Five of my trips to South Sudan have occurred at the hands of MAF in Uganda. The first time the previous coordinator of our diocesan trips was showing me the ropes and we actually visited the MAF offices. Since then I've been the coordinator myself.
We make all our arrangements via email, and the MAF staff members are quick to reply, friendly, and efficient. We wire our funds to them, and they keep excellent accounts. Their office is very small and the staff is also small -- I could see that they aren't wasting their donations on staff perks -- but they're organized and juggle a lot of needs and requests like storing provisions and luggage for transport when weight allows, managing the changing needs of indigenous and international travelers, helping with visas, etc. I've known them to switch planes for a flight or add a second plane when passenger needs changed, although they can't always make last-minute accommodations, of course. I've also dealt with MAF Kenya via email regarding transport of a seriously ill passenger, and they were equally efficient and capable.
Flying with MAF is awesome, from the time you buy a ticket till the time you land where you're going. Their email explains how everything works, the weight limit of luggage, the need for passenger weights and documents, etc. Once you're at the airport, they have efficient and pleasant inspectors of luggage, and they get everyone weighed in and ready very quickly. The commercial airlines could learn a thing or two from them. The waiting room at their airport, Kajjansi, is clean and hospitable, with sofas, coffee and tea, and bathrooms. The planes are all sparkling clean. Every pilot prays before taking off, and then the plane flies low enough over Uganda and Sudan that you can really see the land -- a breathtaking view of Africa. They explain everything without messing around, so for example when you get to Arua for immigration control, you know exactly what to do. They're also very flexible -- usually we return to Kajjansi from Sudan, but when we had a flight out of Uganda the same night, they returned us to Entebbe instead. When we're returning to Uganda from Sudan, we call them to find out what time to be at the dirt airstrip, and the first hum of the plane and the first glimpse of it are always exciting.
The MAF guesthouse in Kampala is equally wonderful. The managers are so friendly, and they keep the place spotless. The food is simple but excellent, and they are very flexible too -- when we want to invite guests to have dinner with us there, they are very welcoming. They also help us arrange our ground transportation in Uganda -- we have a favorite driver there now -- and give advice on what to pay taxis and where to find anything we need to buy. The rooms are simple but extremely comfortable; bathrooms are shared but there's almost never any waiting. The porch has comfortable furniture and a beautiful view across the hills of Kampala. It's such a perfect transition between Sudan and the West that we like to spend a day there for mission prep before going into Sudan and a day there afterward to debrief, relax, and -- sometimes -- see some of the Ugandan countryside.
If you aren't actually going to Juba, it's much faster and less complicated to enter South Sudan by another way, and we have found MAF to provide the perfect combination of efficiency, know-how, and Christian hospitality.