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Papua New Guinea
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Final approach to Mengino.
 

 

Aircraft Supports Community Development and Church Growth
 

by Roger Millist

During the past year Adventist Aviation has seen two new permanent material clinic buildings constructed in remote villages in the Eastern Highlands and Chimbu Provinces of Papua New Guinea. 

    Both of these villages are accessible from the outside only by air. It is a five-six day walk to the nearest town with medical facilities. Kapi is located on the Karimui Plateau at the foot of Mount Aue 40 miles south of Kundiawa, the capital of Chimbu Province.  Until the early 1960’s, these people were all cannibals and suffered terrible skin diseases such as leprosy and yaws. Pastor Len Barnard, an Adventist pioneer missionary, conducted a foot patrol to this area and treated boils, axe wounds, tropical ulcers and other diseases in addition to giving penicillin injections to every person in each village in an attempt to eradicate yaws.  The patrol was not only successful in significantly improving the health of the villagers, but as a result of sharing stories of Jesus using a simple picture roll, this entire region was opened to the work of the gospel and today there are almost 40,000 Seventh-day Adventist Christians in Chimbu Province alone.  During that patrol, Barnard also dreamed of the day aircraft would be used by his church to save lives and spread the message of Jesus’ soon return.  That dream is today a very efficient and professional reality utilizing modern turbine-powered aircraft and a small team of dedicated Christian professionals. 

 

 
Mengino villagers meet the plane.  
   

 

    Since those early beginnings, the Adventist Church has continued to place emphasis not only on preaching the gospel but also on providing basic health and educational services to the people groups within this remote region.  At Kapi, a dedicated national nurse has operated a small clinic from a grass hut for almost 10 years.  During 2007 the Health Ministry team from the Adventist headquarters in the South Pacific flew to every isolated clinic to assess their needs; as a result, a plan was formed for every clinic throughout the South Pacific to be adopted by a church from Australia and New Zealand.  This plan has been enthusiastically adopted by many churches with the result that late in 2008 Adventist Aviation transported almost 7 tons of building supplies – timber, roofing, plumbing, cement, doors, louvres and necessary hardware, from Goroka, a 20-minute flight in our new PAC750XL aircraft.  Soon thereafter a small team of builders was flown in to construct the clinic.  This year another carpenter travelled to Kapi with AAS to complete fitting out the clinic and supervise painting and installing the hospital beds and equipment donated by the Sydney Adventist Hospital in Australia.  What excitement—and speeches—greeted me when I flew in to bring the team back to Goroka; the people were so grateful for what the Adventist church and Adventist Aviation is continuing to do for their village and area.

    Two weeks ago another team of 16 volunteers from the North Queensland region of Australia arrived in Goroka to construct another clinic, this time in the remote village of Mengino in the Eastern Highlands Province. Fifteen years ago, AAS assisted this village by constructing an airstrip, which has not only made it easier for mission workers to visit this area but has also provided the means for the villagers to transport their produce to market at nearby Goroka.  Prior to the arrival of the team, AAS had been busy transporting all the required materials into the village, and the local villagers had hand-carried every item of the 8+ tons from the airstrip up a steep mountain trail for over an hour to the site of their new clinic. Only 8 days after the team was flown into Mengino, a very functional 4-room clinic was finished, complete with water tanks, shower, toilet, septic system, paint, solar power for lighting and radio communications, hospital beds and medical supplies and equipment.  During the time the team was there, they conducted evangelistic meetings every evening for the neighboring villages.  The local volunteer missionary reported that by the second Sabbath there were over 120 people who had joined his “Klas Redi” to learn more about Jesus and Christianity from the Bible and to prepare for baptism—praise God. On the tenth day they opened the clinic and conducted a walk through; for those from the local village and the surrounding villages. The mothers in particular were very excited to see their newlabor ward which will be well utilized; during the time the team was there, three new babies were born!  When I arrived on the Friday to transport the team back to Goroka to catch their flight home to Australia, there was not a dry eye to be seen, either among the volunteer team or among the hundreds of villagers who gathered to fare them well.

 
   

    At the same time as the volunteer team was constructing the new clinic at Mengino, AAS aircraft and pilots were busy transporting over 160 delegates from remote villages in the swamp-ridden Gulf and Western Provinces to Goroka for a Festival of Active Laity.  These active lay men and women will join over 13,000 others from around PNG to share their stories and be trained and inspired to go back to their local villages and areas to spread the good news of a loving Saviour and a soon coming Lord.

    And while all these active lay persons are worshipping and learning, the team at AAS will be busy carrying out a routine inspection on the aircraft which has now flown over 2,000 hours since its arrival in PNG on 1 June 2007. Unfortunately, during that time someone may die, medical supplies to clinics will be delayed, seriously ill and injured patients will just have to wait and hope they survive and missionaries will be stranded unable to return home from conducting outreach meetings.  Our vision and aim is to have a second aircraft and additional dedicated pilots and engineers so we could have an aircraft available to support the growth of the church and development in isolated villages 365 days of the year.  If you would like to see that vision become reality in 2010, send your tax-deductible donations to AWA marked “New aircraft for AAS”.