Living in Limbo…

My wife, Molly, and I have been delayed quite a long time waiting to return to Indonesia. That delay in 2020 was mostly due to COVID-19 (BOO!) and partly due to a new baby, Justice, (YAY!) born in September 2020. We’re now waiting on our visa application which keeps getting delayed by COVID-19 in Indonesia.

But you may wonder what we have been doing during that delay. I mean, besides getting up five times a night to feed and keep a small human being alive? Well, let me dive into the technical aspect of my current life…

To lighten the workload for our team in Papua, I’m working on multiple projects that I can do by computer. For example, I’m designing and editing aviation maps (we call them charts), airstrip charts, and other digital projects.

IFR chart of central Papua, Indonesia, for YAJASI.

One of my biggest projects was building airstrip charts for YAJASI’s newest airplane, a Cessna Caravan, which they bought in 2020. Besides the four Pilatus PC-6 Porters and one Pilatus PC-12, the Caravan makes a great addition to YAJASI’s fleet. It carries more weight and flies faster than a PC-6, and its high-wing design and high propeller clearance ensures that it is rugged enough to handle more airstrips than the PC-12.

Cessna Caravan (top), Pilatus PC-6 (middle), and Pilatus PC-12 (bottom).

One aspect of adding this Caravan to the fleet requires thinking through how we need to fly differently with it. It’s faster and heavier, so it needs to approach a runway at a slightly shallower approach angle. Those differences are significant enough that the chief pilot asked me to design airstrip charts specific to the Caravan.

Pilots survey an airstrip and record their measurements on a form, which they email to me. Then I take their surveys and arrange that data into a standardized format using Adobe Illustrator and InDesign software. I cross-check our information with any available airstrip information from the Indonesian government. I analyze potential approach paths and go-around paths in Google Earth. Then I build an airstrip chart that will help pilots make a safe plan for how to approach and land the airplane, as well as how to prepare for abnormal situations.

Cessna Caravan runway chart for Eipomek in Papua’s eastern highlands.

All of this “behind the scenes” work is not very flashy. It requires sitting at a desk and clicking a mouse thousands of times a day. It’s very easy to get lost in the details and forget, “Why am I doing all this?”

But the important fruit of all this work is in the safe, reliable transportation given to the people of Papua and the ministry workers who serve them. The fruit is in the steady transformation of people’s lives as they hear the seed of God’s Word in a language they clearly understand and produce a crop thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.

As I dedicate my work to the service of Jesus and his kingdom, I trust that this labor is not in vain. In the words of the apostle Paul: “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58).


Jonathan Schultz

Jonathan Schultz

Jonathan serves with YAJASI, our partner in Indonesia, as a JAARS-certified pilot-mechanic and aeronautical charts editor. He and his wife Molly have one son, Justice.