Where are you from and where do you live now?
I live in Mt. Hagen, which is the primary base in MAF’s program here in Papua New Guinea (PNG). When I joined MAF I moved to Mount Hagen. I am actually from the southwestern corner of the country which, if you look at a map of PNG, is where the border of Indonesia and Australia meet with PNG. It is a lowlands area and is not as cool as it is here in the Highlands; it is hot most of the year. The vegetation where I am from is like the vegetation in Northern Australia if you’ve seen that. It’s a savanna sort of area where we don’t have big forest and mountains, just grasslands and scattered trees.

Do you mind telling me a bit about your family?
I am married and my wife and I have two kids. My son is 14 years old and my daughter is 10.

What is your role with MAF?
My role with MAF is the Ground Operations Training Coordinator. I train staff in MAF’s ground operations network in Mt. Hagen and around the whole country. This role requires me to make sure our ground operations staff are trained and certified to carry out ground operations tasks; preparing manifests, safely loading passengers, and loading aircraft with cargo to be dispersed and received. I make sure our internal MAF requirements and the local regulator, CASA’s, requirements are met. I also do what we refer to as Regulatory Compliance Training, which goes outside of the ground operations department. Toward the end of the year, every two years, I teach safety management systems to the whole organisation. I keep records of all the trainings.

What do you enjoy most about your role and what is most challenging?
I most enjoy training. My original purpose in trying to be with MAF was actually to become a pilot. When I didn’t eventually achieve that, I applied for a training role. Training is satisfying to me because we are all playing different roles in making sure the ministry of MAF, showing God’s love through aviation and technology, happens. We send out aircraft to rural communities needing much-needed supplies and services. I play the role of training people to make sure we are safe and efficient in what we are doing. Collectively, we have a mission that is reaching out to people. It is very satisfying to me to be a part of this.
In regards to what I find difficult, the world is evolving and we have to keep our staff right on top of training. So, as new things come in, like changes in technology, we have to stay on top of training our staff. I find this part more demanding than difficult.

When did you join MAF and why?
I joined MAF in 2006. My dad used to be a school teacher in one of the remote locations where I come from. In those years, we watched this little MAF plane come around and bring in much-needed goods and supplies. This caused my interest in joining MAF to grow and I decided from a very little age to join MAF. I thought that serving through MAF would, perhaps, really give me the value in life. Eventually, when I finished schooling and other things, I applied to MAF, and here I am.

What does MAF mean to you?
To me, MAF’s mission statement is perhaps one of the best in the mission field; showing God’s love through aviation and technology. It would be devastating for the communities if MAF stopped serving in PNG because people would find it very hard to get basic services and products. I serve with MAF because I have seen both physical and spiritual changes in the lives of people. I think MAF is as important in PNG, and in various other parts of the world, as many of the other big organisations that are bringing services here. I would say that MAF really is a lifeline to the people here in PNG by providing air services. It is a wonderful thing to be within this organisation and be a part of providing an essential service.

Can you tell me a bit about what you’ve done with education offline servers in Western Province?
It’s called RACHEL; Remote Area Community Hotspot for Education and Learning. It is an offline server, created by an NGO called World Possible, with preloaded education content. You just take RACHEL to a remote community, switch it on, and it creates a network of its own which can be accessed by compatible devices. Then people can start learning. There’s no need for data since it’s an offline server. In 2017 I did a personal project to get some funding for a few RACHELs. I gave them to 3 different communities where I come from so they can use it to access information that can be helpful in transforming their lives.

How has Covid-19 affected you and your family?
Everybody has been affected by Covid-19 in one or two ways, but my family and I have not been affected so much. We are blessed with MAF because in other places you would lose your job and not be working. I think MAF’s decision, from the very top right down to the program here in PNG, is a good one. We have not been stood down from our work.
In Mt. Hagen, in terms of the virus, there are probably no reported cases at the moment. In terms of collateral damage from Covid-19, I would say my family and I have not been affected very much. However, there are some things we used to enjoy before Covid-19 which we can’t enjoy now.

