? Ours or the Lord’s?
I’m praying that this new year we can become SILENT before the Lord so that we can really LISTEN!“We have been conditioned by the religious, cultural, and social values of our time. Attitudes, reactions, goals and thought patterns have been inadvertently ingrained into the fiber of our natures.”– L.J. Ogilvie. It’s time for us tosubmit to Christ’s scrutinizing renovation and it means that we must spend time listening! May each of us be listening and discerning His voice as we enter into this New Year.
Connie and I want to thank you for your continued prayers, encouragement, support and partnership over this past year. God’s hand of protection has been on our team in countless ways.
Five times in December, unknown individuals gained entry under the cover of darkness, and in plain daylight, to steal property from one of our residential compounds, but there were no injuries. Praise God!
On 22 December, I (Todd) was out for a bike ride, getting some exercise and meeting and greeting people in the community. Within just five minutes from home a man (for reasons we’ll probably never know) tackled me off my bike and then attempted to hit me in the head with a rock. But God was there and the man fled into the crowd. The Lord’s hand of protection was there, only a sprained wrist and knee…again… it could have been much worse.
Please commit to continue praying for us and the team here in PNG in 2020.
Please Pray For…
Safety and protection of our team.
Favor with the government as we seek work permits for various new team members.
Vision, that we would be able to discern who the Lord would have us partner with and which communities of the hundreds with airstrips, all with needs, that are on His agenda for this year.
Our Hearts, that we would continue to see the people around us as the Lord sees them. Sometimes it’s so easy to just look at the ones who are challenged by addictions or with propensity to violence and to become “compassion fatigued”. Pray that our hearts would not be hardened.
We do believe as Isaiah proclaimed, that the Lord is going to do something new in 2020! We want to be Listening so that we can discern what it is and how we are to respond!