By Linda Ringenberg
Linda is an MAF missionary serving in Papua, Indonesia, who had the chance to fly with her husband, Dave, to visit the remote village of Nalca recently.
As we stepped out of the MAF Kodiak onto the green grass of the Nalca airstrip, nurses from the Siloam Clinic took turns presenting each of us with a colorful piece of Batik cloth that they draped around our necks like a scarf. My husband, Dave, had flown our family, one of our national staff, and a videographer from the States who had traveled halfway around the world to capture the story of Dr. Atik.
The cool air invigorated us as we sauntered down the airstrip, marveling at the rugged mountains that encircled the village. We followed a path that led us to the Siloam Clinic where the nurses and Dr. Atik help the villagers each day with their health needs.
Dr. Atik introduced us to some of the individuals waiting at the clinic. One woman came to say thank you to MAF for flying her out of the village in a medical emergency. The clinic nurses had saved her life by stopping the bleeding after her husband cut off her hand in a failed attempt to kill her. Now her arm had healed, and she was so thankful.
Another woman was pregnant with her sixth child. Unfortunately, her first three babies had died during childbirth. Dr. Atik wondered if the woman was too small for a baby to survive a natural birth, so for her fourth pregnancy, she encouraged the woman to fly on MAF to the city where she had a Caesarean birth ending in a healthy baby! The plan for this sixth baby is to do the same.
This clinic is one of seven strategically placed in remote villages by a Christian organization founded by an Indonesian businessman and his family. They fully fund and staff the clinics with graduates from their medical university in Jakarta. The clinic is always placed with a school that is staffed in the same way from their teaching university. MAF has flown in most of the supplies to build these schools and clinics, and regularly transports teachers and nurses in and out on their breaks.
The people’s gratitude for MAF’s services and Dr. Atik and the nurses’ care was clear. I was touched to see, standing in front of me, people who are alive today through the clinic’s intervention and MAF’s assistance.
This fresh example of MAF making a difference in people’s lives reminded me anew that serving here is worth it.
That afternoon I helped translate for the filmed interview with Dr. Atik. I was very moved as she shared her story.
Dr. Atik strongly desired to come to Papua after finishing medical school in Jakarta, but her parents were against the idea. So, to honor them, she didn’t come, but instead worked in a hospital in Jakarta. She ended up experiencing some hard circumstances that left her very broken. It wasn’t until years later that she once again felt the intense longing to come serve the people of Papua, and this time her family didn’t stand in the way.
When she was 40 years old, Dr. Atik landed in Papua without a job or a contact. Eventually she was invited to join the Siloam Clinic staff as a traveling doctor to provide guidance and expertise at the various locations, which she has done for the past seven years.
One day she asked the Lord, “Why didn’t you let me come do this earlier in my life?” And the Lord told her, “Because, my child, you would have come in your own strength. Now you know you can’t do this on your own and you serve in My strength.”
All the nurses were sad to say goodbye to Dr. Atik the next morning as she flew out of Nalca with us so she could attend the grand opening of the seventh Siloam Clinic in a different village. MAF is blessed to partner with her and all the staff of the Siloam Clinics to reach the least, the last, and the lost for Jesus.