SmythsInPNG's Weblog

September 25, 2008

September 25, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — smythsinpng @ 3:24 am
Loading Passengers

Loading Passengers

Wednesday this week was a combination of school bus flights and dental flights.  The nearest orthodontist is a missionary dentist working with Wycliffe Bible Translators across the country from here.  Even missionary kids (MK’s) need to visit a specialist from time to time.  Each flight costs about $1500 so once the flight is booked, I work to fill the flight with other passengers and cargo to split the expense.  This time we were able to find one of NTM’s experienced translation consultants and his wife who needed to visit a town along the way to assist another NTM translator working on the Hamtai New Testament revision. Also, a family with another mission near our home needed to bring two children back home from their school in the Highlands.

Loading

Loading

These longer flights take a lot of planning because the fuel and loading requirements are different for each leg. We want to fill the aircraft on each leg without compromising safety. Full flights mean better economy and lower prices for all. The more people that are involved, the more time is spent asking and answering questions.  What time will you be at the airport? How much weight can the aircraft carry?  How much will my part of the flight cost?  Will you bring the mail bag?  Will the item I ordered last month be on this flight? Can we add some chickens to the flight?  Would it be OK to order some fresh vegetables?  When will my children arrive? How is the weather at your location?

You might ask where is Diana in all of this.  (See the “Our Ministry” page to the right.) She works behind the scenes interacting with people on peripheral events keeping track of the aircraft, making phone calls, listening to the HF radio and answering questions.  I give her reports on taxi, takeoff, landing and about every thirty minutes enroute with my postion and estimate for the next position.  Diana passes on messages relayed through her.  What time will the aircraft be there?   Did the pilot give an ETA for our location?  What time do we have to be at the airport to meet our children?  Will you be able to relay our weather report to the pilot?  We have a little bit more luggage than we thought. Can we put a few more pounds on the aircraft. Meanwhile Diana is trying to carry on her other responsibilities in correspondence, administration and scheduling, shopping, cleaning, cooking and communicating.

Heli Maintenance

Heli Maintenance

This flight took me back to our maintenance base where the maintenance guys were installing new equipment in the helicopter and the other pilots were moving missionaries out to the remote airstrips and bringing coffee back for tribesmen to sell. This team of people makes it possible for us to serve the missionaries we serve with the aircraft.

Coffee

Coffee

Mountaintop Living

We were moving cargo around before dawn. Eleven hours later, after seven hours of flying, seven landings and seven times unloading and loading the aircraft, the day is gone.  We saw the sun rise, the calm morning oceans with jumping fish, the foothill jungles covered with morning rain fog, the south coast rain showers, the beautiful sunny skies of late morning, the towering afternoon thunderstorms building above majestic mountains, beautiful rainbows, the steamy lowland air, the cool highland breezes, the sparkling jewels of turquoise ocean reefs and the soggy jungle swamps. We saw villages of houses crammed on tiny islands surrounded by ocean and unique roundhouse villages perched on top of high mountain peaks. These are reminders that it’s all about the eternal, God’s Word and people. All of our passengers made it to their destination. Our missionary co-workers can go on about their business of reaching people. The airplane has been put away for another day. The paperwork can wait until tomorrow!

Mountains

Mountains

Reef Jewels

Reef Jewels

September 16, 2008

September 16, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — smythsinpng @ 11:58 am

Yesterday about 2:30 in the afternoon I received a call that there might be a request for a medical evacuation.  The missionaries involved were communicating with the doctor about the situation. One of their children had a serious infection in a dangerous location. 

I began to check various satellite weather sources and prepare a flight plan.  A quick look outside showed a bunch of rain showers. Praise the Lord for an Instrument rating and properly equipped aircraft!

A short time later word came back to me.  Yes, the doctor thinks they should come out of the tribe to get better medical assistance. I called Diana who was finishing up assisting another missionary with Bible translation formatting in MS Word.  She would be listening to the radio to keep track of the flight.  I began flight preparations in earnest and was in the air soon thereafter.

The family and tribal friends were waiting at the remote airstrip.  One does not simply walk away from a house set up in the tribal location, so I know they have been very busy shutting things down and packing. 

Except for about half an hour of flying in rainshowers, the flight was uneventful.  There were sunny skies on both ends.  I guess we know Who controls the weather!

A day later there are small signs of patient improvement but we are still praying for full healing.   

Snack Hut

Snack Hut

Today was Papua New Guinea’s Independence Day celebration. So I drove the motorbike into town to observe the festivities. We were uncertain of the conditions so Diana stayed home. Large crowds in this country can a be rather volatile environment but can be a great way to learn values and local culture.

Along the way there were various kinds of gatherings and decorations like a snack booth covered with palm leaves.  Most vehicles were covered with decorations or decorated people.

