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, June 7, 2010

Stuck in the Sand

It has been rainy season here which has made flying in the mountain areas of Guyana a real challenge. Along with the rainy weather, of course comes wet airstrips, bad weather, awesome waterfalls and the bugs.  A couple of weeks ago I was flying health care workers, Bible workers, medical emergencies and supplies, all in one day.  At one short strip, as I was taxiing to take off with 3 people on board, I suddenly found myself stuck in the wet sand. We had to shut the plane down and push it out. Everyone got out and some villagers came to help.  While I was up front trying to pull and steer the plane I noticed some oil on the front of the engine cover right behind the propeller. I looked on the other side and there was more.  There is not to be any oil in that area at all.  I knew I had a problem on my hand and a prayer went up asking for guidance.  We got the plane out of the soft sand and I taxied it back to the other end of the strip so we could get it off the runway.  As soon as I had it off the runway, I took the engine cover off to see where the oil was coming from.  Earlier that same day, I had been at this same strip and a local commercial plane came in with supplies and left. They usually come in there only once or twice a week.  While I was looking for the oil leak, the people said here comes another plane.  It was the commercial plane coming back to pick up some more passengers.  It's very unusual to it come in twice.  With the top cover off, I could see oil all over the front of the engine and that it was running down inside the front cover as well.  It looked like the front oil seal had blown out of our new engine.  I knew it could not be flown until fixed, and I was 200+ miles from home in the bush.  I went over and asked the other pilot if he had room to take me out as my plane was grounded.  He said was full, but  made room for me.  I hurried and closed the plane up, and climbed on board for the trip home.  When I got to Georgetown, I asked the 2 airplane repair shops if either of them had a front oil seal for my engine.  Neither of them had one, and there were none to be found in the whole country, plus it would require special tools to install it.  Now what Lord?  I have lots of people needing flights and the plane is stuck in the bush?  No worries, God already had it planned out.  He had already gotten me back to town in an expedited way.  I called my friends at AWA and they said, "Hey we have an airplane mechanic leaving Canada in 2 days.  Get the part number and he can bring it."  I raced home and got the numbers and emailed them to him.  This was Thursday evening.  He got the part on Friday, and left Sunday, arriving here Monday morning with the part.  AWA flew me and the mechanic straight out to the bush to work on the plane.   When the mechanic saw it, he said, "You are right, looks like the front oil seal."  So we removed the prop and engine covering etc so we could access the seal.  When we got it opened up, we discovered the seal was dry and there was no oil on it.  Where did the oil come from?  There is a little oil pressure switch on the front of the engine and it had oil on it so we started the engine, and sure enough, out spurted the oil.  The mechanic said, "For some reason, when I packed last night, at the last minute, I threw a 1/4 inch plug in my bag--not knowing why-- but just in case".  It was the exact size and thread we needed.  We installed it, and we were ready to go. 

If I had not gotten stuck in the sand, I could have lost all my oil out over the bush, and not known it, until it was too late. It could have caused engine failure with no place to land except on 200 foot tall trees.  God is so Good!   He provided the ride out, and  the mechanic coming in at the right time, with the right part.  What an awesome God we serve.
We are so grateful for your prayers on our behalf.  God does hear and answer them!  Without them, we would be in real danger.


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