First flight in Papua
To go to the mountain airstrips you want to leave early so you can get your flights done before the winds pick up. We were scheduled to depart at 6a.m. but due to various reasons we were delayed until a little after 7. I was riding along with a pilot who has flown out here for many years and has a heart to really minister to the people. Our plan was to fly out some supplies and bring back 4 people. En-route we received an important request. The night before, a lady had died while hiking from one village to another. The hike was over very rugged terrain for about 60 miles!! The pilot knew the husband of the dead lady as he had worked for several years in Sentani (the city where we are living). He was a really close friend that had returned to his village in the mountains to get married and live out his days there. He had only been married for 6 months when his wife died on the trail. While en-route we called our flight planner and got approval to change our plans and help return the body to the village. To the people here it very, very important to be buried in your home village and for the relatives to touch the body before it is buried. So we landed at our original destination and picked up our passengers and then flew them to another airport and dropped them off promising to return for them later. We then flew to another airport to pick up the body. (we didn’t take the original passengers there because it is located in really rugged terrain and it was very likely that the wind would be to strong for a safe landing by the time we returned from delivering the body). After we shut down and got out, the husband and the pilot were hugging and weeping for a very long time. There were about 150 people standing around all looking very sad and touched. We then flew to our forth mountain airport to return the husband, another family member and the body. There was some concern for the husband’s safety because if the dead lady’s family blamed the husband for her death his life would be in danger. But he was received well and the in-laws did not blame him. As the pilot prayed for them, I had a very strong sense of the Holy Spirit moving. We then returned to pick up our original passengers and return back to Sentani. After reflecting on the flight we realized that if we would not have been delayed we probably wouldn’t have been able to help because we would’ve already been returning with our passengers and not been able to re-route. I have been working on getting here to fly for over ten years, this was my first flight in a Pilatus Porter and my first time to see the tiny challenging airstrips the pilots all over the world go gah-gah over. That part was fun, but honestly I could do the same thing in back country airports in Idaho. What really impressed me were the amazing people who are isolated in this amazingly rugged terrain. God used this day to open my heart a little more and follow the example of my fellow minister/pilot in sharing Christ’s love. Please pray that I would be able to yield to the Holy Spirit to guide me in this place.