An MAF staff member discovers how God’s provisions have included MAF throughout one pastor’s life.
Just five minutes into the interview with Yusmanto Luis, a local pastor, and his wife, Elvina, and I already see a list forming in my notebook.
The supplies for the orphaned and at-risk kids’ rooms that are in the process of being built behind their house? Those were donated. Their move here to Palangkaraya from their home in a different part of Indonesia? They had just 400,000 rupiah in their pockets (equivalent to $35), Elvina was pregnant, but a friend of a friend offered a place to stay. And Pastor Yusmanto credits God with providing the 700,000 rupiah they needed to have the baby a few weeks later.
“God always helped us when we were out of options,” Pastor Yusmanto says.
He tells me that story in their home on this hot morning in Indonesia, while his wife sets a tray of crackers and water in front of me. She lights a simple white candle for our snack. The word “provisions” comes to mind as I listen and sip.
MAF is in the list—of provisions—too, starting when Yusmanto was just 10 years old and living in West Kalimantan, Indonesia, with his recently divorced mom.
Certain things were tough in his village in those days. There was an elementary school, but rarely any teachers because it was just too remote and difficult for these teachers from the city to want to stay. There weren’t any doctors or clinics, either—just local “healers/witch doctors” who sometimes blamed spirits for people’s ills. Women were dying from childbirth at high rates.
And Luis’s life at that point? He says one word in Indonesian—“susah.”
It means “difficult.”
But one day, a group of outsider men entered the village by boat.
“Mr. Bolser along with an MAF pilot and a local Indonesian said they wanted to survey the area for an airstrip,” Pastor Yusmanto says.
I look up from my notebook at him at the name “Bolser.” At that moment, my own husband, Brad, is in another part of Indonesia, being trained by Dudley Bolser’s son, Tom Bolser, an MAF pilot of 18 years, to fly a new amphibious Kodiak we’ll be using soon in Central Kalimantan. Tom’s parents, now retired, worked at a Bible college for indigenous pastors for many years in the western part of Kalimantan, where Yusmanto’s village is located.
I mentally add the connection to my own list of “provisions.”
The villagers carved out an airstrip by hand. While the grownups worked, the kids—Yusmanto included—watched and sang praise songs that these visitors had taught them.
That was the beginning of Yusmanto’s faith and his dreams of having a positive impact on his own community.
“I was helped by many missionaries who wanted to help people in difficulty,” Yusmanto says. “I soon had three dreams for when I grew up: to become a pastor; to help at-risk kids; and to fly in an MAF airplane.”
While some of his relatives flew in airplanes for medical needs over the years, Yusmanto didn’t fly in one until he was 23. His chance came just as he was achieving one of his other dreams. He flew MAF as a new pastor serving other isolated Kalimantan villages.
Soon after, he married his wife, who also knew MAF well because a medevac flight saved her father’s life. Together, they moved a few hundred miles away to Palangkaraya, in Central Kalimantan—where my husband and I now live.
They like to send teams to provide social services interior. And they hope to fulfill that long-held dream to reach out to at-risk kids from indigenous communities. On both accounts, MAF is standing by to help make their travels to these hard-to-reach areas shorter and safer.
“While some areas can be reached by road, the distances are quite far and the cost of going by land is very expensive,” he says.
I thank them for the snacks and time. Then I tuck my notebook into my bag—grateful that MAF gets to continue to be on the list of provisions for this family, as this family provides for others.