Projects and Patients

Did you ever wonder how a mission pilot passes time when he isn’t allowed to fly? Rachelle Sjoblom gives us insight into how her husband, Luke, and other YAJASI pilots, spent their days during the recent COVID-19 travel restrictions in Papua.

COVID-19-related travel restrictions in Papua substantially reduced YAJASI’s number of flight hours when Papua closed its borders in late March. With less flying, many of the staff at YAJASI had extra time! So they decided to tackle some big projects around the hangar. Luke, along with a team, took on a renovation project in the YAJASI cargo-storage area. The project included building a new air conditioned room for the x-ray machine, putting windows in some walls while removing other walls entirely, and redesigning the layout of the receiving area. Most all those undertakings were tasks they had never done before!

Framing a new room to house the x-ray machine. Photo credit Luke Sjoblom

Thankfully, even though flight hours were down and they were not permitted to carry regular passengers, they were still allowed to carry cargo and specifically authorized medical teams. They also continued to perform medevacs from interior villages—one of their primary reasons for operating in Papua. During the last few weeks, Luke flew a lady experiencing complications with her pregnancy, a man with a serious head injury, and a nine-month old baby on IV and oxygen to town.

An ambulance meets the plane to take the patient to the hospital. Photo credit Luke Sjoblom
Our staff gently helps transfer the patient to the waiting ambulance. Photo credit Luke Sjoblom
Medevac of a nine-month-old baby. Luke even held him for a second while his mom climbed out of the plane in Sentani. Photo credit Luke Sjoblom

Passenger restrictions were recently eased. Passengers can now travel if they have the proper government identification and a current COVID-19 rapid test or get a rapid test upon arrival. Pray for all our pilots as they temporarily have added details to accommodate. The requirements and rules have been fluctuating—monthly and sometimes even weekly.


Rachelle Sjoblom

Rachelle Sjoblom

Rachelle and Luke returned to Indonesia in 2017 to serve in Papua where they both grew up as missionary kids. Luke is a pilot-mechanic with YAJASI and Rachelle keeps busy caring for their three children.