Mile Stones

Greetings

 

August 2020 comes with some miles stones, our family can be grateful for.   In no particular order.

  • August 23rd 2010 marks our first day on MAF payroll.  10 years longest standing job I think I’ve had, maybe time to move on right?  Well maybe not as we seek to serve where we are called and for the time being that seems to still be here with MAF.
  • August 8th 2002 Franklin arrived on the seen.  We had the great privilege of celebrating his 18th birthday with our staff here in Merauke.  We are so thankful for Franklin being apart of our family.  We are excited to see where the Lord will take him.
  • Received email this month 2000hrs (almost 75% of which has been in PK-MAO) of accident free flying with MAF here in Papua.  As good as this is I need to keep remembering however the next hour is the most important.
  • August 28th 1999 was a special day that Julie agreed to change her last name.  This past weekend after turning her dinning room into a wood working shop she may start having second thoughts, maybe not ;-).  I’m very thankful for the wonderful 21 years and the generosity she has even when her dinning room is being temporary repurposed.  Three days later she is still sweeping up remnants of sawdust.  I found a keeper!!!

One of the other big highlights this month was our trip to Nabire.  We had a mini family conference there with 3 other MAF families.  The 16 of us piled into a large canoe like craft and headed to Kali Lemon.  It was a neat simple little resort type place, situated in a small cove along the coast about 2.5-3 hr boat ride from Nabire.  In true Papuan style our adventure began quickly with one of our props failing about 1/3 of the way there.  About the time we lost the prop on our left outboard the far right outrigger broke and we had to make a quick stop to give it a splint repair.  We continued on with just the one engine enjoying the scenery at a slightly slower pace than planned.  Once there the organizer of the facility knowing our teammate well gave us a loaner prop for the trip home so we were back to running both 40’s for the way home.  All of us would do it again in a heart beat.  My (greg) biggest disappointment was the results of my red filter application on my gopro video taking.  Hopefully I can find a way to put other colors back into the footage.

Highlights from the trip

Julie: Going out with Jaclynn to see the whale sharks.

Isaac: Swimming with whale sharks and hanging with new friends his age.

Franklin: Swimming with the whale sharks.

Jaclynn: Swimming with the whale sharks and hanging with new friends.

Me: Swimming on the off shore reef.  It’s a little creepy seeing the boat so far away and no land for several miles.  During this swim got see a sea-turtle up close, chased a small stingray and saw a not so friendly looking eel that I kept my distance from.

 

 

Merauke Covid 19 Medical Supply Run

Greetings,

I started to get this post ready several weeks ago now and it quickly was pushed to the back burner as we navigated the loss of a friend and teammate.  Now that things are getting back to a new normal of sorts, it feels like it would be okay to share this post.

As our family transitioned to Sentani as of late March to ride out what we thought was going to be a couple weeks, now couple months and maybe more.  An opportunity arrive to do a medical supply run back to Merauke from Sentani.  Merauke was the first location in Papua to have a confirmed positive cases of Covid 19.   April 4th Jack Gandy, and our load crew loaded up PK-MAG “MAGGIE”.  Pictures and summary below credited to Jack, due to the high quality of his write up I’ve elected to use his work opposed to reinventing the wheel with a likely lower quality product :).

 

 

 

The world is different today than it was a month ago. A month ago things were still pretty normal for us. We were busy connecting people with their ministries in the normal way. We were cultivating relationships with communities and individuals. And the way we cared for the most part was the same as it has been. But now, the way MAF Papua Connects, Cultivates, and Cares has been shifted. Like the rest of the world, we have seen our ministry radically affected by this pandemic. We have officially been limited to flying cargo for the past 2 weeks, and our leadership wisely elected to stop flying passengers a week before that. But as we are doing everything we can to limit the spread of COVID-19, it has been difficult to know how we can be an effective force to address this crisis in the unique ways that Mission Aviation Fellowship is gifted. 

 

When you are facing pandemic, isolation seems like a good thing. But when isolation prevents you from receiving the supplies and resources which are needed to effectively combat this pandemic, it quickly becomes dangerous. This was the case with Merauke. Merauke is considered the furthest east settlement in Indonesia. As a large town, it can be deceiving. There is reasonably good access to resources, it has a port, and with a few scheduled airline flights each morning it isn’t terribly difficult to get there. But what happens when the airlines stop? Mail stops, supply chains dry up, and with the most confirmed COVID cases on the island the situation can become dire. 

