Story by Mandy Glass. Photos David Moore (DM) and Mandy Glass (MG)

„This afternoon, just after 2 o’clock, I was approached by Reji (MAF PNG’s Flight Scheduler) if I want to go on a flight, then this is the time! It was a medical evacuation that needed to be done from Kol for a young child who had fallen into some boiling hot water and got badly injured.
So I joined the pilot for my first flight in PNG and it’s a medical evacuation!
The flight was spectacular with a little bit of turbulence, beautiful views and an interesting landing in Kol as it is a bit of a soft landing strip. And then to see the child nestled up and with some IV; being just there to help them get on the plane to be able to fly them back was amazing.
And 1 hour 40 minutes after the call we are back in Mt Hagen and the child is on its way to the hospital, which is awesome!
You feel the emotion when you land and you realise you’ve done such an amazing thing. It’s great, really great!“

Very passionate about his medevac flight experience, David Moore gave this account of his first ever MAF flight after being seven days in the country. Together with his wife Caroline, he is visiting the MAF Papua New Guinea programme as the couple considers being long-term staff members and part of our team in the future.

The girl got admitted to the Kudjip Hospital to receive the treatment she needs. Apparently, her mother placed a freshly boiled pot of hot water near the entrance of her haus kuk (separate bush material house used for cooking). When the girl came to see her mum she stumbled over the pot with the boiling hot water.

Please pray with us that the burns will heal well so she can run around her village again one day without having pain and will remember this event in her life as something God was in control of and where many people just where there at the right moment to help her:

• Her father who carried her 2 days to the next clinic, where the Community Health Workers treated her burns and set an IV.
• The CRMF team who passed on the call for the medevac to our Mt Hagen based programming office who then organised the flight ringing a pilot to come back from home to fly the medevac on a bright sunny afternoon.
• After landing at Mt Hagen, our Communications Officer went to get one of the medevac care bags blessing the child with a soft toy, a set of clothes and other things, packed by our expat spouses and words of encouragement and prayer.
• The Jimi MP, Wake Goi, whose funds paid for the flight; and the Jiwaka Health Department which sent an ambulance to get the family to Kudjip hospital.
• The doctors and nurses of Kudjip hospital who will attend to the young girl.

Please pray also for David Moore and his wife as they process all the experiences of their look-see-visit and seeking the Lord’s guidance and confirmation if joining the MAF PNG Team as long-term support staff is what God wants them to do.

UPDATE

The flight happened on Wednesday, 24 April 2019 and the girl arrived at the Kudjip hospital in the early evening.
The following day we received word that the girl is stable and she is going to make it, but will likely need two separate skin grafts. The doctor needs to wait a couple of days to let the burns demarcate so he can tell exactly what he needs to graft and what skin he has to work with, he guesstimated at 20% burns. It’ll be a multiple month inpatient stay as she recovers from probably two different graft surgeries.

Story by Satish Moka. Photos by Mathias Glass (MSG)

MAF’s Core Values
One of our values at MAF is Impact. Another one is Excellence and considering the nature of our resources, Stewardship is pretty high up there. So for the men on the ground, this boils down to “efficiency” and since the start of this year, we have been on a drive to maximise our flying days. More flights mean that more people can be served and more impact on an individual and community basis. Out of our Mt Hagen base, we have been having early starts and our results have bolstered us further, to aim for even more efficiency. As we do this we also Care, keeping our Christian Witness and Partnership with teams across PNG. We try to balance and maintain all our values.

Values challenged
Mondays at Mt Hagen normally are days dedicated for charters. As the needs for transportation within PNG always outweigh our ability to provide air services, our programmers have a weekly schedule to cater for various regions and organisations.

One Monday recently, the Mt Hagen based Cessna Caravan P2-MAG was dedicated for our partner organisation, the Rural Airstrips Agency (RAA), which does a wonderful and important job in trying to maintain remote airstrips across PNG. We were to transport two lawn mowers from Mt Hagen to bush strips in the Western Province (WP). These would be used for cutting grass regularly, which grows rather fast and makes it unsafe and slippery for landing. These mowers would also mean a requirement of a regular supply of fuel, which has to be flown in too. So the plan was to ferry fuel drums from Kawito (WP), which was to receive these drums by boat. The planning for this flight was done weeks in advance. RAA was assured of the fuel being delivered to Kawito on time.
We departed Mt Hagen early and reached Kawito well ahead of schedule. We juggled with our loading and with one lawnmower and two drums headed out into the bush strips. There was overnight rain and we were cautious, having a good look from the air before we attempted to land. It is not infrequent for aircraft to get bogged down in bush strips, which can lead from just plane delays to at times even major losses. It is with a heavy heart, a pilot sometimes has to take the decision to ‘give away’ a landing, if he considers the airstrip to be ‘too wet’. The fact that there are passengers who are so close to home and need to land (and may not get another flight for a week at least), there are needy people on ground, the fact that we have come all the way (spent so much fuel) and the very act of ‘letting go’ (convincing oneself that I can’t land) – all weigh heavy on any pilot’s heart. Our threat and error management (TEM) techniques, extensive training and sheer personal experience (learned from own or other pilot’s stories) help us make meaningful and safe decisions.

