Where are you from and where do you live now?
Shiv: I am from the UK and Ryan is from Alberta, Canada. We currently live in Telefomin. Oh, and Ray the dog is originally from Australia.
Can you tell me a little about your family?
Shiv: My parents are retired and live on the South Coast of England. My Mum has a small business (Love Nanny Sue) selling teddy bears made from the clothes of loved ones who have passed away. This helps people in their grieving process. My brother, his wife, and our nephew live in Arizona, USA.
Ryan’s parents are also MAF missionaries. They work at PATC; that’s Prairie Aviation Training College in Alberta, Canada. We’re keeping MAF in the family; though, technically Ryan joined MAF before they did. Ryan’s sister, her husband, and their two daughters live in Portland, Oregon, USA. Our brother-in-law is a missionary working with the homeless in Portland.
When did you join MAF and why?
Shiv: I joined MAF in 2013. I left the Royal Airforce and was looking for a job doing something good in the world. It was my mum who first told me about MAF. I wanted to work for an organisation that was a positive force in the world. I don’t feel like I was “called” to MAF, God just made sure that’s where I ended up working!
Ryan first joined MAF in 2008 and went to Botswana for 2 years to work with Flying Mission, a partner organisation of MAF which flies medevacs. He left MAF and then re-joined in 2015 and came to PNG shortly after that.
Ryan: I joined MAF because I wanted to fly airplanes.
Shiv, what is your role with MAF?
My job title is Operations Support. The role involves a wide variety of support functions, mainly within the Operations Department. I’ve done things like training with our ground staff at several bases, helping with complex load planning, and writing the new PNG Ground Operations Manual. I’m also the compound coordinator for Telefomin. My jobs are many and varied, but I like it like that. Variety is the spice of life.
When I first came to PNG in 2014, I came as the Ground Operations Manager. I did that job for about four years and recruited David Pank, who is an awesome bloke, as my deputy. After Ryan and I got married, MAF needed Ryan to fly in Telefomin, which meant I couldn’t be the Ground Operations Manager anymore since it is a Mt. Hagen based role. Fortunately, David is so good that he was able to take my job. I then moved into my current support role.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
I enjoy being able to help support and encourage members of our operations department because we have some very talented and dedicated team members.
And what is the most challenging?
Writing an MAF manual!
Ryan, what is your role with MAF?
I fly airplanes, that’s about it.
What do you enjoy most about your role and what is the most challenging?
Flying and flying.
What does MAF mean to you?
Shiv: For me, MAF is being the hands and feet of Jesus on a daily basis. We’re His hands and feet in every aspect of our lives, not just in the work we do, but in the way we live our lives and the example we show for those around us. Being a Christian isn’t enough. You need to do something about it if you really say Jesus is your Lord and Saviour. Also, MAF helps us do something useful and practical to help people. Here in PNG, we get opportunities to show the love of Christ every day, which is a real privilege.
Ryan: Flying airplanes and helping people.
How has Covid-19 affected you and your family?
Shiv: When we left PNG to go on home assignment back in February 2020, we expected to return to PNG before the end of May. It was planned to be a short home assignment, visiting just about half of our supporters in the UK and Canada. We were able to do everything we scheduled in the UK and arrived in Canada just as Covid-19 hit, which meant we were not able to meet any of our supporters in Canada.
That was really frustrating because we weren’t in Canada to sit around and relax. When we go on home assignment it’s not vacation; it’s work – just a different kind of work than we normally do. We couldn’t visit churches or supporters and obviously, we couldn’t do the work we normally do in PNG because Ryan couldn’t fly in PNG when he was in Canada! We did other, low priority things to support the MAF PNG Programme, but it was still frustrating to be so disconnected from where we are used to being useful. It was a blessing to spend more time with family, but we desperately wanted to be back in PNG to help out.
What is something others don’t know about you?
Shiv: We met in PNG and got engaged at Yuo Island, off the north coast of Wewak in PNG, with all four of our parents there. As we only met each other’s parents two days before we got engaged, it was really lovely to share that special event with them.
What is your favourite food?
Shiv: Mine would be Sushi. I managed to find some sushi wrappers at a store in Goroka once and I still have a supply of them. I make it as a lunchtime treat for myself once in a while. It is quite involved, but also quite fun.
Is there any advice you would give yourselves at the outset of your MAF career?
Shiv: If I could send a message to myself as I arrived in PNG seven years ago, I would say, “Don’t worry when you get homesick, it will feel better.” In my first six months in PNG, I really struggled with being on my own for the first time, missing my family and the company of my friends. But, after I had been here a while, I made new friends and PNG really began to feel like home.
Ryan should send himself the message, “Get ready, you’re about to meet your future wife in PNG”! 😉