Running for life

Running for life

Karina Mills describes a marathon that changed many little lives in Papua New Guinea

In Kompiam, deep in the mountainous highlands of Papua New Guinea (PNG), November 2014 was MAF marathon month. For students at Kompiam International School (KIS), the airstrip never looked so long, yet our appreciation for MAF had never been so deep.

Kompiam is a remote out-station in Enga Province, where the Kompiam District Hospital can be found. Serving about 60,000 people scattered across remote mountainside villages, the hospital is a unique and vital project. KIS supports the hospital by providing high-standard education for the children of the hospital's dedicated staff, along with some local children.

Inspired by MAF

MAF has served PNG's highlands for over 60 years. Countless people have been evacuated for life-saving treatment, vital supplies have been delivered to the hospital and the love of God has been distributed through Bibles. What would we have done without MAF's little planes?

Children from Kompiam International School hold up there 'MAF Marathon' sign infront of a Cessna 208.

The Conwell family moved to Kompiam in 2012, and were quickly impacted by MAF's work. They wanted to 'give something back', so decided to organise a marathon to raise awareness and prayer support for MAF flights. The international school also got on board.

Candidates agreed to run the length of the airstrip and back (roughly 1 mile) each day for 26 days, equating to a full marathon distance, resting on Sundays. Runners hoped that as they ran, people around the world would pray for MAF – mile by mile, day by day.

Learning curve

'Was it fun?' the students of KIS were asked. Amidst some 'No's' and 'Sometimes', one 16-year-old summed it up when she said, 'At the beginning it was fun, but it got harder as the days went on!'

The students have done so well to run consistently every day for a month. Once the novelty wore off, it became a matter of sheer determination to not give up!

Children from Kompiam International School hold their arms out like wings for the camera.

'It helped us remember MAF and know what it's like for them when it gets hard,' mused Chelsea (10). This was an important lesson for us all. There must be days when MAF staff lack motivation to keep going, but they remain determined to faithfully meet the demands of each day.

Many 'hot days', 'stitches', and occasional mocking comments from passers-by made the project a gruelling one. We realised that often people don't understand why we do what we do. But we ploughed on anyway!

Pressing on

It was a truly character-building experience, and not one of the students pulled out. We came to value each other more, and support one another when we were came under criticism.

When Kondy stated that she was looking forward to the end, it reflected how all of us were feeling! But it also formed a challenge – to acknowledge that the end is what gives our present difficulties focus and meaning.

In some way, we hope that this marathon has demonstrated a measure of support and appreciation we have for MAF. May we all be encouraged to press on towards the goal that God has placed in our hands.

Then we will eventually hear His precious voice saying, 'Well done, my good and faithful servants.'

Kompiam locals greet the arrival of MAF at the hospital in full local dress.