John and Kathryn Boogaard are no strangers to living overseas. He grew up as a missionary kid in Columbia, and she was an Army kid who was born and lived in Turkey during most of her school years.
So when the Boogaards arrived in Indonesia for their first term with MAF four years ago, it felt somewhat familiar.
“I think there was less culture shock for us to deal with,” said Kathryn.
While John was going through flight training and finishing the dual instruction so that he could land on all of the interior airstrips to which he would be flying in North Kalimantan, Kathryn was caring for their four children and helping them integrate into the culture.
The Boogaard’s home does not have a back yard, so Kathryn would spend afternoons in the front yard with her children, watching them play with the neighborhood kids who joined them daily when she opened the front gate. This allowed her to meet the Indonesian mothers who are her neighbors, and new friendships formed. She’s been able to exercise with these women, show them how to make pizza, teach their kids English, and eventually, tell them about the hope she has in Jesus.
John beams when he talks about what Kathryn has been able to do. “It has been fun to see her blossoming and getting these opportunities,” he said. “I am just the pilot. Look what she’s been able to do.”
Of course, John understands the value of his role in serving people living in hard-to-reach villages. He loves being involved in saving lives—it’s exciting to see someone healthy again, after having flown him or her to the hospital.
But he wasn’t prepared for the amount of anguish and human suffering he would see. “I have had two people die mid-flight in my airplane,” said John. “And I’ve brought the bodies of children back to their village for burial, with their grieving parents on board.”
When the needs around them seem overwhelming, or when they wonder about their efforts to reach out to their neighbors, the Boogaards remember it’s all in God’s hands, and transforming hearts is up to Him.
“Our part is just being here, to point to Him and glorify Him,” said John. “And who knows what seeds have been planted and when God will cause them to sprout?”
The Boogaards have started their second term with MAF, and they’re hoping to grow their team of ministry partners. If you’d like to join them in reaching the people of Kalimantan, visit maf.org/Boogaard.
Story originally appeared in the November 2017 issue of FlightWatch (Vol. 5)