Visiting Kiyage lagi (again)

I love flying along with Nathan.  I don’t seem to get to do it as often now with all of my mommy responsibilities, so when I do get to go, it’s extra special!

This was on our way home from Wamena.  Just like our last trip to Wamena, we stopped in the village of Kiyage.

Kiyage overhead

Kiyage overheard

Overhead Kiyage

Kiyage landing

Getting ready to land!

People of Kiyage

Elias and I often have a little posse that follow us around when we are interior.  It usually takes Elias a little time to warm up, but by the end of our time in Kiyage, he was putting on a little “show” for anyone who would watch by making silly faces at them.  They thought it was hilarious!

Shade of the Wing

Honai

Tickets

Each passenger needs a ticket!  So, not only is Nathan the load crew, pilot and flight attendant, he also runs the ticket “counter.”  His time on the ground is packed full of activity.  He unloads people and cargo, often adds/removes seats, writes tickets for all passengers, loads new cargo and people, does a passenger briefing and then switches to pilot mode.  Not to mention any scuffles he has to help settle, flight requests he collects; all in another language! Phew, it’s exhausting just to watch!  I admire him every time!

malaria patient

This little guy had malaria and so he came to town with us to get treated.  While malaria is usually very treatable…without treatment (which is hard to come by in the village), it can be deadly.

Kiyage take-off

Kiyage take-off

Everyone on board and ready for take off!  It’s hard to tell from these pictures, but the runway is downhill.  It’s like a rollercoaster ride!

Kiyagi

Are you tired of these “On our way to/in/from Wamena” posts yet?  Well, here’s one more!

Besides observing the beautiful landscape on our way home from Wamena, we also stopped in the new-to-us village of Kiyagi.  This village is typically serviced by the Wamena base, so Nathan is not checked out here and up until the day we were slotted to fly there, I had never even heard of it.

Did you know that surveys show that Papua is home to around 270 language groups?  270!  That number is astounding.  Papua is roughly the size of Texas, so imagine driving from town to town within the state of Texas and encountering a completely different language in each one!

As it turns out, the people of Kiyagi were really excited to meet a Nabire pilot as they have a lot of family living here and would love service to and from Nabire.  And so, the hope is that Nathan will get check-out in Kiyagi soon in order to serve these people.

Kiyagi

Kiyagi

Yeah, that’s an airstrip.  It has a tiny bit of slope…(the parking area where you see the plane is off to the side of the runway, and actually it’s only halfway up.)  Taking off from here feels a bit like a rollercoaster.

Kiyagi

Kiyagi

I loved all of these slate rocks that they had in the parking spot.  I wanted to load up the plane with them and bring them home!

Kiyagi

Have I even mentioned that Papuan women are ah-ma-zing?  This mama is not only carrying her child in a sling (and probably carries that child all day long), she also has large net bags full of whoknowswhat hanging off her head, down her back.  These women are STRONG!

Kiyagi

See that tiny little strip of white just to the right of that gentleman’s head?  The one waaaay in the background on a mountain?  That’s a waterfall.  A super huge, really beautiful waterfall.  I casually asked how long it would take to walk there and they all kinda looked at me like I was nutso and then said that no one walks there because to go down through the valley was pretty dangerous.

So, there ya have it…another village, another airstrip on this beautiful island that we call “home.”

Beautiful Papua

On our way home from Wamena I thought to myself, “I’m going to take a picture every time I look out the window and see something beautiful.”  There was a tiny little flaw in my plan…Papua is gorgeous!  I could have just held my shutter down the whole flight and let my camera click away.  Pictures really don’t do justice to the beauty that is here…but here are a few nonetheless.

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Winging our way to Daboto

[Disclaimer: this post has pictures of tribal people dressed the way the dress.  I decided not to edit this time, because this is real life.  This is what the look like.  And they aren’t ashamed.  They are loved by Jesus, just like you and me.]

It’s not very often that Elias and I get to fly along with Nathan, but on our way to Wamena last week (for a routine airplane inspection) we got to stop in the village of Daboto where we spent Thanksgiving last year.  It’s so easy for me to get caught up in the everydayness of everyday and forget that there is a whole world out there of mountains and tribal people and missionaries doing amazing things, so I love when I get a chance to wing my way over there to see it with my own eyes.

Home Sweet Home

Just after take-off in Nabire, you can see the MAF base below (at the end of the runway).  Our house is buried under the trees, so you can’t see it in this photo, but you can see the hangar and a few other houses on our base.

Handsome Pilot

Hey there stud pilot extraordinaire!

Daboto

Overhead Daboto.  This airstrip took 10 years and about $60,000 to make.  It is literally carved out of the side of a mountain.

Daboto

This childhood…I sometimes grieve all the things he is missing out on because of our choice to live here to do what we do.  But he has gained so much too!

That's a close mountain

We’ve been doing this long enough now that flying this close to mountains doesn’t totally freak me out anymore…but I still remember that nervous feeling in the pit of my stomach the first few times that I flew along with Nathan.  It does help that my favorite pilot is well-trained and super skilled (and studly).

And that's an even closer one

Remember how I said this strip was carved out of the side of a mountain?  Upon landing, it feels like your right wing might just scrape that mountain (but it never does because of my aforementioned stud pilot).

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Moi Woman

Moi Woman

I love visiting Daboto and the Moi people.  They always seems genuinely happy to see us.  And so even though all I can say is “hello” and “thank you” in their language, there’s beauty in shared smiles.

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Daboto runway

I’m awed when I think of all that it took to get this airplane to this spot: years of hard manual labor on the runway, years of flight training for Nathan, hundreds if not thousands of financial supporters to purchase the airplane, build the runway, sustain our lives here and the many, many missionaries who have gone before to lay the ground work of the Gospel coming to Papua.

