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Posts Tagged ‘Papua’

Missionary Pilot Nate Gordon has had the chance to fly all sorts of people, cargo, and even animals around the mountains of Papua, Indonesia. Recently he wrote about a small passenger he transported eight years ago:

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Eight years ago I flew a man named Melky from our base on the coast across the high mountain ranges into the small village of Langda. Graying at the temples, this grandfatherly guy clutched a newborn baby boy to his chest. An unwanted child.

As pilots in Papua, we’re often privileged to enter into the critical scenes of the dramas happening around us. The vast majority of time, after playing our cameos, we exit stage left, move on to another play, and don’t get to see how the original story turns out. Occasionally there’s an exception. village of Langda. Graying at the temples, this grandfatherly guy clutched a newborn baby boy to his chest. An unwanted child.
A few months ago I was back in Langda. The fog was rolling in fast and I needed to unload my cargo and get out of there as quickly as practical. Two passengers wanted to come out to town with me, one of them a familiar face.

“I want you to meet someone,” Melky says to me.

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAI’m a bit hesitant, glancing nervously at the wall of fog to the south as Melky disappears into the crowd at the edge of the airstrip. Moments later Melky reemerges with a little boy in tow.

“Do you remember?” he said. “In August 2005 you flew us in here. My wife and I have been raising him ever since.”

These are the people I choose as my heroes. Anonymous, little people, doing much harder things than I, sacrificing so much more … doing it cheerfully and taking the time to thank others who have played bit parts (supporting roles) in their dramas.

 

This story was originally posted on Nate’s blog, where he writes about the day-to-day work of a pilot supporting Bible translation: http://offthepath.wanderprone.com

Eight Years Later 3

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The route to Sentani, Papua, from Kathmandu, Nepal should take about seven days.

By Angela Nelson

Last September, Wycliffe suffered a tragic loss when pilot Paul Westlund and two passengers died in an airplane accident in Papua, Indonesia.

The plane lost in the crash was one of three that was used to ferry translators, supplies, Bibles, and other passengers throughout the mountainous terrain of Papua. And while Paul himself could never be replaced, the team had to search for a replacement airplane to carry-on the important work.

Today we’re praising God for providing not just one, but two planes to add to the fleet in Papua. After a great deal of time and effort, the team purchased a lightly used Pilatus PC-6 Porter from Switzerland with insurance funds from the accident. The second Pilatus PC-6 Porter was purchased from an airline in Nepal, using generous donations.

This morning pilots Nate Gordon and Brad McFarlane were scheduled to leave Kathmandu, Nepal, in a white Porter with green and gold stripes. It’s the beginning of a seven-day journey to ferry the little plane nearly 5,000 nautical miles to Sentani, Papua.

Not far behind them is the second Porter, also on its way to Sentani. It left Switzerland August 21, being ferried by Swiss pilot Daniel Eicher.These short-field aircraft are crucial to Bible translation work in Papua. A few weeks ago, Nate wrote about a day he flew the Ketengban Old Testament translation team in one of the other planes:

“As I thought about that flight, bringing the entire OT team out to Sentani for a couple weeks of checking their drafts with their translation consultant, I was struck by how tenuous this whole thing is. Suspended 10,000 feet up in an empty sky, a single engine pulling a pair of wings over a seemingly endless stretch of impenetrable rain forest…it was easy to feel incredibly vulnerable. All our eggs in a fragile aluminum basket.

“This endeavor of reaching the remotest parts of the earth with the Good News of Jesus feels just like that most of the time: ridiculously fragile. The only way this work will ever succeed is if God undergirds it, protects it, and prospers it. But it is His work and it will bear fruit.”

Please pray for the pilots as they ferry the planes this week! Visit Nate’s blog for updates on the flight.

Pilots Nate and Brad with the Pilatus PC-6 Porter from Kathmandu, Nepal

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By Nate Gordon

Nate Gordon, a missionary pilot in Papua, Indonesia, tells stories like this one on his blog http://offthepath.wanderprone.com

I watched the heavy, wet clouds carefully as I approached the mountains and landed the plane just before the rain started. Andi, the local pastor, came out to greet me as we huddled under the Pilatus Porter’s wing in a futile effort to stay dry.

We soon decided we’d be better off waiting out the rain in one of the grass-roofed honais built by the Ketengban people. So we ran inside and joined several men around a clay fire pit.

The Ketengban are very generous, and I soon had a steaming hot sweet potato in my hands, plucked out of the coals. When I finished my breakfast, I leaned back against the ax-hewn planks that formed the walls of the honai and enjoyed the company. I noticed a subgroup of young men holding their own conversation in their native Ketengban language, so I asked Andi what they were saying.

“They’re just carrying on about how amazing it is that they have a real pilot in their hut,” Andi said.

Here we go again with the hero worship bit, I thought to myself.

“Listen up guys,” I said in Indonesian, which they also understood. “How many nails did you use to build this honai?”

They looked down and sheepishly said, “None.” In this little mountain village, the use of modern materials is a sign of status, wealth, and that you’re a forward thinker. To them, I was pointedly calling attention to how backward and primitive they were.

“Look around you. We’re sitting on this beautiful woven rattan floor suspended three feet off the ground where the critters can’t get to us. It’s pouring rain outside, and we’re completely dry. The fire is keeping us toasty warm—and cooking breakfast for us. And you did all this without a single nail? I could never build something like this.

“How long can you guys survive in the jungle?” I continued. They gave blank stares and started to laugh nervously. They couldn’t figure out why I would ask such a question.

“Indefinitely, right?”

They didn’t answer, but their faces said, “Yeah, of course.”

“Put me in the jungle by myself and in two weeks I’m dead.” They all started laughing again—surely I was joking. There’s no way someone as smart as a pilot could be that incompetent. “No, really, I can’t hunt. And even if I did catch something, how would I cook it? I can’t make fire without matches. How do you guys do it?”

One man jumped up and ran out into the rain. He was back in no time and demonstrated how to make a fire using sticks, leaves, moss, and grass in a matter of minutes. It takes me half an hour using a match, lighter, and kerosene.

“Do you see what I’m talking about?” I asked. “You’ve mastered the challenges of your environment. I’ve also mastered the challenges of my environment which include things like computers and airplanes, but I’m no different than you. You’re made in the image of the living God, which means you carry His creativity in your souls—and you apply it to solving problems like how to build a wooden home without nails, and fire without a lighter.

“You carry dignity because you reflect the creativity of your Creator.”

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Paul Westlund

Wycliffe USA’s partner organization – JAARS, Inc. confirmed that an aviation accident took place early this morning in Papua, Indonesia; the pilot and the two Indonesian passengers were killed.  The cause of the accident is unknown.
The aircraft was a Pilatus Porter PC-6 operated by YAJASI, an Indonesian partner organization. The pilot, Paul Westlund had been flying in Indonesia for nearly twenty-five years.  Paul is survived by his wife and two children. No further details are available at this time.

(Photo courtesy of Clive Gray)

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Overflying Okbap, 6700 ft. Photo by Clive Gray

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Take two minutes and fly with Clive Gray, a missionary pilot in Papua, to visit the Bauzi language group. Climb aboard.

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