Where are you from and where do you live now?
Shiv: I am from the UK and Ryan is from Alberta, Canada. We currently live in Telefomin. Oh, and Ray the dog is originally from Australia.

Can you tell me a little about your family?
Shiv: My parents are retired and live on the South Coast of England. My Mum has a small business (Love Nanny Sue) selling teddy bears made from the clothes of loved ones who have passed away. This helps people in their grieving process. My brother, his wife, and our nephew live in Arizona, USA.
Ryan’s parents are also MAF missionaries. They work at PATC; that’s Prairie Aviation Training College in Alberta, Canada. We’re keeping MAF in the family; though, technically Ryan joined MAF before they did. Ryan’s sister, her husband, and their two daughters live in Portland, Oregon, USA. Our brother-in-law is a missionary working with the homeless in Portland.

When did you join MAF and why?
Shiv: I joined MAF in 2013. I left the Royal Airforce and was looking for a job doing something good in the world. It was my mum who first told me about MAF. I wanted to work for an organisation that was a positive force in the world. I don’t feel like I was “called” to MAF, God just made sure that’s where I ended up working!
Ryan first joined MAF in 2008 and went to Botswana for 2 years to work with Flying Mission, a partner organisation of MAF which flies medevacs. He left MAF and then re-joined in 2015 and came to PNG shortly after that.
Ryan: I joined MAF because I wanted to fly airplanes.

Shiv, what is your role with MAF?
My job title is Operations Support. The role involves a wide variety of support functions, mainly within the Operations Department. I’ve done things like training with our ground staff at several bases, helping with complex load planning, and writing the new PNG Ground Operations Manual. I’m also the compound coordinator for Telefomin. My jobs are many and varied, but I like it like that. Variety is the spice of life.
When I first came to PNG in 2014, I came as the Ground Operations Manager. I did that job for about four years and recruited David Pank, who is an awesome bloke, as my deputy. After Ryan and I got married, MAF needed Ryan to fly in Telefomin, which meant I couldn’t be the Ground Operations Manager anymore since it is a Mt. Hagen based role. Fortunately, David is so good that he was able to take my job. I then moved into my current support role.

What do you enjoy most about your role?
I enjoy being able to help support and encourage members of our operations department because we have some very talented and dedicated team members.
And what is the most challenging?
Writing an MAF manual!

Ryan, what is your role with MAF?
I fly airplanes, that’s about it.
What do you enjoy most about your role and what is the most challenging?
Flying and flying.

What does MAF mean to you?
Shiv: For me, MAF is being the hands and feet of Jesus on a daily basis. We’re His hands and feet in every aspect of our lives, not just in the work we do, but in the way we live our lives and the example we show for those around us. Being a Christian isn’t enough. You need to do something about it if you really say Jesus is your Lord and Saviour. Also, MAF helps us do something useful and practical to help people. Here in PNG, we get opportunities to show the love of Christ every day, which is a real privilege.
Ryan: Flying airplanes and helping people.

How has Covid-19 affected you and your family?
Shiv: When we left PNG to go on home assignment back in February 2020, we expected to return to PNG before the end of May. It was planned to be a short home assignment, visiting just about half of our supporters in the UK and Canada. We were able to do everything we scheduled in the UK and arrived in Canada just as Covid-19 hit, which meant we were not able to meet any of our supporters in Canada.
That was really frustrating because we weren’t in Canada to sit around and relax. When we go on home assignment it’s not vacation; it’s work – just a different kind of work than we normally do. We couldn’t visit churches or supporters and obviously, we couldn’t do the work we normally do in PNG because Ryan couldn’t fly in PNG when he was in Canada! We did other, low priority things to support the MAF PNG Programme, but it was still frustrating to be so disconnected from where we are used to being useful. It was a blessing to spend more time with family, but we desperately wanted to be back in PNG to help out.

What is something others don’t know about you?
Shiv: We met in PNG and got engaged at Yuo Island, off the north coast of Wewak in PNG, with all four of our parents there. As we only met each other’s parents two days before we got engaged, it was really lovely to share that special event with them.

What is your favourite food?
Ryan: Food.
Shiv: Mine would be Sushi. I managed to find some sushi wrappers at a store in Goroka once and I still have a supply of them. I make it as a lunchtime treat for myself once in a while. It is quite involved, but also quite fun.