Superhero among them

Superhero costumes make you feel brave when surrounded by strangers :)

Empty plane

And then we were off again to Wamena, this time with an empty airplane.  Until next time Daboto!

Nathan is on Instagram!

I know this blog is title “Nathan and Becky…” but really, it’s more my side of life than Nathan’s since I write everything on it.  So, you hear a lot about Elias, cooking, shopping, etc. But there is a whole other side of life over hear: Nathan’s side, which is much more about airplanes and tribal people.  And while he’s not going to start blogging anytime soon (he really doesn’t have time to do that), he has started an Instagram account.

It’s quite possible that I’m biased, but I am totally a fangirl of his account.  It’s so him, and so his life.  So, if you’re on Instagram, head on over to papuapilot’s account and check out a little slice of Nathan’s life!

Nathan Instagram

Instagram Nathan

Instagram Nathan

Instagram Nathan

Instagram Nathan

Manokwari

Several times a year, Nathan goes up to the town of Manokwari to do some flying for the surrounding villages.  For years and years, MAF had a full time family that lived in Manokwari, but now the needs there are not as great and don’t require a full-time pilot.

This time, Elias and I tagged along with Nathan.

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I love the MAF hangar in Manokawari.  It’s an old-school pull-through hangar that is actually too small for Nathan’s Kodiak.

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Similar to Nabire, the airport is right on the water.  It’s a gorgeous place.

Unlike Nabire, Manokwari has a KFC!!  Yes, folks.  It has come to pass in my life that I’m excited about KFC.

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One of the villages Nathan’s serves from Manokwari is Moyeba.  I love this place.  The people there are so HAPPY!  So many smiling faces.  Plus they speak Indonesian, so I can talk to them.  They seem genuinely grateful for the service that Nathan provides.

DSC_1632 resizeElias was unsure about this crowd of kids that followed us around.

Running to Daddy

But he warmed up to them after a few minutes.  The whole village laughed and erupted in applause when Elias ran from me to Nathan.  As we boarded the plane to leave Elias asked if he could stay with the kids.  Sorry, buddy…for now you have to stick with Mom and Dad.

I’m sure there will be many more trips to KFC, ahem, I mean Manokwari for us in the future!

 

Not Just a Pilot

Every time I fly along with Nathan, I come home exhausted and amazed that he does this every. single. day.  And while the flying itself has it’s own challenges (weather, rough terrain, short runways, etc.) the on-the-ground part is what really wears me out, and I’m just an observer!

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In the air, Nathan is the pilot.  And like I said, this is a challenge in itself.  Flying here is no joke.  But on the ground, he is the ground crew, unloading and loading the plane, this also often includes removing or adding seats; the ticket agent, writing tickets and collecting money; the flight attendant, directing people where to sit and how to work their seatbelts (often his passengers have never worn a seatbelt in their lifetime and so it’s really a trick to teach them how to use it!); the peacemaker, sometimes fights break out when there are more passengers than seats available; the runway clearer, not a real job in most airports, but a pretty important one here: getting all the people and animals off the runway so he can take-off again.  All of these things happen within about 20 minutes.  It’s a whirlwind of activity, followed up by a roller coaster ride take-off down a tiny dirt runway.

And then it’s on to the next village to do it all over again!

Pig and Machetes

120 kg Pig and a Machete Wielding Passenger!

That’s what the headline would read in the U.S., right?  But here, it’s just another day of flying for Nathan.

The village of Hitadipa has a huge Christmas feast coming up and roasted pig is on the menu!  Today Nathan picked up their pig, weighing in at 120 kg, from one village to be carried to Hitadipa for the feast.

Pig on a stick

Pigs are a big deal in Papua.  They are traded like currency and used as a bride pride.  I have no idea what this pig would go for at the market, but I would guess it’s worth at least a thousand dollars.  So roasting it for a Christmas party is a really big deal.  Only really special occasions warrant a pig roast.  For the village of Hitadipa, Christmas is just such an occasion.
Pig strapped in to fly

This guy was too big to fit in the pod of Nathan’s airplane, so he got priority seating alongside the other passengers.  Pigs are not happy fliers and so they strapped him down tight to be sure he couldn’t get loose (and, as we all know, a loose pig on a plane is bad news.)  Nathan then handed one of the passengers a machete and said, “if the pig gets loose, you have to kill it.”

Yup, just another day in the life of my jungle pilot.

P.S.-the pig didn’t get loose.  It now awaits its fate in Hitadipa.

Pogapa

A few weeks ago, when our team was starting their long journey home, Nathan flew the first leg from Nabire to Timika.  On the way, we stopped in the village of Pogapa.

Pogapa is a mountain village, with cool air and gorgeous mountain views.  The two airplanes off the side of the runway are a stark reminder of just exactly how dangerous the flying can be here in Papua.

I am ever so grateful when I get to fly along on these trips and take some pictures of the beautiful scenery and the beautiful people!

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Notice the plane off to the left of this picture (not an MAF plane).  I don’t know the details of the crash, but we’re told that everyone on board survived.

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Walking down this runway, with a slope ranging from 15% to 6% was a breeze.  Walking back up, on the other hand, was our work out for the day. :-)  Elias was the smart one, hitching a ride on Dad’s shoulders.

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Elias draws a little crowd wherever he goes.  Sweet boy.

Sometimes I have to pinch myself to remind me that this life we’re living is really real.  We love it here and we’re so blessed to have such an awesome group of people supporting us!!  Thank you!