Where are you from? Where do you live now?
I was born in Australia and then my family and I moved up to Papua for nine years. After those nine years we came back to Australia, where I lived until I moved to Scotland in my mid-twenties. I’m a bit of a patriotic Scot now! I lived in Scotland until I moved to Papua New Guinea last year. I’m based in Mt. Hagen, but my job requires that I go to different MAF bases throughout PNG.
Can you tell me a little bit about your family?
I am one of five kids. So I’m from quite a big family. I’m Auntie to thirteen nieces and nephews, which is great; I get a lot of joy from it. My family were missionaries. So I have had the third culture kid life and now I’m an adult TCK. My whole family is in Victoria, Australia. I was the only one to fly the nest, so to speak, and move a long way away.
When did you join MAF?
Fairly recently, actually! I responded to an advertisement in 2018 and then joined officially in January 2019.
How did you first find out about MAF and how did God call you to join MAF?
I’ve known about MAF since I was a kid because we had MAF houses on our base in Papua. We were one of the bigger bases with three houses. I remember hanging around the hangar and always getting excited when the plane came in. I’ve also heard about MAF in bits-and-bobs throughout the years since I was connected to missionary life.
I actually came across the job posting by accident. I saw it listed on a website with education jobs. The posting just had the letters M.A.F. I remembered those letters and thought, ‘Oh, they’re a good organisation’, as sort of my own mental stamp of approval. I had forgotten what the letters stood for; I just remembered that MAF was a Christian organisation. The job sounded really good though, so I applied for it!
When a response came back and it said “Mission Aviation Fellowship” on it, I was surprised because I’d forgotten MAF was related to missions. The “Aviation” part didn’t surprise me because I already had that in the back of my head, but the whole missionary thing put me off a bit. I actually kind of tried to get out of the job application! The HR people within MAF were very good and patient though. Every time I had a reason I thought I shouldn’t continue with the application they gave very God-given answers. I kept realising that whichever way I twisted and turned I heard God telling me I really should pursue the application. My eventual acceptance was the final clarity that this is what I should be doing.
Can you tell me about your role?
My role is quite varied. I came into it to support the home-schooling families because many of the missionaries home school in PNG and it is difficult to get resources. Because of my teaching background, I understand the jargon, developmental expectations, and what curriculums are asking. All of this enables me to help families fulfil requirements and expectations. My role is also about supporting all families more generally, however I have particular strengths in education areas: answering questions, providing understanding, and finding schools or resources families want.
My role also has a pastoral care element to it. I look at different ways we can provide activities and link children within the country so they don’t always feel so isolated on their bases. I also meet with families coming into program; talking through education options and what children go through during transitions into and out of programs. Not having my own children, I can’t give too much advice on the parenting side, but my role is more about helping parents with educational development.
I’m also working on an English language learning project with MAF International. We’ll be working with nationals in programs across MAF International to improve their English language skills if needed and wanted.
What do you most enjoy about your role? What is most challenging?
I love the relationship side of it; getting to know the families and supporting them. I think it’s really important for the families to have that support so they can continue in what they are called to.
I also love the variety of the job – no week or day is the same. I guess that’s a challenge too. There are a lot of different parts to the job and it’s a question of time management, managing what and how I can give, and getting resources into a remote country. In education, you usually have a whole school behind you, including their resources. Without this background support, I have to figure out how to make resources available and suitable for a remote location. So, it’s a real challenge, but I love working it out.
What does MAF mean to you?
I think what MAF means to me has evolved over the years. As a child in Papua, MAF pilots were the ones who brought food stuffs in to us or helped us get to places we couldn’t walk to. In my head, MAF was very American because we had a lot of American MAF missionaries in Papua. I guess that is just because MAF-US heads up the Papua program. It has been good to realise that MAF is more than that.
I see MAF as a life-line, but it’s more than that. I see MAF as embodying both the social justice and evangelism sides of sharing Christ and His mission. When we fly into an isolated community in PNG, MAF doesn’t only bring people and supplies to meet physical needs. We also bring the gospel and love of Jesus Christ to meet spiritual needs. MAF cares for people in PNG’s isolated communities by meeting mind, body, and spiritual needs. To me, that’s compassion, social justice, and sharing God all at the same time. It is Kingdom work.
What is something people might not know about you?
I was a line judge (an umpire) at two Australian Open tennis tournaments!
Do you have a favourite food?
I LOVE Sticky Toffee Pudding, but I’m also very partial to a Thai Curry.
Looking back, is there any advice you would give yourself as you joined MAF and began living and working in PNG?
Be open and don’t dismiss things before finding out more or allowing God to work. It’s not just about being flexible, it’s having that inner peace to be open. You’ll find out more about yourself and realise you can do things you never expected. We want to be in control so much but it’s all about letting go of that control. My whole life seems to be all about learning to trust Him!