Mission Bush Pilot and Nurse

After spending three years in Guyana, South America, we have now moved to Bewani, 50 Km south of Vanimo, Papua New Guinea. We have started a new humanitarian aviation ministry here. In visiting with health officials and church people here, the need for an aviation program to reach into remote villages became very apparent. We are taking health workers and medicines/vaccines, into remote village airstrips and bringing out critically ill patients to the hospital. We also fly in educational materials for schools, as well as take in Bible workers. Toni is helping with the medical end of things, while Gary takes care of the flying part. We have several local lay missionaries we sponsor and we do ground transport for patients as well. We are volunteers here to serve our God and the unreached people of Papua New Guinea. We have a great need for more people to join in this effort.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Latest from Guyana

We just returned from the interior at our school, Kimbia Mission Academy. We went back in last week to continue help with the garden since just the principal was left on campus and he was sick. We had been gone a week, and wow, what a change. Weeds grew like there was no stopping them and the vegetables grew also. But since we were gone the rains had been heavy and many garden veggies can't handle wet feet so many were dying. Tomatoes are blooming and so are the peppers and string beans, but with the rain now, harvest is questionable. We picked a lot of okra, cucumbers, summer squash and chard while there and enjoyed eating the fresh picked veggies immensely!! Been a long time since we had such fresh stuff from our garden. Sure tasted good. There are a few tomatoes under one green house roof ,but some bug seems to be attacking them. Have pumpkins the size of soccer balls already. Squash was drowning so not much more there. The flowers the kids planted were blooming beautifully and made the walk way to the cafe, very pretty. Waiting for lumber to be delivered so we can build roofs to cover some of the garden area to keep the rain off and then we can have fresh veggies all year round!!! The ground there really produces well and fast. Never seen stuff grow so fast.
We enjoyed a slower pace for the week since it was raining off and on most of the time and couldn't do much in the garden besides pick and weed some. The sunsets over the river are spectacular! Got some reading in and lots of bug swatting. With the rains, lots more bugs have showed up and do they know how to bite!.
This morning we left at 5 a.m. on the speed boat (?) and got to New Amsterdam about 8 a.m.. The next fastest boat we take is 12 hrs. Some take longer. On the way down the river this morning there was a rainbow to our left with a perfect reflection in the water! Made a great oval shape and very pretty. To the right at the same time was a great reflection of some clouds. Couldn't dig the camera out in time as it was near the bottom of the pile and under plastic since we expected rain. Sure was neat to enjoy for a couple of minutes!! Flowers on the river bank never fail to inspire me either. A few miles from town the rain came down in buckets and we were wet even under our raincoats and the plastic covering the suitcases. Two more hours in a taxi got us to Georgetown. We unpacked right away and found black mold growing on the clothes and linens we had pack just 6 hrs before. Cucumbers and squash that we had brought out with us were also spoiled and mold over some of them. Things grow fast here!!
So we are back in Georgetown for the moment, may go up to the northern part of the country for Christmas to spend some time with friends up there that fly for AWA. Waiting to see when there might be a flight we can catch.
Hope all is well with you and enjoy the holiday time.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Greetings from Guyana

Last Christmas found us a few miles west of here, in Venezuela. This year, we are in Guyana where it is still hot and humid and the rainy season has started. We have just returned to Georgetown for a few days after spending 2 months in the interior helping one of our schools being run entirely by volunteers from all over the world. We helped by teaching gardening, Spanish, remedial reading, and sewing. We both taught Spanish and Toni did the sewing and remedial reading classes.

Also, I got a large garden project going for them. It is more than ½ acre, with over 400 tomato plants, plus cucumbers, squash, green peppers, okra, beans etc. I have never seen garden plants grow and produce as quickly as they have here. 5 weeks from planting to harvest for squash and 6 weeks for cucumbers. My how the Lord has blessed! Tomatoes and peppers growing like weeds! We planted some of the tomatoes in one of the green houses that Fletcher Academy (in Candler, North Carolina) helped put up a year ago.

This school (Kimbia Mission Academy) is located along the Berbice River; 50 miles from the nearest town. It is very primitive by most US standards, but they are doing a good job with what they have to work with. We expect to return out there in a week to finish up some projects. There is no electricity except when they run the generator about 1.5 hrs in the evening for study hall. The sun goes down at 6 PM and rises just before 6 AM each day. Here is what the sunrise looks from our window, looking toward the main classroom building.

