“It’s hard for MAF not to get in someone’s DNA. The work is so excellent, and yet done with such a servant’s heart.” —Nancy Cullen
From retired FAA air traffic controller to MAF volunteer and advocate, Nancy Cullen isn’t slowing down in her retirement. On the contrary, she’s jumped in with both feet, to introduce others to MAF’s ministry, and to lend her skills and experience to help in the parts department—both here at MAF headquarters and at an overseas base.
Nancy and her husband, David, have been long-time supporters of MAF. And last April, when MAF staff were visiting Wichita, Kansas, Nancy spoke with John Boyd, MAF’s president and CEO. He told her, “Nancy, you need to come and work at the hangar [at headquarters].”
So she did—last August. She spent six days volunteering in the fabrication shop and organizing parts that had been donated to MAF from an aircraft maintenance shop in Caldwell.
During her time at headquarters, she was told, “Nancy, you need to become an MAF Advocate.”
And so, she did. Nancy began sharing about MAF’s ministry with churches, Christian schools, and other groups around Wichita, Kansas.
When she got a phone call asking if she’d like to work on a project at the Sentani hangar, in Papua, Indonesia, Nancy didn’t hesitate.
“The folks in Sentani had their hands full,” said Nancy, “and whatever I did with the project in Nampa, in terms of data entry and understanding parts … My dad was an auto parts guy and I used to help him with inventory. It just felt familiar.”
Nancy also has her private pilot’s license and does annual check-ups on her own airplane. That and 20 years with the FAA as an air traffic controller, and having a hand in accident incident investigations and the safety/evaluation side of things, served to prepare her for the project.
“I just kind of knew enough, and had the background, to do the work with some assurance … knowing when to ask questions. It worked out great.”
So in early December, Nancy volunteered her time at the MAF hangar in Sentani, converting (address-wise) 14,300-plus line items of parts into cloud-based RAMCO aviation software. It involved about 75 to 80 hours of data entry.
“It was a privilege to come along and help with this one thing, get it out of the way, so they could have it done and keep doing what they’re doing.”
Nancy was impressed with the Sentani parts room, how clean, tidy, and organized it was.
“The airplanes were pristine, and given the kind of missions they go on… I know they work hard and intentionally to make sure their tools are always ready for the next assignment.”
The hospitality of the MAF staff also left a huge impression on Nancy. “Stunning” is the word she used to describe it.
“They took good care of me and it enabled me to do what I was there to do without having to be distracted or concerned about anything. There was a lady in the guest house that did my laundry. She ironed everything! Nobody’s done my laundry for me since … my mom!”
During her three weeks in the country, Nancy managed to ride along on an MAF flight, to Mulia—which was slightly more modern, with a paved runway, than some of the other remote villages.
“The load up to Mulia included cement, a bright red new wheelbarrow, a couple of scooters, a little girl’s bike and what looked like some other Christmas packages along with general supplies.
“Coming back, we picked up some missionaries, some supervisory types who were visiting various villages, checking on their folks. We brought them out so they could head back to the US.”
Nancy says it was an honor to be able to use her past skills, which had been laid to rest during retirement, and put them to work again for the Kingdom. As she tried to sum up her time with the MAF staff in Sentani, after seeing their day to day commitment up close, one thing kept coming back to her.
“I know the MAF folks are doing this out of love, and they love what they do. But that the father would put that love in their hearts so that people—and we don’t even know who they are, but God does—might choose to follow His Son.”
As Nancy says yes to MAF she’s doing her part to bring the love of Christ to isolated people—as supporter and volunteer. In doing so, she’s following the love that God put in her own heart and becoming deeply connected with the ministry of MAF.