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.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Before we ask

It is great working for a Boss who knows what is going to happen before it does and plans things to be ready when the need arises! We see it quite often here. Today we got an urgent call from one of our volunteers in the bush asking for bandaging supplies to make wound care kits to send out into remote villages. Just this week we had received a box of those very supplies-- wondering why the person in the States had sent it to us a couple of months ago. Today we found out and the supplies were delivered!  Yesterday one of our other mission pilots here in Guyana left us his house keys as he was going back out to the bush so we could take care of some matters for him while he was gone.  This morning we got an urgent call from him asking us to go to his house and get a set of tires for his plane and a tire pump. His other pilot had a flat tire out in the bush and needed a replacement. Since we had the key (first time in 2 years) we were able to run over, get the tire and send it out on another plane going that direction.
In the last month, we were given the equipment to set up our own internet service here in the house. We have been using the neighbors, as they were kind enough to share it since they know we are volunteers and do a lot of emails for the ones out in the bush.  We accepted and hooked up our own service, even though we didn't like having to pay the bill each month. Then just a week later the service we had been using was no longer available to us. So by the friends offering us their equipment and then getting our own service, we were able to keep online without interruption or the expenses of buying equipment. God is So Good!

Gary and Toni

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Another perspective

This was written by one of our volunteers (Loren Mandigo) who has been serving with his wife and 4 children this year at our school in Paruima. Thought you might like to hear what we do from another persons perspective.  Gary

Guyana Bush Pilot

"That is what we call broccoli and cauliflower." Gary's voice crackled through the headset as I peered down at the scene passing below the little single engine plane.  "From up here the jungle looks like broccoli and the clouds are the cauliflower."  I nodded, smiling in appreciation as I thought of the times I had enjoyed a steaming plate of broccoli and cauliflower back at home in North Idaho.  It would be a long time before I would see either of these vegetables where we were going.

We had first met Gary, the mission pilot, and his wife Toni through a DVD sent to us by Gospel Ministries International.  As we had listened to his experiences of piloting a small plane in the jungles of Guyana my wife Lisa and I had felt that old familiar tug of the heart, drawing us to
another mission adventure.  Our oldest children had been very young when we had last had the privilege of going on a mission trip and now all four of our children were old enough to catch the excitement of traveling to another country to work for God.  When we sent our application to work with GMI in Guyana it was Gary who contacted us and gave us the call to work here.

I was brought back to the present as my stomach pitched and rolled with the little plane.  I shot a glance at Gary wondering if he were ok but instead of witnessing some sort of emergency I saw that now familiar mischievous twinkle in his eye as he looked around the small cockpit to see the reaction he had achieved in his young passengers.   All the excess motion had brought my son Jonathan out of a much needed nap, eyes wide and clutching at his sisters on each side of him.  Gary grinned broadly as he saw the good reaction he had achieved with Jonathan.

"Oh, were you asleep?" Gary's voice rose above the noise of the engine.

"I'm awake now" Jonathan yelled back, a sheepish grin on his face.  "I just dreamed that the plane was crashing."

At this Gary grew sober and said above the noise "I don't even like to talk about planes crashing!"

We later learned that Gary had survived a plane crash while still in the states.  Here in Guyana, however, it is a lot different; when a plane goes down in the Jungle there is seldom any visible trace of the crash site. Downed planes are often never found.   Just the previous year a pilot
friend of Gary's had gone down in a neighboring country and had not been found.

 "We are not too far from Paruima now." Gary's voice came through the headset again. "But I want to show you a nice waterfall that is not far out of our way."  The plane banked smoothly as we headed for a ribbon of water winding lazily through the jungle.  After leaving Georgetown we had flown over flat low lying terrain for over an hour before the ground rose sharply to meet us as we neared the mountainous area that we would call home for the next seven months.  As we circled the falls I aimed my video camera at the beautiful scene.  The river dropped abruptly over the rocky cliff, falling free till it ended in billows of spray on the rocks far below.  Gary held the plane steady as I captured the last of the scene and then aimed the small craft back to our destination.

 "The name Guyana means 'land of many waters'."  Gary said, motioning to the river below us.

"A fitting name." I said into the mouthpiece.  We had already seen several rivers during the flight and I could imagine that there were many more in this tropical region.

A few minutes later we were flying over the Davis Indians Industrial College Campus (DIIC), circling back to land at Paruima's little grass airstrip about one mile from the college.  As we bounced down the rough strip of runway I had hopes of settling down to a comfortable routine at
the school.  I had seen enough over the weekend we had spent with Gary and Toni to know that there would be no settling down for them as long as they chose to continue the work of flying in the jungle.  They had come to Guyana as volunteers with no monthly paycheck.  They depended entirely upon what God would provide through the generosity of those back home who would support the work with their means.  As the demands have increased so has God's blessing.

Little did I know just how much we would depend on the work that Gary and Toni are doing in Guyana.  So far they had picked us up from the airport in Georgetown, transported us to and from our hotel, fed us at their home, taken us shopping, taken us to church and now flown us out to Paurima all at their own expense.  Just after we arrived in the country Gary had flown the body of a young boy out to Paruima just as a courtesy  to the grieving family.   At a cost of about $200.00 US to fly out as far as Paruima the expense adds up fast.  Gary and Toni do this sort of thing on a daily basis month after month.  They fly students to and from schools like DIIC (GMI operates four such schools in Guyana), fly pastors, bible workers, medical emergencies, and just people traveling to and from Georgetown or other villages.  Gary transports letters and packages, flash-sticks with all important emails, even produce.  One of the important services he does is bringing food to the schools like DIIC such as rice, beans, flour, oats, etc.  When someone at the school needs something they send out a shopping list with Gary and then Toni goes around town to fill the list, then Gary brings it out to the jungle villages.  Gary also sits on the GAMAS board (Guyana Adventist Mission Aviation Service) and coordinates the work being done in the four schools.  Each morning Gary is on the radio checking in with the schools and communicating with the various villages determining the needs so he can plan his flight schedule.

"We seldom have any time to ourselves," Gary says "and the work keeps us going constantly, but as long as the Lord supplies our needs we will keep the work going here in Guyana."  So far the Lord has supplied their needs and as their budget increases month by month the donations from God's faithful people increases to meet the increased demand.  Thank God for people like Gary and Toni our faithful mission pilot family.

"I sure am going to miss you kids." Gary says while turning Jonathan
upside down and tickling him till he wriggles free.

After praying for God's protection for Gary as he flies the group standing at the end of the airstrip waves affectionately as Gary turns the plane and taxis down the runway.  "I sure like it when Gary flies in." says one of my kids.  "Yeah, I wish he could stay longer but he has a long way to go before he can rest tonight."  I reply as the plane disappears in the distance.
Written by Loren Mandigo
Missionary Volunteer