Proclaim His Praise in the Islands

Let them give glory to the LORD and proclaim his praise in the islands
Isaiah 42:12

Flying out to the islands is often a nice change of pace. More typical for most of the pilots in Papua New Guinea are the labor-intensive flights on the mainland among the weather-inducing mountains, with multiple stops at challenging sloped airstrips. Although weather can still be a challenge around the islands, the flight legs are long, mostly relaxing, and on a clear day the view can be breathtaking.

On this day, my mission was to take Rebekah Wade, the Islands Regional Director for SIL, and her husband Aaron Wade, a Bible translator, to Tokua at the far northeast corner of the island of New Britain for some very important public relations meetings with local church leaders.  These meetings were held to promote the process of Bible translation and other ministries offered by SIL, such as providing education materials in the vernacular and workshops like Oral Bible Storying, Culture Meets Scripture, and Trauma Healing.

Bryan’s route: Ukarumpa—Tokua—Gasmata—Ukarumpa
My quiet co-pilot. Photo by Bryan Jones

My second stop of the day was at Gasmata to pick up the Duhe family, Bible translators working with the Aighon people group.

After checking the satellite weather and receiving an encouraging weather report from each destination, I blasted off into the wild blue yonder.

I had a very quiet co-pilot for the day: a seven-to-ten-person life raft which is required on flights beyond glide distance from shore. Thankfully the view made up for the lack of conversation.


Lolobau Island off the north coast of New Britain about 45 minutes from Tokua. Photo by Bryan Jones
Rano airstrip provides services for the Wade Family. Photo by Bryan Jones

After dropping off my passengers in Tokua, I flew along the southern shores of New Britain en route to Gasmata. Along the way, I flew over the Rano airstrip where Aaron Wade and his family serve as Bible translators for the Mamusi people group.

My next stop was Gasmata to pick up the Duhe family who had been working in their village for six weeks building an alphabet for the Aighon people group.  Although a lack of food and daily torrential downpours made their time very trying, they made a lot of progress with unexpected enthusiasm from the community. They were returning home to Ukarumpa.

Gasmata. Photo by Bryan Jones

About a week later, I flew out to the islands again but with a slightly different mission. This time with a stop in Hoskins on the northern shoreline of New Britain.

Bryan’s route: Ukarumpa—Hoskins—Tokua—Hoskins—Ukarumpa

At Hoskins, I dropped off an SIL plumber who would later catch a commercial flight to Kavieng (further north on the island of New Ireland) to meet up with the rest of the construction team building a translator lodge and meeting house for two missionary ladies working with the Tiaang people on the tiny neighboring island of Dyaul.

The land of volcanoes. Photo by Bryan Jones

In this area near Hoskins, each peak you see is a volcano. Near one of the peaks is an area that is almost always steaming with the pleasant smell of sulfur.

Mount Ulawun is a very active volcano. Thankfully, no activity from her on my flight.  However, a week later things looked a bit different!

Mount Ulawun. Photo by Bryan Jones 

The volcano erupted and blew ash up to 60,000 feet! Thankfully, the winds blew most of the ash out over the ocean. However, the eruption disrupted commercial flights for several days, including our plans to retrieve the construction team in Kavieng. The Aviation Department scrambled to come up with alternate ways to bring them home, but thankfully, the volcano calmed down, and the skies cleared in time for us to go get the team as originally scheduled.

Hoskins airport. Photo by Bryan Jones

After Hoskins, I flew to Tokua to pick up Aaron and Rebekah Wade, whom I had dropped off the week before, and Steve Johnson, the Director of Strategic Relationships for SIL, who had come a few days later to join the meetings with the local church leaders. The meetings went quite well, and the church leaders were eager to partner with SIL to support the work of Bible translation in their local area.

From Tokua, I returned to Hoskins to pick up the Gentry family on the island of New Hanover.  Liz and her two boys hopped on the flight to travel to Ukarumpa for some much-needed rest and relaxation.  Her husband, Matt, was out conducting a Scripture Application and Leadership Training (SALT) course in another region of PNG and joined them a few days later in Ukarumpa.

Flying in Papua New Guinea is always an adventure! I am humbled and privileged to play a small but vital role in building God’s kingdom through the multitude of ministries conducted throughout PNG.

Watch a time lapse video of Bryan’s flight.


Bryan Jones

Bryan Jones

Bryan and Lori, together with their four children, serve in Papua New Guinea. Bryan is a pilot-mechanic providing safe and efficient air transportation to remote villages. Lori cares for their children and teaches kindergarten at the Ukarumpa International School. Papua New Guinea is made up of massive mountain ranges, deep valleys, and dense jungles that make travel treacherous and people groups isolated. There are over 800 distinct languages and over 300 people groups without a Bible translation project started in their heart language. This need spurs the Jones’ passion for serving in PNG.