Where are you from and where do you live now?
Linda: I’m from Sweden but have lived in Norway for 21 years, and Jan Ivar is Norwegian. We live in the Kagamuga Compound in Mt. Hagen when we are in PNG, but we are at our own home in Norway right now.
Do you mind telling me a little bit about your family?
Linda: We have both been married before. We don’t have any children together, but I have three children from my previous marriage and Jan Ivar has five. They are all grown up now!
Jan Ivar: So, we have eight children; the oldest is thirty-six and the youngest is twenty-one this year. And we have six grandkids.
When did you join MAF and why?
Jan Ivar: A seed was planted back when I was 18 or 19. I was interested in being a pilot, so I trained, but circumstances determined I choose not to join MAF operations for more than 30 years. I was one of three founding fathers of MAF Norway in 1986, but I didn’t join operations until I started my training in Mareeba in 2018. I’ve been involved with MAF for many years on the board of MAF Norway and MAF International. When I joined operations a couple of years ago I had to stop being on the MAF International board.
So, why join MAF? I want my faith to not just be something that happens in my head and on a Sunday. I want my faith to have a practical impact on other people. I’m called to love like Jesus loved, so I’m trying to fulfill that calling by doing what I’m doing now with MAF.
Linda: I joined when I married Jan Ivar!
Jan Ivar, how did you first find out about MAF?
A friend attended a mission conference in Switzerland in 1980. He knew that I was interested in flying, so he came back with a brochure about MAF.
Linda, did you hear about MAF before meeting Jan Ivar?
Yes, because I knew his sister before I knew him. But I was interested in going out on the mission field to work with children since I was a teenager.
Linda, how have you found a way to support the work of MAF or get involved in the community in PNG?
I was introduced to Highlands Christian Grammar on our look-see visit because they knew that I was a preschool teacher. When we first came to PNG, I decided I would like to give myself one year, not to do nothing, but to try different things without committing. After one year, I figured out what I liked to do and who I liked to work with. So, I help out at Highlands Christian Grammar two days a week. The rest of the time I’m at Bible Faith Orphanage (BFO) just hanging out with the kids and doing whatever needs to be done. I’m also a part of the BFO board.
I keep myself quite busy. I also spend time with the kids on our compound. I take them to the MAF library and make myself available to be an extra Auntie to them.
Jan Ivar, what is your role with MAF?
I’m a pilot, tasol . A normal day starts work in Mt. Hagen at 6:30 am and a working day is between 8-10 hours, sometimes 11 hours. It’s a long day with a lot of flying, though it all depends on the weather, of course. Every day is different; the variation and combination of destinations and routes we fly are different almost every day. The last month we were in PNG I did a lot of flying for Aerial Health Patrol.
What do you most enjoy about being a pilot? What is the most challenging?
To be honest, the flying bit is not the most important thing for me. I was a pilot in Norway for almost 30 years. What excites me the most is seeing the difference we make to the communities we fly to.
The most challenging thing for me is the paperwork and administrative tasks. As a pilot, you have to collect the money from the passengers and count it as well as do your load manifests, your weight and balance, and your performance calculations. Now, because of Covid-19 precautions, we clean the aircraft between every flight, take passengers’ temperatures, and make sure hand sanitizer and masks are used. When you’re a commercial pilot you usually have ground staff doing all that administrative stuff. You just check the load manifest, and then you fly. So, yes, the flying itself is challenging, but it is not all that different from what I had been doing in Norway.
What does MAF mean to you?
Linda: It means we are a part of a team. It’s not just Jan Ivar being a pilot and me being a spouse. We are doing this as a team together with other people from a lot of different nations.
Jan Ivar: MAF is an organization facilitating me fulfilling my calling. It is where I find my place in the Christian family, where I can serve.
What are your favourite foods?
Linda: We like a LOT of foods. We are foodies!
Jan Ivar: I like Rudolph fillet – fillet of meat from reindeer. I think that is my favourite dinner dish. It is so tender you can eat it with a fork, if you get the right piece of course, like tenderloin.
Linda: I just really like well-made, well-prepared food. We are lucky to have our own little Indian Restaurant at our compound called Sonali’s Tea House, which we very much enjoy. When they are open for lunch and dinner we go as often as we can.
Jan Ivar: We are maybe a little bit spoiled because we make food ourselves and we have friends who are very good cooks. When we go to new places we like to explore restaurants. We look ahead of time to find what restaurants are good and what we want to try.
What is something others might not know about you?
Linda: I went to theatre school. Afterward, I did some Christian children television in Sweden and I also had a children’s radio channel. That was a long time ago!
Jan Ivar: I’m a hi-fi freak. I like listening to good music and it’s all about good speakers and amplifiers. I’m a bit of a nerd. One of the first things I do when I get to Norway is listening to music on my speakers.
Is there any advice you would give those starting in their career with MAF?
Linda: Give yourself some time and be patient with yourself. Moving into programme and adjusting to the new way of living takes so much more than what we are used to. Everything will be new, even if you’ve travelled a lot and are used to new places. Be patient with all the feelings you experience.
Jan Ivar: Yeah, it takes time. And the application and acceptance process is not very fast with MAF either. You must be patient and very decisive, confident that this is what you want to do even if it takes time.
Linda: I think people need that process. It’s long and you think, ‘can’t we just get through it!?’ But you need the process in order to prepare before coming to programme.
Jan Ivar: Before we came to PNG, I said I was sure we’d have situations or times when we’d think, ‘why are we here?’ This is not a vacation, it is hard work. You have to know why you are here and doing this.