What is something others might not know about you?
I find myself as a facilitator, not just within MAF, but with many different agencies and service providers. I’ve been involved with agencies like Aerial Health Patrol (AHP), the Rural Airstrip Agency (RAA), and other organisations. I try to facilitate development between these organizations so we can work together. This isn’t something MAF has asked me to do, I just found it of interest and thought I should be that little link between these agencies because of my experience of working with MAF over 12 years.

Do you have a favourite food?
I like eating pizza! There’s also cake and other good things, but pizza is my favourite food. Every time there’s pizza available at a meeting I’m probably the first one to go grab a piece!

Where are you from and where do you live now?
Linda: I’m from Sweden but have lived in Norway for 21 years, and Jan Ivar is Norwegian. We live in the Kagamuga Compound in Mt. Hagen when we are in PNG, but we are at our own home in Norway right now.

Do you mind telling me a little bit about your family?
Linda: We have both been married before. We don’t have any children together, but I have three children from my previous marriage and Jan Ivar has five. They are all grown up now!
Jan Ivar: So, we have eight children; the oldest is thirty-six and the youngest is twenty-one this year. And we have six grandkids.

When did you join MAF and why?
Jan Ivar: A seed was planted back when I was 18 or 19. I was interested in being a pilot, so I trained, but circumstances determined I choose not to join MAF operations for more than 30 years. I was one of three founding fathers of MAF Norway in 1986, but I didn’t join operations until I started my training in Mareeba in 2018. I’ve been involved with MAF for many years on the board of MAF Norway and MAF International. When I joined operations a couple of years ago I had to stop being on the MAF International board.
So, why join MAF? I want my faith to not just be something that happens in my head and on a Sunday. I want my faith to have a practical impact on other people. I’m called to love like Jesus loved, so I’m trying to fulfill that calling by doing what I’m doing now with MAF.
Linda: I joined when I married Jan Ivar!

Jan Ivar, how did you first find out about MAF?
A friend attended a mission conference in Switzerland in 1980. He knew that I was interested in flying, so he came back with a brochure about MAF.

Linda, did you hear about MAF before meeting Jan Ivar?
Yes, because I knew his sister before I knew him. But I was interested in going out on the mission field to work with children since I was a teenager.

Linda, how have you found a way to support the work of MAF or get involved in the community in PNG?
I was introduced to Highlands Christian Grammar on our look-see visit because they knew that I was a preschool teacher. When we first came to PNG, I decided I would like to give myself one year, not to do nothing, but to try different things without committing. After one year, I figured out what I liked to do and who I liked to work with. So, I help out at Highlands Christian Grammar two days a week. The rest of the time I’m at Bible Faith Orphanage (BFO) just hanging out with the kids and doing whatever needs to be done. I’m also a part of the BFO board.
I keep myself quite busy. I also spend time with the kids on our compound. I take them to the MAF library and make myself available to be an extra Auntie to them.

Jan Ivar, what is your role with MAF?
I’m a pilot, tasol . A normal day starts work in Mt. Hagen at 6:30 am and a working day is between 8-10 hours, sometimes 11 hours. It’s a long day with a lot of flying, though it all depends on the weather, of course. Every day is different; the variation and combination of destinations and routes we fly are different almost every day. The last month we were in PNG I did a lot of flying for Aerial Health Patrol.

What do you most enjoy about being a pilot? What is the most challenging?
To be honest, the flying bit is not the most important thing for me. I was a pilot in Norway for almost 30 years. What excites me the most is seeing the difference we make to the communities we fly to.
The most challenging thing for me is the paperwork and administrative tasks. As a pilot, you have to collect the money from the passengers and count it as well as do your load manifests, your weight and balance, and your performance calculations. Now, because of Covid-19 precautions, we clean the aircraft between every flight, take passengers’ temperatures, and make sure hand sanitizer and masks are used. When you’re a commercial pilot you usually have ground staff doing all that administrative stuff. You just check the load manifest, and then you fly. So, yes, the flying itself is challenging, but it is not all that different from what I had been doing in Norway.

What does MAF mean to you?
Linda: It means we are a part of a team. It’s not just Jan Ivar being a pilot and me being a spouse. We are doing this as a team together with other people from a lot of different nations.
Jan Ivar: MAF is an organization facilitating me fulfilling my calling. It is where I find my place in the Christian family, where I can serve.