Here is the house that we have been living in. Our living quarters are about 1/3 of the house on this side. There is a small kitchen/dining room/bedroom (all one room) and a bathroom (no shower). We bring water from the river to flush the toilet and shower at the neighbor's house. We do have rain water to drink and use for cooking. It is sunny and bright inside the house. The other side of the house and underneath is used for tools and maintenance supplies.

Toni got to do her first official medivac while there last week. There was a woman across the river that went into labor; her membranes had ruptured, and she was only 7 months pregnant. So we put her in the speed boat for a 3 hr trip down the river (in the dark with no lights) to the city where there is a hospital. This is a picture of the school's speed boat. It's not very big. There were 7 on the boat--plus luggage--that night. Another girl wanted to go, also. We told her no--we had to have room for the pregnant lady to lie down. It was cramped, even then! Fortunately , we got her there before the baby arrived.

They are building a new cafeteria at the school. Here are some pictures of it going up and being painted. You can see below that, how they cook over a wood fire in the current cafeteria.

We are hoping to get the annual inspection done on the plane in Jan. so we can start flying again. It expired on our plane in Oct. It has to be done by someone with a US license.

As we look back over the year, we could never have guessed how it would turn out. There have been so many things to be thankful for in spite of some major setbacks that have come our way. Still, we are amazed at how our needs have been met, although we haven't received a paycheck in over a year. Some months Toni has asked what happened when expenses exceeded the money coming in; yet there was still some money in the wallet to buy the next tank of gas for the plane. Gas cost over $4.00 per gallon here still. We are reminded of the widow and the jar of oil that kept going until all the jars were full.

Thanks to all of you who have remembered us in your prayers, they are so much appreciated and needed and also to those of you who have supported us financially, may the Lord return it to you many times over!

We don't know what the new year holds but we do know the Lord is coming very soon and time is very short. We are just trying to do our little part to help prepare people to get ready to meet Jesus in this part of the world.

May our God keep you safe and healthy this new year.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Greetings from the jungle

We have been out working in one of our schools out in the jungle for the last month. It is Kimbia Mission Academy and is located south of Georgetown along a large river, the Berbice River. It is about 50+ miles inland but the river still goes up and down with the tide about 4-5 feet. From the little house we stay in (about 20 yards to the river) we can see the river from 3 sides. The reflections are spectacular. Nice sunsets with the palm trees to set if off.

We cross the river to go to church and the parking lot is made up of boats, no cars there. There are about 48 students and an all volunteer staff. There is no internet and the remote phone service out there has been out for over a month. Toni has been teaching remedial reading, Spanish and sewing. She has been doing some nursing items but not too much. I have been teaching gardening classes (4 per day) and a Spanish class.

I have helped to plant the school gardens which is nearing ¾ acre now. The plants are growing faster than I have ever seen before. Some seeds come up in 4-5 days! Transplanted 250 tomato plants and 75 peppers this last week with more on the way. Trying to provide fresh food for the school as they desperately need it! They run a generator about 1.5 hrs each night for study hall and the rest of the time there is no electricity. It is always hot and humid, fresh food or left overs don't keep. Everything has to be brought in by boat and it is expensive and hard to get.

We came out on the boat last night and it was a 12 hr ride (in the hull 15 ft away from the engine) then another 2 hr taxi ride (17 adults in a 15 seat mini van) to get to Georgetown.

We slept in hammocks among the many bags, lumber and sundry things to go to town. interesting experience!! The boat does have a bathroom upstairs that isn't too bad, fortunately!

Toni responded to a medical emergency across the river about 2 weeks ago shortly after sundown. They said someone had been shocked. She raced over with the boat driver (vol. from Australia) and found the 25 yr old kid not breathing and no pulse. They did CPR for over 20 minutes and no response. This kid had tried to get a live wire off the clothes line that was shocking his mother and as he flipped it away it somehow got around his neck and killed him. We use generators out there for power and they couldn't get it off quick enough. He was very well liked and had cut most of the lumber for our school there. It was hard on everybody at the school and up and down the river.

Expect to be out at the school for a few more weeks to get gardens really going good and then return to flying. So much to do, so little help to do it all, we really need someone to come and help run the gardens year round so there is always food for the kids. When the garden isn't producing the menu is pretty bleak. They could use a cook too. Lots of kids to help do the work, but need some guidance on how to do it right. Any volunteers?

