Explore Papua New Guinea

It is hard to believe that 18 months ago we (Erik, Terry, Gaby, Teddy, and Samuel) were packing our bags back in Austin, Texas, preparing to journey to a new home halfway around the world. This time has been full of adventure, new experiences, growing closer as a family, and learning about serving Bible translation through aviation.

Papua New Guinea (PNG) has started to feel a little more like home. We’ve made new friends from around the globe—Australia, Europe, Korea, New Zealand, PNG (of course!), and South America. The culture and language are becoming more familiar to us as each day passes. A funny thing is that we weave English, Tok Pisin (the local trade language) and Spanish together in our daily conversations!

We miss home and our family and friends dearly but are thankful for the opportunity to serve with a great aviation team here in PNG. As business manager for the team, Erik helps support the “Business for Mission” effort to advance and accelerate Bible translation, literacy, and Scripture-use among the 838 language groups of PNG.

With photos we hope to share some of the beauty of PNG and its people, share some of our work, how we entertain ourselves, and, just maybe, entice you to come explore PNG for yourself!

The Lofgren family: Terry, Erik, and Samuel (back row) with Gaby and Teddy (front row) are excited to be a part of the PNG aviation team’s mission of getting God’s Word into every language and every life! During the past two years, the team has served missionaries and language projects working in 196 languages supporting Bible translation, mother-tongue translator training, literacy, and Scripture-use work.

It’s a blessing to experience how our aviation team and aircraft have an immediate impact on the everyday lives of people in the rural areas of PNG. Since PNG has very few usable roads, airstrips and helipads are their only connection to services like health care, business opportunities, and education. Many days we carry cargo for rural coffee growers or other commercial customers, which helps offset the costs of Bible translation and, in turn, helps accelerate the work of our translators. We also appreciate our partners at Kompian and Kudgip Hospitals who provide high quality health care to the highland peoples

We tend to have more clouds and fog in the morning. When the sun is unobstructed the sunrises are just as majestic as the sunsets. Living at six degrees south of the equator, we have almost equal night and day all year round. Temperatures average in the 80s during the day and 50s at night.

We don’t have Starbucks, but we enjoy delicious coffee grown on a nearby plantation in our Aiyura valley. (Our new friends, who manage the plantation, sell their coffee in the United States on a website called “counterculturecoffee.”) And although we don’t have a donut shop, we have wonderful donuts made fresh in the local market.

Erik joined our friend Johannes Rehm (former chief helicopter pilot) for the grand opening of the Gebrau airstrip. This airstrip was carved out of the mountain by hand with shovels and picks over more than 20 years. There are no roads to Gebrau, so the airstrip is their connection to the world.

At the opening, Erik met Hibru, a leader in the 35 schools that serve over 1,000 students who use “Tok Ples” or local languages for education. These schools support literacy in the local languages and ensure the ability to read the Bibles translated by Wycliffe Bible Translators John and Maila Davies.

In August, the Urat people received the New Testament in their language. “Today they will feel that God is not a foreigner; he is a tribesman today. All of these years he has been a visitor. Today he will be like one of them, served in their house, eating the same food, speaking the same language, becoming Urat.”

When we found bees buzzing inside our roof, we found a beekeeper friend and smoked them out. Then we captured the honey!

We call this product the “other white meat.” Yep—tastes a little like chicken. Terry made amazing General Tso’s Crocodile recently. We were about halfway through dinner when we informed the kids it wasn’t chicken. They paused, put their hands in the air, and loudly declared, “We are eating crocodile!” Missionary kids—gotta love them!

Erik has a great love for fireworks. Imagine his fascination when introduced to the Ukarumpa sparkler: think string, steel wool, and some kind of flammable liquid. Lots of fun and a little bit of July 4th in PNG!

“There are stars in the southern sky!” Our friend Mike Matheson took this picture of the beautiful Southern Cross (see four bright stars in the left third of the picture) on a clear night.

Clearly not everything in Texas is bigger! Teddy is holding a PNG sweet potato, called a kaukau. No joke! It was cooked underground mumu-style with hot stones and covered with banana leaves. Teddy said, “This is a feast fit for a king!”

When big brother and sister dress up for school, three-year-old Samuel likes to get in on the action, too! Terry and Samuel have been reading, drawing, counting, and exploring the exotic flora and fauna in PNG. In July, he’s starting Pukpuk (pukpuk is the local word for “crocodile”) Preschool Class twice a week.

The Pony Club offers elementary-aged children a special fun activity. Gaby, always an animal lover, joined in December and is hooked. The club has nine horses that spend their days sunbathing and running through tall grass. It’s a barebones operation. Their diet consists mostly of dried coconuts. Lacking veterinarians to care for them, the club members provide excellent care and love to these beautiful creatures. In return, the horses provide exercise and serve as a stabilizing activity in MK (missionary kid) life.

Pick-up soccer games offer many kids opportunities for good exercise and a chance to make new friends.

Here in Ukarumpa, we work together, live together, play together, and gain friends from the corners of the earth. And, yes, we laugh and cry together. This special, unique place is now our home away from our Texas home.

All in all, Ukarumpa is a place where people from around the world come to answer the call of Acts 1:8: to be his witness to the ends of the earth … so that all may know the life-changing reality of Jesus.

Erik and Terry Lofgren

Erik, Terry, and their three children joined the team in Papua New Guinea in 2015. Both Erik and Terry are licensed commercial pilots with an interest in aviation so they are excited to be serving PNG aviation in a management/administration role.