The airstrip at Dewara looked good and safe for landing. We made a smooth touch down and the surface felt good as we decelerated to a stop. As we tried turning the aircraft around to taxi towards the parking bay, we realised that we were stuck in the ground. Having been in similar situations before, we quickly shut down the aircraft and unloaded the cargo – to the relish of the community, proud owners of a brand new lawnmower. Our left wheel was an inch into the soft ground and some quick shovel work helped us get out of the soft ground – with some delay woven into our schedule. We made it up with quick turnarounds in the next two communities. We were looking forward to completing out next two deliveries and eventually head back to Mt Hagen, before the notorious highland weather starts posing problems.

On returning to Kawito, we were welcomed with the news that the promised fuel drums haven’t arrived yet. The likely arrival times were also fairly fuzzy – not unexpected ‘in the land of the unexpected’. A total rehash by the RAA, based on priorities, meant, after one hour of waiting, we were heading to Wasua with two drums of fuel. The nature of this airstrip meant heavy penalties (limitations on landing and takeoff weights) and we were flying in with minimum fuel onboard to reduce our weight. We needed to return to Kawito for topping up prior to our departure to Mt Hagen, and our plans to beat the Mt Hagen weather were soon closing down. However, we just had to dump the load at Wasua and rush back, an assured quick turnaround.

There were showers in the vicinity, so we had a good look at the Wasua airstrip and proceeded to land. As we unloaded our cargo and were preparing for our departure, a community member informed us of a patient – a lady who had been suffering for weeks and needed to be transported to the hospital at Balimo. We worked out the fuel and flight plan and the ‘medevac’ seemed feasible. We quickly made queries and realised that it would take twenty minutes to get her to the airstrip. With our minds still focussed on our return trip, we promised to wait for a maximum of thirty minutes and no more.

We decided to make good use of the time by inspecting the airstrip and chatting with the community members. Apparently, Wasua was one of MAF’s earliest bases in PNGs Western Province. I was talking to the older members who were talking of the good old days when they were at the centre of MAF’s activities. We had shifted our operations since and our present landing was one of the first landings at Wasua in a long time, as the airstrip remained non-operational for years.

The time was ticking and we were growing uneasy, as the concept of time in PNG can be very flexible and not factual in the ‘western’ sense. It was decision time – do we wait or leave. Finally, I could perceive some activity as noises emerged from the bush path behind the tall grass and trees. As I waited impatiently, all I could see was a small person perched on the shoulders of someone and a number of heads following in the distance. And then all of a sudden, the movement stopped, near a tree. I was growing restless as I waited – do they really have to take rest, now. Can’t they hurry up? Don’t they know we have a schedule? All these thoughts were bursting onto my mind – my mind so filled with me and my schedule.

And finally to my relief, the procession started moving. And I finally got a glimpse – of the frail woman perched on the shoulders of a man. A man who was having beads of sweat streaming down his face. Maybe tears too, I don’t know.

As I watched the man finally put his wife on the floor of the airplane, all I could see was a stoic face. Lots of perspiration from the heat and humidity of the lowlands, and the blank face of a man. A man who must have been working in his garden, when someone scrambled screaming – the ‘balus’ (plane) has come and the pilots are willing to take your wife. A wife who had been lying helpless, maybe even hopeless. Wasting away, knowing very well the final outcome of her sickness, unable to weather the walk to the hospital at Balimo, which would take a couple of days, maybe.

And then all of a sudden, the scream of ‘balus’. The shout of hope. It must have been well under five minutes (the bush people know of our western obsession with time) – dropping everything he was doing, he would have been off, walking with his wife on his shoulders. No thoughts, no plans, no packing, no preparations. Just moving, towards the ‘balus’, towards hospital, towards ‘Hope’. Hope has wings. Indeed.

