Michael joined us as a pilot in 1994. He flew thousands of hours, later adding the role of Flight Operations Manager to his flying duties.
During a quarter-century alongside him in PNG, Nicki occupied a variety of roles including IT and communications support, training new staff and teaching them the Tok Pisin language. There was also the small matter of bringing up their children in a very different culture.
The Duncalfes arrived with four young boys. Now as they leave, their grown-up sons are spread across the globe.
In that time, the family has grown by six grandchildren while three of Michael's and Nicki’s parents have gone to the Lord.
Far from friends
‘This is one of the hardest aspects of living overseas,’ Nicki reflects. ‘You’re far from friends and extended family, missing out on special occasions and quality time with loved ones.
‘On the other hand,’ she adds, ‘we’ve shared our lives with an incredible mix of people – both locals and staff; the latter from all across the world.’
Nicki’s seen more than 170 team members come through the programme.
'We’re so grateful to God for the years we spent in PNG'
‘We’ve also seen four MAF logos, three livery changes and eight different types of plane!’ adds Michael with a smile.
‘But the biggest changes have been technological. The advent of the Internet was revolutionary – we now track our planes through the latest Garmin systems. And VHF radio has been replaced by satellite technology.’
Such changes have also accelerated evangelism.
Although Christians still carry around the Word of God in book form, more than 800 languages are spoken throughout PNG. Wi-Fi Bibles are now offered to people in 200 of those languages.
Young team, new fleet
New roads mean MAF no longer needs to serve some communities. However, the need for more pilots remains great – numerous groups of remote people are still to be reached.
‘I ask our supporters to pray for more trained pilots to come forward,’ says Michael earnestly. ‘Pilots that do so won’t regret it.’
Before leaving, Michael and Nicki had a wonderful time welcoming new pilot Israel Neale, his wife Charlene and their son Miles to PNG from MAF Arnhem Land.
It was symbolic of one generation of staff handing the mission baton to the next.
Charlene even moved into the training role that Nicki developed with such expertise.
‘We’re delighted to leave behind a young, compassionate and enthusiastic team of professionals,’ says Michael, ‘and a new fleet of Caravan aircraft.’
‘We’re so grateful to God for the years we spent in PNG,’ says Nicki. ‘We thank Him for providing constant prayer and financial support, for protecting our family and for the incredible people of this wonderful country He has brought across our path.’
God isn’t finished with us yet!
For 25 years, Michael and Nicki have played a significant part in the lives of hundreds – maybe even thousands – of isolated people who’ve been physically and spiritually transformed through Jesus.
And, just like the MAF PNG team, Michael and Nicki are looking to the future. They’re not certain what God has planned for them, but they’re stepping out in faith once more. ‘God isn’t finished with us yet!’ they soundly agree.
As the final act of an extraordinary MAF career, Michael shares a poignant story.
‘When we arrived in PNG, I experienced God speaking to me in a way I’d never known before. I distinctly heard him say, “Michael, I will make a way for you.” This was a great encouragement in the first few weeks as I learnt how to fly in the challenging, tropical conditions.
‘This year, on one of my last flights for MAF, I was coming in to land when I saw a complete rainbow before me. It’s so rare to see such a sight that I could hardly believe it – let alone be able to fly through it!
‘As I pierced the beautiful, multicoloured arc, I heard God’s voice again. And this time He said, "I have made a way for you."'
Michael's and Nicki's final word on 25 years of service echoes the experiences of so many MAF families through the ages.
'Our God is a faithful God!'