In Papua New Guinea, the months of December and January are holiday months. Schools, colleges, and universities are closed. Students and teachers are travelling home to their villages – and consequently back to major centres as school resumes early February. These are busy months for our MAF operation, and we are moving more people these two months than any other time during the year.
Knowing, that people are back in their remote location often also triggers churches to plan big events. So it happened at Dodomona, a small village located in the middle of dense forest on the foothills of Mt Sisa, between the Strickland River and Mt Bosavi. The people belong to the Edolo tribe of about 3000 people, with about half at Dodomona and half at Huiya. They are very closely related to other surrounding tribes as the Biami from Mougulu.
From 18 to 24 January, the local Evangelical Church of PNG (ECPNG) invited Pastor Moses Kapak and Pastor Petrus Tumbo to “Rise & Shine”, a youth convention; and MAF was needed to fly these two main speakers from Mt Hagen to Mougulu as there’s no road connecting the two.
Philipp Sutter, the captain on this flight, shares:
“On Thursday, 14th January I had two pastors from the EBC Kugark (Evangelical Brethren Church), Petrus Tumbo and Moses Kapak on board. They had been invited to visit the ECPNG youth convention in Dodomona as guest speakers and travelled on heavily subsidised church fares on the MAF plane.
I only realised that they wanted to go to Dodomona while I spoke to them as we flew towards Mougulu. I showed them the village of Dodomona as we were approaching Mougulu. Dodomona has an airstrip, but due to my pilot restrictions (short runway), I was not allowed to land at this airstrip.
So we offloaded them about 10NM (16km) away from Dodomona at the airstrip of Mougulu. A person from the Dodomona village was expecting and welcoming them right at the plane.
10 minutes after landing, the three already headed off and started hiking. I learnt that they would have to overnight on the bush trail and then continue the next day to the village. I asked them if I could take a picture before they left and they agreed with a big smile. I told them that if possible, we as MAF would try to pick them up in Dodomona to spare them another long walk through the bush. Their faces lit up with this hopeful prospect and they disappeared.
At Mougulu, I also offloaded several hundred kilograms of building supplies and food for the new high school and then departed towards Tari to continue with my days flying.”
A week later, MAF was indeed able to fetch the two pastors from Dodomona on Monday, 25th January with Pilot Mathias Glass doing Corne Noordhoek’s line check that day.
The pastors reported that even though it was a youth convention, people across all age groups attended, young ones and old ones, about 1000 plus, coming from nearby communities around Dodomona, some of them walking 3 to 4 days to get there.
“Many gave their lives to Jesus. We estimate about 250 people, students and community leaders, who came up front during the week speaking a dedication prayer. After the Sunday service, 107 people, mainly from the younger generations were baptised in a nearby river,” reported Pastor Petrus. “During the church service, they shared their testimonies of repentance and promised to live a godly life,” added Pastor Moses.
“During the event, reconciliation happened between church leaders too. And a call to get more actively involved in church work and become a pastor was answered by 37 people,” shared the two.
“This was the first of its kind in the Bosavi-Strickland area organised by the ECPNG Pastor Steven Siale and his son, Maika Yabua. There’s surely more need for events like this and we will go back again God willing,” stated Pastor Petrus.
Along with the youth convention went a celebration of Pastor Siale’s son who was the first-ever Edolo graduate from University. He’s going to teach and minister at the Mougulu Highschool.
The connection between the ECPNG and EBC pastors goes back more than 10 years as Pastor Steven and Pastor Moses both attended Bible College together at the EBC campus in Lae.
What a great way to reconnect and partner together, with MAF doing its part to help with transport where there’s no easy way in and out – for the glory of God and to challenge people to make a commitment to give their lives to Jesus, our Lord and Saviour!