SmythsInPNG's Weblog

September 26, 2010

September 26, 2010

Filed under: Missions — smythsinpng @ 2:48 pm


After working in PNG for fifteen years our mission is still the same: to provide safe aviation support and transportation to our co-workers in the effort of planting mature tribal churches in every language group of Papua New Guinea.  To do that involves maintaining flying knowledge and skills, flying the aircraft, coordinating flight requests and transportation needs, scheduling the aircraft, communicating plans by personal interaction, email or radio, maintaining facilities, building, grounds and equipment, flight billing, maintaining fuel stock, overseeing national workers and payroll, tracking aircraft locations, communicating with passengers about timing and weather, managing fuel stock and working out flight billing.  Much of the work is not glamorous but we have seen great and wonderful progress as tribal people have come to realize God’s great gift through Jesus Christ.  

Volcanoes and Earthquakes

Avoiding volcanoes and drifting volcanic ash is routine.  Earthquakes are common but a very large one (7.3) in July destroyed one of our bush airstrips.  Pray for repairs to the runway so that the Akolet team can function more effectively, avoid long hours on the ocean and have regular air service.  

Muffler Repair not Midas

Muffler Repair not Midas

We are blessed to have a used van to transport people and cargo to and from the airport.  This is a huge blessing to our ministry. When things go wrong with the car, such as a muffler leak, we cannot go to Midas for a repair.  Muffler repairs are not really in my skill set but I expect that this particular job will be part of my muffler education when I fix it.  The leaf springs are also worn out, so I will be learning how to replace leaf springs some time in the near future or whenever parts arrive from Japan.  I wonder if air shocks will do the job? 

100 Hour Inspection

Every one hundred hours of flying our aircraft are partially disassembled to inspect the airframe and engine for existing or potential problems and provide lubrication and maintenance. This is usually accomplished in the Highlands.  Since that is so far away from where we normally work we try to arrange loading of paying cargo to assist with the cost of transportion.  The maintenance team are usually very busy with the many tasks associated with maintaining the fleet. 

Flight Trainer

Pilots are required to maintain their skills to a high level so that safety is maintained. They have tests and check rides with a training pilot at least every six months.  A flight simulator or similar training device can assist a pilot with maintaining his skills at a much lower cost than actually flying an aircraft.  Refreshing skills requires time practicing the skills.  Better that time is measured in tens of dollars an hour than in hundreds of dollars an hour.  Of course, the skills do eventually have to be demonstrated in an actual aircraft!  The other training pilots live in the Highlands. To avoid spending over a thousand dollars to get to where the check ride can be completed, we try to coordinate check rides with required aircraft maintenance. 


Dining with our fellow aviators and their families gives opportunity to learn of God’s work on their end and the challenges they face.  We have wonderful co-workers in this line of work! 

Flying Bus

As a service to the community and a means of spreading the costs of operating aircraft, we transport commercial passengers from time to time.  Some are local businessmen or families returning from the hospital.  Others are students visiting family or returning to school away from home.  Occasionally we transport the deceased with family members.  Quite a bit of time each week is spent answering community questions about availability, timing and cost of flights or scheduling requests and processing payment.  The best part of the commercial flying is having opportunity to share the gospel with the passengers in the trade language.  We pray each seed planted will bear fruit. (Isa 55:11) 

Medical Supplies

This past week we transported medical supplies to a community whose supplies had been exhausted. Mark helped me load the supplies into the aircraft.  We hired Mark in May to assist with cutting grass and other hangar work. Cutting grass takes about three days every week, so he is well acquainted with our little push mower. Pray that Mark will have a clear understanding of God’s provision for him through Jesus Christ and that he will grow in faith. 


While in the Highlands I mentioned to the aviation team that pushing / pulling the aircraft in and out of the hangar was becoming more difficult with age, especially during the wetter season when the cement is covered with moss.  Some ideas for solutions were tossed around and then someone suggested this lawn tractor.  It had been used for years to move aircraft into and out of the Highlands hangar but had been replaced with a more powerful tug. It arrived at this hangar in June and has been a blessing ever since.  It has batteries that enable it to be used as an Auxiliary Power Unit for starting the helicopter, too. 

Mower Deck

The tractor has a mower deck too, but we don’t have all the parts or funds to assemble it for mowing grass.  But we do have Mark! 


These days missionary work is as much paperwork as relationships and sweat. 

Securing Cargo

Even our missionary co-workers in the bush spend many hours at a desk; studying the Bible and language, translating teaching materials and recording culture. 

Missionary Desk Work

One of our prayers is that soon we will be able to have an actual office for Diana.  She has graciously put up with less than ideal conditions for her office work these past years. We need to see a resolution soon to facilitate better continuity and efficiency with her office tasks.  Please pray with us about this. 

