Mika’s Story

Six-year-old Mika was happily playing with his friends, running and climbing trees in the remote village of Mokndoma in Papua, Indonesia. But when he fell from a branch and it impaled his abdomen upon landing, his day quickly turned serious.

Missionaries in the village tried to treat him, but they weren’t able to extract the wood that was lodged in his stomach; and they feared internal bleeding or an infection. They called MAF and requested an emergency evacuation.

MAF’s Kodiak aircraft, PK-MEA quickly arrived and Mika, his mother, and a missionary friend, boarded the plane. MAF pilot Mike Brown said a prayer for a safe flight and healing for Mika, and then they were off.

Upon arrival in Sentani, Mika was taken to the hospital where the doctor discovered the wood had pierced both sides of Mika’s small intestine and was starting to poke into his large intestine, causing toxins to leak into his abdominal cavity. Mika was whisked off to surgery, and two hours later, the doctor had successfully removed the wood and the fluid from his abdomen.

Less than a week later, Mika was well enough for PK-MEA to return him and his mother to their village, where he continued the healing process. Thanks to the financial support of friends like you, Mika is now able to run and climb again like every other young boy in the highlands of Papua.

mika vimeo

Click here to watch a video that was taken during Mika’s evacuation flight, his treatment and recovery, and return home.

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But there’s more to this story…

The process of building and maintaining remote airstrips involves a partnership between MAF and the isolated people. This partnership is essential so that MAF can meet needs and open doors for Christ’s love to be shared.

The following is a blog post by MAF missionary photojournalists Mark and Kelly Hewes, who reported on the celebration following MAF’s first flight into the newly created airstrip in the remote and isolated community of Mokndoma in Papua, Indonesia.

As we circled over the Wano village of Mokndoma in a small Kodiak, I suddenly felt my heart rate increase and my breathing pick up a bit. The airstrip had opened recently and only a handful of planes had landed there. It was so new, there were only two MAF pilots allowed to fly there. We had flown into more than 20 different jungle airstrips since we arrived in Papua but all of those places had been visited by hundreds of times. There was something adventurous and scary about a new airstrip.

As the mass of broccoli below began to transform into individual trees, I kept myself occupied by focusing on videoing the landing. Little wooden huts soon became visible and the closer we got, the faster it felt like we were moving. Then the tires hit and we were whizzing past structures and shrubs along the airstrip. Like the sudden deceleration at the end of a roller coaster ride, the plane quickly slowed down and soon we were waving to the crowd that had gathered at the top of the airstrip to welcome us. I breathed a little sigh of relief as I unbuckled my seatbelt and climbed out onto the freshly laid gravel. What a beautiful sight!

The airstrip had taken the people of Mokndoma two years of hard work to complete. A long rectangle of thick jungle trees and shrubs had to be cleared first. Then came the digging. Large rocks had to be removed and part of the mountain had to be dug out and flattened with pick axes and shovels. Then a motorized stamper turned the rocks left into a compact layer of gravel.

There was a great celebration on the day an MAF plane landed there for the first time. Many villagers in Mokndoma were motivated to build the airstrip to reach out to areas that had never heard of Christ’s love. Already two local missionaries, Liku and Dugwiru, were out in another village telling others about Christ. For the village, having air service meant better access to food, medicine, and building materials as well as safety in the event of a medical emergency or a natural disaster.

The two missionary families that serve in Mokndoma, the Ingles and the Wilds, were very excited for all of the benefits of living near an airstrip for the first time. Both families have served the Wano people for over ten years and have always used a combination of hiking and helicopter/plane flying to get to their village.

We stayed in the village for three days and got a small glimpse of what missionary life interior is like. Tim Ingles told us about his and Mike Wilds’ work translating the Bible into Wano and developing a chronological teaching system that led the first Wano believers to Christ. Rebecca Ingles explained how she helps to teach literacy classes and runs the local clinic, giving out basic medical treatment.

It was easy to see how much the Ingles and the Wilds love the Wano people and give so much of themselves to meet their basic needs and see them come to Christ. We were so blessed by our time spent there and the amazing examples of the missionaries’ sacrificial life.

As our little plane barreled down the runway and soared up and over the tall trees at the far end of the airstrip, I gripped my camera tighter and felt grateful for the chance to take pictures of the little huts below from such a beautiful angle.

About the story tellers…

Hello! We are Mark & Kelly Hewes, a husband and wife filmmaking and photojournalism team. We love traveling and telling stories!

We are based in Boise, Idaho and just returned home after two years of living and working overseas with Mission Aviation Fellowship. It was a life-changing opportunity to experience many different countries and cultures and document MAF’s work through photos and film. We traveled to 15 different countries, made over 70 films, and shot upwards of 50,000 photos!

Read more of their stories and follow Mark and Kelly on their blog.

Help make a difference…

Click here to help make future flights like this possible with your financial gift today.

Click here to help us build new airstrips that will provide access to isolated families with your financial gift today.

mokndoma vimeo

Click here to watch a video showing the first landing and celebration at the newly constructed airstrip at Mokndoma that now brings access to this isolated community, and ultimately helped save Mika’s life.

In case you were wondering…

A remote village wants to open an MAF airstrip. How exactly does this happen in in the middle of dense jungles, rugged mountains, or deserts?

  1. A request is made by either the villagers themselves, or by another mission organization or church that wants to reach a specific people group.
  2. An initial interview occurs with the villagers. Do they have the heart to do this? It is a sacrifice to not only build the airstrip but to maintain it. If they aren’t motivated to build it, they won’t be motivated to keep it up.
  3. MAF pilots do a flyover to survey the potential site. To land on any airstrip, a pilot must have the information in the acronym “Wind LASSO”: Wind, Length, Altitude, Slope, Surface, and Obstacles. This is also the rubric for a new airstrip. Before a plane lands on it, the airstrip must meet specific standards for each of those criteria.
  4. The villagers get to work building the airstrip. Sometimes this can take as little as two years, but often it is much longer. Because heavy machinery typically is not available, much of the work is done by hand with wheel barrows, pick axes, and shovels. The villagers cut down trees and remove rocks, boulders, stumps, and other obstacles. They also must smooth the surface of the airstrip. This is sometimes done by diverting a spring or small stream and letting the water flow over the airstrip to even out the ground.
  5. A final inspection is done once the building process is complete. The chief pilot hikes in or takes a helicopter in to give a stamp of approval before an airplane lands on the new strip.
  6. Ongoing maintenance is essential for remote airstrips. Villagers must constantly work to keep the strip clear of brush, rocks, and livestock.

The process of building and maintaining remote airstrips involves a partnership between MAF and the isolated people. This partnership is essential so that MAF can meet needs and open doors for Christ’s love to be shared.