cover-pic(640)story by LuAnne Cadd

Everyone has a story to tell, but it’s easy to forget, even for someone whose job it is to find and tell those stories. Often it becomes a blur of humanity, just another face in the crowd, another passenger on a flight.

You never know what life has handed the stranger next to you. 

Chuol Kang Wuol arrived an hour late for check-in at the Juba airport. The scheduled MAF flight, heading to Renk in the northern-most corner of South Sudan, needed to leave on time for the long journey. When Chuol finally walked into the MAF airport office, he had left his luggage in the car. After retrieving the bag for weighing and tagging, we walked toward the terminal as a friend showed up with yet another bag which now needed to be weighed and tagged back at the office. We were late and irritated. We knew only that this tall Nuer man would be dropped off in Udier, a village on the way to Renk. It was a Medair flight, and for some reason, Medair felt that this man was priority.

We soon found out why. Chuol, whose contract work with Medair had ended, was returning to his home to see his wife and four children for the first time in four years. Chuol had never met his youngest child, now three, who was born after he left home. If he was excited and scatterbrained, it was absolutely understandable.

Violence, bloodshed, and nightmares

Those years away from home included several times of extreme danger that forced Chuol to hide or run for his life. In the most recent incident in August 2014, while working in logistics for Medair in a large northern refugee camp, fighting broke out with armed gangs targeting Nuer people.

Caught at the market when the violence erupted, Chuol hid for two days with no water while the militia searched for Nuer to kill.

Six Nuer staff working for various international humanitarian organizations were executed, including some dragged from their well-marked vehicles and shot. Chuol witnessed two men near him die but he was able to escape and later evacuated to Juba, although not without residual mental trauma.

One Medair staff recalls waking night after night to the panicked cries of Chuol’s nightmares months later. 

“I know that life is changing, that life in the world is not permanent,” Chuol said, reflecting on how he had coped with such harrowing experiences. “When you see too much, you become a bit mad. But you can just be reminded to take it very easy because I know the time has come to get my family, and to get my people.”

Through the violent South Sudan crisis, with no communication, for a time Chuol and his wife didn’t know if the other was dead or alive. Finally he was returning to his home, his friends, his family.

Chuol stared intently out the window as the MAF plane landed at Udier, a small dirt strip in a remote and inaccessible region that had only been rehabilitated seven months earlier. He wasn’t sure if anyone knew he was coming, but as the tall lanky man climbed down the aircraft steps, shouts rang out as people recognized and gathered around Chuol, holding him, touching him, with tangible love and joy.

I imagined the healing this kind of love could bring. I was reminded as well of the simple truth, that in this land of turmoil, statistics, and massive impersonal numbers of displaced and dead:

Everyone has a story – and every life matters.

Article source: http://www.maf.org.au/news/n/chuol-returns-home-150424


imag4091_600Story Angela Harding

It was 8.30am on Sunday the 22nd of March. Pilot Jonathan Lowe was getting ready for church when he received the call.  Maria, a 39 year old local woman from Suai, who was in the late stages of pregnancy, was having complications and the Ministry of Health needed MAF to transport her to Dili hospital urgently.

Jonathan responded immediately.  He changed into his pilot’s uniform, left his wife Angela and the children to go on to church alone, and headed for the airport.  Once at the MAF hangar, Jonathan prepared the aircraft and installed the stretcher, then with the flight plan submitted and MAF’s agent at Suai alerted, Jonathan was airborne.

When he landed at Suai 27 minutes later, a large crowd had already started to gather. Many knew Maria personally.  The group, together with Jonathan, waited about twenty minutes for the ambulance to arrive.

Patient Maria, together with her husband, mother and midwife, was then transferred to the MAF plane for the flight to Dili. As Jonathan took to the skies a little later, he reflected that “this was our 700th patient we have transferred from the districts to Dili since we started in flight operations in Timor-Leste in 2007.”

But that number was quickly surpassed.  The following day pilot Michael Bottrell was called on to provide another 2 medical evacuation flights!

 

Article source: http://www.maf.org.au/news/n/700th-medevac-in-timor-leste-150327


11034249_868191219888641_9113428279496375685_nLiberia, we haven’t forgotten you – help, hope and healing are on their way!

With government offices reopened as the Ebola crisis eases, and our very own Kundigs now on the ground in the capital Monrovia, your prayers are once again turning into action.

But we still need permissions to get airborne and there are 101 other things for Margrit and Emil to do…. so let’s keep praying.


TC1It is with great excitement that we announce that the MAF Training Centre in Mareeba is now officially open!

On Friday February 20th, MAF Mareeba held the long-anticipated opening day. More than 100 MAF staff and supporters gathered to worship, pray and dedicate the new building to the service of the Lord.

Beginning with afternoon tea, everyone was given a tour of the Training Centre as well as the Mareeba hangar nearby. After some praise and worship, Chief Flying Instructor Marcus Grey led the ceremony, sharing about the history of MAF’s flight and engineering training and the various Training Centres in Australasia.

After serving as a MAF pilot in PNG, Volkher Jacobsen worked as the Flight Training Manager at the Flight Training Centre in Coldstream, Victoria (ACMA). Now based in Mareeba, he is confident that despite the move, MAF’s enabling role as remote area aviation training specialists remains unchanged.

Aviation Director William Nicol, speaking from Psalm 121, affirmed that the ongoing purpose of this new Training Centre was to enable people to journey with God, to reach out, so that they would be a blessing to others, “I lift my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from.”

TC2A number dedicated the building and those who serve and study in it to God, including ex-missionary kid Pastor Jireh Scheurwater, MAF Australia CEO Michelle Dorey, Ex-FTC Manager Leon Norsworthy, MAFI Maintenance Support Manager Darren Lydeamore and Regional Director Stephen Charlesworth

We sang, we prayed, we talked and we ate. And so with a “Shout to the Lord”, a pig on a spit, a cream sponge and a lot of excitement and laughter, the MAF Training Centre was officially opened.

A special thanks to the generous 671 donors who made all this possible.

TC3


10968317_440344302796266_9011311223323847004_nMAF pilots Mathias Glass and Sebastian Kurz are ceremonially coated with mud in the celebration of an aircraft landing for the first time EVER at Kaiam Airstrip in a very remote part of Papua New Guinea. See:  https://www.dropbox.com/s/7pzbg8i9tsbab56/First%20Landing%20Kaiam.mp4.mp4?dl=0

The excitement of the locals can be seen in the video of the first landing, but can only be understood when you know that Kaiam has previously been so cut off from the outside world that it has required 2 days travel in a canoe from there just to reach a remote village with an airstrip. With their new airstrip, the people now have access to vaccinations and other health care, education, church support and the possibility of emergency evacuation. Praise God.

It’s been a long journey, from the first centerline survey in June 2000, through years and years of back-breaking work by local people and Anton Lutz, a Lutheran missionary. The dramatic story of the airstrip’s creation is shown at:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/fih4umewoxl45…/Kaiamcomp4.mp4.mp4