Dining Room Office

 We celebrated our eighth wedding anniversary this year by driving to town and having a special lunch.  Perhaps Godiva chocolate, flowers and a weekend away next year! 

8th Anniversary

8th Anniversary

Eight Wonderful Years!

Thank you for praying for us and enabling us to serve in Papua New Guinea!

September 25, 2010

Filed under: Missions — smythsinpng @ 1:03 am

Hangar Work Team

 Valley Fourth Memorial Church in Spokane, WA organized a work team to come assist us with the aviation side of tribal church planting.  As shown in previous blogs there were many things that needed to be accomplished.  The team provided the funds and the manpower to begin the work.

Meals & Fellowship

 We enjoyed many meals and fellowship together over the weeks they were here.  Diana worked with some of the ladies to cook meals and see that the team had what they needed to function and maintain tropical good health.

Rotten Termite Wood Replaced

 Many of the rotten framework and termite eaten timbers were replaced with new wooden framework.

Built New Walls

 New walls were built to help with passenger control and safety as well as improve hangar security.

Installed New Walls

 Some of the inside walls required many hands for installation.

Paneling Replaced

Paneling Replaced

 To access the mold covered walls and damaged wood, old paneling had to be removed.

New Paneling Cut

 The team brought power tools which were very useful for cutting the building materials.  Thank you for those!

Electrical System Repaired

 The team electrician checked out the existing wiring, replaced wires damaged by rats, moved wires where needed and made sure the team’s electrical needs were met while maintaining safety.  Lighting and electrical safety have been improved!

Facia and Gutters Replaced

Facia and Gutters Replaced

 Much of the facia had fallen off of the roof by the time the team arrived.  They replaced the rotten wood and put up new gutters to ensure our water needs will be met into the future.

Old Fence Removed

 The old fence had been climbed so much by intruders that it did not provide much of a barrier.  Out with the old and in with the new!

New Fence Installed

 The new fence provides a much more effective barrier.  These materials were one third of the order which was delivered the week before construction began.  The other two thirds of the iron building materials were never delivered, so the team was unable to complete the job.  Three months later we are still trying to recover our losses.  Please pray for replacement materials to finish the job.

Stumps Removed

 Stumps had to be removed to make way for the new fuel shed.   The fuel shed is needed to reduce loss of fuel to theft and protect the fuel investment from environmental damage.

Bigger Stump More Effort

 Some stumps required more effort than others. This one required a lot of digging and a tractor. The roots were all cut before removal was attempted.  With much assistance a tractor was finally able to pull the stump out of it’s hole and away from the building site.

Cement Mixer

 The team dug a lot of post holes and poured a lot of cement by hand, so they were well acquainted with the old cement mixer.

Fuel Shed: More Than A DreamAs it turned out, house construction began at a remote tribal location while the hangar work team was here, so I spent a lot of time flying building materials to the remote location rather than assisting the team. They made a lot of progress in a short time! Fuel Shed Takes Shape

 All of the work team members had a big part in project.   Some projects required many hands at some stages.

Fuel Shed

 We have not yet been able to acquire the funds to replace the stolen materials to complete the fuel shed roof, siding and doors.  Please pray with us about provision for this need as well as the personnel to complete the work.

Drilling Bolt Holes for Frame

Some of the more experience craftsmen were able to pass on knowledge to the less experienced worked.  Had I not been so busy flying I would have loved to learn from these skilled men!

Team Effort

The team put in a lot of hot, sweaty, hard work!  While I don’t have many pictures of the ladies, they worked very hard in uncomfortable conditions, too.  One of the ladies even cut the grass with the lawn mower for several days in the hot sun; which is a very unpleasant, sweaty, strenuous, hard work in this hot, very humid climate.  The grass is a very tough variety and grows very fast, so someone has to cut grass three days a week year around. This helps beat back the snakes, spiders, mosquitoes and other insects. 

Thank you team for all of your work!

September 25, 2010

September 19, 2010

Filed under: Missions — smythsinpng @ 4:20 pm

In February the national Prime Minister came to visit the nearby “city”.  Local groups rehearsed their singing greetings at the airport several days in advance.

Many men brought kundu drums and conch shells to accompany the singers.

Conch shell horns are used to gather warriors for battle, announce meetings or to celebrate.

Special guards came to secure the area.

Many government officials wearing ties arrived in aircraft from other cities and a parade of cars from the provincial capital.

Women dressed in their traditional best with decorative leaves.

Children were not exempt but participated in the parading, dancing and singing.

Of course, few PNG ceremonies can be completed without pig tusks!

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