NTM Aviation pilot Jon Leedahl was nearing the completion of his extensive training with SIL (JAARS) in the Kodiak airplane — and God had already miraculously provided two of the three Kodiaks that NTM Aviation needed for Papua New Guinea. Within a year’s time at least one of the Kodiaks would be on location in Papua New Guinea and Jon would be in the pilot’s seat. Life was good. Everything was going according to plan.
A CURVE IN THE ROAD
And then a blind curve in the road changed everything. The head-on collision between Jon’s motorcycle and the Land Cruiser should have killed him. In critical condition, Jon desperately needed a medevac flight to Australia, but the mountainous terrain ruled out a night flight. Blood transfusions and a tourniquet applied to his leg kept him alive through the night. As morning dawned, it was SIL (JAARS) staff that loaded Jon aboard their Kodiak to make the four-hour flight across open water to Cairns, Australia. Jon’s wife, Adie, joined him on the flight.
Later, from the hospital in Australia, Adie wrote, “Jon is out of surgery. He looks good. There will be more surgery on Sunday to clean up the wound. God has his leg. God has a purpose. My first thought of ‘why’ was quickly answered with, ‘I have a big plan.’ ”
In that moment, Adie had no idea what that big plan might be, but it was a comforting thought. It was comforting when they considered the effects of the trauma on their immediate family, when they thought of how their absence would affect NTM Aviation in Papua New Guinea, and as they faced the journey to recovery.
Recovery was a slow and arduous process involving multiple setbacks, surgeries and lots of physical therapy. Even getting a new leg was a complex process. But over time, Jon’s physical body healed.
THE JOURNEY BEGINS
Another journey awaited them. One that held many questions. Would Jon ever fly again? Would being an amputee disqualify him from flying? And if not, what would be the steps to getting him back into the pilot’s seat of the Kodiak in Papua New Guinea? Was that even in the realm of possibilities? Could that lofty goal be part of God’s big plan?
Their journey involved much prayer as they faced many unknowns. It involved navigating their way through a myriad of requirements to have Jon reinstated, not only as a licensed FAA pilot, but as a qualified missionary pilot. It was a journey back to the life they had known. It was a journey back to Papua New Guinea.
One by one the requirements were met. Plans were set in place to return to Papua New Guinea in February of 2016. The countdown was on. “I’m numb, Jon’s giddy,
And then the day came. They boarded a plane for Papua New Guinea. A seven-hour layover in Port Moresby could have been considered an inconvenience, but it was far from that. Jon had his flight physical during that layover — and actually received his medical certificate that same day! From there they continued on to Goroka, where they were reunited with their many friends and co-workers who had prayed and loved on them from afar.
And then, just one year and four months after his traumatic accident, Jon was flying one of the two Kodiaks already on location in Papua New Guinea.
“We are just thrilled that God has brought us back to Papua New Guinea,” wrote Jon and Adie Leedahl. “God is a God of miracles, who gave us the chance to come to Papua New Guinea and once again fly for our missionaries. He is so faithful and we have seen He can be trusted.”
PARTNERS MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Miracle after miracle. That’s been all God’s doing. It was God who brought the Leedahls full circle back to Papua New Guinea. It was God who timed the arrival of Kodiak No. 2 just as Kodiak No. 1 was out of service for scheduled maintenance, and then went on to provide Kodiak No. 3.
Amazingly, God lets His people have a part in His great plan. People like you. We are humbled and so very grateful for your partnership.
“We often talked and prayed about the Lord’s provision of a larger plane that would fit us and our supplies on one flight,” wrote missionaries David and Shari Ogg. “So when we heard that the Lord had answered those prayers in an amazing way by providing not only one, but three Kodiak planes for Papua New Guinea, our hearts were filled with gratitude.”
The Leedahls also expressed their heartfelt thanks to people like you who prayed, gave and encouraged them. “We are so thankful for each and everyone of you who has loved on us, cared for us and prayed us through this last year!”
And Phil Koop, Executive Director of NTM Aviation, sums it up well. “Thank you for your prayers — even when the reality of the Kodiak seemed unattainable. For your interest — even when the project stretched over years. … [And] for your trust in God who never fails to do the utmost to bring His Word to people in the most remote locations on earth.”
Thank you for your partnership through praying and giving to make all of this possible.