Lungpinglak Domtta is an MAF pilot serving in Uganda. He writes about his journey over the past year though disappointment and uncertainty.
My childhood days were spent in a small town in Nagaland, India, with no aircraft around. So, pursuing my dream of becoming a pilot seemed beyond my reach. It has been only through God’s plan and blessing that I am here today.
In January 2016, I was very excited to be joining the MAF team in Arnhem Land, Australia. I moved to the programme and immediately felt like this was what God had been preparing me for. The dream I had as a boy (to fly) was not my own, but God’s voice in my heart.
My journey in Arnhem Land was off to a great start. I had amazing people around me and I began to settle into life with the idea that I was going to be there for a while.
However, ten months into my stay in Arnhem Land, there was a shortage of pilots in South Sudan, a country with civil unrest. MAF asked if I would consider moving to the MAF South Sudan programme. This was an unexpected request. I had known in the back of my mind that I might have had to move from Arnhem Land, but I didn’t think that it would be so soon!
It wasn’t an easy decision to make. I knew the situation on the other side of the world…it would be a difficult environment to go into. At the same time, I knew and believed that God would protect me wherever I was. I couldn’t just say no because I felt insecure. I finally decided to make the move to South Sudan, Africa.
On the 1st of May 2017, I arrived in Nairobi, Kenya. I had to take a few exams and undergo training before being able to join the team in South Sudan. Driving out of Nairobi International Airport, I felt like this was home (may be because it was crowded, and the traffic seemed familiar).
The exams I had to take in Nairobi were quite challenging, but things were going well. In 3 months, I had completed all the paperwork. During my wait to begin practical training, I travelled to Juba, the capital of South Sudan, and spent 4 weeks getting to know the people and culture there. I was looking forward to being back after all my training was done. Never did it cross my mind that this was going to be my last visit for some time.
I travelled from Juba to Uganda for Conversion Training (the training never seems to end). I was excited as I was the first one to be trained on a new simulator in the MAF Africa programmes. As days passed by, I was struggling with the more complex plane I was training on and didn’t do well. I needed to have some extra training. Excitement slowly turned into disappointment. Questions lingered in the back of my head, “God, why?”, “Help me!”. Finally, after 6 weeks, I completed my training and was back in Nairobi. There was a big sigh of relief as I waited for my license.
After four weeks of waiting, I got my license and started some more training in late 2017. With Christmas around the corner, I took a break and went on holiday to India to spend a few weeks with my parents.
It was a new year, 2018. I was back in Kenya, and very excited about moving to South Sudan in a few weeks. I was happy to be flying again as part of my final training when things took a turn for the worse. I wasn’t flying very well. Eventually, my training stopped and MAF started looking at other options for me. My experience wasn’t fitting into the needs of the South Sudan programme.
This was one of the hardest times of my life. I was so confused, and wondered why, after months and months of training and preparation, being so close to the end, things were turning out this way. After 5 weeks of waiting, and discussing different options, I was offered a position in Uganda. After having some time to think and pray about it, I accepted.
Finally, after moving to four countries in two years, I have finally moved to MAF Uganda, I am feeling settled, and I’m looking forward to this new journey here. It is amazing that I have the opportunity to do what I do— being able to use aircraft to reach out to the isolated communities. There is great joy and satisfaction in bringing hope to places that I have never thought about or even heard of before.