Thanks for the prayers and support!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

jungle trek

Just a quick note on the latest here. Tomorrow we are going into the interior of Guyana for a few weeks to help out at one of our schools. They need some help with their garden so they can raise more food for the students. There are some construction projects that might get some attention also. Toni will be helping with some of her nursing skills at the school and along the river. She may teach some classes, also. We are not sure just what all we can do to help--but help they want, so here we come. They have wanted us to come before, but we weren't able to squeeze it into the schedule. While there, we will not have Internet, so please hold back on some of the forwards for a bit. Please continue to send the personal emails though, as we really enjoy them. We will be coming into Georgetown from time to time for supplies and to check our email, etc. This adventure will provide more stories and experiences for us to share. It will be a 3 hr bus ride followed by a 12+ hr boat ride to get there. They don't have electricity except when they run the generator a little here and there,because gas is very expensive.

Thanks for you support and prayers.
Gary and Toni Lewis
Guyana Air Ministries

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A Glimpse in the Life of a Volunteer Missionary in Guyana

The sun rises at almost the same time every day, since we are so close to the equator. Sometimes we have to get going well before dawn as we need to take off right after sunrise. Here you can only fly from sun up to sundown--not a minute either way. It keeps us from being in the air all the time!

The weather is never predictable here--except that it is always changing. You can fly out in one kind of weather, and return in a couple of hours in very different conditions. There is no weather service here to get a forecast from, either. You take it as it comes. Many days are made up of flights to the opposite end of the country from Georgetown, which is on the Atlantic coast. We fly over very interesting landscape. Some parts of the country are flat and near or even below sea leve; then there are other areas with mountains and beautiful waterfalls. When we are in the interior, we make lots of short flights between villages. In 4-6 hours of flying I might have 10-12 landings and take offs. That means loading and reloading cargo and passengers. Many of our flights consist of taking students from deep in the jungle out to a school. There are also many medical evacuations for very ill people that need to get to the hospital. We have had to return bodies to some villages when the patient didn’t make it even after taking them in for medical care at the hospital. We have flown in snake bite victims (they usually have 2-3 days to live without treatment), broken bones, bleeding wounds, cancer, etc. There is a lot of hurting and suffering in this old world. We need Jesus to come soon to end it all! The medical care here leaves a lot to be desired of, even when we fly them in. Sometimes we wait for an hour or more for the ambulance to arrive, even after we have called in a hour before landing requesting one. It is always rewarding though when you get to fly a patient home again after they are feeling better.

We fly over very interesting landscape. Some parts of the country are flat and near or even below sea level; then there are other areas with mountains and beautiful waterfalls Some you will only see from the air. Most of the country is covered in jungle, some with savannah and lots of rivers. The rivers here are very dark, but clear, a dark reddish brown in color.

When we aren’t flying, we are out shopping (ugh) for our workers out in the interior. We buy anything from groceries to parts for equipment to household supplies. Then we fly these supplies into the village the next time we go there. It is very expensive to have everything flown in by the local companies, so we try to help out as much as possible.
We have found 2 distinct cultures here, the Amerindians that live outside of Georgetown in the interior, and then the East Indians and Blacks that live in Georgetown. They are very different and interesting.
In the interior, most villages have no electricity except maybe a generator at a “store” for a couple of hours at night or solar panels for lights at night for a short time. Most rise and sleep with the sun. Think of all the electric items in your house you that you would have to be without if you didn’t have electricity. Then there is no running water except the river in most places. No internet, cell phone or cable TV in the interior, either. It is so quiet there at night and dark--the stars really glow. Sounds like camping huh?
The plane is always appreciated and every one comes running when you land to see it and what you have brought or who you will fly out.

Thought you might like some pictures to go with the stories. Thanks for your support, enjoy hearing from you. I flew over 60 hours in September!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Just wanted to let you know what kind of flights we have been making here since the training is done for now. We have made several flights transporting students out of remote villages to our different schools. Also have flown sick or injured patients out for medical care. Yesterday I a took a 22 yr mother home to die. She had a baby just a few months old. During the pregnancy the growth on her neck that had been there for years started really growing. It became cancerous and is now the size of a volley ball and draining. Very sad and she won't last long. We at least were able to fly her home to her family before she dies. The return trip was moving a DR from one village to another and a student to school. Today I had to fly a body home so he could be buried in his village and his family could tell him goodbye. So much pain and suffering here. Tomorrow I fly to the across the country to the Brazil border to move some Bible workers and take some supplies into another family. Your donations are used to keep fuel in the plane and meet the expenses of operating it. It is also used to provide small stipends ($100/mo) and church supplies to volunteer lay workers. It is very much appreciated. The people are so gratefull for the help we provide. Just wanted to give you a little summary of what we are doing and how the money is being used. None of the passengers we fly are charged a penny.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Guyana jungle news

