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.

Monday, December 31, 2007

Operation Recovery

Happy New Year Everyone! A lot of things have happened in our life this year!! Now we are ending it in a few short hours down in the jungles of Venezuela!! The Friday before Christmas, we flew in the Cessna 172 up to the city of Ciudad Bolivar to get the paper that said we could remove the crashed 182 from the jungle and we also signed a contract to buy another Cessna 182. We will use it here at the current airbase until the other one is repaired or replaced, then it will go with us to start our new base; after I get my license and training done Thanks to those of you who have prayed for this plane for us and those who are helping financially, so we can pay for it. We still have to have some important safety features installed once we actually get the plane. It will be another month or two before we get the plane. The paper work here takes awhile!

Sabbath we made an emergency flight to bring in a young lady who had been snake bitten while coming out of church. It was the type of snake where you have only 2 maybe 3 days to live without treatment. We had to stop and take fuel out; fly in to get her, and then reload the fuel. The airstrip into her village was too short for extra fuel and me. (I waited with the fuel at another strip). Then on Sunday, Bob, our radio operator and myself flew out to the crash site and removed all the avionics and seats from the inside of the upside down plane and flew them home.

On Wednesday, Bob flew the radio operator (Celso) and me out to the crash site again so we could start taking the plane apart. His plan was to go back and bring in 2 mechanics to help us. We planned to have it apart and ready to put in a dugout canoe in one day. Well things didn't go as planned. The mechanics didn't show up until noon on Thursday. Celso and I stayed out there Wednesday and Thursday night. That was an experience too long to describe here. We had to take the tail, wings, and motor off the fuselage so we could haul it all up the bank where it had gone down. It had gone off the end of the runway, and then flipped over. (In case you didn't hear, this is what happened: Bob was landing on this very short strip the day after we got here when he got a strong gust of a tail wind that pushed him over the end of the runway and flipped it upside down. None of the four on board was hurt.) Then we hauled everything the length of the runway and then down a very steep and long path down to the river where we loaded all of it onto a single dugout canoe (50' long).

Friday morning we finished getting it loaded by about 7 a.m. There was a person contracted to put his 40 hp motor on the canoe to take us up river. He left in another boat with the motor. We finally got someone to do it for us about noon. It was a fantastic 4 hr trip up river--except for the 30 min, downpour that chilled and soaked us. We saw lots of mining operations, birds, plant life etc. We arrived at the beach where we were expecting to find a truck to load the plane onto to take us out. It was late (that's ,normal for here). It came 1.5 hrs after dark. We had to load the big parts onto a Ford 350, the engine into a Toyota 4x4 and smaller parts into a Land Cruiser. The "road" (gully washes, rivers, holes big enough to bury the plane in etc) out of there to the next town, where our school's driver was waiting, took us 2.5 hrs of bone-jarring, plane-crunching, towing, to get there!! It was nearly midnight when we got there, so we decided to "sleep" until 4 a.m., and only move the engine and stuff from the land cruiser to the school's truck. The main part of the plane would stay in the 350 the rest of the way home.

We got home about 8 AM Saturday morning. Very tired, very hungry, very sore. We had planned on being gone 1-2 days and it ended up taking 3.5 days. Bob was out on a medical emergency flight when we got there, so he radioed in and said, just unload the plane into our house!! I got back on the radio and said, "no, not enough room, don't need to put bent up sheet metal in my house. We can put the engine in there, but the rest can sit outside. We ended up with the engine and big parts outside and the small stuff in our house--along with the construction materials that were already in there--under the clothes line! Kinda like living in a warehouse!. We now have "redneck" furniture in our house--kind of like Tennessee!!!

I only killed one snake while out there, then when I got home that night I found a snake in our bathroom on the shelf by the sink. Toni was very glad I was here to take care of it!! Turned out to be non-poisonous, but one can't be too careful around here!!! Bob and Neiba left yesterday for the USA. They will be there for a month. They have some meetings to attend this week. So if you were wondering what we do down here for the holidays and for excitement, now you have an idea!! The stories I have now rival the ones I used to tell from Bolivia! Toni had her own "fun" here while I was out on my adventure. Hope you have a great new year. The Lord is coming VERY SOON and we pray, each of us will be ready.

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