This is an account of a recent ordeal of a young Papua New Guinea missionary pilot Ronald Brandan Yombi (https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=879903292544004&id=349747055559633) serving with Philippine Adventist Medical Aviation Services (PAMAS) on Palawan Island in the Philippines.
We have reached the isolated people of DapDap, Palawan (The Ke-ney tribe) because of Christ’s Love.
On Thursday, the 14th of January 2020, our volunteer missionaries flew up to DapDap, as they often do, with our helicopter (Bumble- bee) to treat patients and pull teeth. It’s just a ten minute flight from our airbase, but much longer if you have to hike. They did a few flight runs back and forth bringing the volunteers and medical supplies and equipment. They spent the day providing basic health care for the remote and isolated mountain people of DapDap.
This remote jungle mountain area is located in the southern part of the Palawan Island, which is located in the western part of the Philippines. There are no basic services provided by the government in these mountains- like schools, hospitals, or even mini-clinics or first-aid posts to serve these isolated people. Our ministry, Philippine Adventist Medical Aviation Services (PAMAS), serve these people as their only life line to have access to basic health care, education, and more. With our helicopter we bring medical missionary volunteers to help mothers with difficult child birth and to treat patients with Malaria, Tuberculosis (TB), and malnutrition etc.
But on this day, after the medical missionaries finished treating the people and they were ready to fly back to the base, the Bumble-bee wouldn’t start. It was late in the day and there is no cell signal in this area. All the volunteers and medical missionaries had to spend the night in the deep jungles without any supplies like extra clothes, food, or blankets etc.
Thankfully they were able to send texts through an emergency satellite tracking device, and the next day the other PAMAS pilots flew over the village in the airplane and dropped batteries and tools to try to fix the helicopter. But the helicopter still would not start. By noon, it was apparent that the volunteers would need to hike back down. So they all hiked down for eight hours- back to the lowlands (civilization).
After a few days, on Monday the 18th, early in the morning before the sunrise, a group of us guys packed our bags with food, tools, a few clothes, hammocks, and four 12 volt batteries for our yellow helicopter (Bumble- bee). It had been three days stuck in the mountains because of mechanical issues. We hoped that we could get it started by bringing the things required, and to get the Bumble- Bee out of the remote mountains and back to our airbase.
There were five of us missionaries plus two guides, so we were seven in all. We started our hike around 7:45am in the morning. As we walked, the moderate terrain lead us past a number of smaller, vividly green mountaintops until we reached the village high up the side of one of the mountains. We slowly ascended up at a snail’s pace, taking one step at a time. It was very steep and the slippery conditions made it downright treacherous at times. As a result, some of us fell down and got minor bruises and small cuts. We crossed the same river 29 times.
The lush green rainforest coupled with multiple different kinds of mosses and fungi plants coating the stone formations made for a picturesque day. The trek itself was as strenuous as you can imagine, but it had absolutely breathtaking views of waterfalls that we couldn’t take our eyes off. It was a difficult hike and it truly gave us a feeling of being far removed from the busy city life of civilization.
By the grace of God we finally reached our destination (DapDap village) after a long day. The entire journey took us about eight hours, (including the travel by road to the trail head etc). It took us six and a half hours for the actual hike.
We were able to determine the possible problem with the helicopter, but it was not possible to fix it without a new part that is needed.
Please pray for our yellow helicopter (Bumble- Bee) which is still stuck in the remote mountain village. We are hoping to find the new parts so we can get this machine up and running again to serve and save lives. Without this helicopter flying, it could cost the lives of pregnant mothers and sick patients. We need prayers for our helicopter and for the new parts. Thank you and God bless.