By Brian Marx
The MAF Nabire team, in Papua, Indonesia, goes to great lengths to save a woman and care for her newborn twins.
“She is in and out of consciousness and continuing to lose blood; she needs a medevac.” I was almost out the door for my 6 a.m. ﬂight when this message came through on my phone. The night before, twin boys were born to a young gal in the village of Bina. The boys were healthy but Tarisi, the mama, could not deliver the placentas. The missionary team that helped with the delivery had requested a plane.
In the midst of COVID-19 restrictions it is not so simple to transport passengers. Phone calls were made and Paul, our ofﬁce manager, came in on his day off to write the necessary letters. Patients are required to show a letter from their village clinic requesting a transfer to the hospital in town. Problem is Bina’s closest clinic is a two-day walk away! Thankfully, MAF is in good standing with the COVID-19 ofﬁce here. Several years ago I transported a woman critical with cancer; she was the wife of the man who runs the COVID-19 ofﬁce! Despite it being a national holiday, we had permission within an hour.
Alex (MAF) prepared the airplane, making sure I had a stretcher, belts, sanitizer, and thermometer (to check for COVID-19). I veriﬁed loading was secure (supplies for the mission team there) and launched for Bina. Just under an hour later I touched down on the 14% slope of Bina’s mountain airstrip. Six warriors carried Terisi to the plane. Aulina was chosen to accompany her because she speaks Indonesian and limited Dem (Tarisi only speaks Dem). We arrived in Nabire around noon. Nathan (another missionary) and Alex were ready with the vehicle to take them to the hospital.
Meanwhile, on my lunch break, the phone rang again. It was Alex: “Hey, we need blood. The doctor wants four donors before he can do the procedure. Do you know anyone who is O+?” My wife, Heather, and I both happen to be O+, so we headed straight to the hospital. Seth, a missionary, also responded and turned up shortly. Elimas, one of our night guards, and a youth from Paul’s church also came. All were poked and pricked and tested; ﬁnally, three of us were accepted.
Alex and Nathan championed for the patient. They ran errands to buy formula for the babies and food for Aulina and Tarisi. Then, they drove far out to a group of Dem believers who could come support Tarisi. In time, Tarisi perked up and was able to have the procedure. Heather watched the boys so Nathan and Abby could launder the patient’s clothes and help with other practical needs. Tarisi recovered quickly and was released. Nathan helped ﬁnd a place for them to stay while waiting for COVID restrictions to be lifted.
Most tribes here believe twins are a bad omen—one is evil and should be put to death. You can imagine our excitement to introduce our own twins to Tarisi. I didn’t even recognize the patient, she looked so much healthier than the day of the medevac!
Praise the Lord for this opportunity to share Christ’s love. Pray the Dem tribe will one day soon embrace the gospel.
Update 8/11/20: Praise God! Tarisi and Aulina were finally able to return to their village today, along with the twins, of course.