My wife, Sheri, meets regularly with Djenny, a delightful Indonesian missionary woman. Djenny has worked among the tribal groups in Papua’s difficult Lakes Plains region for more than 20 exhausting years. In her off-time from her job as a teacher in a local Bible school, she’s slowly making progress on a translation of the New Testament into the Dou-Tai language.
Djenny recently lost her husband and has been walking a particularly difficult portion of her life’s journey. Though still deeply grieving, she recently flew to spend school break ministering to the women and children in the interior village of Sikari. The plan was for us to pick her up at the end of the week, but Friday’s weather was poor so our flight didn’t make it to Sikari that day. The following Monday morning, Kars, one of our newer pilots, was able to get in to Sikari to pick Djenny up. On the way home, he detoured to the village of Foao to pick up a patient he’d been told about on the radio.
On the ground in Foao, it turned out the patient was far sicker than Kars had been led to believe—the people brought the completely immobile woman to the airplane on a homemade stretcher. She was unable to use a seat and needed to lie down on the aircraft’s floor. Unfortunately, the airplane already had too many passengers on board to allow for laying her down. Kars quickly radioed two other pilots who were flying that day. Tim was closest, and by God’s providence he had a little extra space on his plane, so he detoured to Foao and was soon on the ground with Kars. Together, they rearranged seats, moved cargo and passengers around, and made it work. All in the blistering midday heat of Papua’s lowland swamps.
Djenny stood under the wing in Foao watching all of this, taking it all in. She later shared with Sheri how much it meant to her to watch our team in action. She had gone out to minister in Sikari on “emotional empty.” Newly alone, having lost her life’s partner, she felt the difficult burden of her ministry weighing now on her shoulders alone. Upon returning from the flight out of Sikari, she spoke these words to Sheri:
“I do not feel as alone anymore. I know I have a true partner in the team at YAJASI … a partner in building the Kingdom of God in Papua. The gracious and kind way the pilots treated me, the gentleness and care the pilots showed for this poor patient, how hard the pilots were willing to work to help save her life, how they had an ambulance waiting for her on arrival … all these things show me that the YAJASI team is not here just to fly; they are not here to make a career or to make money. I can see they are truly here to participate in the Kingdom of God. I am so grateful for the YAJASI team … God used these brothers to deeply encourage me.”
Sometimes the scuttlebutt is worth repeating.