 

No one knows the situation better than Greg Dole, pilot/mechanic,  Base Manager of our Merauke base, and our future teammate. Greg and his family have been in Sentani, waiting for passenger flights to open up again so they can return to their home in Merauke. To get to Merauke from Sentani would take 5 days according to google. That includes taking several ferries and a lot of walking. It’s practically impossible. The only way to reach Merauke in this uncertain time is using our God given tool, the airplane. 

 

On Friday, Greg and I received word that the government had asked MAF to fly vital supplies to support the fight in Merauke. 700 pounds of Rapid Tests, surgical masks, gloves, medicine, and other crucial supplies would be delivered later in the day, we would load it up and take it first thing in the morning. There was no doubt that this was a divine appointment; an opportunity to serve the people of Merauke in a tangible way. The boxes seemed ordinary enough when they were received, but there was a palpable sense of gravity as they were loaded into the plane. 

The next morning we departed Sentani and headed south. We crossed high above the mountains that isolate so many, descended and landed in Merauke uneventfully. Our local team met us and unloaded the cargo with urgency. The masked medical team was waiting outside the airport fence to receive the crucial supplies and take them to where they were needed. 

 

It would be easy for the importance of this “mission” to fade. To lose sight of what was delivered. On our manifest it says 700 pounds of medical supplies. But look at what changed because of this one flight. Before this one flight, tests had to be sent all the way to Jakarta, and results took weeks to get. Hospital stock was low on medicine needed to treat patients who were critically ill, and personal protective equipment needed to protect the medical workers was almost gone. Now they are restocked, and test results can be received within a day. Our prayer is that those supplies will allow more to live long enough to hear the Good News of Jesus. Our mission is to share the love of Jesus Christ through aviation so that isolated people can be physically and spiritually transformed. Yesterday our mission was lived out. 

Only A Moment

How long is a moment?  Does it happen in a second?  Can that moment been filled with emotions?  As I sit and try to process the loss of a friend, teammate, and sister in Christ my heart’s cry is, “Lord, I did not get enough time as it feels like just a moment. I still could have learned so much more from her, Father.”

So again how long is a moment really?  For me I was given almost seven weeks with the blessing of being apart of Joyce’s life.  Normally, our family lives in a different city and would see her in just brief moments of passing.  However, in God’s graciousness, he blessed our family with a special moment in time that put us living next door to her.

I remember a few days after moving into our guesthouse room that was attached to her room and we had this beautiful piano music coming from the other side of the wall.  Joyce was in her bedroom praising her Lord with her whole heart and it was the first moment I got to see a beautiful layer to my friend.  As the weeks past we grew to love our weekend concerts as we heard her play and sing.

Then came passing moments on the guesthouse patio that turned into hours of listen to each other’s days.  I loved listening to her talk with my husband about different flights and places that they had both flown to at one point.  A lot of the time it would turn to the topic of the new IT building that my husband was trying to finishing wiring .  She was so excited for that project to be finished and have more space to work on IT projects when she was not up in the air. Besides the conversations this is where we got to witness her love for children and see her interact with a wide range of the children on base.  She loved her role as “Aunt Joyce”.

There were moments of sweet fellowship as we worshiped with her on Sundays with her small group since we could not attend church.  And I was blessed to sing with her as she lead our small group in a time of worship music before bible study.  After the singing she loved to just dive into the word of God and have deep discussions about the passage.  She had such a heart for God and love to deepen her learning that allowed her to grow closer to her Lord. There was such a hunger about her and most times she would invite anyone who wanted to have deeper conversation about things she would being willing to meet anytime with them.

I think though that one of my favourite moments of her was when I saw her in her flight uniform for the first time as she walked back on base after finishing her flight day.  As I saw her pause and visit with which ever guard was on duty that day I noticed that she had this special shine about her after spending time in the air and serving the people.  There is nothing more beautiful then watching a person simple enjoy doing the Lord’s work and allowing that joy to completely run out of them and over flow to those around them.

When I combine all these moments I feel like I only got to see just a tiny glimpse of Joyce and who she was.  The moment though that I am the most thankful for Joyce did not come until hours after her passing as I held my son as the tears came down his face. I did not know that in her amazing way she had left a lasting impact that I believe will not be forgotten. For through his tears he said, “Mom, I had never been around such a person before in my life.”  So from this mothers heart I can never say thank you enough for the moment of time you impacted my sons life.

