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.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tragedy in the Jungle

As you will recall, those of you how have been with us for awhile, we went to Venezuela before coming to Guyana. While there, we lived next door and trained with Bob Norton with the idea of expanding the work there and flying a second plane in areas unreached with medical help and the gospel. After living there only 3 months we were told we could not fly there as a pilot because we were from the USA and the current government there didn't want to allow us to fly. So we came to Guyana.

Last Monday, Feb. 16, Bob was making a flight north, when his plane went missing. On board with him were his wife, Neiba; a teacher/administrator from the school, and two patients (children) each accompanied by a parent. They have been searching by air and land with no sightings yet of anything in the jungle. The jungle is very dense, tall and covers a huge area. It swallows up airplanes very fast. It has been hard to deal with since we fly just a few miles away and can't even go over t he border to help the search, plus they are our friends and fellow pilot doing what we are doing here. They have been flying in Venezuela for seven years. They work like us, no pay and no charge to the p atients we fly out. We don't know why God allows the devil to do some things, but we do know God s still on His throne and will make it all clear someday soon. It has been very hard on Bob's family since his dad died like that years ago, and just last week his brother left for Papua New Guinea to do the same thing. They need our prayers.

We have been busy flying here. The rainy season seems to be letting up a bit, but still plenty of weather to slow us down. Looks like I will end up flying about 60 hours in the air this month alone again. We have had to purchase lots of supplies to fly into the schools and villages, plus the medevacs. Today I flew a four year old out that had a broken arm, from Kaikan (right on the boarder of Venezuela).

We got our parts bill for the plane repair and inspection this month, too. It was much larger than we expected, but God is faithful and you have supported us so well. Thank you so much. We see so many answers to prayer here, we just stand in awe of the Great God we serve! Many days are hard and trying, but when we remember why we are here, Who we serve, and what He has done for us, we are able to go on. It has been very hard dealing with Bob and Neiba missing this week, but the Lord knows best. We expect to see them again in the new earth where we won't need planes in order to fly. Thank you for your prayers and support. May God bless you as He has blessed us.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

We didn't even have to ask!

I just thought I'd share with you two interesting things that happened to me lately. 
1.  As you know, I have helped the neighbors upstairs, Jerry & Lanelle Northrup unpack their container.  They had a lot of damage due to sitting on the dock with a hole in the container for two months, during rainy season.  They were so disappointed at the ruined furniture and many boxes of things they had brought.  That day, when we had finished for the day, I took my precious Hershey's Chocolate Almond bar up and gave it to them.  I told them "It was a chocolate kind of day".  They appreciated it.  In my mind, I was thinking "I wish I was eating that chocolate bar".  I tried to brush that thought aside.  I truly felt sorry for them with all their loss.  Well, about a week later, I got a couple of packages from a friend of mine who had worked with me several years at Grossmont Hospital in La Mesa, CA.  In one of the packages were two Hershey's Chocolate Almond bars.  The thought crossed my mind--"Freely you have given; freely you have received."  God is so good to even supply us with our small, little wants many times!  It meant a lot to me! 
2.  While we were going through stuff at Lanelle's house.  We found some stuff that was left in the house that needed to be gotten rid of.  One of them was a Spanish devotional book.  She told me to give it to the Cubans.  I was thinking the doctors (Dr. Juan Carlos & Dr. Denia Rodriguez) downstairs.  They are special friends of our and have done a lot for us.  But, then I thought, no--I'll give it to the neighbors here next door here.  Dr. & Mrs. Crespo have arrived from Cuba about 3 or 4 months ago.  So, I gave it to their son, and told him to give it to his dad.  A couple of days ago, while I was upstairs doing my laundry, Mrs. Crespo came and thanked me for the book and told me this story:  When they lived in Cuba, there was a cyclone that flattened their home on the beach.  They thought everything was lost.  They found their EG White books all together like they had been in the book case, except for two.  All the medical books and everything else was gone.  Friends gave them the two missing books.  They had previously had this same devotional book that I gave them--but it was in English.  Mrs. Crespo didn't want to read it because she doesn't know English very well.  So, they gave it to a friend of theirs who was going to the states.  Now, she can read this same book in Spanish and is enjoying it immensely!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Back in the Air!

The long wait is over and we are flying again. The volunteer mechanics came from the States and did the inspection and necessary repairs so that the plane is legal and safe to fly again. After they arrived, they discovered several parts that needed replacing and were not available here in Guyana. The Lord had already arranged for people to be coming down here for other reasons who were willing to put some extra parts into their suitcases for us. Some of the parts arrived at John Lello's home just in the nick of time! The UPS truck pulled up right behind their ride to the airport! The timing was incredible! We were able to get all the parts we needed quickly by using several people coming on different days from various locations. It is amazing to see how God works to provide just what we need and when we need it most! We didn't even know some of the people were coming until just a couple of days prior to their departure. We were wondering how to get the parts here before the mechanics left. The Good Book says "Before they call, I will answer".

Here are some of the pictures we took flying out to the interior with David Gates. This is on the way to Kaikan, where David lived with his family for several years. We thought we'd share some of the beautiful scenery we see along the way with you.

Here we have just landed. All the little school children leave their classes, and come to see what's going on!

Here's how the people get up and down the river. They make the boats themselves. They are very good at paddling and using them.

You can see how green and beautiful the villages in the interior are!

This is a little outdoor kitchen, which is now being used for storage/chicken coop!

We were happy to see them using the felts we gave them for Sabbath School at the church!

