We see God’s faithfulness clearly displayed in the lives of Syd and Nola Johnsen. They arrived in Indonesia in 1990 and have faithfully served the people of Papua over the years. Their perseverance and dedication to serving the Lord in this beautiful land are inspiring. Syd was one of the pilots to serve Kars’ family when he was a child growing up in the remote village of Langda, which was only accessible by airplane. Syd and Kars first communicated with each other in Indonesian (their only “shared” language at the time, as Kars didn’t learn English until middle school)! Syd was an influence on young Kars, inspiring him to also become a missionary pilot. After Kars graduated from high school in Indonesia, he moved to the U.S. to attend Moody Aviation. At Moody, Kars trained as a pilot and mechanic, and that was where I came into the picture. Later, God led our young family to join Wycliffe and then clearly directed that we were to return to serve in Papua.
When our family moved to Indonesia for Kars to serve with YAJASI, Syd, as one of the experienced pilots serving here, was leading the aviation team. “Uncle Syd and Aunt Nola” (as Kars called them as a kid) became our coworkers and adopted uncle and aunt to our boys. What a joy and privilege it has been to serve alongside Syd and Nola these past eight years. Syd and Nola recently finished up their time in Indonesia and have returned to the U.S. We are so thankful for their examples and the influence they have had on so many. While we will greatly miss them, we are confident in God’s plan, both for the next phase of their lives and for the team here at YAJASI.
To honor Syd’s many years of flying, the team planned a special event for his final flight at the end of May. When Syd returned to our airport at the end of the flight, the airport fire engines welcomed him by shooting a water cannon over the taxiway.
After he parked the airplane, the YAJASI team welcomed Syd with more water in the traditional “baptism” that celebrates special flights.
The pilots of YAJASI. Photo credit Brad McFarlane