Indonesia (MNN) — The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has hospitals around the world scrambling for help and families unsure how to help hospitalized loved ones. In Indonesia, however, patients rely on their families year-round.
Indonesian hospitals don’t provide the same kind of care many Western hospitals do. As a result, families are the ones tasked with providing food, changing bedding, and even picking up medication for patients admitted to the hospital. But then night falls and families are sent away from the hospital, and many are left with nowhere to go.
That’s where Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) steps in. Since June of 2013, MAF staff and families have been running a hospital house, or Rumah Singgah, for patients and their families in Kalimantan. Pilots and mechanics help provide medical evacuations and transport for individuals in the Indonesian interior, then their families help care for them at the hospital house.
Staff maintain five bedrooms and additional space for patients and their families. The house is within walking distance of the hospital so families have easy access to their loved ones. In the meantime, they can cook, bathe, and wash their clothes at the house.
And MAF staff do more than just provide space. Kathryn Boogaard, wife of a MAF pilot mechanic; Angie Johnson, wife of a MAF maintenance specialist; and Amy Eadie, wife of a MAF mechanic all work with the hospital house.
“We’ll go and visit the hospital house and we’ll visit with the families and pray for them, and some families just are content with that,” Johnson says. “But other families that do need extra care, you really build a relationship with them.”
For example, one farmer almost lost his hand in a chainsaw accident. Forced to undergo three months of physical therapy, he needed a place to stay with his family. MAF staff combined funds, shopped for the family’s groceries, gave them a safe and comfortable place to stay, and visited them on a regular basis to build a relationship with them.
Another guest ran into Johnson and her husband mid-hike long after his stay at the hospital house. His wife had given birth in the hospital, and while the new family stayed with MAF, the Johnsons and other staff members came and prayed with them. When he recognized them, he thanked them graciously.
“He went on to say, ‘Oh, this trail is very overgrown. You’re going to need probably a machete,’” Johnson recalls. “And he took the machete off of his belt, handed it to me, and [said], ‘Go for your hike and come back and this, give it back to me when you’re done.’”
MAF isn’t just building relationships with guests; they want to connect with the local church, too.
”I’ve attended a local Indonesian Bible study for about six years, and my Bible study has been quite involved,” Eadie says. She brings guests to her Bible study, children from the hospital house to a kids club, and members of her study to the hospital house for prayer and community.
“Once a month, our staff at… the MAF hangar here, both Indonesian staff and Western staff, go to Rumah Singgah and go and have a praise and worship and prayer time there to meet the families that are there at that time and to sing and pray with them, all in Indonesian,” Boogaard says. “It’s a way for our whole staff here to be involved with Rumah Singgah and see what’s going on.”
The MAF families are hoping they can continue to encourage local believers to invest in the hospital house.
“In this culture, it’s really important… to the people that we go and visit them in the hospital when they’re sick, or at [the hospital house] if we can,” Boogaard says. “And I know that each of us has had a chance to go to the hospital room and pray… and that’s been very meaningful to them.”
How meaningful? Enough that their impact has led MAF to start a similar program in Lesotho.
”It’s rather outside the norm for Mission Aviation Fellowship,” says Brad Hoaglun, Director of Corporate Communications at MAF. “We don’t have ‘hospital house’ or anything like that in our name. We’re aviation, and we do a lot with pilots and mechanics. They’re engaged every day.
“But this allows all the staff to be involved and to… participate and to be helping another way and engage with people.”
Johnson calls this “a very, very neat opportunity that I’m very humbled to be a part of.” If you want to join them in that partnership, go to their website here for more information. In the meantime, pray for the continued success of this hospital house and for the other programs it inspires.
Header photo courtesy of MAF.