Is there any advice you would give yourselves at the outset of your MAF career?
Shiv: If I could send a message to myself as I arrived in PNG seven years ago, I would say, “Don’t worry when you get homesick, it will feel better.” In my first six months in PNG, I really struggled with being on my own for the first time, missing my family and the company of my friends. But, after I had been here a while, I made new friends and PNG really began to feel like home.
Ryan should send himself the message, “Get ready, you’re about to meet your future wife in PNG”! 😉

Pilot Philipp Sutter shared: “Today (13 January 2021) I was very surprised to find a whole family from Dusin at the airstrip in Simbai, waiting to travel to Mount Hagen. It turned out to be a pastor family from the Nazarene church in Dusin, who have been accepted to the Nazarene Bible College near Mount Hagen.
Pastor Thomson Gimalo, his wife and their four children have walked from Dusin to Simbai, which probably is a 3-day walk, as the airstrip there is currently closed, to start a 3-year bible school.
Together with them in the picture are other Dusin passengers, one of them also a pastor.
It was so amazing to see a whole family on the move called by God to a completely new place for them and MAF enabling them to travel quickly and safely the last bit of their journey into a new future. To me it was such an encouragement to meet this lovely happy family. Just a sign from God, that we are part of building his church. MAF makes a difference!”

Are you looking to book a flight?
Great news! You can now reach our bookings department at WhatsApp. Send your booking requests to +675 70440433. Simply send a message and they will call you back.
Alternate phone number: +675 7373 9999 (Please note this number does NOT receive a text or works with WhatsApp)
Do you like emails? You can always reach them at [email protected]

Where are you from and where do you live now?
Dave: We are from Cornwall in the UK and we currently live in Papua New Guinea (PNG). I’m originally from London, but as a child, we moved down to the South Coast, to Bournemouth. Caroline and I met in that area and eventually made our way to Cornwall, where we lived for about 20 years.

Can you tell me a little bit about your family?
Dave: I grew up in a Christian home and have two brothers and a sister. My Dad left his job as an accountant at the age of 40 to go into full-time ministry as a pastor. As a teenager, it was a bit weird to understand why your father was giving up work to go into full-time ministry with no income, but I saw some amazing God-instances in our family life throughout that time.
Caroline: We have two adult children in their early 20’s who we’ve left behind in the UK. We catch up with them once or twice a fortnight on WhatsApp. It has been about 16 months since we’ve seen them.

When did you join MAF and why?
Dave: In 2018 I had a very serious life crisis; I contracted sepsis and pneumonia together. I almost died, which was shocking. It gave me a moment to stop and think about what I’d achieved in life and consider what path we were on.
I’ve looked on and off over the years for missionary type work or work I could do for God as an engineer, but it’s a bit limited. When I looked for jobs after my illness, I saw a position with MAF and applied. We joined MAF in 2019 and spent the first 5 months fundraising and working out what we were going to do with our house before coming out to PNG in October 2019.
Shortly before I became ill, I made a five-year plan of how I’d work toward my retirement. I guess God had other ideas.
Caroline: It was a bit of a shock to me. David applied for the position when he had only been home from the hospital a few days and down the stairs from his sickbed once! It took me a while to come around to the idea because I was in overprotective mode, having just almost lost him, but we had lots of confirmation that it was God’s leading. David has always wanted to do something like this – something big for God – so I guess that wasn’t a big surprise.
The calling to MAF fit in with prophecies I had had over the years that I just kind of shelved. Things like, ‘you’re going to travel’ and ‘a whole new world.’ But it was totally unexpected for me to actually go to the other side of the world. One of the biggest confirmations we had – at the time I was almost actively looking for someone to say “no don’t go” – was going to see an old school friend who was a non-Christian and hearing, “I can see that everything in your life is leading up to this point.” You can’t really argue with that.

Did you know about MAF before you did that job search?
Dave: I remember MAF coming to my church when I was about seven or eight and bringing the small plane to our church in Bournemouth. When I meet the pilot and engineer, I thought how amazing it would be to do something like that. It’s probably one of the reasons I moved toward engineering.
Caroline: I’ve read lots of missionary books and been involved in church and conferences where MAF has been, so I’ve known about them for a long time.

