Missionary Diary: Opening 'roads' for remote PNG communities

MAF Australia’s Richie Axon has served as a pilot in Papua New Guinea since 2010. Along with his family, he is based in Telefomin, an outstation in the west of Papua New Guinea.

Wednesday, 15 June 2022

Today I was flying with Wilfred, one of the Wewak pilots, doing some mutual training. It was great to spend time working together and we were even able to stop and sell some Bibles to people in Yatoam, a very poor community where there is a great hunger for God’s word.

Friday, 17 June 2022

Today I had the privilege of flying with Wilfred to open a new airstrip, Wetap. In March I had done the survey by helicopter with Ryan (one of the pilots based here in Telefomin) and we have been waiting for the report from RAA (Rural Airstrips Agency) on the subsurface testing. Last week the Flight Ops Manager told me that we were good to go for a first landing. The community have been working on this one for some years now and were very excited to see us.

Wilfred and I flew a number of circuits to establish what was the best way to approach and where was the last place we could safely go around if we weren’t happy. Once on the ground, there was no problem getting stopped. At 11 per cent the slope and gravity mean we even had to add power to get to the top.

Unfortunately, the grass was longer than we realised from the air, so they will have to cut that before we can come back again, but I think they are pretty motivated.

Richie Axon flies over a remote part of PNG

Richie Axon flies over Wetap in PNG MAF

Monday, 20 June 2022

Today I got this email from Shedric, one of the community leaders from Wetap:

Subject: Community Thanks MAF for Wetap Airstrip Test Landing last Friday 17/06/2022.

For all to God’s glory. Thanks to the dedicated and committed missionaries who work for God to serve and save the people in reaching out and touching lives of thousands in many ways

On behalf of my humble community, I praise God for prayers answered. Last Friday afternoon, I received a call from home. In the background, I could hear noise of the aircraft and people dancing and celebrating in emotion. I shed tears on the phone with the caller and my heart filled with joy with satisfaction.

I felt satisfied that all our hard work has finally paid us well.

My special thanks to all the line of officers from Operations to Communication, especially to the individuals I have communicated with you so far for the airstrip. You all have been very helpful to me. That is why I have a reason to smile, and I hope you would too. You all worked for the good of our people. I can’t wait to fly home soon. A real taste feeling. To God be Glory.

Congratulations to the duo captains went into Wetap. You made my proud. Well done.

God will continue to bless MAF and its Operations.

Shedric Bisapen, Community Leader

Richie Axon with PNG villagers

Richie Axon with villagers in Yatoam, PNG MAF

Wednesday, 22 June 2022

Yesterday I got news that they have finished cutting the grass and the Flight Ops Manager has given approval for operations to start. The nearest airstrip is more than a day’s walk away, so getting iron for a roof of a house or even medical supplies is a major challenge. The people on the ground will be thrilled. It’s great to be able to open the “road” for access for this community.