Special Guest

The room was smoky and dark with a fire pit built right into the middle of the floor. Eight adults sat cross-legged on intertwined palm-frond mats arranged around a smoldering fire. Woven bamboo walls and a grass roof offered protection from the cool rain falling outside while the fire helped maintain a warm temperature inside. Several piles of bags of green coffee beans, each weighing about 120 pounds, sat in two corners, ready to be flown to market.

The people sat with heaping bowls of rice, Ramen-type noodles, and a bit of canned meat—a special meal, not their usual sweet potatoes and other garden produce cooked in the ashes of the fire. Why the special occasion? They had a special guest, which happened to be me.

A smoky supper

Mid-afternoon, I had flown into the village with supplies for the local elementary school, and planned to fly bags of green coffee beans out. But while I was loading the coffee and a passenger, rain and clouds had moved in, making takeoff unsafe in that mountain valley at 6,000 feet. Then, as I continued to wait for the clouds to lift after the rain let up, I took advantage of the wait to share the gospel with a large group of kids and adults who had gathered around. A couple of times, the weather improved and I thought we might be able make the 12-minute flight home, but then the weather deteriorated again. I was staying for the night.

The cloudy airstrip

One of the local men, Billy D., who organizes coffee flights, graciously invited me to spend the night at his house. So after securing the airplane and eating some very firm fire-roasted corn and sweet potatoes cooked in the ashes, I followed Billy to his house. Once there, we sat around the fire with Oscar, the head of the local elementary school, and a few others.

Oscar explained how thankful he was for the 1,319 lbs. of school materials that I had flown in that day. The school covers grades three to eight and has 300 students. Although from my perspective it didn’t seem very much for a school that size, the supplies were very meaningful for this head teacher. As we sat, I was able to share from the Bible and also hear stories from them. I encouraged them to use their New Testaments—translated in their local language—and not just leave them on the shelf.

Later, the other guests cleared out and I spread out my sleeping bag on the foam mattress Billy had provided. Billy and his family slept in the same room on woven mats underneath large blankets.

The next morning, I was up by 5:15 a.m. to inspect the airplane and get ready for the flight home. After a couple of delays, we took off and were back to home base by 7:30 am.

Most of my flights are not filled with quite as much adventure, but I’m thankful for the ones that provide some unique opportunities to share the gospel and interact with people in ways that I don’t often get to do on a regular basis.

Jamie Halvorson

Jamie Halvorson

Jamie has served in Papua New Guinea with SIL PNG Aviation since 2006. Lisa, his wife, came to PNG in 2007 as a language intern. They were married in 2009 and now have four children, Thad, Thea, Zeke, and Ziah.