It's been a busy, but good week here in "the office." In addition to the normal passengers, government officials, and "barang" (stuff) I flew throughout the week, I also had the privilege of flying quite a few national pastors here and there. On Thursday I flew some groups of national pastors to a village along the Malaysian border, (Pa-upan,) for a church conference. As I was finishing that up, there was a call from Long Pujungan, quite a ways away, for a medical flight. A young man was having extreme stomach pain--perhaps a bleeding ulcer?
You know, there sure are tons of times when I'm out here wishing I'd have had some basic medical training. I actually enjoy the medical stuff, and would find it quite helpful to have some training under my belt. But in the meantime, the best I can do is to try to show the love of Jesus to people who are physically hurting, while trying to get them alive to a hospital. Well, this young man initially wanted to go to Malinau, which was closer than Tarakan, but doesn't have as good of a hospital. However, before I got there, they changed their mind and asked if they could go straight to Tarakan b/c of how serious his condition was.
Unfortunately, as often happens out here, I was forced to make a tough decision. Even though it would have been better for him medically speaking, I couldn't take him to Tarakan, b/c I had to return to Long Bawan (back near the earlier location) to pick up two more medical patients that also needed to go to Tarakan. If I'd have taken this young man straight to Tarakan, I wouldn't have had time to go back and pick up the others--one of whom was a woman having a baby. She or her baby might not have made it though the night.
It was a busy flight week as far as medevacs go. I had about a half dozen myself, and I know several of the other pilots also had a few. In fact, on Saturday three of us got called in to handle separate requests for help. Each Saturday and Sunday one of us is on standby, in case we get a medevac call. Usually, people interior try to wait till Monday if possible, b/c of the cost and logistics involved in getting a special flight just for a medical patient. But if it's serious enough, they know that we'll always come if there's a plane available and the weather cooperates.
Well, it's rare but occasionally we'll get two calls in one day on the weekend. However, since I've been here, I've never heard of three in one day. I took the third one, and it was to Long Nawang, the furthest village from Tarakan that we fly to on a regular basis. It was after lunch when we got the call, and quite a bit later than we'd normally leave for a flight deep into the Apokayan region. A trip to Long Nawang involves flying over many, many miles of nothing but rugged jungle, where wild, tropical weather can quickly sneak up on you, and there are few options for alternates, (above, you can see some of the weather I had to work around on the way back from Nawang.)
Thankfully, though the weather was a bit challenging, I was able to get down and back just before the airport here in Tarakan closed for the evening. The young woman who was having major complications in childbirth was obviously in a lot of pain. Her husband was SOOOO grateful for the help that MAF provided. I know that if it was my wife, I would have done anything to get here help, so I think I can understand his gratitude. It sure is a privilege to be able to provide such a necessary service to people who are so appreciative, and to do it all in the name of Christ!
Below, I snapped this shot while waiting for a heavy rain shower to pass in Mahak Baru--actually, what turned out to be a fairly long and drenching rain. I was ferrying groups of government folks between two villages, and was fighting weather all day. Finally, it just cut loose and poured, giving me a chance to eat some scrumptious "nasi goreng" (fried rice) with my friends there, and visit with the government folks. The two-hour delay, as often happens, turned out to be a blessing as it allowed me to deepen relationships I already had, and begin to make some new ones. Plus, did I mention the food was really good?! :)