So how impactful can a moment be?  I believe that a moment can have a far greater effect on a person’s life then we can every imagine.  So in brace those moments in time that God places in front of you.

Covid 19 Suitcase Living.

When I was a young teenager struggling to understand something, my dad gave me a piece of advice that I still carry with me today.  He said, “Julie, there is not one situation (whether good or bad) that God cannot use for His glory and to help mold and shape you into a better person.”  As I have gotten older, I have begun to see just how true those words were.  Over these past few years God has allowed us to walk through some very challenging moments that in all honesty we are still dealing with some of the side effects.  However, we also saw God during what was going on.  Like how he protected our family through the deadly earthquake, how he kept us safe through nights of flooding, landslides, and getting us to a place where we could get the medical attention that was needed.

So, when the news started breaking about what was going on in China there was really no fear about the virus for either Greg or I. And even when it did finally reach our little island, I can say I had moments of excitement and curiosity about how God was going to use this virus to bring him glory.  And how was he going to mold and shape us through this new challenge? Now, that does not mean we totally felt immune to the problem and brushed it off.  We started to follow the guidelines of our organization with stocking up on food, making sure we had drinking water on hand, wearing mask when out and about, and not letting our children out of our gate.  For there is a grave difference being filled with dread and fear and just being prepared for the next challenge God may ask our family to walk through.

One of the first challenges came over a month ago for our family as confirmed cases were announced in our small town of Merauke.  Next came word that the governor of Papua was planning to ban all passenger flights within the next few days.  Which meant that our MAF plane was about to be grounded as we haul more passengers out of Merauke then cargo.  As the date drew closer, we felt that it was time to talk with management about how our family was going to ride this out.  One concern was that I had only been out of the hospital a couple of weeks before with a serious digestive issue.  And I was in the process of making dietary changes to help prevent the same thing from happen again. Which made us wonder if it be wise to be so isolated.  Then another question surrounding Greg and what he would be doing for work.  Was there a different base that could use help since he was most likely not going to be doing any flying?

At 9am on the last day that we could fly passengers it was decided that it would be best to quickly transition across island to our Sentani base. This meant that we had 4 hours to pack up all the school supplies, clothes, our food supplies, and anything else we may need.  Once completed we head to the airport to load up our MAF plane for our afternoon flight across the island.  After we arrived our family settled into the guesthouse and tried to adjust to this new normal for our family and prayed for all our friends and national staff members that we had just left behind in Merauke.

Now it has been four weeks since we left home as the governor of Papua felt the need to extend the flight ban until May 6th.  Here in the city of Sentani they tried to curb the virus here by limited store hours for people to shop and there is a curfew in place for this area.  Along with making it mandatory to wear a face mask when you leave your home.  Which in all honesty is not the most pleasant thing to wear when you live in the tropics!!!  While I have been busy keeping the kids working on school Greg has been doing a wide range of things here at our Sentani base.  He has been a part of two flights that delivered much needed medical supplies down to Merauke.  Then when he has the supplies on hand he has been working as an electrician in the new IT building that is in progress here.  And if they need a hand with any maintenance at the hanger, he goes over there to lend a hand as well.  He also keeps in touch with our national team back in Merauke and tackles any paperwork or meetings that come up for this role as well.

Even though this seems like the whole world is facing a new situation now there are still things that remain the same.  Our God is still in on His throne and He is still in complete control (even if the media says otherwise).  And I can find comfort in the fact that even though I am living very differently than I thought we would be.  I can rest in my Father’s arms through this time and try to let go and just be content were God has placed my family.  And pray for the strength that will be needed for whatever comes our way next.

 

 

Update from Julie

I (Julie) have been trying to write a blog for a couple of weeks but every time I try to put words to paper I hit a wall.  It is almost like there is something trying to stop me from sharing with you all of our blessings and challenges since leaving Canada this past September.  So this time I am just going to share with you these past couple of months in a point form that will start from when we get ready to leave Canada in September till now.