I saw the man finally catching his breath. Someone from the community thrust a few Kina (PNG currency) into his hands. Someone else gave him a plastic bag. It didn’t seem to matter. We managed to seat the passengers and went through the routines of briefing on the safety features. I couldn’t take my eyes off the man – clutching tightly onto the battered health card, not knowing what lays ahead.

We quickly got into our procedures of starting up the aircraft and heading towards Balimo. A quick radio call was made to our Kawito base, to coordinate for an ambulance at Balimo airstrip.

We landed at Balimo which was desolate except for two construction workers, building what would be a small terminal in the future – a shelter, not unlike a bus stop. The man carried his wife to the makeshift shelter of the construction workers. I carried the small plastic bag, probably holding a sago cake or two, and a pair of worn out slippers, to the man who was trying to make his wife comfortable.

We were hoping the ambulance would come if there was one and serviceable. We asked the workers to help the couple. We had to go. We had a program ahead. As I was leaving, the man walked up to me. With an expression that betrayed gratitude, he uttered ‘thank you’. Man to man – a lot more was communicated than was said. My heart crumpled inwards. I turned back towards the ‘balus’. Another life saved. Maybe. Hopefully.

Values reflected
As I stared at the vast expanse of blue ahead of me on our return trip, I was haunted by the fact that I was so close to leaving the airstrip without the man, and his ailing wife. For being ‘efficient’? I tried looking inwards, into my daily life. Let alone with strangers, in my exchanges with ones close to me. My interactions with my dear wife (do I really listen to her or just offer solutions to perceived problems), my teenage son (do I appreciate his passion for computing or just bark instructions – list of don’ts), with my colleagues (do I at least smile and have time for a chat or just utter a morning pleasantry) and our passengers whether in the bush or in the plane (do I just pass on instructions or am I really concerned for their comfort). As the blue started to turn grey in the distance, I was back to the task on hand – radar, weather, terrain, navigation and safety.
But the thought remains. Does my drive for efficiency overwhelms my ability to empathise. Do I really have the space and time, to be ‘mindful of others needs’. Or is it just me, my work, my schedule and my life. In my penchant for being effective and efficient, am I too busy – to CARE?!

Story Mandy Glass. Photos MAF Mareeba (MM), Michael Duncalfe (MD), Brandon Coker (BC), Mandy Glass (MG)

MAF Mareeba: Delivering a Caravan

11 February 2019
Senior Instructor Andrew Little departed Mareeba at 7:51 am on a 7-hour ferry flight to bring a brand new Cessna 208 to the PNG programme. In the past weeks, Mareeba Engineers completed all required MAF modifications and inspections to enable it to be of great service with MAF Papua New Guinea.

Before Andrew’s departure, the Mareeba staff was getting together early in the morning to pray for a safe trip.

As he departed for PNG, the pilot performed a ‘wing wave’ maneuver. “Nice touch, Andy!“

MAF Papua New Guinea: Can you spot the aircraft P2-MAI on this map?

Its engine was on early and the schedule for the ferry flight was to fly from Mareeba via Horn Island to Mt Hagen. We expected “Mike Alpha India” to land about 1:30 pm at Kagamuga airport. The weather was looking good for the day which was a huge answer to prayer.

P2-MAI is the first of the six new Cessna Caravans, C208. Upon its successful arrival and after the aircraft was unloaded and customs cleared, our Mt Hagen based staff were holding a dedication ceremony placing this new aircraft into ministry here in PNG.

‘Mike Alpha India’ has arrived!

After 5,4 hours in the air and covering a distance of 765 nm, Mike Alpha India touched down at the Kagamuga Airport, Mt Hagen at 1:58 pm, welcomed with a water salute by the Mt Hagen Airport Fire Brigade and witnessed by all our Mt Hagen based staff and families.

We as MAF PNG are thankful to God and to all the donors who made it possible to have the first of six brand new Cessna Caravans come to PNG and to be dedicated to serving the people in the remote areas. Thank you, God, and God bless all those that give willingly to this ministry.

Mt Hagen – Madang – Wasu – Madang – – Mt Hagen

This was the program for our newly arrived Cessna Caravan P2-MAI on its firsts operational day of flying.

Landing at Madang after its first leg, the plane was welcomed with a water salute by the fire truck there, all to the surprise of pilot Mathias Glass. 
Our Madang based traffic officers were very proud to greet Mike Alpha India on its first ops day and facilitate the program for the day.

Waiting at Madang, were the German Dr Traugott Farnbacher with his wife Esther and two Madang based Lutheran pastors. Dr Farnbacher has been a missionary in PNG for many years, but for now 15 years, he leads the mission department of ‘Mission Eine Welt’ for PNG/Pacific/EastAsia; a mission organisation of the Lutheran Church of Bavaria.