The plane was back in service just over a week ago. We were really back-logged with flights since we have been on the ground for so long and the other plane is in for service again, also. The rains have slowed some, so I was able to get into the air right away and start playing catch up. In the last 10 days I have flown hundreds of pounds of food into our school near the Venezuela border. I have flown in medicines, fuel, building supplies, patients who have recovered and waiting to return home, parts, etc.

I have also flown a couple of med evacs out, moved pastoral staff, moved technicians to get Christian TV stations up and running in the interior. Flew in supplies and food to bible workers deep in the interior. Here are David Gates and Dr. Mark Gilbert working on getting the satelite dish in just the right position to get the needed signal.

There is a group of volunteers who have come down to install a water line for a village near one of our schools so the entire village will now have fresh drinking water. This is John & Pam Lello and their girls, who are part of the group and have done a lot to make sure this project gets completed.

I still have plenty of supplies to fly in for that project this week. I also have more Bible workers to visit and take stipends and supplies to. It has been a very busy 10 days, but most enjoyable seeing the faces light up now that the plane has returned. So many count on us to be there and lend a hand. None of this could happen without the support we receive from you and your prayers. Thank you for your part in this ministry!

When we aren't in the air, we are purchasing the supplies needed to put on the next flight. Toni has been a big help in keeping things organized and lined up so my turn around time is shorter and we can get more done. I have been in the air over 35 hrs since the inspection was completed and a couple of days we were just on the ground getting supplies. As we begin to get caught up a bit maybe it will slow down some, long hours every day in the air gets tiring in a small plane.

Here are some pictures of the Adventis hospital that we live behind.

This road goes to our apartment.

Here is the hospital generator. They just got this hooked up recently, so that we don't have to do anything when the power goes out, the generator automatically comes on! It's very nice.

Here is the maintenance department of the hospital. Gary worked with Jerry (he is in charge of maintenance/biotechnology) here while waiting for the maintenance crew to come down to work on his plane.

About the same time the plane was finished, the Jerry & Lanelle Northrop (she is assistant director of nursing), who live in the same complex with us, received their container from the States. In it was all their household stuff. The container got a hole in it during shipping. The company said they had fixed it, but hadn't. They had to wait 2 months (during rainy season) to get it out of customs. When they opened up the door, a river flowed out! A lot of their stuff was wet and ruined--including most of the furniture. Toni spent a lot of time helping them sort thru stuff and unpack. They were kind enough to let us use the appliances (fridge, stove/oven, microwave, washing machine and dryer) they had been using since they had replaced them with their own from the container. Now Toni's life is much easier and our menu and diet have improved greatly. The kitchen looks like a kitchen now with refrig and stove/oven. We still have the other pilot family living with us in this 2 bedroom apartment to share everything with. It is a bit tight with the baby and all, but we're managing. Here are James, Joy and Jenna Ash who live in the other bedroom.

We are so thankful to have appliances to use now, instead of just a stovetop! Here are some pictures of our house, so you can see what it looks like. Six families live here. There are four apartments. We live downstairs on the left side of this picture.

Lanelle has beautified the porch area a little bit!

Here's our living room. The green chairs are the only furniture or appliances that the hospital provided. Generous friends have given us most of the rest.

Here's the kitchen.

Here's our bedroom/office.

Two of our schools here get monthly quotas of supplies from "Food for the poor". Today I went to pick up the stuff for Feb. We never know what we are going to get. In December, we got 400 lbs of rice which they gave me only after making a special request and waiting for 6 hours. Since I have been here, we have gotten seeds, garden tools, school books, notebooks, odd clothes, etc. but very little food. Today when I went, I again went to the top person and asked for food for the kids, if she had any. She gave us 1500 lbs of rice, 650 pounds of kidney beans, 10 cases of fruit juice (ie apple, grape, cranberry etc). The van was really squatting with that load, but our spirits are so high because the funds for food this month for the schools was very low, so the good Lord provided from another source!!! Praise the Lord for He watches out for His kids! Just when we need Him most, He opens the windows of heaven for us.

We girls (Laura LaBore, pilot/RN for AWA, Shelley Kennedy, wife of airplane mechanic from the States, and I) decided to have a fun day and go shopping and to the mall. I think there is only one mall in the whole country. There is only one in Georgetown--which is the capital and biggest city in Guyana, anyway. It is new, within the past few years, and sports the only escalator in the country! So, we went to treat ourselves to a shake and vegeburger (yes, they have them!) first, then shopping. Here are some of the pictures I took of our venture. Here's a taxi going by the gas station. We took a taxi into town.

Here's the "food court" at the mall. You can see the escalator in the background.

Here's a closer up look. The mall is three stories! They have a lot of shops, but are quite expensive. I don't think too many people can afford to buy things there.

Here is a lady with a turbin on her head. (I had to take the picture thru a glass door, in order to get it.) We see a lot of them here. Most of them are Rastafarian. Fortunately, for us, most of them are vegetarian--so there are quite a few vegetarian products and restaurants.

We like this store. It is quite popular. It has shoes and clothes on the lower floor, and household items on the second story. The quality are both pretty good.

This is a typical shop that has a variety of many things for decent prices.

He often have to go to pick different volunteers and missionaries up from the airport, or boat harbor. On the way to and from these places, we see lots of interesting things. Here is the morning commute bus. It picks up the workers and takes them to and from work.

Here's how they haul rice, flour, beans, cement, etc. in the city. On the river, it's by boat.

We picked up the airplane mechanics and friends from the boat, after a weekend at our school in Bethany. They were at the harbor in Parika. Here are some pictures of the shops and restaurants there.

Our good friend, Graham Paton came by to see us, after coming back from his daughter's wedding in Australia. He showed us the instrument he had made called a "violincello di bambini". It can be played as a cello or a guitar and has a lovely sound to it.