Dave, can you tell me about your role?
I’m the Property and Vehicle Maintenance Manager. The Property and Vehicle department looks after the 72 or so houses MAF has across PNG as well as 12 bases, which consist of aircraft hangars and offices as well as residential houses for our international and national staff. We also look after the vehicle fleet, which consists of about 14 or 15 vehicles. My role is an underlying role, but critical. Let’s face it, if the pilots’ wives aren’t happy and don’t want to stay, the pilots don’t stay. I have a team of about 8 or 9 guys in PNG who are great. I’m sharing my skills and experiences with them and helping them learn new skills and new ways of doing things, which will hopefully improve the quality of the housing and offices we look after.

What do you enjoy most about your role?
I like mentoring and coaching people, so I like being able to share my experiences and what I’ve learned over the years. I’ve often wondered if we should have come to the mission field before, but I don’t think I would have had the skills, experience, and knowledge to share if we’d come earlier.

What is the most challenging part of your role?
One challenging bit is managing the different opinions and expectations of a diverse workforce. Another challenge is being in a country where you can’t just go down the road and buy what you want off the shelf. I’ve spent 20-30 years working in a place where I can just go to a wholesaler and get what I need. Here in PNG, you have to go find out what’s available and then work out how you’re going to use it. I guess that’s where my breadth of experience comes in handy.

Caroline, how do you have found a way to support the work of MAF or engage in the PNG community?
We are blessed with national neighbors. I go to market with her and Dave often shares a car with him on the way to work, during which they have long conversations. It has really helped us learn something about the PNG culture.
I’ve gone back to being the traditional housewife. I go into the office on Fridays and we do lotu – morning devotions – and then I go around taking peoples’ blood pressure, which has helped me get to know the staff.
Dave: And you pray with people a lot.
Caroline: Yes, prayer is my main thing. People tell me their stresses as I take their blood pressure and we pray about them.

Dave, in a meeting the other day you mentioned that Caroline is a part of your PVM team. Can you tell me why you say that?
I think it’s because we came out as a couple and you don’t do something like this by yourself. I couldn’t have traveled all this way or do what I’m doing without Caroline. We’ve been together a long time and she’s that strength behind me. I know it’s a cliché, but I need someone to support me like that, someone who I can go home and moan at. Ha!
She also helps with ideas and can be my clear thinking. When I’m struggling through the many trees, it’s helpful to talk with someone who is level headed, has known me for a long time, and has picked up quite a lot of engineering knowledge over the years.
I also say that because she has made an effort to become a part of the team. The team loves having her there when she comes in on a Friday morning and joins us for devotions. They’ve made Caroline feel very welcome.

What does MAF mean to you?
Dave: For me, it’s about serving people in remote places. When we came out to PNG for our look-see visit, I was blessed to be involved in a medical evacuation and experience what that means for someone who lives in a remote area. In this instance, the father walked for two days with his daughter who had bad burns – he had to walk for two days just to get to the airstrip. We are really meeting the needs of those in remote places.
Caroline: MAF has become my family away from family. We all live incredibly close together. In normal life, you have a job and then you come home. This is a different way of compound living – it’s 24/7. It can be quite intense.
Dave: You’re a part of the team all the time. Your friends are the people you work with or their spouses, the people you serve, the people you go to church with on a Sunday, and the people you meet for a barbeque.
Caroline: MAF – My Aviation Family.

How has Covid-19 affected you and your family?
Dave: Wow, hugely. We were due to visit Australia at the end of March, but when Covid-19 hit we left early because of my health issues – I’m quite severely asthmatic. So, we left early expecting to only be out for 3 or 4 weeks and we have literally just arrived back in PNG after 8 months.
We are so glad we had 6 months in-country getting to know the team and getting to work with the PVM boys to start making changes and implementing new systems. We got most of that established just before Covid-19, which has allowed me to run the team from Cairns via video, email, phone, and Microsoft Teams. It was interesting to take a team that was just into using mobile phones and teach them technology like video conferencing and remote computer access.
Caroline: We stayed in Cairns so long because of my health. When we started looking at coming back to PNG, we went for a few health tests and found that I had a full macular hole in one eye and tears in the retina of the other eye. We are so thankful we were in a place where that could be dealt with. If we’d been in PNG, I probably would’ve gone blind.
Dave: You know, God is amazing. To be in a country where within 3 days Caroline was in an operating theatre having her eye repaired was just phenomenal.
Caroline: And the other thing Covid-19 has meant to us is that our children and family in the UK have had a really tough time.
Dave: That’s been really hard for us. It was hard enough leaving them behind, but it’s been doubly hard to know we’ve left them with what’s going on.
Caroline: As a parent, you want to leap over to be with them, but, being on the other side of the world, we have to leave them in God’s hands and pray for them all the time.