 

  • Our trip home this time from furlough was a bit different in a couple of ways.  The biggest was that Greg was still recovering from having gallbladder surgery and was not suppose to lift heavy things for about two more weeks.  And for those of you who live overseas will understand that this is hard as we try to take a lot of different things back with us that we will need or want for however long we are gone. I was so thankful to be traveling with some nice strong teenagers as they stepped up and did a lot of lifting. And I would say that this was by far the hardest time our children have every had when it came to leaving Canada.  It was not because they hate living where we do because they enjoy the city but they miss having friends and other people around them.  They enjoyed and soaked up all the time that they could get with other people while back home.  And I love the fact that so many people took time to encourage and uplift our children while they were with them.  And of course Franklin got to experience his first time of freedom from parents while working at camp and like any seventeen year old he wanted more of it.
  • As you have just read about there were a few stressers on our trip back and right before but I want to pause a moment and share with you a special moment that actually happened at five in the morning as we were standing outside the Winnipeg airport. We had just finished unloading all of our bins, bags, and backpacks from the vehicles and gathered around our dear friend for one last prayer together.  As our friend Billy is praying a women who was standing outside next to the railing called out and said that it was sure nice to see people praying together and that she could sure use some of that for her self.  Our friend politely told her we would once we were finished and then continued to finish what we were doing.  As soon as the prayer ended I turned and headed to this lady who I had never met before.  And I found out that she had just lost her daughter and she was about to fly across the country to go and pick up her ashes and bring them home.  And like most parents she had no idea how she was going to find the strength to make the journey.  So while Greg and our family tried getting all the carts heading inside to check in I found myself wrapping my arms around this dear women and praying for her.  It was a moment that I shall not forget and I felt so humbled to be able to pause from our crazy time and just encourage someone else.
  • After over forty hours in travel time our family made it safely to Sentani but it sure felt very different in a couple of ways. One was that there was unrest and riots that had just settled down which meant that there was extra security everywhere and I could tell our teammates were very weary from the tension.  Plus this was are first time back to the city since being there for all the flooding and landslides that happened months before.  And even though life goes on the side effects are still everywhere as you drive around you can still see all of the things that  are still in process when it comes to clean up.  Thankfully our children seem totally unaffected by it and just enjoyed sleeping on beds and hanging out with friends once more.  And for Greg there of course was his airplane that he had left sitting right across the street plus a brand new one as well and he was know down to only one more week of light duty before he could fly again.
  • So after finishing up all of our things (visa renewal) in Sentani we finally arrived home to Merauke after being gone almost four months. It was great to be reconnected with our national staff who had worked to put a new roof on the hanger and office while we were gone.  Plus they painted both the hangar and office as well as take care of both the missionaries houses while everyone was gone.  It took about a week to unpack the house, get things working again (needed a new hot water tank), and feeling like it was home once more.  And it was always great joy to see our neighbors and different friends from around town.  Greg was able to then go and get our old plane and start flight operations once more as we waited for the last little bit of government paperwork to be finished on the new plane.  As we waiting more unrest broke out in the Wamena area which lead to our staff (expat and national) to be taking out of the area until things calmed down. Thankfully, our area on the south coast has been able to stay peaceful during these times of unrest.
  • About a week after starting to fly Greg received word that all the paperwork was complete for the new plane and he now needed to head to Sentani for about a week of different things before bring the new plane home. Both Jaclynn and Isaac were able to travel with Greg for our planes last operational flight before landing in Sentani.  They loved getting to get a tour of one of the villages that we serve a missionary lady and even got to take a small boat ride back to the plane.  Franklin and I took the commercial route as this allowed for more weight which was need for some school books that needed to go with us.  Little did we know that within a couple days we were once again going to be faced with another challenge.  I had noticed that I was tired and my one side was uncomfortable a little but after only being back in country a few weeks that is still a little normal.  So when I woke up with sharp pain in my stomach just like the gallbladder thing years ago our heart rates did start to beat faster and our imaginations start to run.  Thankfully God had it all under His control and we were near a good doctor who after seeing me told us that it was typhoid.  Which can be very serious and can lead to people being flown out to handle it.  The funny part was our imaginations had taken off when the doctor starting talking out loud with all thing things she was noticing wrong like an in large liver and so on.  So that by the time she said typhoid it felt like a relief and not that big of thing at the time even though it was.   She had the medicine right on hand and I was able to start it right away.  Thankfully, the pain lessened and I reacted to the drugs well and within the first week I noticed a huge difference.  However, it has probably taken a whole month to recovery completely and I am now this past month felt more like my old self.  Through it all though I had to laugh at my daughters comment once we got back from the doctors office and told her what it was along with an explanation.  She  just shook her head and said in a funny but calm way, “Here we go again!! Something tells me this year is not going to be any better then last year.” Also, that same day after being diagnosed with typhoid our family along with all of our Sentani teammates and friends were able to gather around our new float plane and pray together before it began official operations a few days later.  Which Isaac had the privilege of being a passenger with Greg for that flight.
  • Now our days are filled with school work, household chores, and Greg handling different types of work at the office (flight days, office days, maintenance). Franklin did plant a garden when we arrived home so we have some nice corn growing in our yard.  I have really started to use a lot of our local stores which look like small shacks for things so that I am in our neighborhood more.  Jaclynn is really enjoying going to Sunday school at our church as she is in the the youth group which has done some fun things like soccer with the little kids and going to the beach for their class.  Isaac still seems to be growing some and eating everything in sight however he is not looking for just snack food.  When he gets hungry he is now looking for a full meal which has greatly increased my hours spent in the kitchen.  Oh, we have also been privileged with getting to meet our new teammates through skype as they finish up their last few units in language school.  We are looking forward to them hopefully being with us sometime next spring down in Merauke after they spend some time in Sentani.  And Franklin was able to get his motorbike license which you can not get until you are seventeen.  So when he can he hops on his mothers bike and goes and gets things for us.