Life in the interior is very different than out here in Georgetown. The Amerindians are very friendly and hard working people--living on very little. We spent 2 weeks living out in a small village near the Brazil border, 150 miles from Gtown. I was using the location as a hub to do some of my training. It was closer to get to airstrips in the area without having to fly back and forth to Gtown. Toni was there, also, and she was asked to teach a class in Spanish in the local govt. school one day and then helped and observed several days down at the medical clinic there. We stayed in a wood cabin by the airstrip while there. It was 2 stories tall with the "kitchen" down stairs and sleeping/living qrts upstairs. The kitchen was very small and dark and not very satisfactory for Toni. There was running water and that was nice. The outdoor shower had 3 walls and no roof. The outhouse had a bat that lived downstairs and like to fly around down there when you were using it. There was a small solar panel so there was one small light upstairs in the evening. When it gets dark there, it is dark!! The moon and stars are spectacular though! It is really quiet with no cars, no alarms, no radio or TV, just the noises of the jungle and watching the lightening bugs. What a contrast to Gtown.
Everyone there grew their own food or went hungry, No market, a small store that stocked stuff from town that the planes fly in. Very expensive but no perishables. Diet is pretty simple with cassava and other roots being the bulk. There is some mining in the area where some work to make some cash. Gold and diamond mines.
My flight instructor has returned to the States on his way back to Africa. While out there I flew in some medical evacuations i.e. broken foot, infected IUD, baby with seizures etc. I also picked up some young people from very remote villages and transported them to some of our schools so they could continue to advance their education. When you go in there is always a shopping list to go with and things to take back. We had taken food for only 4 days as that is the time we planned on staying so it got a little weak a few times but I was able to pick up some things when I did the medevacs. It was amazing to watch how God provided for our needs and how Toni could make the food stretch. The last weekend we had 3 students staying with us and eating with us also since the weather would not permit our flight out. Villagers brought some food and the rest God provided and none of us really went hungry. We both lost weight while there, which was good for me, at least.
Georgetown is made up mostly of Blacks and East Indians. It is totally different here in town versus out in the jungle. Food is very expensive but you can buy most processed items if you spend enough. You can get peanut butter and Welches grape juice, for example.
We have flown in the South which has some mountains and savanna and life is different there than in the middle of the country where there are mountains and jungle. In the north it is flat and jungle with rivers and some farming. Around Gtown town they grow a lot of rice and sugar cane. It is hot and humid here in Gtown; out in the mountains it cools nice at night. There are some great water falls we see flying around too. Not always in a great spot to take pictures, but great to see.
Hope this gives you a little glimpse of what it is like here.
We really enjoy hearing from you, when we are in the jungle we are totally cut off from the rest of the world and have to catch up when we get back to Gtown.
Sometimes when flying over miles and miles of nothing but jungle you see a little clearing and there will be a thatch roof or two way out in the middle of nowhere, that is what I call isolated!! I have landed on some "airstrips" in the last couple of weeks that really test one's level of flying and makes you hope you don't have to land there too often.
Thanks for your prayers, they do work, and for your support

Needs: Builders to build school and homes, teachers, bible workers, laptops, Children's Jesus /Bible story DVD's, plumbers, water pump, outboard motor, etc. etc.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bump in the Road

