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, 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.