What are your favourite foods?
Linda: We like a LOT of foods. We are foodies!
Jan Ivar: I like Rudolph fillet – fillet of meat from reindeer. I think that is my favourite dinner dish. It is so tender you can eat it with a fork, if you get the right piece of course, like tenderloin.
Linda: I just really like well-made, well-prepared food. We are lucky to have our own little Indian Restaurant at our compound called Sonali’s Tea House, which we very much enjoy. When they are open for lunch and dinner we go as often as we can.
Jan Ivar: We are maybe a little bit spoiled because we make food ourselves and we have friends who are very good cooks. When we go to new places we like to explore restaurants. We look ahead of time to find what restaurants are good and what we want to try.

What is something others might not know about you?
Linda: I went to theatre school. Afterward, I did some Christian children television in Sweden and I also had a children’s radio channel. That was a long time ago!
Jan Ivar: I’m a hi-fi freak. I like listening to good music and it’s all about good speakers and amplifiers. I’m a bit of a nerd. One of the first things I do when I get to Norway is listening to music on my speakers.

Is there any advice you would give those starting in their career with MAF?
Linda: Give yourself some time and be patient with yourself. Moving into programme and adjusting to the new way of living takes so much more than what we are used to. Everything will be new, even if you’ve travelled a lot and are used to new places. Be patient with all the feelings you experience.
Jan Ivar: Yeah, it takes time. And the application and acceptance process is not very fast with MAF either. You must be patient and very decisive, confident that this is what you want to do even if it takes time.
Linda: I think people need that process. It’s long and you think, ‘can’t we just get through it!?’ But you need the process in order to prepare before coming to programme.
Jan Ivar: Before we came to PNG, I said I was sure we’d have situations or times when we’d think, ‘why are we here?’ This is not a vacation, it is hard work. You have to know why you are here and doing this.

It’s important to have exercise books, pens, and rulers as a student, but dedicated teachers and a good learning environment are needed even more.
Recently, our Goroka based aircraft shifted about 3 tonnes of school material out to remote locations from where it needs to be carried to the respective schools. Upon return, the MAF Caravan was fully loaded with fresh peanuts to sell at the market.

MAF aircraft regularly transport building supplies so communities can invest in the infrastructure of their local school. Building a high school in a remote but central location is so important for the upbringing of the next generation. It can be a struggle for young students to grow up in a remote area and then leave village life behind either for boarding school or to stay with relatives for the whole school year, with minimal means of communication. School fees and logistics are major challenges faced by families who send their children off to school.
Establishing a local high school is a worthwhile investment as it allows children to at least finish grades 9 and 10 and grow more mature before flying out to the “big cities” to complete grades 11 and 12. MAF is more than happy to help with this!

These remote high schools are often boarding schools. That also means, that there’s an extra need for food in the village. Our Wewak aircraft recently flew 600-kilograms of rice to a remote village in Sandaun Province. The school is located in such an isolated place in the mountains that no roads lead there. Fortunately, the school is located in a very fertile village where there are lots of kaukau (sweet potatoes) and greens growing. To feed the 300 students there, who are all full-time boarders, the school needs about one and a half tonnes of kaukau and a large supply of greens each week. That is a lot of food for the school itself or the local subsistence community to produce weekly.

On another flight, the aircraft delivered 120kg of flour. A teacher at the school wrote: “It was getting hard to find enough kaukau. Flour means we can bake buns for breakfast and rice takes the pressure off the amount of kaukau needed. Other schools have closed due to a lack of food for similar reasons. So it was great that MAF could help us today.”
Recently, 40 students at a remote High school in Western Province became proud owners of their personal Bible.

Next time we’ll take more Bibles as not everyone received theirs yet…
The Bible Box our pilots frequently carry on board is often people’s only way to access and purchase God’s Word. There’s no local bookstore, nor are online orders available. Thanks to overseas donors and the supply chain via CRMF, people in remote areas not only have the chance to get their personal Bible but also can purchase them at a highly subsidised price.

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!