It’s in the Mail!

Editor’s Note: The following was taken from a prayer letter from MAF’s John Miller when he and his family were serving in Indonesia. They had just returned to the field after being on furlough when this interesting event unfolded.

6:13 a.m.: After a 45-minute, predawn, preflight inspection, then loading, weather briefing and paperwork, we’re off from Sentani climbing for the mountains. Mel says into the intercom, “Clear day, wind will be up early, so we’ll have to hustle.” The plan is to do checkout landings at three of our trickier strips: Pogapa, Illaga and Beoga. Each has morning wind problems. I glance back at our two passengers engrossed in their reading. The Dani pastor is studying his Alkitab (Bible) and the polisi (policeman) is trying to decipher the English instructions on the Sic-Sak envelope.

The Beoga airstrip and the Christian & Missionary Alliance station

The Beoga airstrip and the Christian & Missionary Alliance station, 1987. Photo by Melvin Isaac.

8:02 a.m.: Taxiing for takeoff at Mulia, Mel says, “The only way we’re going to get to all three strips before the wind comes up is to hit Beoga first, then Pogapa and Ilaga.” Just then the Beoga station comes on the two-way radio: “I have an important mailbag to go out, but I’m not quite ready yet. Can you go to Pogapa first to give me more time?” I’m thinking, For crying out loud, here we’re adding an unscheduled flight with extra mail connections as it is, and now we’re being asked to jeopardize the whole reason we’re flying today–checkout training. So, I say, “Sorry, Alice, we’ll have to come to Beoga first to make sure we get the checkout accomplished. But later, after we’re done at Pogapa, if there’s still no wind yet at Beoga, we could swing by a second time and pick up your mailbag.” Slim chance.

9:36 a.m.: After practiced landings at Beoga and Pogapa, we’re again back over at Beoga, and amazingly, there’s no wind! So we swoop back in for another landing and pick up the “important” mailbag. Alice and Don are waving and grinning, and come on the radio to thank us for the stop.

Alice Gibbons with villagers at the Beoga station

Alice Gibbons with villagers at the Beoga station, 1994. Photo by Dwight Fegley.

A week later, I get a note from them. And I think, Sorry, Lord, for my being so impatient. And here’s the reason why: The mailbag carried print-ready text for the third and fourth Western Dani Primers––in a series of four books. And due to flight schedules, if those primers hadn’t been on the plane, it would have meant that Alice and Don’s scheduled visits to stations in the surrounding area would have been taken without the primers in hand. But as a result of the flight, they had them, ensuring maximum impact for those visits.

Reading their note, I’m once again impressed by how much of the missionaries’ lives revolve around our flight service, and how the folks back home, through their prayers and gifts, are an important part of reaching the Dani and Damal tribes for Christ.

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