Monthly Archives: September 2016

Unusual Cargo

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As MAF we fill a wide range of needs as we serve all around the world. Sometimes we are busy doing relief work in a country when disasters strikes. Sometimes we support the local church, missionaries, and other Christian workers in order to bring the light of Christ to the remotest reaches. Sometimes we are providing the simple service of safe and quick transportation from one place to another. Sometimes we fly all sorts of animals, including pigs, chickens, snakes, alligators, etc… Sometimes we are doing medical evacuation from remote villages to hospital in order to save lives. Sometimes we have the privilege and honor to help people in their darkest times. This was my job last week.

I was preparing to go to work the day in the hangar. I had flown three of the past four days and it was time to turn wrenches. I received the call from one of our hangar workers. An older gentleman had died at the hospital in a small town called Malinau. The family was requesting that we help them bring the body back to his home town to be buried with his family. While there are exceptions, it is common practice in Indonesia to bury a body within 24 hours of death. This is partly for hygenic reasons and partly because of the practices of Islam. The family I would be serving was a Christian family and I jumped at the chance to be able to serve them in this difficult time.

The weather, however, was not cooperating. When I arrived at the airport, the chief pilot called me on the radio. He was already flying and reported that the clouds were thick and low. There was widespread rain showers and he had to go way out of his way in order to arrive at Malinau, my initial destination. I finished getting the plane ready and then waited at the airport for the weather to improve. After 3 hours of waiting and catching up on paperwork, I received news that the weather in Malinau and Long Bawan, the destination for this man’s final resting place, had improved.

I did some last minute prep and then then took off for Malinau. It was a beautiful day and I could see how the bad weather was moving off to the north. I arrived at the airport in Malinau after 30 minutes and was met with a crowd of about 60 people. They were friends, family, and a local pastor. They brought out the casket, which was quite a task since it weighed over 450 pounds. It took 8 men to pick it up and load it in the plane. I quietly went about my duties while they loaded. After the casket was loaded and secured, a local pastor prayed for the people, the family, and the flight to Long Bawan. After the prayer, I joined one of the family members in the plane and flew off to Long Bawan.

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It was a sobering flight because of the grief I could see in the face of my passenger. I was praying for the family, and also praying for the weather. I was dodging clouds and picking my way between them in order to stay clear and make it safely to Long Bawan. After about 15 minutes, the route opened up over a large river and I was able to make it without incident. We were met by a smaller crowd of friends and family when we arrived in Long Bawan. After I shut down the engine, I got out of the plane and let the people go about removing the casket. I could see they were having some trouble getting the casket out of the plane, so I climbed up behind the pilot’s seat and helped lift the front of the casket so they could maneuver it out of the rear door. Once the casket was out, we had to install the seats quickly because I needed to return to Malinau and retrieve the rest of the family before the weather closed the way.

I took off before the rain came into Long Bawan and I was praying that the shower wouldn’t be too big and would pass before I came back. I made it back to Malinau in 30 minutes and we loaded up the rest of the family. I am pretty sure the man’s wife was in this second load. I felt a bit of pressure to get the family out to join the casket, but I knew that being safe is always the best option. So, we took off with a prayer and made our way out to Long Bawan. There were a few more rain showers and I could see that I would need to approach Long Bawan from the south, instead of a little to the north. We made it through with ease, and with a little plane wash from the rain. The family was very grateful that I was able to get them all safely to Long Bawan. The flight home was sweet and a little sad. It is always hard to face death and to see these people who have lived hard lives. There is no doubt they have fought for all they have. But, it is also cool to see the legacy that they will leave behind as a result of their hard work.

As we serve here in Indonesia with MAF, it is such a blessing to be the hands and feet of Jesus in practical ways when people need us. Thank you for being a part of a bigger story!

JESSICA UPDATE:

Jessica was laid out sick for about a week, but this too has passed. We have no idea what she had, but she is back to her spunky, awesome, encouraging, and loving ways! The kids and I, especially me, are glad she is doing well. Thanks so much for your prayers for her and for our family. God bless!

Ride Along

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Jessica, Solomon, and Eli had to go on a surprise trip to Jakarta to renew Jessica’s passport, which left me flying solo with Adelina and Jeremiah. I was planning to take Friday off to hang out with the kiddos, but we had a request for a medical flight and it would greatly help out another pilot who was trying to fill a second medical request. Then, someone mentioned I could take my kids along since the flight wouldn’t be full. Sounds like a plan!