The four were heading to Wasu, a 40-minute flight along the east coast of Madang (compared to a 14-hour boat ride!). The Lutheran Mission runs the Etep Rural Hospital, nestled uphill from Wasu airstrip and serving a population of 150,000 people in the area.
Currently, there are two doctors working at Etep Rural Hospital who are both recruited and employed by the German mission.
This marks Dr Farnbacher’s last visit to the area as he is soon retiring.

On the way back, a midwife and another hospital staff member were on board; going to Madang and Lae for administrative business.

Early February marks the beginning of the new school year for PNG. Three teachers and their families were booked to fly with us to Simbai for their first ever assignment at Kanainj Primary School; about a two days walk away from Simbai (10nm via air). We could see Kanainj from the air but couldn’t land. Kanainj is a very short and steep airstrip and therefore requires special training and checking flights for our pilots; unfortunately, Mathias Glass hasn’t been checked on this particular airstrip yet.
By this stage, the weather became more and more challenging and more and more clouds were touching and covering the ridge lines, filling the valleys and making it very challenging to find the way into the Simbai Valley. 4nm before Simbai, the pilot had to make the decision to continue to Mt Hagen as the weather didn’t allow for safe visual operations.

Without MAF, Mission Work cannot be done!
This statement comes from an Austrian missionary, Friedemann Urschitz, who grew up in Papua New Guinea and who still reaches out to the remote communities in the Sepik. By walking many extra miles through the jungle, he encourages and trains people for the benefit of the next generations.
Below is his thank you message he recently sent to MAF. Today, Friedemann Urschitz works as the Director of Liebenzell Mission Austria.

Thanks to MAF I could get around to remote villages to conduct courses and get airstrip equipment repaired and visit churches over an 8-week mission trip to the East Sepik Province. Without the flights into remote villages, I could not have done that many visits and courses.

Nungwaia
My first village MAF flew me to was Nungwaia. I was born in PNG and lived my first 9 years in Nungwaia, the first village my parents worked with SSEM (South Sea Evangelical Mission) which later became the SSEC (South Sea Evangelical Church).
Shortly after we had landed, the pilot sold almost a full box of Bibles and some reading glasses to the village people which came to greet me at the plane.
In Nungwaia I serviced the Deutscher Lawn Mower which they use to cut the airstrip grass and then handed out solar lights to church pastors and church leaders from 11 different local churches. I could hold a course with the church leaders over the weekend. Some of the pastors and church leaders had to walk three days to come and meet me in Nungwaia. On Sunday more than 1000 children from various local churches joined the pastors and church leader and we had a combined service together.

Ambunti
My second flight took me to Ambunti, the mission base of Pacific Island Ministries (PIM) situated right next to the mighty Sepik River. Here I spent most of my time in the mission’s workshop to get some equipment and machines fixed. I stayed there 10 days until MAF could take me to my next destination.

Moropote
Moropote is about a 30 minutes flight from Ambunti. There I tried to fix the tractor, but I need to order spare parts and maybe I can get it running again on my next mission trip.
From Moropote I walked to three different villages to visit churches, have church service with them and give teaching and training to pastors and church leaders.

Getting to those villages was not an easy walk, each taking about up to 2-3 hours one way through the jungle and swamps.
If MAF wouldn’t fly to Moropote, the only other way is a one and a half days canoe trip up the Sepik, Sio and Nageg River and then walking for some hours through swampy jungle.
I had wanted to visit some more villages, but because MAF did not have a plane for some days in the Sepik Province, these visits had to be postponed for another time.
Thank you for giving financial support to MAF so that MAF is able to subsidise flights to remote bush villages. Without MAF, this mission work cannot be done and many people wouldn’t get any service. Many villages don’t have a teacher or a nurse and missionaries and church leaders would not be able to do visitations and give courses which are in desperately needed. No medevacs could be done and many more people would die and suffer.
Many thanks to all supporters.

Please pray for Friedemann as he currently is again on his way to Papua New Guinea with a tight schedule to continue teachers’ training at Ambunti, to build a teacher’s house at Yatoam, to visit the church in Moropote and then to walk to Bitara inspecting the airstrip the community is building, just to name a few of his project which all require MAF flights to transport him, local team members and (building) supplies to the various places.

But this is exactly what we as MAF are here for in Papua New Guinea, to be a catalyst and carrier for help, hope and healing.

Bless you as you pray for Friedemann’s mission trip.