 

 

Furlough 2019 Video

 

We are wrapping up our time here in Canada.  We were thrilled that we were able to connect with many of you.  We are also sad that it was not everyone.  We trust that those we were unable to connect with are doing well and Lord willing maybe we will have the opportunity to connect next go around in a couple years.  Above is the video we shared throughout our visits.  I wanted to make it available to those that we were unable to connect with and for those that would like to see it again.  Blessings thank you again for your interest, prayers and support for MAF and our family as we live and serve in Merauke.

Resilient

The word resilient carries a bit of history for our family in our journey with MAF.  A couple months back a friend/co-worker made this post on social media.

How do you spell resilient? I spell it DOLE. This family has faced multiple medical evacuations, a deadly earthquake, and now flooding and landslides here in Sentani…and that’s just in the last 12 months. And yet they remain on mission here in Papua- homeschooling their kids, and flying our amphibious Caravan into isolated areas only reachable by river. My hat goes off to you Greg and Julie…thank-you for your sacrificial service!

Allow me the opportunity to give credit where credit is due.  During the application process specifically in our psychological check.  It was noted that I (Greg) lacked resiliency and was not recommended by the psychologist for overseas service.  Thankfully those that were making the decision on whether our family would be a good fit for MAF, were able to see pass this weakness in my personality and still allowed us to join MAF.  This resiliency is still a weakness I believe for me however it has also become one of my strengths.  God has provided the resiliency for us as we would not have been able to say to you after these past couple years, that we are excited and looking forward to getting back to Merauke.  This is due to words of 2 Corinthians 12:9 being very true in our lives.  2 Corinthians 12:9 “but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”  I think this verse speaks well of how God has been and will be glorified in our (my) weakness.  I’m so thankful for Christ’s resiliency that has been given to us as He has walked with us through these past challenging times.  With this we can confidently look to the future that His grace will continue to be sufficient to sustain us in our weaknesses, and troubling times.

 

Blessings,

Greg, Julie

Franklin, Isaac, & Jaclynn

 

 

A Life Worth Celebrating

The evening of April 22, 2019, a dear friend and coworker was suddenly called home.  Pak Hammi Djaga, our Merauke Office Manager, collapsed while cutting his grass at home Easter Sunday.  His neighbor saw him and rushed him to the hospital and about 30hrs later he breathed his last and entered into the presences of our Heavenly Father.  He left behind his wife and 2 grown children.

He begin with MAF in 1994 serving in the operations department in Sentani.  2001 he moved to Merauke to help open this base as the Office Manager.  He faithfully served in this role up until his calling home.  He had an incredible servant’s heart.  Often I would find him cutting the grass, cleaning the cars and other such things.  He wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty while carrying the title and role of the office manager.  He was seldom found without a smile on his face as well, his positive and happy countenance made it a joy to be around him. We will miss him very much, we however enjoy the peace and hope that someday we will meet again at the foot of our Heavenly Father’s Throne.