So, Adelina and Jeremiah got to go on their first MAF flights with their dad. They were so excited! When I picked them up on Thursday and told them they were going to go on a flight, they couldn’t wait for Friday. I had told Adelina about eating monkey a few months back and she has asked about getting to go to the village so she can try it too. Turns out, we were going to be going to that same village and that news just increased her excitement.

Friday morning rolled around and they packed up their backpacks. They each brought some snacks and a water bottle and we headed to the airport. There was a little disappointed that it took Dad 30 minutes to get the plane ready, but they hung in there. Then, we had to stop at the little kiddo’s room because there isn’t one on our little planes…yet. But, we finally started up the engine and they were amazed at everything. They loved using the headsets. Jeremiah kept asking, “Can you hear me?” I gave Adelina my phone so she could take pictures and J got to hold on to my binoculars. When we took off, I heard Adelina say, “There we go. We took off, J.” They kept telling me how much they loved flying.

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10 minutes later it was time for some quick thinking. It wasn’t quite “Are we there yet” time, but we were getting close. The flight was going to be 60 minutes long. So, we played guessing games about animals and I Spy. (This was tough since they were sitting well below the window and could basically see only clouds and sky) I finally reached back for the phone and set them up with a movie (without sound) for the last 25 minutes of the flight.

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We arrived in a village called Long Bawan, loaded up with another passenger, and left for Binuang. Upon arrival, we unloaded and everyone was excited to meet some of my kids. There were about 10-15 children from the village all huddled together. They were too shy to come close, but they were all staring and laughing. My friend, Kalvin, who fed me the last time I came through, met me at the plane and I asked him if he had seen any monkeys lately. He said his friend had caught one just the other day! It was a baby monkey. We weren’t going to eat monkeys, but at least we could see one! We walked to his house and he brought the monkey out so we could see it and pet it. The kids were stoked. Then, Kalvin said, “He wants to give it to you. Do you want it?” Hmmmmm. Good question. My first thought was, “Yes.” My second thought was, “Where would I put it?” The overriding thought was, “What would Jessica say?” Without being rude, I explained that I didn’t have a place to keep the monkey, but I would ask my wife about it. (Yeah, you could guess how that went over with Jess!)

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It began to rain so we ran to Kalvin’s house and he offered us fried bananas and warm tea. Jeremiah, who had eaten his snack in the first 10 minutes of the flight and then kept asking for something else to eat, just about devoured half the container. His mouth and hands were covered in the red seasoning they put on the bananas. The kids had a blast watching the rain and just hanging out in the house. Jeremiah sat on my lap almost the entire time and Adelina kept sneaking over the kitchen to see what the ladies were doing. We got a chance to try on a traditional Dayak hat (with a long feather and a monkey skull on it) and a bone necklace made of snake vertebrae and wild boar tusks. (see below) After eating a little lunch, the rain stopped and we loaded up the plane. It turned out that the medical flight had been cancelled and a new flight had been ordered, so we had to make a stop on the way home.

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We returned home without a hitch and it was such a fun day for all of us. The kids got to fly in the plane, pet a monkey, hold a puppy, eat all sorts of new and yummy treats in Binuang, and then we came home and I made pizza for dinner! And let me tell you, it was some of the best pizza I have every made. I had lugged 6 lbs of mozzarella back from the US, not to mentioned some linguisa (a Portuguese sausage), as well as plenty of other cheese and it helped make some awesome pizza. The kids even said it was the best pizza ever! Who am I to complain?

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Jessica had quite the time in Jakarta. It was no small feat to travel 2 out of 3 days, as well as visit the US embassy in Jakarta, not to mention the fact that she had an infant and a toddler! But, she made it back to us with a few goodies as well. The only problem now is that she seems to have contracted a pretty bad bug. We are hoping and praying for the best, but she is showing signs of Dengue Fever. Indonesians refer to this as Break-Bone Fever because it makes your bones ache like crazy, along with some other rough symptoms. Please pray for Jessica when you think about us. She was in bed most of the day and the sickness is getting worse. Please pray that God would heal her tonight!!!

Thank you and we love you all. God bless!