Story & photos Natalie & Matt Barrett-Lennard

Mid July, after endless work permit and visa delays Matt Barrett-Lennard finally arrived in Mt Hagen. His wife Natalie and their children Leah, Annie and Isaac, followed 15 July. They have been flying with MAF in PNG a decade ago and now they came back to assist flying out of Rumginae.

Little Has Changed

On Saturday July 22nd, the five of us arrived at our former base of Rumginae, Western Province. Last time we were here, Isaac was only 14 months old and the girls had barely started kindergarden. We were delighted to be back and surprised how little had changed since 2008.

Matt flew us here in the Airvan P2-MFM, which the kids have dubbed Matt’s Flying Machine. In typical PNG style, the weather closed in behind us within minutes of landing, and what followed was a downpour that lasted 48 hours and filled the local river (The Waimeri, or ‘Water Lady’) to worrying levels. Locals of more than 15 years report never having seen her so full and fast. This heavy rain has damaged gardens and made it difficult for us to buy veggies at the local market.

A Medevac on Matt’s 4th Day

Matt has already, in just four days of flying, done a medevac from Lake Murray. A 10 year old boy had fallen out of a coconut tree and broken not only both his arms, but a leg too. The pain must have been excruciating, however this brave boy had suffered quietly like this… for two weeks. Matt couldn’t believe it – no one was able to fix their Digicel towers or radios to connect to the outside world, so no one knew of the need until Matt was there anyway for a routine passenger pick up. We pray that the little boy is now recovering after surgery and will not be permanently affected by his twisted broken arms.

Family Adventures

As a family, we have had some great adventures and new experiences, including an amazing jungle trek to see Birds of Paradise. This was a dream come true, as we are avid bird watchers and the Bird of Paradise is really up there on the list of sightings! We were able to see at least eight magnificent Greater Birds of Paradise showing off for the girls and the trip included a free bonus leech bite for me. That was a good way to overcome fear of the unknown. What does a leech feel like? Answer: gross!

Other fun times have been asking how to eat a flying fox bat that someone had shot with a poison arrow (it was lying on the ground, tongue hanging out, next to all the other market produce. It was so hard to keep a straight face!) and joining on with the local
Aekyom school’s Religious Instruction morning.

At the end of the same day, two local Aekyom women who are very active in women’s ministry came and sat with us, sharing coffee and teaching us some simple phrases in their tok ples. It was a wonderful time of fellowship with our new kire (friends).

We have really missed this beautiful, complicated place. It smells of wood smoke, rain, mould, cooking and … home.

It’s nice to be back!