A Life-Changing Day
While out flying I was asked to stop by a rural village, 185 miles as the crow flies from Sentani, to pick up a patient who needed to go to a hospital. It was almost 50 miles off my planned route and farther from our home base.
In addition I received very few details about the patient’s condition. I wasn’t even sure if it was a legitimate medical emergency or a “wild goose chase.”
So I landed there and then waited … and waited … and waited some more. One and a half hours later, when I was about to give up and leave, I saw a small cluster of people walking up from the village. Four men were carrying a bundle in a tarpaulin slung between two poles. As they approached I realized that the tarp contained our long-awaited patient.
I was sure glad I waited. The pregnant lady they were carrying had been in labor since the day before. She was dilated but physically spent—unable to deliver her baby. In that isolated, tropical environment there was a high risk of both the mother and infant perishing.
The porters explained that it had taken a long time to bring the lady to the plane because she was afraid to leave her jungle home and had tried to hide. She had never been out of the village in her life. (They said that they finally “convinced” her to go, but she did not look real convinced to me.)
After a mere 50-minute flight we landed in Sentani, having flown the 185 miles back to town. We had traversed a 15,000′ mountain range, extensive swamplands, and a trackless expanse of disease-infested jungle, all in air-conditioned comfort.
After a medevac flight we pilots do not always get to hear about our patient’s progress. So imagine my joy on December 1 when this former patient showed up at our office to catch a flight back to the village with her healthy new baby. This time the lady was much more excited to get on the plane than the first time.
I thought about that baby recently as I flew an American family back to that village. They have been living in that challenging environment for several years, serving the local people and sharing the gospel. Lord willing, that new baby will grow healthy in both body and soul thanks to this family’s dedication.