A speed bump in the road in Venezuela, when translated directly means "a policeman lying down". A steep one means "a pregnant policewoman lying down". Well we hit a speed bump--or bump in the road a couple of weeks ago. We received a letter from the FAA revoking my medical certificate to fly with. They wanted another neurological evaluation because of my plane accident last Oct. Then, they made me return my medical certificate to them. This meant I could no longer be a pilot until I had satisfied them that I was physically okay.
I was busy with flights here, and my instructor, Gary Roberts, was to return in about two weeks to finish my training. The weekend after I got the letter, David Gates was passing through on his way to the States in his small twin engine plane, so I was able to catch a ride with him back to the US. I arrived there, Tuesday evening. Wednesday, I called the doctor who had given me a new medical exam after the accident. I asked him what I could do, since he was the one who had cleared me for my medical re-certification. He said, as did others, that it takes 2-3 months to get in to see a neurologist. I told him I didn't have that long since I was the only GAMAS pilot in Guyana to serve our area with medical evacuations. He said he would make some calls and see what he could do. Two hours later, I got a call from a neurologist asking if I could come in the next day! I was ready to go. Less than 48 hours after arriving in the US, I had the evaluation done and passed it!! Amazing what happens when the Lord steps in!!. The next day I called one of the FAA doctors, and explained my situation to him. He asked for more details to be faxed to him and he promised to expedite my case if it all looked good. Tuesday morning he called and issued me a new medical certificate! Wednesday, I left for Florida in the twin engine plane with Gary Roberts. He was on his way to Guyana and had a seat for me. We spent the weekend in Tampa going to some meetings (ASI) and then left for Guyana on Sunday.
We arrived here Monday night--very tired but glad to be back here again. I was only gone two weeks and very amazed how God worked it all out so fast. It easily could have been a lot longer. The devil was trying to slow us down, and it just turned out to be a speed bump.
We are continuing our flight training and trying to catch up with the flights we missed while we were gone. I hope to get my Guyanese pilot's license in the next few days so I can fly the locally registered planes that we have here, also. So much to do, so little time. Toni is very busy, since Gary and his family are staying here; as well as James, the other pilot who is training with him. She stayed here while I went to the States, and is now working overtime trying to feed and take care of everyone.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Our New House!

This is the house in Bethany where we will probably live in, at least part of the time while we're here in Guyana. We've decided that we have to have a place in Georgetown, like the former pilot. If we're in the city buying supplies, and it gets too close to sundown, we will have to stay in the city. The hospital administrator has promised David Gates, they would have something for us. So, we really appreciate that.

Here's the new kitchen sink and counter. The shelves aren't finished yet. It's a work in progress . . .

This is the dining area, and used to be the kitchen, as well. We will probably make it into two bedrooms.

The bedroom is on the other side of the dining room.
Here's Gary working on refinishing the floor in the living room. The wood is called purple heart wood, and is a deep purple color.

I'm adding a couple of humerous items--that have nothing to do with the house!
This is a common way to transport goods down here. We have the fast cars zooming in and out of traffic, the horse-drawn carts, pedestrians, animals in the streets, etc.! It's quite wild to drive here--especially on the opposite side of the road to what we're used to! Gary is doing a good job of it, though.

I saw them working on this at the hospital, and just had to get a picture of it! This is an ingenious way to use a plastic chair. They cut off the legs some and used it to make a new seat for the wheelchair. What else do you do when there is no money and not too much to work with? I had to laugh, but thought they were pretty smart to think of this!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Just a note to let you know what is happening from our view on this side of the world. I have been doing lots of flying. I did some on my own and then when David Gates returned this last weekend, we did several more flights. We hauled in some fuel to store at one of our schools in the interior.Then we will have it when we need it to get back to town, and not have to pay that $12.50/gal price.

We also worked on a large satellite dish that we are setting up in the depths of the jungle, so that we can down load our Christian TV station and then re-broadcast it to the local villages.This way, they can have some good TV to watch when the generators are operating. We already are doing it in a town near the Brazil border.
Gospel Ministries International is operating a T V network in Bolivia and via satellite is broadcasting to most of the Spanish speaking countries of South America. We also have a station in Spain and another in Brazil that broadcast in Portuguese. Just in the last few weeks and months the doors have been opening for us to get licenses and permits for stations in Europe and the Caribbean for us to broadcast in 9 languages with satellite coverage that will cover most of Africa, the Americas, and Europe and some into Asia by the end of this year. Governments that have not wanted us to broadcast, are now open to us coming and broadcasting. We have been told time and again that it won't or can't happen and now all of a sudden it is happening. We don't know where the funds will come from yet, but if God can open all of these doors, He can provide the means with which to do it. These stations are being operated and run by volunteers. I could give you a lot more details, but then this would become a very long story. God is working to get the message out that He is coming right away! Living outside of the USA we can see how the economy there is about to collapse. The dollar is not even accepted in some of these countries anymore because it is not trusted and worth so little.

