Where are you from and where do you live now?
I’m from Papua New Guinea (PNG). Both of my parents are from Mt. Hagen so I consider myself from Mt. Hagen, which is where I am now. But I was born in Rabaul, which is out on the islands at a lower altitude – explains why I’ve got that chilled island vibe.
Can you tell me a little about your family?
My dad is a doctor, a paediatric surgeon, and works at the Port Moresby General Hospital. My mom is at home. She helped take care of me and my sisters when we were growing up, but now that we’re grown she gets to do her own thing. I’m the firstborn and I have two sisters and an adopted sister. My family all live in Port Moresby (POM) where I did half of primary school (which goes up to 8th grade) and high school, so I mostly grew up there.
When did you join MAF and why?
I joined MAF in 2018. It was on the 25th of June, I remember.
Growing up, I always wanted to fly. I’ve never stopped loving flying. As a little kid, my dad had a briefcase with the old MAF logo on it. I asked him about MAF, but I didn’t really know about them until after flight training when I was looking at my career options and wondering what I would do when I returned to PNG. I was really fascinated by MAF and the type of flying they were doing back in my own country, serving my own people.
I wanted to serve my people and give back to my country because I’m very passionate about where I’m from. I also wanted to do what I love – flying. I saw MAF as the perfect picture, killing two birds with one stone.
I initially applied as a low hour pilot, but I guess God had a different plan and took me another route – I believe he is still taking me on that journey. I’m glad to be here working for MAF!
How did God call you to join MAF?
I personally believe life is about walking with God and listening to His calling. I don’t know what God has planned for the years to come – I mean, everyone thought 2020 was going to be a normal year (yeah, right!!). But I believe that at the moment I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, and one can only find peace and acceptance like this when one allows God to be in control.
I grew up in a Christian home, so I was brought up to know and love the Lord. I do appreciate my parents for that because I think it helped me become the person I am today. Now that I’m working with MAF, I’m following my own calling and I can’t think of a better place to be.
I believe the Lord knows everything. From my human perspective, I would really love to fly. But coming to MAF through the admin side, I realised the Lord sees things differently than we do and even though I can’t quite fully wrap my head around what he wants, I do believe I am following His calling.
Tell me about your role.
I’m Executive Assistant to MAF’s Country Director in PNG.
My job requires me to represent the Country Director’s office. I reply to emails as needed and help with lots of other things as they come up. Doug loves it when I make his coffee.
When Covid-19 wasn’t around, I handled all the logistics for families/visitors/support groups and partners coming for a look-see visit so they could see about joining the program or just see the kind of work we do. You can imagine all the planning! One of the crazy things is that everyone wants to get on an MAF flight. I mean, who wouldn’t!? But programing can be crazy – it can change quickly because of the type of flying we do and the challenges we face such as weather, or an unplanned medivac along the way. Now, things have slowed down a bit because of Covid-19. Basically, logistics is what I do.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I’m always learning something new. For example, you find out people are different, you learn how to make coffee better, or you talk to someone and learn what they’re struggling with.
Also, I really enjoy getting to meet and know different people. I think I’m pretty lucky because we have at least seven different nationalities working here in MAF. It’s so good to learn about other people, their cultures, and how they think – and I don’t even have to go travel the world! It’s cool to see how other people see things because it broadens your perspectives and helps with making decisions.
It gives me satisfaction to know that I’m doing something for my country and the Lord. I may not be out there flying at the moment, but I know that keeping the Country Director’s office at 100% is contributing to the team, to the great things we are doing to serve people in the communities. My work makes it so MAF flights can happen, pilots are happy, and people can come in to see the great stuff we are doing and support it. I’m serving people from the background and I love it!!
What is most challenging about your role?
Things I’m not familiar with are most challenging. When I finished school I thought I’d be doing all flying, I wasn’t really thinking of writing emails and making spreadsheets. So it was challenging to get my head wrapped around these things when I was starting out. Making mistakes is difficult too. I’m the sort of person who takes it hard when I make a mistake, but I adjust and realise we all make mistakes.
What does MAF mean to you?
One word: life. I only say this because I experienced it for myself. Joseph Tua, another MAF colleague, and I were asked to go for a one-week village orientation in this remote, remote place in Bosavi. While we were there, I saw how people in the village live and how complicated life is for them; it challenged me. They didn’t need money, they didn’t need a lot of things, but MAF brought the things that would sustain them. And seeing the kind of work MAF does – bringing services and essentials like food, oil, and medical goods – to me that was life.
I remember our last day there; it was raining, the next day was Easter, and I really wanted to come back because I was so done! But the pilots coming to get us couldn’t see the runway through the weather, so they turned around and went back. My heart sank listening to that plane go.
A little later, the pilots of another MAF plane said they could try to pick us up. All I wanted was to hear the sound of the plane because I knew it would take me home. I was praying, ‘Oh let them find the runway!’ When I finally saw the plane’s colours as it entered the circuit, my heart gave a little jump and I felt safe like I was going to be ok.
It got me thinking about what mothers almost dying from childbirth complications feel like. Their only hope is an MAF plane to get them to the nearest hospital for the health support they need. I was like, ‘This is just me trying to go home, but this is probably the same feeling they get.’ Death is just one step away for them, but when that plane comes they feel safe, it means life.
MAF is a lifeline for some people, I saw it first hand, and knowing that makes me want to work even more and do my best, whatever I’m doing. Even if it’s making coffee, I’m going to give 100% because I’m doing it for the Lord and it’s the same as if I was out there flying.
How has Covid-19 affected you and your family?
Directly, it hasn’t affected us that much, no one has gotten sick or died or anything, so that’s good. Before Covid-19, my dad travelled back and forth to POM a lot and I’d sometimes go down and visit them because I miss being around my family. Covid-19 has affected work a bit. We don’t get a lot of visitors anymore, which I miss. I actually miss having a lot of emails lined up and trying to answer them all. Now sometimes I have 1 or 0 emails and I’m like, “Oh please I want emails!”
What is something others might not know about you?
I enjoy watching stars at night, especially when the night is clear. I take out my hammock, even when it’s cold. I bring my blanket, get all wrapped up, watch stars, and imagine things. I love watching stars. Apart from that, I have a horse – her name is Athena Rose Poki and she’s absolutely beautiful to look at – and I love hiking.
Do you have a favourite food?
I do. Now, Connie, the Country Director’s wife, keeps a regular watch on me so I try to follow rules, but I love, love, love chips. I love them! But I’ve cut down on them a lot since Connie started doing regular blood pressure checks every Friday and told me that if I have chips, she will know. I do, once in a while, indulge myself. But I make them at home using my own fryer and cutting up the chips myself. I love them the most with chicken salt and barbeque sauce and tomato sauce. Connie would disagree, but once in a while, I do enjoy having my favourite food.
Oh, and I love strawberries. I put them in my smoothies every morning; I think it’s what gives me that glow.
Is there any advice you would give yourself at the start of your career with MAF?
Even 50 years from now I would give myself the advice to give 101% no matter what it is you’re doing. Do it for the Lord. Do it because you love it. But, whatever it is, give it everything.