Friday, May 15, 2015

Introducing Wamena:

Wamena, Papua, Indonesia

May 2015

Seven months in our new home and we are settled well. The stress of full-time language learning and the heavy heat of Sentani behind us, Wamena is practically a paradise. Seated a mile up and surrounded by 13,000ft mountain peaks, it’s mildly warm in the day and cool enough at night to sleep under a feather duvet.
Wamena itself is pretty small. I can bicycle from top to bottom in less than 20 minutes, and that’s pulling Isaiah in a trailer behind me. The people are friendly, but the atmosphere is quite a bit more “wild west” than our old home in Sentani. These are mountain people. Hard working farmers with rough faces that are actually quite intimidating until you offer a greeting and their eyes light up and a wide, toothy smile breaks out.
Daily trip to the local market.
Anisha has made friends with many of the Mamas who sell there.

Life at Home

While Ben is off at the hanger, Isaiah and I have our own little routine. Three times a week we head out to a mission compound so I can walk and talk with friends while he and the other boys run around like maniacs. Then home for a snack and school work. Admittedly, home schooling was a bit of a scary prospect at first, but in reality we both love spending the time together pouring over books and asking every imaginable question. The rest of the day is filled up with chores, daily trips to the market, cooking from scratch, and a weekly ladies’ bible study.
In the afternoons, while Isaiah is napping, I work on writing projects. Taking up most of my time is a biography project. The plan is to interview 10-15 Papuans, write their life stories in their own words, and publish a book here in Indonesian. I’ve completed one interview so far and am working on writing the story. Just this week a new friend, Ravita, offered to help me edit the book. She is excited at the prospect of a book of Papuan stories published here. My hope is that the book can be used in schools and as an encouragement to the wider community as well. Although the primary goal is a book in Indonesian as a gift to the community, I hope to also translate the stories into English to share with you.
Danika is the first Papuan Anisha has interviewed for her biography project.
Isaiah exploring his newly finished school room.  Most of the work thanks to Grandma and Granddad England.

Mountain Flying

My time so far has been spent flying with the two pilots here to gain experience with all the different aspects of the unique type of flying in the mountains: Weather trends, local names of places, landing in confined areas, speaking Indonesian on the flight following radio, and trying to understand the ‘English’ from air traffic control. It will be a few more months before I am able to fly on my own here.
Most of the flying we’ve been doing has been medical evacuations for people who are living in the villages who need urgent medical care. Also, Airstrip checks where advice is given on how the villagers should construct their airstrips. As well as, supporting missionary families who live in the bush learning the tribal languages and translating and teaching the bible. It’s been an honour to meet these missionaries who sacrificed life in the modern world to spend their time in the tribes, including local missionaries too who often serve without the support that the western missionaries have. I also spend time in the hanger, helping working on the helicopters.
Sometimes we request help from willing local kids.  Here they are rolling a fuel drum for us.  We have to fly out extra fuel for later use.

My First Medevac...

The first Saturday in January, Tom, the Wamena Base Manager, called and asked if I wanted to accompany him on a medevac flight. Having newly arrived to Wamena, this would be my first one.
A lady had given birth, but could not deliver the placenta. Without any medical care in her village this common condition and what would be a fairly routine procedure to correct in a western country, had put her life in danger.
We brought along Dr Mia, a local medical doctor from Wamena, and after a short half hour flight landed in the patient’s village.
While Dr Mia examined the patient and tried to remove the placenta, Tom went with some of the villagers to inspect progress on the village’s runway project. Everyone appreciated his help and were very interested in hearing his advice.
Dr Mia wasn’t able to remove the placenta so the mother would need to be evacuated to the Wamena hospital. As we loaded the patient, her new born baby, and a helper into the helicopter, a man came and handed me a bag of bananas and passion fruit. Tied with a vine to the bag was a cardboard note reading, “This is fruit for the pilot”. It was a simple and profound thank you for the lifesaving help we were able to bring.
In Wamena the placenta was removed and the mother recovered. A month later we flew her and her baby, both healthy and happy, back home to the village.  Tom then carried out an official airstrip check and was able to share the results with the village so that soon they will be able to have aeroplanes land there.
Dr. Mia holding the new born baby, and mother ready for the trip to the hospital.
A traditional village welcome.  Everyone dressed up for a special celebration.
Ben and Tom, the base manager, receive special head wear for the visit.
It was such an encouraging time when our Pastor John and Elder Neil came from America to visit us, alongside some friends now living in Indonesia.
Thank you for your encouragement, prayers, and support. We couldn't do this without you!


Ben, Anisha & Isaiah

· Continued language acquisition
· Friendships and a feeling of being 'home'

· Helicopter license validation process
· Anisha's writing projects

1 comment:

Lam said...

Hello. We are the Lams and we are also missionaries here in Papua. We currently live in Sentani, and hopefully, Lord willing, Wamena will be our new home and place of ministry next year. What you shared here on your blog resonates with us. It is stressful to be in a place that is so foreign from your home culture. Our difficulty in adjusting, if we may call it that, is made worse because we are ethnic Chinese. We don't fit in with the locals, nor do we fit in with the expat community at large (which is predominately white). But our God is always good and He will enable us in each and every situation. Tuhan memberkati.