We have been flying several medical emergencies out for medical attention and transporting people who are too old or have young babies to villages where they need to go. I will soon begin taking students to school so they don't have to hike days in the jungle (young students) to go to a Christian school. We are operating 3 schools in the country at present. We have requests to start 3 more right away, now that they have seen the kind of students coming out of our schools. We also expect to go from 1 pilot for the country to 3-4 pilots by the end of this year.

Time is short for the message of Christ coming and the doors are opening fast for a short time to give everyone, one last chance. The final reaping appears to be beginning. We have seen God's hand working in so many ways, it is humbling and yet exciting to see Him work.

Thank you again for your prayers and support. It means so much to us. If you would like to support this great opportunity in reaching the masses by media, note on your donation, "media"

May God bless you as we finish up the last days of earths history!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Guyana Happening

We have been here nearly a month now in Guyana. So much has happened, yet so much remains to be done. Gary Roberts who flew down with me in the new plane and who has been training us to fly here, had to return to Africa for an emergency there. He won't be back here to finish the training until early August if all goes well over there. He really needs our prayers for the mission he is on over there right now of trying to help another missionary. Before he left though he got clearance for me to fly into several airstrips here in the country. We have also been working on the Cessna 172 that we have based here trying to get it repaired and inspected so the other pilot in training here can fly it as well.
This is going up the trail from David Gate's house in Kaiken. We stayed there Friday night--had a wonderful bath in the river. It was nice and cool. No piranhas there!

This last weekend David Gates was here and flew Toni and me into the interior for part of our training. We spent 2 nights there at different villages getting to know the Amerindians better.

While there, we made several medical evacs and moved some elderly people that needed to relocate. A few minutes by air versus a couple of days of hard hiking was appreciated. Also moved some young mothers with babies. It gave us a taste of life in the interior. On the way back to Georgetown we had to stop at a town to get more fuel due to all the med evacs and ended up paying $12.50 per gallon. Here is David Gates buying the expensive (!) gas in Kamarang.

While there, the local Doctor came and asked us to please wait while he got some lab samples together that needed to go to Georgetown since we were the last flight of the day. Here is the hospital.

When we arrived in Georgetown, a taxi driver showed up to see David and he offered to deliver the samples to the lab for free! Oh God is good to provide what we need when we need it!
It is hot and humid here and rains at least every other day and usually some every day. We flew down to the south last week to the border with Brazil, then went by land through Brazil to Venezuela, where we were last year; and we were able to pick up our stuff that we had left there.

On the return trip ,we left half our stuff in Lethom--the border village we had flown to since we needed to bring a pastor who was there, to Georgetown. Here is Borther Jacob's house where we left our stuff. Looks like I will be going back down there this Friday to pick up a teacher, so maybe we can bring the rest of our things with us then.
People are so grateful to have a plane flying here again to help them. We have been giving out Bibles and felt sets to different churches to help with their programs, too. Yesterday while at the airport working on the plane, one of the security people came up and asked if I had any Bibles I could give him,because he has friends requesting them. A babysitter to the lady down stairs asked Toni last week for Bibles and religious reading material for the new church they are starting up, evangelistic series and Bible studies they are giving.
The mission here has a Toyota van that we use for getting around town. We drive on the other side of the road since it used to be British here, but at least the steering wheel is on the other side as well. It is taking a bit of getting used to though, shifting and driving on the other side.
This is just a little taste of what we have been doing. We will try to post some pictures on our blog site to go with this.
Thank you for your prayers and support. We see answers to prayers here all the time. What a great God we serve and He is concerned about the little things too!! We look forward to hearing from you!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Life in Guyana

We had about 13 people over for lunch yesterday. We didn't know most the mission house was coming . . . one of the families brought a big dish of lasagne, and another lady brought a small dish of something. we had also invited the doctor and his wife over. they are both doctors from Cuba, and have 2 daughters. They have only been here 3 months. He's doing pretty well with his english. She and the kids are not. I had made a huge pot of rice and another one of beans. Not fancy; but food. I also made a cabbage/carrot salad, and we had watermelon. We had plenty of beans and rice left over. S0, I guess we'll be eating them this week!!! I didn't know we'd have the lasagne when I made the food. Anyway, we ate and visited then went over to the botanical gardens for a walk. They were having a lot of weddings--or at least pictures were being taken of the wedding parties. There were some interesting trees, manatees eating grass in a pond, some beautiful big pond lilly type of flowers in the swampy areas. It was nice.

