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.
It is Thanksgiving evening here in the US. Connie and I have been reflecting on how much we have to be thankful for – the Lord’s blessings have been beyond abundant.
This year has not been without its challenges. Connie arrived in the States for her surgery in March and then…COVID. She would remain until her surgery was finally scheduled for the 26th of August. I would arrive in August in time for the surgery, only to become quite ill and we would spend many more days separated while I isolated…I quit counting at 150 days… We were scheduled to return to PNG on the 25th of October…the airline cancelled the route. The next option was to depart on the 8th of November. With bags packed and ready to go, I was diagnosed with Covid on the 7th.
It would be easy to become discouraged, but truly the Lord is in control. Nothing of this surprised Him. He had a plan.
Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
James 1:2-4 NASB
Connie has recovered so very well from her major surgery!
I (Todd) have recovered well from my encounter with Covid.
We were able to get our “negative” Covid tests just in time to purchase airline tickets and make all of the required submissions for travel to PNG.
We have been able to spend some tremendous time with our family.
The Lord has been providing financially to-date for all of the added expenses of flights, cancelled flights, Covid tests and medical bills.
Technology has allowed us to remain engaged and continue to fulfill many of our requirements from a distance.
We had a chance to experience some cold and snow…something I (Todd) have missed greatly. (Connie is just as happy in the warmer climates!!)
Too many more blessing to list.
Lord willing, we will be departing Boise, Idaho on Sunday the 29th of November at shortly after 7am. We would so greatly appreciate your prayers as the journey is long. It will take us from Boise to Los Angeles, to Qatar, to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where we will wait for approximately 16 hours and then continue on to Port Moresby on 2-December. We will quarantine one night in Port Moresby and then travel on a MAF flight from Port Moresby to Mt. Hagen, where we will then quarantine for 13 more days.
Thank you so very much for your continued prayers and encouragement. We echo the feelings of Timothy, thanking the Lord that He has strengthened us and considered us faithful, placing us into His service in PNG. (1 Tim 2:12)
We are looking forward to getting back to our team in Papua New Guinea!!
We will post updates along the journey as we are able.
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!
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!
Five days after returning from my time in the US to say goodbye to my brother @curtlandreth and spend time supporting my family after his loss, we experienced the most severe earthquake PNG has had at 7.6 on the richter scale. We woke around 3:42am to the bed shaking and soon realized the whole house was shaking severely. We thought we would ride it out and stayed in bed for a few more seconds. When we realized it was not ending and the shaking actually intensified, Todd suggested we get out of the house as it is on stilts and perhaps not built to withstand such a force. I grabbed my cell phone and torch (flashlight for you Americans) put on my robe and headed for the door. Todd was trying to get the keys into the locks while swaying with the quake as it continued to roll. One door open, then working on the metal security door, finally getting that open as well and we were outside! We quickly went down the stairs and away from the house as the earth continued to shake. It slowly started to quiet down and our pulse rates with it.
Todd headed to the other compounds to check on staff, and called others. Thankfully we were able to get back to sleep as the power was now out and so an early morning in the office was not going to be very productive, and with that severe of a shake, the possibility of fissures in the road was likely and so traveling in the daylight was deemed to be much more prudent.
The aftershocks continued and were at a level of 4.0-6.0 and are still occurring three days later as I write this update.
Tuesday morning I was briefed on the need for photos of the area and so Mandy Glass who is the Comms Officer for our Base and I climbed into a Caravan with her husband Mathias flying along with Luke Newell and three Government Disaster Response Team members.
The photos were sent to MAF I Disaster Response and Security to review and issue a press release. You can see that below, along with a link and directions on how to view the images on a google map so that you can see the exact location where the picture was taken.
Please keep PNG in your prayers! Pray for safety as our pilots continue to do med-evac flights and for those on the ground helping people dig out from the numerous land slides. Pray that MAF will continue to see isolated people physically and spiritually transformed in the name of Jesus as we work with different agencies and organizations in the response to this disaster.
When I received this message from one of our pilots, Paul Woodington, who serves along with his wife Clare in Wewak, one of our 6 MAF bases, situated on the N. Coast of Papua New Guinea, I had to share it with you! Be sure to read to the end…you will be blessed!
I send you this email about yesterday’s drama for me and the Wewak team. The Pryors are a very thankful family for the help we provide for their family and ministry…yesterday it was extra special.
Jesse Pryor is a second generation missionary in PNG. They have built a clinic and many times we have helped MEDEVAC seriously ill patients.
Yesterday I received a request to MEDEVAC Jesse’s son out of Samban. It was one of the most difficult and complex decision making tasks I have undertaken. But, we did our utmost to help.
It was late. I was already flying a MEDEVAC from Edwaki to Wewak, a man with a broken leg lying down in the plane in considerable pain. The Caravan was over half full and heavy. Yet, the task was to divert for an hour late in the day. Land in Samban. Pick up the family of four, three of which are large. Think about the weight and tail-wind for takeoff. Factor in a draggy surface penalty and recent rain. How low was the fuel? What reserves did I have? How close to last light? Could the man with the broken leg manage another hour in the plane?
On the surface, it seems I would not be ticking many boxes so I declined. After a rethink, I found I could tick all the boxes if I diverted direct to Samban not via Wewak. Jacob (base agent) was invaluable acting as intermediary between myself on the radio and the very concerned father.
So, we lifted 10 people out of Samban, one a small baby. The Caravan with a four knot tailwind became airborne half way along the strip passing 200 ft over the fence.
