May 21, 2011

Papua, Indonesia (Part II)

MAF Then...
MAF has been operating in Papua since 1952. Two mission organizations TEAM and UFM invited MAF to come with them to Papua (then called Dutch New Guinea) to provide their flight needs. At that time, the Island of New Guinea remained largely untouched by the outside world. It is really exciting to read some of the accounts of how early missionaries went to Papua following God's calling & literally risking their lives - not in an attempt to bring their culture to Papuans, but to bring the Gospel of Christ.

I recently read "The Peace Child" by Don Richardson, a story of how the Richardson's spent years of their lives living with, building relationships with, & learning how to communicate with a Papuan people called the Sawi (group #242 on the linguistic map on my last post). The result was a translation of the bible in the Sawi language and a growing vibrant Sawi church. As our family prepares to serve in Papua, it is amazing to think of the generations that have gone before ours, and have served in many different areas, roles, and organizations - all with a common goal.

MAF Now...
Today, MAF has about 38 full time missionary families based in Papua, along with about 80 Indonesian staff. Currently with a fleet of 13 aircraft MAF operates out of 6 different bases located around the province.

MAF supports churches and mission efforts, and also provides medical assistance, disaster relief, education opportunities, and community development. Who and what MAF carries in their planes from landing strip to landing strip has become much broader since 1952, but one thing that hasn't changed much is the reliance on aircraft. For example, the city of Wamena located in the Baliem Valley in the center of Papua has a population of 10000 plus and is the largest 'urban' centre south of the capital Jayapura (Wamena is also the location of one of MAF's bases). If you want to travel to Wamena, and don't want to spend weeks to months walking, you have one option - air travel! Considering this, you can imagine the challenge of transportation to and from the hundreds of smaller villages scattered throughout Papua.

A random example of an air strip in Papua. To regularly fly into and out of strips like this, one can see why MAF puts such an emphasis on training & preparation for both the pilots, mechanics, and other support staff. Compared to most flying here in North America, there is less 'room for error' due to shorter runways and a lack of places to land if you do have an issue in the air.

From afar, this mountain valley looks like it could be north of Revelstoke, BC (the town I grew up in) in the Selkirk mountains...except for the airstrip and the lack of logging roads :)

May 18, 2011

Papua, Indonesia (Part I)

This past week Amy and I found out that the Indonesian province we are heading to is Papua! For us, this is pretty exciting news in that it allows us to plan and prepare a little better for the place we will soon call home.

Last August is when our family found out we would be heading to Indonesia to serve.  MAF operates in three different provinces of Indonesia that are all quite different from each other - both in the people and in geography. So, in the last number of months Amy and I have often found ourselves thinking, praying, & researching about what Indonesian province we might end up in. Both of us have felt drawn towards Papua. But, not knowing if Papua would be where we would end up, we did not want ourselves to get "too attached", as we ultimately wanted to go where God wants to use us, as MAF has much needed & effective ministries in the other two Indonesian provinces of Sumatra and Kalimantan. We also new it would be exciting no matter where in the world we ended up!

"Why does it take as long as it does to find out what specific province you're heading to?"
The reason is, we will not be heading to Indonesia until early November, and our first nine months in Indonesia will be spent in language school on the Island of Java. Often the needs of a specific MAF base in the different provinces can change quickly. As a result, the location most suitable for a pilot or mechanic could end up changing. Thus, MAF likes to wait until later in the process to reduce the chance of this happening.

" that Papua New Guinea?"
No, the Island of New Guinea is basically split down the middle. On the right side is the country of Papua New Guinea. On the left side are the two most eastern provinces of Indonesia - Papua, & West Papua (together formally known as Irian Jaya).

New Guinea is the second largest island in the world behind Greenland, which is just over 25 times the size of Vancouver Island. Stretching about 1600 km's, it has both vast rain forest lowlands and a long central mountain range boasting the highest peaks between the Himalayas & Andes.

The People...
Although Papua's population is growing quickly due to high birth rates & immigration from other Indonesian provinces, it has only 2.9 million of Indonesia's 237 million residents. The people of Papua are very diverse.

Due in large part to the geography, there are around 274 separate people groups in Papua separated by language. Although some groups have a fair amount in common with their neighbours, some neighbouring languages actually have less in common with each other as English does to Indonesian!

I found this map (above) which gives a great 'visual' of the 274 different language groups in Papua (map not including West Papua). In recent years there has been an influx of population growth in the coastal areas due to immigration (encouraged by the government) from other heavily populated Indonesian Islands such as Java. This has brought about some issues between the immigrants and the indigenous Papuans.

As Indonesia's poorest province, about 40% of Papuans live below the 'Indonesian poverty line'. Due to large distances and a huge lack of infrastructure, isolation plays a big part in the resulting poor education and healthcare for Papuans. Unfortunately, another growing issue in Papua is HIV / AIDS. The number of AIDS cases in Papua is almost 20 times the national average, and has become nothing short of an epidemic in some communities.

Papua has many needs, but it is both exciting to read how God has worked in New Guinea in the past, and also to hear & see how He is working in the lives of Papuans now! It is also exciting how an organization like MAF can be used in such a place. For the majority of Papuans (outside the few small cities), there are no roads - just jungle, swamps, raging rivers, and mountains. In my next post I'll try tell a bit of how God is using MAF in Papua!

May 9, 2011

Charlotte Ella Rowan Eadie

 Charlotte was born 5:09pm May 7th, 7lbs 4oz.

 Mommy, meet Charlotte. Charlotte, meet Mommy.

 First bath!

 Luke & Charlotte.

 Simon & Helena & Charlotte.

Proud Dad & Charlotte. Amy & I are both so thankful for the health of our little girl, and the great care we received at the hospital. Thanks for all your prayers!

May 3, 2011

Snap Shots...

...from the last week or two. In a few days we should have some pictures of our newest & smallest addition to our family.

 Watering the snow - only in Prince George!  Simon looks a little perplexed. No, this isn't our house, it's someone down the street.

Gotta love our high performance / high maintenance Mazda MPV! Actually, it's a good little van, we just seem to have a lot of funny little problems. The transmission oil cooler started leaking all over our drive, off with the old, and on with a new generic oil cooler. 

 Building crates for shipping our belongings to Indonesia. We'll have two crates the size of the one shown (4x4x4 ft.), and then one more for my tool box. I must say, it's nice to actually get out to the garage and build something, and to see 'physical' progress in our prep work.

AHHHH! It's a red ant and it has big pinchers! I have a funny feeling Indonesia might have more menacing bugs than a red ants...And I'm sure the boys will learn to 'enjoy' them.

Helena sporting her pink run bike, pink shoes, pink helmet, & pink on her rain coat. If you ask what her favourite thing is, she'll reply - you guessed it: "Pink!"