There is a van that belongs to GAMAS (Guyana Adventist Medical Aviation Services) that we've been using some. On Thursday night--it was parked right outside of our gate, and someone broke in and stole the battery (just cut off the cables), and airplane parts. The guys had to borrow the other doctor's van. He's from the US. They had to take him to the airport at 6 am that morning because he went back to the US to bring his wife and kids back. He has a 3 y/o son, and they just had twin girls 5 months ago. Now she's coming home. Anyway, since then, they have been using his van. Last night, his van was broken into, and the battery and a cd/tape player stolen. Quite discouraging. There is a security company that is supposed to be watching the premises at night, but I guess they sleep a lot--they certainly aren't doing a very good job.

Friday, June 27, 2008

One week in Guyana

It has been one week since we arrived in Guyana. Wow, a lot has happened. We faced strong headwinds on our flight down here in the Maule airplane we purchased in California just before we left. It took us an extra day to get here because it slowed us down so much, but the Lord parted the weather so we could stay on course most of the time. We flew the islands down to get here. Toni flew down commercially since it was too tight in the little 4 seater with 3 adults and 2 small kids already. That way she was able to bring some luggage for us as well. She had quite a flight but the Lord was with her and she and all the luggage arrived together. We had to leave the plane at the international airport upon arrival, as they hadn't issued a permit to operate it in the country yet. Monday, they informed us that our request would have to go to the cabinet meeting with the president,that meets only once a week. The next day, we went back to the Civil Aviation office, and they handed us a letter stating it was OK to operate now. God intervened and we were spared days and weeks of waiting. We have been trying to get the Cessna 172 inspected here so we can fly it, too, but have hit many delays. We had to do many repairs and touch up paint to make it look better.
When we arrived we stayed at the mission house which has two bedrooms and one bath. There were ten other people already there, and more than enough mosquitoes to go around! We spent 2 days there and then moved over to an apartment by the hospital which has twp bedrooms and two baths and only us and the couple I flew down with and their two small kids. So much better and quieter! Toni has been cooking and cleaning as the place had been left a mess. She has gone shopping a couple of times. Amazing what you can buy here, but you pay the price. Anything from Mott's apple juice to cedarlakes vegefoods.

Gas is expensive here too. It's about $4.50 per gallon. It's very warm and humid here and yes-- we have seen a few of the bird people.
Today I made my first medical evacuation, (Gary Roberts was with me) (5 hr flight) of a missionary doctor who is in her 80's, single ,and has been in the mission field about 50 years, the last 10+ here in Guyana. She hasn't been eating or drinking and is very dehydrated. Just got our Brazilian visa again so we can go to Venezuela soon (we hope) to retreive our belongings from there since we left expecting to return.
Hope all is well with you, thanks so much for your prayers, God has been answering them and it is a privilege to serve Him.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

First Few Days!

Here is the mission house we are staying in. It is very crowded. Since school is out, quite a few missionaries are here in Georgetown for a break, and to pick up supplies, etc. When I arrived at midnight, two days ago, there were 11 or 12 people staying here. The floor was covered with mosquito nets and beds. There are 2 bedrooms--one has 4 bunk beds; the other has a double-size bed for a couple. They were all full! Fortunately, James Ash knew I was coming, and woke up and oriented me to the house. He thought there was a bunk bed empty, but there was a body in every one! See the little bare space in front of the water dispenser? That's where I put my luggage and slept on it (well, sort of--the mosquitoes ate me alive) the first night, Thursday. We were lucky to be able to stay in the double bed Friday night, because one or two people left! The bags by the water cooler are things just purchased from the market.

Here we are in the kitchen, preparing our food for Sabbath. As you can see, there's a lot of people working on different things!

Georgetown was built 3 feet below high tide level. So, there are canals all over the city, and a sea wall on one edge of the city. Here is a picture walking along the seawall. That's the Atlantic Ocean!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Gary's Here!

Just a note to let you know that Gary got here ok. They had really bad headwinds, so the going was slow. They got here about 5 pm. The time here is the same as EST. We will write more later when we can. We are trying to get settled in for the weekend.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I Made it!

Just a quick not to let you know that I made it with all my luggage--no extra fees here to Georgetown, Guyana. Gary & Gary & Wendy Roberts are scheduled to arrive at the airport at 2:15 this afternoon. We will let you know later today that they arrived. God was good and helped me all along the way on the trip! Will write more later--Toni

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

We are REALLY on our way!!

