Where do you serve and what do you do?
We live in Mount Hagen in the central Highlands of Papua New Guinea (PNG). I am the Flight Operations Manager, which means that I am the line manager for all the pilots and responsible for ensuring that all our flights are conducted safely and in accordance with PNG’s law and our own operating procedures. Nicki is Safety Administrator, looking after the administration of our safety management system which monitors any incidents, both flying and non-flying, and the processes involved in following up any incident investigations. Working with the Country Director she also allocates housing to expatriate staff in Mount Hagen, so she has some varied tasks to do.
Can you share some praise points of what God has been doing in your lives recently?
Straightforward recovery from surgery in early July for Nicki and the safe arrival of our sixth grandchild. We also have increasing confidence that it is time for us to plan our departure from PNG, albeit over the next year. It has obviously been a difficult decision to make.
What do you most enjoy about living and working in PNG?
The local bananas! They beat anything you can buy in the UK! The climate is superb, at 5,300’ above sea level the temperature is usually in the upper 20sC during the day, and upper teens overnight. From a work point of view, the greatest satisfaction comes from the occasions when we can see clearly the difference MAF makes, whether it is in a medical evacuation, or taking building supplies into a remote community for new school, health centre or church buildings. The work is not glamorous, but knowing children will have an education, or that a community has access to medical care is very fulfilling.
What are the biggest challenges in your work out there?
There is a lot of corruption and mismanagement in the country, which means that rural development in particular does not happen as well as it should. Within MAF there is a serious shortage of experienced pilots (and our impending departure won’t help that). There are some recent changes in PNG air law and the requirements that the aviation regulator is making that will make the training of new pilots more difficult.
How can we best pray for you?
Above all for wisdom as we deal with what are often very complex issues. For new pilots, and especially ones with significant experience and a real desire to serve for the long term with MAF. Personally, Nicki and I will greatly appreciate prayer as we work out the plans for packing up and leaving. Although it is still a bit over a year away, we know how quickly that time will go.
With best wishes
Michael & Nicki