Decorated Vehicles

Decorated Vehicles

A large field had been lined with county fair type snack booths, PNG style, for vendors to sell their products. Every shaded spot was packed with people as the sun was blazing hot most of the day.

There were a few musical groups on the stages and 29 different groups all decorated in traditional tribal dress to represent the provinces throughout the country.

In the middle of the field was a “greased pole” with a bunch of prizes suspended about thirty feet in the air.  The first person to master the pole tosses the prizes to the crowd on the ground.

Grease Pole Climb

Greased Pole Climb

This guy got my attention when the crowd let out a roar and about three hundred people started running toward and past me.  Thirty sandals and a wide variety of other clothing articles went flying through the air. He used a chain from a chain saw to assist his climb and pulled the guy above him down to reach the top. So apparently he broke the rules.  The last I saw of him he was riding in the back of pickup truck or “ute” surround by half a dozen police officers.

"SingSing" Group

"SingSing" Group

"SingSing" Group 2

"SingSing" Group 2

The traditional dress competitions didn’t start as early as I had hoped, so I had a bit of time to talk with people while waiting in the shade of a  tree.  Quite a few of the more educated people are available for conversation on a holiday such as this.  I had several opportunities to share who we are as missionaries and our vision for reaching PNG people with the gospel.  Several of the folks from our tribal locations also introduced themselves to me.  God is constantly at work in the lives of us all, so you never know how He will use a particular conversation for His glory.   

Thanks for praying!

September 14, 2008

September 14, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — smythsinpng @ 12:53 pm
Highway

Highway

Diana and I drove to town on Monday. It’s about 45 minutes away on the highway. Oil palm plantations line the roads in this area. 

Palm olive cluster

Palm olive cluster

I didn’t realize what a “palm olive” was until I moved here. In the mornings the roads are lined with stacks of palm oil pods harvested from the trees. 

 

Cute&Dangerous

Cute&Dangerous

We had lunch at a hotel where Diana met one of her favorite neighbors and we checked out some of the animals in the tiny zoo.

We were able to find almost everything we needed on this shopping trip, which was a surprise.  We don’t go to town very often because of the large travel expense and lack of the things we need.  Most of our basic groceries are ordered months in advance and purchased by the Supply Buyer who puts it on shelves in the little store next to our house.  Every month or two we get some broccoli and lettuce on a flight from the high mountains.  Still, browsing through stores in town once in a while is good to see what is available at the moment.  Shopping at least once a month is a matter of sanity for some women, I guess!  The freezers and coolers in this particular store can give a sense of nostalgia for home, but the smells and contents quickly reveal that we are not in Kansas!

Shopping

Shopping

The jet fuel ordered over a month ago was delivered this week so I spent some time rolling full drums of fuel around and sent 45 empty drums back. I managed to get reacquainted with some yard equipment and acquired a new list of lawn and garden equipment needed to maintain the hangar property.  How nice it would be to have a Wal-Mart anywhere in the country!

Maleu Missionaries

Maleu Missionaries

Flying has its perks. One flight this week I took a family back to be reunited with their Dad and had two passengers eager to return home to the apartment above us.  They had gone into the Mengen tribe the hard way, which is now much easier than years past due to logging roads. 

Flying beats hiking

Flying beats hiking

They rode eight hours in a vehicle to the end of the road then hiked four hours to get to the airstrip where the other missionaries have houses. The ride home a week later was 35 minutes in the airplane and they got to see a waterfall on the way.

Falls

Falls

 
Friday was a longer day of flying as several families returned to the tribal locations during the school break. Some folks were going along to get some “bush orientation” where they put into practice what they have learned of the national trade language and to learn what tribal living and a house setup in the tribe might look like.

Saturday night we received a visitor from the Provincial Health department requesting medical evacuation of two expectant women who were having difficulties at an outstation clinic. So, we were up at daylight Sunday morning preparing the airplane.  Because of the usual communications difficulties, the outstation medical staff were not aware that a flight had been arranged. That resulted in about an hour and a half of waiting on the ground for the patients at the airstrip near the outstation.  Meanwhile I talked to the spectators who came up with various speculations about where the patients might be and the reasons for the delay.  A woman with a broken jaw was added to the flight along with a nurse, a baby and a guardian.  I was prepared for two flights, but everyone managed to fit in the one flight. 

This weekend there is a lot of celebrating going on. Papua New Guinea is celebrating its independence from Australia next Tuesday (Sept 16) so local people began festivities on Friday with sport tournaments, local bands and competitions.  Tuesday is the day when many folks celebrate by dressing up in traditional grass skirts and fancy bird feather headdresses to compete for a prize.  Other folks are inviting friends and families over for a traditional mumu (steaming food wrapped in banana leaves on hot rocks in a pit).

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