This is the first blog since Keith commenced in a finance role at the SIL Aviation base, and although it features an image of aircraft, the main focus is not on these amazing flying machines. The image itself is a rare sight here in Ukarumpa, as aircraft from five mission organisations – MAF (Mission Aviation Fellowship), New Tribes, Samaritan Aviation, Adventist Aviation, and of course, SIL – have been stationed on the apron at times over several days.
The pilots and staff have been engaged in a Joint Mission Aviation Conference [ which they probably refer to as J-MAC, given that pilots love acronyms – Keith ]. The gathering provided opportunity to share operational issues, methods of training, and to enhance our partnership in practical ways. Just this past week, our helicopter pilots worked with MAF to assist an aircraft stranded on a remote strip with mechanical issues, ferrying the maintenance team to and from the remote location.
There are a number of mission organisations, international and local, active in PNG, focusing on evangelism, church planting, health and education services, Bible translation and literacy, training pastors, and more. One common factor is the logistical challenges many face operating in a country such as PNG. The landscape is predominantly rugged and mountainous, and the road infrastructure is minimal. Aviation operations in PNG come at significant cost, and not without risk, but without access by aeroplane or helicopter, many remote communities would be isolated from the services provided by mission agencies.
Gazing out the window during a flight from Port Moresby to Ukarumpa hammers home these issues. Amidst mountains and valleys covered in dense forest, a cluster of village houses appears, perhaps alongside a river which provides both a source of water and transport to the next village centre, or alternatively, with a winding dirt track disappearing over the next rise. Were it not for SIL Aviation, getting back to our ministry roles in PNG after time in Australia would be a complex process indeed!
- Praise God for the technology that allows so many people to serve God in challenging locations
- Pray for continued partnership between mission organisations, that our unity may contribute to all of us effectively furthering the gospel