It made me realise how fantastic this plane is and to thank God for His wonderful provision of the Cessna Caravan for the SEPIK area of Papua New Guinea. As I engaged the autopilot and looked back at the load, I felt a pang, a tear jerking sensation. I experienced a real community feeling on board. Elijah, the Pryor’s son with a burst appendix, was throwing up in a bag comforted by his big sister. Another woman was attending to the man with a broken leg, which was badly swollen. Katie, Jesse’s wife, was showing another lady their newly adopted PNG baby. I shared what was left of my lunch and passed around water, and gave pain killers to the stretcher patient.
I want to share this with you because this plane makes a real difference to people’s lives. The Pryor family needed us for their own family this time. We were able to help in the most difficult of circumstances. Not many planes would have fuel for an hour diversion or the capacity to lift this load out of a marginal airstrip.
When the plane landed at Wewak, it was near dark due to the overcast. When I got home it was dark.
This week I have done a MEDEVAC every day. Despite the difficult times we are all living, the mission community here is pulling together!
Here in Papua New Guinea, on average, we fly 41 flights each day, visit more than 200 airstrips (communities) each month, and provide more than 500 medical evacuations each years. For many of those living in these communities, we are their only connection to the outside world, short of a several days walk…a walk that in this case… for this missionary family… would have been impossible with a ruptured appendix.
This is only possible because of the MAF Family. This family is a united team across multiple countries and cultures. You are part of this team – and we thank you so very much. Thank you for your continued prayers, partnership (encouragement and financial) and for your commitment to impacting the isolated people of the world with the transformative message of hope and healing through Christ.
This has been a difficult few weeks for team members on the Asia-Pacific Region. While we normally try not to flood your inboxes, we so greatly appreciate your partnership in ministry and want to keep you alerted to those needs for special and urgent prayer.
Rachael Thompson, wife of Jordon Thompson, Nazarene missionaries in Papua New Guinea, underwent successful emergency surgery on Monday, January 12, 2015, at Kudjip Nazarene Hospital. We are so thankful for the team of physicians and caring national medical staff who have come alongside the Thompsons during their time of need.
Rachael and Jordon serve at the Kudjip Mission Station, where Jordon oversees facilities maintenance.
Please pray for Rachael’s continued recovery and for the ongoing healthy development of their unborn baby.
Please continue to pray for Dr. Jim Radcliffe and his family, as Jim’s recent heart troubles were likely the result of having had a heart attack, at some point in the past. His symptoms are improving on medication, and he will be traveling home to the US, with the PNG quiz team, to get further evaluation next week.
(See the previous post in the blog for more information – if you missed it.)
Over the years throughout our various ministry assignments, we have faced situations that have definitely “pushed the envelope” on our comfort zones. Most people have!
Whether that was flying through the feeder bands of a typhoon with a medical evacuation patient while Connie was in a small village clinic giving birth to our daughter, or whether it was coordinating the evacuation of 25 missionaries out of a city under rebel siege, five at a time with our small mission plane; we have more than once been granted the opportunity to place our trust entirely in God.
Perhaps I had become a bit comfortable…or perhaps God was needing to prepare me for what is yet to come.
I’m not sure, but during my recent trip to Papua New Guinea, one of those “situations” presented itself yet again.
Just getting oneself to Kudjip Nazarene Hospital in Papua New Guinea is no small feat. It requires juggling several flights, covering some of the most expensive air miles found anywhere in the world, landing at Port Moresby, taking a smaller plane to Mount Hagen, and then riding in a Toyota Land Cruiser for another hour over roads that some would consider less than smooth (editorial understatement here).
When you finally get there, you find some of the most gracious, committed, compassionate souls on earth. Both expat mission personnel and nationals await with smiles, open arms, and generosity beyond measure. They are a tight knit team…and given the situations they face on a regular basis…they need to be.
One night while eating dinner with Tim and Karla Deule, Global Serve Missionaries with the Church of the Nazarene, one of the other mission team members came knocking at the door. “Todd, Connie has been trying to reach you, she just sent me a message, you need to get in touch with her as soon as possible.” Those kinds of messages are seldom good news. “Can you tell me anything else,” I asked. Hesitantly and carefully, the team member said, “Your daughter is in the emergency room in Idaho and possibly has a blood clot in her lungs.”
My medical training kicked into overdrive. Pulmonary embolisms (blood clot in the lung) are never something one hopes to experience. My mind raced to the knowledge of a dear friend’s son who in his late 20s passed away of just such an issue, just a few years ago. Then the pilot side of my brain kicked in plan A, Plan B, …what flights were there out of here…how would I get to Mt. Hagen, Port Moresby, Manila……
As I left Tim and Karla’s house to go find a way to connect with Connie for the whole story, the reality of the situation set in. Me…whose top strengths include “arranger” could arrange nothing. There could be very few more remote areas in the world from which to try and respond. Limited phone, internet, travel…I was beyond my ability to fix it…and then the reality came that it wasn’t my job to fix it…it was my job to trust.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again; Rejoice! Let our gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4-7
God provided in so many ways. I am so thankful that He allowed me to be with some of the greatest brothers and sisters in Christ. Thank you so much Kudjip family for gathering together and praying, encouraging, and believing.
Whatever your “situation” God is truly all you need…because He will provide what you need…when you need it (thanks honey…I have heard you say that many times). He provided for Jess…as she is doing much better now…for Connie with peace in Manila…and for me…with peace and a team that took our daughter to the arms of our heavenly father in prayer when this earthly father was not able to “fix it.”
Thank you all for your continued prayers, encouragement, and commitment to being part of our team!
To share God’s love through aviation and technology; seeing isolated people physically and spiritually transformed in Christ’s name.