Slices of Life with Gavin

I am now the chief pilot of the helicopter program in Papua New Guinea.

I have several new responsibilities, including initial and recurrent pilot training. As new pilots come in and others return from furlough, they need a significant amount of training to be checked out for flying in PNG, which can be very challenging. I want to fill this new role well and safely, for God’s glory alone, so the prayers of family, friends, and supporters are essential.

On a recent flight I took a translator to deliver newly printed copies of the Finongan dictionary to a remote village. A heart-language dictionary is one of many learning tools translators might develop to use in reaching out to share God’s Word with the people of a community. In a country where literacy rates are low, the dictionary is essential for readers’ understanding of the written Word. These dictionaries were all sold within a few hours!

Sometimes I’m “stuck” somewhere because of bad weather or the need to wait for people or to connect with another aircraft—a great opportunity to share stories of what the Lord has done in my family’s life. Without fail, when I tell people about our quintuplets, they are amazed—many just don’t believe me. In PNG, we regularly medevac women from the bush who may have complications during childbirth. We take them to the closest hospital, which otherwise would be reachable only by several days walk, a canoe ride, a road trip over difficult terrain, or any combination thereof. A short helicopter ride to a place where they can receive medical assistance can be a real blessing to their family.

When waiting on the ground, I often turn on a Scripture player so people can listen to the Bible in Tok Pisin (local trade language). Although people are interested in testimonies about my life, they are rapt and quiet when they hear God’s Word spoken from these portable devices.

Sometimes my flights give me an opportunity to experience the beauty of this country and, by contrast, the harsh reality of trying to survive and thrive in it. Fly along with me as I take five different New Tribes Mission (NTM) families to several places in New Ireland, New Britain, and New Hanover, the large and remote islands off the northeastern coast of PNG.