Just a note to let you know we're on our way! We were delayed a week leaving--waiting to get David Gate's plane, the twin comanche, out of the shop and checked out. Then they decided to replace a governor that was not always working right.
During this time, David was encouraging us strongly to look for a plane to buy for our project in Guyana. The Cessna 172 in Venezuela was sold for $50,000 and he wanted us to get a plane bought. So, Gary started looking for a plane. He found a maule and a cessna 182 that were close to the budget. The day we were going to make arrangements to go look and probably buy the 182, someone else bought it.

So, on Monday, June 9, Gary and Gary Roberts (the pilot/mechanic from Africa) went to Los Angeles to look at the maule. Gary R., who flew in Guyana many 1000's of hours during the 6 years he was there, felt this would be the perfect plane for us. We were able to borrow the rest of the money owed on the plane. so they bought it and flew it out to Chattanooga, Tennessee. They arrived Thursday afternoon. On Friday and Sunday, Gary R. was able to do most of the annual on it (he will finish it in Guyana), and replace the battery and a do what needed to be done on it. On Sunday afternoon, we packed up the plane with what we could fit in it, within the weight limits. I had opted to fly commercially, so we could take a few more of our things and have a little more room in the plane.

On Monday morning, Gary, Gary & Wendy Roberts and their two kids flew it to Moultrie, GA to get an STC kit put on it to be able to use auto fuel--which will make it cheaper to fly. Monday afternoon, they flew to Orlando, Florida, where they stayed over night. This morning, I got an email from Gary stating they were leaving Orlando this morning and heading for Turks & Caicos Islands tonight; then on to Grenada tomorrow; and should arrive in Georgetown, Guyana on Thursday. I have put in a little map for you to visualize where they are flying. Georgetown, Guyana is right at the top of South America on the coast. My flight will leave early Thursday morning, and I will arrive around 10:30 pm that evening. They should arrive there before me, if the weather isn't a problem.
Map of Caribbean

If we hadn't been delayed, we wouldn't have bought this airplane to use down there. We are very thankful that God always has a purpose in His plans--even when we can't see it!

We are now embarking on this new faith venture! It is a bit scary, but God has all the resources in the world, and will continue to guide and help us! Thank you so much for your prayers and support!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Ready to depart

Well the time has finally come again for us to head South. We returned to the States in January with the intention of returning to Venezuela in three weeks. We found out just a couple of days before departure, that the government wouldn't let us fly down there. We are now ready to leave for Guyana. If you don't remember your geography, it used to be British Guyana and is next door to Venezuela. While we have been here in the States waiting for things to develop so we could go there, we have been busy. We spent several weeks in Berrien Springs, Michigan doing more flight training and finishing my commercial license. We were also very happy to have our kids and granddaughter plus Toni's sisters and mom come to visit us all here in North Carolina two weeks ago. That was really special and the first time in years to have them together at once.

We are trying to find a plane to purchase for us to fly in Guyana because the one we got in Venezuela, we are not able to take out of the country. The pilot who has been there for the last 6 years is able to use it now, since the other one crashed. We are still lacking some funds to purchase one yet but we are trusting that the Lord will open some doors for the funds to come in that we need yet to make the purchase.

We are planing to leave for Guyana either tomorrow or Monday. We will be flying down in a small twin engine with another couple who have worked down there 6 years doing what we will be doing. Gary and Wendy Roberts are currently working in Africa and have come over here to fly us down and help to orient and get us started down there. It will take about 20 hours of flight from here in North Carolina to reach Georgetown, Guyana.

We don't know where we will be based yet, for sure. There is another pilot down there already who will get some training there with me. Most likely we will stay at a base deep in the jungle were the only water is in the river or rain; and electricity comes from solar panels that may charge our batteries and maybe a light bulb for a couple of hours.

We will have access to internet when in Georgetown at the internet cafes. Hopefully phone service when in town too.

There is a Cessna 172 in the country now for our use and the other pilot that is starting, also. We need another one so that we can be based in different areas serving a great area with air service. We will be doing the medical evacuations as well as flying in supplies to remote areas and moving bible workers as needed.

It has been hard to understand why we have had so many delays and change of plans this last year, but we know that God is in control and His timing and ways are hard to understand sometimes, but we know that someday when we look back , we will see the wisdom of His time and ways. Things in the world are not in good shape and we believe that Christ is coming very very soon.

Thank you for your prayers and support. It is faith-building to see the hand of God working in our behalf and your prayers have a lot to do with it. Please keep it up.