Can you tell me about your family?
Hudson – We have three sons; all are grown and two are married. We’re actually staying in one of their houses right now. We have six grandkids and two more are on the way.
Where are you from? Where do you live now?
Rick – I come from Queensland, Australia and Hudson comes from Rabaul in East New Britain, Papua New Guinea. We’re in Darwin right now, where our children live and where we lived and worked for many years.
Hudson – We aren’t here by choice! Covid19 sent us back with two days’ notice!
When did you join MAF? Why?
Rick – In 2016 I was working for a shipping company in Darwin. They were going to sell the business and so I started looking for another job. I looked at mission organisations but none of the open positions met my skill set. I eventually saw MAF vacancies listed on Missions Interlink website. An IT and Finance position were open and I thought, ‘oh, I can do that.’ The IT positions were in Arnhem Land and PNG. It was a difficult decision since we have connections with PNG and lived near Arnhem Land in Australia, but we felt we had knowledge that would benefit the work in PNG. So we applied to go there.
Rick, what is your role with MAF?
I’m the IT Manager for MAF’s PNG program. It’s similar to what I did for the shipping business if you think of ships as remote bases. I make sure all the networks and servers are working. In the shipping business I used local contractors to set up networks and such, but in MAF we try to do everything ourselves, with the support of Cairns or Ashford. It takes a little time but they do a good job supporting.
Rick, what is the most enjoyable or rewarding part of your job? The most challenging?
Working with Michael Gena is probably the most rewarding and enjoyable part. He’s great at what he does. He replaces parts that we wouldn’t bother within Australia but he gives them more life. He’s also a bit of an electrician. Hudson taught Michael’s daughter English and to read and write; Michael and his wife named their son after me. It’s just been great to work with him.
The most challenging thing is that the power goes off just about every day, sometimes multiple times a day, and we have to rely on generators. Also, our systems go down every time it rains.
Hudson, how have you found a way to support the work of MAF and/or serve the wider community in PNG?
I struggled a bit during the first year. Then I started volunteering at Highlands Christian Grammar, which helped me get out of the compound most days. After a year I stopped volunteering, but am still a part of the school board. I love children – that’s my ministry – so I opened my house to about 5 children and taught them to read and write English. This is a job that is needed in PNG. Some kids can’t get to school and there are so many children in the school that they can’t really learn (over 1,000 in one school). I’ve had about 15 children go through my little school. I found something much needed for myself and for those children. It’s so satisfying to see the children reading when they leave.
This year I set up the house and the teaching plan and had 9 children to teach, but then we had to leave when they were just starting to learn. I feel for those children and feel like I’ve left unfinished business.
I had also taken responsibility for the transit homes in Kagamuga compound – cleaning and filling them with food for visitors.
What does MAF mean to you?
Hudson – We’re so blessed to be even a little part of MAF. I didn’t know much about MAF before, but to serve with MAF…the stories about the wives – they stay home and do so much in the community. They have amazing courage, unselfishly serving.
Rick – I hear stories of when MAF returns to airstrips after two and a half months; we realize that MAF is the lifeline for so many people. If we weren’t in PNG, people wouldn’t be able to see anyone about health issues, go to school, or hear the gospel. MAF provides access.
PNG is a very Christian country compared to Australia or the US. The people there know their bible better than I do and live their faith better than I do. This challenges my faith!
What is something others might not otherwise know about you?
Hudson – People pretty much know lots about me, I’m outgoing and don’t keep things hidden! My father was a pastor with the Methodist church and we traveled and lived in a number of villages in East New Britain. He was in Rabaul during the Japanese occupation in WWII before I was born.
Rick – Something really interesting I didn’t know was that my dad’s grandfather actually came through Charles Spurgeon’s Pastors College in London and came to Australia as a Pastor and missionary.
I came to be a believer at 45, which is a little unusual and later than most people. I ordered a recommended book on Amazon and under the ‘people who bought this also bought’ section, was the book Desiring God. I ordered that book too and, of the two books, Desiring God came first (which I was a bit upset about). After reading it, I thought that if this really was Christianity I wanted to be a part of it. So I’ve been a believer ever since!
Is there any advice you would give yourself at the start of your MAF career?
Rick – I had been to PNG before to visit Hudson’s family in Rabaul. There aren’t any fences in her village, people just move from one house to another. Compound living wasn’t like that at all. So it took some getting used to. And, just like anywhere, there can be little cliques that make it hard for new people.
Hudson – You are living with expats from all over the world so it can be a struggle to understand as everyone tries to communicate. I think using different word order and nuances of meaning can make things sound abrupt or even rude in English so understanding that it is their second language helps. I can’t take offense. It made me grow up a bit more – it was good to learn.