What is something others don’t know about you?
Dave: We’ve found that if we shuffle all our furniture to the walls – some in the kitchen and some in other rooms – in our little place, we can just about keep up our Argentine Tango practice!
Caroline: We’ve had to give up our Waltz and Quickstep, there’s not enough room for that.
Dave: We thought we wouldn’t be able to get any dance lessons at all while in PNG or Cairns. But, because of Covid-19, our Argentine Tango teachers in the UK have been running online lessons that we’ve been able to join in on, which has been fantastic!

Do you have a favourite food?
Dave: Oooo, bacon. I mean thin, crispy bacon like you get in Europe; not like what you get in PNG. And marmite – it’s a yeast extract that you can put on toast and is nothing like vegemite!
Caroline: I don’t really have a favourite food, but I love the fresh fruits and vegetables we can get at Hagen market – all the exotic fruits.

Looking back, is there any advice you would’ve given yourself at the outset of this journey with MAF?
Dave: I think it’s something someone said to us, actually; “Know your calling.” I really struggled with that at first because I didn’t get a blinding light from the sky and a, “You’re going to Papua New Guinea!” But we started journaling about the confirmations we received along the way and when we put all those little confirmations together we thought, “Wow.” Knowing that calling and being sure of it, making sure it’s scripturally sound, is really important.
Caroline: We initially thought we were too old to be missionaries, but the friends who gave us the advice Dave mentioned went on the mission field in their 50s. That encouraged us.
I would also give the advice to trust the process. We found the process quite slow and frustrating at times. Trust the process because you need time to adjust and transition. I think transition – going from everything you know to a complete unknown – is the hardest part. You need that time to process it all. Trust the process, trust that MAF has done this before, and trust that they know what they’re doing.
Dave: Someone said that PNG is the land of the unexpected, but I think the whole mission thing is the realm of the unexpected. When God’s working you’ve got to expect the unexpected and be willing to go with it when it happens.

The last MAF aircraft in the air on New Year’s Eve, 31 December 2020 was P2-MAH with Philipp Sutter in the captain’s seat and Joseph Tua as a second pilot on the right-hand seat.
Philipp shares some unexpected and unplanned events from this day:

On the ground in Mougulu, just before taking off, we received a V2 Track message, asking if we had time and enough fuel to pick up a sick patient from Wawoi Falls to take him to Kiunga. Wawoi Falls is a remote village, located in the southern lowlands of PNG in the middle of the jungle, but next to the gigantic waterfall of the Wawoi River that originates at Mt. Bosavi (8,100ft) and flows to the Gulf of Papua.

The distance from Mougulu to Wawoi Falls is about 40 nautical miles, but the flight path was in the opposite direction we intended to fly. We discussed it and decided that we could since we had taken an extra 60min of fuel out of Mount Hagen due to weather as we are in the rainy season currently. For this diversion, we would use 20min worth of fuel each way, leaving us with 20min over minimum fuel at our destination in Kiunga.

Having received a report of good weather from Kiunga we decided to do the extra leg, which turned out to be very helpful for a young 10year-old boy, named Mark, who had fallen out of a tree a week ago and broke his right leg above the knee. He was in a lot of pain and without a cast for a full week already.

The medevac kit we had onboard came in very handy. It provided an inflatable mattress he could lie on and the harness system secured him for the flight. The father would hold his leg up as this caused the least amount of pain for Mark.

In Wawoi Falls we decided to take-off from runway31, but as we lined up, there were lots of clouds and rain on our departure track. We taxied back for a departure from runway 13 and as we came to the line-up position, we saw our temperature gun, which we use for COVID-19 precaution procedures, laying on the ground. We had put it on the wing strut but forgot to take it with us. Joseph manned the breaks and we feathered the prop, as I went out to grab it – I guess God just put the rain and clouds in our departure route so that we had to come back and find the temperature gun.

As we flew towards Suabi to pick up some other sick patients, the weather there was very bad with lots of rain and clouds all the way down to the trees. We were unable to land and had to fly straight to Kiunga.

Via HF radio we advised Lakis, our base manager in Kiunga to call the ambulance. As we landed a Toyota Landcruiser approached and with the base’s scoop stretcher, we lifted Mark off the airplane and straight into the “ambulance.”