A Mamberamo Day

Mamberamo River. Photo by Jonathan Schultz

We fly primarily to two regions, either the highlands—with early morning departures, steeply sloped runways, cool crisp air, wild weather, beautiful views, and friendly people—or the Mamberamo. Named after the main river that flows through the region, the Mamberamo is swelteringly hot and humid, with short runways, tall trees, winding rivers, swamps, and patience-testing people.

Today was a Mamberamo day.

As I was flying the hour out to the Mamberamo, I braced myself for the challenges I would face. Each of today’s short runways has strict takeoff weight limits I would have to keep in mind as I planned my stops. I wouldn’t have enough fuel for the whole flight, so I would need to figure out when to get fuel from the supply that we store in a small town near my destination. There, the people would probably have requests I would have to turn down and would most likely have more stuff than I could safely load on the plane.

At the same time, I began to excitedly anticipate the purpose of this flight. Waiting for me in three different villages were teams of local Bible translators. They were all coming to Sentani for a translation workshop, part of a Wycliffe project called One Story. Teams from five different language groups are participating in this project. Every few months they gather and work together, along with Wycliffe facilitators, to translate a set of passages into each of their languages.

A few hours and a few stops later, I began picking up the translators. At each stop, when I climbed in to begin my pre-engine-start checks, the conversations in the cabin became more animated and excited. These were the joyful sounds of friends and coworkers finally reunited. These plain, often barefoot Papuans, heading to town with their project-issued laptops and little else, have given a good chunk of their lives to bringing God’s Word to their people. Some days we carry VIPs (government officials, wealthy business owners), but if you ask me, today my plane was full of true VIPs.

As you think of it, please pray for these teams as they participate in the One Story workshops.

Loaded up with translation teams headed to town for the next Bible translation workshop. Photo by Luke Sjoblom
Luke Sjoblom

Luke Sjoblom

Luke and Rachelle returned to Indonesia in 2017 to serve in Papua where they both grew up as missionary kids. Luke is a pilot-mechanic with YAJASI and Rachelle keeps busy caring for their four children.